Google has hired a bunch of my friends and professional acquaintances, and I’ve met a few more from the growing Chicago office, and a number of them are zombies. Conversations run like this:
Me: Hey, did you hear about [random technical development]? Googler: Yeah, it’s real cool. Especially for [slightly offbeat application]. Me: That’s an interesting idea. Hmm, especially if you wanted to use it for [related research topic]. Googler: ... Me: I mean, that would work out great. It would have an [interesting performance characteristic], especially for large datasets. Googler: ... Me: Hmm, do you think it might fix [persnickety sub-problem] if you also use [other technique or product]? I think it’s likely... Googler: [deafening silence and refusal of eye contact] Me: Hello? Googler: ...braaaaaains...
OK, the last line is whimsy, but the rest is the verbatim compilation of a dozen conversations. Google employees get distracted by mentally rereading their NDA and figuring out what they can say, can’t say, and can’t say that they can’t say. It just gets worse if you keep talking and extrapolating (that is to say, holding a conversation) because you’re giving them O(n^2^ interrelations + m potential suggestions from them) more topics to analyze. I’ve never quite managed to crash them, but I imagine it’s entirely possible given the NP nature of conversations.
The fellow coder who inspired this post by pointing out the blank stares to me must remain anonymous due to their recent zombification.