Rise of the Machine…Learning Bros

I’ve never heard of Poe’s Law

Hey tech bros, remember the good old days when Klout plastered Stanford campus with recruiting posters calling on you to “bro down and crush some code”?

We thought this was peak SV; boy were we wrong

Please meet your new overlords, the Machine Learning (ML) bro. The ML bro represents a new evolutionary stage of the tech bro. This new sub-species of silicon valley Übermenschen is characterized by several distinguishing characteristics:

  1. The ML bro is superior to the tech bro due to mastery of buzzwords like automonous driving, neural networks, hyperparameter tuning. The ML bro rarely doesn’t know anything, but when it learns, it always does deep learning. The ML bro’s massive intellect is usually demonstrated by spouting vector algebra and partial differentials in the presence of the tech bro. This kills the tech bro.
  2. The ML bro is superior to normal software engineers. Never mind that the base libraries for working with data is always obsessively tested. The ML bro is above the need to write tests because ML is a new world. This is usually confirmed by ML leaders who talk about the specialness of ML and how unit testing just doesn’t apply for ML.
  3. The ML bro is superior to all non-technical people. These people do things *gasp* manually. These people shouldn’t be trusted with a computer. The ML bro, when they can be bothered, should tell them why the algorithm is superior to all and why requirements should be determined by the result of the algorithm instead of the other way around.
  4. Finally the ML bro is especially superior to the regular Machine Learning engineer. These ML engineers actually interact with other people like equals and treat their viewpoints as…valid. And for whatever reason, these people actually care about code design, quality, and implementation. Honesty there’s nothing worse than seeing these wayward frat brothers bring down the whole profession in front of the pleibs.

By now it should be obvious to you that ML is every company’s secret sauce. And it should be crystal clear that you should be subservient to the ML bro’s wishes. We’re all just getting in the way of the ML bro blowing its wad on this beautiful canvas of the world.

So tech bros, you’ve been warned. Bow before your new masters and submit to the will of the algorithm!

Of course this phenomenon is not new. In the 90s it was Wall Street traders. In the 2000s it was the quant finance guys. Then came the tech bro and data science craze. As long as there are “hot” jobs that require specialized skills, interesting characters will naturally be attracted to those fields for the financial rewards and the ability to get away with acting like clowns. Instead it is up to recruiters, engineering leaders, CEOs, and investors to understand that specialty skills doesn’t make up for toxicity and knowing some math doesn’t automatically make you credible. It is up to the people in positions of power in companies to put a stop to this kind of behavior.

If you’ve gotten this far and you’re still interested in working in machine learning or data engineering, here’s my obligatory plug about my team at Tubi: if the qualities of the ML bro sounds like the opposite of who you want to work with, then check out our careers page. We’re hiring in both our SF and Beijing offices!

Twitter: @changhiskhan

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