A curious story in the WSJ:
Labor Department says data-mining firm has shown bias against Asian job applicants since at least 2010
By TIM HIGGINS
Updated Sept. 27, 2016 1:09 a.m. ET
Palantir Technologies has discriminated systematically against Asian job applicants since at least January 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor said in a lawsuit filed Monday.
The Palo Alto, Calif., data-mining firm is one of the world’s most valuable private companies, best known for helping the U.S. track down Osama bin Laden. It has been been party to more than $340 million in federal contracts since January 2010, according to the complaint, and counts the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Army among its clients.
“Federal contractors have an obligation to ensure that their hiring practices and policies are free of all forms of discrimination,” Patricia Shiu, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program, said in a statement.
From Patricia Shiu’s bio page on the Dept. of Labor site:
She represented workers in both individual and class action employment discrimination and harassment cases involving sex, race, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, immigration status, disability, and domestic violence. … She is the recipient of many awards, including the Joe Morozumi Lifetime Achievement Award, the Abby J. Leibman Pursuit of Justice Award, and the Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area’s “Woman Warrior Award.”
So, no bias there!
The WSJ goes on:
… The accusation that Palantir discriminated against Asians is an oddity in Silicon Valley, where big companies including Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. have been criticized for hiring too many white and Asian engineers, and too few blacks and Hispanics. …
The suit cited several instances of bias. For a software engineer position, the government said, the company hired 14 non-Asians and 11 Asians among more than 1,160 qualified applicants of whom 85% were Asian.
“The likelihood that this result occurred according to chance is approximately one in 3.4 million,” the government said in the filing.
In case you are wondering, here’s Wikipedia on Palantir:
Palantir Technologies, Inc. is a private American software and services company, specializing in big data analysis. Founded in 2004, Palantir’s original clients were federal agencies of the United States Intelligence Community (USIC). … The company is known for two software projects in particular: Palantir Gotham is used by counter-terrorism analysts at offices in the USIC and United States Department of Defense, fraud investigators at the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, and cyber analysts at Information Warfare Monitor (responsible for the GhostNet and the Shadow Network investigations). … As of December 2014 the company continued to have diverse private funders, such as Kenneth Langone and Stanley Druckenmiller, In-Q-Tel of the CIA, Tiger Global Management, and Founders Fund. As of December 2014, Peter Thiel was Palantir’s largest shareholder. In January 2015, the company was valued at US$15 billion after an undisclosed round of funding with US$50 million in November 2014.
… Early investments were $2 million from the US Central Intelligence Agency venture arm In-Q-Tel, and $30 million from Thiel and his firm, Founders Fund. …
Palantir developed its technology by computer scientists and analysts from intelligence agencies over three years, through pilots facilitated by In-Q-Tel. The software concept grew out of technology developed at PayPal to detect fraudulent activity, much of it conducted by Russian organized crime syndicates.
Palantir partner Information Warfare Monitor used Palantir software to uncover both the Ghostnet and the Shadow Network. The Ghostnet was a China-based cyber espionage network targeting 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including the Dalai Lama’s office, a NATO computer and embassies. The Shadow Network was also a China-based espionage operation that hacked into the Indian security and defense apparatus. Cyber spies stole documents related to Indian security, embassies abroad, and NATO troop activity in Afghanistan.
So, maybe, the reason Palantir gets 85% of its job applications for software engineer from Asians but only hires 44% Asian has something to do with, I don’t know, Chinese espionage?