08.20.20

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IBM Never Apologised For Making Billions Out of Overt Racism, Now It Wants to Ban Words Used to Communicate Such Issues and It’s Bombarding Journalists to Seed Misleading Puff Pieces

Posted in Deception, IBM at 12:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: IBM Racism Explained by an Insider (IBM also made lots of money from the literal bombarding of people)

IBM on race
Sent last night at the end of the working day (US)

Summary: For the purpose of denial of their harsh past (even very recent past), which is embarrassing, IBM managers try to paint themselves as champions of diversity who heroically battle against racism (even as they continue to profit from racism)

DURING the summer we wrote more than a dozen articles on an important topic, notably the idea that racism would be a thing of the past if only we banned a few words or replaced them with something else. That’s the very corporate vision of ‘activism’, as bombing is profitable and changing words is cheap. Very, very cheap.

“That’s the very corporate vision of ‘activism’, as bombing is profitable and changing words is cheap. Very, very cheap.”Later today IBM will be planting lots of puff pieces as part of a new PR offensive intended to portray itself as the opposite of what it really is. So watch out.

Even IBM insiders formally complained in a petition: “We are disappointed that IBM CEO Ginni Rometty’s open letter to President-elect Donald Trump does not affirm IBMers’ core values of diversity, inclusiveness, and ethical business conduct.”

IBM is not BLM

IBM staff isn’t stupid. They can sense and can research these matters. IBM is googlebombing the World Wide Web, hoping actual information will be harder to find (drowned out by shallow PR).

As it turns out, IBM has hired external PR agencies to act as middlemen and ‘reach out’ to people with sites/blogs, including myself.

This is their template, which they sent me hours ago (screenshot at the top, including the part which attempts to prevent me taking about it):

Hi Roy,

This summer has seen a long overdue reckoning on race in America. While it’s easy to point out obvious racist language like the “whites only” signs once posted outside restaurants and public pools, we are only beginning to unravel the more insidious forms of racist language still embedded in our culture today.

For instance, tech engineers often use the terms “master/slave” to describe components in which one device controls another. Suspicious websites that may steal your data are put on a “blacklist,” and malicious hackers who violate computer security are known as “black hats.” Now is the time to cut out racist language in all its forms, and IBM is proud to take action to bring change to the IT community.

As part of a group of social justice efforts known as Emb(race), the *IBM Academy of Technology launched an internal initiative to identify and replace IT terminology that promotes racial and cultural bias.* In partnership with our style and diversity councils, IBM will conduct a thorough evaluation of each term that has been flagged for review, and in some cases recommend an unbiased replacement term. IBM’s goal is to promote inclusive language in IT and to provide opportunities for our employees to work together towards this goal.

Are you interested in learning more about Emb(race) and IBM’s initiative to eradicate racist IT terminology? Let me know and I would be happy to connect you with Tim Humphrey, VP and Chief Data Officer at IBM for an interview.

Best,

Michael

This isn’t the first time they try this on us (gagging us while asking for puff pieces). If only they spent on anti-racism as much as they spend on PR agencies…

IBM logo on media

Sniffing around the IBM sites, I soon discovered that this campaign kicked off yesterday. IBM wants us to think that a form of censorship will tackle racism — an oversimplistic if not idealistic viewpoint.

“If only they spent on anti-racism as much as they spend on PR agencies..”Yesterday I asked them: “Why are you contacting me specifically about this?”

My assumption was that it was possibly a targeted attempt to shift the public debate, under the headline “IBM Launches Initiative to Erase Racist Language in IT Industry…”

Is it always racist though? Or are they making racist assumptions about the meaning of words? See, it’s not always (in all cases) as simple as they try to frame it.

We discussed this a few hours ago in IRC. People from different geographic locations and demographics…

Originally I thought I would take the offer to conduct this interview, warn them in advance about my questions being tough, then ask about Jamaica, Mr. Watson’s Nazi medal, Ginni’s relationship with Donald Trump (we covered this before), Modi’s ties to Krishna etc. (even racism and a highly divisive leadership in India is perfectly fine with the new CEO).

“IBM wants us to think that a form of censorship will tackle racism — an oversimplistic if not idealistic viewpoint.”Basically, using an interview that’s live (not predictable to the answerer) we could point out to them how silly and shallow they are, not to mention hypocritical. In the US, for example, they had an NYPD project that backfired spectacularly when the media found out about it. Then, for a number of weeks IBM constantly bombarded the media to distract from the bad press. They were making money by helping cops flag people by colour… and only months ago (years later) they finally withdrew from it.

The intent of this new campaign is obvious. They obviously want people to stop talking about racism at IBM.

Alexei asked: “Is it racist how poorly terms like “denylist” translate into other languages?”

Alexei is based near Saint Petersburg. English is not his first language. Over the past few months, I saw in online forums people who mention that in some Slavic countries with other languages, folks have a different interpretation of the proposed terms. “Of course they probably won’t bother and just use the local equivalent of “blacklist”,” Alexei said, “but that raises the question of whether there was anything wrong with it in the first place. [...] though maybe a simple adjective can do like “запретный список”, but “a forbidden list” doesn’t sound like it’s the contents that are forbidden…”

“I had pointed that out,” he said, “and that Ukrainian would have even a harder time than Russian for lacking a certain form of participle that Russian loaned from OCS.”

“The intent of this new campaign is obvious. They obviously want people to stop talking about racism at IBM.”“oiaohm” from Australia then explained: “deny list generally translates well if you include the space. Deny by most translated [languages] comes Denial [sic] then Denial is translated. So Denial List and deny list are fairly close on meaning.”

We could lay out profound issues such as eugenics, nukes, and other things IBM profited from. Suddenly these debates about words seem like a distraction. Alexei suggested “чёрный список”, or “a list that is black, simple…”

“oiaohm” said, “remember not all usages of black align to bad. Few languages have 20 words for black. Deny though translating at worst leads to 2 words in any language. Black can take you as wide as 400 different words. [...] The issue I am talking about you can see with google translate. I cannot remember the direct 20 wide. But if you go to google translate and put in black as english and lao you will see 5 different spelling for black with the same define. Deny gets you 2. Basically translating documents around between languages black can end up with a mess of different spelling so black so making searching for black harder.”

There are typically issues with suggested alternatives, too. “Maybe it could be translated like “список отказов”,” Alexei wrote, “but that’s more like a list of rejections, not the right connotation at all. I still haven’t come up with a good translation for it [...] It’s tough. It has an implicit ambiguity built into it, it works that around by English being generally vague with its terms.”

“A denylist,” Alexei later added, “is it a list that was denied, a list of denies? what’s a deny?”

“Notice how a discussion of ethics and morality in the context of race is being reduced to words rather than actual substance?”“oiaohm” said “deny is in fact a common word to most languages.” MinceR joked that “[the word] “deny” is the new name of the color that used to be known as “black”…”

Alexei suggested “список того, что было запрещено, it’s as simple as that, a list of such that was forbidden. With a participle it can go down to “список запрещённого”… “deny” has a nasty property of implying something instantaneous [...] While a blacklist is something more permanent…”

Regardless of what words or concepts are turned into, those are not going to stop, or cause racism on their own.

Alexei said that “if “blacklist” is deemed racist, then it’s a bit hypocritical to expect other languages to continue using it when it’s the most neat form there is for them.”

Notice how a discussion of ethics and morality in the context of race is being reduced to words rather than actual substance? There will be a lot more in the IRC logs (tomorrow morning), but we’d rather debate IBM’s past and present, not the latest PR blog post.

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