Today I was at GTC, a large conference in San Jose on graphics processing units, a form of hardware to do parallel computation. It is sponsored (not sure to what degree) by NVIDIA, one of the major makers of GPUs. Part of my research and teaching involves GPUs.
While I was waiting to watch a talk, a recently-graduated young man from NVIDIA struck up a conversation with me. At one point, he praised me for attending the conference, saying, “Good that you’re keeping the brain moving.” From the context, it was clear that he finds it odd that someone of my age would be involved with GPUs, or for that matter with any newer technology.
I found the incident amusing, rather than being offensive. But it was certainly ironic, given that I write about age discrimination in the tech industry.
And it was even more ironic in that the defendant in one of the age discrimination cases I’ve served on as an expert witness was NVIDIA!
Recently a middle-aged specialist in data science with a Master’s degree and a considerable amount of relevant job experience, but no permanent job for over a year, told me,
…people like [his friend, a department chair at a major university] who brings in dozens of young foreign students each year is now annoyed with me. She sees my job problems as my fault. Her student [from China] did not believe that there is discrimination against older American workers. From his view there are an unlimited number of possibilities out there.
So for me, today’s incident with the kid from NVIDIA was just fodder for my lighthearted posting title above. But for many others less fortunate than I, it is not funny.