Thursday, June 7, 2018

Google Refuses to Stand Up for America

Granted I might have missed it, but I am surprised that more commentators and editorialists have not denounced Google’s decision to walk away from a contract with the Defense Department. The contract, for project Maven, concerned the development of artificial intelligence.

Michael Bloomberg has publicly criticized Google for kowtowing to unpatriotic employees.(via Maggie's Farm) If it was just about James Damore and the dogmas of political correctness, which seem to have infested the minds of more and more Googlers, it would be one thing. Now, it seems that patriotism is not a core value at Google.

With any luck the company will answer to Bloomberg. If not, it should certainly answer to Congress.

Bloomberg writes:

Google’s decision not to renew a contract to develop artificial intelligence for the Defense Department was a victory for the employees who had protested it. It was also a defeat for U.S. national security, patriotism, and the cause of limiting civilian casualties in war.

The program, officially named the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team but known in the Pentagon as Project Maven, uses machine-learning software to interpret video images and could improve the accuracy of drone strikes, among other things. Last month, around a dozen Google employees quit their jobs and thousands of others signed an open letter demanding the company exit the program because it “stands in direct opposition to our core values.”

Bloomberg, who has more experience than most in building and managing a large corporation addressed Google executives:

One of the roles of senior management is to do the right thing, even if it provokes criticism. That’s especially critical when our collective security is at stake. One can understand why some might be leery about a slippery slope to machines making life-and-death decisions without humans in the loop. But that’s an argument for staying on the project, so they could influence future applications. 

To rub a bit of salt in the wound, Bloomberg notes that the military has played an important role in creating the internet:

Google’s leaders also seem to have forgotten the vital role the government, and especially the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, played in creating the internet and making their company possible in the first place. Yet, from Apple’s refusal to unlock the iPhone of a mass-murdering terrorist to Project Maven, tech firms have repeatedly snubbed law-enforcement, intelligence and defense agencies.

True, other companies, like Amazon, are working with the government. And yet, Bloomberg notes, how much of the same pressure will be brought to bear on them in the future.

He concludes:

Helping to defend the U.S. is nothing to be ashamed of. That shouldn’t be a controversial idea among our nation’s business leaders.

Now, part of the fallout from the Age of Obama is that patriotism has become controversial. We see it in the NFL and now we see it at Google. It's not a good thing.

[Addendum: See also Marc Thiessen's column about this topic in the Wash Post.]


Sam L. said...

One more reason to dislike Google.

Anonymous said...

Country, Culture, Education, Media, Conventional Wisdom, shared attitudes & opinions ... are different now. At least for the Elites. And a significant portion of "minorities".

I saw changes begin in the 70s/80s. A Berkley march/rally led by Rev. Jackson - "Hey Hey Ho Ho / Western Civ has got to go!"

Susan Sontag: "The white race (I Think it was race) is the cancer of History." She later semi-recanted, possibly after afflicted with real cancer. Plus, her heavily publicized speech re-thinking Communism.

Things for WCiv got worse from there.

Genocide. Malevolent Nationalism. Exploitation of countries & cultures. Slavery. Malicious Greed. Racism. Sexism. Lookism. White Male Chauvinism (French derivation). Every evil imaginable.

Tainted ideas which infected our youth, their teachers mentors counselors. Not all. But many.

The youths are now adults, many with important roles in every facet of life.

I dearly hope for better soon. -- Rich Lara

Sam L. said...

Google: Is anyone surprised by their decision?