Monday, December 10, 2018

Wherefore Patriotism?

Apparently, patriotism has gone out of fashion in Silicon Valley. Why would Google cancel its work with the Pentagon but continue to work for China? Why would Google refuse to contribute to America’s national defense but happily pursue work that will allow the Chinese government to censor the internet.

Few politicians have spoken out about this contradiction. Of late, however, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford did. Zero Hedge has the story:

Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a speaking engagement Thursday that it was "inexplicable" that Google would seek out business in a country with vastly less freedoms than the United States.
Dunford argued:

We are the good guys and it’s inexplicable to me that we would make compromises in order to advance our business interests in China where we know that freedoms are restrained, where we know that China will take intellectual property from companies.

On two occasions Google refused to work for the Defense Department:

Dunford's words come at a time when Google has actually pulled out of prior Defense Department projects, including failing to renew a contract which helps the military analyze aerial drone imagery. The defense program, called Project Maven, set off controversy inside Google's ranks as employees refused to develop programs related to warfare and battlefield applications, citing ethical concerns.

Separately, Google announced earlier this year that it would not bid on a a $10 billion cloud computing contract with the DoD, citing the company's "new ethical guidelines" which bans weapons projects and provides ethical limitations for work on military A.I. And yet Google continues to work on internet tools that would allow China's Communist government to censor and crackdown on its citizens' online speech even while finding Pentagon related contracts too controversial.

The only real issue here is why more officials have not denounced Google. Where is Defense Secretary Mattis? Where is the White House? Where are members of Congress. One suspects that they are all afraid of Google.

It’s a sad state of affairs. America is not going to prevail in the clash of civilizations if its greatest corporations do not believe in it.


Sam L. said...

It is surprising that Trump hasn't smacked Google upside the head (rhetorically).

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I find this remarkably UN-shocking. Silicon Valley has shown it has no principles. They are unabashed capitalists in action, but proselytizing Lefties in their PR campaigns. Their China play is wholly cynical, and shows who they are. This is about eyeballs and market share. Nothing more. China has learned the West has no stomach for limitations on potential revenue. That is (a) why they find Trump surprising, and (b) why they respect him. China has zero respect for Silicon Valley, and it playing the tech giants like a fiddle.

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

Do we really want a gaggle of intersectional, rainbow-haired, gender-fluid, left-wing, Google Glass drum-circlers working on critical national security software? Be careful what you wish for, and count your blessings. There are plenty of top-notch software professionals working for tried and tested defense contractors like Northrop, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Lockheed, etc, as well as any number of the larger Beltway Bandits. The Chinese Communists deserve them, IMO.