Ah, those ethical do-gooders over at Google. Don’t you just love the perks the millennials receive for working there? Slides, laundry service, free meals and on-site gyms with free exercise classes, free massages for those stressed out workers make it one of the best places to work in terms of job satisfaction.
And the company stands for something, after all, wasn’t their motto, “Don’t Be Evil” or a reasonable facsimile thereof? So, when the powers that be over at Google decided to partner up on an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) project with the Pentagon that would better interpret imagery from the military drones called “Project Maven”, all hell broke loose.
That upset the delicate sensibilities of those employees and 4000 of those Google hirelings signed a letter of protest and demanded the company “never build warfare technology.” Several resigned. No more free lunches and game rooms in the workplace. After all, a millennial has to stand up for what is right. But in that line of protest wouldn’t “Don’t Be Evil” apply to the United States military…right? Under pressure from the employees, the powers that be at Google decided to pull out of Project Maven.
So, the spoiled, pampered do-gooders over at Google are too principled to work for the very people who protect their right to work in their insulated little cocoons? News flash children, there is real evil in the world and the people in the United States military aren’t part of it. The people that they’re fighting in ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Taliban definitely wear the black hats in an increasingly gray world. Does this mean the Pentagon is perfect? Hell no, ask anyone who ever served in any service and they’d laugh at that suggestion.
But the military goes to great lengths to do no harm to civilians at or near the battlefields of today. Often to the point of putting their own troops in harm’s way. Think about that shit for a moment; the military at times puts its own troops in danger by trying to limit the number of civilian casualties. Isn’t that a perfect “Don’t Be Evil” example? Apparently not to the people of Google.
Project Maven at its core is a classic case of their motto, to begin with. Instead of “damaging Google’s brand” as they feared, they would ensure that no innocents would be targeted. This project was meant to ensure that only the bad guys get targeted.. Unless the people there believe that the people of the Islamic State are just misunderstood frat boys, who, you know the men who cut down thousands of Iraqi and Syrian civilians and beheaded countless others. Aren’t they, and the al-Qaeda people in the Middle East and beyond, the same ones who brought down the World Trade Center the evil ones? They must have slept through those nasty incidents in their nap pods.
One would think any technology that would spare innocent civilian lives would appeal to Google. This project is supposed to do just that, by giving military men and women the technology to differentiate between armed hostile forces and innocent men, women, and children. That is saving lives and is far from being evil.
It wasn’t a very well thought-out protest, because it didn’t even protect Google’s own interests. Last year, Google spent $1.1 billion dollars to buy a piece of HTC in Taiwan that makes its excellent Pixel smartphones. Earlier this year, Google made what was characterized as the largest investment ever in that nation by an international tech company. What was the investment for? Artificial Intelligence. The research and development of the AI project along with their other projects makes Taiwan the largest R&D center for Google in Asia.
China has long stated that it wants the island of Taiwan back under its sway, and they’ll be willing to use force if necessary. So while the company invested billions in Taiwan, who exactly did they think was protecting it from the “evil” Red China? The Chinese are spending a huge amount of money on their own AI project and they’ve made it clear that want to have the world’s most powerful military. If they overtake the US as the world’s predominant military power, who will defend Taiwan then?
But in the end, pragmatism won out. Those military millions of dollars are very rarely a one-time investment by Uncle Sam, and they will continue to generate millions in revenue for the company. That will pay for a heckuva lot of cooking and guitar lessons. Google also saw that there was no shortage of their competitors who would jump at the chance to take over working for the evil Pentagon and cash in.
And now it is reported that Google, Amazon along with Microsoft and other tech companies, are pursuing contracts to build the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud (JEDI), potentially the largest IT procurement project in history. according to Pentagon officials, the purpose of JEDI is to “increase lethality and readiness” of the military.
So, in a self-serving message that caters to the wishes of their employees who try to put their heads in the sand about the world they live in, Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed new internal guidelines that the company will follow.
Google stated that the company will have no part in building weapons or “other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people,” and also ruled out surveillance technologies like those sold by Amazon.
Wasn’t this Google’s stance before Project Maven? Yes, it was. So what changed? Nothing. But as we stated above, they get to keep their heads in the sand while, cashing in on the fat Pentagon contract. The key number in this? 88,110.
That is how many employees are in the pay of Google and the powers that be there are continuing their contracts and bidding on others to keep the perks flowing at the campuses of the tech giant while protecting their R&D in Taiwan.
Who said there is no such thing as a free lunch?