First, it was Google Street view that became centre of debate in Europe and everybody opposed its installation because nobody would like a robotic device to peep into their bedrooms or compromise with the privacy of their homes, just to generate visuals for some anonymous entity to evaluate. Evaluate what is still a mystery! Now GOOGLE is in the news again and this time it is because of its decision to work on a highly contentious military drone project for The Pentagon that uses highly refined technology to spy on people. And Google employees who feel it is their moral responsibility to promote ethical safeguards are revolting over the company’s decision to collaborate with Pentagon in developing a technology that in principle will be used to achieve militaristic objectives and not technological innovation or advancement to benefit humanity in any way. As a result of this ongoing battle of ethics between Google’s mentally and morally well-balanced employees and Google bosses; many workers – above 10 - are thought to have submitted their resignations and another 4,000 have signed a petition against the company's involvement with the spy drone called Project Maven. Which helps process aerial drone footage using artificial intelligence (AI) to spy on vehicles and even follow people as they come and go in and out of buildings.
Google in its statement said, “ the tech would not be used to kill people.”
But is it only killing people that concern rational human beings and should be covered under the purview of technological ethics? Google Street view would certainly not have killed anybody but whatever it was meant to process in the form of visual information/data was being achieved at a much higher price “ PRIVACY OF OTHERS!” And nobody, really nobody would choose convenience or technology over privacy. This is why Google employees are outraged that Google would involve itself in military operations when it has no need to do so. Because financially it is a very stable organization with many sources of constant income, had it been this little machine-learning startup really trying hard to find clients in different industries and sustain in a highly competitive sector, it would have made some sense to collaborate with Pentagon on such a project.
Why not collaborate with NASA instead on similar technologies? NASA already receives visually rich footage in the trillions with only one difference, that it is difficult to find a buyer or means to monetize it. It is purely based on selfless technological brilliance. Which brings us to the million dollar question, "does Google, as one of the leading technology companies in the world today have the nerve and ethical sense to disengage from such obnoxious endeavors which have a singular objective, “advancement in warfare of the future?”
Google would rather invest its expertise and an intelligent pool of resources in https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/search.cgi
And maybe Google bosses are convinced today that Pentagon will use Project Maven driven intelligence to enhance few of its AI-based projects, but will Google share the responsibility if in future the same tech with few modifications is used to kill humans? This is the main question and this is what has been worrying most of its revolting employees. Who feels responsible somewhere.
Here are few of the interesting and heart touching statements made by Google employees, who certainly come across as responsible Global citizens and true brave hearts:
A- One resigning employee said “I tried to remind myself that Google’s decisions are not my decisions. I’m not personally responsible for everything that they do. But I do feel responsible.”
B- Few continued: "We can no longer ignore our industry’s harmful biases, large-scale breaches of trust, and lack of ethical safeguards. These are life and death stakes."
Project MAVEN has certainly found its ideal technological HAVEN in Google, and with Google, bosses convinced they are doing the right thing, the employee's revolt appears to have been disregarded. But what was worth noticing and was probably ignored by many so-called bosses- we are living in an era where there are many people who still care about their professional and moral responsibilities, and are unwilling to compromise and choose monetary security or benefits over some ephemeral professional conveniences. Because they do not belong to the category who somehow manages to convince themselves “SHUT UP and IGNORE! They know “We don't inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
And this is one aspect of the human race that shall fascinate me always and make me feel hopeful of a brighter and unified world that shall absolutely thrive on ethical technology. Although with this revolt by Google’s Employees, the war has just begun, and we are yet to see who will emerge triumphant because other giants like Microsoft and Amazon too are collaborating with Pentagon on similar technologies and their league is getting bigger and gaining authority. But what remains to be seen is the power of youth that is invincible, selfless, aware and marching towards a future that will redefine TECHNOLOGY and world politics.
The revolt by Google Employees was just a manifestation of my belief in the Ethical use of technology. This is what HireHere as a brand would always want to be associated with and stand for!
HireHere salutes these Google brave hearts!
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