Once the United States entered the Second World War, the interventionists and isolationists set aside their differences and joined in a common cause. The country was united in the effort to defeat fascism in Europe and the Pacific. American industry, encouraged by the new “cost-plus” contracts that guaranteed a profit for producing war material, pivoted quickly. Seemingly overnight, automotive plants were cranking out tanks and planes for the war effort.
The workers in the high tech industry could use a little bit of that spirit. Through outreach initiatives like the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s NGA Outpost Valley, they’re learning that there’s good money to be made in defense contracting.
While their shareholders would approve of the contribution to the bottom line, employees are apparently a different story.
Google’s Defense Department work
Project Maven seeks to use AI to analyze the terabytes of video that unmanned aerial systems feed back to operations centers. Finding what statistician Nate Silver called “the signal in the noise” is a daunting task under any circumstances. As our battlefield sensors improve and multiply, so does the quantity, but not necessarily the quality, of the data they provide to commanders.
There is simply too much data for humans to comb through with any sort of effectiveness. So the Pentagon has sought to combine established technology like face recognition with the ever-improving field of artificial intelligence to help commanders and their staffs filter the reams of data they receive.
That is apparently too much for the sensitive workers at Google to handle.
“We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” the letter begins. Fair enough. But it soon goes off the rails. The employees reference Google’s motto “Don’t be evil,” as part of their rationale for avoiding aiding the fight against ISIS. Say what?
Google’s technology enables two things: the positive identification of targets, and thus the prevention of collateral damage. Neither of those things is evil. In fact, Google employees should be applauding the fact that the technology they helped develop will prevent the accidental loss of innocent civilian lives. The fact that these kids, for that’s what they are, equate any military use of their technology as evil shows a gross lack of understanding of the realities of the world.
You know who’s evil? ISIS, that’s who.
While the pampered Silicon Valley anointed ones direct their anger at the Pentagon, the real intolerance is happening elsewhere. So-called heretics are decapitated. Women’s skulls are crushed by stoning. Homosexuals are thrown off buildings. These aren’t urban legend, they are the very real legacy of the twisted ideology that ISIS follows. In December, the UK newspaper Daily Mail reported that at the height of ISIS’s reign of terror, morgue workers in Mosul, Iraq received between 60 and 100 corpses a day, dropped off unceremoniously by ISIS fighters.
While it is one thing to debate the wisdom of the U.S. policy in the Middle East, the Google employees’ insinuation that their company’s involvement with the U.S. military is the evil activity is simply incomprehensible. Their technology is helping to protect the innocent and punish the wicked. That should be a source of pride. Instead, they worry that “Google will join the ranks of companies like Palantir, Raytheon, and General Dynamics.”
They should know that being in the same league as those companies is an honor, not a curse.