Jack Poulson was a senior research scientist at Google whose work on machine learning work was used to improve Google's search results; now he's quit the company over its Project Dragonfly, a once-secret plan to launch a censored Chinese search engine; Poulson called the move a "forfeiture of our values."
Tech companies find it hard to qualify skilled engineers at any price, and machine learning specialists are especially prize, commanding salaries of $1MM/year or more.
Over 1,000 googlers have signed a petition opposing the move to censor on behalf of the Chinese government.
Senior Google Scientist Resigns Over “Forfeiture of Our Values” in China
After entering into discussions with his bosses, Poulson decided in mid-August that he could no longer work for Google. He tendered his resignation and his last day at the company was August 31.
He told The Intercept in an interview that he believes he is one of about five of the company’s employees to resign over Dragonfly. He felt it was his “ethical responsibility to resign in protest of the forfeiture of our public human rights commitments,” he said.
Poulson, who was previously an assistant professor at Stanford University’s department of mathematics, said he believed that the China plan had violated Google’s artificial intelligence principles, which state that the company will not design or deploy technologies “whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.”
[Ryan Gallagher/The Intercept]
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The revelation that Google had been secretly creating a censored, surveilling search product (codenamed Project Dragonfly) in order to re-enter the Chinese market prompted more than 1,000 googlers to sign a letter of protest and a high-ranking resignation from the one of company's top scientists.
Google's Project Dragonfly was a secret prototype search engine intended to pave the way for the company's return to China; it featured censored search results that complied with Chinese state rules banning searches for topics like "human rights," "student protest" and "Nobel prize."
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