Senior machine learning scientist quits Google over plan to launch censored Chinese search tool

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.

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.”

Senior Google Scientist Resigns Over “Forfeiture of Our Values” in China [Ryan Gallagher/The Intercept]
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