Deep look at the Googler Uprising, drawing on insider interviews

In May 2018, Google faced a series of public resignations and scandals over a secret internal project to supply AI tools to the Pentagon's drone warfare project; then, in August 2018, scandal hit again with the news that Google was secretly developing a censoring, surveilling Chinese search-tool; then came the news that the company had secretly paid Android founder Andy Rubin $90m to quietly leave the company after credible accusations of sexual abuse and assault. Read the rest

A deep dive into the internal politics, personalities and social significance of the Googler Uprising

Writing in Fortune, Beth Kowitt gives us a look inside the Googler Uprising, wherein Google staff launched a string of internal reform movements, triggered first by the company's secret participation in an AI/drone warfare project for the Pentagon, then a secret attempt to build a censored/surveilling search engine for use in China, then the revelation that the company had secretly paid off an exec accused of sexual assault, to tune of $150m. Read the rest

After retaliation against Googler Uprising organizers, a company-wide memo warns employees they can be fired for accessing "need to know" data

Last year, Google was rocked by a succession of mass uprisings by its staff, who erupted in fury after discovering that the company was secretly pursuing a censored Chinese search tool and an AI project for US drones, and that it had secretly paid Android founder Andy Rubin $150m to quietly leave the company after women who worked for him accused him of sexually assaulting them. Read the rest

Palmer Luckey wins secretive Pentagon contract to develop AI for drones

Palmer Luckey (previously) the alt-right financier who was made a billionaire by Mark Zuckerberg's decision to acquire his VR startup Oculus, is now running a Peter-Thiel-backed surveillance startup called Anduril Industries, which has won a contract to contribute to Project Maven, the Pentagon's controversial AI-for-drones system (Google's involvement in Project Maven sparked an employee uprising that ended with the relevant executives leaving the company and the contract being allowed to lapse). Read the rest

Even as Google was making nice during employee walkout, it was secretly asking the Trump administration to ban email labor organizing

Last year, Google was rocked by a string of employee uprisings: first over selling AI tools to the Pentagon for use in drone development; then over the clandestine development of a censored Chinese search-product, the over the revelation that Android founder Andy Rubin was given a $90 million payoff to get rid of him after repeated sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations. Read the rest

Exec who oversaw Google's failed babykiller projects and cozied up to Saudis quits after employee uprising

Diane Greene was the CEO of Google's cloud business, and it was she who tried to convince Googlers to back her bid to sell AI services to the Pentagon's drone program, as a warmup for bidding on JEDI, the $10B Pentagon infrastructure project. Read the rest

Victory! Google will not bid on $10B Pentagon cloud computing contract

When Google's engineering staff staged an uprising over the company's "Project Maven" to supply AI tools for the Pentagon's secretive drone-based killing program, many observed that the project was just a prelude to bidding on JEDI, the Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, a $10B project to supply cloud services to the entire US military. Read the rest

Tech workers are downing tools and refusing to work on unethical projects

Tech workers are in demand: companies find it easier to raise cash than to hire engineers; this gives workers enormous bargaining power, and they're using it. Read the rest

Developers are worth more to tech companies than cash

Researchers from Stripe surveyed "thousands of C-level executives and developers across five different countries" and found that companies finding hiring qualified developers harder than anything else -- even raising cash ("Access to developers is a bigger constraint than access to capital"). Read the rest

Liberaltarianism: Silicon Valley's emerging ideology of "disruption with economic airbags"

Boing Boing favorite Steven Johnson (previously) has written at length about the emerging politics of "liberaltarianism" in Silicon Valley, which favors extensive government regulation (of all industries save tech), progressive taxation, universal basic income, universal free health care, free university, debt amnesty for students -- but no unions and worker acceptance of "volatility, job loss, and replacement by technology." Read the rest

Podcast: Let's get better at demanding better from tech

Here's my reading (MP3) of Let's get better at demanding better from tech, a Locus Magazine column about the need to enlist moral, ethical technologists in the fight for a better technological future. It was written before the death of EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow, whose life's work was devoted to this proposition, and before the Google uprising over Project Maven, in which technologists killed millions in military contracts by refusing to build AI systems for the Pentagon's drones.

MP3 Read the rest

Citing bad publicity and internal dissent, Google announces it won't renew contract to supply AI for US military drones

Google knew that Project Maven, its contract to supply AI to US military drones would be unpopular, but they were chasing hundreds of millions of dollars in follow-on contracts, and even though dozens of engineers quit over the project, at least they got a snazzy mission patch. Read the rest

Leaks show that Google expected its modest AI-for-drones business to expand exponentially

While leaked memos show that Google execs perceived a real risk of internal backlash from their $9 million Pentagon contract to supply AI for US military drones, they were willing to risk it because they expected the business to quickly grow to $250,000,000. Read the rest

No, seriously, THIS is the mission patch for Google's drone warfare AI contract with the Pentagon

JWZ: "Which probably translates to, 'Take your ad-targetting snake-oil and repurpose it to execute brown people with drones'. You know, kind of like how Wehrner von Braun aimed for the stars, but mostly hit London." Read the rest

Leaked memos reveal the deep divisions within Google over Pentagon contract

Google's decision to provide AI tools for use with US military drones has been hugely controversial within the company (at least a dozen googlers quit over it) and now the New York Times has obtained internal memos revealing how senior officials at the company anticipated that controversy and attempted (unsuccessfully) to head it off. Read the rest