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

Speech Police: vital, critical look at the drive to force Big Tech to control who may speak and what they may say

David Kaye (previously) has served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression since 2014 -- a critical half-decade in the evolution of free speech both online and offline; in Speech Police: The Global Struggle to Govern the Internet a new, short book from Columbia Special Reports, Kaye provides a snapshot of the global state of play for expression, as governments, platforms, and activists act out of a mix of both noble and corrupt motives to control online discourse. 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

Google ends forced arbitration contracts for workers after googler uprising

The waves of protests and walkouts that swept Google last year had many grievances and concerns, from the company's Pentagon contract to supply AI for drones to the secret creation of a censored search tool for the Chinese market, but one central flashpoint was the revelation that the company had paid Android exec $90 million to quietly leave the company after a string of disturbing sexual harassment and abuse incidents came to light. Read the rest

Oxford Dictionaries' crowns 'toxic' as its 2018 word of the year

Collins Dictionary named "single-use" as their 2018 word of the year and now Oxford Dictionaries' has dubbed "toxic" as theirs. They report that the word was looked up 45% more times on their site over the last year, having "been used in an array of contexts, both in its literal and more metaphorical senses."

Drawn from our corpus, the top 10 toxic collocates for the year – that is, words habitually used alongside toxic – are indicative of this.

Top 10 ‘toxic’ collocates in 2018 by absolute frequency

Chemical Masculinity Substance Gas Environment Relationship Culture Waste Algae Air

"Toxic" beat out the Oxford's shortlist of "Big Dick Energy (BDE)," "Cakeism," "Gammon," "Gaslighting," "Incel," "Orbiting," "Overtourism," and "Techlash."

photos by Shalaco ("clear San Francisco" was taken last week and "toxic San Francisco" was taken this week -- Ouch!)

(NPR) Read the rest

New York's corporate welfare for Amazon enrages the Koch Brothers, Bernie Sanders, Tucker Carlson, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, etc...

Amazon's new headquarters will be split between northern Virginia and parts of Queens, New York, and will net the company billions in corporate welfare, branded as "incentives." 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

Facebook's top lobbyist threw Kavanaugh a victory celebration in his home

When Facebook hired Joel Kaplan to serve as Vice President for US Public Policy, who could have predicted that he would turn out to be a far-right partisan who would embarrass the company by throwing a victory bash for a serial rapist on the occasion of his being handed a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court? 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

Don't just fine Big Tech for abuses; instead, cut them down to size

My latest Locus Magazine column is Big Tech: We Can Do Better Than Constitutional Monarchies, and it's a warning that the techlash is turning into a devil's bargain, where we make Big Tech pay for a few cosmetic changes that do little to improve bullying, harassment, and disinformation campaigns, and because only Big Tech can afford these useless fripperies, they no longer have to fear being displaced by new challengers with better ways of doing things. Read the rest

The Copenhagen Letter: a set of principles for ethical technology

The techlash has sparked a most welcome interest in the ethics of technology (there are hundreds of university courses on the subject!) and with it, a bustling cottage industry in the formulation and promulgation of "statements of principles" meant to guide technologists in their work. 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

Facebook/Cambridge Analytica legal primer: 'Breach' of data? No. Trust? Yes.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal devouring Facebook may not have been a 'breach' of data, but it was a breach of trust. Read the rest

Why no one has made a tool to turn off Facebook oversharing

The debate over whether Cambridge Analytica's harvesting of tens of millions of Facebook profiles was a "breach" turns on the question of whether Cambridge Analytica did anything wrong, by Facebook's own policies. Read the rest

How to be better at being pissed off at Big Tech

My latest Locus column, "Let’s Get Better at Demanding Better from Tech," looks at how science fiction can make us better critics of technology by imagining how tech could be used in difference social and economic contexts than the one we live in today. Read the rest