Compromise with employees and stop renewing with the Department of Defense. This is a story that only happens on Google.

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Compromise with employees and stop renewing with the Department of Defense. This is a story that only happens on Google.

2018-06-08 00:25:35 263 ℃

A Pentagon contract led to a three-month protest within Google. In the end, "Don't be evil" won.

In Google Cloud, employees call the weekly meeting a "Weather Report." Little is known about the outside world. Until this Friday, this particular name spread across the Silicon Valley and even the entire US Internet circle.

Diana Greene, who also serves as CEO of Google Cloud and a member of Google’s board of directors, announced at the regular meeting on Friday that Google will end with the US Department of Defense after the expiration of this contract. Cooperative Project Maven (literally: expert plan).

Like the horn of victory, the news spread across the interior of Google and quickly spread to the media. An article on the headlines marked the event that took place in the technical and management teams. The long-lasting "fight" finally ended with the victory of the former.

Looking back at Google's three months of infighting, you will find that this is destined to be only a story in Google, a story that is destined to be included in the history of the company. The outcome is the best proof that the legendary Internet giant, who founded the entire twenty years, once again chose the latter between political pressure, commercial interests, and technological ideals.

Secret Contract

Speaking from a story in early March.

On March 6th this year, according to Gizmodo, which was first reported by internal staff, Google has entered into a cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense (Pentagon) to help develop an artificial intelligence system for drones. Project code Project Maven.

The Pentagon; Chart | Vision China

The next day, The Intercept issued follow-up reports, claiming the PentagonGoogle secretly passed an intermediary company named ECS Federal at the time of signing, so this cooperation has not been discovered. At the same time, because of Google’s internal confidentiality requirements for employees, this cooperation incident was initially spread only within the company through intranet mail. When media such as Gizmodo received public reports, related topics have been discussed in Google for nearly a week.

In an internal discussion, many Google employees expressed angrily their strong dissatisfaction with Project Maven. Some of them think that Google is opening up resources for the Pentagon to help the latter to create drone surveillance technology. Some people also question whether Google is so ethical in using machine learning technology. They think that the Pentagon will use this technology. Weapons of killing, in turn, brought about the harm that technical optimists never wanted to cause.

2017 is a year in which governments around the world have clearly recognized the importance of artificial intelligence and took action. The Chinese government has introduced a number of policies to support artificial intelligence. Putin also publicly published such sensational views as "the leader in artificial intelligence will dominate the world" and "the future war will be completed by drones."

In this context, in April 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense that had not invested heavily in the field of artificial intelligence decided to launch Project Maven and jointly own the world's largest number of high-level talents in artificial intelligence. The Internet giant has accelerated the creation of cutting-edge computer vision systems for military drones. Project Maven is also known as "AWCFT". Its purpose is to "accelerate the integration of machine learning and Big Data with Department of Defense applications."

Although the Pentagon has never revealed cooperation with any specific company, it is not a difficult task for the outside world to find suspicious targets. Project Maven has an advisory team called the "US Defense Innovation Council," which was originally founded by former U.S. Defense Minister Ash Carter to bridge the technology gap between the Pentagon and the Silicon Valley industry. Most of the committee members are senior executives of American computer and Internet giants, whose chairpersons are currently GoogleEric Schmidt, member of the parent company Alphabet Board. According to media reports, the companies in which the various consultant team members including Schmidt are located have the ability to directly provide assistance to the Pentagon.

Eric Schmidt; Chart | Vision China

For this, Schmidt, who has been pushed to the top, said that he was responsible for this. The role is to ensure that the military is using the technology for the purpose of protecting the country's security. He believes that "at least such dialogue (between the military and Silicon Valley) should exist." Schmidt also emphasized that the Department of Defense did not use Google’s technology for combat purposes.

Obviously, Schmidt's explanation does not satisfy employees. Google’s highly skilled employees quickly set off a new wave of protests.

Four thousand joint petitions

In early April, Sundar Pichai, more than 3,100 Google employee joint-company CEOs, expressed their protest against Project Maven.

Letter from Google employees to associate a letter from Sandal Pichay; Figure | The New York Times

"We think Google should not be a war business," employees In the letter, they said they asked Google to set up a new rule: Google and its contract companies can never participate in the engineering of war technology. For employees, projects such as Project Maven will not only damage the reputation of the company, but will also adversely affect Google’s future recruitment. “Google’s unique history, its motto of “Do not be evil,” and its ability to reach hundreds of millions of users directly are unique reasons for this.”

“Google’s Values It has been said very clearly: Every one of our users trusts us. Never break this trust and never.” The employees emphasized in the letter.

The petition was circulated within Google for several weeks and eventually yielded some 4,000 signatures, including some high-level engineers.

After the petition was revealed, Google responded by stating that "any military use of machine learning will naturally cause some legitimate concerns," but Google is actively promoting internal topics on this important topic. Full discussion. Although Google stated that such exchanges are "very important and beneficial," the people exposed by the New York Times are still afraid to publicly expose their identities for fear of retaliation.

In response, Google re-emphasized that the technology provided to the Pentagon is but an open source object recognition software (TensorFlow API) available to any Google Cloud user. "This technology is used to mark human review." The purpose of the picture is to save lives and save time for people who work in boring jobs."

When Google rushed to appease the mood of its employees, its competitors were "bitteringly" working with the Pentagon: Amazon touted its own image identification work with the Department of Defense, and Microsoft won. The military processes cloud service orders for confidential data.

In the commercialization of cloud services, Google Cloud has lagged behind Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure. Therefore, as the leader of Google Cloud, Diane Green is more hopeless since he took office. With the help of this cooperation with the Ministry of Defense, we can win more orders in the future.

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene; Chart | Vision China

It is ironic that some media found that Google had deleted it around the end of April. The eighteen-year motto "Don't be evil" was emphasized in three places at the beginning of the company's code of conduct. At the end of the guideline, there is a sentence that has not been deleted: "Remember, don't be evil, if you see something that you think is not correct, speak out!"

Resignation turmoil

Events in the middle of May, Google’s employees screamed for nearly three months, including many others including Greene, Pichchai and even company founder Sergey Brin. The tube did not make a positive responseEven Google’s management is “sneaking” in bidding for another Defense Department cloud service project, even as it fears that employees will be aware of the larger protests.

More than a dozen employees, desperate for management, have no choice but to send their resignations and take the initiative to leave the company. "In the past few months, I responded to these and their concerns with people. Listening to people's concerns has become more and more disappointing."

"From a certain moment, I suddenly realized that I didn't have enough faith to recommend someone to join Google. I thought clearly if I Can't recommend others to join here, so why do I still need to stay here?” said a resigned employee. "I try to remind myself that this is Google's decision, not mine. I don't have to take personal responsibility for everything they do. If I can make the incident escalate, then I think this is my responsibility." Another employee said.

In the 20 years since Google was founded, this company, which has always been comfortable in work environment and cultural freedom, has never experienced such a grim situation today. This turmoil in the history of Google’s biggest resignation has really sounded a wake-up call for management and led directly to Google’s decision to compromise on protesters.

At the "weather forecast" regular meeting on June 1st, Diane Green announced that the company will terminate Project Maven's cooperation after the contract expires in 2019 with the Pentagon.

"We have always said that this is only a 18-month contract, so in March 2019, it will end." Green said at the meeting, "and we will not continue About."

Thus, Google’s internal three-month protest ended and it eventually ended in a compromise between management and employees.

But two days before Green’s announcement, the “New York Times” published an introductory article on internal mail, and we saw the real reason behind Google’s “soft service”.

Teared Google

Not all employees are completely opposed to Google's cooperation with the Pentagon. Some people think that Google’s competitors, Microsoft and Amazon are earning a lot from their cooperation with the defense military.It was full, and within the two companies, there were few protesters that prevented the company from pursuing more interests.

On April 2nd, the U.S. government added $100 million in investment to Project Maven, and the Department of Defense also issued a $10 billion cloud service bidding project. This is obviously in the eyes of sales and management. Not to be missed big cake.

In a corporate-wide meeting, Green explained that Google Cloud’s contract with the Pentagon has not been used for fatal purposes, and that this is only a small contract valued at $9 million, but management’s purpose is also very high. Obviously, they hope that this 18-month contract will instigate more and more business in the future.

Sergey Brin; Figure | Google China co-founder Sergey Brin has also responded to a series of questions about Project Maven Question, he said he had serious discussions with another founder, Larry Page, and Sandra Pichchai. He thought that international companies like Google were involved in such a contract and it was a Good things - compared to some nationalist companies.

At the same meeting where Brin came out, CEO Pichchai stated that Google will introduce a set of rules that “can stand the test of time” and regulate Google’s outsourcing with defense and intelligence agencies in the future. Avoid ethical minefields. It can be seen that at the time, neither Brin, who was president of Alphabet, nor Google CEO Pichai, they did not intend to completely put down the fat of the Ministry of Defense.

Li Feifei is a key name in many emails exposed. The Chinese-American Google Cloud chief scientist has a pivotal position in both academic and industrial circles. In Google Cloud, she is in management but she is also a researcher. Because of this, Li Feifei became the core figure connecting the management and technical team in this storm.

Li Feifei

​​Last September, when Google had justWhen signing a contract with the Pentagon, Scott Frohman, who is responsible for sales to the government, sought “public relations assistance” from Li Feifei and others, hoping to find a suitable way to make the contract public without controversy.

As can be seen from the email, Google Cloud's colleagues have decided to hand over the right to Li Feifei, who believes that the company should publicly promote this cooperation as a "great victory for Google Cloud Platform." She strongly advises “very cautious” when constructing this plan. She said in an email, “If the media started to use Google as a cover for AI weapons or as a weapon for IA technology for the defense industry, I don’t know that. What will happen."

In particular, Feifei Li mentioned that he hopes the company will avoid using the two letters “AI” when discussing this cooperation. "At any cost to avoid mentioning or implying AI, weaponized AI may be one of the most sensitive topics of artificial intelligence - or even one of them. For media who want to harm Google, this is simply A piece of fresh meat brought to the mouth."

Feifeifei has always stood by the good side of artificial intelligence. “The weaponization of AI is a serious violation of all the principles of my research work.” She responded afterwards.

In addition to the Google Cloud, other key players in the company's internal AI area also uttered their voices in this incident.

DeepMind is one of the active participants in this protest. As early as 2014, when Google acquired DeepMind, the contract expressly stated that the latter refused to provide technology for any military and surveillance purposes. A number of DeepMind employees participated in the signature campaign of the joint letter, and its founder, Mustafa Suleyman, was directly involved in the Google leadership discussions on establishing policies related to Project Maven.

Jeff Dean, head of Google's artificial intelligence division, received an interview with the media on a recent Google I/O. He said he has signed an anti-machine learning technology. A joint letter applied in automated weapons to express their stand on weaponizationAI's position on the opposite side.

It is a pity that Diane Green did not listen to the opinions of Li Feifei and others. Google did not disclose this cooperation with the Pentagon, which led to a few months later, cooperation in the company's intranet. Numerous criticisms from employees are outspoken.

"Speak Out"

Google has always had an outspoken tradition. This is where everyone who joins Google claims to be the most proud of Googler employees.

In 2015, Google’s employees had successfully forced the company to withdraw its ban on pornographic content on blogging platforms; in 2017, employees issued a memorandum to reflect overly politically correct issues within the company, causing the entire company to During the heated discussion, many senior executives including Pichchai had to openly reflect.

On the other hand, Google's internal atmosphere is full of technological ideals, and technology geeks are rushing to the company that has the motto of "Do not be evil". In the 20 years since its founding, numerous talents have gathered here, and Google has thus grown to become today's Internet giant, becoming the second-biggest presence in the artificial intelligence industry.

Google’s culture is rooted in this open-minded company environment. Those Googlers who jointly petitioned and even sadly left are the true believers of this open culture. Like the phrase "not too willing to delete" in its code of conduct: "Remember, don't be evil, if you see something that you think is not correct, speak up!" When a company made a divergence At the beginning of the day, its employees did not hesitate to leave the company to force the company back on track. This is exactly what employees expect from the company.

In the discussion about Project Maven, one view was that even if Google were to withdraw, the Pentagon would cooperate with other companies, and ultimately only Google would suffer losses.

For this, many people have expressed their denial of this naïve view that "I don't do bad things, others do it too." But it is undeniable that today, as artificial intelligence is increasingly valued by governments of all countries, it is impossible for the US Department of Defense to give up because of the withdrawal of a company. Weaponized AI may have become an inevitablethe trend of.

Under the trend, Google’s employees’ protests may be seen as immature by competitors and Department of Defense officials. But for the industry as a whole, such practices have become A rare precedent.

In mid-April, after the launch of Google’s internal joint petition, some of the tech giant’s employees united to launch online requests for cloud service giants such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon to no longer be Defense Department contract bid petition.

A company may not be able to change the world's trends (whether good or bad), but it can at least become a positive example.

Source: Visual China

This article was originally created by Geek Park

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