Various – some 3,000 in fact – employees at Google seem to have missed Capitalism 101. The basic lesson of which is that it is the owners of a company which, erm, own it. The employees in a company are the hired labour, not those who direct what the company does. Sure, in that market for tech talent those with the scarce item, that talent, have a little more bargaining power than those flipping burgers. That being why they get rather higher pay of course. But that still doesn’t produce the right to direct the company’s activities:
Amid growing fears of biased and weaponized AI, Google is already struggling to keep the public’s trust. By entering into this contract, Google will join the ranks of companies like Palantir, Raytheon and General Dynamics. The argument that other firms, like Microsoft and Amazon, are also participating doesn’t make this any less risky for Google. Google’s unique history, its motto “don’t be evil”, and its direct reach into the lives of billions of users set it apart.
We cannot outsource the moral responsibility of our technologies to third parties. Google’s stated values make this clear: every one of our users is trusting us. Never jeopardize that. Ever. This contract puts Google’s reputation at risk and stands in direct opposition to our core values. Building this technology to assist the US government in military surveillance – and potentially lethal outcomes – is not acceptable.
They don’t want Google to work on military contracts. Amusing in a manner of course as the company got going with some Darpa funding in the first place.
However, think on that bargaining power of those 3,000 employees again. It’s entirely true that they have such. Their skills are in high demand elsewhere, that’s why they get decent pay right now. And if their skills are in high demand elsewhere and they object to Google doing military contracts then they should go test the market for their skills elsewhere. That’s what high demand for skills means, they’ve got the ability and power to do that.
Unless of course this complaint is coming from those who don’t have that market power in which case who cares what they say?