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posted by martyb on Friday September 14 2018, @09:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the now-searching-for-a-job dept.

Senior Google Scientist Resigns Over "Forfeiture of Our Values" in China

A senior Google research scientist has quit the company in protest over its plan to launch a censored version of its search engine in China.

Jack Poulson worked for Google's research and machine intelligence department, where he was focused on improving the accuracy of the company's search systems. In early August, Poulson raised concerns with his managers at Google after The Intercept revealed that the internet giant was secretly developing a Chinese search app for Android devices. The search system, code-named Dragonfly, was designed to remove content that China's authoritarian government views as sensitive, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.

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."

He said that he was concerned not just about the censorship itself, but also the ramifications of hosting customer data on the Chinese mainland, where it would be accessible to Chinese security agencies that are well-known for targeting political activists and journalists.

In his resignation letter, Poulson told his bosses: "Due to my conviction that dissent is fundamental to functioning democracies, I am forced to resign in order to avoid contributing to, or profiting from, the erosion of protection for dissidents."

"I view our intent to capitulate to censorship and surveillance demands in exchange for access to the Chinese market as a forfeiture of our values and governmental negotiating position across the globe," he wrote, adding: "There is an all-too-real possibility that other nations will attempt to leverage our actions in China in order to demand our compliance with their security demands."

Are the ~5 resignations indicative of fierce internal opposition or beleaguered acquiescence within Google?

Previously: Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal
Uproar at Google after News of Censored China Search App Breaks

Related: About a Dozen Google Employees Have Resigned Over Project Maven
"Don't be Evil" Disappearing From Google's Code of Conduct
Google Will Not Continue Project Maven After Contract Expires in 2019
Google Boots Open Source Anti-Censorship Tool From Chrome Store

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  • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Friday September 14 2018, @07:57PM (4 children)

    by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <> on Friday September 14 2018, @07:57PM (#735013) Homepage Journal

    EF's a tiny bit more insightful but gives a lot less of a shit. He don't consider responding to most folks with any seriousness worth his time.

    My rights don't end where your fear begins.
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by VLM on Friday September 14 2018, @10:00PM (3 children)

    by VLM (445) on Friday September 14 2018, @10:00PM (#735097)

    I wouldn't disagree much. His posts are more interesting to read; I still have a residual habit of "if only I prove to them their religious beliefs are irrational, that'll give me the root password to un-brainwash them" which is usually a waste of time although sometimes entertaining.

    Most of my interactions with the left are along the pattern of "I believe I'm holier than thou because of my steadfast belief in (some irrational stuff having no scientific relationship to the real world)" "(proven irrational, LOL)" "General sophistry along the lines of fuck you you are evil nazi hatefacts need book burning party punch a nazi my religious belief is stronger than mere reality" etc.

    Also I clearly type faster than him, this comes out at 100 wpm unedited, whereas he's more a "brevity is the source of wit" type of poster.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by The Mighty Buzzard on Friday September 14 2018, @10:07PM (2 children)

      by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <> on Friday September 14 2018, @10:07PM (#735101) Homepage Journal

      Yup, it takes practice to stop yourself from trying to help folks out by making them less horribly wrong in nearly every way.

      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
      • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14 2018, @11:05PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14 2018, @11:05PM (#735132)

        Yall are some delusional motherfuckers.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15 2018, @12:47AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15 2018, @12:47AM (#735170)

          The crazy part is I read the OIG report, the house committee report, related fbi indictments, and they all support Trump's story... Hilary Clinton campaign was up to some illegal shit in addition to her campaign "colluding with russia" (even worse, she got trolled by them), but all the people at intelligence agencies wanted her to win for whatever reason so they said "no reasonable prosecute would follow up on this" and such and then started spying on Trump and trying to set him up as an "insurance" strategy. In the process all sorts of illegal stuff was done, who knows how high it goes either.

          The only thing that doesn't support this is a bunch of anonymous sources telling cnn and friends stuff that they repeat over and over. Thats the usual strategy to brainwash people who don't look into it (which will be most people, and there is nothing wrong with that). I am really at the point of deciding to vote for republicans over this, and fuck republicans and democrats. I've never voted for either before.