In one of the first on-the-record interviews with one of the Googlers who resigned to protest the company’s contract with the Department of Defense, Tyler Breisacher tells Business Insider why he has no regrets.
But Breisacher said he isn’t popping the champagne yet. Google is expected to publish ethical principles on working with artificial intelligence and the devil will be in the details.
The 30-year-old software engineer says Project Maven is consistent with a shift in thinking within Google’s management. He believes the company’s values have changed.
On April 20, Tyler Breisacher walked out of Google for the last time, ending his more than six-year relationship with the company. In an exclusive interview with Business Insider, he said that on that day he was a little emotional, but comforted by the fact that he was leaving for the right reasons.
Breisacher, a Google software developer who worked on Google’s Github compiler, resigned in part to protest the company’s involvement in Project Maven — the controversial collaboration between Google and the US Department of Defense. In March, word got out that Google had quietly supplied artificial intelligence technology to the Pentagon to help analyze drone video footage.
In April, more than 4,000 workers signed a petition demanding that Google’s management cease work on Project Maven and promise to never again “build warfare technology.” Soon after that, Gizmodo reported that a dozen or so Google employees had resigned in protest. Breisacher was among that group, he says.
The internal dissent and the negative press forced Google to backtrack, and the company reportedly told staff on Friday that it would not renew the Project Maven contract when it runs out next year.
Does Breisacher feel he and the other protesters triumphed?
Breisacher says he won’t uncork any champagne bottles until he sees the list of ethical principles Google is expected to publish this week which will lay out its policies towards AI work.
“I think this is the best outcome as far this contract is concerned,” said Breisacher, 30, in his first on-the-record interview since quitting. “This is obviously a big deal and it’s very encouraging but this only happened after months and months of people signing petitions and (internal debate) and people quitting.”
And while many expect Google to forswear military work in the published AI principles, Breisacher worries that the company may leave itself some wiggle room that could lead to future instances …read more
Source:: Business Insider