90 Miles From Tyranny : Former Google Scientist: Oversight of ‘Unethical’ Company Is ‘Urgently Needed’

Friday, September 28, 2018

Former Google Scientist: Oversight of ‘Unethical’ Company Is ‘Urgently Needed’

Jack Poulson, a former senior research scientist at Google, sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation calling the company “unethical” and stating that oversight of the company is “urgently needed” after resigning from the Silicon Valley titan over its censored China search project.

In his letter, Poulson described Google’s censored China search project as “unethical” and claimed “greater oversight and accountability” of the company was “urgently needed.”

He also claimed Google would now be clamping down on internal investigations to stop future revelations of a similar nature from reaching the public, and called on the Senate to have a hearing over the matter.

“Senator Thune set the tone for the upcoming hearing by stating that ‘Consumers deserve clear answers and standards on data privacy protection.’ Given the scale and social impact of the technical systems being deployed by Google and other corporations, I would add that greater oversight and accountability of not only data, but also the systems that are designed and deployed based on such data, is urgently needed,” declared Poulson. “Until the beginning of this month, I worked in Google’s Research and Machine Intelligence division as a Senior Research Scientist, where one of my primary responsibilities was improving Google’s search accuracy across a wide variety of languages.”

Poulson continued:
I was compelled to resign my position on August 31, 2018, in the wake of a pattern of unethical and unaccountable decision making from company leadership. This culminated in their refusal to disclose information about Project Dragonfly, a version of Google Search tailored to the censorship and surveillance demands of the Chinese government. Like most of the world, including most Google employees, I learned about this effort on August 1, 2018, from public reporting.

It is notable that Project Dragonfly was well underway at the time the company released its AI Principles. As has been widely understood, by human rights organizations,investigative reporters, Google employees, and the public, Project Dragonfly directly contradicts the AI Principles’ commitment to not “design or deploy” any technology whose purpose “contravenes...

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