Google and Amazon want more defense contracts, despite worker protests

Enlarge / A Project Nimbus cloud contract with the Israeli authorities has some Google and Amazon staff upset.

Hundreds of Google staff and their supporters gathered close to the corporate’s downtown San Francisco places of work Thursday, elevating indicators that learn “No Tech for Apartheid” and filling the air with chants of “Tech from Amazon and Google! You can’t claim that you are neutral !”

Similar scenes unfolded outdoors Google and Amazon places of work in New York and Seattle, and a Google workplace in Durham, North Carolina. Google and Amazon workers had been joined on the rallies by tech staff from different corporations and Palestinian rights organizations. They all convened to protest Project Nimbus, Google and Amazon’s cloud computing contract with the Israeli authorities.

Google paperwork printed by The Intercept present the contract consists of AI know-how reminiscent of face detection, video evaluation, and sentiment evaluation. Opponents of the deal fear the Israeli army may use the know-how to increase surveillance of Palestinians dwelling in occupied territories and violate human rights.

In an electronic mail, Google Cloud spokesperson Atle Erlingsson wrote that Google Cloud proudly helps quite a few governments, together with Israel’s. He accused protestors of misrepresenting Project Nimbus, saying that “Our work is not directed at highly sensitive or classified military workloads,” however he acknowledged that the contract will present Israel’s army entry to Google know-how. Amazon didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The demonstrations retread acquainted territory for Google, after hundreds of staff signed a letter in 2018 condemning a Pentagon drone surveillance contract, Project Maven. Dozens of workers resigned over the deal, which additionally prompted outcry from teachers, together with Google cofounder Larry Page’s former Stanford adviser. The firm finally mentioned it will not search to resume the contract and published a set of AI principles meant to function moral guideposts.

Some Google workers who oppose Project Nimbus say it breaches a few of these guarantees, which embrace a pledge to not pursue applied sciences that “gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms” or breach “widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.” Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say Israel routinely abuses Palestinian human rights, and name Israel an apartheid state.

Aniran Chandravongsri joined Google’s cloud division as a Seattle-based software program engineer in the course of the peak of the Maven protests in May 2018. Having beforehand labored at General Electric, a significant Pentagon contractor, he says seeing the outcry “was a reason I felt a little bit more comfortable joining Google.” Over the years, he has signed petitions protesting the corporate’s work with police departments and US Customs and Border Patrol, however he determined to take a management function within the pushback towards Project Nimbus.

Chandravongsri’s dad and mom had been born in Laos, the place he nonetheless has prolonged household. He has seen first-hand how CIA-led bombing campaigns in the course of the Nineteen Sixties and Nineteen Seventies left a lethal legacy of unexploded ordnance that also threatens lives right this moment, an issue seen in lots of warfare zones, together with Gaza. He says studying the AI ​​capabilities included in Project Nimbus “really scared me.”


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