Is it just them or does everything have to be cleansed?

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?

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Dunno. For one thing, Google’s motto is not “Don’t Be Evil”, they junked that years ago when the sulphuric stench of social justice made it no longer feasible to claim that Google isn’t actually the digital Antichrist.

    For another, Google encourages employee engagement of this sort. Sometimes in a “let a hundred flowers bloom” sort of way so they can dogpile and defenestrate problematic white males like James Damore, to be sure. But encourage it they do.

    I have mixed feelings myself about the inevitable nuclear holocaust in the coming war of man versus Arnold Schwarzenegger-lookalike machine. At least it won’t be boring. If I was a Silicon Valley autist, I’d rather be working on Skynet than those stupid Google glasses.

  2. Google’s employees can posture and issue demands all they want. They will not quit the company in even token numbers. That would require that they go out into the real world, where their posturing and demands would be worth a lot less. Their next employer would probably not even pander to them by listening. Imagine a Google employee (surgically altered because he believes he is a dragon and not a human) trying to sell used cars.

  3. But that still doesn’t produce the right to direct the company’s activities:

    A while back, when a French oil company acquired a smaller oil company, the unions criticised the move, demanding to know how it was compatible with the company’s commitments to reduce emissions as per the Paris Agreement.

    This is like Google acquiring Bing and the employees demanding to know how this fits in with a company promise to process fewer web searches.

    • Aren’t union’s wonderful? here, complaining that the oil company promised them it would take major steps to go out of business. Not defending the interests of the workers but using them as Unassailable Victims in order to further the leftie agenda.

  4. I remember (about 20yrs ago) in a large Corp that one of the tabled issues from shareholders for the annual meeting was why they had stopped making land mines as they weren’t illegal (in some places) and made a good profit.
    The group that put the item on the agenda was the union, now that’s looking out for your members who are about to lose their well paid munitions jobs

    • Sure! For or against the existence of land mines is a political question, on which individual workers can advocate, off the job. The union’s role is to assert that these workers’ pay and job security calls for good business in land mines, though the company may quit that business for other reasons.

      That unions now do the political advocacy is why a lawsuit, now before the U.S. Supreme Court, claims that the only way to square that with the First Amendment is to prevent unions from compelling the payment of dues at all.