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Google’s New Slogan: “Don’t Be Good.”

Google has announced that it will stop its work on Maven, a contract with the Defense Department under which it helped improve artificial intelligence to identify objects and people photographed by drones. According to news reports, Google ended this project under pressure from its employees who did not want to be complicit in devices that could be used on the battlefield.

Google’s employees have either failed to think through the moral consequences of their decision or, even more to their discredit, believe that the United States is worse than authoritarian and communist nations, like Russia and China. The question is not whether the weapons using AI will be developed, but who will develop them first. Refusing to work with our Defense Department makes it more likely that such nations will acquire capabilities before the United States and thereby put at risk the freedoms these employees enjoy.

Google’s decision is particularly disturbing, because drones are needed to combat the asymmetrical warfare waged by terrorists. Without new kinds of weapons that permit surprise attacks by the United States on their hideouts, terrorists are likely to kill more innocent civilians. Without weapons that permit more accurate targeting, attempts to kill these terrorists will also likely result in the unintended deaths of innocent civilians. Drones are thus a moral technology for the new kind of war which the United States wages not only for itself but for people the world over.

Around the time of World War II, George Orwell famously said that pacifism was objectively pro-fascist. Similarly, the refusal to work for a just government in our age can make the work of terrorists easier.

These employees resemble the nuclear disarmament demonstrators in the West during the Cold War.  Indeed, Google employees’ actions are worse.  Perhaps one might have naively hoped that pressure on Western governments would lead to useful nuclear arms control treaties between the Soviets and the United States. But international agreements not to work on artificial intelligence in drones are impossible to imagine. They would be impossible to verify, and most nations would rightly be unwilling to end research by firms that might help their economies even if it also redounded to their military advantage.

Google is populated by recent graduates of our elite universities. It is thus not surprising that its employees behave so much like so many students. They ignore the virtues of the society that supports their freedom and prosperity and instead spend their energy signaling their own virtue at that society’s expense.

Reader Discussion

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on June 05, 2018 at 10:48:25 am

This commentary elucidates yet another frightening example of the existential threats posed by the unrivaled Google monopoly and its unholy allied monopolies in the 21st century Axis of Standard Oils. For profit they defy America's national interests and collude with America's enemies, and with hectoring hubris they sabotage America's founding values.

Will no one use the self-defensive force of the laws of anti-trust, national security and foreign commerce to bust these anti-human trusts and rid us of their meddlesome secular priests?

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Pukka Luftmensch
on June 05, 2018 at 15:42:17 pm

How can McGinnis, a man who regards every action by state actors with suspicion, suddenly wax rhapsodic about the pure motives of the state's military? Will wonders never cease....

Google’s New Slogan: “Don’t Be Good.”

Ah, but there's no conflict between the slogan "Don't be evil" and "Don't be good." Indeed, they're practically two sides of the same coin. To strive to do anything on consequence risks doing something that might, in hindsight, have unforeseen and undesired consequences. Thus, the best way to avoid doing evil is to avoid doing--which is what Google has elected to do. It's decision is not a rejection of its mission, but its fulfillment.

Around the time of World War II, George Orwell famously said that pacifism was objectively pro-fascist.

How did Germany's pacifists promote fascism?

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nobody.really
on June 05, 2018 at 17:25:26 pm

"Ah, but there’s no conflict between the slogan “Don’t be evil” and “Don’t be good.” Indeed, they’re practically two sides of the same coin."

That may be one of the most slow-witted statements ever made on this website and perhaps anywhere else. Downright Obamaesque in its rhetorically high-flying, unforgettable stupidity.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on June 05, 2018 at 20:05:48 pm

Pukka:

"

“Ah, but there’s no conflict between the slogan “Don’t be evil” and “Don’t be good.” Indeed, they’re practically two sides of the same coin.”

That may be one of the most slow-witted statements ever made on this website and perhaps anywhere else. Downright Obamaesque in its rhetorically high-flying, unforgettable stupidity."

No - BUT this:

"How did Germany’s pacifists promote fascism?"

may very well be the most deliberately obtuse statement seen in these environs in a long while.
Nobody.really is neither slow-witted nor stupid. He simply steadfastly refuses to take the effort to "reason-out" statements with which he disagrees.

He ain;t no dummy! Just obstinate!

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gabe
on June 05, 2018 at 20:48:10 pm

Hmm!
I ain't buyin it.

Does not contumacious political thinking by the Left support obdurate group-think and willful ignorance thereby fostering, ultimately, their destructive political goal of swaying the ignorant, the gullible and the naive?

Might we not, then, say of Obama that "He ain't no dummy! Just obstinate?"

What a duplicitous ploy, to feign ignorance and call it pigheaded.

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Pukka Luftmensch
on June 06, 2018 at 16:03:36 pm

Well in Obama's case, HE WAS DUMB *and* obstinate!

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gabe
on June 06, 2018 at 16:56:41 pm

True Dat!
Based on the record of his first four years as president, I made that point once in "polite" company, just after Obama's re-election, and was harshly accused of being a racist.

The record in support of my conclusion was overwhelming then; now it's irrefutable. I could add to his special stupidity and obduracy, Obama's extraordinary capacity for self-delusion.

He really was, literally, an "outstanding" president, one who stood out from all of his predecessors, without even considering his historically exceptional political corruption, rivalled, it would seem, only by the Clinton criminal cartel.

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Pukka Luftmensch

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.