Project Maven died without making a bad command.

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Editor’s note: Google used to be the most innovative company. From search engines to Gmail, maps, Chrome, Docs, Photo, translation, to unmanned vehicles, Project Loon and other moon landing programs, Google can always use one. Innovations attract everyone’s attention. But in the last three years, the situation has changed. Since the strike against the ban, the Google employees have continually challenged the company’s decisions, and other employees have challenged those challenges, causing the company to struggle to cope with the endless hamsters in recent years. It seems to have been extinguished by employees one by one. What happened to Google in the past few years? Or at a deeper level, what kind of trend is the US technology giant facing? “Connected” magazine used a long article to reveal the secret to us. The original author is ASHA TIKU, titled: Three Years of Misery Inside Google, the Happiest Company in Tech. This article is compiled by 36kr and published in sections. This is the fifth part.

Google: The 3rd year of the most happy technology company (5)

Google: The Three Years of the Happiest Technology Company (1)

Google: The Three Years of the Happiest Technology Company (2)

Google: The Three Years of the Happiest Technology Company (3)

Google: The Three Years of the Happiest Technology Company (4)

5. Kill Project Maven

In February, news about Maven began outside the small circle of previously known messages.spread. Fong-Jones decided to post a post about Maven on his internal Google+ page and shared his serious concern that Google may be helping the US government launch a drone attack. Soon after, the engineers released their own internal statement explaining that they were told to develop an “air gap.” This is a security measure favored by the Pentagon to isolate the network to protect sensitive data. They informed their colleagues about their efforts to defeat the project.

Fong-Jones hopes to put pressure on Google’s leaders entirely through internal channels, which seems to be useful at first. Angry employees began to call the engineers a group of nine, and executives felt the pressure to respond. Greene tried to assure employees on her Google+ page that the contract was only $9 million and it was just a “proof of concept.” However, within 48 hours, Fong-Jones said she received a call from Intercept reporter Lee Fang, who wanted to ask her to comment on her Google+ post. This shows that someone has leaked it. She is worried that if the news goes out, management is forced into the corner. So Fong-Jones personally contacted Google’s security team. She said that we have to seize the leaker.

Another employee who closely follows the Maven project is Meredith Whittaker, project manager at Google Cloud. In addition to working for Google, Whittaker also helped run the AI ​​Now Institute, a research center at New York University, which focuses on the research of artificial intelligence ethics and social impact. On February 28th, Whittaker drafted a petition for Google employees asking Pichai to cancel the contract. She wrote: “Google should not participate in the war.”

At the TGIF that week, executives were caught off guard by the counterattack. An employee stood up and said that he left his last job because of moral concerns about defense work. Brin told her that Google is different from others because at least she can ask questions here. Whittaker’s petition received about 500 signatures that night and an additional 1,000 signatures the next day. With the help of Google’s open culture, this petition became the touchstone of a month-long internal debate and caused Google’s division.

Google’s enthusiastic internal staff failed to reach a consensus because they included former Defense Research Fellows, veterans, and immigrants from countries monitored by U.S. drones. Even veterans have disagreed with the project. But the way Maven opponents are organized is something Google has never seen before. Employees are dispersed to notThe same group. Some people searched Google’s open database, and the emails they found seemed to contradict Green’s statement about the size of the Pentagon contract; they also found Python code snippets for computer vision technology that seemed to be tracking people and vehicles from a functional point of view. . Some people began to curb anti-Maven fans; others track employees who are unwilling to work for that contract. There is also an activity organization dedicated to factual verification, listing evidence that is inconsistent with the company’s statement. This list will be longer and longer.

Greene responds with a hamster–locking mailing lists, deleting documents or asking employees to modify their Google+ posts. Long-term executives were surprised and even hurt when the company lost the trust that employees had.

In March, Gizmodo exposed the story of Maven to the public. Inside Google, executives are urging employees to have their own judgments; they say Google’s leaders are developing a set of artificial intelligence principles to manage their business practices and contracts (such as Maven). Employees should wait for these principles to come out and discuss them.

When you change, it may be enough to make this self-regulatory gesture. And many employees want the theme to change. However, the anti-Maven organizer was very fierce and supported by an external labor organization called the Tech Workers Coalition. This group of people is motivated by the idea that they can effectively arouse the attention of the media and the public, and that this group of people is more than ever aware of the excitement of seeing someone finally hold the responsibility of a technology company. To be eager.

On April 4th, the New York Times published a report on the Whittaker petition, when they had collected more than 3,100 signatures. Four days later, at 10pm on Monday, Whittaker received an email from Greene inviting her to participate in an internal debate on the Maven project (a total of four people attended) and the content will be shown to Google headquarters employees on Wednesday.

Whittaker started crazy preparations. She called the colleagues and friends of the Ministry of Defense to record the casualties caused by the drone and to look at the defense contract. On the day she left New York to attend the discussion, Whittaker was informed that the day’s debate would be held three times to facilitate the viewing of employees in different time zones.

It is said that Whittaker should be arguing against each other. Because the host is Greene, the other two participants who support Maven’s debate are Google’s long-time veterans. But many of them are the views that many executives have said in the recent TGIF. This contract is of a research nature. Maven only uses Google’s open source machine learning software. Let Google get AI wellGot it by a defense contractor. Maven is helping the “our” army. Whittaker has based on the analysis he has been practicing on Google’s social network for weeks, suggesting that the ethical code around artificial intelligence has not been formed, nor should it be done in the process of establishing a business relationship with the Pentagon. thing.

After the first debate, Whittaker stepped back and forth in the parking lot at Google headquarters, called his colleagues and asked how they would refute themselves. By the end of the last debate, Whittaker seemed to have been drained. She braved the heavy rain and ran to her car, took some beer and peanuts in the cellar, and then returned to the hotel room. Inside Google, people often use Memegen to figure out the emotions of these unscrupulous employees. On the day of the Assembly Hall meeting, most of the fans were supporting Whittaker.

On May 30th, the New York Times published a report on Maven, in which an email about the AI ​​weaponization sent by Li Feifei to other executives was also announced. Two days later, at the weekly meeting of the cloud team, Greene announced that Google did not intend to renew the Maven contract. It is said that she said that the power of this strong protest is really terrible for the company.

Translator: boxi