‘Don’t Be Evil’? Google Scientist Resigns Over Company’s Plans To Launch Censored Search Engine In China
Jack Poulson, a research scientist for Google, has resigned in protest after leaked documents have revealed that his company is working on developing a censored version of its search engine in line with China’s authoritarian government, The Intercept reports.
It was as late as August that The Intercept broke the story that, according to internal documents and people familiar with the matter, Google CEO Sundar Pichai struck a deal with Beijing in December 2017 to create the search engine, which will blacklist websites and search terms that the Chinese government see as necessary to crack down on.
The project — code-named Dragonfly — is accompanied by two versions of an Android app developed by Google called “Maotai” or “Longfei”, which has already been demonstrated to Chinese officials.
According to The Intercept, the project has been kept quiet to just a few hundreds of members of the company. “I’m against large companies and governments collaborating in the oppression of their people, and feel like transparency around what’s being done is in the public interest”, a Google employee told the newspaper on the condition of anonymity.
Among the most outspoken critics was Jack Poulson, who worked for Google’s research and machine intelligence department when first speaking out. Since then, Poulson has left the company citing its “forfeiture” of its “public human rights commitments.”
The former assistant professor at Stanford University’s department of mathematics said that he believes that Google’s China deal violates its artificial intelligence principles, which states that the corporation will not design technology “whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.”
Back in March, the Chinese parliament scrapped presidential term limits, meaning that the President, Xi Jinping, could stay in office for the rest of his life. The move reversed an era of “collective leadership” and orderly succession promoted by chairman Deng Xiaoping following the deadly one-man rule of Mao Zedong, whose controversial Great Leap Forward project lead to the death of somewhere between 18 and 55 million people between 1958 and 1962.