Leaked memos reveal the deep divisions within Google over Pentagon contract


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/05/31/drone-be-evil-2.html


“Well if it’s only worth $9M, why are we doing it?”


My first job out of college was maintaining and writing optical data collection applications in a government weapons laboratory in New Mexico. Our small group merely performed laser backscatter evaluation and calorimetry measurements on small samples (some of which were top secret stealth and possibly extraterrestrial materials for all I know).

Looking back I realize that the place was staffed by techies who were different than the ones I would come to know when I moved to the Silicon Valley. These guys were mormons and born again christians and they all had severe expressions and wild-west mustaches, and some even had survivalist vibes. The ones I got a long with seemed to be ex-navy and air force – it’s funny when the most down to earth techies are ex-military.


Nice! Probably an excellent engineer, that’s some great lateral thinking there.

I worked on thermonuclear weapon delivery systems as a young man, and later worked on automating away loyal factory workers’ jobs. I would not do that today, and I like to think I’ve done my penance; but there’s always a fresh crop of inexperienced idealists graduating every year, and the “defense” industry is both wealthy and expert at recruiting. They know how to pull the patriotism lever.


Come over to the non-profit side y’all! We don’t pay Silicon Valley salaries, but we do try not to be evil first and foremost…


So, this isn’t about the cloth patch, no?


Isn’t the current spin, in ad-tech land, that stalker targeting is good because it is “relevant”?

(Android’s current spin is “Opt out of interest-based ads? You will still see ads but they may not be based on your interests.” Windows gives you “Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app usage”, Apple has some similar verbiage for the 'advertising ID, they voluntarily baked into iOS)

I’m a trifle surprised that they weren’t shameless enough to just try “relevant munitions” as a 2018 equivalent of the way “smart bombs” was used c. Gulf War 1.

What sort of depraved luddite could be against using data-driven insights to enable a uniquely impactful native-media engagement with key influencers within demographics whose loyalty to the client brand is currently low?


In the same way a targeting system is not in and of itself lethal?


Don’t mean to pounce on you but “non-profit” is one of the oxymorons that tends to trigger me. It’s not inherently better, just a different type of funding. Still plenty of greedy, dishonest, and power hungry assholes; it’s just that they go about it a little differently because instead of customers you have grants and donations and (in many cases) government funding.

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