Google and Amazon Workers Protest Military Cloud Contracts

Chandravongsri of Chandravongsri was born in Laos, where he still has an extended family. He witnessed with his own eyes how CIA-led bombing campaigns in the 1960s and 1970s left a deadly legacy of unexploded ordnance that still threatens life today, a problem seen in many war zones, including Gaza. He said that reading about the AI ​​capabilities contained in Project Nimbus “really scared the crap out of me”.

Chandravongsri isn’t the only worker in Google’s vast international workforce whose background provides perspective on the Pentagon and other military allies to many American employees and executives. “There are many places where Google employees work that violate US policy,” said Chandravongsri. “There are also a lot of Palestinian employees. They are afraid to say many things.”

After Google withdrew from Maven, it continued relationship with the Pentagon, though primarily through lower-level projects such as anticorrosion technology for Navy ships and cloud security for the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit. The announcement of Project Nimbus in 2021 and Google’s bid for the Pentagon’s $9 billion flagship cloud project, Cloud joint combat capabilitiesSome workers worry that the company will significantly expand its military work.

The Alphabet Workers Union, which has more than 1,000 members across Google’s parent company but has no collective bargaining power, went public in January 2021 and has had a working group since its inception. specializes in military research at Google. Chandravongsri was a member of the team that pressured management about JWCC and Project Nimbus.

Last November, a question about JWCC’s compatibility with Google’s AI guidelines received enough votes on an internal Q&A tool called Dory to be read in a general meeting. company-wide hands. According to a CNBC report, Head of Google Cloud, Thomas Kurian, replied that the company’s technology can be used for parts of the contract that do not violate its AI guidelines. He then published a blog post outline some of these potential uses. Chandravongsri was unhappy with the response, saying Kurian’s statement contradicted the US government’s military language. tendererwhich talks about the need to confront China.

Workers have less luck getting their questions about Project Nimbus asked at company-wide meetings or Weather Reports, a collaboration of the Cloud team – making employees public about their concerns. surname. Ariel Koren, a Jewish marketing executive and outspoken opponent of Project Nimbus, resigned last week, says she has been pressured by regulators, an allegation that Google has denied. Koren also said she has encountered opposition from other Jewish employees who are pro-Israel.

Google and Amazon employees interested in Project Nimbus were connected through the activist group Jewish Voices for Peace. In June 2021, staff from the two companies formed a joint committee and in October they announced Letters In The Guardians against the contract.

The partnership represents new territory for Amazon employees who are less likely to express their dissent publicly against their company’s military contracts, which are broader than Google’s. Amazon’s culture is widely considered to be less open to dissent than Google’s, which from its inception encouraged employees to talk freely with their leaders on forums. of the company.

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