Jack Poulson worked as senior research scientist for Google until his resignation on August 31, 2018 for being against Google’s project to develop a censored search engine in China that caused a scandal in the company.
He did not want to participate in a company that would censor information at the request of Chinese communist officials, simply to return to the Chinese market. Now, he wants to make sure that other technology workers can fight for what is right without having to put race into play.
About Tech Inquiry
Poulson has launched Tech Inquiry, a non-profit organization that aims to make it easier for programmers with awareness to speak within their companies when they feel that they are crossing ethical boundaries. Poulson is pushing for greater transparency to prevent workers from simply being tricked into doing work that they would never voluntarily assume.
“I believe that technology workers need informed consent on when their work can lead to loss of life or the suppression of human rights or freedoms”, Poulson told TheGuardian during the Open Rights Group on data and democracy.
The goal of Tech Inquiry is to take advantage of the growing wave of employee dissatisfaction that has spread throughout Silicon Valley, and give workers the tools they need to confront their bosses. Poulson’s own stance against the Dragonfly Project, Google’s effort to build a censored search engine to re-enter the Chinese market, is just one example of that movement. It also cites the rejection within Google against the Maven Project, a Pentagon project that the company signed in April 2017, as well as the movements in other companies, including Microsoft, Amazon and Intel.
What is Poulson’s goal?
Poulson wants to extend that power to workers in the design and development phases of the industry, where work is often carried out in the greatest secrecy and the worker has the least ability to generate a riot if it moves in a dangerous direction or alarming .. “Internally, and especially in a research department like the one I was in, there is a feeling that you have a free pass.” When you do R & D, there is the idea that you can do whatever you want total privacy team he’ll fix it later”.
Poulson argues that allowing this ethical freedom to “experiments” is dangerous. On the one hand, by the time a project is about to be completed, “it has created a complete team whose investment throughout their career is to launch this”. And, in addition, it has normalized the behavior to a group of engineers”.