Richie Marini | July 6, 2018
On June 27, 2018, a small group of us consisting of members of The World Can’t Wait, Know Drones, Refuse fascism and World Beyond War set up an eight- foot long model of the U.S. military Reaper drone outside of Google offices in New York City.
Why? Because Google was developing image recognition algorithms using artificial intelligence for the U.S. military, as part of a project called “Maven”, to be used with military drones. Currently, these death machines are controlled remotely by members of the U.S. military staring at computer screens, as if they’re playing video games, except they’re killing very real people and causing very real “collateral damage” in which very real innocent civilians are killed. And now, thanks to Google and the artificially intelligent image recognition algorithms they developed, these drones can detect, suggest and choose targets on their own.
More than 3,000 Google employees organized themselves and demanded an end to Googles participation in Project Maven. They put so much pressure on the tech giant that they forced it to make a public statement saying it’s ending it’s involvement in the project. However, we learned shortly thereafter Google was still biding to be involved in something called “Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure” (JEDI).
It’s now more important than ever that those 3,000 Google employees grow to even larger numbers.
You see, as much as we like to think of Google as something special, not an ordinary company but a innovative think tank and a pioneer of the future — it’s still a corporate enterprise. Thus, it must compete with other tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce and others. All of whom also compete for the same military contracts. So while Google may have backed down for now, due to pressure from it’s employees, it won’t just stop. It may add layers of abstraction, it may cut up the project in various ways so employees don’t know about it — but it can’t just walk away and let it’s competitors get the business. That would be suicide. Within the system of capitalism it has to compete to survive or die. Google hasn’t always existed and it doesn’t have to be around forever. AOL, Yahoo were all the “Google’s” of their day.
War shouldn’t be a viable business model.
In fact, Google and these other tech giants are all part of a larger geopolitical battle. The United States competes for world dominance. Tech giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce also benefit greatly by the United States maintaining its status as the world’s leading economic force — which it does through the use of military force. The United States has well over 800 military bases around the world. There is a direct benefit to these tech giants in aiding the United States in maintaining it’s dominance — to “Make America Great Again”. Therefore, these tech giants contribute to, and are complicit in, helping the United States wage it’s wars for empire as they can’t compete through innovation alone. The United States didn’t emerge as the world’s leading economic force through technological innovation and industrial competition. It acquired its wealth and strength through hundreds of years of forced slavery and it maintains its position today through the use of military force.
American hegemony and the attractor of fascism.
These corporate titans that benefit from American hegemony, and in turn contribute to it in order to sustain themselves, rely on an apathetic workforce and, in many cases, will target, suppress and eliminate anyone who opposes them. In fact many of these corporations have been complicit in mass surveillance programs. Employees of these teach giants must not accept this agenda. It will only get harder to resist as fascism consolidates under the current; and next administration. This trend is independent of any political party. Obama, after all, expanded many of the Bush era doctrines. In turn, Americans must take a stand and oppose the now longest wars in U.S. history from raging on in our names at the expense of those around the world. It’s imperative that the victims of U.S. foreign policy see Americans rising up. Otherwise they may see us as complicit in what our government and corporate leaders are doing. It’s for this reason we must all unite and take a stand against the consolidation of fascism that is occuring in the United States.
The only hope these 3,000 Google employees who signed the petition have of stopping Google from contributing to the now more than 17 years of endless war, is if their protest grows not only within Google but also spreads to all these other companies involved.
This is no easy task to achieve. Most of the Google employees, at least from what we observed, were very young. For most of their adult lives the United States has been at war with the world — so this is the norm for them. The endless wars the U.S. wages on a daily basis are just background noise to most. They can’t hear the sounds of the bombs dropping through their Google-issued headphones. They can’t hear the screams of the innocent women and children caught up in the in the collateral damage caused by war.
It’s our job as activists and organizers to go out into the streets and connect with people. To let them know that there is a network of people out there they can connect with. It’s our job to help amplify their message.
Nick Mottern of knowdrones.com quoted me in his report as saying:
“It’s just about letting like-minded people know there are other like-minded people out there they can connect with in a variety of ways. Even if it just means a few more people knowing about the knowdrones.com website, they may check in on that site now and again and/or share that site. It’s just more eyes and ears pointed our way — even if it’s just one more connection. Eventually each of those one-off connections turn into a communication web in which information can travel. When the number of connections reaches some critical value — things (such as action) can then emerge.”
We handed out 500 leaflets that day. In hopes of connecting the dots for those who aren’t yet aware but also in hopes of fueling those who are; so they continue organizing and continue resisting. Our goal was to let those who resisted know, that we’re outside in support of them, for them, and want to connect with them. Some employees stopped and talked to us and expressed their concerns about what Google was doing — they didn’t like it.
However, quite a few employees walked right past us, ignoring us, and seemed apathetic. What these apathetic individuals don’t realize is that 17 years of war, torture and drone bombings have been waged in their names. In this information age, it’s no longer acceptable to be ignorant of what’s happening in the world. If you’re apathetic, then you’ve made the choice to be so — and this choice makes you complicit.
A call to action.
This outreach event last week at Google in New York City was a fairly simple thing to do. All you need is 2-3 people and some leaflets. I encourage you to find Google, Amazon or Microsoft office near you and help support, organize and spread the word of those resisting their places of employment from contributing to the war based economy. (Editor’s note: Amazon owns Whole Foods.) I also encourage the employees of these tech giants to get in contact us as well; and to leak any information about continued involvement by these tech giants in the military industrial complex. Together we can build a unified mass movement of resistance; we can and must act now.