David Moore is the Socialist Equality Party candidate for US Senate in the California midterm elections. He will appear on the ballot in the June 5 primary elections. For more information on the campaign, visit socialequality.com/2018
I want to express my solidarity and support for the nearly 4,000 Google workers and 1,000 academics who signed open letters opposing the company’s involvement in the Pentagon’s drone assassination program. Through Project Maven, Google is developing artificial intelligence (AI) to sort through the surveillance data the military uses to carry out its extrajudicial killings.
The open letter from Google workers, many of whom live and work in California, states, “Building this technology to assist the US government in military surveillance – and potentially lethal outcomes – is not acceptable.” It demands an end to Google’s participation in Project Maven and an explicit renunciation of ever building warfare technology.
Inspired by the Google employees, over 1,000 academics signed a second open letter denouncing the use of AI to support targeted killings. The collaboration of Google, Amazon and Microsoft with the Pentagon, they write, signals “a dangerous alliance between the private tech industry, currently in possession of vast quantities of sensitive personal data collected from people across the globe, and one country’s military.”
The billionaire executives at Google are driven by entirely different considerations. In a November interview, Eric Schmidt ($11.1 billion), former CEO at Google, explained, “There’s lots of money in the DOD [Department of Defense].” Schmidt currently chairs the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Advisory Board while also sitting on Google’s board of directors.
Google’s relationship with the military is part of a broader integration between technology companies and the state. The strategists of the ruling class realize the immense power of AI technologies and want to harness it to pursue their interests. They also see an enormous danger to their interests in the ability of workers and youth to use the Internet to organize and mobilize opposition.
The same technology the Pentagon applies to bombing other countries is being used by law enforcement within the Unite States. Amazon has been contracting facial recognition software to police departments across the country since at least 2016, posing enormous dangers to democratic rights.
By far the largest step taken by Google and other tech companies in the service of the state is through Internet censorship. In April 2017, Google announced that it was updating its search algorithms to “surface more authoritative content.” Claiming to be fighting “fake news,” Google systematically removed socialist, left-wing and anti-war web sites from search results.
In August 2017, the World Socialist Web Site issued an open letter to Google executives demanding the changes be reversed. The Google executives never responded.
Google has been joined by Facebook, Twitter and other tech companies in this campaign of censorship as part of the government’s efforts to control public access to information.
These efforts go hand-in-hand with the persecution of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, who exposed the unconstitutional campaign of mass surveillance by US intelligence agencies; Chelsea Manning, who made public American war crimes in the Middle East; and Julian Assange, who founded Wikileaks and has helped expose countless government lies.
Assange is currently in imminent danger of being forced out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London and thrust into the hands of the UK government, which could extradite him to the United States to face charges of treason.
The Democratic Party has spearheaded this campaign of censorship. My opponent for Senate, Dianne Feinstein, has been a consistent defender of the National Security Agency’s efforts to surveil all Internet communications. In addition to sponsoring renewals of the PATRIOT Act, Feinstein voted to authorize the warrantless wiretapping of international communications without even the pretense of judicial review.
Currently, Feinstein and the Democrats are using the bogeyman of “Russian interference” and “fake news” to censor oppositional views. They are terrified of social opposition. Under the official conspiracy theory, social discontent in the US is attributable to the nefarious operations of the Russian government—and, therefore, is equivalent to treason.
As part of the campaign against “divisive content,” Facebook has censored some of my own campaign ads with the slogan “No to War, Inequality, and Censorship!” because they “don’t allow ads that contain shocking, disrespectful, or sensational content.” In the course of the Arizona teachers strike, Facebook disbanded a page of Arizona teachers critical of the union.
Workers across the country are opposed to the policies of war and social reaction promoted by both big business parties. The ruling class knows that it cannot push through corporate tax cuts, ballooning budgets for the military and anti-immigrant policies with democratic means. This is the fundamental source of the attack on the most basic democratic rights.
The Socialist Equality Party encourages and supports the opposition of Google workers. To succeed, the opposition of tech workers to militarism must be connected to the struggle of the entire working class against capitalism. So long as the tech industry is subordinated to the interests of a handful of billionaires, they will abuse it to defend their own private fortunes and the interests of the ruling class as a whole.
The SEP calls for urgent measures to safeguard the Internet as a platform for political organization and the free exchange of information. Opposition to militarism and censorship, and the fight to end the persecution of Assange and Snowden, must be connected to a revolutionary socialist program, including the transformation of the corporate Internet monopolies into public utilities, under the internationally coordinated democratic control of the working class.
I urge Google workers and all workers and young people to support my campaign for Senate and unite your opposition to tech company militarism with the fight for socialism!