Jack Poulson in The American Prospect:
When I left Stanford to join Google as an AI research scientist, I “went across the street,” as the saying went. I had been a young assistant professor, first at Georgia Tech and then at Stanford, doing research that was partially funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). At one point, I brought up the ethical issues of researching surveillance technology with the DARPA program manager, but frankly, raising ethical concerns in such a competitive environment felt a bit like labeling myself a troublemaker.
I was ready to move away from defense work, get recognized for software development, and—yes—make enough money to move out of my small, spider-infested apartment on Alma that shook every time the Caltrain went by.
Since then, I’ve learned that digging deeply into public records—combined with a modicum of data science—can lead to greater accountability and transparency.
In 2018, news broke that Google was secretly helping the Pentagon build artificial intelligence to ramp up its drone surveillance program through “Project Maven.” My instinct was that it would be hypocritical for me to complain, given that DARPA had partly funded my previous job.