The latest craze sweeping Silicon Valley is shocking: tech professionals refuse government contracts in droves. Silicon Valley tech workers, web developers, I.T. workers, and computer programmers are taking a moral stand against government and military contracts; some are even leaving jobs in a spectacular fashion and rejecting recruiting offers openly when related to government.
These pushbacks are specific to government and military contracts that involve surveillance, intelligence, data collection, and military weaponry .
In one of the most public displays against these programs, thousands of Google employees pressured the company to drop its bid to be apart of JEDI: a program that would use “artificial intelligence to make the U.S. military a lot deadlier” .
Microsoft employees are the next group that is pushing back against JEDI, joining the rest as more tech professionals refuse government contracts .
Transparency is the key to this problem. Tech professionals are concerned that their work is going to be used unethically, and are asking government agencies to be open about how these programs will be used. The U.S. government, on the other hand, cannot share this information openly. If they did, they could risk national security. This leaves both without further options for recourse.
This sentiment is not new. It wasn’t too long ago that another famous government tech worker, Edward Snowden, became the most famous whistleblower in history revealing that many government agencies use U.S. developed tech to spy on other countries and on U.S. citizens.
For many of these tech professionals, this is not what they signed up for. Most who attend web developer bootcamps or study to become a cyber security professional do so with the intent to make a positive impact on the tech community. This sentiment has even been satirized in shows like Silicon Valley with a running gag: “Making the world a better place” .
More high profile tech professionals refuse government contracts, and there are no signs of this trend slowing down.
: The Hill – Tech talent balks at government work
: The New York Times – Tech Workers Now Want to Know: What Are We Building This For?
: The New Yorker – How “Silicon Valley” Nails Silicon Valley