US Tech Industry Becomes Hotbed for Employee Activism

Labor News

In this photo taken July 16, 2019, tech workers march to support Facebook’s cafeteria workers, who were rallying for a new contract with their company Flagship in San Francisco. Tech workers are speaking out on issues of immigration, the environment, sexual misconduct and military warfare like never before. Google, Amazon and Microsoft employees protest against how their work is used by the government. Through petitions and collective actions, others push for better internal policies, greener practices and better work conditions for contractors. (Samantha Maldonado/Associated Press)

Reprinted from The Washington Post by Samantha Maldonado on August 25, 2019.

When Liz O’Sullivan was hired at the New York City-based artificial intelligence company Clarifai in 2017, she felt lucky to find work at the intersection of two of her main interests: technology and ethics. Two years later, she encountered a moral dilemma.

Clarifai was developing aerial photography and object detection tools as one of several companies working on Project Maven, a Pentagon drone surveillance program. After talking to friends and colleagues, O’Sullivan realized this type of technology eventually could be used for autonomous weapons.

In January, she wrote to Clarifai CEO Matt Zeiler on behalf of a group of employees, asking whether the technology would be used for weapons and urging him to commit to a series of ethical measures. After Zeiler later acknowledged Clarifai likely would provide tech for autonomous weapons, O’Sullivan quit. …

Washington Post 8/25

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About Jeffrey Burman 5209 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at

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