Google != Silicon Valley
Palantir is in Palo Alto and has thousands of employees, they're helping the military industrial complex every minute of the day. Oracle is in Redwood, one of the largest employers in SV and has never stopped helping the Pentagon (not implying they're a leader in AI). Silicon Valley is loaded with companies and employees more than eager to help and always will be. The will they help headlines are nothing more than click-bait, it's a premise invented to get attention and stir drama.
In fact it's quite the opposite. The biggest problem for the Pentagon is filtering through which of the eager Silicon Valley companies they want to disperse funds/deals to. Figuring out which companies are the best option for what they want to accomplish. For every Google that resists slightly, there are a dozen more that will be thrilled to get the business. And if a company doesn't exist, there's endless venture capital available at a moment's notice if a new company needs formed to take advantage of a lucrative contract.
But I think there are problems with getting too close to the Pentagon and then trying to operate internationally as a purported neutral information platform.
Post hoc ergo propter hoc. The military invented a lot of things "first", or at least provided the use-case and funding for a lot of things.
But that doesn't necessarily and always mean that people couldn't have invented something without military funding and uses in mind.
For example, the military probably invented the sandbag bunker, but I have one in my back yard. I am sure I would have figured out how to invent that piece of technology on my own for my own non-military needs.
So, maybe someone out there would have thought that electrified silicon is an excellent way to facilitate virtually all global communications.
"But that doesn't necessarily and always mean that people couldn't have invented something without military funding and uses in mind."
Sure, it doesn't. But funding and large number of end users combined with price-inelastic demand for your product enable product development and field testing like no other scenario does.
But I will agree that the transition to silicon would have taken another decade without the space race.
It's not so much about the Military specifically, but about public funding in general. In short: world-transformative technological innovations tend to come out of public funding, where the license to experiment, sheer volume of funding, and isolation from market pressures enables smart people to build transformative things.
So yes anyone could have invented X, but probably not if they had to operate on the market and without a money-fountain to tap into.
Thus your line of reasoning is really an argument for some degree of government and centralized planning, as opposed to total free market innovation. That Silicon Valley owes its existence to the government as much as if not more so than the free market.
As a socialist, I have no qualms about that. I'd just rather our communal resources and effort be spent on things other than the military (industrial complex). If Silicon Valley is a good thing (debatable), we could choose to make it happen without the military. It's all a matter of cultural will.
I'm no expert, but my crystal ball says yes. If not, the pentagon would simply fund a new silicon valley in virginia and the surrounding area.
Considering the huge defense budget, I'm sure silicon valley is salivating for a piece.
I'm skeptical that the military would be able to recruit AI talent in significant numbers. There's a fairly strong cultural opposition to military applications among AI researchers. Between that and the comp packages they're getting to work at "cool" companies (i.e. consumer or pure research focused), the cost for the military to draw them away from that seems like it would be prohibitively high. Especially if they're also asking them to move away from SF/NY to somewhere "boring" like Virginia. Isn't the military pretty limited in how much they can pay?
The AI researchers wouldn't literally be soldiers. They'd be contractors, side-stepping the pay limitations.
That said, military grunts would be perfect for the bootstrapping needed for some applications. "Manually label these one million images? No problem!"
You're probably right, but I think for a lot of people who aren't the super patriotic type, it's just easier to work in private industry without any direct military interactions and not feel as much obligation to think hard about the ethics of the tech they're creating. Of course, there is a lot of discussion about the ethics of big private tech firms lately (and rightly so), but as far as just being able to tell your peers what you do in mixed social settings, there simply aren't as many people who would immediately recoil if you tell them you work at Snapchat vs. the Pentagon, right or wrong. And yeah, that's a morally weak and bad reason to choose private industry, but I suspect that something like it is a big part of the motivation for many people nonetheless.
Even if in the world where the military does pay salaries on par with the Google farm, very few people will make the switch. The military would have to pay likely an unreasonable amount premium to get any appreciable amount of people because many have an aversion to the military industrial complex. And for good reason too I might add.
People want to work on things that will help change the world and improve the quality of lives of other people, not make it easier to kill. You can argue that working on B2B software contributes little to improving humanity, but at the very least, it isn't actively harming anyone.
And the examples of moonshot technologies that are being developed in fields like cancer treatment, curing aging, self driving vehicles, etc. which are being made possible due to innovations in places like Silicon Valley should show you that technology can and is being used to change the world for the better.
Technology at the end of the day is a force multiplier that I would hope is directed towards purposes not devoted to zero sum games like waging war.
You're right tho. Free and prolific trade is the greatest anti-war force we have ever seen. Having mutually dependent economies raises the cost of war to heights that exceed the threshold of tolerance.
Plenty of military/government projects have changed the world for the better (ignoring geopolitics) including: modern surgery, the internet, GPS, cellphones, microwaves, canned food, duct tape, etc.
What makes you think those innovations would have been created without the military? The US military does a lot of research that doesn't have immediate practical/commercial applications. They cost a lot of money, and don't have obvious payoffs, which make them a poor candidate to be funded by private investment.
Just a nicer way of saying advancing the capability to wage war. Trying to hide the reality behind a veil does not remove the facts. War I repeat is a zero sum game, and contributes nothing to humanity besides the petty interests of nation states.
I agree with you though that the military does a ton of fundamental research. It's just a shame that for many scientists, the only way they can get funding is by being forced to think of ways that their area of research can be applied towards killing and destruction. There's a reason why in the greater scientific field, but especially that of ML/AI, that so many researchers are so adamantly against working on military applications of their research.
They can just set up funds, I am sure there will be plenty of SV people willing to take that money and work for them. Even for Google, partnership presents as a problem for SOME of its employees, but definitely not all of them.
The ego of leaders, who built things like pyramids too.
Concentrations of capital have a lot of nefarious effects on the well-being of population but make some grand projects possible that would not be otherwise possible.
I mean, the Saudi crown prince does have a 500 billion (not a typo) plan to create a fully automated city from scratch (project NEOM).
Wars help states concentrate capital quickly, but other motives have advanced technology in history.
But that's the only situation I can come up with. Instinct for survival is pretty good motivator. Now if you have the issue of collective survival at hand, suddenly there is lot of money, effort and creativity around.
The only thing that will change here is that it will no longer be a human choosing who lives and who dies, it will be an computer algorithm.
The problem with war today is the people that choose who lives and who dies are not the same people that actually have to do the killing, further removing humans from this decision chain is not desirable and should not be "exciting"
We need to be using technology to find better ways to resolve conflicts, and make a more equatable and peaceful world. Not use technology to find way to kill each other more efficiently
Technology is neither the problem nor the cure. Scarcity, greed and artificial scarcity is what divides the rich from the poor and moves money keeping the status quo in which the rich becomes richer and poor remains poor enough to not be a harm to the rich but rich enough to be taxed (read: used). The day we go to Mars or elsewhere and say we discover an unlimited supply of materials that could change forever our life, someone will find a way to close the faucet in order to keep the economy untouched. There is constant need of poor people because the poor is easier to herd and use, send to work in harsh condition, lure with lies to get votes and/or send to war, etc.
The problem (and the solution) is all in the human brain, no technology can help. If we make the next thousand years of evolution without killing our species, then maybe.
Now technology can also be, and is being used to create artificial scarcity and other issues, but it can also be used to bring down those same barriers, to allow people opportunities they never had in the past.
Technology can be both the problem and the cure.
Without nuclear weapons we would have probably had world war three already. Sometimes finding more efficient ways to kill each other is a good thing.
Rich nations have very little reasons to sustain democracy if war is automatized to sufficient degree.
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In my personal opinion, I would never help ANY army in building AI enabled drone, Tanks etc. I am in favor of US making peace & dialog with Russia & China. SILICON VALLEY MUST NOT BECOME PART OF AI ENABLED ARM RACE. If Pentagon has extra money then it can give that to homeless people of its country.
Granted, much of that stuff is arranged in the form of compounds that contain people, or is stored on such compounds.
There are a few steps to "deciding who is innocent", but the big steps are Step 1: the President decides that the military can start making spot decisions like "that guy just shot me" within a specific set of circumstances. Step 2: "that guy just shot me! I'm shooting back!"
Better military technology improves step #2. It also improves subtler cases like "can I shoot this guy" / "does he have a weapon?" / "yes he totally does [false]" / "ok shoot him" -- by allowing the supervisor in this case to confirm what he's being told, before he gives the go-ahead.
But step #1 is the biggie. As soon as the President says that the military can go to a place and kill people, it gets very dangerous for the people there. Apart from turning the entire planet into a panopticon, I don't think technology can change this much.
corrected, thank you. I agree with you more than you think. Please vote.
Sounds like fiction? Perhaps it is.
If Google helps Pentagon, then it no moral right to expand in Russia & China (I know about censored google search prpject), unless there are agreements.
I say it again if Silicon valley wants to be called a place where talented individuals of any nationality can stay & work for advancement of technology, then it must not help Pentagon.
Let Pentagon develop its own AI technology.
Violence is an action used when all other actions have failed and your life is directly and imminently threaten by someone else, That is the ONLY ethical use of violence.
It is not ethical "in pursuit of the international agenda" and it certainty not anything I or the vast majority of Americans actually vote for.
Americans vote for elected officials primary on the domestic policies, not on their "international agenda" this is the problem with having only 2 choices at the voting booth.
Look up jus ad bellum. I think if you look at past wars in which the US was the aggressor, and stack them up against the principles of just war, you'll find they often meet more criteria than a lot of people care to believe. Regardless, the military is an instrument of the people. If the military does things you disagree with, vote. Campaign. Lobby. Spend your time and money influencing other people to get off their asses and vote.
I'm frankly a little weary of fighting for a country of overweight non-voters.
Shall I show you the countless studies that prove that voting in a First past the post election system is pointless and does not, in fact, change any policy?
For example the study Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.
>I'm frankly a little weary of fighting for a country of overweight non-voters.
the act of non-voting is itself an action, it is a statement of distrust, disillusion and or disenfranchisement from the system
You believe it is laziness or some other reason people do not vote when in reality they have correctly assessed that voting is pointless in the modern system.
Study after Study shows this to be true. The government does what people with political influence want, not what the citizens wants
Let's say a technology could be developed that allowed your government (wherever you are) to kill any person with almost zero cost and no chance of detection. Would it be moral to aid in its development?
If it wasn't for WWII or the risk of falling behind competitors, should those scientists and engineers have developed the atomic bomb?
oh yeah, I remember that Hitman mission.
"Would it be morally justified for an assassin to kill me?" is a good question to add to the project-acceptance checklist.
Try creating something non-trivial and you will see how little you know about the subject.
DARPA looks at what is plausible and spends money to get the brainpower (a number in the hundreds or less) who can create the tools and create the process thinking about things that the military wants or needs.
If you’ve spent years doing this stuff and training a classifier is an insurmountable obstacle, you should consider changing your field of work.
I imagine another line will be "it's marginally better than statistical human shooting, according to three studies!"
And then in the 'big house' people will refer to you as "Butterstats" or something. Because you were screaming "marginally better" the first night they left you in your cell.
Yo, butter stats, how's your appeal going?
Domain specific applications of AI does not require direct funding apart from freely available and cheap tools.
However, given the atrocities commited in the past, I hope people will consider that technology development doesn't have to be lead by military.
If we had only one thing to keep from the history, it would be the memory of the mass destruction and pain that humans suffered while being controlled by an elite.
War is a form of competition. Surely we can compete with each other without involving bombs and explosives, so let work towards a world without suffering (what a challenge!)