Dear Google, please help your country defend itself,” in which he discussed the impressive technology he saw when he toured Google’s X lab in Mountain View, California. But Mills has found himself disappointed by Google’s refusal to work with the U.S. military in advancing technology to better protect American soldiers.
Lt. Mills discussed his tour of Google’s labs and the symposium he presented on innovation sponsored by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory later that summer:
Inside these doors were the same bright and idealistic people I had gone to school with only a few years earlier. They probably chose to work for Google for many of the same reasons my peers and I joined the Marines — we were impressed with the organization’s values and we wanted to make the world a better place.
Later that summer I presented at a symposium on innovation sponsored by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory. There was an air of excitement among many of the military participants. We were used to a slow and bumbling bureaucracy, but here was a meeting of people that envisioned a future of rapid change and innovation. Marines talked about small projects they had been working on, and leaders from Amazon and IBM came to talk about innovation management and their relationships with the Department of Defense.
But someone was missing from the discussion. There was no representative from Google.
Lt. Mills notes that Google’s absence held a symbolic meaning and takes issue with the companies protests against working with the U.S. government:
To be clear, this is not a case of one out of many tech companies leaving the market — it is the market leader walking away in a symbolic way. Google is synonymous with information technology and ingenuity. I don’t go to the store and “Amazon” something. I don’t “Facebook” anyone. But I “Google” information every day. Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc. have changed America and the world in just a few years. They mediate our relationship with information in the digital realm and continue to be at the forefront of technological change, driving advances in cloud computing, LiDAR, self-driving cars and artificial intelligence.
I have read the open letter that many of you signed and sent to your CEO Sundar Pichai. I deeply respect your desire to remain above conflict and to husband the application of your work. But we know now that this is impossible. We live in a world where Facebook’s platform has been corrupted to influence our elections and terrorists use the secure messaging of WhatsApp and Telegram to coordinate their crimes. Neutrality, even well-intentioned, is not possible. In the pleading words of Merry from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy: “You’re part of this world, aren’t you?”
If your mission is truly to “make the world’s information universally accessible,” then you must support those who protect the free exchange of ideas. Many of our adversaries do not.
Lt. Miller finishes his article by asking Google to stand with many great Americans in defending the values that this country holds dear:
I also ask you: Who do you think we are? You know us. We are the kids you know from college who wore uniforms to class on Wednesdays because we were there on ROTC scholarship. We are the kids you know from high school who put Semper Fi stickers on our cars. We are the Boy Scouts who put the flags in the cemetery in November. We grew up with you and we share the same values. We, too, want to live in a world where the truth triumphs and the world’s information is freely accessible. We just fight for that world in a more literal sense.
I do not agree with all of our nation’s policies or all of our leadership. Not by a long shot. But I firmly believe we are the good guys, and as long as we have the capability to protect our values and our allies worldwide, we have a responsibility to do so.