Why it matters that Google’s gone AWOL

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on September 13, 2018. It can also be found online here.

The empty chair representing Google at last week’s Congressional testimony in Washington spoke volumes. The nation called, and Google opted out.

This might otherwise be excused as an oversight. But it came on the heels of Google’s decision to step away from work with the Department of Defense by backing out of a Pentagon contract (Project Maven) the company had signed to improve image detection for defense surveillance platforms. The cancelled project was spurred on by thousands of Google employees petitioning their chief executive, arguing that continued work with the Department of Defense would “irreparably damage Google’s brand” and that the company should stay out of the “business of war.”

It seems that one of America’s most important companies has gone AWOL.

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