NEW YORK — When Google employees staged a global walkout Thursday to protest the company’s treatment of women, they made themselves the most visible example of a surprising trend: high-paid engineers emerging from their comfortable bubbles to speak out.

For much of the past two years, elite technology employees have been stirring and in some cases organizing —first in internal workplace meetings and messaging boards, then in signed protest letters and ultimately in company walkouts such as Thursday’s street demonstrations.

Among the issues they’ve championed: Better handling of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, opposition to the Trump administration’s travel ban, and avoiding harmful uses of the products they’re helping to build and sell.

“For tech workers, I think the dreams about what it means to work in Silicon Valley — to disrupt, to innovate, to connect people and make the world a better place — have crashed up against a much bleaker reality,” said Kade Crockford, who tracks how new technology affects civil rights for the ACLU of Massachusetts.

Worker unrest helped scuttle Google’s Maven project to help the U.S. military scan battlefields using drones and artificial intelligence. Workers have also protested Google’s plans to launch a censored search engine in China, and work by Amazon and Microsoft to assist police agencies and federal immigration agents with facial recognition and other tools.

It is, in many ways, a Revolt of the Haves. One that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago at cheery corporate campuses best known for flexible work schedules, free meals and snacks, and Wi-Fi equipped shuttle buses, where software engineers can earn $125,000 or more right out of school.

“These people are not easily replaceable and as a result they have a significant amount of power,” Crockford said. Much of their “political awakening,” she said, stems from President Donald Trump’s election, …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News


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