There are some in the technology industry who believe U.S. tech companies shouldn't partner with the U.S. government on matters of defense. But
There are some in the technology industry who believe U.S. tech companies shouldn’t partner with the U.S. government on matters of defense. But Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos isn’t one of them.
During an interview at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California, Bezos said that it’s incumbent upon all major tech companies, including Amazon, Google, and others, to remember that the U.S. is “the good guys” and tech companies must do their part to improve American self-defense.
Bezos’ comments come at a time when tensions are high in Silicon Valley and elsewhere over the role big technology companies should play in defense efforts.
The issue came to a head last year, when Google executives bowed to employee pressure over its Project Maven partnership with the U.S. government. That partnership saw Google provide machine learning technology to aid the U.S. Defense Department in drone footage. After the project was revealed, Google employees protested the program and said in a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai that the company “should not be in the business of war.”
Bezos acknowledged that there are strong opinions in the technology industry on whether companies should support the Defense Department, but he believes a company’s leadership team must be willing to tell those employees that national defense comes first.
“It’s [up to] the senior leadership’s team to say to people: ‘Look, I understand these are emotional issues, that’s OK and we don’t have to agree on everything, but this is how we’re going to do it,” Bezos said. “We are going to support the Department of Defense.’ This country is important.”
Regardless, Bezos’ comments will surely stir up some controversy at Amazon and elsewhere on the topic of whether the technology employees must comply with senior executives aiding in war and espionage efforts. And as Bezos himself acknowledges, it’s not an easy topic to tackle.
But what is clear is regardless of the policy companies take, the U.S. government is willing to spend billions of dollars to get access to the technology the businesses make. After all, these companies are in the client services business, regardless of the client.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
This article is from Inc.com