Never over-estimate your own importance. I once resigned from a job to protest the unfair treatment of my wife by an organisation we both worked for at the time. I thought I was taking a principled stand. The organisation just shrugged its shoulders and said, “Bye!”
My wife took the wiser road, working with her union to seek redress and legal recognition of the issue. It took an exacting toll on her mental and physical health, but ultimately she won.
Truth is, threatening your employer with your resignation if conditions are not met is nothing but an own-goal. You’re not indispensable. Even the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, was forced out of his own company in 1985.
Employers, and their leadership, are there to protect themselves and their own interests. You may think that you are very special and very important — a harbinger of seismic change — but the truth is you’re just a brick in the wall. Easily replaced with another brick if necessary.
Toxic workplaces are a fact of life in the gargantuan megacorportations now supplanting the nation state. You are not a valued sage, but merely a citizen of megacorpland. This is your life: to serve your masters in their pursuit of global domination, untold riches and control of every byte of data ever created.
Megacorpland wanted its microphones in every home. It succeeded. We gift them to one another at Christmas, upgrading them annually. Megacorpland wants to know what you’re thinking, so it can sell you yet more tat to swell its untaxed bank balance.
Ethical AI is no different from an Ethical Foreign Policy: it is mere branding. Trillionaire McTrillionaireFace really couldn’t give a flying £*&! about the ethical and environmental implications of their drive for domination of the known universe.
Your job is to cement good PR: to explain the benefits of the energy sapping data centres, as they guzzle 420 terawatt hours of electricity and spew 150 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere… the cure for cancer, medical imaging, earthquake prediction, faultless weather forecasting, gaining a lead over the competition, fighting crime, resisting cyber warfare, upending the terror threat, deploying the fleet of delivery drones and driverless trucks, managing the lanes of flying cars, ensuring an uninterrupted supply of tantalite and lithium from central Africa, Latin America and Afghanistan…
Who now remembers Tony Blair’s Ethical Foreign Policy? Likewise, mere branding. In the name of battling awful men in baggy trousers, oppressing women and blowing up ancient statues, we set about plundering a trillion dollars worth of precious metals, pivotal in our transition to a low carbon economy. Soon to end: the wars for oil; but the wars for lithium, gold and copper have only just begun.
Asking megacorpland to adopt truly ethical principles is like asking the British East India Company to be nice while waging war on the Qing dynasty to force them to buy our opium. It is not in GreedyCorp’s DNA.
Megacorpland is the new world order for now, supplanting the nation state. They will do whatever it takes to consume and obliterate everything that stands in their way, be that a political union, a country, a competitor conglomerate, or a lowly research scientist.
If there is any positive news at all, it is that nations rise and fall. All of this will pass.