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Google conference lobbied by protest over Israel military contracts

May 15, 2024 at 4:18 pm

Pro-Palestinian protesters are blocked the Google I/O developer conference entrance to protest Google’s Project Nimbus and Israeli attacks on Gaza and Rafah, at its headquarters in Mountain View, California, United States on May 14, 2024 [Tayfun Coşkun – Anadolu Agency]

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators chained themselves together at the entrance of Google’s annual developer conference yesterday, in a protest against the tech giant’s involvement in Israeli military projects.

Groups such as the No Tech for Genocide coalition, along with other Bay Area organisations, displayed placards referring to Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion contract awarded to Amazon and Google that provides artificial intelligence and cloud computing services to the Israeli government.

Addressing the crowd, one protester emphasised that while many had gathered in Mountain View for Google’s highly anticipated annual conference, the demonstrators were there to share “the real story” and raise awareness about Google’s involvement in controversial projects.

“What you will not be hearing from today’s speakers is that right now, as I stand here before you, the state of Israel is using Google technology to execute history’s first AI-powered genocide.”

Several attendees at the protest were current and former employees of the company. Among them was Ariel Koren, a former Google employee who claims she was forced out of the company in 2022 for speaking out against Project Nimbus. Koren said that contracts for such projects should be opposed because they are “being tested in Gaza” and could be used in other countries in the future.

“We are here to say that we cannot stand by while this company fuels this genocide and profits from it,” she explained. “Google not only creates the infrastructure for the Israeli military to scale out their crimes against humanity, but these tools are also being tested and trained in Palestine to be exported out to militaries around the world, who can then commit the same types of violence. We might be seeing the world’s first AI-enabled genocide, but what Google is trying to do is to ensure that this is not the world’s last.”

According to the Guardian, more protesters gathered on the streets leading to the event, chanting: “Google you can’t hide, you’re committing genocide.” They distributed pamphlets aimed at Google employees, urging them to join the protest against the company’s military contracts.

Google announced last month that it had dismissed 28 employees after some staff members had participated in protests against the company’s cloud contract with the Israeli government.

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