“Don’t be evil” was Google’s unofficial motto for a long time. The phrase was featured prominently in the search giant’s code of conduct.
The keyword here is ‘was.’
Google removed the motto from much of its code of conduct sometime between mid-April and early May. While the code of conduct page indicates it was last updated April 5th, a copy of the site archived by the Wayback Machine shows that “Don’t be evil” was still part of the code on April 21st.
Now, “Don’t be evil” only shows up in the final sentence as part of the code’s appeal to speak up if you see something you don’t think is right.
But while Google may be putting less of an emphasis on refraining from evil, many of the company’s employees are standing up for what they believe is right.
About a dozen employees have quit over the company’s involvement in Project Maven. Another 4,000 have sign a petition asking Google to end its involvement. Project Maven seeks to help the U.S. military analyze drone footage quicker through machine learning. Those who resigned cited ethical issues and concerns over the use of AI in drone operations and Google’s wider involvement with military projects in general.
The search giant noted that the technology it’s using is open source, so the military could use it regardless. Additionally, Google insists the technology isn’t being using in combat operations.
Some employees have suggested Maven goes against the “Don’t be evil” motto. However, not being evil clearly isn’t a focus for Google anymore.