Size matters 'bigly'

Tech giant Google is struggling to honor its inspiring, very laudable motto: "Don't be evil".

Moral confusion, bare-faced greed and similar challenges are apparently making Google over-extend itself and become a Harvey Weinstein-like predator in the global knowledge trading ecosystem and economy.

Like the notoriously imperious, bullying, sexual predator Weinstein and the murderous millionaire misanthrope Stephen Paddock, who gruesomely "incarnated"  the "Fear and loathing in Las Vegas" that gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson "predicted", Google's leadership seems to be consuming its own corporate cholesterol rich rhetoric without appropriate regard for shortfalls in vital productivity protein.

Like the Dead Sea, Google's data flow risks becoming a one way conversation leading to superficially vibrant but deeply stagnant, dead end entrepreneurial activity.

And given Google's size its information flow affects many countries' democratic prospects 'bigly'.

Yet there is only so much Google can do to help itself. 

Knowledge is power and too much power corrupts bigly: it makes us morally obese and lethargic.

Key 'arteries' of our consciences become clogged with various kinds of 'cognitive cholesterol', making us think too much or too little of ourselves, as the arguably well meaning, Christians courting but misguided United States president Donald Trump does, patently.

Google needs critical, objective input from more ethically light and enlightened, little creatures in the global knowledge trading ecosystem: people whose ecological and informational footprints it now ignores recklessly.

As the late American ethical business guru Steven R Covey might say, Google needs to work with smaller, weight watching knowledge traders to find synergies.

But instead, consciously or unconsciously, the corporate Colossus Google is suppressing the free flow of information to and from smaller entities.

I have experienced this personally.

An educational Google experience

Prompted by concern over an Adwords payment Google took from my bank account on September 21, 2017, I asked a complaints handler at its Dublin, Irish Republic based European headquarters for a transcript of my conversation with an Asian sales rep I had dealt with, so I could make sure the company was morally justified in taking the payment.

I questioned the ethics of the payment, not its legality, because I had gone to some lengths to inform the Adwords sales rep that I suffer a number of personal and financial constraints which mean that too heavy an advertising spend could cause me extreme hardship and even ruin me financially.

I may also have informed him that I am a vulnerable adult, suffering from anxiety issues and a related heart condition. 

Still, because the Adwords rep had told me that I need to monitor and manage my Adwords spend myself, when the Dublin based Googler (as the company calls its employees) contacted me, I readily conceded that the fault may have been the result of my own incompetence. 

Despite this, he denied my request for a transcript, saying he was advised that Google is not legally obliged to provide one.  

He also said that because Google's European office is in the Irish Republic, it is not bound by Section 7 of the Data Protection Act, 1998 that obliges United Kingdom based companies to give their customers access to information they hold about them. 

But as I tried to explain to the Irishman, this is not just a legal issue. 

Fundamentally, this is about ethics and human ecology.

It's about the way or 'spirit' in which you treat people, irrespective of what the "letter of the law" decrees (2Corinthians 3:1-6).

Who defines "good" and "evil" for Google?

At the critical conversation level, Googlers seem to be subliminally programmed or otherwise instructed to suppress empathy guided, ethical entrepreneurial conversations with customers and behave like money making machines.

Their conversation, when you can actually reach them by telephone, seems rigidly scripted, even rote, and focused on evil, legalistic tactics of evasion and avoidance, rather than on good, authentic customer service. 

And actually, reflecting on the Irish Googler's persistence with a particularly antagonistic, dismissive approach to dispute resolution, I see deeply disturbing similarities with the robotic, rapid fire "bump stock" modified guns used by the mass murderer Paddock who shot and killed 59 people and wounded more than 500 others in an extraordinarily brutal, beast-like act of 'artificial intelligence' inhumanity. 

Similarly, it seems that I and numerous other internet users in the US, UK and elsewhere have been blasted and burned by Google's conscious or unconscious, legislation circumventing or subverting, numbers game facilitating information management. 

Exploiting legal loopholes, as the patently self-hating misanthrope Paddock did to transform rifles into machine guns, the 'liberal', 'Enlightenment' values preaching Google seems to be consciously or unconsciously transforming itself into a contemporary version of the misanthropic, Holy Roman Empire of the Dark Ages.

And lawsuits in 2006 and 2016 indicate that Google is not learning the important ethical lessons it should from past mistakes. 

The allure of rapid fire wealth accumulation seems to be distorting Google's good aspirations and better judgement.

The corporate Goliath seems to be suffering from what ethical educator Covey called the 'insufficiency syndrome'. 

Like Paddock, Google seems to have lost its way and is laboring under the delusions of a deeply defective moral compass. 

Google seems stubbornly set on a path of self-harm and victimization of others. 

Its preoccupation with external growth and expansion seems to be opening up what Barbadian sociologist Richard Carter and political scientist George Belle might call a "values vacuum" at its core.

We need a good Google 

As the Fox News story cited above suggests, that would be a great loss to the corporate world. 

Googles commitment to doing good, articulated in its parent company Alphabet Inc's restatement of the "Don't be evil" motto, is a very courageous and laudable ambition. 

Sadly, some Googlers appear to have missed or misread the relevant memos! 

Sadly, some Googlers' morality seems to be the outworking of amoral analytics and arrogant algorithms. 

But we should not expect Google to do for us what only we can do for ourselves. 

This petition is part of ongoing Intelek Domino Effect Associates (IDEAs) project efforts to promote principles of conscientious ethically empowered 'personalization' and deepen democratic practice and theory in the corporate world. 

It is about promoting what I call the "continuum of character" through child-like, humble, honest admission of our own limitations so that we may authentically rise above them. 

Weinstein is right that we all make mistakes.

But it is also clearly the case that we do not all need to be exposed as sociopathic frauds or homicidal maniacs before we attempt to reform our behavior and belief systems.

to comment