Google’s “Dragonfly” search engine prototype for China will reportedly link users’ searches on an Android app to their personal phone numbers, making it harder to avoid government surveillance.
The context: Last month, a whistleblower told The Intercept that Google is building a search engine that will blacklist terms like “human rights” or “Tiananmen Square” to please the Chinese government. Google’s US employees aren’t happy. Senior research scientist Jack Poulson quit last week and said he is one of five to resign over the project, while 1,400 Googlers have allegedly signed a letter demanding to know more. US lawmakers are also looking for answers. Google has yet to respond or comment publicly.
The history: Google withdrew from China in 2010, citing human rights concerns after the company uncovered a phishing attack on activists. It isn’t clear what’s led to the change of heart, but since 2010 China’s government has if anything become even more keen on surveilling its population.
Time to speak up: China is the world’s biggest single market for internet users, so it’s unsurprising Google wants to establish a presence there. But its policy of refusing to comment on Dragonfly is looking increasingly unsustainable.
This article first appeared in our daily tech newsletter, The Download. Sign up here.
Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free
Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3
The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus
The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.
Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging
The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.
Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI
One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.