Last week we emphasized that we don’t work for the war-industry. We did talk to a national army some years ago, but even though the project never started, we would have probably said no. Recently we got a new request, got uncomfortable and did not send a quote for the training.
We explicitly don't work for the defence/war industry. We therefore recently said no to a training project because of our values. We hope our competitors do the same to slow down wars. pic.twitter.com/xQIuW002QO
— StreamHPC (@StreamHPC) October 24, 2018
This is because we like to think about the next 100 years, and investment in weapons is not something that would solve things for the long term.
To those, who liked the tweet or wanted to, thank you for your support to show us we’re not standing alone here.
A company is more than work
It’s also shared values and ethics.
We always have been open to ethical discussions. I’m happy with my colleagues are actually being clear with stating their ethics. Anybody in the company can say no to any project for ethical reasons, but it is simpler with shared ethics to even block certain types of projects at the gate. The war-industry ended up on that list quickly.
Even if we had to say no to half the projects, it is better to go to work with a good feeling.
The Netherlands and ethics
In the Netherlands it’s quite simplified with the “gray area laws” (gedoogbeleid), where other countries often have a law-book of only allowed and disallowed things. A gray area makes things very simple: some things are not allowed but you will not get a fine (or have to go to jail) if it follows a simple rule: “Do you irritate somebody with it?”. So smoking some chemical stuff on the street that smells very bad and thus irritates people will potentially cause a police officer walk over to you. Smoking the same junk inside is not a problem, even if you write it on your window. Want to kill somebody? Not allowed, as it irritates the victim a lot. By the same rule euthanasia does not irritate anybody who is involved, so the discussion in the Netherlands is more about the choice of the doctors who assist.
Projects we still do
Yes, our software can (and will) be used in a way we disagree with. This is simply out of our control, so we have to accept that. We do like to stay away from the (politically charged) question when a weapon is for defense or for attacking.
That leaves scientific projects, R&D in large companies and libraries – and these are in almost any industry. And we have enough projects to stick to our values and ethics.
At home most of us play shooter-games. And no, this is not contradictory but a fun fact.