- Salesforce will hire Paula Goldman as its first Chief Ethical and Humane Use officer.
- Goldman will spearhead a new Office of Ethical and Humane Use, which focuses on developing strategies to use technology in an ethical and humane way at the company.
- This announcement comes during a year of protests in Silicon Valley over how companies – including Salesforce – put its technology to use, as tech workers protest deals with the U.S. military and immigration authorities.
In the midst of the ongoing controversies over how tech companies can use artificial intelligence for no good, Salesforce is about to hire its first Chief Ethical and Humane Use officer.
On Monday, Salesforce announced it would hire Paula Goldman to lead its new Office of Ethical and Humane Use, and she will officially start on Jan. 7. This office will focus on developing strategies to use technology in an ethical and humane way at Salesforce.
“For years, I’ve admired Salesforce as a leader in ethical business,” Goldman said in a statement. “We’re at an important inflection point as an industry, and I’m excited to work with this team to chart a path forward.”
With the development of the new Office of Ethical and Humane Use, Salesforce plans to merge law, policy and ethics to develop products in an ethical manner. That’s especially notable, as Salesforce itself has come under fire from its own employees for a contract it holds with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“We understand that we have a broader responsibility to society, and aspire to create technology that not only drives the success of our customers, but also drives positive social change and benefits humanity,” Salesforce’s Office of Ethical and Humane Use says.
Goldman will report to chief equality officer Tony Prophet. Before Salesforce, Goldman served as Vice President, Global Lead, Tech and Society Solutions Lab at Omidyar Network, a social impact investment firm started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
She has also served on Salesforce’s Advisory Council for the Office of Ethical and Humane Use, which includes industry experts and academics. This council focuses on how to build technology in an ethical fashion.
“Working with Paula as a member of the Advisory Council, I was immediately impressed by her exceptional leadership and thoughtful approach to truly complex issues,” Tony Prophet, Salesforce Chief Equality Officer, sad in a statement. “I’m confident Paula is the right person to lead us into this next chapter at Salesforce.”
Goldman is also the founder and director of Imagining Ourselves, a project of the International Museum of Women. She has received the Social Impact Award from the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, and a Muse Award from the American Association of Museums.
However, she’ll have a tough challenge ahead, as she navigates the increasingly murky world of Silicon Valley ethics, as Salesforce itself gets drawn into the debate around right and wrong ways to use technology.
Salesforce has come under fire
In Silicon Valley, employees and activists continue to protest tech giants’ use of artificial intelligence and other technologies that could potentially be used for unethical ends.
For example, at Google, thousands of employees signed a petition – and some even resigned– over Project Maven, a contract with the Department of Defence that would see the company’s AI used to analyse drone footage.
Following the internal backlash, Google CEO Sundar Pichai published a set of ethical principles on how it will use AI. Google also decided not to renew its contract with the Department of Defence, and later, decided to drop out of a bid for a $US10 billion cloud contract with the Pentagon. Still, there is ongoing controversy internally and externally at Google over Project Dragonfly, a project to build a censored search engine for China.
This controversy has touched Salesforce, too. More than 650 Salesforce employees wrote a letter to CEO Marc Benioff to protest the company’s work with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in light of President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policies.
Weeks later, tech workers and activists demonstrated in front of Salesforce Tower, the company’s San Francisco headquarters. Also, a non-profit group that provides legal services to immigrants rejected a $US250,000 donation from Salesforce, saying that it couldn’t accept the money unless the company canceled the contract.
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