Some Unity staffers are concerned they might be working on projects for the military without knowing it.
This is according to the three employees, who talked to Vice anonymously.
Unity has long been used by professionals outside the video games industry. The engine offers applications across film, engineering, architecture, automotive, and transportation. And then there are projects internally referred to as “GovTech,” which is shorthand for government and military contracts.
Image Credit: Unity
Vice’s sources claim that the employees might be developing tech for the military clients and not even realize who the end user of their work will be.
For example, a team within Unity was tasked with developing “a placement randomization scheme for a government simulation project.” This turned out to be a technology “simulating explosion debris on virtual runways” designed for the United States military. The same source claims that Unity often uses “government” to describe military projects.
This is indirectly corroborated by an internal memo, titled “GovTech Projects — Communication Protocol.” The document, never distributed widely within Unity, contains guidelines on how best to talk about these projects with “internal/external stakeholders.” Among other things, it specifically asks employees to use the terms “government” or “defense” instead of “military.” The memo also instructs the team not to “discuss any projects that involves the use of simulated or virtual weapons or training to harm another person.”
“I came to Unity explicitly because I naively believed their marketing around ’empowering creators’ and ‘making the world a better place’ or whatever,” said one of the employees. “I got into AI with the expectation that I’d be building technology ‘for the greater good’ or some nonsense like that. You learn pretty quick, though, that cozying up to warfare profiteers is the fastest way to make money pretty much universally in the tech industry.”
That Unity is working with the military is not exactly a secret. The company has publicly acknowledged that the engine has been used by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, and defense contractors, such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing. However, Unity claims that its work for these clients “does not directly involve the loss of life, harm of the planet, or a person’s right to equity and inclusion.” This is something that an internal ethics group is supposed to ensure. “Unity believes in supporting its creators and employees, regardless of industry or point of view, and ensuring we work together in positively shaping the world’s future,” the company said in a statement.
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