Vogue published a fascinating article today that introduces us to Yasmin Green.
Should a tech giant give us more information—or better information? Robert Sullivan meets Yasmin Green, a researcher pushing Google to make the world a safer place.
In a small conference room at Google’s New York City headquarters, Yasmin Green is about to get some bad news. Green, 35, is the head of research and development at Jigsaw—the tech giant’s in-house think tank—and the trouble at hand has to do with trolls, those who foment anger and disrupt discourse online. People tend to think of trolls in terms of random harassment, teenagers with too much time on their hands, but these in particular are globally scattered and state-sponsored, targeting journalists and activists, an independent press, or outspoken citizens. Trolls are big, for instance, in Iran, where Green was born (her family fled to London in 1984). “Iran is really kind of trailblazing in terms of developing digital repression,” she likes to tell people.
Jigsaw is a little like the National Security Council of Google—if Google were a nation state, which it is not, despite a nation state–like influence in the world. Security is now everything, after all, as the Web becomes more and more like the Wild West, full of fake news, hacks, incursions on servers and local infrastructure, and increasingly more damaging attacks on security and speech (not to mention the stability of U.S. elections: See Russian interference in the 2016 presidential contest). Jigsaw’s role is to scout the digital landscape for trouble—to, according to Google, “make people in the world safer.” “We have that geopolitical lens,” Green tells me. “We have the mandate to think ahead, rather than respond to what’s happening at the moment. To think prophetically.”