Did you know that Ghost Rider became the King of Hell? It happened in the unpublished last issue (#94) of Ghost Rider volume 3 which Marvel published after ten years to build hype around the first movie. It’s a long story, but basically, Ghost Rider became King of Hell after destroying Blackheart (Not Satan? Not Mephisto? Again it’s a long story). As King of Hell, Ghost Rider had but one rule on his new subjects. Do no more evil. He said that to a horde of demons, in hell. Imagine that. So, what does this have to do with Google?
Google recently said the same thing to its employees. Often, when a company becomes too big for its britches, like Apple and Microsoft, earnings tons of money from hardworking citizens while not exactly delivering on its promises, it’s considered an evil empire. Google is now on the same boat with Microsoft with an anti-trust case in Europe because of Android, and a case in Russia to stop it from monopolizing search as well as getting criticized for its ever changing rules on SEO. Google, or Alphabet aims to curb the evil empire image with its new motto.
“Follow the law, act honorably and treat each other with respect.”
It’s actually the newer version. Before, it went biblically like this:
“Don’t be evil.”
The earlier version is kind of hard to realize as we all have our mean streaks, our tempers, bad moments and bad sides. Our yangs to our yings. Besides:
“Evil is a point of view. God kills indiscriminately and so shall we. For no creatures under God are as we are…”
— (Tom Cruise) Lestat de Lioncourt, Interview with the Vampire
The new version is much easier to follow. With Google’s recent reorganization, a new company code of conduct was in order. Its main statement being “Follow the law, act honorably and treat each other with respect.” Not bad for a code of conduct. It should serve Alphabet well internally and possibly make the company more efficient. It will also give the public a mental image of a technological monastery instead of a campus full of engineers. The revised document itself has been simplified from an unreadable 6000-word EULA-like legalese to an English document of less than 1,000 words. It’s an easier to understand standard code of conduct that most companies should follow regarding avoidance of conflicts of interest, trade controls, avoiding bribery, insider trading, unfair competition and obeying both company and government rules.
Google’s new motto sounds real nice on paper but can it really apply to a company as large as Google/Alphabet that may have to be “a little evil”, bend or reinterpret some laws in order to remain competitive. Can they pull it off as a business? Perhaps. The first step is to take away the vagueness of “evil” as businesses need to perform some necessary evils to make the mark. Externally, “follow the law” is much more flexible since the law can be interpreted, bent and twisted by legal departments of big businesses such as Google. As long as everything is in the “confines of the law”, everything’s dandy and Alphabet stays alphabetical.
As for the rank and file, that’s easy. It’s not like the company can keep them out of jail for felonies and misdemeanors. Just be nice and play nice. Follow the law, try not to kill anyone. Follow company rules, try not to kill anyone. Act honorably and treat each other with respect. Any self-respecting Google geek knows Klingon lore. To be a great warrior, one must have honor and respect. Plus, we have our parents and respective bibles for that. But it’s nice to be reminded from time to time.
So is it easy? Not really. Anyone might accidentally park in some handicap space because they’re in a hurry, beat a red light and get a parking ticket or two; and act like jackasses after a few drinks and get on somebody’s nerves. Like Ghost Rider’s demon hordes, we’re only human. Don’t be evil, follow the law, act honorably and treat each other with respect is not as simple as it reads. Same thing goes for Google/Alphabet, it’s a big company.