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Recovery, community and healing on the job at Google

Just shy of a year ago, I can still vividly remember scanning The Keyword and coming across the headline, “How my recovery community helps keep me sober.”

Fresh out of grad school, I had been working at Google for just three months and I had been in recovery for almost three years. It was the first time in my life I wasn’t using drugs and alcohol to cope with the stresses and insecurities of work. Before I found recovery, I thought I owed my academic and professional successes to substance abuse. I drank and used drugs “to relax,” make friends and numb the chronic depression that immobilized me otherwise. Frankly, I didn’t know if I was cut out for Google on my own.

Finding hope through community

When I opened that link and read about Google’s Recover Together website — which includes a searchable map to find nearby recovery groups and support resources for people and their families — let alone featuring an actual Googler in recovery, I knew I was in the right place. Addiction is still too often shamed and silenced, so it’s all the more commendable for a company like Google to use its technology, finances and branding capital to bring resources to the millions of people impacted.

The compassion and dignity of that story made me feel hopeful that I could make it at Google clean and sober – but I realized I may not have to do it “on my own.” After some searching, I found that Google's Disability Alliance Employee Resource Group had a dedicated group for those in recovery from any form of addiction. I had already been taking advantage of individual counseling through Google’s Employee Assistance Program, but for me there is nothing like building community to support healing. Over the past year, the recovery group has supported me through onboarding, battling imposter syndrome and other work-related experiences that would have previously sent me searching for solace at the bottom of a bottle.

We do recover – together

It’s difficult to express gratitude for the vulnerability, courage and wisdom the recovery community has brought into my life. Part of that is why I’m so excited to amplify my personal impact and be a part of the group working this year to host a slew of events for National Recovery Month.

On September 7, Google’s internal recovery group hosted an event embodying what recovery awareness and advocacy is all about: showing up, speaking up and standing up over and over and over again. This featured a stop from Mobilize Recovery Across America’s cross country tour and representatives from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Attendees shared personal stories of addiction and recovery, tips to ensure events are inclusive (like providing non-alcoholic options), information of where to dispose of prescription drugs properly, and tangible resources of how to help someone find recovery treatment or access immediate assistance (like the 988 crisis lifeline). To conclude the evening, the Google campus was lit up purple, the official color for Recovery Month.

Hilary Swift for Mobilize Recovery

This month, Google added new personal recovery stories, including mine, to its Recover Together site to inspire hope and combat stigma. U.S. trends and data tell us this is needed more now than ever. Comparing January-September of 2021 to the same date range in 2022, Google’s U.S. based searches for "AA meeting locator" and “addiction treatment near me” increased by 350% and 85% respectively. Further, a national study by the Pew Research Center reports that nearly half of Americans have a family member or friend impacted by addiction, with a fairly even distribution by political party, gender and other markers of identity. My hope is that videos and stories like mine will help others feel less alone. I hope it helps people find a way to join me and the other 25 million Americans thriving in long-term recovery.

Whether you’re just beginning your journey, or well along the path, know that recovery is possible. We do not have to self-medicate in the shadows. My experience has taught me that the more we open up and reach out, the easier it all becomes.

Visit g.co/recovertogetherto find recovery support groups in your area, and check out mobilizerecovery.org/for more information.


Supporting the EU and securing the digital space

Citizens, companies and governments across the European Union agree that everyone should be free to live their lives and use technology without fear that their information will be stolen or held ransom by cybercriminals or other malicious actors.

But with each passing week, cyber threats are growing more costly and more aggressive, undermining the trust essential to a vibrant, inclusive digital society. This is a moment that calls for international leadership, which is why it’s notable that the European Commission has featured security at the center of its vision for digital transformation.

Today, Google is publishing a set of recommendations and white paper supporting the Commission’s efforts, and we commit to extending our full capabilities to help secure Europe’s “digital decade”.

The need

We applaud the European Commission’s effort to meet this moment, and believe that companies should step up to do their part as well.

The stakes have never been clearer. Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — a ground assault accompanied by an attack on Europe’s cyberspace — there were troubling signs that Europe’s democratic values were being challenged by authoritarian governments.

I spoke about the importance of these values recently at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit. Democracies provide fertile ground for advances in science and technology. Technology owes its success to the conditions — openness, pluralism, free exchange — that democracy creates, enabling inventors to take risks and pursue new avenues for inquiry and collective innovation. So it’s no surprise that Ukraine’s tech sector thrived in recent years under the flag of a free European democracy.

But how can technology, in turn, contribute to the defense of Europe’s digital space? We have been reflecting on lessons we learned the hard way more than a decade ago, and how we used them to create a next-generation security infrastructure.

In the months ahead, we plan to share our experience in proactive digital defense with leaders in Europe. We are keenly aware of our responsibility to support the work of Europe’s democratic governments and institutions on economic progress, national security, and defense of the public square.

Google’s role

Our white paper recommends several areas where the European Union can make progress in securing Europe’s digital space, including:

  • Open security: Driving European resilience through “open security,” on the principle that openness and interoperability encourage scrutiny, threat sharing, and rapid adoption of best practices and new technologies.
  • Security by default: Promoting systemic investments in digital transformation, zero-trust architectures, and operating systems and devices that are secure by default, helping organizations overcome an overreliance on outdated and hard-to-patch technology infrastructures and devices that lie open to risks of espionage and extortion.
  • Partnership: Engaging partners by facilitating public-private threat information exchanges and briefings involving EU policymakers and technical experts — and by increasing dialogue to explore new areas of cooperation, such as applying artificial intelligence to improve security.
  • Encryption: Prioritizing strong encryption as superior means of protecting sensitive data compared to data localization requirements, which can have the unintended effect of actually undermining security and resilience.

These recommendations reflect both our decades of security expertise and our deep interest in the EU’s digital defense. Some of our leading security initiatives, and top security researchers, are based in Europe.

At the Google Safety Engineering Centers (GSEC) in Munich and Dublin, Google engineers don’t just talk about digital safety, they build it. And they do so on Europe’s distinctive strengths: respected technical universities, many thousands of Google employees, and top expertise in fields including privacy and computer science.

VirusTotal, a Google team that began as a small Málaga-based startup in 2004 and grew into a European champion before its acquisition by Google in 2012, helps millions in the public sector, commerce and research to understand malware and cybersecurity trends. In 2023, VirusTotal will open a brand new headquarters in the heart of Andalusia’s tech hub.

And, as we announced last week, Mandiant, one of the world’s premier cybersecurity teams, has now joined Google — bringing with it hundreds of industry-leading European experts in the field of threat intelligence and incident response.

These teams and others like them will ensure we’re countering tomorrow’s challenges with tomorrow’s tools. And our commitment to Europe’s digital security will be accompanied by a commitment to collaboration — building on the kind of innovation that has always made democracies stronger than their adversaries.


12 women founders talk tech in Founded’s fourth season

Women's entrepreneurship is rising — but women still own only one in three businesses globally. They also continue to get a small piece of the venture capital "pie”: Startups with all-women founders accounted for only 6.9% of deals during the first half of 2022, which marked a decade high.

At Women Techmakers, our goal is to build a world where all women can thrive in tech, providing visibility, community and resources for women in technology — and this includes women founders.

In 2020, to spotlight the voices of women founders globally, we launched Founded, a podcast interviewing women tech entrepreneurs around the world. This fall, we're bringing back Founded, but with a twist. We've made the move to video, and each episode will feature two women founders interviewing each other and talking about their experiences as founders and the challenges they faced along the way — everything from funding to managing technical teams.

Founded is not just about businesses but the passionate women behind them. The fourth season showcases 12 extraordinary founders from eight different countries. The first episode features Min Chen, Co-founder and CEO of Wisy — a California-based AI platform that helps retailers track inventory, using image recognition to detect when items need restocking. She’ll speak with Courtney McColgan, Founder and CEO of Runa, a Mexico-based company that provides software to automate payroll in Latin America.

Min Chen, Co-founder and CEO of Wisy (left) and Courtney McColgan, Founder and CEO of Runa (right)

Meet the other founders featured this season:

The first episode will launch on September 26 — keep an eye out for it on the Women Techmakers YouTube channel.


Play The Descent of the Serpent, the first video game from Google Arts & Culture

Have you ever wished you could discover ancient civilizations by immersing yourself in their world? Today, you can unlock the mysteries of the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica by experiencing them in The Descent of the Serpent, the first platform video game from Google Arts & Culture.

It can be fascinating to learn about these ancient cultures and visit a museum filled with artifacts from their time. To take that experience to a whole new level, this game is designed to immerse you into the world of ancient Mesoamerica. Filled with ancient knowledge and created in partnership with Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology, The Descent of the Serpent takes players back in time to search for hidden objects in a multi-level maze of jungles, mountains, coasts and caves.

From elaborate costumes and ball games to fascinating mythology and incredible architecture, ancient Mesoamerican culture can be both educational and entertaining to discover. These ancient cultures left behind a great legacy of knowledge and many artifacts once used in rituals, warfare and daily life – some of which are housed in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Today, you can find them scattered throughout the virtual maze in The Descent of the Serpent.

The game involves retrieving the lost objects and returning them to Chichen Itza in time for the solar equinox. That’s when the sun casts a shadow on the carvings in a way that resembles a snake descending the monument’s steps — which inspires the game’s name. As part of the challenge, players are invited to learn surprising, impressive and interesting aspects about ancient Mesoamerican cultures, and face mythological figures who’ll test the knowledge they’ve collected throughout the adventure.

The Descent of the Serpent is a game for players of all ages to enjoy, learn from, and return to often to beat their high score again and again — if they dare. Play it for yourself at goo.gle/serpent, or in the Google Arts & Culture iOS or Android app, and use emojis to learn more about ancient Mesoamerica. Have fun!


Google at the 2022 United Nations General Assembly

This week world leaders gathered in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Google participated in a range of UNGA-related engagements as part of our commitment to collaborate with international organizations to achieve collective solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Here are just a few of the many topics we covered:

Global governance in a digital era

The global internet was built to be a shared resource that everyone could access wherever they lived — but over the last few years this ideal has been increasingly challenged. Regulatory barriers to the free flow of information across borders are threatening to fragment the internet. New and revitalized global governance frameworks are needed for an increasingly digitized world, and international organizations will be critical to achieving them, which is why we support the UN Global Digital Compact.

Over the course of this week, we had various conversations about what needs to be done to ensure that the internet remains open, secure and reliable for everyone. Preserving the cross-border availability of secure technologies and digital services – coupled with forward-looking decisions by governments to invest in digital infrastructure and digital skilling – can protect access to information everywhere and ensure that the benefits resulting from the global internet are preserved.

Kent Walker on stage with Foreign Policy Editor in Chief Ravi Agrawal at FP Tech Forum

Supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was a key topic during this week’s UNGA. The 17 UN SDGs were created “to make a better world for everyone, now and into the future.” They include goals like achieving gender equality, ensuring quality education and tackling economic inequality. At Google, we see countless ways in which technology can help accelerate progress on these goals.

While the global community has made some important progress in meeting the SDGs since they were launched in 2015, headwinds persist due to Covid-19 and global conflict and, unfortunately, not a single country is on track to meet all 17 goals by 2030. To that end, Google's philanthropic arm, Google.org recently announced that we are expanding these efforts through a $25 million commitment to support NGOs and social enterprises using artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate progress in achieving the SDGs.

James Manyika, Jacquelline Fuller and UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed hosted a roundtable on using AI to accelerate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. (L to R: Jacquelline Fuller - President of Google.Org, Elizabeth Cousens - President of UN Foundation, Paula Ingabire - Minister of Information Communications Technology and Innovation of Rwanda, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, James Manyika - SVP of Technology & Society and UN Tech Envoy Amandeep Singh Gill).

A number of the SDGs – ensuring sustainable cities, and access to affordable and clean energy, for example – were established with sustainability top of mind. And as our CEO has said before, solving climate change is humanity’s next big moonshot. Working together, governments, companies, and citizens can create technology-enabled, scalable solutions that deliver a prosperous, carbon-free future for all of humanity.

As a company we've been carbon neutral since 2007, and by 2030 we aim to achieve net zero emissions across our operations and value chain, and to run our data centers and offices entirely on carbon-free energy. As we work towards these goals, we’re collaborating with partners to share tools and resources to make clean energy achievable for all, such as the 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy Hub and Academy launched earlier this week. And we continue to partner with UN Energy, Sustainable Energy for All, and dozens of companies and cities around the world to grow the 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy Compact.

Ukraine

The war in Ukraine continues to be both a tragedy and a humanitarian disaster. Since the war broke out, our team has worked around the clock to combat disinformation, elevate authoritative content across our services, protect cybersecurity in Ukraine and globally, while also providing humanitarian assistance and supporting the region more broadly. This week, we were honored that Sundar was selected as a recipient of one of this year’s Atlantic Council Global Citizen Awards, in recognition of Google’s efforts in response to Russia’s continuing war in Ukraine, our commitment to digital resilience, and our ongoing support for refugees and displaced people throughout the world.

Sundar Pichai delivers an acceptance speech at the Atlantic Council’s 2022 Global Citizen Awards, highlighting the role the private sector can play in helping refugees around the world.

International organizations like the United Nations are unique in their ability to convene countries from all over the world, and we are pleased to collaborate closely with member governments to play our part.


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