Google Workers Resign Over Project Maven AI Project For US Defense Department

Google A Step Towards Autonomous Killing Machines

GOOGLE HAS lost around a dozen employees (and rising) as a result of the company's decision to work with The Pentagon on a joint venture known as Project Maven.

So much so that nearly 4,000 employees have reportedly signed an internal petition asking Google to end its participation in Project Maven, saying the project "will irreparably damage Google's brand and its ability to compete for talent".

The employees told Gizmodothat since news of Google's involvement broke earlier this year, senior management has been less than forthcoming with the decision-making process on the issue and believed it had been addressed sufficiently through their statement and a few employee listening sessions. Last month, thousands of its own employees turned against the company and wrote a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai to "cancel [the] project immediately".

Project Maven is seeking to use machine learning and computer vision techniques to improve the gathering of battlefield intelligence. "We can not outsource the moral responsibility of our technologies to third parties.This contract puts Google's reputation at risk and stands in direct opposition to our core values".

Google has repeatedly denied the malicious use of its technology in its government contract with the Pentagon.

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More than 90 academics and researchers have joined the chorus of criticism, signing an open letter on Monday against Google's part in weaponizing AI. The signers, including Noam Chomsky, the MIT scientist and political activist, also want Google to join them in calling for a ban on autonomous weapons. A few months later, Google was hired for Project Maven. "These operations also have raised significant questions of racial and gender bias (most notoriously, the blanket categorization of adult males as militants) in target identification and strike analysis".

Google employees are not alone in opposing Google's involvement in the Pentagon project. To dominate the cloud business and fulfill Pichai's dream of becoming an "AI-first company", Google will find it hard to avoid the business of war. Employees against the deal see it as an unacceptable link with a United States administration many oppose and an unnerving first step toward autonomous killing machines.

The DoD contracts under consideration by Google, and similar contracts already in place at Microsoft and Amazon, signal a unsafe alliance between the private tech industry, now in possession of vast quantities of sensitive personal data collected from people across the globe, and one country's military. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Defense Department spent $7.4 billion on technology involving AI past year alone. The Cambridge Analytica scandal demonstrates growing public concern over allowing the tech industries to wield so much power. It might not help Google's defense that the DoD has stated that one day wars will be won with algorithms.

A number of employees have resigned from Google following the search giant's deal to provide artificial intelligence to the USA military.

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