Google employees resign in protest over controversial Pentagon AI project, report says

By James Rogers

About a dozen Google employees are resigning in protest over the tech giant’s involvement in Project Maven, a controversial military program that uses artificial intelligence, Gizmodo reports.

Project Maven, which harnesses AI to improve drone targeting, has been a source of concern for a number of Google employees. Last month, over 3,100 Google workers signed a letter to the company’s CEO Sundar Pichai asking him to pull the tech giant out of the project.

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Announced last year, Project Maven is designed to swiftly pull important data from vast quantities of imagery.

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The resigning employees’ concerns ranges from ethical worries about the use of AI in drone warfare to qualms about Google’s political decisions and a potential erosion of user trust, according to Gizmodo.

The tech news website cites an internal Google document containing written accounts from many of the employees that details their decisions to leave. Multiple sources have reportedly shared the document’s contents with Gizmodo.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based firm is said to be using machine learning to help the Department of Defense classify images captured by drones.

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Google, however, “should not be in the business of war,” according to the letter to Pichai that was signed by thousands of disgruntled employees. “Therefore we ask that Project Maven be cancelled, and that Google draft, publicize and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology,” the letter said, according to the New York Times.

The Google workers also noted the company’s well-known former motto, “Don’t be evil, warning that Project Maven “will irreparably damage Google’s brand and its ability to compete for talent.”

The New York Times reported last month that the letter was circulating within Google.

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The Department of Defense has said that its workforce is overwhelmed by incoming data, particularly video imagery.

“Although we have taken tentative steps to explore the potential of artificial intelligence, big data and deep learning,” then-Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work wrote in an April 2017 memo discussing Project Maven. “I remain convinced that we need to do much more and move much faster across DoD to take advantage of recent and future advances in these critical areas.”

Google has not yet responded to a request for comment on this story from Fox News.

 

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