Google scrubs United States military contract following protest by employees

Google Won't Renew Contract with Pentagon for Artificial Intelligence Project

Google Won't Renew Contract with Pentagon for Artificial Intelligence Project

Google was anxious it could get negative press because of Maven, and that the company's involvement with the project would taint its reputation, the leaked emails suggest.

Diane Greene, the chief executive of Google's cloud business spoke out about the contract saying that it was "only" for $9 million a relatively minor project for such a large company.

The code name for a Department of Defense (DoD) Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team (AWCFT), Project Maven is an artificial intelligence (A.I.) program at present a work in progress. Unfortunately for Greene, mass upheavals forced her to tactfully reassess.

Google is expected to produce a set of principles on which to guide its future decisions in the use of AI for defence and intelligence contracting, which according to Greene are to be announced next week.

Project Maven uses artificial intelligence to enhance drone strikes. Greene said Google chose to work on Project Maven "at a time when Google was more aggressively pursuing military work", Gizmodo reported. In an open letter addressed to CEO Sundar Pichai, Google employees expressed concern that the US military could weaponize AI and apply the technology towards refining drone strikes and other kinds of lethal attacks.

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"We believe that Google should not be in the business of war", the letter stated. That led Google to reportedly work on ethical guidelines relating to military contracts.

Over 3,100 Google employees protested in April for this. Google has also worked to develop machine learning algorithms that would help the Pentagon enhance its surveillance efforts generally.

The open letter, which has clearly been disregarded by administration, asked for that Google promptly wipe out its part in executing Project Maven.

Selling cloud computing services, including the object detection tool being used with drone footage, is one of the top areas Google is counting on to diversify revenue.

Leaked internal emails also revealed that Google tried to hide the scope of its dealings with the Pentagon.

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