Google employees resigning due to Pentagon drone contract

Google employees resigning due to Pentagon drone contract

Google employees resigning due to Pentagon drone contract

"Google has moved into military work without subjecting itself to public debate or deliberation, either domestically or internationally". It was the second meeting of an advisory board set up in 2016 to counsel the military on ways to apply technology to the battlefield.

The group said it was "deeply concerned" that the data Google collects on people's lives through its products could be integrated with military surveillance data for targeted killing.

The pact could generate millions in revenue for Alphabet Inc's internet giant.

Google has yet to issue a statement relating to the latest avalanche of censure. Reports are claiming that at least a dozen Google employees have now resigned in protest to the company's participation in the project.

So far about 4,000 workers have signed the petition out of the roughly 85,000 workers that Alphabet, Google's parent company, employs. Thousands of others have signed an internal petition in an effort to persuade CEO Sundar Pichai to withdraw Google from "the business of war".

The internal backlash, which coincides with a broader outcry over how Silicon Valley uses data and technology, has prompted Pichai to act. His team is reportedly drafting ethical principles to guide the deployment of Google's powerful AI tech. That will shape its future work.

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". She doesn't think Google or the military should have the final word on AI weapons. The Cambridge Analytica scandal demonstrates growing public concern over allowing the tech industries to wield so much power. Rivals are rushing to cut deals with the government, which spends billions of dollars a year on all things cloud.

This, many Google staff fear, puts the project on a slippery slope towards the weaponisation of AI, as the technology could easily be applied to improve the efficacy of drone strikes, for example.

Project Maven is essentially a research initiative to develop computer vision algorithms that can analyze drone footage. Google has said in the past that company's contribution to Maven is not offensive in nature and won't be used to kill people. "Google's been working with the government for a long time", she said.

Announced previous year, Project Maven is created to swiftly pull important data from vast quantities of imagery. They're troubled by the potential for Google to share user data with the military for surveillance.

Many employees deem her rationalisations unpersuasive.

The world of academia has also raised concerns over Google's work with the Pentagon. Just last week during Google's I/O developer conference, the company demonstrated an as-yet unreleased version of Google Assistant, called Duplex, that can carry on conversations.

Googlers' discomfort with using AI in warfare is longstanding.

The ICRAC, however, see this as just a step away from autonomous weapons. Providing the military with Gmail, which has AI capabilities, is fine, but it gets more complex in other cases, Dean said.

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