Published: Wed, June 06, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

Google backtracks on controversial military drone project Maven

Google backtracks on controversial military drone project Maven

Following months of employee outrage and media scrutiny, Google has decided not to renew its contract to develop AI image recognition software for USA military drones, Gizmodo reported.

"Google is already battling with privacy issues when it comes to AI and data; I don't know what would happen if the media starts picking up a theme that Google is secretly building AI weapons or AI technologies to enable weapons for the Defense industry", she added. Greene said Google made a decision to work on Project Maven "at a time when Google was more aggressively pursuing military work", Gizmodo reported.

Google will officially not renew its contract with a Pentagon drone project after it expires, according to Bloomberg, following protests by the tech company's staff and the ensuing publicity. The petition also demanded the company implement "a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology", the New York Times reported.

Google employees signed the petition to stop working with Pentagon in fear that the artificial intelligence technology used for Project Maven was going to be used for lethal, military purposes.

More than 700 Google employees had joined an online group inside the company called Maven Conscientious Objectors, using it to vent their concerns about the project and discuss ways of protesting against it. The guidelines will be released, "very, very soon,"Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in a recording of a staff meeting last week reviewed by Reuters". It was part of a major push by Greene to break into the lucrative business of selling cloud services to the government, where Inc. and Corp. dominate.

Google in August 2017 hosted defense executives to demonstrate its artificial intelligence capabilities, according to a document shared with Google employees and seen by Reuters.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Google has gone on the record saying that its work to improve machines' ability to recognize objects is not for offensive uses. "That would seem like things employees of Google might be proud to do".

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