By: Kyle James | 04-05-2018 | News
Photo credit: 432d Wing/Public Affairs

Good Riddance? Google Wants Out Of Pentagon Project

3,100 Google employees are petitioning the company's CEO to pull out of a Pentagon AI program. The petition signed by over 3,000 employees of the tech giant implored CEO Sundar Pichai to pull Google out of the project which is aimed at utilizing artificial intelligence to improve drone strike accuracy.

The petition takes it one step further than simply pulling out of the program, the letter urged Pichai to enforce a policy that keeps Google or its subsidiaries from creating "warfare technology." The proposed policy would prevent Google from even sharing its technology if it were to be given to government agencies. Recently, Google announced it would lend AI TensorFlow programming kits to the Pentagon's Project Maven prompting outrage from the company's own employees since it would be used to improve drone technology.

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Project Maven was announced last May and is described as a next-gen application of machine learning to process big data for "actionable" intelligence more quickly. Some applications would see the tech used to automate administrative tasks while other areas would see benefits to drone's targeting systems to better identify targets and civilians.

A portion of the Google employee's petition reads, "Amid growing fears of biased and weaponized AI, Google is already struggling to keep the public's trust. The argument that other firms, like Microsoft and Amazon, are also participating doesn't make this any less risky for Google. Google's unique history, its motto Don't Be Evil, and its direct reach into the lives of billions of users set it apart."

Google released an official statement on the matter of the petition saying:

"An important part of our culture is having employees who are actively engaged in the work that we do. We know that there are many open questions involved in the use of new technologies, so these conversations - with employees and outside experts - are hugely important and beneficial.

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Maven is a well-publicized DoD project and Google is working on one part of it - specifically scoped to be for non-offensive purposes and using open-source object recognition software available to any Google Cloud customer. The models are based on unclassified data only. The technology is used to flag images for human review and is intended to save lives and save people from having to do highly tedious work.

Any military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns. We're actively engaged across the company in a comprehensive discussion of this important topic and also with outside experts, as we continue to develop our policies around the development and use of our machine learning technologies."

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Thoughts on the above story? Comment below!
4 Comment/s
Jo Catlett No. 22390 2018-04-05 : 08:54

It's a moral question whether or not to use technology to improve weapons of War. If Google doesn't do it of course someone else will. In this case, the technology would be used to improve a weapon that we are already using and has some very serious drawbacks in its use. It's a drawback that costs many innocent lives considered casualties of War. The use of the technology would actually be saving lives because it would be more accurate. Unlike the development of Bio Warfare or nuclear weapons that could destroy all of mankind and possibly the Earth drones are much safer weapons in that they are also unmanned . If the drones accuracy can be improved, by all means it should be done. Just my opinion.

Anonymous No. 22397 2018-04-05 : 10:29

So 3100 Google Staff would rather the D.O.D. —- NOT have accurate targeting data.

Which is used to AVOID killing innocent lives and used to kill TERRORISTS safely.

I guess LIBERAL GROUP PRESSURE wins and they feel it is better to allow Terrorist to roam free and allow the Terrorist to take out civilian targets.

Anonymous No. 22404 2018-04-05 : 12:52

Jo, technology is huge in improving implements of war. if it wasn't for tech we wouldn't have airplanes let alone drones. In our current climate it's usually touted as a humanitarian improvement, but not always. The navy's new rail gun prototypes are an example of tech preventing the ships from carrying loads of explosives and propellants. Tech is everywhere the issue I have is with googs sjw staff saying we don't want to help ebil trump at a cost to our security, or is this a blessing in disguise? The goog is not to be trusted, they sell our personal info and collect it from everywhere it seems. Then it's up for sale to the highest bidders.

Let some other outfit do it, goog doesn't need the $$!

Anonymous No. 22481 2018-04-06 : 11:07

Theyll be selling theyre inside info to chyna within the day

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