Google have announced they will not be renewing their contract to do artificial intelligence work for the US Pentagon, following strong opposition from the company’s employees. A number of these employees resigned, with thousands of others signing a petition against Google taking part in the Pentagon project (Maven). They said the project was the first step towards AI being used for lethal purposes.
Diane Greene (Google Executive) said to Google staff there would be no follow up after the current contract expires next March, however according to Kate Conger (journalist for tech news site Gizmodo) Google have not cancelled Project Maven, and have not ruled out future work alongside the Pentagon.
The project itself, Project Maven, involves using machine learning and engineering to distinguish people and objects in videos taken via drones. The contract is reported to be worth around £7.5m to Google, but was taken with a vision that this could lead to further, more extensive work between the Pentagon and Google.
Up to 4,000 Google employees signed an open letter that stated that by Google’s involvement in the project, the company was putting users’ trust at risk as well as ignoring its own “moral and ethical responsibility”, this was signed in April. Along with this, a report by Gizmodo said that even senior leaders of Google were conflicted about the possible effects of the partnership.