Google employees plead with CEO to drop out of Pentagon AI project

Marsi sits at her desk where she engages with other video gamers on Twitch. To protect her real-world privacy she goes by her online identity kungfufruitcup. MUST CREDIT
Timothy C. Wright For the Washington Post
Author

07 April, 2018

At least some Google employees appear unhappy with their company's participation in a Pentagon initiative exploring the use of artificial intelligence techniques that could improve military drone weapons targeting. The disgruntled Google employees don't want their employer to turn Artificial Intelligence (AI) into what they call "warfare technology".

The New York Times reported that around 3,100 employees signed a letter addressed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, demanding that the company pull out of Project Maven.

Giannandrea had joined Google in July 2010 when it purchased Metaweb, where he worked as chief technology officer. The letter suggests that "concerns" were raised internally recently, and that Diane Greene, a member of the Google board of directors, responded.

According to people family with the matter, Google engineers were outraged that the technology they have been working on will be used in warfare.

More news: Final Four preview: Villanova has many ways to beat Kansas

Over the course of 2017, across the globe, for every kilowatt hour of electricity we consumed, we purchased a kilowatt hour of renewable energy from a wind or solar farm that was built specifically for Google.

You might remember a report from last month that revealed Google has teamed up with the United States Department of Defense (DoD) to help it analyze drone footage using machine learning and AI. Apple stresses user privacy to a greater degree than Google, which offers free and ad-supported services with the understanding that Google might use your data to improve its technology.

The company has been slow-moving on most things AI, from barring employees from publishing AI research up until December 2016 to joining in late to an ethical AI research consortium co-founded by Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and IBM.

To the many worries presented by workers that suspect on the company putting users' data at risk, a spokesperson communicated that the AI data to be employed is meant to flag images for further professional review and that Google's effort is made in order to help save lives on conflicts with highly advanced technology. The company has said all it is doing is helping the Pentagon with technology that can better flag drone images for human review. The models are said to be based on only unclassified data.


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