Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Google worker rebellion against military project grows

Google employees quit over controversial Pentagon work Modal Trigger Shutterstock
Russell Knight | 16 May, 2018, 07:40

The resignations come as Google staffers have been circulating an internal letter, demanding that the company end its involvement with Project Maven, a Defense Department initiative to integrate AI into the U.S. military. It means that a drone would be able to pick out a known terrorist in a crowd and centre any attack on that area.

About a dozen Google employees reportedly left the company over its insistence on developing AI for the USA military through a program called Project Maven.

Earlier NV reported that more than 3 thousand employees of Google have signed an open letter to the leadership of the Corporation, demanding to refuse participation in the program of the Pentagon to the development of artificial intelligence for combat drones.

Gizmodo said that several of the resigning Google staff had spoken to Gizmodo, and told it that Google executives "have become less transparent with their workforce about controversial business decisions and seem less interested in listening to workers' objections than they once did".

Despite protests from employees, Google is still charging ahead with a Department of Defense collaboration to produce machine-learning software for drones.

Since learning about the project titled Maven about three months ago, upset Google employees have lobbied the company to can the program.

Google's yet to respond to these employees' actions, and it remains to be seen if it'll address them at all.

In the letter, Google employees while citing the company's history of avoiding involvement in military work and its motto of "Don't Be Evil" urge the company bosses to cancel Project Maven and draft and publicise a clear policy stating that neither the company nor its contractors would build war technology. A few months later, Google was hired for Project Maven.

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This is not all, the company may also bid for another Pentagon's project - the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, a cloud computing contract.

Google has repeatedly denied the malicious use of its technology in its government contract with the Pentagon.

"At some point I realized that I can't in good conscience advise anyone to go to work for Google, knowing what I know".

In October of 2017, over 100 companies attended an industry event related to Project Maven, according to the Defense Department. This is possibly the first time so many Google employees have resigned in protest.

More than 90 academics and researchers have joined the chorus of criticism, signing an open letter on Monday against Google's part in weaponizing AI.

"We can no longer ignore our industry's and our technologies' harmful biases, large-scale breaches of trust, and lack of ethical safeguards", the petition reads.

"But I do feel responsibility".

"An important part of our culture is having employees who are actively engaged in the work that we do". The letter says Google should "commit to not weaponizing its technology" and terminate its contract with the DoD. "We can not outsource the moral responsibility of our technologies to third parties.This contract puts Google's reputation at risk and stands in direct opposition to our core values".

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