It's been almost three months since many Google employees, and the public, learned about the company's decision to provide artificial intelligence to a controversial military pilot program known as Project Maven, which aims to speed up analysis of drone footage by automatically classifying images of objects and people.
Project Maven helps process aerial drone footage using artificial intelligence (AI) to spy on vehicles and even follow people as they come and go in and out of buildings.
GOOGLE HAS lost around a dozen employees (and rising) as a result of the company's decision to work with The Pentagon on a joint venture known as Project Maven.
Executives have not backed down, however, defending their work on Maven.
On google's part it is saying that Pentagon contract is only a test and that it covers non-classified images. Whilst unofficially, we know more than the government admits, Google is bound by what the public knows officially and so, therefore, there's likely to be a lot of discussions where people are prevented from discussing things that everyone knows - something that flies in the face of Google's obsession with transparency. There are also some who are resigning over concerns about Google's political decisions.
"I tried to remind myself right that Google's decisions are not my decisions".
Some staff feel that Google shouldn't be involved in military work at all. In April that over 3,000 Google employees signed the petition.
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"I'm not personally responsible for everything that they do". In addition to the Google-specific internal petition, there is a broader petition targeting IBM, Microsoft, Amazon and Google, created by tech workers who "believe that tech companies should not be in the business of war".
It stated: "The private data collected by Google comes with a responsibility not only to use that data to improve its own technologies and expand its business, but also to benefit society".
Google has defended their work and in a statement made last month, the company said, "The technology is used to flag images for human review and is meant to save lives and save people from having to do highly tedious work".
Essentially, the company is using machine-learning algorithms and AI to help the U.S. military assess drone footage quickly. According to Gizmodo, the resigning employees were told that that company was fleshing out a new ethics policy on AI research, but that it had yet to materialize. "We are actively discussing this important issue internally and with other people as we continue to build safeguards and policies around the development and application of our system learning technology".
Google did not respond to a request for comment.