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Some Google employees are resigning due to involvement with Project Maven

16 May 2018

Several Google employees have resigned in protest over the company's involvement in a USA military pilot programme known as Project Maven, Gizmodo reported.

Others expressed concerns at Google's political moves, like its sponsorship of the Conservative Political Action Conference and its struggle to address internal diversity concerns.

Google does not seem to have listened and has defended its work on Maven. "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".

Some staff feel that Google shouldn't be involved in military work at all.

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.

The ICRAC, however, see this as just a step away from autonomous weapons.

The ICRAC warned this week the project could potentially be mixed with general user data and exploited to aid "targeted killing". "These include so-called signature strikes and pattern-of-life strikes that target people based not on known activities but on probabilities drawn from long range surveillance footage".

Google employees are not alone in opposing Google's involvement in the Pentagon project.

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However, the employees in the San Francisco Bay Area have condemned Google's decision of getting into the "business of war". Employees against the deal see it as an unacceptable link with a U.S. administration many oppose and an unnerving first step toward autonomous killing machines.

Google's response to the situation was not enough, according to the former employees who spoke to Gizmodo, who said in the interview that "the strongest possible statement [they] could take against this was to leave".

In addition to the resignations, more than 4,000 Google employees have voiced their opposition to Project Maven in an internal petition that asks Google to immediately cancel the contract and institute a policy against taking on future military work.

"The DoD contracts under consideration by Google, and similar contracts already in place at Microsoft and Amazon, signal a unsafe alliance between the private tech industry, now in possession of vast quantities of sensitive personal data collected from people across the globe, and one country's military", the letter reports. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Defense Department spent $7.4 billion on technology involving AI a year ago alone. She says now that she believes she was one of many tech workers back then who wanted to discuss some of the moral responsibilities facing big tech companies then but didn't know how.

"According to Defense One, the DoD already plans to install image analysis technologies on-board the drones themselves, including armed drones".

Project Maven, which harnesses AI to improve drone targeting, has been a source of concern for a number of Google employees.

According to the Defense Department, in October of 2017, over 100 companies came to an industry event allied to Project Maven.

"We wholeheartedly support [employees'] demand that Google terminate its contract with the DoD, and that Google and its parent company Alphabet commit not to develop military technologies and not to use the personal data that they collect for military purposes", the letter states.

Some Google employees are resigning due to involvement with Project Maven