Google reportedly won’t renew its controversial military AI contract


Signed last September, the contract lets the Defense Department use Google artificial intelligence tools to analyze drone footage for an initiative called Project Maven.

Maven uses AI to interpret video images and the tech could be used to improve drone strike targeting.

The announcement was made by Diane Greene, chief executive of Google's cloud business, at a Friday morning all-hands briefing for the Google Cloud team, which is known internally as the "weather report".

The New York Times writes that when Google purchased the artificial intelligence firm DeepMind 2014, "The acquisition agreement [.] said DeepMind technology would never be used for military or surveillance purposes".

According to the information, during a weekly staff meeting, Greene explicitly cited the backlash among Google employees over ties with the US Defense Department, as many of them said the policy runs counter to the company's "Don't Be Evil" principle.

Google will not renew a contract to do artificial intelligence work for the US Pentagon, company sources say.

Warriors Talk About How Stephen Curry Has Created Team's Culture
Check out the full tv schedule for the 2018 NBA Finals below, including tonight's Game 1 that is scheduled to tipoff at 9pm ET. How They Got Here: Cleveland beat No. 5 IN 4-3, No. 1 Toronto 4-0 and No. 2 Boston 4-3 for the Eastern Conference title.

For now, Google is on the hook with Project Maven until 2019, and then it will reportedly stop. More than 4,600 employees signed a petition calling for Google to cancel the deal, with at least 13 employees resigning in recent weeks in protest at Google's involvement, according to a second person familiar with the deal. About a dozen employees resigned in protest. "We value all of our relationships with academic institutions and commercial companies involved with Project Maven". The company, however, remained cautious of this contract becoming public anxious about how people would perceive it. Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM are other tech giants competing for similar contracts.

"We believe that Google should not be in the business of war", the letter stated.

Project Maven includes several subcontractors.

Google in August 2017 hosted defence executives to demonstrate its artificial intelligence capabilities, according to a document shared with Google employees and seen by Reuters.

While the guidelines have yet to take shape, there will likely be continued unrest around Google's Pentagon contract.

DigitalGlobe, a geospatial data provider that's been reported to provide data to the project, didn't reply to a request for comment. Google's contract accounted for only a small part of Project Maven's technical ambitions, and other companies work on similar image-recognition software that could potentially be deployed as an alternative.