Google Employees Resigning over Controversial Pentagon AI Project

Google Employees Resigning over Controversial Pentagon AI Project

So much so that according to a report from Gizmodo, employees have been resigning en masse to protest the contract.

Project Maven aims to speed up the analysis of drone footage by automatically classifying images of objects and people.

Some 4,000 employees have now signed the petition against Project Maven and "about a dozen" have resigned due to Google's continued involvement in the project, according to Gizmodo.

The protest is also being backed by "some 400 technology academics and researchers from around the world", who have published an open letter to Google, adds the tech site. It has been deeply controversial within Google, with employees saying that it jeopardises trust and goes against the company's core beliefs. The contract, for those wondering, is for a project known as Project Maven. "Over the last couple of months, I've been less and less impressed with the response and the way people's concerns are being treated and listened to", one employee who resigned said.

"I tried to remind myself right that Google's decisions are not my decisions". 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".

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"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. I'm not personally responsible for everything they do. With the building controversy, it will be interesting to see if Google back down from the project, or whether we will see a mass exodus of employees.

"But I do feel responsibility". Google, however, has offered comment on Project Maven saying, "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".

"The tech flags pictures for human inspection, and is "Military usage of machine learning obviously raises legitimate concerns. We're actively discussing this important topic internally and with others as we continue to develop policies and safeguards around the development and use of our machine learning technologies". 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.

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.

A Google spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the resignations. "The strongest possible statement I could take against this was to leave".

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