Fears Pentagon project is first step towards AI for lethal purposes

Google will not seek another contract with the Department of Defense to provide artificial intelligence for drone warfare, according to a Gizmodo report.

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene made the announcement at a Friday employee meeting, people familiar with the matter told Gizmodo. Yet another report from Gizmodo on the subject says that Google won't be renewing the project once its current contract runs out.

The New York Times reported this week that Fei-Fei Li, the chief scientist for AI at Google Cloud, is a vocal internal critic of Google's work on the US Department of Defense's Project Maven.

Google's senior leadership was enthusiastically supportive of Project Maven-especially because it would set Google Cloud on the path to win larger Pentagon contracts-but deeply concerned about how the company's involvement would be perceived. The military project uses artificial intelligence to increase defense capabilities, including using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze aerial drone imagery.

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

Google has not committed to forego signing other military contracts dealing with artificial intelligence. A Google spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

It now appears that Google has decided not to renew its contract with the Pentagon.

In the course of the contract, Google contributed TensorFlow, its open-source AI framework, to the Pentagon.

"Even within this free-expression workplace, longtime employees said, the Maven project has roiled Google beyond anything in recent memory", The Times said.

In the end, Google did not promote its work on Maven, but The Intercept said the Google team agreed that the firm should work to agree a "narrative" as quickly as possible.

Staff Sergeant Johnny "Joey" Jones (Ret.) on how workers from Google are protesting the company's involvement with the Pentagon's drone program.

Google was anxious it could get negative press because of Maven, and that the company's involvement with the project would taint its reputation, the leaked emails suggest. The dissidents said it clashed with the company's stated principle of doing no harm and cited risks around using a nascent artificial intelligence technology in lethal situations. "We value all of our relationships with academic institutions and commercial companies involved with Project Maven". It was initially valued at $15 million, but over time the budget was estimated to reach as high as $250 million.

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