Project Maven: Google employees resign over controversial United States military AI programme

Project Maven: Google employees resign over controversial United States military AI programme

A US Pentagon programme, Maven was criticised by thousands of Google employees who said the company "should not be in the business of war".

Citing sources, the report said employees who have resigned raised a variety of concerns, including ethical questions about using artificial intelligence in drone warfare.

Several Google employees have resigned in protest over the company's involvement in a U.S. military pilot programme known as Project Maven, Gizmodo reported. And now word is that Google employees are quitting the company to protest against its involvement in Project Maven.

"We are also deeply concerned about the possible integration of Google's data on people's everyday lives with military surveillance data, and its combined application to targeted killing", said the letter.

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Responding to the petition and resignations, a Google spokesperson told the Daily Express that the technology being developed under the Project Maven programme "is used to flag images for human review and is meant to save lives".

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.

Staff are upset about a variety of aspects, from particular ethical worries about the use of AI in drone attacks to the tech giant's political decisions in a broader sense.

The employees who are resigning in protest say that executives have become less transparent with their workforce about controversial business decisions and seem less interested in listening to workers' objections than they once did. "And if I can no longer recommend other people to this company, why am I still here?" - quoted by Gizmodo, one of the dismissed employees.

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The internal petition has been signed by close to 4,000 employees at this stage. Over 90 academics in the spheres of ethics, AI, and computer science this week published an open letter asking that Google back an global treaty prohibiting autonomous weapons systems, and ceases work with the USA military.

Despite protests from employees, Google is still charging ahead with a Department of Defense collaboration to produce machine-learning software for drones.

Project Maven looks to help the United States military assess drone footage quickly using AI and machine learning. The Cambridge Analytica scandal demonstrates growing public concern over allowing the tech industries to wield so much power. "While Google regularly decides the future of technology without democratic public engagement, its entry into military technologies casts the problems of private control of information infrastructure into high relief".

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.

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