Over 3100 Google employees demand company leave Pentagon drone project

midian182

Posts: 5,780   +46
Staff member

You might remember a report from last month that revealed Google has teamed up with the United States Department of Defense (DoD) to help it analyze drone footage using machine learning and AI. The company's involvement with Project Maven had raised concerns among some Google employees who didn’t believe it should be involved in the program. Now, over 3100 Googlers have signed a letter opposing the partnership.

The Pentagon announced the creation of its Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team (AWCFT), codenamed Project Maven, in May last year. Its main objective is to use AI and machine learning to trawl through thousands of hours’ worth of drone surveillance footage in the hope of gathering “actionable” intelligence faster, while allowing analysts to make better use of their time. Google said it was giving the agency access to its open-source TensorFlow software, which should improve the system’s ability to identify targets and civilians.

Although Google stressed that its work on Maven was “non-offensive,” and it wouldn’t be using its technology to “operate or fly drones,” several employees questioned the ethics of the company, whose motto is “don’t be evil,” assisting with the project.

The New York Times reports that the number of employees voicing their objection to Google’s collaboration has increased. A formal letter addressed to CEO Sundar Pichai and signed by more than 3100 workers has called for involvement with Maven to be canceled.

“We believe that Google should not be in the business of war. Therefore we ask that Project Maven be canceled and that Google draft, publicize, and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology,” the opening paragraph reads.

"Amid growing fears of biased and weaponized AI, Google is already struggling to keep the public's trust,” the letter states. "The argument that other firms, like Microsoft and Amazon, are also participating doesn't make this any less risky for Google.”

Responding to the letter, Google issued the following statement:

An important part of our culture is having employees who are actively engaged in the work that we do. We know that there are many open questions involved in the use of new technologies, so these conversations—with employees and outside experts—are hugely important and beneficial.

Maven is a well-publicized DoD project, and Google is working on one part of it—specifically scoped to be for non-offensive purposes and using open-source object-recognition software available to any Google Cloud customer. The models are based on unclassified data only. The technology is used to flag images for human review and is intended to save lives and save people from having to do highly tedious work.

Any military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns. We're actively engaged across the company in a comprehensive discussion of this important topic and also with outside experts, as we continue to develop our policies around the development and use of our machine-learning technologies.

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LeroN

Posts: 100   +46
Yeah. It's so simple now. If you handle Google's devices or you are logged in the Google's account then you are a potential and easy target since that. LOL
 
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psycros

Posts: 3,133   +3,246
Yeah. It's so simple now. If you handle Google's devices or you are logged in the Google's account then you are a potential and easy target since that. LOL
If you use a telephone or any other form of electronic communication, you've had a potential target on your back for the better part of 20 years. That's the world we live in now and I don't see it changing without a cultural revolution or near-total collapse of society. I will say this, however: the threat of being killed by a machine is a good deterrent to terrorism. They want to die fighting and killing their perceived enemies. Being able to deny that opportunity to a jihadi is a great psychological warfare tool.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,265   +3,373
I would say that these 3,100 employee's make a very handy target for their next lay off ....... just saying .....
I was thinking the same thing myself, however, I do like the idea of them wanting gagme to stop participation in military projects. Yes, I get it, there are evil people out there, but killing them is not necessarily going to make evil go away, and that this might save the lives of friendlys. Yet, IMO, inequality needs to be addressed globally in a better fashion than war. Until better means of addressing inequality are found, it seems that the need for such devices will remain.
 
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Danny101

Posts: 1,318   +526
This is funny when they aren't much better than the military with their spying and selling data. They are so virtuous.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,066   +4,866
This is funny when they aren't much better than the military with their spying and selling data. They are so virtuous.
Yes, but when Google spies on you, unlike the military, they only have your best interests at heart.

Take "targeted advertising" as an example. Once they learn who you are, your demographic niche, and what your primary interests are, they only ram ads down your throat centered on those factors.

For example, I'm a male, in my late sixties, and I can honestly say, that Google has never sent me a tampon ad, or solicited me about breast augmentation surgery..(y)

Which is actually more than you can say for broadcast TV, which sells you drugs you don't need, can't afford, and are possibly harmful, along with roadblock advertising for the ISP you already have. Then there's the "Slim Fast" ads, with size 20+ ladies of all races, creed, and national origins, grotesquely pretending they're worth looking at while they make awkward attempts at "twerking". Last but surely not least, thanks to OTA TV, I now know, that should it become necessary, I can buy bras in half cup sizes. What can I say other than, "thanks and may God bless you, CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox and all your affiliates"..
 
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JamesSWD

Posts: 331   +184
I don't trust Google one bit, considering how they've weaponized their own platforms against certain political demographics. But these 3,100 snowflakes need to grow up and realize that the world is not a safe space and that there are bad people out there wanting to do harm to everyone. You either stay steps ahead of them, or end them, with technology and other means...or suffer the consequences of keeping your head in the sand. Not to mention, other countries, hostile or not to us, will continue forward and gain an advantage over us.
 

infiltrator

Posts: 171   +31
I don't trust Google one bit, considering how they've weaponized their own platforms against certain political demographics. But these 3,100 snowflakes need to grow up and realize that the world is not a safe space and that there are bad people out there wanting to do harm to everyone. You either stay steps ahead of them, or end them, with technology and other means...or suffer the consequences of keeping your head in the sand. Not to mention, other countries, hostile or not to us, will continue forward and gain an advantage over us.
I hate to say this, but China is one of those countries, trying to take advantage of other countries and that infuriates me a lot.
 
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