A dozen Google employees have chosen to resign instead of taking part in a Pentagon project that harnesses the company’s artificial intelligence know-how for military purposes.
The employees argue that using AI to locate objects in the hours-long footage offered by military drones raises a series of ethical questions. The workers don’t want to take part in drone warfare, even though their employer is not bothered by the matter.
Google employees claim that the Pentagon project is at odds with the company’s “do-gooder principles.” Ironically, several years ago, Google’s parent company Alphabet unveiled “Don’t Be Evil” as its motto.
The resignation came after hundreds of employees protested Google’s involvement in the Defense Department’s Project Maven in an internal letter. The DoD wants to integrate artificial intelligence in military operations.
The controversial project seeks to use computer vision to automatically detect objects or people in drone footage. The tech could help spot things that the eyes of a human operator could easily miss.
The Pentagon claims that the project can help defeat ISIS and put the “military decision-making” on steroids.
Thousands of Workers Oppose Google’s Involvement with the Pentagon
Nevertheless, Google’s part in the project has been widely criticized within the company. The letter demanding Google to sever its ties to the Pentagon accrued 4,000 signatures. Alphabet currently has 85,000 workers.
On Monday, hundreds of academics, scientists, and professors urged Google to pull out of Project Maven in an open letter. Scientists are concerned that the technology could be weaponized in the not-so-distant future.
According to the letter, we are very close to allowing robotic drones to kill people automatically without any human input or supervision.
Google has yet to respond to a request for comment about the resignations. In a prior statement, it said that its affiliation to Project Maven had “non-offensive purposes.”
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