Google will not seek follow up Artificial Intelligence for military drone contracts

Google will not seek to extend its contract next year with the US Department of Defense for artificial intelligence used to analyse drone video, squashing a controversial alliance that had raised alarms over the technological build-up between Silicon Valley and the military.

Three sources who were at the meeting told Gizmodo that Greene attributed Google's decision to let the contract expire "because the backlash has been bad for the company". Google will continue work on the project through March 2019, according to multiple people with knowledge of the announcement, but once the 18-month contract concludes, it will not be renewed.

Through Project Maven, Google provides artificial intelligence technology to the Pentagon to help humans detect and identify targets captured by drone images.

Dozens of employees reportedly resigned in protest, and more than 3,000 employees signed a petition demanding the contract be canceled and a clear policy preventing involvement with the military be implemented. AI researchers and executives at London-based Google subsidiary DeepMind, meanwhile, have distanced themselves from the program, citing a 2014 acquisition agreement between the companies that preclude Google from using DeepMind technology in surveillance and military systems.

As Google ventures into new territory, a group of nine people are working on a set of ethical guidelines for any future military contracts.

Maven was Google's first military contract, and the move was immediately met with resistance by Google's employees.

Google News Lab's Asia Pacific HQ in Singapore. Audricia Harris, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said it "would not be appropriate for us to comment on the relationship between a prime and sub-prime contractor holder".

The company culture at Google permits open discussion about decisions made, thus enabling staff to voice their discomfort and ethical concerns around the firm's part in Project Maven.

This would all be analyzed by Google AI software, allowing analysis of a city's data in "near-real time", according to Gizmodo.

Wow. Kudos to all the Google employees who forced the company's hand on this. The company's staff earlier said they didn't want the product to be used for war.

The emails also revealed that Silicon Valley heavyweights including IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft were in the running for AI Defense Department contracts, and that Project Maven was "directly related" to a government cloud computing contract worth billions of dollars.

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