3K Google Workers Sign Letter to CEO Over Pentagon Work

Don’t worry Facebook isn’t going anywhere        Jessica Heslam     Friday

After the shooting incident at the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno yesterday and Sundar Pichai writing to the employees to stand together with the Google team, it is only apt that the search giant's employees want nothing to do with war.

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

The letter goes on to say that "building this technology to assist the US Government in military surveillance-and potentially lethal outcomes-is not acceptable" and that Maven will "irreparably damage Google's brand and its ability to compete for talent". The news comes a day after he announced his exit from Google, reports The New York Times.

The Pentagon announced the creation of its Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team (AWCFT), codenamed Project Maven, in May past year. That is why employees are urging the company to disconnect itself altogether from the project. They employ hundreds of researchers who are working across a number of different domains which routinely publish a number of papers to help the internal products and the collective AI research community.

The tech player described its involvement in Project Maven as "non-offensive" in nature, but the Pentagon's video analysis is routinely used in counter-terrorism operations. This project involves using artificial intelligence to improve the precision of military drone strikes.

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Amid growing fears of biased and weaponised AI, Google is already struggling to keep the public's trust.

The company has been slow-moving on most things AI, from barring employees from publishing AI research up until December 2016 to joining in late to an ethical AI research consortium co-founded by Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and IBM. Google's unique history, its motto Don't Be Evil, and its direct reach into the lives of billions of users set it apart.

Google explained to the scribe that the Pentagon will use "open-source object recognition software available to any Google Cloud customer" based on unclassified data.

"That's good for users, but it means it has less detailed data for training its AI models than the other players". It also said that the company is "actively engaged...in a comprehensive discussion of this important topic".

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