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Google reportedly not renewing contract for Project Maven drone program

02 June 2018
Google reportedly not renewing contract for Project Maven drone program

The war within: The head of Google's cloud business, Diane Greene, reportedly told staff this week that the company would not seek a new contract after it expires.

Fox News has reached out to Google with a request for comment on this story.

The move is a setback for the Pentagon's push to supercharge the military's capabilities with powerful AI that could help process battlefield data or pinpoint military targets.

Leaked internal emails also revealed that Google tried to hide the scope of its dealings with the Pentagon.

The decision comes amid strong opposition within the technology giant's workforce to the Pentagon project known as Maven.

The research project in question is Project Maven, which involves Google developing and supporting AI algorithms that the Department of Defense (DoD) uses to analyze footage from military drones.

Some Google employees, whose skills are in high demand, had organised resistance campaigns or threatened to leave.

If you're unfamiliar with Project Maven, formerly the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team, it's been touted as a program to review drone footage.

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.

"Not being able to tap into the enormous talent at Google to help DoD employ AI in ethical and moral ways is very sad for our society and country", he added.

The debate around the project centres on Google's corporate image - its unofficial slogan was "Don't Be Evil" for years - and, although some say AI could help reduce civilian casualties from drone strikes, others believe the company should not be engaging with military at all on principle.

Google's change will likely do little to slow the military's building march for AI.

As previously reported by FOX Business, Google's employees have expressed unease about creating products for the us government.

Mr. Singer also said he thought Google employees who denounced Maven were somewhat naïve, because Google's search engine and the video platform of its YouTube division have been used for years by warriors of many countries, as well as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The sudden announcement on Friday was welcomed by several high-profile employees. As the internal emails show, the top Google AI researchers expect to continue making deals with the military. Gizmodo reports that Google's initial contract with the Pentagon was worth at least $9 million, and possibly as much as $15 million.

The source said Google does plan to outline its views on the ethics of its artificial intelligence work at some point in the near future.