Google employees resign over Pentagon contract

Eric Schmidt

However, Google's involvement in the effort has triggered resistance within company ranks.

The reason that the employees have stated with regards to why they are resigning are the ethical concerns that they have in turning AI into a weapon, Gizmodo reports.

Another claimed that Google execs are now less transparent with workers about controversial decisions and less responsive to employee concerns.

It read: "Project Maven is a United States military program aimed at using machine learning to analyze massive amounts of drone surveillance footage and to label objects of interest for human analysts".

More than 4,000 employees have signed a petition calling on Google to ditch the project and vow never to develop "technology for war", says ZDNet.

But some of the resigning employees believe Google shouldn't be involved in any military work and that algorithms have no place in identifying potential targets.

In addition to those who resigned, there are also almost 4,000 employees who have signed an internal petition asking Google to immediately cancel their contract and institute a policy on future military work. A US Pentagon programme, Maven was criticised by thousands of Google employees who said the company "should not be in the business of war".

Opposition to the project isn't just coming from inside Google. That hasn't happened yet, prompting some employees to suggest Google revise its ethics.

Other companies such as IBM and Amazon have refused to work with the Department of Defense, so it's interesting that Google is failing to take its employees' concerns onboard.

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They continued: "We can no longer ignore our industry's harmful biases, large-scale breaches of trust, and lack of ethical safeguards". "These are life and death stakes".

The more than 400 academics from around the world who signed an open letter published yesterday are supporting Google employees against Project Maven.

"At some point, I realised I could not in good faith recommend anyone join Google, knowing what I knew". "Within the past few months, I have been less and less impressed with the answer and how people's worries are being treated and listened to", an unidentified worker who left-handed Gizmodo.

"I tried to remind myself right that Google's decisions are not my decisions".

"I'm not personally responsible for everything that they do". But I do feel responsibility when I see something that I should escalate it.

"An important part of our culture is having employees who are actively engaged in the work that we do". A Google spokesperson confirmed the partnership back in March, but said the technology was being used for "non-offensive uses only".

Google also previously told PCMag: "The technology is used to flag images for human review and is meant to save lives and save people from having to do highly tedious work".

"The tech flags pictures for human inspection, and is "Military usage of machine learning obviously raises legitimate concerns".

So far, Google hasn't commented on the reported resignations. "The strongest possible statement I could take against this was to leave", the departing team member said.

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