Google executives announced to company staff this morning that the tech giant won't renew its contract to work on Project Maven, the controversial Pentagon program created to provide the military with artificial intelligence technology used to help drone operators identify images on the battlefield.
Google cloud boss Diane Greene Google Diane Greene, CEO of Google Cloud, informed employees of the company's decision on Friday, unnamed sources told Gizmodo.
Google will not seek another contract for Project Maven, a controversial military program that uses artificial intelligence to improve drone targeting, according to Gizmodo.
The New York Times writes that when Google purchased the artificial intelligence firm DeepMind 2014, "The acquisition agreement [.] said DeepMind technology would never be used for military or surveillance purposes".
According to BuzzFeed News, Greene said "We've always said this was an 18-month contract that we did, so it ends in March of 2019". Google told The New York Times that these guidelines would preclude the use of AI in weaponry projects, but it is still unclear how this principle would apply in practice.
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The primary contractor on the project, ECS Federal, did not respond to a request to comment.
Under its contract, Google is providing AI technologies to the DOD to help the government analyze drone footage.
The logo of Google is pictured during the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 25, 2018. It's unknown what Google's future relationship with the Pentagon will be like.
But Google didn't have it-so it had to rely on other geospatial imagery for its early work on Project Maven.
"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 company said back in April.
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Google is dealing with the employee unrest stemming from the Project Maven contract.
"I am incredibly happy about this decision, and have a deep respect for the many people who worked and risked to make it happen".
Maven had an initial budget of $70 million (£52.4 million).
Google in August 2017 hosted defence executives to demonstrate its artificial intelligence capabilities, according to a document shared with Google employees and seen by Reuters.
The Pentagon has said AI is a top priority and it is moving aggressively to develop a "Joint Artificial Intelligence Office" that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in April would involve AI production and prototyping.
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