Google to scrub USA military deal protested by employees

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Google did not immediately respond to the online magazine's request for comment, Gizmodo said. The report paraphrases Greene as saying that "the backlash has been bad for the company" and that an AI ethics plan would be out next week.

It's unclear specifically which certificate the email refers to, but Project Maven was established in April 2017 and Google was proud to announce a provisional certification for its cloud services allowing Federal, state, and local government employees access to FedRAMP security packages less than a year later in March 2018.

Google is not the only tech firm working with the USA military. Thousands of Google employees signed a petition earlier this year asking the company to withhold its cutting-edge artificial technology expertise from military customers, after concerns grew that Project Maven could be used for mass surveillance or targeting by enhancing and categorizing images from drones.

Later, about a dozen Google staffers resigned in protest. She said that the current contract expires in 2019 and won't be renewed, according to the report.

"We believe that Google should not be in the business of war", the employees wrote.

Wow. Kudos to all the Google employees who forced the company's hand on this.

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According to the emails, Google executives saw Maven as a way to pave the way for even larger contracts down the road. Academics and researchers also lashed out at Google for abandoning the company's original motto: "Don't be evil".

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. 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.

"Internal emails reviewed by Gizmodo show that executives viewed Project Maven as a golden opportunity that would open doors for business with the military and intelligence agencies", Gizmodo reported.

Separately, The Times said, Diane Greene, the CEO of Google Cloud, has reassured the staff that its Project Maven involvement is "not for lethal purposes" and the deal is worth "only" $9 million.

If tech workers, especially in the competitive AI arena, continue to agitate for their employers to avoid ties with the military, that could mean changes for an industry that's long enjoyed a healthy relationship with the Pentagon.