A dozen Google employees have resigned to protest over the firm’s joint effort with Pentagon to develop artificial intelligence (AI) for military drones. According to the employees, Google has refused to listen to their grievances and still insists to collaborate with Pentagon to enhance the military’s drone operations. The workers want the company to cancel the contract citing ethical concerns of utilizing algorithms.
The controversial initiative known as ‘Project Haven’ has led to aggressive division among the staff of the company. The company signed the contract to apply its machine-learning and image-recognition expertise to create huge hours of drone footage for military with the aim of identifying people and objects for military gains.
Cancel The Controversial Program
The concerned employees want Google to cancel the deal since the data could be used to conduct lethal tasks including supporting war across the world. Over 4,000 Google employees have signed a letter to protest against the project.
The new technology intends to help the DoD analyze the aerial surveillance video to search for specific patterns that are essential to military operations. According to military and civilian intelligence analysts, the AI has high resolution cameras that are capable of producing huge amounts of data in the form of videos that are recorded over the battlefield by the military drones.
Other groups opposing the project include the International Committee for Robotis Arms Control that has expressed their solidarity with the dissenting Google employees and more than 200 researchers and academicians are also against weaponizing its technology.
Google should stay away from the controversial project with Department of Defense (DoD) if it wants to save its reputation and public image, stated the opposing tech workers. In addition, the tech workers have submitted a broader petition targeting IBM, Microsoft, Amazon and others stating that tech companies should not be involved in the business of war.
The opposing Google workers believe that the company should not have ties with the military at any moment and human beings – and not algorithms- should be involved in carrying out military operations. Furthermore, workers who have already quit claim that the management is less concerned with their grievances.
It’s Non-Classified And Non-Offensive
However, Google has stated that its DoD contract is basically a test and that the coverage of the images and videos is non-classified and hence non-offensive. Google spokesman said that the use of machine-learning in the military generally raises concerns and that the management is currently discussing with its stakeholders including employees to develop policies that will safeguard the use of new technology.