A number of Google employees resigned in protest at a contract between the tech giant and the Pentagon, reports tech news site Gizmodo.
In March, Gizmodo revealed that Google is working with the Department of Defense on the development of artificial intelligence to analyze drone footage as part of an initiative known as Project Maven.
Google's involvement sparked ethical concerns and anger among its employees, Gizmodo initially reported. An internal petition called Google CEO Sundar Pichai to cancel Project Maven and "[d] raft, release, and a clear policy that neither Google nor its contractors ever build war technology." The New York Times reported in April that more than 3,000 Google employees have signed the petition.
According to Gizmodo, "about a dozen" Google employees resigned due to Project Maven. Their reasons for leaving range from lack of transparency to ethical concerns. "In recent months, I've been less impressed by the response and the way people's concerns are treated and listened to," one unidentified resigned employee told Gizmodo.
Google says the Pentagon contract is just a test and covers unclassified images.
"The technology marks images for human review and is only for non-offensive purposes," a Google spokesman told Gizmodo in March. "Of course, the military use of machine learning raises legitimate concerns, and we actively discuss this important issue internally and with others as we continue to develop guidelines and safeguards for the development and deployment of our machine learning technologies."
Still are Affected members of the tech industry. In addition to the Google-specific internal petition, there is a broader petition for IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, developed by engineers who "believe that technology companies should not be in the war business."
Critically Google also published an open letter worried about Google, the Pentagon offers "Open Source & # 39; Deep Learning & # 39; technology" along with engineering know-how.
"The DoD contracts being considered by Google, and similar contracts already at Microsoft and Amazon, signal a dangerous alliance between the private tech industry, which currently owns large amounts of sensitive personal information from people around the world and the military of a country, "it says in the letter. "They also signal a failure to address global civil society and diplomatic institutions that have already highlighted the ethical challenges of these technologies."
In October 201
Fortune contacted Google for a comment on these resignations and will update this post if he responds.
The Maven project was launched in April 2017 by then Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work founded an Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team. "The project's first task is to develop and integrate computer vision algorithms to help military and civilian analysts burdened with the sheer volume of full-motion video data that DoD provides every day in support of counterinsurgency efforts. and anti-terrorist operations, "according to a Ministry of Defense article from 2017.