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Google employees protest: 'Stop work on AI for Pentagon drone video analysis'

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Thousands of Google employees have signed a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai protesting the company's work assisting the US Department of Defense develop computer vision AI[1].

Specifically, the employees have called on Google to cancel its subcontracting role in the DoD's Project Maven for which it's developing tech to detect and track moving vehicles and other targets from US military drone video.

A DoD statement from July announced that Project Maven[2] aimed to "deploy computer algorithms to war zone by year's end", talking up an "AI arms race" and the fact that former Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt now refers to Google as an AI company, not a data company.

The letter[3], published in The New York Times[4], highlights that Google is "already struggling to keep the public's trust" due to fears about biased and weaponized AI.

"We believe that Google should not be in the business of war. Therefore we ask that Project Maven be cancelled, and that Google draft, publicize and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology," the letter reads.

The staff argue that Google can't excuse its participation because Microsoft[5] and Amazon[6] are also helping the Pentagon develop AI capabilities.

"By entering into this contract, Google will join the ranks of companies like Palantir, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. The argument that other firms, like Microsoft and Amazon, are also participating doesn't make this any less risky for Google. Google's unique history, its motto Don't Be Evil, and its direct reach into the lives

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