Google will let its AI contract with the Pentagon expire after backlash

The reported $9 million contract, which will see Google help the Pentagon use artificial intelligence to interpret video images that could improve drone strikes, has sparked uproar internally.

Internal emails reviewed by Gizmodo show that Google executives "viewed Project Maven as a golden opportunity" to win other AI contracts, including those pertaining to the military and U.S. intelligence groups.

The tech company has made it clear that when a contract with the United States Department of Defense expires in 2019, said contract won't be renewed.

Word of Google's involvement in the research prompted thousands of employees to sign an internal letter in protest; a dozen reportedly went so far to resign.

Google will stop selling its artificial intelligence expertise to the Pentagon in a controversial partnership that saw massive pushback from the Mountain View firm's employees, according to a new report. The Outline has contacted Google for comment as to why there is not a similar ban on the military use of Google Earth.

Under its contract, Google is providing AI technologies to the DOD to help the government analyze drone footage.

Google had earlier defended the company's involvement in the project saying it was limited to helping the military with nonoffensive tasks and said the project would help save lives.

We've reached out to Google and The Pentagon for more information.

The EFF and others stressed the need for moral and ethical frameworks regarding the use of artificial intelligence in weaponry.

Some employees planned to hold a public rally in San Francisco in July, coinciding with a Google conference, according to one source. Google announced in April that it was drafting a set of ethical principles for how its AI will be used, and Greene said the plans will be released next week. Meredith Whittaker, an AI researcher and the founder of Google's Open Research Group, tweeted: "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 management is finally recognizing that their workforce will not let this issue slide, but TWC is skeptical that internal rules will substantially alter their position in regards to military contracts", a TWC representative said in an email to Fast Company. "We value all of our relationships with academic institutions and commercial companies involved with Project Maven".

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