Google 'to end' Pentagon Artificial Intelligence project

Google says it will not extend a contract into next year to help the US military analyze drone videos following complaints from company employees.

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene announced the decision regarding what is known as Project Maven at a meeting on Friday, according to Gizmodo, which cited three sources.

The contract was reported to be worth less than $10 million to Google, but was thought to have potential to lead to more lucrative technology collaborations with the military.

Greene said that the contract is set to expire in 2019 and that Google will not pursue a follow-up bid, according to Gizmodo.

Amazon, which The Intercept recently reported was claimed in leaked Google documents to host some Maven operations on its Amazon Web Services cloud environment, also didn't reply to an inquiry from Fast Company. The work, which involves providing artificial intelligence to analyze drone footage for the government, has been highly controversial and included many employees quitting in protest. Thousands of employees signed a petition asking Sundar Pichai to end the company's involvement in Project Maven, and dozens resigned in protest.

"We believe that Google should not be in the business of war", the employees wrote. Those who resigned were anxious about the ethical implications of the use of artificial intelligence in drone warfare, but they were also concerned with Google's political motives and the potential for loss of user trust. Google did not respond to a request for comment.

The logo of Google is pictured during the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 25, 2018.

Google is breaking up with the Pentagon.

Google in August 2017 hosted defence executives to demonstrate its artificial intelligence capabilities, according to a document shared with Google employees and seen by Reuters. 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".

"We value all of our relationships with academic institutions and commercial companies involved with Project Maven", Harris said.

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

Google's company line was that it was simply helping the government with some entirely non-offensive TensorFlow questions to help expedite the review of unclassified drone footage.

In the message to Google's head of defense and intelligence sales, Scott Frohman, she reportedly said: "Avoid at ALL COSTS any mention or implication of AI".

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