Google Will Not Renew Pentagon Contract That Upset Employees

Over the past few months, Google has attracted criticism for its involvement in 'Project Maven.' The news broke in March that Google was working with the United States Department of Defense to develop artificial intelligence for analyzing footage from military drones.

Some employees planned to hold a public rally in San Francisco in July, coinciding with a Google conference, according to one source.

Google is drawing up a set of rules that will shape its involvement in developing AI tools for the military, following controversy over its military drone contract with the Pentagon.

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If you're unfamiliar with Project Maven, formerly the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team, it's been touted as a program to review drone footage.

Google cloud boss Diane Greene Google Diane Greene, CEO of Google Cloud, informed employees of the company's decision on Friday, unnamed sources told Gizmodo. Google also plans to unveil new guidelines for its use of AI next week.

Earlier this week, one Google engineer - on the company's internal message boards - proposed the idea of employees protesting Google Cloud's conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco in July with a campaign called "Occupy Moscone Center", fashioned after the Occupy Wall Street protests. Yet another report from Gizmodo on the subject says that Google won't be renewing the project once its current contract runs out.

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Thousands of Google employees wrote chief executive Sundar Pichai an open letter urging the company to cancel the contract, and many others signed a petition saying the company's assistance in developing combat-zone technology directly countered the company's famous "Don't be evil" motto. It was officially launched past year by the US Department of Defense Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team. Chagrined staff also were reported to have left Google over the issue.

Several Google AI employees had told The Post they believed they wielded a powerful influence over the company's decision-making: The advanced technology's top researchers and developers are in heavy demand, and many had organised resistance campaigns or threatened to leave. Google did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the emails, Google executives saw Maven as a way to pave the way for even larger contracts down the road.

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If tech workers, especially in the competitive AI arena, continue to agitate for their employers to avoid ties with the military, that could mean changes for an industry that's long enjoyed a healthy relationship with the Pentagon.

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