Google Is Backing Out of Project Maven Military AI Contract

According to a Google executive, the company is backing out of the Project Maven contract that caused an uproar among its employees.

Image Credit: Michael Short/Bloomberg

A huge backlash ensued when news broke out that Google has partnered with the US Military to provide AI expertise. Now, according to reports, the tech giant is not renewing its contract with the Pentagon for next year.

Gizmodo’s sources say that Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene announced the decision not to renew the contract at a meeting with employees Friday morning. Green also explained that the the backlash against the firm’s involvement in the project had been terrible for the company. The decision also comes before Google unveils its planned new ethical principles about its use of AI next week.

Project Maven

The project was initially dubbed Project Maven. It grew out of the Pentagon’s “Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team”. It’s focus was on working together with the US military to improve image analysis of sensitive footage.

However, employees of the company called them out for being a part of warfare. They claim that Google is not standing by its motto of “Don’t do evil”. Thousands of employees started a protest and some even handed out their resignations.

Google tried to get out of the hot water by stating that it was only a “minor project”. However, it was later revealed that it was in fact the opposite. It was Google’s “golden opportunity” and stepping stone to more lucrative military contracts. This includes being awarded a $10 billion cloud computing contract that Google is reportedly competing for.

Reports also claim that the project would have helped the company fast-track its security clearance.

Gizmodo’s sources say that Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene announced the decision not to renew the contract at a meeting with employees Friday morning. Green also explained that the the backlash against the firm’s involvement in the project had been terrible for the company.

Green said that Google is the forefront of the conversation about the ethical use of artificial intelligence. “It is incumbent on us to show leadership,” Greene said, according to a source.

 

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