In April we learned that a petition was circulating at Google signed by workers who wanted the search giant to sever ties with the Pentagon and stop working on a military AI project. That AI project is called Project Maven, which is a Pentagon effort to create an AI capable of sorting through footage taken from drones. When we first learned about the petition in April, it had been signed by over 3,100 Google employees.
The petition read in part “We believe that Google should not be in the business of war.” Reports are claiming that at least a dozen Google employees have now resigned in protest to the company’s participation in the project. There is no indication that the petition nor the resignations have impacted Google’s decision to work on Project Maven.
So far about 4,000 workers have signed the petition out of the roughly 85,000 workers that Alphabet, Google’s parent company, employs. Project Maven’s first goal is to help the military defeat terror group ISIS and the Pentagon hopes that the AI could help to “enhance military decision-making.”
Google’s own workers aren’t alone in protesting its participation in the project. This week more than 200 professors, scientists, and academics signed an open letter to protest Google’s participation in Project Maven alleging that the technology could be weaponized.
The open letter reads, “We are then just a short step away from authorizing autonomous drones to kill automatically, without human supervision or meaningful human control.”
Google has offered no official response to the petition or the resignations. Google, however, has offered comment on Project Maven saying, “The technology is used to flag images for human review and is intended to save lives and save people from having to do highly tedious work.”