Google employee ethics backlash

The company known for its “Do the right thing” ethics motto announced it will not renew its contract with a Pentagon drone AI program following resignations and a 4000 signature employee petition.

Project Maven employs machine learning to differentiate between people and objects in drone footage and can pinpoint specific buildings and vehicles. Google employees feared the technology would lead to a future where wars are fought by AI drones. However, former Deputy US Secretary of Defence Bob Work who launched Maven, counters that concern saying, “[The decision] seems motivated by an assumption that any use of artificial intelligence in support of the Pentagon is a bad thing. But what about using artificial intelligence to power robots that defuse bombs or IEDs? Or using AI to prevent cyber-attacks on our electrical grid? That would seem like things employees of Google might be proud to do.”

Work also alluded to foreign military machine learning programs with “no moral or ethical governors on AI in the national security space” yielding a potential edge in the artificial intelligence race. Yesterday CEO Sundar Pichai redefined Google’s AI principles and the types of projects the company will not pursue.

Top of the list? “Be socially beneficial.”

Read more: The Washington Post / Google principles / BBC / Fast Company / Bloomberg

Image: Pixabay / CC0-1.0 – Google on Mac

This story is taken from the 08 June 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.