Google employees quitting over Pentagon drone project

“After around 3,000 Google employees rebelled against Google’s involvement in the Pentagon’s Project Maven AI program, some employees have decided to quit in protest,” Liam Tung reports for ZDNet. “Some 4,000 employees have now signed the petition against Project Maven and “about a dozen” have resigned due to Google’s continued involvement in the project, according to Gizmodo.”

“Some 400 technology academics and researchers from around the world have also thrown their weight behind the Google protesters’ cause, publishing an open letter calling on the company to withdraw from Project Maven and commit to “‘not weaponizing its technology,'” Tung reports. “Project Maven aims to develop AI that can spot humans and objects in vast amounts of video captured by military drones.”

“Google has previously said the technology flags images for human review and is for ‘non-offensive uses only.’ It has provided the Department of Defense with its TensorFlow APIs to assist in object recognition, which the Pentagon believes will eventually turn its stores of video into ‘actionable intelligence,'” Tung reports. “The more than 400 academics from around the world who signed an open letter published yesterday are supporting Google employees against Project Maven. The group said it was ‘deeply concerned’ that the data Google collects on people’s lives through its products could be integrated with military surveillance data for targeted killing.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: From ad targeting to weapons targeting. Google’s got you covered!

For better or worse, that is true with any new innovation, certainly any new technological innovation. There’s many good things that come out of it, but also some bad things. All you can do is try to maximize the good stuff and minimize the bad stuff. — Steve Case

A nation’s ability to fight a modern war is as good as its technological ability. — Frank Whittle

Of course, technology is not an exogenous force over which humans have no control. We are not constrained by a binary choice between acceptance and rejection. Rather, the decisions we make every day as citizens, consumers, and investors guide technological progress. — Klaus Schwab

28 Comments

    1. a company acts as the “Cloud” for Defense orgs?

      Amazon is a/the Google in hiding. “Your info is us” in such a nice way. Our delivery drone technology is only for consumers.

  1. So the Russians and Chinese will develop such a technology and we will be left behind. What would have happened if the Germans developed an atomic bomb before we did? At some point moralizing must give way to reality. Unfortunate but true.

        1. Unless the real reason John Connor sent Kyle Reese back in time was to get James Cameron to make a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger in order to warn us about Skynet and . . . oh my God, Skynet is real!!!! 😳

        2. I am not a doomsayer or paranoiac. But it is certainly possible for technology to be used for great evil – mustard gas in WWI, sarin and other nerve gases in the decades since, atomic bombs, etc.

          That is why people like Alg are wrong. It is the lack of morals that will drive humanity to develop and employ such weapons. It is not an inevitable progression…it is a choice. Alg makes it sound as if there is no choice. That way, there will be no blame or guilt, right?

          1. No, he was using SciFi to make money.
            Moves rarely have anything to do with reality. Even the documentaries.
            Their number two goal is to scare you and create drama to achieve their number one goal, make money.

            They are a good score of information for pseudoscience.

      1. It is indeed an interesting historical turning point that could have gone differently.

        I think, however, discovering how to make an atom bomb is not the same thing as building a deliverable real world payload in quantity to prevail. One or two or ten bombs wouldn’t have stopped the Allies with any more likelihood than an iPhone is the only office weapon you need to conduct business.

        Tech alone doesn’t necessarily win wars. Technologically, the Germans were ahead in almost all armaments until the end when their industry was flattened by ruthless (and inaccurate) allied bombing. Conventional bombs used for months cause as much damage to Germany as the two nukes in Japan, it just took much more time and air power. Had the US not gained the atom bomb before Germany, it’s not likely things would have turned out much differently.

        Remember the Luftwaffe had the first jet fighter (Me 262 Schwalbe) which would have decimated the Allies in theory but they couldn’t keep them in the air in sufficient numbers to make a difference. Tech isn’t everything. Conventional stuff en masse is harder to counteract, actually. With the new turbine planes waiting for fuel or repairs, the more numerous US Mustangs and British Spitfires took out airfields and easily held sway in the skies for the months before the German surrender.

        Had Germany tried to cross the English Channel with an atom bomb, maybe they could have hit London. Anything is possible. Maybe the UK could have lost its resolve to fight on. But it’s highly doubtful the Germans could have made a successful strike across the Atlantic. By 1945, the US war machine was ready to intercept anything and Hitler’s military was on fumes. Heavy water was a bust, fuel pipelines severed, factories in ashes.

        I say Hitler lost the war when he stopped the Battle of Britain and foolishly attacked Russia, creating a 2 front war. Had he prevailed over the UK (it’s amazing Hitler didn’t see how close the UK was to collapse in ‘42) and then consolidated his gains, everything that followed could have turned out differently in Europe, no matter who won the atomic bomb race. The isolationists of the US might have held sway in Congress and insisted that Japan was the only threat to contend with. Russia would have happily allowed Hitler to claim westen europe as long as he left Russia untouched, Russia had nobody able to make an A bomb, they used spies to steal the American blueprints in the late ‘40’s. So western Europe came close to being entirely German. Not only that but the entire continent of Africa would have been put to work making stuff for the German war machine, potentially matching US capacity. Some speculate all of South America was willing to go along with Hitler too, had he won.

        But it was not to be. Even without the USA rolling up the western front efficiently in ‘44-‘45, Russia alone was too much to handle. it’s hard to see how Germany could ever have mustered the resources to keep its military going against the vast resources Russia was willing to ruthlessly commit. Bomb or no bomb, no country can assume easy success in a 2 front conflict.

        The USA used the bomb not because they wouldn’t have won in the pacific without it, but because Americans are impatient and wanted to end it quickly with least possible US casualties. MacArthur would have gotten the Pacific war ended in weeks with conventional weapons if given the chance.

        1. Well, we can all be grateful that Hitler was in charge and didn’t listen to the generals, or anyone else in his government because he thought he was smarter than everyone else. {sound familiar 😉 }
          As far as Japan is concerned, Americans were not “impatient” as you said, but didn’t want to commit more allied blood when there was another way. The bomb also saved more Japanese lives than it took. A cold way to look at it. But either way, people would have died.

      1. No, they didn’t. Their idea of using heavy water couldn’t have yielded them a weapon. That’s been the result of several studies on the subject.

        By the way, the Japanese had not one, but two atomic weapon projects during the war. That’s not commonly known, but an article about it came out in Scientific American some years ago.

        1. I think it’s funny that someone would downvote me, even though what I stated are known historical facts. I wonder what would make someone do such a dumb thing?

          1. People get down voted everyday around here no matter what they say. I would not allow fake votes to bother you, they are not always pure and honest …

    1. Alg, who said anything about stopping development and being left in the dust?
      If seeking security is “moralizing,” then I’m a values seeker.
      The point; Amazon is flying below the flack that hits Google, but I’d posit in the end, Amazon will have more Google characteristics that people now believe. It’s about knowledge and not being a polly-anna because Prime makes life so much easier.

  2. Bunch of whining snowflakes. Glad they quit. Stupid fools. War is war and sometime it is necessary. Amazing how wimpy these people are, all the democrats fault as usual, since the democrats love spineless sheep. They need to grow a pair and get with the program. Do they think our enemies are just sitting on their asses? This country is going down the tubes.

    1. Defense is fine. Turning the other cheek only applies up to a point. But the belligerent attitudes of trondude and GoeB are ridiculous. Peace is worth a great deal of effort and a reasonable degree of compromise. Many of the problems that the U.S. currently faces were created by the attempts of the U.S. to impose its worldview on other countries in previous decades. We continue to stir up the Middle East, even today. And we continue to cede economic power to the Middle East because we have foolishly failed to make faster progress on the implementation of utility-scale renewable energy. Our own oil and gas industry has far too much control over our government, and they want to squeeze every last dime of profit out of their oil and gas reserves before allowing us to move on to a better way. Fortunately, renewables have already grown to roughly 20% of our national power supply, about the same as nuclear.

      1. Until energy storage and battery tech gets a lot better renewable sources of power will not be viable as a main source of power. We have had nuclear power for decades It is a lot safer and cleaner than people think. It would be a lot cheaper if it wasn’t over regulated. Oil companies may hold a lot of power in the US govt but that will be ending in the not too distant future.

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