- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

President Trump’s former deputy secretary of defense on Tuesday criticized Google for abandoning Project Maven, a Pentagon pilot program that uses the Silicon Valley’s artificial intelligence technology to analyze surveillance footage captured by Air Force drones.

Bob Work, the deputy secretary of defense from 2014 through 2017, questioned Google’s recent decision to pull out of the controversial drone program amid facing complaints from employees ethically opposed to assisting potentially lethal military operations.

“They say, ‘What if the work is ultimately used to take lives.’ But what if it saves American lives? 500 American lives? Or 500 lives of our allies?” Mr. Work said at the Defense One Tech Summit in Washington, D.C.

“I was alarmed that it happened,” Mr. Work said of Google’s split, Defense One reported. “I hope that it’s not a canary in the coal mine. I hope that the [Defense] Department is focused on that, and that…will save lives in a big way.”

Launched in April 2017 during Mr. Work’s tenure as the Pentagon’s second-ranked civilian leader, Project Maven is meant “to turn the enormous volume of data available to DoD into actionable intelligence and insights at speed,” according to a memorandum establishing the program.

Over 3,000 Google employees signed a letter earlier this year protesting the company’s involvement, writing: “We believe that Google should not be in the business of war.”

“Building this technology to assist the US Government in military surveillance — and potentially lethal outcomes — is not acceptable,” the employees wrote.

Diane Greene, the chief executive in charge of Google’s cloud businesses, told employees June 1 that the company won’t seek another contract for the Pentagon partnership when it expires next March.

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