- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Google employees are reportedly quitting their jobs over the company’s ongoing participation in Project Maven, a drone surveillance program operated by the U.S. Department of Defense.

About a dozen Google employees are resigning in protest of the company’s involvement in the Pentagon project, Gizmodo reported Monday, citing discussions with outgoing workers and an internal document in which they detailed their reasons for leaving.

Google employees leaving over the Pentagon project said their decisions were driven by factors ranging from ethical concerns regarding the use of artificial intelligence in drone warfare, to “broader worries” involving the company’s political decisions and their potential repercussions, Gizmodo reported.

Google did not immediately comment on the report.

Launched in April 2017, Project Maven aims to “accelerate DoD’s integration of big data and machine learning,” the Pentagon explained in a memorandum establishing the program.

Maven’s “objective is to turn the enormous volume of data available to DoD into actionable intelligence and insights at speed,” according to the memo.

Google publicly acknowledged its involvement in the program earlier this year, and nearly 4,000 employees recently signed a letter urging the company’s chief executive to pull out of the partnership and adopt “a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology.”

“We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” the Google employees wrote in their letter to CEO Sundar Pichai.

Weeks after raising their concerns, several outgoing Google employees told Gizmodo that they’d rather leave the company then participate in the military program.

“Over the last couple of months, I’ve been less and less impressed with the response and the way people’s concerns are being treated and listened to,” an outgoing employee said on condition of anonymity. “I realized if I can’t recommend people join here, then why am I still here?”

A resigning employee told Gizmodo: “Actions speak louder than words, and that’s a standard I hold myself to as well. I wasn’t happy just voicing my concerns internally. The strongest possible statement I could take against this was to leave.”

In an earlier statement, Google said that “[a]ny military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns.”

“We’re actively engaged across the company in a comprehensive discussion of this important topic and also with outside experts, as we continue to develop our policies around the development and use of our machine-learning technologies,” Google said.


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