A SWATHE of Google employees have signed a petition calling on chief executive Sundar Pichai to stop the company from aiding the Pentagon's artificial intelligence (AI) project.
Some 3,100 Googlers signed a letter to the Pichai urging him to pull Google out of a project that could see AI tech used to analyse military videos captured by drones and help improve the precision of drone strikes, according to The New York Times.
Despite having previously rocked the 'don't be evil' slogan, it looks like a good chunk of Googlers don't mind AI tech being used for warfare as opposed to helping grow crops to help put an end to world hunger.
But a significant number feel pretty uncomfortable about it, with the internal letter asking for Google's part in the Pentagon's Project Maven is stopped.
"We believe that Google should not be in the business of war. Therefore we ask that Project Maven be cancelled, and that Google draft, publicise and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology," the letter implores.
Google didn't reference the letter directly, but in a statement noted that Project Maven is meant to be used for non-offensive capabilities; that's putting a lot of trust in a US government with the rather inflammatory President Trump at its helm.
"Any 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.
While Google encourages its staff to speak out against some of its policies, some views that go to heavily against the Google grain can backfire; take the ridiculous views of sacked engineer James Damore as one such example.
But in this case, the views may not be so frowned upon. While they could come across as idealistic, some people might feel a bit funny that technology not too distantly related to the image recognition tech Google's Pixel 2 phones could be used to rain precision death from the skies.
Of course, the flipside to this is Google's tech could end up making drone and military strikes more accurate and thus prevent problems of killing or injuring civilians when targeting enemies and terrorists. µ
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