Some Google employees are resigning due to involvement with Project Maven

MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle

MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle

"At some point I realized that I can't in good conscience advise anyone to go to work for Google, knowing what I know". He said that while each of the steps towards a technology outcome might seem reasonable in isolation - including keeping our own armed forces out of harm's way - the end result is often morally questionable.

If you think you have nothing to worry about, consider the fact that the US Department of Transportation, with Google, Qualcomm and Microsoft's participation, will be testing drones in several American cities for a number of applications not now allowed by law, citing the possibility of new economic and safety benefits.

Irani said at the time she didn't feel she could challenge the assertion. The Cambridge Analytica scandal demonstrates growing public concern over allowing the tech industries to wield so much power. That's one of the reasons why she's now speaking out about Project Maven.

However, growing pressure from employees, it seems, had little impact on the decision of the Google company continues its work on Maven and is considered one of the leading contenders for the other major contract for cloud computing in the Pentagon: joint security infrastructure of enterprises. When we first learned about the petition in April, it had been signed by over 3,100 Google employees.

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.

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It's expected to develop artificial intelligence capable of sifting through vast quantities of aerial imagery and recognising objects of interest. Just last week during Google's I/O developer conference, the company demonstrated an as-yet unreleased version of Google Assistant, called Duplex, that can carry on conversations.

Some in the media called the technology "creepy". In addition to the Google-specific internal petition, there is a broader petition focused on IBM, Microsoft, Amazon and Google, built by tech workers who "believe that tech companies should not be in the business of war".

The world of academia has also raised concerns over Google's work with the Pentagon. A Google spokesperson confirmed the partnership back in March, but said the technology was being used for "non-offensive uses only". "While the reports on Project Maven now emphasize the role of human analysts, these technologies are poised to become a basis for automated target recognition and autonomous weapon systems". "These include so-called signature strikes and pattern-of-life strikes that target people based not on known activities but on probabilities drawn from long range surveillance footage".

Google was quick to downplay any controversy.

Google has emphasised that its AI is not being used to kill, but the use of artificial intelligence in the Pentagon's drone program still raises complex ethical and moral issues for tech workers and for academics who study the field of machine learning.

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And what if Google doesn't participate?

So far, Google hasn't commented on the reported resignations. She doesn't think Google or the military should have the final word on AI weapons. The company's motto "Don't Be Evil" famously embraces this responsibility.

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.

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