Google employees resign over Pentagon contract

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Essentially, the company was using machine-learning algorithms to help military drones.

Since the April petition, reports have emerged that close to a dozen staffers have resigned in protest due to the company's continued involvement with Project Maven. "Google is supplying not only the open source "deep learning" technology, but also engineering expertise and assistance to the Department of Defence".

"At some point, I realised I could not in good faith recommend joining Google, knowing what I knew".

However, Google has reportedly held a number of sessions with employees featuring speakers both for and against Google's contract on Project Maven.

In March, Gizmodo revealed that Google was working with the Defense Department to develop artificial intelligence for analyzing drone footage as part of an initiative known as Project Maven. It's meant to detect vehicles and objects, track their movements and report this information back to the Department of Defense.

Google was quick to downplay any controversy.

"I tried to remind myself right that Google's decisions are not my decisions".

"I'm not personally responsible for everything that they do. But I do feel responsibility when I see something that I should escalate it", another resigning employee told Gizmodo. Whilst unofficially, we know more than the government admits, Google is bound by what the public knows officially and so, therefore, there's likely to be a lot of discussions where people are prevented from discussing things that everyone knows - something that flies in the face of Google's obsession with transparency.

Google has previously said the technology flags images for human review and is for "non-offensive uses only".

According to Gizmodo, Google still hasn't developed a policy document detailing safeguards around its use of machine learning.

Other companies such as IBM and Amazon have refused to work with the Department of Defense, so it's interesting that Google is failing to take its employees' concerns onboard.

Google has defended their work and in a statement made last month, the company said, "The technology is used to flag images for human review and is meant to save lives and save people from having to do highly tedious work".

Google countered, saying the technology was nonoffensive, although that doesn't seem to have placated the disgruntled employees who want no part in war-related projects. Earlier today we reported that Google was being investigated in Australia over the claims that it was harvesting data from millions of Android users who were unknowingly paying the telecos for gigabytes of data used during data harvesting.

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