Google won’t continue working with the Department of Defense on its Project Maven once its existing contract runs out, at least according to a new report. The work, which involves providing artificial intelligence to analyze drone footage for the government, has been highly controversial and included many employees quitting in protest.
The information comes from Gizmodo, which reports that it got word from three sources who attended a meeting for Google employees where the decision was announced. The announcement was reportedly made by Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene, who said Google won’t renew its project contract after the current one expires next year.
The sources claim that Greene explained the company’s decision a bit, saying that it had decided to work with the Defense Department at a time when it was heavily pursuing government contracts. However, had it known the level of controversy and backlash that would result, Google wouldn’t have proceeded with the contract at all, at least according to the sources.
As well, the report claims that Google will be unveiling a new set of ethical principles some time next week, those related to artificial intelligence. However, Gizmodo says it has viewed emails that contrast those claims.
According to the report, the emails revealed that Google worked with its partners to create machine learning algorithms for the US government, and that there was a goal in place of creating a system capable of performing surveillance on an entire city. As well, the report claims that the emails show Google’s higher ups as “enthusiastically supportive” of the company’s Project Maven involvement.
Under its contract, Google is providing AI technologies to the DOD to help the government analyze drone footage. News of the company’s involvement with the Pentagon sparked a heated outcry from advocates, academics, the general public, and even many of Google’s own employees, some of whom later quit as a form of protest.