Google Project Maven AI contract won’t be renewed in 2019

Javier Stokes
June 3, 2018

The pressure to stop working with the military appears to have been too much for Google as the company reportedly will not renew a contract to build artificial intelligence tools for the Pentagon.

Three sources who were at the meeting told Gizmodo that Greene attributed Google's decision to let the contract expire "because the backlash has been bad for the company".

The New York Times reported this week that Fei-Fei Li, the chief scientist for AI at Google Cloud, is a vocal internal critic of Google's work on the US Department of Defense's Project Maven. Google will continue work on the project through March 2019, according to multiple people with knowledge of the announcement, but once the 18-month contract concludes, it will not be renewed. The Global Combat Support System's function is not dissimilar to that of Project Maven, the Department of Defense program that caused the internal uproar at Google. 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 project got off the ground in April 2017, but it didn't make waves until a year later when more than 3,100 Google employees signed a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai opposing the partnership on ethical grounds.

Although tech companies often chase contracts in the USA defense sector, Google's involvement in.

The source said Google does plan to outline its views on the ethics of its artificial intelligence work at some point in the near future.

The primary contractor on the project, ECS Federal, did not respond to a request to comment.

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"Not being able to tap into the huge talent at Google to help DoD employ AI in ethical and moral ways is very sad for our society and country", he added.

When the extent of Google's participation in Project Maven became public, it ignited a civil war inside Google.

In May, dozens of employees even resigned over the matter in May.

The EFF and others stressed the need for moral and ethical frameworks regarding the use of artificial intelligence in weaponry.

Some Google employees, whose skills are in high demand, had organised resistance campaigns or threatened to leave. Pentagon spokeswoman Major Audricia Harris said in email to Reuters on Friday that the Pentagon values "all of our relationships with academic institutions and commercial companies involved with Project Maven".

In the message to Google's head of defense and intelligence sales, Scott Frohman, she reportedly said: "Avoid at ALL COSTS any mention or implication of AI".

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