Google set to end controversial Project Maven military AI program, report says

Google will not seek another contract for Project Maven, a controversial military program that uses artificial intelligence to improve drone targeting, according to Gizmodo.

Citing three sources with knowledge of the matter, Gizmodo reports that Google will not seek another contract when the current Project Maven contract expires in 2019. The decision was announced by Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene at a meeting with employees Friday morning, it said.

Greene reportedly cited the backlash against Project Maven, adding that the firm plans to announce new ethical principles about AI next week.

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The Mountain View, Calif.-based firm is said to have been using machine learning to help the Department of Defense classify images captured by drones.

Project Maven has been a source of tension within Google. In April, over 3,100 Google workers signed a letter addressed to the company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, asking him to pull the tech giant out of the project.

The project has even prompted the resignation of dozens of Google employees, according to Gizmodo.

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Project Maven has sparked an intense debate within the company about Google’s corporate ethics. Google “should not be in the business of war,” according to the letter to Pichai that was signed by thousands of disgruntled employees. “Therefore we ask that Project Maven be cancelled, and that Google draft, publicize and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology,” the letter said, according to the New York Times.

The Google workers also noted the company's well-known former motto, "Don’t be evil," warning that Project Maven “will irreparably damage Google’s brand and its ability to compete for talent.”

The New York Times reported in April that the letter was circulating within Google.

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The Department of Defense has said that its workforce is overwhelmed by incoming data, particularly video imagery.

“Although we have taken tentative steps to explore the potential of artificial intelligence, big data and deep learning,” then-Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work wrote in an April 2017 memo discussing Project Maven, “I remain convinced that we need to do much more and move much faster across DoD to take advantage of recent and future advances in these critical areas.”

Fox News has reached out to Google with a request for comment on this story. The Department of Defense declined to comment when contacted by Fox News.

"It would not be appropriate for us to comment on the relationship between a prime and sub-prime contractor holder," explained a Department of Defense spokeswoman, in a statement emailed to Fox News. "We value all of our relationships with academic institutions and commercial companies involved with Project Maven. Partnering with the best universities and commercial companies in the world will help preserve the United States' critical lead in artificial intelligence."

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