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June 2, 2018

Google reported to stop working on Maven, its government-licensed AI tech

by John_A

The contract with the Pentagon could have cost as much as $250 million.

Over the last few months, Google’s faced nonstop backlash for partnering with the United States Pentagon to work on an AI system that can swiftly identify people and points of interest from drone footage. The system is called Maven, and a new report’s surfaced suggesting that Google’s decided to cease its involvement with it.

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According to emails received by Gizmodo —

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene announced the decision at a meeting with employees Friday morning, three sources told Gizmodo. The current contract expires in 2019 and there will not be a follow-up contract, Greene said. The meeting, dubbed Weather Report, is a weekly update on Google Cloud’s business.

In addition to backlash from people outside of Google, a report from mid-May revealed that multiple employees had resigned from the company due to their frustration with Google’s involvement with Maven. Google’s contract with the Pentagon was initially set at around $15 million, but it appears that the company planned on spending as much as $250 million on it.

As further emails reveal, Google’s senior executive team was excited to work on Maven and the future doors it would open. Per Gizmodo —

But internal emails reviewed by Gizmodo show that executives viewed Project Maven as a golden opportunity that would open doors for business with the military and intelligence agencies. The emails also show that Google and its partners worked extensively to develop machine learning algorithms for the Pentagon, with the goal of creating a sophisticated system that could surveil entire cities.

Greene reportedly told employees that Google is concerned about the ethical use of AI and that “It is incumbent on us to show leadership” in this department.

What are your thoughts on Google’s decision to stop working on Maven?

Some Google employees are resigning due to involvement with Project Maven

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