Google, a unit of Alphabet (GOOGL), has been facing stiff opposition from thousands of its employees over its drone contract with the Department of Defense, and this dissent has now boiled over into a group resignation. The project, which goes by the code name Project Maven, involves providing machine-learning capabilities to the military to assess footage from drones in order to take decisions related to surveillance and national security.
This raised concerns among several groups of people who pointed out that this kind of technology could be used not just for spotting people and recognizing locations, but also in unethical ways such as targeted elimination. Those familiar with the scope of such technologies warned against them being used by the military, as the chances for accountability were low in such cases.
Although Google defended the project by saying it would be used in a non-intrusive way, employees were not convinced. Thousands of employees formally appealed to Google to withdraw from its agreement. They were joined by hundreds of external experts whose vast knowledge in the area of artificial intelligence makes them well aware that the misuse of AI and its consequences are not just the stuff of sci-fi movies.
Both groups alluded to the fact that these technologies, when combined with the vast amount of data that already sits in Google’s database could, in fact, prove to be deadly. However, disappointed with Google’s continued involvement with the project and the company’s unsatisfactory approach to their concerns, around a dozen employees decided to leave in order to make a stronger statement.
Googlers want Google to refrain from taking part in the development of weapons or military technologies and to avoid the usage of personal data for military purposes. Google did not comment on this issue.