Several Google employees have decided to leave the company. They disagree with the Maven project, which the firm concluded with the Pentagon: create an AI capable of classifying images taken by military drones.
In April 2018, more than 3,000 Google employees signed a letter to Sundar Pichai seeking the cancellation of the Maven project. They questioned the partnership between the Mountain View firm and the US Department of Defense a month earlier.
Now, some of these signatories have decided to leave the company to continue to protest against this agreement they consider inappropriate: a dozen employees have resigned.
Among their concerns, they are worried about their company offering technological resources for military surveillance purposes. Indeed, Google is working on the development of an artificial intelligence, able to analyze images recorded by military drones.
Decisions deemed opaque
Employees are concerned not only about the specific uses of war-drone-related AI, but more broadly about the political consequences that such decisions made by Google may have. Several employees summarized their decision to leave the company, in an internal document that several sources mentioned to our colleagues in Gizmodo.
In particular, they reproach their superiors for being less transparent about the decisions taken, and less for their objections. In the case of the Maven project, some employees would prefer that the classification of images collected by drones be done by human beings, and not algorithms developed by Google.
The employees of the company are not the only ones to raise their shields against this project. University researchers published an open letter on May 14 to show that they support Google employees who are resistant to the Maven project.