Google employees quit as company continues to work on AI drone project with US Department of Defense: Report

As many as a dozen employees have apparently quit Google over the company's involvement in developing a drone software with the US Department of Defense, an undertaking named Project Maven.

Google

Representational image. Reuters

Back in April, as many as 3,100 Google employees had signed a letter urging CEO Sundar Pichai to revoke Google's involvement in the project. The employees strictly stated in the letter that they did not want Google to play a part “in the business of war”, which they strictly believed was against the company's ethics.

The news of the resignations, reported first by Gizmodo, was also followed by close to 4,000 workers demanding an end to the Google's participation in Maven in a petition.

Based on what we know from a Google spokesperson who had replied to an earlier report, Project Maven is essentially a research initiative to develop computer vision algorithms that can analyze drone footage. The project uses Google's TensorFlow software and image-recognition algorithms to scan through millions of hours of drone footage collected by the military and use the information to identify people and objects of interest.

Discussing their decision to leave Google, the employees told Gizmodo that they believe executives are becoming reluctant to discuss business decisions with the workforce. This was not an issue at Google earlier, considering its open work culture that allows employees to voice their opinions while making product decisions. The employees also stated that company executives now seemed less interested in listening to workers’ objections than they did earlier.

The pressure from employees, however, seem to do little in swaying Google's intent in continuing its work on Project Maven and also being the lead contender for another Pentagon cloud computing contract called Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI).


Updated Date: May 15, 2018 13:57 PM