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


In April up to 4,000 Google employees signed an open letter saying that by its involvement in the project the internet giant was putting users' trust at risk, as well as ignoring its "moral and ethical responsibility".

The company, however, has not committed to forego signing other military contracts dealing with artificial intelligence, according to multiple people with knowledge of the decision.

Gizmodo reports Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene informed employees in a meeting today that the company would continue work through the end of the current contract, sometime in 2019, but no further. The Global Combat Support System's function is not dissimilar to that of Project Maven, the Department of Defense program that caused the internal uproar at Google.

As previously reported by FOX Business, Google's employees have expressed unease about creating products for the USA government.

Google eventually made a decision to silence reporting on the collaboration altogether.

Google was anxious it could get negative press because of Maven, and that the company's involvement with the project would taint its reputation, the leaked emails suggest.

According to the information, during a weekly staff meeting, Greene explicitly cited the backlash among Google employees over ties with the US Defense Department, as many of them said the policy runs counter to the company's "Don't Be Evil" principle.

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That promise has already been met with skepticism by the Tech Workers Coalition, a group calling for Silicon Valley companies "to stay out of the business of war" and develop ethics standards for AI.

The pressure to stop working with the military appears to have been too much for Google as the company reportedly will not renew a contract to build artificial intelligence tools for the Pentagon. "As the program grows expect spend is budgeted at 250 M per year".

With Project Maven, Google promised Pentagon a "Google-earth-like" surveillance system that could surveil entire cities with analysts learning about any building, any person with a single click.

Googlers had shown frustration with the company over Project Maven's potential implications.

Google, which has maintained a close relationship with the Defense Innovation Board through former Alphabet Chair Eric Schmidt, who serves on the board, quietly won the contract last September.

In the letter, the staffers argue that the project could "irreparably damage" Google's brand and its ability to retain top talent moving forward.