Google Employees are leaving Because of Disputable Pentagon Contract

Google Employees are leaving Because of Disputable Pentagon Contract

Now, according to Gizmodo, at least a dozen employees have quit over Google's involvement in the project, raising objections to how the company's involvement was brought to light.

In the case of Maven, Google is helping the Defence Department implement machine learning to classify images gathered by drones.

According to the employees, Google promoted a culture of employees challenging and debating product decisions - but this has been eroded.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that more than 90 academics have this week released an open letter that has called on Google to end its work on Project Maven and to support an worldwide treaty prohibiting autonomous weapons systems.

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).

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.

But some of the resigning employees believe Google shouldn't be involved in any military work and that algorithms have no place in identifying potential targets.

"I tried to remind myself right that Google's decisions are not my decisions".

"We wholeheartedly support [employees'] demand that Google terminate its contract with the DoD, and that Google and its parent company Alphabet commit not to develop military technologies and not to use the personal data that they collect for military purposes", the letter states.

While the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM are also working closely with the Pentagon, for example, over 30 technology companies - including Facebook and Microsoft, but not Amazon, Apple, or Alphabet - signed an Accord earlier this year stating that they would refuse to aid any government, including the USA, in carrying out cyber attacks. The letter says Google should "commit to not weaponizing its technology" and terminate its contract with the DoD. I'm not personally responsible for everything they do.

"We believe that Google should not be in the business of war", the open letter from Google employees stated.

Google also previously told PCMag: "The technology is used to flag images for human review and is meant to save lives and save people from having to do highly tedious work". "We are actively discussing this important issue internally and with other people as we continue to build safeguards and policies around the development and application of our system learning technology".

Fortune approached Google for comment about these resignations and will update this post if it responds. But employees want to see action from the company, in the form of an ethics policy, a canceled contract, or both. "But I do feel responsibility when I see something that I should escalate it", another resigning employee told Gizmodo.

Over the last couple of months, I've been less and less impressed with the response and the way people's concerns are being treated and listened to. "The strongest possible statement I could take against this was to leave".

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