Google To End Pentagon AI Contract, Will Remain A Defense Contractor

Missile-AI-Use

These workers protested the company's involvement in Project Maven - the controversial collaboration between Google and the US Department of Defense.

The principles follow a conflict inside Google, pitting thousands of employees against management. The company said on Thursday that if the principles had existed earlier, Google would not have bid for Project Maven.

One Google employee who signed the petition said the principles don't go far enough, but it's good that the company has finally addressed the issue.

In addition to the seven principles, the company also outlined a series of applications for artificial intelligence it won't pursue. They should be "built and tested for safety", be built with privacy in mind, and "uphold high standards of scientific excellence". It will only proceed with technology when the overall benefits significantly outweigh the foreseeable risks.

Only weapons that have a "principal purpose" of causing injury will be avoided, but it's unclear which weapons that refers to.

It won't work on surveillance outside worldwide norms (but define that - China would have a different opinion on that to Germany). Google plans to make technologies and services available in accordance with the above principles, but it can only evaluate the likely uses.

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Following an internal rift over a Pentagon project that would use artificial intelligence as a surveillance tool, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has released a set of ethical guidelines to govern the company's use of AI.

"Taking a clear and consistent stand against the weaponization of its technologies" would help Google demonstrate 'its commitment to safeguarding the trust of its worldwide base of customers and users, ' Lucy Suchman, a sociology professor at Lancaster University in England, told Reuters ahead of Thursday's announcement.

'How AI is developed and used will have a significant impact on society for many years to come.

Google's principles say it will not pursue AI applications meant to cause physical injury, that tie into surveillance "violating internationally accepted norms of human rights", or that present greater "material risk of harm" than countervailing benefits.

Diane Greene, the head of Google Cloud, wrote in a blog post on Thursday that Google will continue to honor the controversial Project Maven contract that it entered into past year. The company points toward a variety of categories, including military training and cybersecurity, as areas where it will work with the government/military. Those include weapons or technologies that cause overall harm, as well as anything that can be used for surveillance that violates "internationally accepted norms" or anything that conflicts with "widely accepted priciples of global law and human rights".

Kirk Hanson, the executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, which counts Google as a financial supporter, said Google's contract highlights a larger debate about AI and military applications.

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