Google Bans Development of Artificial Intelligence Weapons Projects

Google has pledged to never work on artificial intelligence weapons projects, laying down the principle after a collaboration with the US military fomented an employee revolt.

The technology giant recently announced it would discontinue work with the US Department of Defense on Project Maven, an artificial intelligence project that analyses imagery and could be used to enhance the efficiency of drone strikes.

In a blog post, the company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, listed seven guiding objectives about AI, which include that it be socially beneficial, incorporate privacy design principles and that it uphold high standards of scientific excellence.

“These are not theoretical concepts; they are concrete standards that will actively govern our research and product development and will impact our business decisions,” wrote Pichai.

Pichai’s post also listed four application areas Google will not design or deploy AI in. Those include “technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm,” “technologies that gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms” and technologies that conflict with “widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.” A fourth area Google says it won’t design or deploy AI in are technologies whose main purpose is to directly injure people.

While Google is rejecting the use of its AI for weapons, “we will continue our work with governments and the military in many other areas,” Pichai continued. “These include cybersecurity, training, military recruitment, veterans’ healthcare, and search and rescue. These collaborations are important and we’ll actively look for more ways to augment the critical work of these organizations and keep service members and civilians safe.”

The principles come after a massive backlash against Google’s Project Maven, an A.I. drone warfare program that it contracts to the Pentagon.

The company announced last week that will not renew its Project Maven contract amid pressure from employees and backlash from other groups like the Tech Workers Coalition, a group of tech industry workers and labor and community organizers. More than 4,000 Google employees signed a petition protesting Google’s contract, and some staffers resigned over it.

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