Google has decided not to pursue a controversial Department of Defense program, also known as Project Maven, that would help the US military conduct artificial intelligence analyzes.
Gizmodo released the news today, and was internally announced by Google Cloud head Diane Greene at a meeting he had with the department's employees.
Greene's announcement comes just days after Google's decision to re-examine the company's code of conduct for military AI development.
Today's decision should calm the internal troubles of Google that began months ago since the company's involvement in Project Maven in March from Gizmodo. The site's report said at the time that employees were "outraged" when they learned of the company's plans to use software to help a government program aimed at killing people with unmanned vehicles.
Here, we should mention that although Project Maven would not directly use Google's software for active participation in any form of warfare, the company would have tools and expertise in photo analysis with AI-compute vision algorithms. This, of course, could enable better targeting, and reduce collateral losses in future bombings.
But the full extent of Google's involvement in Project Maven has never been clear.
In early April, more than 3.000 Google employees signed an open letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, urging the company to withdraw from the program, saying "Google should not be in military operations."
Earlier this month, Gizmodo reported that about twelve employees had resigned after Google's inaction and continued involvement in Project Maven.
Today, as the pressure exerted on Google seems to have paid off. According to Gizmodo, Greene told employees that their reaction was the main reason the company decided not to renew its contract. Coincidentally, on May 18, Google updated its code of conduct to replace the old Do not be evil slogan with "Do the right thing."