Some Google employees are resigning due to involvement with Project Maven

MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle

According to the Defense Department, in October of 2017, over 100 companies came to an industry event allied to Project Maven.

Google's involvement sparked ethical concern and anger among employees, Gizmodo initially reported. The company claims it is only providing open-source software to Project Maven, which means the military would still be able to use it without paying the company or requiring its input.

However, Google has reportedly held a number of sessions with employees featuring speakers both for and against Google's contract on Project Maven.

Google's role has been to provide AI smarts to allow drone footage to be classified and tagged, thus making it easier to identify certain objects and people - some of whom would be, therefore, potential targets.

A dozen Google employees have chosen to resign instead of taking part in a Pentagon project that harnesses the company's artificial intelligence know-how for military purposes.

But according to Gizmodo, Google employees felt the company wasn't doing enough to address their concerns.

Researchers who are critical of Google also posted an open letter worrying about Google providing the Pentagon with "open source "deep learning" technology" along with engineering expertise.

At some point, I realized I could not in good faith recommend anyone join Google, knowing what I knew.

Google was quick to downplay any controversy.

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"Actions speak louder than words, and that's the standard I adhere to".

A spokesperson said: "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".

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

Google said the tech would not be used to kill people, but employees are outraged that Google would involve itself in military operations.

"I'm not personally responsible for everything that they do".

"Any military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns. We're actively discussing this important topic internally and with others as we continue to develop policies and safeguards around the development and use of our machine learning technologies".

Other companies such as IBM and Amazon have refused to work with the Department of Defense, so it's interesting that Google is failing to take its employees' concerns onboard.

Google hasn't made a public comment on the matter to date and it's not helping matters on the whole transparency front.

The Google workers also noted the company's well-known former motto, "Don't be evil", warning that Project Maven "will irreparably damage Google's brand and its ability to compete for talent".

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