Project Maven: Nearly a dozen Google employees have reportedly quit in protest

MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle

MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle

After around 3,000 Google employees rebelled against Google's involvement in the Pentagon's Project Maven AI program, some employees have made a decision to quit in protest, according to a report.

It read: "Project Maven is a United States military program aimed at using machine learning to analyze massive amounts of drone surveillance footage and to label objects of interest for human analysts".

Ethical concerns over the AI powering drone warfare, and Google's involvement in the project clashing with its "do-gooder principles", are among the reasons why the employees are departing, Gizmodo reports.

Discussing their decision to leave Google, the employees told Gizmodo that they believe executives are becoming reluctant to discuss business decisions with the workforce. Following Google's continued involvement with this, employees are now resigning from the company.

Meanwhile in April, the Tech Workers Coalition launched a petition demanding that Google cancels its Project Maven contract, and insisting that other technology giants avoid working with the USA military.

Some 400 technology academics and researchers from around the world have also thrown their weight behind the Google protesters' cause, publishing an open letter calling on the company to withdraw from Project Maven and commit to "not weaponizing its technology".

For its part, Google says that its Pentagon contract is only a test and that it covers non-classified images. These sessions featured speakers who supported and opposed Maven and stressed the difficulty of drafting policy about the ethical use of machine learning, an attendee explained.

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"At some point, I realised I could not in good faith recommend joining Google, knowing what I knew. I realised if I can't recommend people join here, then why am I still here?" a resigning Google employee said.

It stated: "The private data collected by Google comes with a responsibility not only to use that data to improve its own technologies and expand its business, but also to benefit society".

According to one resigning employee, "Actions speak louder than words, and that's a standard I hold myself to as well". I'm not personally responsible for everything they do.

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".

The Mountain View, California, company previously told the New York Times in a statement that "any military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns" and said that it was "actively engaged across the company in a comprehensive discussion of this important topic".

Others expressed concerns at Google's political moves, like its sponsorship of the Conservative Political Action Conference and its struggle to address internal diversity concerns.

Fortune approached Google for comment about these resignations and will update this post if it responds.

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