After more than 4,000 Google employees signed a petition to protest against the controversial ‘Project Maven’, over a dozen have now resigned. The project uses artificial intelligence for military surveillance.
This comes after an open letter addressed to Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, stating that the project should be immediately canceled. It added that Google should ‘draft, publicize and enforce’ policies prohibiting the company and its contractors from participating in developing warfare technology.
Although clarifications have been made by Diane Greene, member of Google Board of Directors, that the technology will not be used to operate drones or launch weapons, employees believe it can be used for these activities nevertheless.
The employees believe the project will also damage Google’s brand, its ‘Don’t be evil’ motto, and its ability to compete for talent; Google will be joining the list of other firms which are notorious for providing such technology. They say the fact that Amazon and Microsoft are involved in the project cannot be used as an excuse for Google to take part as well.
The letter calls on Google’s stated values; “Every one of our users is trusting us. Never jeopardize that. Ever.” It adds that the company can not transfer its moral responsibility to a third party, and that the technology will have ‘potentially lethal consequences’.
The letter has received attention on the social media, as many appreciate the ethical move by Google employees.
Google employees are resigning from some of the most comfortable and well-compensated jobs in the industry to protest Google’s involvement in Project Maven. https://t.co/2Cu8Srl43X
— kate conger (@kateconger) May 14, 2018
“Google moved into military work without public debate or deliberation, domestically or internationally. While Google regularly decides the future of tech w/o democratic engagement, entry into military technologies casts these problems of into high relief” https://t.co/zfQV1Ul5tk
— Mar Hicks (@histoftech) May 15, 2018
So far, the company has not taken any action in response to the resignations.