Google knew that Project Maven, its contract to supply AI to US military drones would be unpopular, but they were chasing hundreds of millions of dollars in follow-on contracts, and even though dozens of engineers quit over the project, at least they got a snazzy mission patch.
But tech workers enjoy incredible bargaining power unheard of in other sectors, and the pressure that googlers put on their employer, coupled with the public reputational damage Google suffered for its militarization of AI (reputational damage the company could ill-afford in this era of techlash), has convinced the company's senior leadership not to renew the contract.
However, it seems unlikely that Google will abandon its efforts to capture lucrative military business -- the company is under intense pressure to diversify its revenue streams (the vast majority of revenue earned by parent company Alphabet still comes from advertising), and the US military is a famously indiscriminate firehose of money for technology contractors.
Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene announced the decision at a meeting with employees Friday morning, three sources told Gizmodo. The current contract expires in 2019 and there will not be a follow-up contract, Greene said. The meeting, dubbed Weather Report, is a weekly update on Google Cloud’s business.
Google would not choose to pursue Maven today because the backlash has been terrible for the company, Greene said, adding that the decision was made at a time when Google was more aggressively pursuing military work. The company plans to unveil new ethical principles about its use of AI next week. A Google spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about Greene’s comments.
Google Plans Not to Renew Its Contract for Project Maven, a Controversial Pentagon Drone AI Imaging Program [Kate Conger/Gizmodo]
Documents on an unprotected, network-connected drive owned by an employee of Nokia shed light on the inner workings of Russia’s networked surveillance system known as SORM (Russian: COPM).
Thomas Piketty, the French economist behind 2014's game-changing Capital in the 21st Century, has a new book, Capital and Ideology (out in France now, coming in English in 2020), which uses the same long-run economic series that Capital 21C benefited from to understand the relationship between wealth and ideology. Central to Piketty's thesis: that it's […]
The real estate bubble is in trouble: London's luxury housing market has been in freefall for years, and New York's retail vacancy has been soaring, even as global super-luxe housing is also tanking.
Life isn’t getting any less hectic, and pressure cookers are a quick, healthy solution for a growing number of kitchens. But if you thought your Instant Pot was versatile, there’s a major upgrade on the market: The Yedi 9-in-1 Total Package Instant Programmable Pressure Cooker. If you’ve somehow never used a pressure cooker before, try […]
When it comes to data analytics or deep learning, there’s one language behind the apps and algorithms that power the biggest companies of today: Python. The best part about this tool is that as versatile as it is, it’s actually fairly easy to learn. But mastery? For that, you need more than just a beginners’ […]
Your smartphone’s GPS is a modern necessity for some trips, but how do you use it safely? It’s been a problem ever since phones went mobile. A certain phone mount even shelled out the money for a commercial during the Big Game, so clearly there’s a market for the solution. Turns out there are a […]