Google promises no more use of its artificial intelligence tech in weapons


Alphabet, Google's parent company, promises not to allow use of its artificial intelligence technology in weapons and in certain forms of surveillance.

The statement may help Google quash months of vigorous protest by thousands of Google employees, who were unwilling to participate silently in a Google partnership with the U.S. military to I.D. things in video shot by war drones.

Google will instead look for government contract oportunities in cybersecurity, military recruitment, and search & rescue, Chief Executive Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post today.

“We want to be clear that while we are not developing AI for use in weapons, we will continue our work with governments and the military in many other areas,” he said.

We will not design or deploy AI in the following application areas:

Technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm. Where there is a material risk of harm, we will proceed only where we believe that the benefits substantially outweigh the risks, and will incorporate appropriate safety constraints.

Weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people.

Technologies that gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms.

Technologies whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.

The company released a list of guiding ethical principles for future efforts.


A Google official, requesting anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue, said the company would not have joined the drone project last year had the principles already been in place. The work comes too close to weaponry, even though the focus is on non-offensive tasks, the official said on Thursday.

Google plans to honor its commitment to the project through next March, a person familiar with the matter said last week. More than 4,600 employees petitioned Google to cancel the deal sooner, with at least 13 employees resigning in recent weeks in an expression of concern.

A nine-employee committee drafted the AI principles, according to an internal email seen by Reuters.

The Google official described the principles as a template that any software developer could put into immediate use. Though Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and others released AI guidelines earlier, the AI community has followed Google’s efforts closely because of the internal pushback against the drone deal.


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