Google Plans Not to Renew Its Contract for Project Maven, a Controversial Pentagon Drone AI Imaging Program

It has been announced that Google will not seek another contract for its controversial work providing artificial intelligence to the U.S. Department of Defense that was for analyzing drone footage after its current contract expires.

The Google cloud CEO Diana Greene stated that the decision was announced at a meeting with their employees on Friday morning, three sources told Gizmodo. He also stated that the existing contract is likely to expire in the year 2019 and there 

won’t be any follow up contracts. The meeting, dubbed Weather Report, is a weekly update on Google Cloud’s Business. 

Greene stated that Google will not be choosing to pursue Maven today because of the backlash has been terrible for the company, furthermore, adding that this decision was made when Google was more competitively pursuing military work. So far, the company is planning to reveal the new ethical principles about their uses of AI in the upcoming week. However, the Google’s person has not immediately responded to the questions about Greene’s comments.

However, the Google’s decision didn’t go well about providing the artificial intelligence to the Defense Department for the analysis of drone footage and has also prompted a backlash from Google employees and academics. Thereafter, until now, thousands of employees have signed the petition asking Google for canceling its contract for the project, nicknamed project Maven, and dozens of employees have resigned in protest.

Moreover, in opposition to this, Google has defended its work on Project Maven, with senior executives stating that the contract is of relatively little or no value and that its contribution amounts merely to provide the Defense Department with open-source software.

As far as the internal emails were reviewed by Gizmodo it showed that the executives were looking at the Project Maven as a golden opportunity that would have opened the doors for business with military and the intelligence agencies as well. And those emails have also shown up that the Google and its partners have worked very very extensively to develop machine learning algorithms for the Pentagon, for the common goal of creating an advanced system that could surveil entire cities. 

These sets of emails have revealed that Google’s senior leadership was eagerly supportive of Project Maven as especially because of the reason that it would set Google Cloud on the path to Winning larger Pentagon contracts but somewhere, deeply concerned about how the company’s involvement would be perceived. Those emails also consisted of the Google’s internal timeline and goal sets for Project Maven. 

In accordance to work on Project Maven, Google Cloud faced a challenge. The was that- the company would have to use the footage gathered by military drones to build its machine learning models, and there… it lacked the official government authorization to hold that kind of sensitive data on its cloud.

In the late March, the company has announced that it has been granted provisional FedRAMP 4 authorization to operate, or ATO. “With this ATO, Google Cloud Platform has demonstrated its commitment to extend to government customers,” Suzanne Frey, Google’s Director of Trust, Security, Privacy, and compliance, told the reporters during a press call.

Furthermore, gathering this authorization was quite crucial not just for Project Maven but for Google’s further tracking of other government contracts. Google is now competing for a Pentagon cloud computing contract that worth $10 billion. 

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