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Google is working with US military to help AI study drone footage

Google isn’t assisting for combat purpose, but still raises a lot of ethical questions.

The US military’s Project Maven is getting help from Google to help AI interpret drone footage. The company confirmed a Gizmodo report that it’s offering TensorFlow programming kits to the Defense Department as part of a pilot program that will help Project Maven process drone footage a lot more quickly.

Google has stressed that the machine learning technology is involved in “non-offensive uses only,” and that it’s also flagging material for “human review.” The company isn’t helping with drone strikes for the government, but this step did raise concerns inside Google’s management.

Gizmodo sources say that some Google staffers were quite “outraged” that the company would use its AI technology for drone operations. Other staffers said it prompted ethical questions about the subjects machine should cover. Google’s contribution to Defense Department doesn’t involve any killer robots, but it did make a number of people feel uncomfortable. The Verge also got a tip adding that the search engine giant want helping the military configure TensorFlow for use, but at this time, it’s not clear whether it’s active development of in the basic setup process.

When reached out to the Defense Department, they declined to comment on whether or not Google is only its partner in Project Maven or in other areas as well. It doesn’t really come as a surprise that Google is involved in this, though. Project Maven was expected to go into full effect within 6 months, this didn’t leave a lot of time for the military to do much, so they had to reach out to a combination of private and academic help to meet the goal.


Hamza Khalid

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