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MIT Technology Review

Google won’t renew its military AI contract

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Google plans to discontinue a project through which it has been helping the US military use artificial intelligence to analyze drone footage. The contract, part of a Pentagon effort known as Project Maven, sparked a storm of internal unrest and media controversy over Google’s apparent role in weaponizing the use of AI.

Targets acquired: As first reported by Gizmodo, Google has been supplying technology and know-how to the US military for automating the analysis of drone footage. Defense is a huge potential market, but many Google employees were appalled that the company might be helping develop tech that could lead to automated drone strikes.

The war within: The head of Google’s cloud business, Diane Greene, reportedly told staff this week that the company would not seek a new contract after it expires. Previously leaked e-mails show that some AI experts within Google also objected to the program and anticipated the media fallout.

Booming business: This is far from the end of the story. Artificial intelligence will be a key asset in warfare going forward, and other big tech companies are pursuing military AI contracts. As Wired recently pointed out, Project Maven is poised to expand—with or without Google.