About a month ago, news surfaced that Google was working with the United States Department of Defense on drone software called “Project Maven.” The project applied Google’s image-recognition techniques to the millions of hours of drone footage collected by the military with the goal of identifying people and objects of interest. At the time, some Google employees were reportedly outraged at the news, and now The New York Times reports the situation has escalated to a formal letter being addressed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
The letter, which The Times reports has “garnered more than 3,100 signatures” comes right out in the first paragraph and demands the project be cancelled:
We believe that Google should not be in the business of war. Therefore we ask that Project Maven be cancelled and that Google draft, publicize, and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology.
The letter goes on to say that “building this technology to assist the US Government in military surveillance—and potentially lethal outcomes—is not acceptable” and that Maven will “irreparably damage Google’s brand and its ability to compete for talent.” The letter even invokes Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto.
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