April 2018 Open Letter
In April 2018, nearly four thousand Google employees signed an open letter petitioning CEO Sundar Pichai to stop the company’s involvement in a military drone program for the Pentagon. The letter states a clearly pacifist stance and an acknowledgement of the company’s moral responsability:
Dear Sundar, 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. […] We cannot outsource the moral responsibility of our technologies to third parties
In May 2018, “about a dozen” Google employees resign in protest, according to Gizmodo.
Open Letter in Support of Google Employees and Tech Workers
A group of more than one thousand AI researchers signed an open letter to Google executives, asking Google to terminate its Project Maven contract:
Should Google decide to use global internet users’ personal data for military purposes, it would violate the public trust that is fundamental to its business by putting its users’ lives and human rights in jeopardy. The responsibilities of global companies like Google must be commensurate with the transnational makeup of their users. The DoD contracts under consideration by Google, and similar contracts already in place at Microsoft and Amazon, signal a dangerous alliance between the private tech industry, currently in possession of vast quantities of sensitive personal data collected from people across the globe, and one country’s military. They also signal a failure to engage with global civil society and diplomatic institutions that have already highlighted the ethical stakes of these technologies.
Google Change of Objectives for AI Applications
In June 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai publishes a blog post clarifying Google’s “Objectives for AI applications”. Among the application areas the company will not “design or deploy” AI in, is included:
Weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people.
- Open Letter to Sundar Pichai. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
- “Google Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract”. Gizmodo. May 14, 2018. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
- “Open Letter in Support of Google Employees and Tech Workers”. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
- “AI at Google: our principles”. June 7, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.