Thousands of Google employees have signed an open letter asking the internet giant to stop working on a project for the US military.
Project Maven involves using artificial intelligence to improve the precision of military drone strikes.
Employees fear Google’s involvement will “irreparably damage” its brand.
“We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” says the letter, which is addressed to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai.
“Therefore we ask that Project Maven be cancelled, and that Google draft, publicise and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology.”
The letter, which was signed by 3,100 employees – including “dozens of senior engineers”, according to the New York Times – says that staff have already raised concerns with senior management internally. Google has more than 88,000 employees worldwide.
In response to concerns raised, the head of Google’s cloud business, Diane Greene, assured employees that the technology would not be used to launch weapons, nor would it be used to operate or fly drones.
However, the employees who signed the letter feel that the internet giant is putting users’ trust at risk, as well ignoring its “moral and ethical responsibility”.
“We cannot outsource the moral responsibility of our technologies to third parties,” the letter says.
“Google’s stated values make this clear: every one of our users is trusting us. Never jeopardise that. Ever.
“Building this technology to assist the US government in military surveillance – and potentially lethal outcomes – is not acceptable.”
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