New reports show that Google has ten times the personal information stored on you as Facebook. Tony Spitz has the details. Buzz60
More than 3,000 Google employees have signed a letter asking management end the company’s involvement in Project Maven, a Defense Department drone surveillance project.
The employees, in a letter addressed to company CEO Sundar Pichai, say Google’s assistance in developing the artificial intelligence-powered system to detect vehicles and other objects in video captured by military drones betrays the company’s motto of “Don’t Be Evil.”
Google counters the employees’ arguments saying, in a statement, the company’s involvement is for “non-offensive purposes” and is used “to flag images for human review and is intended to save lives and save people from having to do highly tedious work.”
Employees had previously voiced concerns about the project, begun in April 2017 by the Defense Department to explore AI, machine learning and big data enhancements, they say in the letter, which was first obtained by The New York Times.
Even though company management said Google-supplied technology would “not ‘operate or fly drones’ and ‘will not be used to launch weapons’,” the employees’ letter says, “the technology is being built for the military, and once it’s delivered it could easily be used to assist in these tasks.”
The statement from Google went on to say that “any military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns. We’re actively engaged across the country in a comprehensive discussion of this important topic and also with outside experts, as we continue to develop our policies around the development and use of our machine learning technologies.”
This is just the latest issue to foment division between the company and some of its 78,000 employees. The company has aimed to increase diversity by employing and advancing women and people of color. But some employees who volunteer as internal diversity advocates have complained about online attacks after personal information and comments from internal company forum have been leaked to far-right websites.
An internal culture war was sparked after Google fired engineer James Damore, who had written a memo in August 2017 saying that women in technology were unlikely to succeed because in general, they are more interested in people than ideas. In a subsequent suit against Google, Damore alleged that the company discriminates against white conservative men.
Subsequently, Google has been charged with underpaying women in a suit filed earlier this year by a female teacher in its daycare center.
In the Project Maven letter, employees ask Google to cancel the project immediately and to “enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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