Google Employees Revolt, Refuse To Work On Clandestine AI Drone Project For The Pentagon

Around a dozen Google employees have quit and close to 4,000 have signed a petition over the company's involvement in a controversial military pilot program known as "Project Maven," which will use artificial intelligence to speed up analysis of drone footage.

Project Maven, a fast-moving Pentagon project also known as the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team (AWCFT), was established in April 2017. Maven’s stated mission is to “accelerate DoD’s integration of big data and machine learning.” In total, the Defense Department spent $7.4 billion on artificial intelligence-related areas in 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The project’s first assignment was to help the Pentagon efficiently process the deluge of video footage collected daily by its aerial drones—an amount of footage so vast that human analysts can’t keep up. -Gizmodo

Project Maven will use machine learning to identify vehicles and other objects from drone footage - with the ultimate goal of enabling the automated detection and identification of objects in up to 38 categories - including the ability to track individuals as they come and go from different locations.

Project Maven’s objective, according to Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan, director for Defense Intelligence for Warfighter Support in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, “is to turn the enormous volume of data available to DoD into actionable intelligence and insights." -DoD

The internal revolt began shortly after Google revealed its involvement in the project nearly three months ago

Some Google employees were outraged that the company would offer resources to the military for surveillance technology involved in drone operations, sources said, while others argued that the project raised important ethical questions about the development and use of machine learning. -Gizmodo

The resigned employees cited a range of frustrations, from ethical concerns over the use of AI in a battlefield setting, to larger concerns over Google's overall political decisions. 

The disgruntled ex-employees, apparently unaware that Google was seed-funded by the NSA and CIA, have compiled a master document of personal accounts detailing their decisions to leave, which multiple sources have described to Gizmodo.

The employees who are resigning in protest, several of whom discussed their decision to leave with Gizmodo, say that executives have become less transparent with their workforce about controversial business decisions and seem less interested in listening to workers’ objections than they once did. In the case of Maven, Google is helping the Defense Department implement machine learning to classify images gathered by drones. But some employees believe humans, not algorithms, should be responsible for this sensitive and potentially lethal work—and that Google shouldn’t be involved in military work at all.

Historically, Google has promoted an open culture that encourages employees to challenge and debate product decisions. But some employees feel that their leadership no longer as attentive to their concerns, leaving them to face the fallout. “Over the last couple of months, I’ve been less and less impressed with the response and the way people’s concerns are being treated and listened to,” one employee who resigned said. -Gizmodo

Ironically, the development of Google's original algorithm at Stanford was partly funded by a joint CIA-NSA program in which founder Sergei Brin created a method to quickly mine large amounts of data stored in databases. 

“Google founder Mr. Sergey Brin was partly funded by this program while he was a PhD student at Stanford. He together with his advisor Prof. Jeffrey Ullman and my colleague at MITRE, Dr. Chris Clifton [Mitre’s chief scientist in IT], developed the Query Flocks System which produced solutions for mining large amounts of data stored in databases. I remember visiting Stanford with Dr. Rick Steinheiser from the Intelligence Community and Mr. Brin would rush in on roller blades, give his presentation and rush out. In fact the last time we met in September 1998, Mr. Brin demonstrated to us his search engine which became Google soon after.” -Nafeez Ahmed

In their defense of Project Maven, Google notes that their AI won't actually be used to kill anyone (just help the military ID targets to "service"). That isn't good enough for workers and academics opposed to the use of machine learning in a military application. 

In addition to the petition circulating inside Google, the Tech Workers Coalition launched a petition in April demanding that Google abandon its work on Maven and that other major tech companies, including IBM and Amazon, refuse to work with the U.S. Defense Department. -Gizmodo

“We can no longer ignore our industry’s and our technologies’ harmful biases, large-scale breaches of trust, and lack of ethical safeguards,” the petition reads. “These are life and death stakes.”

Over 90 academics in AI, ethics and computer science released an open letter on Monday, calling on Google to end its involvement with Project Maven and support an international treaty which would prohibit the use of autonomous weapons systems. 

Peter Asaro and Lucy Suchman, two of the authors of the letter, have testified before the United Nations about autonomous weapons; a third author, Lilly Irani, is a professor of science and a former Google employee.

Google’s contributions to Project Maven could accelerate the development of fully autonomous weapons, Suchman told Gizmodo. Although Google is based in the U.S., it has an obligation to protect its global user base that outweighs its alignment with any single nation’s military, she said. -Gizmodo

“If ethical action on the part of tech companies requires consideration of who might benefit from a technology and who might be harmed, then we can say with certainty that no topic deserves more sober reflection—no technology has higher stakes—than algorithms meant to target and kill at a distance and without public accountability,” the letter states. “Google has moved into military work without subjecting itself to public debate or deliberation, either domestically or internationally. While Google regularly decides the future of technology without democratic public engagement, its entry into military technologies casts the problems of private control of information infrastructure into high relief.”

We're sure employees have nothing to worry about and their concerns are overblown - as Google's "Don't be evil" motto prevents them from ever participating in some scary program that could kill more innocent people than a Tesla autopilot.


Attitude_Check tmosley Mon, 05/14/2018 - 22:56 Permalink

So Google is now reaping the benefits of an SJW infested mass of histrionic,  self absorbed,  holier than thou, children who don't know how to actually be an employee in a company with people in charge.  They were free to not work on the project if they didn't want to - there are many Google projects they could transfer to. They could have just left the company to work in another of many Silicon Valley companies.  But no these morally superior children have to leave, throw a hissy fit, and tell the the world why they are so superior.


Short Alphabet into to ground - the corporate culture is completely broken. 

In reply to by tmosley

Tarzan ACP Tue, 05/15/2018 - 05:17 Permalink

They would love for us to believe this is for a far off battle field.

It is the development of eyes in the sky, mans attempt to play God over the people, and it's aimed at you and I!

They don't give a crap about the constitution, or your God given rights of privacy.  We're not spying on you, the algorithms are...

They plan to control us in the most Orwellian dystopia imaginable and need all the AI they can muster, because they're a tiny minority.  Without a huge equalizer they have no chance of completing the enslavement of the planet.

These Google employees are a perfect example of why they will fail miserably.  People are rebels! 

Our natural state is independence, and it will be the Achilles heel of the deep state, but unfortunately not before a huge blood bath.

They will not repent, they will only be put down by force!

The meek will inherit the earth, after the wicked are purged!

In reply to by ACP

chiburashka Tarzan Tue, 05/15/2018 - 06:32 Permalink

Too little too late.

The cat is out of the bag. 

Why do you think China and Russia invested so much, more than America, in these technologies? 

Anyway goggle has always been an evil MIC funded organization:…

Only SJW idiots thought otherwise. They always believe slogans and bumper stickers instead of understanding they mean exactly the opposite in newspeak parlance. Such douches. 


It's okay not to be a Jew.

In reply to by Tarzan

HenryKissinger… NidStyles Tue, 05/15/2018 - 08:02 Permalink

dear Snowflake working at Skynet and making terminators...
YOU ARE WORKING at skynet and making terminators!

If you do not want your beautiful lines of code killing human beings then go and work somewhere else, there are plenty of poor chinese and indian coders waiting in line.

While you are eating your avocado toast, read Daniel Suarez kill decision and the daemon series.

In reply to by NidStyles

mophead Sir Edge Mon, 05/14/2018 - 23:25 Permalink

In one of the links:

"Google’s Eric Schmidt summed up the tech industry’s concerns about collaborating with the Pentagon at a talk last fall. “There’s a general concern in the tech community of somehow the military-industrial complex using their stuff to kill people incorrectly"

In other words, Eric Schit believes it's simply a matter of "correctly" killing people, that's what the engineers want? They don't want their AI efforts to kill anyone, YOU PIECE OF SHIT.

In reply to by Sir Edge

warsev mophead Tue, 05/15/2018 - 01:13 Permalink

The year was 1973, and I was just graduating from college with a degree in computer engineering. Among my job interviews, I will never forget the interview I had with a major tech company that was designing missile and bomb guidance systems. At this time the Vietnam war was still raging with daily news of more killing and mayhem.

I went through a day of interviews with a half dozen groups, each designing guidance systems for TV-guided bombs, laser-guided bombs, laser and infrared guided ship-to-ship missiles, and so on. By the end of the day I'd decided it wasn't a job I was interested in.

So, at the end of the day came the standard interview with the HR guy. He said the usual "Well, what do you think?"

I replied, "Well, I have spoken with half a dozen groups designing their own particular kinds of mayhem. Do any of your engineers ever stop and think about the people that their work is raining down on?"

The HR guy lowered his head and looked at the floor, put his hands on his head, and didn't speak for a full minute. He then said, quietly, "Yes. Last year we had a guy who started to think about it. They took him out of here in a strait jacket."

Needless to say, I didn't get an offer.

In reply to by mophead

chumbawamba warsev Tue, 05/15/2018 - 03:25 Permalink

What did these fucks think?  If they weren't so busy updating their software to accommodate all 256 genders and they would have noticed their company was slowly becoming the Evil it wasn't supposed to be.

You know all those login verifications that have you identify the various objects in the photos?  You are training these flying death machines to one day be able to pick you out of the crowd.

Cue Alannis Morissette.


In reply to by warsev

Oh regional Indian warsev Tue, 05/15/2018 - 07:11 Permalink

Now it becomes clear as to why a weak kneed, order following Indian was raised to head google ahead of probably much better minds in the company.

Sundar Pichai looks like a limp rag being flapped around by a limp wrist.

Likewise at Microsoft. There is a plan and a reason for all of this shite unfolding. All of it. Including and especially the actors on stage....

In reply to by warsev

Shift For Brains Sir Edge Tue, 05/15/2018 - 01:50 Permalink

For those who think it's better to be a "good employee" than to actually stand for something that has moral're not seeing the big picture.

If every defense contractor, every social engineering app maker, every corrupt law enforcement agency, every rapacious pharmaceutical manufacturer had a similar response from their employees you would begin to see the beginning of a collapse of the System that just about everyone here loathes.

WE have the ability to cripple the whole operation if WE choose to do it. People just have to care more about doing what is right than doing what is easy or lucrative. If Google employees crow about this, I say great. More people need examples of human beings doing what is positive so yes,  make a very loud noise and maybe more will do it.

The System requires the guards, the scientists, the clerks, the WORKERS to stay up and running. Remove that support and it will implode quickly.

You could say that, at last, these Google employees were living up to that old fashioned sentiment about "First do no harm."

In reply to by Sir Edge

mc225 tmosley Tue, 05/15/2018 - 08:21 Permalink

which 'TDS' were you talking about?


TDSTotal Dissolved Solids

TDSTechnical Data Sheet

TDSTax Deducted at Source

TDSThe Daily Show

TDSTedious (internet slang)

TDSTenancy Deposit Scheme (UK)

TDSTokyo Disney Sea (amusement park)

TDSTabular Data Stream

TDSTripod Data Systems

TDSTotal Debt Service (Ratio)

TDSThe Downward Spiral (Nine Inch Nails album)

TDSTelephone & Data Systems, Inc.

TDSTotal Dissolved Salts

TDSTransfer Disclosure Statement (Real Estate)

TDSTexas Disposal Systems

TDSThief: Deadly Shadows (video game)

TDSTime-Domain Spectroscopy

TDSTrial Defense Service

TDSTransdermal System

TDSTravel Distribution Services

TDSTactical Data System

TDSTime Delay Spectrometry

TDSTechnology Development Strategy (DoD JCIDS)

TDSTime Date Stamp

TDSTop-Down Shooter (gaming)

TDSTetris DS (game)

TDSTranscript Delivery System

TDSTime Division Switching

TDSTransputer Development System

TDSTalley Defense Systems

TDSTransactions on Database Systems

TDSThermal Desorption Spectrometry

TDSThe Democratic Strategist

TDSThiamine Disulfide

TDSTonga Defense Services

TDSTraining and Development Solutions

TDSTerrestrial Digital Service

TDSTactical Defense Systems


TDSTime Distribution System

TDSTarget Designation System

TDSThompson Dorfman Sweatman

TDSToutes Des Salopes (gaming clan)

TDSTrace-Driven Simulation

TDSTime Delay Switch

TDSTransit Delay Selection

TDSTest Development Series

TDSTotal Distribution System

TDSTactical Display System

TDSTer Die Sumendum (to be taken 3 times a day; prescription marking)

TDSTubular Data Stream

TDSTeraherz Time Domain Spectroscopy

TDSTool and Die Systems (TDS Automation, Inc.)

TDSTraining Development Study

TDSTemporary Duty Station

TDSTactical Data Station

TDSTelephone and Data Service

TDSTridion Dialogserver

TDSTemperature, Depth, Salinity

TDSTelecommunications & Data Systems

TDSTelemetry Data Store

TDSTagged Delimited String Format (IBM Websphere MQSeries SW)

TDSThrowDown Sports (forum)

TDSTraining Decision System

TDSTechnology Development Section

TDSTerminal Display System

TDSTactical Digital System

TDSTime Delay Setting (electromechanical product feature)

TDSTrillium Digital Systems, Inc. (an Intel company)

TDSTemperature-Determined Sex

TDSTraining Device System

TDSTRADOC Documentation System

TDSTerrestrial Data Service (WorldCom)

TDSTraining Development Service

TDSTest Description Sheet

TDSTactical Development Study

TDSTraining Development Section

TDSTransfer and Display Software

TDSTape Duplication System

TDSTechnology Direction Statement (Sprint)

TDSTemporal Data System

TDSTechnical Documentation Set

TDSTransient Diffusion-Sublimination

TDSTraffic Data Studies System (Sprint)

TDSTravel Design Studio (travel agent; Bergamo, Italy)

TDSTotal Distance Separation

TDSTest and Diagnostic Service

TDSTechnique Développement Services (French: Technical Development Services; France)

TDSThe Distribution Solution (UK)

TDSTop Drive System (petroleum industry)

TDSTemasek Design School (Singapore)

TDSTrojan Defence Suite (software)

TDSTag Data Standard

TDSTie Down System (device)

TDSTuchenhagen Dairy Systems (various locations)

TDSTomsoft Diary System (software)

In reply to by tmosley

JLarryL spanish inquisition Mon, 05/14/2018 - 22:55 Permalink

Surprise! Do-no-evil Google will survive the implosion of ad revenues in the next recession by becoming a defense contractor. Oh, the irony!

But this fits the idea that high tech might be a negative in the long run. Pretty soon a small group of people could extinguish half of humanity.

Maybe this is what the Fermi Paradox is missing. The reason we haven't detected alien civilizations is that they always end up destroying themselves soon after developing an advanced technology. Or maybe they attract something that destroys them.

In reply to by spanish inquisition

LetThemEatRand Mon, 05/14/2018 - 22:29 Permalink

I could possibly understand management looking for some sweet government honey if they were struggling, but this pretty much seals the deal that "don't be evil" was always a lie.  How many more jetliners do they need?  

Lots of H1B1 workers happy to fill the spots of the employees who left, and there's the added bonus that MSM can tell us Google needs those workers to fill jobs Americans don't want.