Google Drops AI Drone Deal with Pentagon

Google decided not to continue its deal with a Pentagon drone program once it expires.

Diane Greene, head of the cloud business at Alphabet Inc.’s Google said, “We’ve always said this was an 18-month contract that we did, so it ends in March of 2019. And there will be no follow-on to Maven.”

In September 2017, the contract lets the Defense Department use Google AI tools to analyze drone footage for an initiative called ‘Project Maven’. The Pentagon has been using Google’s vision technology to help drones interpret objects on the ground, prompting fierce opposition inside the company to its co-operation with the military.

It was Greene’s major push to break into the lucrative business of selling cloud services to the government— where Amazon and Microsoft dominate.

Google’s move is also a result from extensive protests from employees of the internet giant. There were more than 4,000 employees who signed a letter to cancel the contract. Also, they demanded that Google and its AI technology should not be in the business of war.

Greene’s division also pushes for a much larger Pentagon cloud deal– the multibillion-dollar Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract.

Google AI

Meanwhile, the company is planning to publish an ethical framework to guide its use of the AI technology this week.

Google’s and its parent company, Alphabet, faced several criticisms for a lack of openness over how they apply AI. It puts experts to call on setting more stringent ethical guidelines that go well beyond not working with the military.

New AI-Powered App

google apps

Concurrently, Google released an app which recognizes the world around the user in real time. However, it only recognizes objects.

The company’s Vice President Anil Sabharwal said that Google Lens will serve as an assistant, which would help people in life, “It is very early days, and we acknowledge that this is more about showing the potential of what is possible, so over time, it’s going to get better and better.”

Some of the features are the clothes option that matches styles to clothes the user might fancy; and a menu reader that copies text from a menu and looks up the meal.

Finally, the company said it understands it must be transparent about all the functions of the lens, when it’s aware of them.

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