Google promises its AI will not be used in weapons, or to kill humans

Earlier this week, Google announced that it was withdrawing its support for US military’s Project Maven. The company, at the time, had also announced that it would shortly announce a set of ethical guidelines that would define the company’s involvement in military projects in the future. Now, nearly five days after the announcement was first made, Google chief executive officer Sundar Pichai has released the set of working principles for artificial intelligence (AI) at Google.

Besides the principles, Pichai has also specified the areas wherein the company would not pursue AI. Pichai, in his blog, has specified that Google will not use AI in weaponry, surveillance and other areas where the implementation is likely to cause overall harm.

AI will not be used in “Weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people” or “Technologies that gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms,” Google CEO wrote in his blog.

While he did mention that AI will not be used in weapons and surveillance, Pichai clarified that Google will continue to work with governments and military in other critical areas including training, cyber security, and military recruitment among other things. “We want to be clear that while we are not developing AI for use in weapons, we will continue our work with governments and the military in many other areas. These include cyber security, training, military recruitment, veterans’ healthcare, and search and rescue,” he added.

Google’s involvement in US Department of Defense’s Project Maven– a project that aimed to deploy AI to analyse footage captured by the military drones– had spurred a rebellion inside the company. The incident had prompted over a dozen employees to resign from the company and nearly 4,600 employees to sign an internal petition addressed to the Google bosses citing the company’s age old motto “don’t be evil”. The rebellion had even found support outside the tech giant wherein a group of scholars and industry insiders had penned down an open letter to the Google commanders asking them to withdraw their support for the notorious project.

The movement ultimately resulted in the company bowing down to the demands of its employees and deciding not to renew the contract with the US military once it ends in March 2019.

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