On March 6th news broke that Google was participating in a pilot project with the US military, supplying artificial intelligence capabilities to automate the analysis of drone surveillance footage (see Gizmodo and New York Times). Since then, Google employees have signed a petition opposing their company’s involvement, twelve employees are “resigning in protest,” and “tech workers” in the broader industry have circulated their own petition.
Now, a coalition of academics and researchers has released an “Open Letter” in support of the Google employees and tech workers. The Open Letter, co-authored by professors Peter Asaro (The New School, New York), Lilly Irani (University of California, San Diego) and Lucy Suchman (Lancaster University, UK), begins with the following statement:
As scholars, academics, and researchers who study, teach about, and develop information technology, we write in solidarity with the 3100+ Google employees, joined by other technology workers, who oppose Google’s participation in Project Maven. We wholeheartedly support their demand that Google terminate its contract with the DoD, and that Google and its parent company Alphabet commit not to develop military technologies and not to use the personal data that they collect for military purposes. The extent to which military funding has been a driver of research and development in computing historically should not determine the field’s path going forward. We also urge Google and Alphabet’s executives to join other AI and robotics researchers and technology executives in calling for an international treaty to prohibit autonomous weapon systems.
You can read the entire letter/petition here: Open Letter in Support of Google Employees and Tech Workers.
(Feature image source: US D.O.D. 2017. “Project Maven to Deploy Computer Algorithms to War Zone by Year’s End.)