The Google Will Pursue the Pentagon

November 19, 2019

Despite last year’s Project Maven kerfuffle, Google cannot pass up the (lucrative) chance to collaborate with the US military. Roll Call reports, “Google Looks Past Project Maven to Work Anew with the Pentagon.” We’re told the renewed partnership will not involve the development of weapons or unlawful surveillance, and stays true to guidelines the company has now adopted. Writer Gopal Ratnam cites Kent Walker, senior vice president for global affairs at Google:

“‘It’s right that we decided to press the reset button until we had an opportunity to develop our own set of AI principles, our own internal standards and review processes,’ Walker said last week at an event organized by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence [NSCAI]. The decision to stop working with the Pentagon on the drone video contract was a ‘discrete’ one and not indicative of a ‘broader principle or an unwillingness’ to work with the Defense Department, he said. “The commission was created by Congress in the 2019 Pentagon policy bill to figure out how the Pentagon can harness artificial intelligence and related technologies for national security purposes. The panel is chaired by Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, where he continues to be an outside adviser. “Google is working with the Pentagon on a ‘number of national mission initiatives,’ Walker said, listing cybersecurity, health care, tools to identify deep fake videos, and other AI projects with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to ensure the ‘robustness of AI.’”

Note that former Google CEO Eric Schmidt chairs the NSCAI. Perhaps that is just a coincidence. Walker paints their work with the Pentagon as motivated by their patriotism and concern for world safety. I suppose, then, that government dollars are just the icing on the AI cake.

Cynthia Murrell, November 19, 2019

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