About That Google-Rejected Project Maven

December 20, 2019

Anyone familiar with data-systems firm Palantir knows the company makes no apologies for supporting the U.S. military (among others) with their platforms. So it comes as no surprise that it is picking up where Google left offThe Next Web shares their “Report: Palantir Took Over Project Maven, the Military AI Program Too Unethical for Google.” Writer Tristan Greene explains:

“Project Maven, for those unfamiliar, is a Pentagon program to build an AI-powered surveillance platform for unmanned aerial vehicles. Basically, the job is to build a system for the US military to deploy and monitor autonomous drones. This system would, supposedly, give the government real-time battlefield command and control and the ability to track, tag, and spy on targets without human involvement. The limited, unclassified information available makes it appear as though the project stops just short of functioning as an AI weapons system capable of firing on self-designated targets as they become available in the battle space. …

“The Pentagon didn’t have to look very far to find a company willing to pick up where Google‘s ethics left off. Palantir, the company that powers ICE and CBP’s surveillance networks and builds software for police that circumvents the warrant process, is reportedly chugging away on Project Maven.”

We’re reminded Palantir founder Peter Thiel expressed disdain for Google after it dropped Maven following employee protest. Not only has Thiel insisted tech companies are honor bound to help the government with, seemingly, whatever it asks, he also points out Google’s history of working with the Chinese government. Greene notes that, though “we stand on the cusp of AI-powered warfare,” our federal government has yet to develop an official policy on the ethics of military use of AI. The possibilities are endless. Next up: Anduril, another outfit which finds joy where Google finds management challenges.

Cynthia Murrell, December 20, 2019


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