BI Chinese station reported on March 7
- Google confirmed it has signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense for AI and UAVs, but it declined to provide details of the deal.
- Google said these technologies will be used for "non-offensive" purposes.
For a long time, Google has always avoided becoming a part of the military industry, which seems an unwritten corporate policy.
- Google and Defense Department news of the many employees of the company feel uneasy.
Google crossed the line on Tuesday.
In fact, Google crossed the line sometime before Tuesday. Only after Gizmodo's report referred to Google's contract to provide artificial intelligence technology to the U.S. Department of Defense has the world learned about it.
For anyone who has long followed the company, it is a shame to hear Google's cooperation with the Pentagon. This is because Google has long resisted becoming a part of the military industry.
Not cooperation with the military is an unwritten policy, there is no clear written into Google's articles of association, but the obvious person already knew very well.
According to USAspending.gov's records over the past 10 years, Google and the Department of Defense signed more than a dozen contracts before.
These contracts are insignificant, such as allowing the Department of Defense to use Google Earth Services worth 10,000 US dollars contract, or worth 6,000 US dollars Google search hardware contracts. For the rich financially Google, this is drizzle.
Companies like Google need another way to avoid cooperation with the military
For a company that is at the forefront of technological innovation, it is commendable and insignificant to insist on not cooperating with the military. By contrast, Microsoft has signed hundreds of contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense over the past 10 years, including a multi-year consultancy contract worth 78 million U.S. dollars with the U.S. Air Force.
When Google bought the robotics company Boston Dynamics in 2013, Google even publicly declared that while it would continue with the existing military contracts in Boston, Google would not seek to reach new deals with the Department of Defense, It does not want to be a military contractor.
Google later sold Boston Power and did not want to develop a killer robot for the military. However, according to Gizmodo's report, Google's artificial intelligence contract with the Department of Defense clearly broke the tradition and the accidental disclosure of the contract triggered a strong staff dissatisfaction.
It is reported that the military will use Google's "TensorFlow open source technology" to help analyze the video clips collected by the drones. Anyone can use this technique to create artificial intelligence applications.
The collaboration is part of a pilot project called "Project Maven" that likely includes Google Content Associates' efforts to help the military resolve how to use TensorFlow and other AI technologies. Google did not disclose the financial terms of the contract.
This is not what most people recognize as "non-aggressive"
As always, Google is trying to downplay this fact. The company's official statement stressed that Google has been working with "government agencies" to say that it seems to be working with the Ministry of Education and cooperation with the Department of Defense is no different.
Google also insisted that the contract is "non-offensive" to its technology.
It is unclear what "non-aggressive" in the end is. Of course, Google's technology may not belong to Skynet-like systems. When the network system using Google's artificial intelligence technology to detect enemy targets, it will order the UAV to automatically launch missiles.
But Google's definition of "non-aggressive" is clearly much narrower than most would have imagined.
Google's Artificial Intelligence technology will help UAV distinguish between full-student schools and bunkers guarded by gunmen. Yes, it depends on the judgment of the military analyst, and then decide whether to fight against the target. But if Google's role in the process is "non-aggressive," it's a bit self-deluding.
Google is jeopardizing its biggest asset
This is a big reversal of 180 degrees, at least this company has an unwritten "no evil" policy.
It is noteworthy that Eric Schmidt, former CEO and Chairman of Google, was appointed as member of the Pentagon Advisory Committee as early as March 2016 in order to introduce Silicon Valley's innovative technologies to the military square. In December 2017, Schmidt resigned as Alphabet's chairman in order to "deepen" the latest science, technology and philanthropy, but he remains on the board and holds the role of technical advisor.
No matter what the reason for the change in Google's attitude, which is worrying, because Google's largest asset is consumer trust. Specifically, the reason why this company is able to accumulate so much personal information about consumer life and hold that power is largely because consumers trust the founders Larry Page and Sergey - The purpose that Sergey Brin set out to start the company.
As Google and its parent Alphabet go deeper into our lives, as the founders grow older, we have reason to doubt if it still represents what it used to be.
Let me explain one thing. There is nothing wrong with Google's cooperation with the military. Many tech companies do this. Every company has the right to make such a decision. But Google made its choice many years ago and will not use its technology for war.
If Google wants to change its attitude, it is an act of backwardness. In particular, considering that Google is now a major developer of complex AI technologies, it owes the world an honest explanation of those employees who work on the technology.