After the project was exposed in March, a Google spokesman said that Maven will only be used in "non-aggressive" operations. Obviously, Google employees do not buy this argument.
The petition countered: "Although this eliminates a narrow set of direct applications, once the technology created for the military is delivered, it can easily be used to assist (military) missions. This plan will be given to Google. Brands and competition in the talent market have caused irreversible damage."
Although the name of nearly 4,000 employees was signed on the petition, Google’s management did not seem to be moved. Gizmodo reported that a large number of employees have chosen to resign on the grounds that the company has participated in the Maven project or is overly concerned with political decisions.
It is disappointing that Google said that the Maven project is actually based on open source software. According to Google, even if Google decides to withdraw from the contract, it cannot stop the Pentagon from using the technology.
At the same time, the International Armed Control of Robotics (ICRAC) was also involved in this incident. It wrote an open letter to Alphabet and Google executives to express support for the departing employees. ICRAC pointed out that Maven is a U.S. military project designed to use machine learning to analyze a large number of drone surveillance videos without human analysts providing interested objects. "Google not only provides open source 'deep learning' technology, but also for national defense. The Department provided engineering professional support and assistance."
ICRAC fears that over time, restrictions on AI will be marginalized and eventually disappear completely. It believes that this is an unavoidable situation, because military commanders will realize that if AI is made to make targeted decisions and other decisions, this process may be more efficient.
It remains to be seen whether this incident will affect Google. Losing talent is not a small issue for a company, especially when employees choose to resign because of a compelling project. This is really worth noting.