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Google Drone Military Involvement Sparks Resignations

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Google Drone Military Involvement Sparks Resignations




By John Lister on May, 15 2018 at 12:05PM EDT

Around a dozen Google employees have resigned over the company developing artificial intelligence for use with military drones. An internal petition against the work has reportedly been signed by 4,000 employees.


The protest is over Google's involvement in Project Maven, a program the US Department of Defense is developing to make better use of its aerial drones. It is said to collect so much video footage from its drones in war zones and other areas where the US has a military presence that it's not viable to have humans analyze all the material.


The idea of Project Maven is to use computers to look through the video and try to identify specific objects, including people. The initial goal is to put identified objects into 38 categories. The program also aims to track individuals' movements as they appear in footage from different locations.


Computer Makes Own Rules


The references to artificial intelligence and machine learning are because the computers wouldn't simply follow a programmed set of rules for identifying objects such as "something with two arms, two legs and a head is probably a person rather than a goat." Instead, the computers learn from their work and develop their own rules for recognizing and categorizing objects.


Google is one of the leading players in such machine learning. It's previously worked on projects where computers learned how to beat world champions in Go, a board game with so many possible moves that it's impossible to consider all their options. Instead, humans and computers alike need to develop effective rules of thumb to narrow the possibilities and find the ones most likely to be favorable.





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Project Mavin sounds a lot like Project Eagle Eye and Project Skynet. 

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