Resignations over Google involvement in analysing drone footage classifying images of people

Yesterdays post on Flaw with Foodstuffs facial recognition showed how face recognition is being used in supermarkets to try to identify shop lifters.

On a much different scale, concerns are being raised by Google’s involvement in a US project that is analysing drone footage of people and objects.

Gizmodo: Google Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract

It’s been nearly three months since many Google employees—and the public—learned about the company’s decision to provide artificial intelligence to a controversial military pilot program known as Project Maven, which aims to speed up analysis of drone footage by automatically classifying images of objects and people.

Now, about a dozen Google employees are resigning in protest over the company’s continued involvement in Maven.

The resigning employees’ frustrations range from particular ethical concerns over the use of artificial intelligence in drone warfare to broader worries about Google’s political decisions—and the erosion of user trust that could result from these actions.

Google has already imaged the world, and some of that has been controversial – they now blank out some details like faces and car registration plates, but they still have that information.

Google also has a huge amount of data on people’s searching and browsing habits.

So getting involved in drone imaging and warfare justifiably raises concerns.

In the case of Maven, Google is helping the Defense Department implement machine learning to classify images gathered by drones. But some employees believe humans, not algorithms, should be responsible for this sensitive and potentially lethal work—and that Google shouldn’t be involved in military work at all.

There is no way of knowing how much Google is working with governments and military matters.

In addition to the resignations, nearly 4,000 Google employees have voiced their opposition to Project Maven in an internal petition that asks Google to immediately cancel the contract and institute a policy against taking on future military work.

However, the mounting pressure from employees seems to have done little to sway Google’s decision—the company has defended its work on Maven and is thought to be one of the lead contenders for another major Pentagon cloud computing contract, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, better known as JEDI, that is currently up for bids.

the resigning employees believe that Google’s work on Maven is fundamentally at odds with the company’s do-gooder principles. “It’s not like Google is this little machine-learning startup that’s trying to find clients in different industries,” a resigning employee said. “It just seems like it makes sense for Google and Google’s reputation to stay out of that.”

Many Google employees first learned the company was working on Maven when word of the controversial project began to spread internally in late February. At the time, a Google spokesperson told Gizmodo that the company was in the process of drafting “policies and safeguards” around its use of machine learning, but that policy document has yet to materialize, sources said.

One employee explained that Google staffers were promised an update on the ethics policy within a few weeks, but that progress appeared to be locked in a holding pattern. The ethical concerns “should have been addressed before we entered this contract,” the employee said.

In addition to the petition circulating inside Google, the Tech Workers Coalition launched a petition in April demanding that Google abandon its work on Maven and that other major tech companies, including IBM and Amazon, refuse to work with the U.S. Defense Department.

“We can no longer ignore our industry’s and our technologies’ harmful biases, large-scale breaches of trust, and lack of ethical safeguards,” the petition reads. “These are life and death stakes.”

More than 90 academics in artificial intelligence, ethics, and computer science released an open letter today that calls on Google to end its work on Project Maven and to support an international treaty prohibiting autonomous weapons systems.

This is a big deal, but most of the people will continue to feed the Google data machine oblivious to what Google is doing with the US military.

Not only is this collaboration a concern, it also poses risks. I presume Google has decent security on it’s data but what if they were hacked or data was handed over to another country?

“Russia interference in elections is ‘warfare'”

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia used cyber-enabled means in an attempt to help President Donald Trump win the White House, an allegation the Kremlin has denied.

“We have to be so hard on this and we have to hold them accountable,” Haley said during a panel discussion with former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice held by the George W. Bush Institute in New York on Thursday.

“When a country can come interfere in another country’s elections that is warfare. It really is, because you’re making sure that the democracy shifts from what the people want,” she said. “This is their new weapon of choice and we have to get in front of it.”

That seems at odds with President Trump.