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Google Is Helping the Pentagon Build AI for Drones (gizmodo.com) 95

Google has partnered with the United States Department of Defense to help the agency develop artificial intelligence for analyzing drone footage, a move that set off a firestorm among employees of the technology giant when they learned of Google's involvement, Gizmodo reported on Tuesday. From the report: Google's pilot project with the Defense Department's Project Maven, an effort to identify objects in drone footage, has not been previously reported, but it was discussed widely within the company last week when information about the project was shared on an internal mailing list, according to sources who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the project. Some Google employees were outraged that the company would offer resources to the military for surveillance technology involved in drone operations, sources said, while others argued that the project raised important ethical questions about the development and use of machine learning.
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Google Is Helping the Pentagon Build AI for Drones

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  • "Don't be evil" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cahuenga ( 3493791 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2018 @11:39AM (#56216575)
    .... is the motto of Google's corporate code of conduct, first introduced around 2000. ...
    • There's a good article [regimental-standard.com] in the Regimental Standard about letting AI drive military drones being ungodly as well.

      • OK, while I have reservations about the Feds sending up drones and using AI to scan footage for the US public, I'm not so much having a problem with military functions IF, it is legislated that these can NOT be used over US airspace on the general public.

        But to a more broad topic, it seems that the majority of the Google workforce is against helping our military?

        Why would US citizen be against helping our military which in turn keeps us safe?

        • Is it that much of a leap to think that such technology will be used domestically for .. terror/drugs or whatever boogeyman can they can trot out to justify an erosion in privacy and personal liberty?

          I'm sorry, but a country which employs FISA courts to try citizens in total secrecy should not be trusted with spy drones; period.

          As far as legislation preventing their use domestically, or against the general public -- the government would have absolutely no issue finding or creating a loophole. (private contr

        • I'm not so much having a problem with military functions IF, it is legislated that these can NOT be used over US airspace on the general public.

          Because if there's one thing you can absolutely trust, it's that the federal government and the military always follow the law.
        • Legislation will not stop acts of counterintelligence directed at U.S. Citizens exercising the right to peacably assemble and petition for redress.
          As long as those citizens are not white and male, no one will care.
    • Common, it's a simple and obvious move to go from a leader in search to search and destroy.
    • One could easily argue that improved analysis of drone footage contributes to lessening evil on both sides.
    • by e70838 ( 976799 )
      It was the motto. This example shows why they have changed their motto.
    • .... is the motto of Google's corporate code of conduct, first introduced around 2000. ...

      That was Google's motto . . . they have since changed their corporate name to Alphabet

      Alphabet's motto is: "Do the right thing."

      (Go ahead and "alphabet" for Alphabet's motto, yuck, yuck.)

      Not right, as in right wing, but right as in:

      "You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

      Nietzsche's writings do an excellent job in describing the behavior of Silicon Valley companies . . . why do you think they called it

    • by bigpat ( 158134 )

      .... is the motto of Google's corporate code of conduct, first introduced around 2000. ...

      Google enables evil already in its search functionality. Just go ahead and Google "How to be evil" [google.com]

      Or would it be more evil to censor knowledge?

      Image recognition isn't itself evil (even guns themselves are not evil). It is just technology that could be used for good or evil. What people do with technology can be and usually eventually will be evil in some instances.

      In terms of the US government, I think it is very much a mixed bag of a history of good and evil. But I would say we are for the most part t

  • They're not using AI to control drones, but to analyze all the imagery collected by them.

    How is this different from, say, Facebook analyzing the photos you upload and picking out people that look like other people?

  • by tttonyyy ( 726776 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2018 @12:34PM (#56216925) Homepage Journal

    “There’s a general concern in the tech community of somehow the military-industrial complex using their stuff to kill people incorrectly”

    If there's ever a sentence where one word changes the entire context of a statement, it's that one - and the last word.

    That word is redundant from the perspective of the tech community, but extraordinarily menacing when tacked on to the statement like that.

    Don't be evil. Incorrectly.

    • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Tuesday March 06, 2018 @12:53PM (#56217067)

      The notion that not all killing is incorrect is not a new one.

      E.g. the sixth commandment is often incorrectly translated to 'thou shalt not kill' but is more accurately rendered as 'thou shalt not murder', as a Rabbi complains here :

      https://winteryknight.com/2010... [winteryknight.com]

      For me, one of the most irksome cases has always been the rendering of the sixth commandment as "Thou shalt not kill." In this form, the quote has been conscripted into the service of diverse causes, including those of pacifism, animal rights, the opposition to capital punishment, and the anti-abortion movement.

      Indeed, "kill" in English is an all-encompassing verb that covers the taking of life in all forms and for all classes of victims. That kind of generalization is expressed in Hebrew through the verb "harag." However, the verb that appears in the Torah's prohibition is a completely different one, " ratsah" which, it would seem, should be rendered "murder." This root refers only to criminal acts of killing.

      It is, of course, not just a question of etymology. Those ideologies that adduce the commandment in support of their gentle-hearted causes are compelled to feign ignorance of all those other places in the Bible that condone or command warfare, the slaughter of sacrificial animals, and an assortment of methods for inflicting capital punishment.

      Meaning there cases where killing is not murder - capital punishment, [wikipedia.org], justified wars, [wikipedia.org] and killing an intruder in your home [wikipedia.org].

      Those ancient hebrews were pretty damn based!

      • What do you expect from books that got translated from aramaic to greek and latin and then from greek and latin into english or german etc. ?

        Walking on the water is a phrase that means: strolling along the beach.

        A rich man can not go to paradise because a camel can not go through a needle ear: the needle ear is a small passage in Jerusalem, a full loaded camel does not fit threw it. So they get partly unloaded when they need to pass.

        I actually learned that in christian religion classes, seems most christian

        • Walking on the water is a phrase that means: strolling along the beach.

          So, Peter's lack of faith caused him to sink in sand? Or fall sideways into the water? Seems awfully hard to fail at strolling on the beach. I guess maybe that wind that scared him pushed him into the water.

          I've heard that "mistranslation" theory before, but it simply does not fit with the rest of the story. Unless you're saying it was the author of Matthew who heard the wrong translation and made the rest of the story up to fit. But if you assume that, you may as well not bother with the mistranslation p

          • A needle ear is the end of the needle where put the thread through for sewing. You never used a needle?

            Well, walking on water can also mean being on a draft.

            But I don't know the story, neither in german/english or original greek. But I thought Petrus was fishing in a boat, or not? He was asked to walk to Jesus literally over the water, not? So because he lacked in faith he sunk ... not really a contradiction. The question would be why Jesus challenged his faith. Perhaps to show him that faith is not magic?


            • A needle ear is the end of the needle where put the thread through for sewing. You never used a needle?

              Ah, you're a German speaker. The German word is Nadelöhr, so you're figuring that since ohr is "ear", öhr is also "ear". I don't think it is, though. I checked a couple of German/English dictionaries, and with two different German-speaking colleagues (one from Berlin, one from Vienna) and both agree that öhr is not the same as ohr.

              In English, however, there is no question. The hole in a needle is an eye.

              Oh, and yes, I learned to sew, both hand-stitching and with a machine, some 40 years a

              • Strange,
                I was certain I had looked up needle eye a view weeks ago and found needle ear in the dictionary.
                Strange tricks the mind does with you sometimes ...

      • by Whibla ( 210729 )

        This seems to be in concordance with my philosophy, one rule of which roughly translates as:

        0 It's not worth killing yourself over!
        0 It's not worth killing someone else over!
        0 All rules have exceptions!
        0 It is sometimes ok to kill!

  • There are many Non-lethal uses of drones.

    Tracking fires. Monitoring traffic. Surveying sites. Construction inspection. Search and rescue. Hundreds more uses that don't involve explosives.

    Take just about any job that used to require a Helicopter can now be done by drone more cheaply.

    • Except this article is specifically about military drones.
      • The military employs both armed drones and reconnaissance drones. The armed drones typically have pilot control whenever they are in a combat zone. They have almost no need for this technology. The reconnaissance drones on the other hand would be autonomous almost all the time. The Comanche may eventually carry these types of drones. Spotting terrorist movement and zoning in on actual combatants versus civilians could actually save lives, even for military drones.
  • - Sir! there's a missile coming in!

    - Fire our Google Enhanced countermeasures, soldier!

    (drone plays advertisement before launch)

    * * * No Carrier * * *

  • All war is negative and evil but the truth is that we are forced to live with wars just as our ancestors were. If an enemy creates or improves an element of war that you do not have you will be defeated. If there are AI drones on this planet we must be certain that we have the best drones and more drones deployed than an enemy. We can only hope that the drones will be sophisticated enough to eliminate more death of non combatants than current equipment. Think what would have happened if we did not ha
    • Then the japanese had surrendered a few month later or starved to death.

      The bombs were not dropped "to end the war".

      They were dropped to test them in action. There is a reason why the first was an uranium bomb and the second a plutonium bomb, and they dropped in so short succession.

      The war in the pacific was more or less already over before they got dropped.

      • Are you aware that a large Russian army was on the coat of China staged to invade Japan? If we had gone in on foot there would have been hundreds of thousands of American soldiers killed not to mention we might be at war with Russia trying to drive them out of Japan. If we simply surrounded them they would have times to make more weapons and train civilians to fight us. Dropping two atomic bombs was the most merciful available option. Even some Japanese have praised us for those bombings as the authori
        • If we had gone in on foot there would have been hundreds of thousands of American soldiers killed
          That is unlikely and going in on food was not the point, surround them and blockade them. Japan has no resources, except steel perhaps ... and they where starving to death already.
          However not losing the country to the Russians is a point. On the other hand they did not lose China to the Russians either.

  • nothing beats it. Seriously, you'll never meet a company that'll turn down a contract from the Pentagon.
  • You think just because Google is doing this it's something new or bad? The military has always worked with companies and universities to build advanced tech systems, including AI systems. This is nothing new. Why all of a sudden Google does it and it's news? I mean go to all the AI conferences and look at the papers and who funds them, It's all NSF, or DARPA or something government/military. Why do you think it's called the Military Industrial Complex.
    Where do you think all the self driving cars and system

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal