Google explains AI conflict with US Defence Department

Alphabet subsidiary Google says that it can compete for the right to help the US military with artificial intelligence and robotics without violating its Code of Conduct, but that it plans to hire more people from the defence industry as a result.

Speaking at the Pacific Council on International Policy on Monday, Wendell Koo, co-executive chairman of Alphabet Inc’s (nee Google) search engine division, Google Cloud, said that those involved in designing and conducting the country’s military operations will be treated the same as any other business would be.

The lack of being able to recruit staff from the defence sector has been a main concern for tech companies – especially since the US pulled its troops out of Afghanistan in December 2018 and plans to pull even more out of Iraq later this year.

Google recently responded to protests by drawing a line between government and industry work by hiring one Pentagon employee, known as “Googler No. 007”, who had raised concerns about potential privacy threats posed by Google’s involvement in the military.

Then, in September last year, Google’s leadership said it would ditch its autonomous car project due to concerns about safety and privacy.

Mr Koo said that Google will avoid the ethical minefield that comes with military work because there will be “a formal compliance mechanism”, according to the Washington Post.

He added that Google’s core business is not one that falls under the Department of Defence, making it harder for it to specifically exclude those with government contracts from being involved in AI and robotics work.

Google, according to Mr Koo, will also design its products differently to create a safeguard for privacy.

“We will work with the military but will ensure that the ethics will guide the work,” he said.

He also said that Google is in the process of hiring more Pentagon contractors, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Koh Joon-Woo, Google’s general counsel, said that the company will add 15 more employees who have experience working in the defence industry.

Google was not the only tech firm seeking to work with the Pentagon. Microsoft last November announced plans to make ​​​​its cloud​ ​available to ​the ​​US​ ​Department of Defense by the end of 2019.

The goal is to assist the US Department of Defence, ​​Department of Veterans Affairs and ​​the ​​​Department of ​​Interior in the ​​​modernisation​ ​of ​​data​ ​and ​services​ ​for ​​​emerging ​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​defenses​ ​​and ​​protection​ ​​at​ ​​valuable​ ​​​​​​ ​​pets.

Leave a Comment