Google bars uses of its artificial intelligence tech in weapons

Published : 19:57, Jun 08, 2018 | Updated : 20:01, Jun 08, 2018

The logo of Google is pictured during the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 25, 2018. REUTERSGoogle will not allow its artificial intelligence software to be used in weapons or unreasonable surveillance efforts under new standards for its business decisions in the nascent field, the Alphabet Inc unit said on Thursday.
The restriction could help Google management defuse months of protest by thousands of employees against the company’s work with the U.S. military to identify objects in drone video.
Google instead will seek government contracts in areas such as cybersecurity, military recruitment and search and rescue, Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in a blog post on Thursday.
“We want to be clear that while we are not developing AI for use in weapons, we will continue our work with governments and the military in many other areas,” he said.
Breakthroughs in the cost and performance of advanced computers have carried AI from research labs into industries such as defense and health in the last couple of years. Google and its big technology rivals have become leading sellers of AI tools, which enable computers to review large datasets to make predictions and identify patterns and anomalies faster than humans could.
But the potential of AI systems to pinpoint drone strikes better than military specialists or identify dissidents from mass collection of online communications has sparked concerns among academic ethicists and Google employees.
A Google official, requesting anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue, said the company would not have joined the drone project last year had the principles already been in place. The work comes too close to weaponry, even though the focus is on non-offensive tasks, the official said on Thursday.