Google CEO met Pentagon leaders over AI project withdrawal: Reports

Moscow: Sundar Pichai, the CEO of tech giant Google, held a quiet meeting at the United States Department of Defence (DoD) seeking to ease tensions with the authorities over the company’s planned withdrawal from the project on providing the Pentagon with artificial intelligence (AI) tools for analysing drone footage, local media reported.

Pichai held talks with a group of civilian and military leaders from the office of the Under Secretary of Defence for Intelligence, which is in charge of overseeing the drone project, dubbed Project Maven, last week, the Washington Post newspaper reported on Friday, citing two people familiar with the meeting, speaking on the conditions of anonymity.

According to the outlet, a spokesperson for Google has not provided an immediate comment on the issue while a Pentagon spokesperson said the DoD did not comment on officials’ private meetings.

In June, the Gizmondo science news outlet reported that the high-tech company did not plan to renew its contract on Project Maven after it expires in 2019.

The reported decision followed the move by over 3,000 Google employees to launch a petition asking Pichai to pull out of the project since Google should not be involved in the business of war. The withdrawal also provoked criticism by US congressmen.

In June, Pichai set new strict ethical guidelines for the company which ban the use of AI technology in weapons.

Over the past years, various scientists, engineers, inventors, and human rights activists have called for a ban on the development of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) technology and use of AI in weapons.