Google CEO Sundar Pichai (pictured) said the tech giant will not pursue the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in weapons or surveillance, following pressure from employees to withdraw from a project with the US government around developing tools which analyse drone surveillance footage.
Employees last month wrote a letter to Pichai stating Google “should not be in the business of war” and should cancel its involvement in Project Maven, which they described as an AI surveillance engine that uses data captured by US government drones to detect vehicles and other objects, track their motions, and provide results to the Department of Defence.
In a blog post titled “AI at Google: our principles” Pichai said the company will avoid technology which gathers or uses information for surveillance.
He also said it will not develop weapons or other technologies “whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people”, adding that “as a leader in AI, we feel a deep responsibility to get this right”.
However, he stated Google will continue its work with governments and the military in other areas including cybersecurity, training, military recruitment and veteran healthcare.
Pichai said the company wants to focus on areas beneficial to society such as healthcare, energy and transportation. It also aims to design systems in accordance with best practices in safety research and incorporate privacy design principles.
Last month Google also faced an ethical AI controversy over its Duplex System, which makes calls on behalf of users but in a demo did not identify itself as non-human.