Tech giant Google will not seek to renew its contract with the U.S. Department of Defense for a drone project that has sparked criticism among employees.
Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene announced the decision regarding what is known as Project Maven at a meeting on Friday, according to Gizmodo, which cited three sources. The initial contract, which is set to expire in 2019, was signed when the company was more focused on pursuing military work, Greene reportedly said, but employee backlash has sparked the decision not to renew.
Project Maven is an artificial intelligence program designed to use data captured by government drones to identify and track objects viewed on surveillance footage. Google workers were concerned about how the application could be weaponized once under ownership of the U.S. military.
As previously reported by FOX Business, Google’s employees have expressed unease about creating products for the U.S. government.
More than 3,000 of the tech giant’s employees signed a letter, released in April, addressed to company CEO Sundar Pichai, protesting involvement in a Pentagon pilot program called Project Maven.
“We believe that Google should not be in the business of war. Therefore we ask that Project Maven be cancelled, and that Google draft, publicize and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology,” the letter, obtained by The New York Times, read.
The company said last month it would create a code of ethics to guide the company’s use of its technology products.
Meanwhile, the tech giant is in the running for another Pentagon contract for cloud services, which could span a decade and will likely be its largest yet – valued in the billions of dollars. The JEDI cloud contract aims to fully integrate all military services.
Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle are viewed as the top contenders for the job.