Alphabet Inc Class C (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been fighting both internal and external controversy emanating from its contract with the US Department of Defense as well as its role in the military project dubbed Project Maven. In the project, Google will be tasked with developing Artificial Intelligence technology to be used in analyzing drone footage.
Internal petition to withdraw from the deal
Soon after the public got a tip of the deal, thousands of the company’s employees signed a petition to oppose the deal and have the company withdraw. The deal has greatly fractured the company’s workforce, prompted several internal exchanges and heated staff meetings. A number of employees have also resigned from the company.
The dispute has put Google in a hard position as it tries to reach a compromise between its salespeople who are out to rip from the contract and its scientists who have deep moral objections. The debate over Maven led to a petition which gathered around 4,000 signatures. The petitioners want the company to come up with a policy that bars its and its contractors from developing warfare technology.
The advertising strategy, which has steered much Google’s growth, has been widely criticized for invading the privacy of its user and supporting dubious websites. The company’s ambitions to grow in cloud-computing seem to be cultivating internal divisions over its investment in weaponry technology. Google stands to lose brainy experts in the field of artificial intelligence if it decides to proceed with the defense contract. On the other hand, turning down the offer will deprive it of huge businesses.
Addressing ethical issues
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In trying calm down the tension, Google defended the deal saying the results of the work to be done with Pentagon will not be used for any offensive purpose. The company’s explanation was however not sufficient to cool temperatures as it continued to witness resignations. Google seem to have felt the impact of the departures.
The company has now announced that it is developing ethical policies and guidelines that will guide on how it makes decisions that appertains future defense contracts. To be specific, the company says the new guidelines will prevent the of A.I in developing weaponry.