Silicon Valley is going to have to overcome its doubts about providing artificial intelligence services to the military, said Alphabet board member and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Schmidt said AI would be useful for "defensive and perhaps offensive purposes" in the war, and developing the technology would have to be done with the help of the private sector. When Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) asked her how this would work considering the "reluctance" of technology companies to work with the Department of Defense, Schmidt suggested that companies would need to agree on acceptable standards.
"The industry is going to come up with a set of agreements on the principles of AI, what is the appropriate use, what is not, and I think there will be some kind of consensus among the main players in the industry about that," Schmidt said.
Schmidt, who resigned as president of Alphabet last December, but remains on the company's board, said he was speaking in a personal capacity and not as a representative of any company. But the "reluctance" mentioned by Stefanik allegedly includes objections from Google employees. After it was revealed in March that Google had been working with the DOD on artificial intelligence to analyze images of drones as part of an initiative called Project Maven, more than 3,000 employees signed a letter protesting the company's participation.
"We believe that Google should not be in the business of war," said the letter, which was addressed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. "We ask that the Maven Project be canceled, and that Google write, publish and apply a clear policy that establishes that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build war technology."
Google has said that the technology it is helping to develop is for "non-offensive uses only" and aims to mark images captured by surveillance drones for human inspection. However, there is no clear line between this use case and one that will result in deaths. The Pentagon says that the computer vision technology of the Maven Project is intended for deployment in war zones such as Iraq and Syria.
Schmidt told the committee that he did not participate in any decision-making about the Maven Project, but his comments suggest that Google is going to calculate accounts about its participation in the military AI. The letter produced by the company's employees said that such work would tarnish its brand, compromise its moral values and hinder the hiring of the best talent. But, as Schmidt makes clear, the US military. UU He has a great motivation to work with the best AI minds, and a good number of those who currently work for Google.
"The most important artificial intelligence companies in the world concentrate on gathering the data on which to train AI and human capital to support and execute AI operations," Schmidt said in his written testimony. "If the Department of Defense becomes" ready for IA ", it must continue along the path that paved the Maven Project and create a basis for similar projects to prosper … It is imperative that the Department center the energy and attention to take action now to ensure that the technologies are developed by the US military in an appropriate, ethical and responsible framework. "