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posted by takyon on Monday March 18 2019, @08:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the google-brass dept.

Submitted via IRC for soysheep9857

There are many reasons to be critical of Google. But on Thursday, General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stopped just short of accusing the tech giant of treason.

Dunford's incendiary comments came during a budgetary hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee this afternoon. During his time for questioning, freshman Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, turned to the subject of Google's decision to back away from projects with the Pentagon. Hawley asked the panel if he understood the situation correctly and that the men were saying, "that Google, an American company, supposedly, is refusing to work with the Department of Defense, but is doing work with China, in China, in a way that at least indirectly benefits the Chinese government."

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan tempered that assertion, explaining that he hasn't heard anyone use the word "refuse," but that Google has shown "a lack of willingness to support DOD programs."

But General Dunford was more open to going on the attack. When given the chance to elaborate on his concerns, he told Senator Hawley:

You know, senator, I'm nodding my head on exactly the point that you made: that the work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefitting the Chinese military. And I've been very public on this issue as well; in fact, the way I described it to our industry partners is, 'look we're the good guys in the values that we represent and the system that we represent is the one that will allow and has allowed you to thrive,' and that's the way I've characterized it. I was just nodding that what the secretary was articulating is the general sense of all of us as leaders. We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing there is that indirect benefit, and frankly 'indirect' may be not a full characterization of the way it really is. It's more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military.

Source: https://gizmodo.com/pentagon-brass-bafflingly-accuses-google-of-providing-d-1833302885

Related: Google Employees on Pentagon AI Algorithms: "Google Should Not be in the Business of War"
About a Dozen Google Employees Have Resigned Over Project Maven
Google Drafting Ethics Policy for its Involvement in Military Projects
Google Will Not Continue Project Maven After Contract Expires in 2019
Microsoft Misrepresented HoloLens 2 Field of View, Faces Backlash for Military Contract


Original Submission

Related Stories

Google Employees on Pentagon AI Algorithms: "Google Should Not be in the Business of War" 65 comments

We had submissions from two Soylentils concerning recent employee reaction to Google's participation in the Pentagon's "Project Maven" program:

Google Workers Urge C.E.O. to Pull Out of Pentagon A.I. Project

Submitted via IRC for fyngyrz

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company's involvement in a Pentagon program that uses artificial intelligence to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes.

The letter [pdf], which is circulating inside Google and has garnered more than 3,100 signatures, reflects a culture clash between Silicon Valley and the federal government that is likely to intensify as cutting-edge artificial intelligence is increasingly employed for military purposes.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/technology/google-letter-ceo-pentagon-project.html

Google Employees on Pentagon AI Algorithms: "Google Should Not be in the Business of War"

Thousands of Google employees have signed a letter protesting the development of "Project Maven", which would use machine learning algorithms to analyze footage from U.S. military drones:

About a Dozen Google Employees Have Resigned Over Project Maven 70 comments

Google Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract

It's been nearly three months since many Google employees—and the public—learned about the company's decision to provide artificial intelligence to a controversial military pilot program known as Project Maven, which aims to speed up analysis of drone footage by automatically classifying images of objects and people. Now, about a dozen Google employees are resigning in protest over the company's continued involvement in Maven.

[...] The employees who are resigning in protest, several of whom discussed their decision to leave with Gizmodo, say that executives have become less transparent with their workforce about controversial business decisions and seem less interested in listening to workers' objections than they once did. In the case of Maven, Google is helping the Defense Department implement machine learning to classify images gathered by drones. But some employees believe humans, not algorithms, should be responsible for this sensitive and potentially lethal work—and that Google shouldn't be involved in military work at all.

Previously: Google vs Maven
Google Employees on Pentagon AI Algorithms: "Google Should Not be in the Business of War"


Original Submission

Google Drafting Ethics Policy for its Involvement in Military Projects 26 comments

Google promises ethical principles to guide development of military AI

Google is drawing up a set of guidelines that will steer its involvement in developing AI tools for the military, according to a report from The New York Times. What exactly these guidelines will stipulate isn't clear, but Google says they will include a ban on the use of artificial intelligence in weaponry. The principles are expected to be announced in full in the coming weeks. They are a response to the controversy over the company's decision to develop AI tools for the Pentagon that analyze drone surveillance footage.

[...] But the question facing these employees (and Google itself) is: where do you draw the line? Does using machine learning to analyze surveillance footage for the military count as "weaponized AI"? Probably not. But what if that analysis informs future decisions about drone strikes? Does it matter then? How would Google even know if this had happened?

Also at VentureBeat and Engadget.

Previously: Google vs Maven
Google Employees on Pentagon AI Algorithms: "Google Should Not be in the Business of War"
About a Dozen Google Employees Have Resigned Over Project Maven


Original Submission

Google Will Not Continue Project Maven After Contract Expires in 2019 19 comments

We have recently covered the fact that some Google employees had resigned because of the company's involvement in an AI-related weapons project called Maven. Many thought that the resignations, whilst being a noble gesture, would amount to nothing - but we were wrong...

Leaked Emails Show Google Expected Lucrative Military Drone AI Work To Grow Exponentially

Google has sought to quash the internal dissent in conversations with employees. Diane Greene, the chief executive of Google’s cloud business unit, speaking at a company town hall meeting following the revelations, claimed that the contract was “only” for $9 million, according to the New York Times, a relatively minor project for such a large company.

Internal company emails obtained by The Intercept tell a different story. The September emails show that Google’s business development arm expected the military drone artificial intelligence revenue to ramp up from an initial $15 million to an eventual $250 million per year.

In fact, one month after news of the contract broke, the Pentagon allocated an additional $100 million to Project Maven.

The internal Google email chain also notes that several big tech players competed to win the Project Maven contract. Other tech firms such as Amazon were in the running, one Google executive involved in negotiations wrote. (Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.) Rather than serving solely as a minor experiment for the military, Google executives on the thread stated that Project Maven was “directly related” to a major cloud computing contract worth billions of dollars that other Silicon Valley firms are competing to win.

However, Google has had a major rethink.

Microsoft Misrepresented HoloLens 2 Field of View, Faces Backlash for Military Contract 39 comments

Microsoft Significantly Misrepresented HoloLens 2's Field of View at Reveal

To significant anticipation, Microsoft revealed HoloLens 2 earlier this week at MWC 2019. By all accounts it looks like a beautiful and functional piece of technology and a big step forward for Microsoft's AR initiative. All of which makes it unfortunate that the company didn't strive to be clearer when illustrating one of the three key areas in which the headset is said to be improved over its predecessor. [...] For field of view—how much of your view is covered by the headset's display—[Alex] Kipman said that HoloLens 2 delivers "more than double" the field of view of the original HoloLens.

Within the AR and VR markets, the de facto descriptor used when talking about a headset's field of view is an angle specified to be the horizontal, vertical, or diagonal extent of the device's display from the perspective of the viewer. When I hear that one headset has "more than double" the field of view of another, it says to me that one of those angles has increased by a factor of ~2. It isn't perfect by any means, but it's how the industry has come to define field of view.

It turns out that's not what Kipman meant when he said "more than double." I reached out to Microsoft for clarity and found that what he was actually referring to was not a field of view angle, rather the field of view area, but that wasn't explained in the presentation at all, just (seemingly intentionally) vague statements of "more than twice the field of view."

[...] But then Kipman moved onto a part of the presentation which visually showed the difference between the field of view of HoloLens 1 and HoloLens 2, and that's when things really became misleading.

Microsoft chief defends controversial military HoloLens contract

Microsoft employees objecting to a US Army HoloLens contract aren't likely to get many concessions from their company's leadership. CEO Satya Nadella has defended the deal in a CNN interview, arguing that Microsoft made a "principled decision" not to deny technology to "institutions that we have elected in democracies to protect the freedoms we enjoy." The exec also asserted that Microsoft was "very transparent" when securing the contract and would "continue to have that dialogue" with staff.

Also at UploadVR, Ars Technica, and The Hill.

See also: Stick to Your Guns, Microsoft

Previously: U.S. Army Awards Microsoft a $480 Million HoloLens Contract
Microsoft Announces $3,500 HoloLens 2 With Wider Field of View and Other Improvements

Related: Google Drafting Ethics Policy for its Involvement in Military Projects
Google Will Not Continue Project Maven After Contract Expires in 2019


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @08:24PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @08:24PM (#816611)

    Dance for your masters, boy...

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Sulla on Monday March 18 2019, @08:27PM

    by Sulla (5173) on Monday March 18 2019, @08:27PM (#816612) Journal

    Google backed out of their contracts with the US military and hid their contracts to help the Chinese restrict their peoples freedoms. The further repressed the Chinese people are, the greater power their government has. Multinational corporations, even liberal ones, have no loyalty except the mighty dollar and going concern.

    --
    Ceterum censeo Sinae esse delendam
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @08:40PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @08:40PM (#816615)

    It sounds like he's saying that they help the USA, and they help China. This is fine.

    It sounds like he's complaining that helping china kinda helps the CPC's PLA. If he wants me to care he'll need to be a lot more specific. I assume if he did explain how it benefited the PLA it'd be in the summary.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bob_super on Monday March 18 2019, @09:26PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Monday March 18 2019, @09:26PM (#816636)

      Technically, any time any American buys anything "Made In China", they assist the PLA.
      Similarly, any time any Chinese buys anything actually "Made in USA", the assist the US military.

      Amazing how globalization works.

  • (Score: 2, Touché) by Improbus on Monday March 18 2019, @08:44PM (7 children)

    by Improbus (6425) on Monday March 18 2019, @08:44PM (#816617)

    The problem with the US at present is a LACK of leadership. What it has is a cadre of ancient political parasites. Someone should apply a topical antibiotic.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @08:54PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @08:54PM (#816621)

      Jefferson recommended revolution early and revolution often.

      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Tuesday March 19 2019, @12:39AM

        by HiThere (866) on Tuesday March 19 2019, @12:39AM (#816733) Journal

        I think that was Patrick Henry.

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
    • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Monday March 18 2019, @11:04PM

      by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 18 2019, @11:04PM (#816689) Journal

      At present?!

      Methinks it's been a fair while since there's been REAL leadership.

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @04:04AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @04:04AM (#816789)

      What it has is a cadre of ancient political parasites. Someone should apply a topical antibiotic.

      That's what the orange haired freak was hired to be, and the political parasites are screaming even though he hasn't done anything to them.

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @05:32AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @05:32AM (#816820)

        even though he hasn't done anything to them.

        Really? To most of us it looks like he's trapped them in his dutch oven of corruption.

      • (Score: 1) by Improbus on Tuesday March 19 2019, @06:19PM

        by Improbus (6425) on Tuesday March 19 2019, @06:19PM (#817076)

        Solve a parasite problem by adding a leech. Good job.

      • (Score: 1) by Improbus on Monday March 25 2019, @04:59PM

        by Improbus (6425) on Monday March 25 2019, @04:59PM (#819618)

        The orange haired freak is not an ancient political parasite ... just an ancient parasite. Just ask any of his vendors or contractors.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Monday March 18 2019, @09:28PM (6 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Monday March 18 2019, @09:28PM (#816638)

    It ain't treason, it's unashamed, unabashed capitalism. Those would should be sued for treason are our elected officials, you entrust private corporations - whose sole agenda is to pander to their shareholder's unquenchable thirst for money without any concern for morals or restraints - with public tasks and management of the commons.

    • (Score: 0, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @09:56PM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @09:56PM (#816661)

      If you people would just stop using the word "capitalism" in the wrong way you would be far more effective and getting people to listen to you.

      Try this: Go on your rants without using the terms "capitalist", "capitalism" or "free markets". Instead just describe what is going on. Misusing those terms only distracts from your correct description of what is happening.

      • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @11:05PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @11:05PM (#816690)

        Try this: Go on your rants without using the terms "capitalist", "capitalism" or "free markets".

        Um, you first?

        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @11:11PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @11:11PM (#816694)

          I don't think I have ever used those terms except in response to someone using them to complain about some sort of crony-socialist activity.

          I mean, the same people are just going to keep scamming you until you figure out what is going on.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 19 2019, @05:31AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 19 2019, @05:31AM (#816817) Journal
          I have to agree with the grandparent. I've mentioned capitalism on my own initiative a few times, but usually it's in response to someone without a clue, often reciting a litany of woe concerning the term while getting virtually everything wrong. A classic example of this is my journal article [soylentnews.org] of about a year and a half ago. It's one thing to be off on scale, say thinking something is worse than it actually is. But it's a much more pathetic thing to not even get the sign right, over and over again. While I like Roscoe's posts for the most part, let's look at his post again.

          [Rosco P. Coltrane:] It ain't treason, it's unashamed, unabashed capitalism. Those would should be sued for treason are our elected officials, you entrust private corporations - whose sole agenda is to pander to their shareholder's unquenchable thirst for money without any concern for morals or restraints - with public tasks and management of the commons.

          First, one doesn't sue for treason. Second, it's elected officials with public funds and public goods (the commons). That's not capitalism, which remains any economic system with private ownership of capital and all that entails.

      • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @12:17AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @12:17AM (#816720)

        triggered!

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @01:22AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @01:22AM (#816748)

          Oh well, some people are just too dumb to figure it out. Have fun being angry and poor since you refuse to understand how you are being scammed.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @09:35PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @09:35PM (#816648)

    Keep watching here, maybe this group will figure out the answer?

    https://www.youtube.com/ChinaUncensored [youtube.com]

    The other place I watch is NewsChina http://www.newschinamag.com/ [newschinamag.com]

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by JoeMerchant on Monday March 18 2019, @09:41PM (1 child)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday March 18 2019, @09:41PM (#816655)

    Any commercial service provider used by the Chinese military, for pay or free, is providing direct benefit to them, or the Chinese military is hurting themselves intentionally...

    Is Google providing them any benefits they do not also provide to any/all other Google users?

    If the Chinese military uses Google Docs as a chat application, does that ruffle the General's feathers? If they look at maps and see the road network infrastructure surrounding "key US military installations" - is that a problem?

    Hell, I worked at a drone development company and we sold weapons and recon capable self-navigating aircraft to foreign governments and militaries - that's what commercial companies do: sell stuff, to pretty much anyone they are allowed to. We also had annual visits from the local FBI office, but that didn't change where our paychecks were coming from: foreign militaries.

    --
    Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://www.newsweek.com/russian-state-tv-ukraine-war-dirty-bomb-putin-1754428
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @12:21PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @12:21PM (#816921)

      This.
      Senator, you want the sale/service of something sold/provided to be illegal? Make it illegal (ITAR, sanctions, etc.). Full stop.
      You want to compel Google to sell the US military technology? Compel them (wartime measures).

      Oh, you don't want to do either of these things? You think a rousing speech will appropriately shame a publicly traded company in going against its stated policies and adopt your policies instead? Good luck.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by MostCynical on Monday March 18 2019, @09:58PM (3 children)

    by MostCynical (2589) on Monday March 18 2019, @09:58PM (#816664) Journal

    the World Series is just the USA
    Mr Universe similar

    Surely "global" means "just for American benefit"

    And, being a good military brass person: "damned commies"

    --
    "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by PartTimeZombie on Monday March 18 2019, @10:13PM (2 children)

      by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Monday March 18 2019, @10:13PM (#816674)

      The US military needs enemies, or the money tap might be turned off. China is a good enemy to create because they aren't like us.

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @11:08PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @11:08PM (#816693)

        The US military needs enemies

        This is very true. That's why the government is slowly turning on its citizens. The first steps have been the military providing "surplus" vehicles and weapons to local police.

        We have met the enemy, and they are us.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by PartTimeZombie on Tuesday March 19 2019, @12:47AM

          by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Tuesday March 19 2019, @12:47AM (#816738)

          I suppose if the US is busy killing it's own citizens the people of Central America, South America, Asia and the Middle East might get a break.

          In reality the military budget is going to be increased again this year, so the US will have no problem killing all the people they want, at home and abroad.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by RamiK on Monday March 18 2019, @10:06PM (3 children)

    by RamiK (1813) on Monday March 18 2019, @10:06PM (#816669)

    They're paying taxes in China. Which goes to the Chinese government. Which goes to the Chinese military. Which is indirectly assisting the Chinese military.

    Conclusion: Every profitable American company operating in China is guilty of treason.

    --
    compiling...
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @10:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @10:35PM (#816678)

      Wait, I thought that the big tech companies managed to not pay taxes to anyone...

      Are you sure they pay taxes in China? Citation needed!

    • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Thursday March 21 2019, @03:46PM (1 child)

      by Rivenaleem (3400) on Thursday March 21 2019, @03:46PM (#817997)

      When did the US declare war on China? Did I miss this announcement somewhere? Does not the US constitution define Treason as "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."
      When did China officially become an enemy of the state?

      • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Friday March 22 2019, @01:13PM

        by RamiK (1813) on Friday March 22 2019, @01:13PM (#818383)

        Most of those distinctions got watered down along the war-on-communism, the war-on-drugs and more recently the war-on-terror. I believe the issues started when the traditional 1st (NATO), 2nd (WARSAW) and 3rd world (everyone else) lines were drawn but the US wanted to topple a few 3rd world nations' leaders that were too 2nd world friendly and dared dealing with both sides... If you look here [wikipedia.org] you'll find all sorts of wars the US is or was engaged in during the years you never knew about. What's more, many of those were never officially ended...

        --
        compiling...
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Monday March 18 2019, @10:11PM

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday March 18 2019, @10:11PM (#816672) Journal

    If Google is nearly treasonous in China with its near-zero presence, what about the U.S. companies that are actually in that market?

    --
    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Monday March 18 2019, @10:55PM

    Is Gizmodo really that detached from reality? Probably not. Given the response here, it certainly had the clickbait response it hoped for.

    I find it odd that we can't seem to remember what happened in the distant past...You know, like nine months ago.

    I mean, I know it's fashionable to ignore history, but it was less thsn a year ago [zdnet.com] that thousands Google employees in the US protested their employer's involvement in Pentagon projects. And Google, fearing a huge backlash amongst their US staff, backed off.

    And of course there were similar massive protests from Google's Chinese employees...In Bizarro World [wikipedia.org].

    All this sturm and drang and no one even considers the recent past? Geez Louise!

    It's not a conspiracy. It's not even a plot. Heck, it's not even a prank. Sigh.

    --
    No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @11:41PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18 2019, @11:41PM (#816706)

    "you restrict what Chinese can view, we expect you do the same here". "we cant force you to do this, that pesky Constitution, but we can make it hard for you if you dont"

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @04:22AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @04:22AM (#816797)

    One guy is so dumb, he said "what's that smell" after he farted. The other one shat on his hands and said, "it's not you, it's me".

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @09:01AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @09:01AM (#816863)

    Google is originally In-Q-Tel, technically a CIA. That means, it would be a treason of Langley against Pentagon... Do you really believe that? Remember, always follow the money, employees are just a tool for some purpose.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @03:12PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @03:12PM (#816973)

    any headline that says 'bafflingly' or otherwise tries to sow discord and confusion about something *political*, without first investigating it... just no.

    say no to gizmondo and sites like it. they are not for our level of intellect. there's a sniff test and they do not smell good normally. they are just so... so 'mainstream hipster'.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @11:16PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 19 2019, @11:16PM (#817164)

      Bingo. Headlines like that are when a "journalist" has chosen sides and presents their value judgements of the involved parties and their actions as facts. It is somewhere much nearer to an opinion piece or propaganda than to journalism.

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