Tech companies have had to grapple with increasing pressure over the past year from employees wary of the dangers of giving the US military their all-powerful tools, such as artificial intelligence.
Google, for example, saw a massive uproar from its employees after it was revealed that the company was working on Project Maven, a Pentagon project to use artificial intelligence to analyze drones. While Project Maven remains a degree away from AI-powered weaponry, it’s another step down a slippery slope, according to the 4,000 Google employees that signed a letter opposing their company’s cooperation with the US Defense Department. In June, Google said it would not renew their contract for the project.
Speaking after Trump troll farm founder Palmer Luckey at the defense forum was Microsoft President Brad Smith, who began by bloviating about cyber & talking about last year’s WannaCry malware: “In the history of humanity, there had never been a day of warfare quite like that.” pic.twitter.com/3HNHyaTlUv
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) December 3, 2018
On Saturday at the Ronald Reagan National Defense Forum, one panel spoke directly to the conundrum Silicon Valley finds itself in, caught between a public that is wary of a Terminator-like future of autonomous killbots and a Department of Defense with deep pockets and a growing hunger for AI’s applications to traditional tools of warfare.