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Google Promises Its AI Will Not Be Used For Weapons ( 102

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Google, reeling from an employee protest over the use of artificial intelligence for military purposes, said Thursday that it would not use A.I. for weapons or for surveillance that violates human rights (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). But it will continue to work with governments and the military. The new rules were part of a set of principles Google unveiled relating to the use of artificial intelligence. In a company blog post, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive, laid out seven objectives for its A.I. technology, including "avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias" and "be socially beneficial."

Google also detailed applications of the technology that the company will not pursue, including A.I. for "weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people" and "technologies that gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms of human rights." But Google said it would continue to work with governments and military using A.I. in areas including cybersecurity, training and military recruitment. "We recognize that such powerful technology raises equally powerful questions about its use. How A.I. is developed and used will have a significant impact on society for many years to come," Mr. Pichai wrote.

Google Promises Its AI Will Not Be Used For Weapons

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    • by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @05:00PM (#56745446)

      well to be fair, they do constantly tell us they respect our privacy, and do everything to protect our personal data. So i think we should totally give them a pass on this one.

      • They didn't say they wouldn't use AI against the users of Google though!! That, of course, they will do.
    • by JMJimmy ( 2036122 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @05:02PM (#56745464)

      As long as they double pinky superduper promise!

      Like they promised not to be evil...

    • I was going to say " bullshit "
    • They don't have to "let" the military use it. If they do a contract and the military gains the technology... they will do whatever the hell they want with it.
      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        Um, no. That's not how defense contracting works, unless the military paid them to develop it with Government Purpose Rights, or an "unlimited" rights can look up the terms.

    • Oh, it will be totally true. For Google. A wholly-owned subsidiary that "licenses" Google's AI technology on the other hand.....

      • And how about not partaking in a panopticon to continuously live-track every person, their locations, and what they are doing and buying and viewing, and their metadata AKA networks of contacts, which the Tyrant King George during the revolutionary war would have used to quickly round up the founding fathers?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      [Anonymous because familiar w/ Maven]

      It is true. Civilian departments have been more involved with it prior to DoD. To my knowledge it isn't used in any part of any firing chain for USA/USN/USMC. Unsure about USAF or SOCOM.

      In terms of end state functionality, think more "sound the alarm" than "here, shoot this"

  • by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @04:53PM (#56745402) Homepage

    It will just be used to target weapons, someone will still have to push the button. For now.

  • Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OneHundredAndTen ( 1523865 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @04:53PM (#56745404)
    Until it is not convenient any longer - after all, the "Don't Be Evil" motto is gone.
  • They will do what the federal government says whether they or anyone else likes it or not and they will keep quiet about it at best, lie blatantly about it at worst. We need to stop this program and we aren't gonna get Google's help doing it. They are powerless in this situation.

  • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @05:01PM (#56745454) Journal
    Just like they said "Don't be evil".

    Guess what? You're dealing with the military. They write a contract for you to develop a specific product. Part of that contract is complete documentation on how to create the product they contracted you for. Once you deliver on the contract, it's not up to you anymore how that product is used, no matter what you might have to say about it. If they want to integrate it into a weapons system, that's tough shit for you and your ethics.
  • Almost everything in this world can be weaponised, so stop BS'ing us, Google. You create technologies which will be used by military in one way or another.

    Luckily we're not yet even remotely close to "intelligence" (which scientists have yet to define), so I'm glad this announcement is a sort of relief for some extremely gulliable people who cannot sleep at night after reading news headlines about an impending doom 'caused by Teminator like machines.

    • Luckily we're not yet even remotely close to "intelligence" (which scientists have yet to define)

      If you don't have a definition, how do you know we're not even remotely close ?

    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      The military can't just use their technologies (other than maybe free things like search) w/o permission.

  • There was a time some years ago when I would have thought this was a good thing. Now I regard it as a cheap publicity stunt, possibly over a base of real fear and cowardice.

    Easiest place to start is the basis for fear. If we create a general AI dedicated to the religion of corporate cancerism, and if that AI escapes into a world of robots and self-driving cars, then at some point it is inevitable that the AI would realize that human beings are interfering with its overriding program to maximize profits. Of

    • then at some point it is inevitable that the AI would realize that human beings are interfering with its overriding program to maximize profits

      Whoa there, Sparky. What, specifically, is the thought process here?

      The profits come from selling products or services. AIs aren't legal entities. They can't have bank accounts, and can't own property, and thus don't have the ability to pay for anything. An AI can only pay when linked to a human that owns the money.

      So your escaped AI needs humans to fulfill it's goal.

      And we are pretty easy to manipulate, so "forcefully extracting" purchases would be significantly more expensive than convincing us we nee

      • by shanen ( 462549 )

        I'll write an actual reply if you say something relevant to what I actually wrote. Alternatively, if you can't understand it, then your options include asking for clarification or saying nothing.

      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        They can't have bank accounts, and can't own property, and thus don't have the ability to pay for anything.

        We've already got people battling for legal right for animals, akin to rights currently given to humans. At what point beyond the Turing test passage do you think it will begin for AI?

  • .... that's an easy promise to keep.

    The fact that they may develop future AI which might be used for weapons wouldn't invalidate the promise at the time that it is given.

    They can even further get around it by not calling any future version of AI that may be weaponizable "their" AI... but AI that they developed for someone else.

  • When do they close the data centers that are helping the NSA spy on Americans? We will spy on you and destroy you, but the military isn't allowed to help. Google is a stupid company. They could careless about their investors, they would let another country invade, in fact, probably help them all in the name of empowering women. This company is headed down the drain and I would recommend shorting their stock. This isn't going to last.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Lockheed Martin, Boeing, etc have been using AI / Machine Learning / Neural Networks on weapon system for a long time. Sure a human still âoepushes the button,â but that is irrelevant. Targets are detected, identified, and prioritized in order of threat by the system, and in the case of non-ABTâ(TM)s, automatically engaged.

    This type of âoeAIâ has been around since before Google existed. They really need to get over themselves.

    Source- aerospace engineer working in defense industr

  • what Governments and Corporations say. AI, drones and robotics will be used on the battlefield (actual wars, civilian attacks and guerilla actions) and in terrorism! It is a fact! Why, because there are entities and individuals who will do it for various reasons, which to many to even think about or list. And which will never be controlled.

    Just my 2 cents ;)
  • Unless the price was right.
  • by Anonymous Coward
  • by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Thursday June 07, 2018 @05:20PM (#56745550)

    Google will have no control over what its users (the military) actually do with the technology. A simple AI-based robot that can identify and open doors will become a weapon as soon as the military fits a gun, mustard gas or some other biohazard to it.

    To use a car analogy... it's like Ford promising cars are perfectly safe, meanwhile millions of people around the world are injured or killed in car accidents (in cars provided by all manufacturers).

    • Probably more apt to say, a truck is a harmless until you mount a PK machine gun to it...

    • Just like "Don't be evil", they will keep promising until and after the day it became clear to everyone they have been breaking that promise for years. Then they will just hide it somewhere obscure, but that still won't stop them from saying that promise.

      Empty words that have no cost and carried no penalty if broken, why not?

    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      Not true. The government is required to get a license to use the products, and can't share it w/o a Government Purpose Rights or an Unlimited Rights license.

      Please read up on it before spouting off.

  • chess, checkers, backgammon, poker, Theaterwide Biotoxic and Chemical Warfare, and Global Thermonuclear War ?

  • and who decides the standards?

    Oh wait, they do. never mind.

  • I don't think China would hesitate... https://www.popularmechanics.c... [] Unless Google is helping China, such waste of talent in the US would just be a repeat of... []
  • Presumably, Google means that they won't sell or license their proprietary code for weapons purposes. I'm not sure they can tell military contractors not to use their open source code to develop weapons, although that depends on the license. AFAIK GPL, LGPL, BSD, MIT and Apache licenses all allow one to use such-licensed code for weapons development.
    • It's not just code. Presumably Google would publish journal papers as they make new discoveries in AI. And defense contractors can read.

  • That's exactly what he spontaneously self-aware AI that's now secretly running Google would say, isn't it?
  • Google telling us what the future will bring is typical tone-deaf, snow-blind hubris. It's so typical I would like to suggest a new word for it: Goobris.
  • Seriously, we've got google... giving technology to the US Millitary. I'm sure who's less trustworthy to keep their word.
  • Google also detailed applications of the technology that the company will not pursue, including A.I. for "weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people"

    So AI could be used to pinpoint the exact location of the families of enemy soldiers, but it would be an actual human who executed the command to kill or imprison them.

    That's comforting!

  • I'm lazy and didn't RTFA. What provisions did they say they implemented to prevent the US military from using the technologies in unfavourable ways (even indirectly)?
    • “We will reserve the right to prevent or stop uses of our technology if we become aware of uses that are inconsistent with these principles,” the company said.

      Like most of the top corporate A.I. labs, which are laden with former and current academics, Google openly publishes much of its A.I. research. That means others can recreate and reuse many of its methods and ideas. But Google is joining other labs in saying it may hold back certain research if it believes others will misuse it.

      The article didn't contain the 7 specific principles from what I saw.

  • We will not militarize man-made islands in the South China Sea - China
    We will not consider a regime change for your country - USA
    I didn't inhale - Bill Clinton
    No new taxes - George Bush Sr
    Iraq has WMD - George Bush Jr
    We don't spy on American Citizens - NSA
    If you like the health care plan you have, you can keep it - Obama
    Cigarette smoking is no more ' addictive ' than coffee, tea or Twinkies - Big Tobacco

    Man this list can go on forever, but you get the point. Trust isn't one of Googles strong points in the

  • systems that map and track everything needed to support a war.
  • I mean, we _told_ it not to when we put it in charge of everything and asked it to self-train by collecting morality lessons from the internet. Who knew?
  • Well folks, they said it, you heard it! Google promises to be good boys and never do anything evil with their AI, so it's $100% guaranteed safe for everyone. Thank you Sundar! PACK IT UP BOYS, CONVERSATION OVER.

  • Google may keep this promise but are we really assuming there's no one else capable of creating a sufficiently good AI that can be used by the military?
    Even if Google has all the best AI scientists eventually someone else will be good enough.
  • Because some of those robots are just waiting to pull a trigger or detach an arm

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein