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Thousands of Google employees, including senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company's participation in a Pentagon AI project that could sharpen drone targeting, The New York Times reports.
The letter, sent to CEO Sundar Pichai, says Google "should not be in the business of war" and should pull out of the program, Project Maven, which uses artificial intelligence to improve visual recognition.
Google's response: "Any military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns.... We’re actively engaged across the company in a comprehensive discussion of this important topic.”
Between the lines: Silicon Valley and the computer industry have historic roots in government contracting. Older companies such as IBM and Oracle have longstanding defense ties, but at younger firms like Google, the workforce is often more divided.