In March 2018, the existence of Project Maven, a top-secret plan by Google to provide the Pentagon (US Department of Defense) with AI technology for military use, was revealed.
There has been turmoil within Google as opposition was gathered from Google employees and a petition was submitted to CEO Sundar Pichai.
In the meantime, Intercept has obtained internal emails between the people in charge of Project Maven negotiations.
Project Maven is a large-scale project with the promise of a huge contract, and Google was wary from the beginning of the project that the media would get wind of it.
Leaked Emails Show Google Expected Lucrative Military Drone AI Work to Grow Exponentially
More than 4,000 Google employees have signed a petition to stop military cooperation with the Pentagon, and more than 10 engineers have decided to leave Google because they disagree with Google's policy. You can find out more about Project Maven, which is shaking up the company, in the following article.
The email, obtained by Intercept, was written by Eileen Black, a member of Google's defense sales team, to her colleague Scott Frohman in September 2017.
In her email, she mentioned that the Pentagon was running a military technology development competition for high-tech companies at a huge cost.
Also, Ms. Black's email stated, "The total transaction value is between $25 and $30 million, and as the program grows, we can expect it to reach $250 million per year,” It says.
According to Bloomberg, a month after the email, the Pentagon allocated an additional $100 million from its budget for Google's Project Maven. Note that, according to the New York Times, Black's boss, Google Cloud general manager Diane Greene, explained that "the system to be delivered under Project Maven is 'only' $9 million, which is a relatively small deal," However, there are indications that Google's Maven officials were confident that the deal would be far more massive.
Black wrote in an email "Project Maven is easy target for the media, If the media start picking up on the theme that Google is secretly developing AI weapons, there is no telling what will happen. Google Cloud had launched the theme of 'democratizing AI' in 2017. We've been really careful to protect our positive image," she wrote, suggesting that she was wary of Project Maven's existence coming to light.
Ms. Black also wrote, "The contract is not made directly to Google, but through our partner ECS Federal. We also avoid press releases without mutual consent, and we are not supposed to say anything without Google's approval," suggesting that steps were taken to prevent Google's cooperation with military technology from coming to light.