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Google’s Ex-CEO says Silicon Valley has to Help US with Military AI

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that Silicon Valley will have to help the US government to develop military AI

Eric Schmidt—erstwhile Google’s CEO and Alphabet’s chairman, and current Alphabet director— has declared that Silicon Valley’s companies will have to bite the bullet and help the US military develop military-level Artificial Intelligence.

Schmidt, who is a member of the US Department of Defense’s Innovation Board, was testifying before the House Armed Services Committee when he underlined AI’s potential for “defensive and perhaps offensive purposes”, and encouraged American technology companies to help the government gaining the necessary capability.

The statement, which Schmidt delivered in a personal capacity, came hot on the heels of recent protests from Google’s employees, who denounced the company’s involvement  in  “Project Maven“— a governmental effort to develop image-recognition software for military drones.

Earlier this month, over 3,000 Googlers signed an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai demanding that the tech giant stop working on the programme.

“We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” the letter read. “Therefore we ask that Project Maven be cancelled and that Google draft, publicize, and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology.”

Schmidt said that tech companies will need to agree on some basic principles regarding how to work with the government.

“The industry is going to come to some set of agreements on AI principles — what is appropriate use, what is not — and my guess is that there will be some kind of consensus among key industry players on that. The world’s most prominent AI companies focus on gathering the data on which to train AI and the human capital to support and execute AI operations,” Schmidt said.

“If [the US Department of Defence] is to become ‘AI‑ready,’ it must continue down the pathway that Project Maven paved and create a foundation for similar projects to flourish… It is imperative the Department focus energy and attention on taking action now to ensure these technologies are developed by the U.S. military in an appropriate, ethical, and responsible framework.”

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