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New York Times: How a Pentagon Contract Became an Identity Crisis For Google

APNewsbreak: Pentagon adopts new cellphone restrictions
The Associated Press

In an article on Wednesday, the New York Times revealed how Google’s contract with the Pentagon created an identity crisis at the company, and how Google Cloud’s Chief Scientist for A.I. Fei-Fei Li warned colleagues against mentioning weaponized artificial intelligence to the press and public.

The article discusses Dr. Li’s strong belief that it would damage Google to release information on Pentagon contracts. This information reportedly led to multiple employees resigning from the Silicon Valley giant.

Fei-Fei Li is among the brightest stars in the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence, somehow managing to hold down two demanding jobs simultaneously: head of Stanford University’s A.I. lab and chief scientist for A.I. at Google Cloud, one of the search giant’s most promising enterprises.

Yet last September, when nervous company officials discussed how to speak publicly about Google’s first major A.I. contract with the Pentagon, Dr. Li strongly advised shunning those two potent letters.

“Avoid at ALL COSTS any mention or implication of AI,” she wrote in an email to colleagues reviewed by The New York Times. “Weaponized AI is probably one of the most sensitized topics of AI — if not THE most. This is red meat to the media to find all ways to damage Google.”

In another startling quote, Google co-founder Sergei Brin stated that it would be better for peace if the Pentagon was working with giant tech companies like Google instead of traditional defense contractors.

According to two Google employees, Mr. Brin said he understood the controversy and had discussed the matter extensively with Mr. Page and Mr. Pichai. However, he said he thought that it was better for peace if the world’s militaries were intertwined with international organizations like Google rather than working solely with nationalistic defense contractors.

You can read the full article at the New York Times.

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