Google shares ended higher in the US Friday, amid early reports the tech giant currently isn’t planning to renew its US Government Project Maven AI contract.
Google Cloud lead Diane Greene, reportedly told employees in a weekly update that the partnership will end with the current contract, in 2019.
Google shares closed 3.18% at $1,135.00, in the US Friday. The stock is currently a little higher in out-of-hours activity.
Backlash against military contract
According to a variety of different reports, naming sources from the Google cloud team, Greene told employees that the tech giant would end its participation in Project Maven next year.
“We've always said this was an 18-month contract that we did, so it ends in March of 2019,” Greene said, according to a BuzzFeed news article. “And there will be no follow-on to Maven.”
In addition, she reportedly said that were the contract offered to Google today, they would turn it down due to fears over a potential backlash – much as they are experiencing now.
Over 3,000 Google employees signed a petition in April that was attached to an open letter addressed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and published in the New York Times.
The letter began:
“We believe that Google should not be in the business of war. 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.”
Google to publish ethical principles
Amid the employee disquiet over Google’s involvement in Project Maven, the tech giant is in the process of drafting a set of ethical principles which are expected to be published next week.
Greene was reportedly disappointed that similar principles weren’t already publicly in place prior to the Project Maven agreement. It’s thought that Google won’t agree to any further potentially controversial work until after they are in place and the work is suitable, according to the guidelines.