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Monday, June 4, 2018

Technological giants team up with the Pentagon and the CIA

Por Damian

Google and Amazon are expanding their teams of employees with security clearance to work on projects ranging from the deployment of artificial intelligence and the construction of digital clouds, to offering law enforcement facial recognition tools that can even read the mood of the people, reported el Nuevo Herald digital site.

The acceptance of large technology companies by national security entities has bothered traditional defense contractors and employees, in the case of Google, on whether the company begins to fall into what some call "the business of war." Defense industry analysts say the Pentagon considers big technology companies, particularly Google with its huge number of artificial intelligence researchers, something vital to the country's future security.

"Those companies are becoming a critical part of national security, without a doubt", said Alexander Rossino, an analyst at Deltek, a firm in Herndon, Virginia, that offers software and services to defense contractors. In some ways, the evolution of companies born to break down the status quo and that have become giants with a wide range of clients, including the establishment of security, is the result of the profits of doing business with the federal government.

The Pentagon is currently testing a special Google AI surveillance engine that processes a huge amount of tactical drone images to produce what it calls "intelligence and actionable information at high speed". The tests are being conducted in six locations in Africa and the Middle East. That kind of drone imagery has been used in the past to attack and kill ISIS extremists.

The pilot program, known as the Maven Project, caused nearly 4,000 of the 88,000 employees of Google to sign a petition in April demanding the cancellation of the project because it "would irreparably damage the Google brand". The petition added: "Creating this technology to assist the US government in military surveillance, with potentially deadly results, is not acceptable".

Internal protests about the Maven Project seemed to be making themselves felt. The technology website, citing three unidentified sources, reported on Friday afternoon that a Google executive said on the same day to employees that the protests over the Maven Project were serious and that the company would no longer work with the Pentagon on the matter of artificial intelligence.

Google declined to answer questions about the Maven Project, and a spokeswoman for the California company did not respond to broader questions about the business's activities in the national security sector. For most of its existence, Google's motto, "Do no evil", which at one point was at the beginning of its Code of Conduct, has been relegated to the end of the document in an updated version of April 5.

Eric E. Schmidt, the company's former chief executive, told a House of Representatives panel on April 17 that Google should move forward with the Maven Project even as it tries to address concerns and creates principles on how it can be implemented for defensive and even offensive purposes.

As for its part, Amazon Web Services, a subsidiary of the Seattle-based e-commerce giant, runs a secret "cloud" for the CIA that allows the agency to share secret information with other intelligence organizations. The company won the 600 million dollars contract in 2013.

But an even bigger project is being prepared: Amazon Web Services is one of the favorites to create a huge secure cloud for the Department of Defense that some analysts say could cost $ 10 billion in the next few years.