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Google confirms the Pentagon uses its AI technology

Google partners with the US Department of Defence, specialising with drone footage.

By April Slattery

Google has confirmed its machine learning technology is being used by the US Department of Defence, The Pentagon, to analyse drone footage.

The technology will be used to sift through the mass amounts of image and video data that the Pentagon holds, identifying objects that could be threatening to the public through the use of surveillance drones. The technology looks to identify cars and trees, designed to assist existing human analysts.

A spokeswoman for Google said that the company is providing its TensorFlow APIs to pilot the project with the Pentagon, aiming to automatically identify objects in unclassified data.

“The technology flags images for human review, and is for non-offensive uses only. Military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns,” Google’s spokesperson said. “We’re actively discussing this important topic internally and with others as we continue to develop policies and safeguards around the development and use of our machine learning technologies.”

Google confirms the Pentagon uses its AI technology

The technology assists human analysts in the department, not replace them.

Google has said the technology has worked with government agencies for a long time providing such technology solutions; therefore the pilot program is an extension on work that has already been carried out.

The project is piloted with Google, alongside many other companies working together. Initially the technology will be focusing on identifying 38 types of objects, which are of importance for analysts to detect threatening scenarios.

Head of the project, Marine Corp Colonel Drew Cukor explained that the defence sector needs to take on more AI and machine learning technology like this to better the services it provides.

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“There is no ‘black box’ that delivers the AI system the government needs, at least not now,” Colonel Cukor said according to Sky News. “Key elements have to be put together… and the only way to do that is with commercial partners alongside us.”

The new feature of technology adds to the existing project Google has in place with the Pentagon, involving its Cloud unit to reduce government spending on cloud computing. The use of drones are becoming increasingly popular and machine learning technology will significantly benefit businesses and organisations looking for better outcomes, such as Pentagon is.

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