Google has partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense to help the agency develop smarter drone software. According to a report from Gizmodo, Google has agreed to provide the DOD with machine-learning software that will help the department’s computers better detect objects in surveillance drone footage.
The new partnership, which was leaked from an internal Google mailing list last week and confirmed yesterday (March 6) in a statement, is part of a DOD initiative called Project Maven (also known as the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Function Team). According to a DOD news release issued last July, Project Maven aims to improve America’s ability to “[win] wars with computer algorithms and artificial intelligence” by rapidly upgrading the military’s ability to analyze drone footage.
The project’s first goal is to develop artificial intelligence capable of automatically detecting “38 classes of objects” regularly seen in military drone footage, the DOD said. This will ultimately help data analysts parse the “millions of hours of video” captured each year by drones surveilling combat zones in such countries as Iraq and Syria.
“AI will not be selecting a target [in combat] … any time soon,” Marine Corps Col. Drew Cukor, chief of the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Function Team, said at a defense tech summit last year. “What AI will do is complement the human operator.”
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