Amid drone program controversy, students boycott Google internships June 5, 2018 3 Comments Share tweet Brian Contreras Desk Editor Holden Foreman Deputy Desk Editor By: Brian Contreras and Holden Foreman Student activist group the Stanford Solidarity Network (SSN) has released a petition calling on Google to pledge not to pursue any future contracts with the military, adding that until such a commitment is made, signatories will not pursue internships or postgraduate jobs with the tech giant. “We, students, pledge that we will … refuse to participate in developing technologies of war,” the MoveOn.org petition says, later adding that students will “refrain from interviewing with Google” until their demands are met. The petition comes amid criticism of Google, both internal and external, over a Department of Defense program it is contracting with called “Project Maven.” Maven uses artificial intelligence to interpret drone video footage and improve targeting for strikes. On June 1, it was announced that Google would not be working with the project beyond next year, when its current contract expires. The decision followed a petition by 4,000 Google employees demanding “that neither Google nor its contractors … ever build warfare technology.” The SSN petition uses similar language, calling on Google to “fully [commit] not to develop military technologies in the future.” However, it also goes a step further, calling for Google to “fully [withdraw] from its contract with the Department of Defense,” suggesting a premature end to the military contract rather than a non-renewal of it further on down the road. The student petition additionally calls for Google to not use any personal data it has collected for military applications. As of Tuesday evening, SSN’s petition had 52 signatures, with a final goal of 100. However, not all signatories were students at Stanford. In their Tweet announcing the petition, SSN tagged student unions from several other universities — including at UC Berkeley, Harvard, Cornell and the University of Chicago — for help disseminating the petition. Also tagged was YDSA, the student wing of the Democratic Socialists of America. Additionally, 20 Stanford affiliates — including professors, lecturers, graduate students and undergraduates — appear to have signed an open letter penned in mid-May by the International Community for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC). The Stanford affiliates whose signatures appear on the letter study teach in multiple University departments, including computer science, economics and bioengineering. “We wholeheartedly support The ICRAC open letter also requests that Google and Alphabet executives join an existing campaign for an international treaty prohibiting “autonomous weapon systems.” Other technology executives, as well as AI and robotics researchers, are already part of this effort. Listed signatories of the ICRAC open letter include computer science lecturer Chris Piech, computer science professors James Landay and Doug James, communications professor Fred Turner, co-director of the Stanford Human-Computer Interaction Group Terry Winograd, professor emeritus in computer science Eric Roberts, Students for Alternatives to Militarism member Dan Walls Ph.D. ’18, associate professor of bioengineering and of microbiology and immunology Kerwyn Huang and assistant professor of film and media studies Shane Denson. The question of what role artificial intelligence research should play in drone programs is not a new one for Stanford. Earlier this year, The Daily reported on a student project done for the class “Hacking For Defense” — wherein student engineers partner with defense industry sponsors — that involved the use of computer vision to identify potential targets for drone strikes. Since the war on terror began, American drone policy has been criticized on a number of grounds, including a lack of transparency about civilian deaths as well as questions surrounding the program’s legality under international law. This report will be updated. Contact Brian Contreras at brianc42 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Holden Foreman at hs4man21 ‘at’ stanford.edu. #activists activism AI alphabet alternatives America applications arms artificial assistant associate Bioengineering Chicago Chris civilian co-director Communications community computer contract Control ICRAC Cornell critical criticism criticized Dan data deaths defense democratic Denson department Doug drone economics emeritus engineers Eric executives executive faculty film Fred Google graduate hacking Harvard Huang human immunology industry intelligence international interns James Kerwyn Landay law lecturer lecturers legality Letter Majors Maven media microbiology militarism military MoveOn.org network open personal petition Ph.D. piech pledge policy professor program project protest questions research researchers Roberts Robot Robotics Science Shane signatories signatures Socialists solidarity SSN Stanford students studies study tech terror terry transparency treaty Turner UC-Berkeley undergraduates university Walls war weapons Winograd withdrawal withdrawn withdrew YSDA 2018-06-05 Brian Contreras June 5, 2018 3 Comments Share tweet Subscribe Click here to subscribe to our daily newsletter of top headlines.