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Are AI Professionals Actually Unwilling to Work for the Pentagon?


 Are AI Professionals Actually Unwilling to Work for the Pentagon?

A CSET survey finds a more nuanced situation than public perception might indicate.

By Catherine Aiken and Margarita Konaev
November 30, 2020 01:42 PM ET

When Google employees protested their company’s work on Project Maven in 2018, their public letter against the company’s involvement in “the business of war” drew attention to the idea of a "culture clash" between the tech sector and the U.S. Department of Defense. A tense, adversarial relationship makes headlines — but how many AI professionals are actually unwilling to work with the U.S. military?

Recent research by the Center for Security and Emerging Technology, a policy research organization within Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, suggests a more nuanced relationship, including areas of potential alignment. A CSET survey of 160 U.S. AI industry professionals found little outright rejection of working with DOD. In fact, only 7 percent of the surveyed AI professionals working at U.S.-based AI companies felt extremely negative about working on DOD AI projects, and only a few expressed absolute refusal to work with DOD.


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