The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed a deal with Google to adopt its AI technology and explore how it can be used to support the defence sector.
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), which is an executive agency of the MoD, has agreed to work with Google Cloud to upgrade the department’s tech capabilities.
The collaboration will focus on broadening the supply chain between the groups, supporting training and upskilling of staff, increasing cross-sector technology transfer and supporting the department’s goal of being a more AI-ready organisation.
“As one of the most transformative and ubiquitous new technologies, AI has enormous potential to transform societies,” said Dstl chief executive Paul Hollinshead.
“Dstl’s collaboration with Google Cloud is one of the significant steps Dstl is taking to prioritise research, development, and experimentation of technologies in line with our commitment to safe and responsible AI.”
Google has pledged to not allow its AI software to be used for weapons. It is participating under the agreement that the defence department uses the technology for cybersecurity, research and disaster response.
Despite this, the agreement comes in contrast to the early idealisms of Google. The company famously adopted the slogan “don’t be evil” in its early days, a mantra to ensure that no matter how large the firm got and how advanced its tech became, it would not be used for harmful purposes.
This culture has led to internal clashes in the past, as employees have expressed concerns over prior work with military departments in the US and beyond.
Google has, however, maintained its work with defence organisations over recent years, which has now been extended to the UK’s MoD.
“We are delighted to have signed an MOU with Dstl on this important initiative,” said Helen Kelisky, UKI, managing director of Google Cloud.
“AI has potential to assist the ministry in a broad range of use cases, including cybersecurity, disaster response, and employee productivity. We look forward to helping Dstl in its commitment to using AI boldly and responsibly.”
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