In AI, Digital technology for warfare, Israel

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Project Nimbus: Google’s AI tools to turn Israel into Mideast police state.

Google has terminated the employment of 28 individuals who participated in a 10-hour sit-in protest on Tuesday against Project Nimbus, a collaboration between Google and Amazon aimed at providing cloud computing and AI services to the Israeli government and military during the ongoing Gaza war. Earlier in March, a cloud engineer was let go after expressing concerns about the contract’s potential to enable “genocide or surveillance”. The controversy surrounding Project Nimbus has been ongoing since Google and Amazon were awarded the contract in April 2021, with employees from both companies highlighting the risks of misuse by Israel.

What do we know about the secretive project?

– Israel describes Project Nimbus as a multiyear program to move the Jewish state’s entire public information to the cloud. The cloud server storage will be located in Israel, and all data stored on them will remain within Israel’s borders. Details of Project Nimbus and the way it will be used by Israel remain top secret.

▪️Materials obtained by the Intercept in July 2022, suggest that Project Nimbus will provide Israel with facial detection capabilities, automated image categorization, object tracking, as well as sentiment analysis to assess the emotional content of pictures, speech, and writing.

▪️Google’s Cloud Vision API is an image analysis toolset that boasts the ability to detect emotions based on facial expressions. However, there are concerns that AutoML could be used inappropriately as an AI “lie detector” when analyzing speech. Both technologies have been criticized for being pseudoscientific.

▪️Human rights activists fear that Vision API could be used for round-the-clock spying on Palestinians, depriving them of privacy, while the tool’s errors could amplify the problem.

– Google’s “AI principles,” an ethical charter outlining the development and use of artificial intelligence, won’t be applied to Israel. This is because the data centers in Tel Aviv are located on Israeli soil and therefore will be governed by Israeli laws.

 

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