It’s something just about all of us have done at one time or another: go to Google, type in a query, and click over to the Google Images tab. Instantly, you’re met with a bevy of pictures depicting just about exactly what you asked for. The rapid availability of countless images depicting a visual representation of your own written words is just one of the many technological marvels we’ve grown so accustomed to that we hardly register it as miraculous at all — it’s just a thing that happens, like birds chirping or rain falling.

But what’s actually going on behind the scenes is a complex system of machine learning, artificial intelligence and robust coding that all comes together to produce an instant response to your strange hankering to see pictures of the kind of car you drove in high school.

Technically speaking, this is the car that I drove in high school.

Google’s ability to instantly assess what’s depicted in an image and marry that assessment to English words on command isn’t only valuable to those hoping to screen the internet for content that suits their preferences — and chief among the technology’s many applications could be rapidly assessing the material found in reconnaissance feeds provided by drones flying above battlefields the world over.

The Department of Defense knows it, and so does Google; it’s the basis of their new joint venture dubbed “Maven” — but not everyone at the search giant’s offices are pleased with the concept. A number of Google staffers has resigned over the company’s relationship with the Pentagon, and other industry insiders have begun putting together petitions demanding Google back out of their deal and leave the war fighting to war fighting enterprises like Defense giants Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, or General Dynamics.

If ethical action on the part of tech companies requires consideration of who might benefit from a technology and who might be harmed, then we can say with certainty that no topic deserves more sober reflection—no technology has higher stakes—than algorithms meant to target and kill at a distance and without public accountability,” an open letter to Google from the International Committee for Robot Arms Control states.

Google has moved into military work without subjecting itself to public debate or deliberation, either domestically or internationally. While Google regularly decides the future of technology without democratic public engagement, its entry into military technologies casts the problems of private control of information infrastructure into high relief.”

It’s clear that many within the tech industry have a problem with the concept of “one of their own” working with the Defense Department. In fact, the way many of the complaints fielded by departing Google staffers read, it seems most take issue specifically with Google’s involvement, rather than with the endeavor itself.

“It’s not like Google is this little machine-learning startup that’s trying to find clients in different industries,” a resigning employee told Gizmodo. “It just seems like it makes sense for Google and Google’s reputation to stay out of that.”