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.
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.