Google and Project Maven (B): An Eventful Week in June

Case Solution

Gianpiero Petriglieri

In April 2018, after it emerged that Google was working with the Department of Defense on the Maven project, more than 3,000 employees signed an internal memorandum urging CEO Sundar Pichai to (a) stop the project immediately and (b ) enforce a policy that the company would never build war technology. Project Maven was launched in early 2017 as part of the Defense Department’s efforts to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning into its defense strategies. Drones, robots and AI were increasingly used in intelligence gathering and combat operations as part of a 21st century “arms race”. While Google described its role as “non-objectionable,” the memo argued that participation in Project Maven could damage its reputation and ability to attract talent at a time when public trust in technology is waning. The case places the students in the position of a new hire facing the decision to sign the memorandum. It also urges them to think about how they, as CEO, would react to such a petition against one of the company’s contracts.

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