Google supplying AI technology to Trump’s virtual border wall: report


Google supplying AI technology to Trump's virtual border wall: report

  • Google is reportedly supplying its artificial intelligence technology to help build a “virtual” border wall for the Trump administration, per a report from The Intercept.
  • Military contracting startup Anduril had been awarded a contract with US Customs and Border Protection in July to build the wall that would monitor crossings in the US.
  • Documents show that Google’s Cloud technology would be used in tandem with Anduril’s for the project.
  • News of Google’s involvement in the project comes as the company has long fielded criticism for its involvement in controversial government projects, like Project Maven.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Google is supplying its artificial intelligence technology to a “virtual” border wall for the Trump administration, according to a report from The Intercept.

In August, the US Customs and Border Protection awarded the company a contract to use its Cloud technology to support artificial intelligence along the virtual border wall. The documents show that Google’s tech will be used in tandem with military contracting startup Anduril’s work on the wall, according to the outlet. Anduril, founded by ex-Facebook and Oculus executive Palmer Luckey, was awarded a CBP contract in July to build the virtual wall as a means to monitor crossings into the US.

The system will entail installing surveillance towers to detect movement as well as artificial intelligence to distinguish humans and animals. It poses a high-tech, cheaper alternative to Trump’s controversial border wall that comes with a $15 billion price tag and a heavy blow to the environment.

Luckey recently reportedly hosted a fundraiser event for President Trump at his Southern California home last weekend and has been vocal about his support for conservative topics. As The Intercept notes, he’s also been vocal about his disapproval of Google’s past decisions to bow out of government deals following employee backlash.

The contract between Google and the CBP is being facilitated by a third-party federal contracting company, Thundercat Technology, The Intercept reports. Google did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

The news is the latest in a string of criticisms aimed at Google’s work on controversial government projects. It once was in partnership with the Pentagon for a project to use the company’s AI and machine learning in image recognition while analyzing drone footage. The project, dubbed Project Maven, was dropped in 2019 after scores of Google employees petitioned against it, voicing concerns over the firm’s involvement with projects that could pose human rights issues.

And this isn’t the only government project that Google has joined recently. In May, Google’s Cloud division made a deal to help the US Department of Defense fight cyber threats around the globe, though the endeavor is not the same as Project Maven as Business Insider’s Hugh Langley reported.

Other tech firms have also agreed to supply their technology for government projects. Microsoft sealed a $10 billion cloud-computing contract with the Pentagon in 2019, a deal that Google was initially vying for and which Amazon challenged. The Pentagon upheld the contract. 

You can read the full report on The Intercept here.

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