Google Cloud awarded defense contract for cancer research

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Google announced Wednesday that its cloud wing has received a contract from the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to develop artificial intelligence solutions for cancer screening at Department of Defense (DOD) facilities.

The project is aimed at helping analyze data collected when making diagnostic and treatment decisions to help lower the misdiagnosis rate.

Google Cloud is planning to provide DIU with a prototype of an augmented reality microscope that provides doctors with real-time info while working.

The technology will first be available at a few Defense Health Agency and Veteran’s Affairs facilities.

“This is extraordinarily important to us because it is a very practical application of the work we have done as a pioneer in the [Artificial Intelligence] AI area,” Mike Daniels, a vice president at Google Cloud, told The Hill in an interview.

The contract is one of Google’s many efforts to turn its development of artificial intelligence into tangible products.

“This is about how we are taking our investments in artificial intelligence and applying them to practical problems utilizing government datasets to drive outcomes and efficiency; health just happens to be a tremendous area for us to be able to do so,” Daniels said. 

Some of those efforts to expand collaboration with the government have drawn criticism from Google employees, especially when it comes to work with the military.

The revelation that Google was working on Project Maven, a DOD initiative to build AI for drones to track moving targets, led to massive employee protests and some resignations in 2018.

Daniels said Tuesday that while Google listens to concerns from its staff, this particular project is in line the company’s corporate values.

“Google is a large and diverse company and there’s many areas where Google’s values and our employee values overlap – there’s also likely to be areas where they don’t,” he said. “If you look at this instant project, though, driving outcomes that improve health in our service to our country are extraordinarily important to us, and while employee voices [are] super important inside of Google, we don’t run the company by referendum.” 

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