Apple nixed’s involvement in Pentagon’s Project Maven following acquisition


Artificial intelligence startup, which was acquired by Apple in January, has reportedly pulled out of U.S. Department of Defense initiative Project Maven at the tech giant’s command.

Source: DOD

Citing people familiar with the matter, The Information on Wednesday reports was until recently working on Project Maven with fellow startup Clarifai. That ended when Apple bought the Seattle-based for a reported $200 million this month.

Officially announced in 2017, Project Maven seeks to develop computer vision technologies capable of autonomously analyzing image data captured by military drones. To achieve its goal, the government is working with a number of private sector specialists as it builds out the technology.

Spun out of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, focused on low-power, edge-based artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that can run on-device instead of in the cloud.

As noted by the report, running AI processes like image recognition on an iPhone instead of offsite — a practice that edge-based computing enables — could raise privacy concerns. Always the bastion of consumer security, Apple likely recognized the implications — and optics — of’s involvement in Project Maven and terminated the work before the press caught wind of the relationship.

Unlike other big tech firms, Apple typically distances itself from military contracting activities. The company has in the past supplied devices to various military branches on terms similar or identical to conventional enterprise sales. In 2008, Apple allowed then recently-acquired PA Semi to temporarily continue component supply deals with military equipment makers.

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