Imagine I wanted to have somebody killed and I hired a hitman to kill them and when I go to pay the hitman I accidentally wire the money to the wrong place and inadvertantly pay off the victims mortgage instead of paying the hitman. Now the victim doesn't die and gets their mortgage paid off. I'm not a good guy what I did is not a good thing, I just fucked up, that's all. Had everything gone to plan the guy would be dead and I would be blameless.
Similarly if everything had gone to plan Google AI would now be powering various autonomous murder bots except they realized that they didn't want to be associated with this, not because they have any morals, but because WE DO. They are still bad.
That's an odd analogy considering the the would-be conspirator didn't make a decision to not go through with it. Do you believe Google published this article by accident? And really; comparing Google's actions to murder... c'mon.
They didn't fess up because they realize that the outcome of their actions woudl be bad, they fess up because YOU realize that the outcome of their actions would be bad.
you think people weren't/wouldn't be killed off intel gathered from the project?
You can speculate about their motives, I personally beleive it to be PR motivated aswell, but what matters in the end is that it stopped happening.