Google Drops Bid For Massive Military Cloud Computing Contract Amid Employee Pressure

Google drops out of Pentagon's $10-billion cloud computing competition

That contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, or JEDI for short, would see a single cloud for all of the data the DOD holds.

The company wrote those ethical principles after employees strongly opposed its contract renewal for a separate Pentagon program called Project Maven, which aims to develop algorithms that can flag drone images for human review.

"We are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn't be assured that it would align with our AI Principles", a Google spokesman said in a statement to Bloomberg.

In June 2018 Google published a set of principles for its artificial intelligence research, with the company stating that it will not use its AI technology to create "weapons or other technologies whose principal objective or implementation is to cause of directly facilitate injury to people".

However, the firm does leave space for potential government collaboration stating that Google "will continue our work with governments and the military in many other areas".

The spokesman added that Google is "working to support the U.S. government with our cloud in many ways".

IBM also claims that the unusual procedures for taking bids on the JEDI contract are discriminatory, since they seem created to prefer one particular vendor over another.

Google had been angling for the deal, hoping that the $10 billion annual contract could provide a giant boost to its nascent cloud business and catch up with Amazon and fellow JEDI competitor Microsoft. The competition has drawn interest from other major tech companies, including Amazon and Microsoft.

Earlier this year, controversy emerged within Google over the company's participation in Project Maven, an effort to build artificial intelligence for the Department of Defense to analyze drone video footage, which could be used to target drone strikes.

In its statement announcing it would not bid on the contract, Google also joined a chorus of commercial technology companies in criticizing the Pentagon's decision to award the contract to just one vendor, saying a "multi-cloud" approach would have allowed the Department to better match different solutions to different workload.

The contract is winner-take-all, with Amazon seen as the frontrunner.

Several big tech companies are currently in a race to win the Pentagon's $10 billion JEDI cloud contract, and after Google pulled out from the fight yesterday, Microsoft is now touting an upcoming expansion of its Azure Government Secret cloud service (via Reuters).



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