Google pulls out of competition for $10B Pentagon cloud contract


The importance of this transition can not be overstated: JEDI will be the foundation for integrating advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality into America's warfighting capability.

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud (JEDI) involves moving massive amounts of Defense Department data to the cloud.

The bidding is set to begin on Friday.

Sam Gordy, general manager of IBM U.S. Federal, said in an October 10 blog post that the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure solicitation was flawed because its single-cloud mandate "denies America's warfighters access to the best technology available across multiple vendors, complicates the integration of legacy applications and walls off access to future innovations".

This is partly because the company's new ethical guidelines do not align with the project, Google said on Monday, without elaborating. The company stated that in working on such a project, it was directly involved in warfare. The company stated that its technology would no longer be weaponised or used in "other technologies whose principal objective or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people". The program uses artificial intelligence to enhance drone strikes.

That program, known as Project Maven, is created to automate the analysis of surveillance footage collected by USA military drones, a task that for years has been handled directly by the Air Force.

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Under pressure from its employees, Google has refused to renew the contract with the Pentagon to develop artificial intelligence for cloud computing. "We do believe that the uses of our cloud and AI will prove to be overwhelmingly positive for the world, and we also recognize that we can not control all downstream uses of our technology", Greene wrote.

That will provide federal agencies and their partners with the ability to leverage the cloud for more of their operations, including where sensitive data like personally identifiable information can be securely used, because more features will automatically include the security and compliance levels needed to do business, White said. So there could be more Pentagon contracts (and employee protests) in the future.

Recently, Google was also in news for quitting a $10 Billion defense contract as it could clash with its corporate values.

Now that Google has backed out of the competition, Amazon and Microsoft are trying to win the rights to the $10bn project. The company says that this particular project is not in line with its AI policies, but it will continue to work with the U.S. government in other ways. Last week Google chief executive Sundar Pichai met with top defense officials to try to ease tensions.

Google workers don't want their employer doing business with the Pentagon.

The JEDI contact is winner-take-all, and that's attracted protest from Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and other companies that would rather split the contract among a number of providers. As only one company will be awarded the contract, Amazon is seen as the frontrunner.