The Pentagon is currently looking for bids of their Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud (JEDI). This contract worth $10 billion which involves shifting data from the Department of Defense to a commercial cloud.
Companies were asked to submit their bids for 10 years contract on October 12th.
Google was one of the interested giants for this project with Amazon, Microsoft, IBM etc. Today the company announced that it is withdrawing its bid.
Without saying much, Google simply said that the contract doesn’t “align” with the company’s AI principles. If we look into the past, this isn’t the first time Google back off from any project. In the starting of this year, Google ceased its role in the Pentagon’s Project Maven AI drone project after continued backlash from its employees. More than 4,000 Google employees signed a petition demanding that Google should discontinue Project Maven with the promise to never build warfare technology again. Some employees even resigned during the protest.
In June, Google released a set of principles for its work in Artificial Intelligence. According to those principles:
Google Principles regarding AI:
- Google will never design or deploy AI that can cause harm or injury to people.
- AI which is capable to gather information for surveillance that “violates internationally accepted norms,”
- AI that violates international law and human rights principles.
Google spokesman to Bloomberg said that:
“We are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn’t be assured that it would align with our AI Principles. And second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications.”
Google added that initially, they were competing for some of the “portions” of the contract but the Pentagon was looking for a single vendor which is why Google has no option but to withdraw from their bid:
“Had the JEDI contract been open to multiple vendors, we would have submitted a compelling solution for portions of it. Google Cloud believes that a multi-cloud approach is in the best interest of government agencies because it allows them to choose the right cloud for the right workload.”
“We will continue to pursue strategic work to help state, local and federal customers modernize their infrastructure and meet their mission-critical requirements”
Meanwhile, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, met with the officials in Washington to try to restore the company’s relationship with the military during employee petition. President Donald Trump and his allies accused society of falsifying research results at the expense of political conservatives.