- Kim White/MSNBC
Google has dropped out of a bidding war with Amazon and
other cloud computing companies for Joint Enterprise Defense
Infrastructure (JEDI), a $10 billion contract from the
Google chose to withdraw because the contract may
conflict with its corporate values, and its principles over the
ethical use of AI.
This decision comes just months after several employees
signed a petition, and even resigned, over Google’s involvement
with military projects.
The contract is winner-take-all, with Amazon seen as
Google dropped out of the competition for a crucial Pentagon
cloud computing contract valued at over $10 billion, the company
confirms with Business Insider.
The news, which was
originally reported by Bloomberg, comes on the same day that
the search giant announced the
shutdown of the Google+ social network, in the wake of
reports of a major security lapse. It also comes just months
after Google employees protested en masse over the company’s work
with the United States military.
This $10 billion cloud contract, called the Joint Enterprise
Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), will be awarded to build cloud
services for the Department of Defense. Google says it chose not
to compete for the contract because it believes this work would
conflict with its corporate principles, and because it believes
it may not hold all of the necessary certifications.
“While we are working to support the US government with our cloud
in many areas, 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,” a Google spokesperson said.
Companies competing for the contract must submit their bids by
October 12. As only one company will be awarded the contract,
Amazon is seen as the frontrunner. Several companies, including
Oracle, IBM and Microsoft, were working together to oppose the
winner-take-all approach rather than splitting the contract among
multiple vendors. Google, in particular, believes it would be in
the Pentagon’s best interest to allow multiple clouds.
“Had the JEDI contract been open to multiple vendors, we would
have submitted a compelling solution for portions of it,” a
spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
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 April, more than
4,000 Google employees signed a petition demanding that the
company discontinue Project Maven and promise to never “build
Some employees even resigned in protest.
In June, Google said it would not renew the contract once it
expired, and that same month, it
released a set of principles for its work in AI. According to
those principles, Google will not design or deploy AI that can
cause harm or injury to people, that can gather information for
surveillance that “violates internationally accepted norms,” or
that violates international law and human rights principles.
“We will continue to pursue strategic work to help state, local
and federal customers modernize their infrastructure and meet
their mission critical requirements,” a Google spokesperson said
in a statement.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently took meetings in Washington
to try to rebuild the company’s relationship with the military
amid all the employee unrest. The company faces allegations from
President Donald Trump and his allies that it
biases search results against politically conservative