Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
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Google pulls out of competition for $10B Pentagon cloud contract

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

Google will ditch its bid for a cloud computing deal worth $10 billion with the Pentagon, as its new ethical guidelines don't align with the requirements from the US Department of Defense (DoD). "You may see a place to recharge your Fitbit but nothing to indicate the sort of patriotic identity that the rest of the defense contractors have". A single vendor will be asked to do all of the work, which has ruffled the feathers of niche cloud players like Oracle and IBM that wanted to compete for parts of the business.

The company also defended itself when AI top gun Dr. Fei-Fei Li announced last month that she was leaving Google, saying the move didn't have any relation with the military controversy.

The decision by Google, confirmed to AFP in an email Tuesday, leaves a handful of other tech giants including Amazon in the running for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract aimed at modernizing the military's computing systems.

Amazon Web Services is now the only company to have achieved an IL-6 security authorization, besting other competitors including Microsoft, Oracle and International Business Machines.

The contract could last up to ten years and the victor of the bid is expected to be announced at the end of the year. In its statement, Google said it would have preferred that JEDI be open to multiple vendors so that it could 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".

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. Some employees even resigned in protest.

Just four months ago Google saw quite some resistance to its involvement in the Pentagon's controversial artificial intelligence (AI) drone program Project Maven. Google's AI principles clearly state the firm will not be involved in "technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm", "weapons or other technologies whose principal objective or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people" or "technologies that gather or use information for surveillance". As the Washington Post wrote, Amazon is also one of the only major companies that supported a single, winner-take-all approach to the bidding process, which competitors have complained could essentially give it a monopoly on cloud computing contracts for the military in the future.

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