Google drops out of bidding for massive Pentagon cloud contract
Google drops out of bidding for massive Pentagon cloud contract
FeaturedGoogle Withdraws Bid for $10B Pentagon Contract By Matt Aghaian
10 October, 2018, 09:13
Google has announced that it won't be bidding for a Pentagon computing contract valued at $10 billion amid fears the project doesn't align with the tech company's ethical values, following protests from its staff. It also comes just months after Google employees protested en masse over the company's work with the United States military.
The Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, or JEDI, is a project looking to find a solution for huge transfers of data from the Defense Department to military officials in order to make faster military decisions wherever in the world these officials may be. The company later said it would entirely ban the development of AI software that can be used in weapons systems.
"We are making major progress in delivering this cloud created to meet the regulatory and compliance requirements of the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community", the exec wrote in a blog post today.
Google decided not to renew its involvement in Maven and this week backed away from the cloud computing contract, citing similar concerns about values. "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. The Pentagon has said it already offers individual clouds, many of them built in secret to enable classified military programs.
The department also said it expects "to maintain contracts with numerous cloud providers to access specialized capabilities not available under the JEDI Cloud contract".
Developing the system "will revolutionize how we fight and win wars", Defense Department chief information officer Dana Deasy said in a recent interview.
The security clearance, the highest cloud security rating, would narrow the gap with front-runner Amazon in competition for the Defense Department's JEDI project. Earlier this year, Defence One reported that Google co-founder Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai were instrumental in sparking the Pentagon's interest in cloud computing, though the company had only quietly pursued a contract amid fears of a strong reaction from rank and file staffers. IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have sharply criticized that approach and even mounted lawsuits seeking to overturn it, arguing that the project is unfairly tilted in Amazon's favor.
The front-runner for the contract is widely believed to be Amazon, which already has a $US600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency. 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". It takes time to win the trust of federal regulators tasked with evaluating these services, and both Microsoft and Amazon Web Services have been working with government customers for several years on obtaining the relevant certifications.
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