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Google sits out $10 billion Pentagon cloud contest over AI principles

11 October, 2018, 06:26 | Author: Tara Roberts
  • Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene takes the stage at Cloud 2018

Bloomberg added that a Google spokesperson said, had an effort by a number of companies including Microsoft, International Business Machines Corp., and Oracle Corp.to split the contract into pieces succeeded, the company could have "submitted a compelling solution for portions of it".

The JEDI cloud contract would potentially have a much broader exposure to the Pentagon's advanced weapons systems.

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. Bids are due October 12.

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.

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Google has withdrawn its bid for a lucrative $10bn Pentagon cloud computing contract amid concern that the defence contract would contravene its own principles limiting military applications of artificial intelligence. "And second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications".

The company did, however, add that they are still "working to support the US government with our cloud in many ways".

The Tech Workers Coalition, which advocates for giving employees a say in technology company decisions, said in a statement that Google's decision to withdraw from the cloud competition stemmed from "sustained" pressure from tech workers who "have significant power, and are increasingly willing to use it".

The front-runner for the contract is widely believed to be Amazon, which already has a $US600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency. Competitors are anxious that Amazon has an inside track to the JEDI award because it has been the CIA's primary cloud provider for years and because the Pentagon's request for proposals includes highly specific requirements that only Amazon is likely to meet. "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". 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 worldwide law and human rights principles. 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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