Google Pulls Out of Crucial Pentagon's Cloud Computing Competition

China'Spy Chips Report Adds Pressure on Pentagon Cloud Security

Google had already decided not to renew an artificial intelligence contract with the Pentagon after employees voiced unhappiness at the company working on military projects. JEDI is massive deal, potentially running to ten years, that would involve transitioning classified defense data to a commercial cloud platform. Companies competing for the contract have the deadline of October 12th to submit their bids.

In 2016 Microsoft said its Azure Government cloud service ahd been authorised by the Defense Information Systems Agency to handle data with the Information Impact Level 5 (IL-5) clearance level.

IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have sharply criticized the government's single-provider approach for the past six months, saying that turning to a single provider would lock the government out of innovations happening at other companies, and increase costs by shutting out would-be competitors.

Google cited its AI principles, which were published back in June, as the reason for dropping out of the bidding process. 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".

The company wrote those ethical principles after employees strongly opposed its contract renewal for a separate Pentagon program called Project Maven, which aims to develop algorithms that can flag drone images for human review. The aim is to power data-sharing between headquarters and forward-deployed personnel, artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, as well as advanced cybersecurity in order to see warfighters "dominate in the battlefield".

At least nine companies have at some point coordinated their opposition in Washington to the government awarding the contract to a single provider, Bloomberg News has reported.

Google didn't explain exactly what it meant, but Reuters reports the company doesn't want to use AI software in weapons or tech that could violate human rights and accepted worldwide surveillance practices. The spokesman added that Google is "working to support the U.S. government with our cloud in many ways". The final requirements for the project were released in July after a lobbying campaign by tech companies, including Microsoft, IBM and Oracle, that opposed the Pentagon's plans to choose just one victor for the project instead of splitting the contract among a number of providers. 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.

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