Google drops out of bidding for massive Pentagon cloud contract

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Google drops out of bidding for massive Pentagon cloud contract

Google has withdrawn from the competition for a Defense Department cloud computing contract worth as much as $10 billion, saying the project may conflict with its principles for ethical use of AI.

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.

The contract, known as Project Maven, is created to automate the analysis of surveillance footage collected by USA military drones, a task that has for years been handled directly by US airmen.

In the wake of backlash over its participation in projects like Project Maven and Dragonfly, Google will no longer pursue a $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract.

Google opted out of the JEDI bidding on October 8, claiming the contract might fail to align with its AI principles - and (more importantly) because it didn't have some of the required government certifications.

In June, Sundar Pichai wrote a blog describing Google's AI principles and specified that "we are not developing AI for use in weapons".

Bidding for the JEDI program began two months ago and ends this week.

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 U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) announced earlier in March that it would award its multibillion-dollar cloud services contract to a single provider, a decision that received wide criticism from the tech industry. "And second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications".

That program, known as Project Maven, is created to automate the analysis of surveillance footage collected by US military drones, a task that for years has been handled directly by the Air Force.

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".

Google, in particular, believes it would be in the Pentagon's best interest to allow multiple clouds. "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".

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