Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Google concedes $10bn Pentagon Jedi data contract amid ethical concerns

Google concedes $10bn Pentagon Jedi data contract amid ethical concerns

Whichever lucky lone supplier wins the coveted Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract will be responsible for providing all cloud activities for the military over the next decade, and will be worth billions of dollars in setup and running fees.

The contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI for short, calls for a massive cloud computing infrastructure that can handle classified US military data and enable new defense capabilities.

Google's decision not to make a bid comes months after it faced severe backlash from its employees thanks to its participation in another military program called Project Maven, which involved using AI to identify targets for drone strikes.

Google decided not to renew its involvement in Maven and this week backed away from the cloud computing contract, citing similar concerns about values.

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.

The principles bar use of Google's artificial intelligence (AI) software in weapons as well as services that violate global norms for surveillance and human rights.

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

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.

Google dropped out of the competition for a crucial Pentagon cloud computing contract valued at over $10 billion, the company confirms with Business Insider. 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. Some Google employees reportedly quit over the company's work on Project Maven, a drone initiative for the United States government that could weaponize their AI research.

"And second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications", the spokesman added. Amazon has said it favors the single-cloud approach for the JEDI contract.

Amazon Web Services is widely seen as the front-runner for the JEDI project because it already won a $600 million cloud contract from the Central Intelligence Agency in 2013.

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