Google pulls plug on $10 billion Pentagon cloud deal
Google pulls plug on $10 billion Pentagon cloud deal
Google pulls out of $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract over AI concerns
10 October, 2018, 09:12
Several big tech companies are currently in a race to win the Pentagon's $10 billion JEDI cloud contract, and after Google pulled out from the fight yesterday, Microsoft is now touting an upcoming expansion of its Azure Government Secret cloud service (via Reuters).
Those AI Principles bar the use of Google AI software being used in "weapons or other technologies whose principal goal or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people", in "technologies that gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms", and in "technologies whose objective contravenes widely accepted principles of worldwide law and human rights".
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. We will continue to pursue strategic work to help state, local and federal customers modernize their infrastructure and meet their mission critical requirements.
The software company said Tuesday that it will earn the certification required to host the government's most sensitive and classified information - a distinction previously held only by Amazon Web Services - by the end of the first quarter of 2019.
The spokesman added that Google is "working to support the U.S. government with our cloud in many ways". In addition to its concerns that some of the contract's terms might not align with its principles, Google also lacks some military clearances that would allow it to take up the assignment on its own. "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.
Top Pentagon officials have said the JEDI contract would account for about 16 percent of the Department's overall cloud computing work, subsuming numerous Defense Department's existing cloud efforts. Whichever company wins could ultimately have little control over how the military uses its technology.
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.
Google was provisionally certified in March to handle USA government data with "moderate" security, but Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) have higher clearances. Amazon has said it favors the single-cloud approach for the JEDI contract. 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. Companies are due to submit bids for the contract, which could last as long as 10 years, on 12th October.
Amazon has said it prefers the single-cloud approach for the JEDI contract.
"Had the JEDI contract been open to multiple vendors, we would have submitted a compelling solution for portions of it", a Google spokesperson said.
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