Google kills bid for $10 billion Pentagon contract after employee protests

China'Spy Chips Report Adds Pressure on Pentagon Cloud Security

Amazon was widely viewed among Pentagon officials and technology vendors as the front-runner for the contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, or JEDI. Bids are due in under a week on October 12th.

The company, which is in a pitched battle to catch up to cloud leaders Amazon Web Services Inc. and Microsoft Azure, said it's dropping out of the race for the contract because of a conflict with its principles on the ethical use of artificial intelligence.

In June, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai unveiled a set of principles on the company's use of artificial intelligence, saying that the company would not participate in "technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm" and would stay away from "weapons or other technologies whose principal goal or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people".

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"Had the JEDI contract been open to multiple vendors, we would have submitted a compelling solution for portions of it", a spokesperson said in a statement.

Still, Google's decision to pull out was probably a smart one given that its chances of landing the contract were pretty slim, a second analyst said.

Google's announcement comes just months after the company decided not to re-up its contract with a Pentagon AI program, when protests broke out from employees who didn't think Google should be in "the business of war". Sources told Gizmodo that Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene had characterised the issue as a major headache for management.

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The search giant has announced it will not submit a bid to win the multibillion-dollar contract with the U.S. Defense Department, reports Reuters.

The Defence Department's cloud needs are directly related to its ambitions for highly networked warfare across air, sea, land, space and cyberspace.

In a statement to Bloomberg, the Tech Workers Coalition said that "sustained" pressure from employees opposed to Google involvement in JEDI showed workers "have significant power, and are increasingly willing to use it". "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". Some Google employees reportedly quit over the company's work on Project Maven, a drone initiative for the USA government that could weaponize their AI research. "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".

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