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

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

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

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. These principles were drawn up earlier this year in the wake of controversy over Google's work on the U.S. military's Project Maven.

Bloomberg reported Monday that the Mountain View, California, search engine giant was pulling out of the competition for two reasons: not all of its government cloud-security certifications align with the scope of the contract, known as JEDI, and the work may conflict with a new set of company principles created to steer what kind of artificial intelligence work Google will undertake. According to those principles, Google will not design or deploy AI that can cause harm or injury to people, that can gather information for surveillance that "violates internationally accepted norms", or that violates worldwide law and human rights principles.

Whoever lands the controversial Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract will provide cloud computing infrastructure and other services to the US military for the next 10 years.

Project Maven, also known as the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Function Team, was developed with an aim to integrate computer-vision algorithms to help military and civilian analysts with full-motion video data to help with counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations.

The bids for the $10 billion Department of Defense cloud computing contract are due by the end of the week, and Microsoft laid out its case for that business Tuesday in a blog post that highlighted its ability to secure the most sensitive government applications.

Google decided not to renew its involvement in Maven and this week backed away from the cloud computing contract, citing similar concerns about values. The move was welcomed by the Tech Workers Coalition which posted the news to their Twitter account with the words: "Respect to workers who forced Google to state ethical principles".

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Amazon has the highest number of necessary government security certifications, racked up as part of its deal with the Central Intelligence Agency.

IBM will submit a bid for the JEDI contract, one that "provides our warfighters as much flexibility and innovation as possible within the scope of the JEDI solicitation", Gordy wrote. Having been unable to obtain assurance that JEDI would not be used in this way, the company made a decision to pull out. Whichever company is awarded the contract will not only receive billions of dollars in federal funding but have a strong foothold from which to compete for other opportunities.

Until this week, Google was vying for a slice of the JEDI, contract.

The remaining JEDI competitors, including Microsoft and AWS, have until October 12th to submit bids for the contract, which could last for up to 10 years. The firm also lodged a formal protest earlier in the year.

With Google out of the running, Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle look like the front-runners for JEDI.

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