No return to JEDI as Google walks away from $10bn Pentagon cloud bid

9 Oct 2018363 Views

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Cloud deal with US military would have clashed with Google’s AI values, company says.

Google has decided not to compete for the Pentagon’s $10bn Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud project.

The internet giant, which has just revealed plans to shutter its ailing social network Google Plus after the discovery of a security hole, has said that the project may conflict with its own values on AI. It also said it doubted it would achieve the necessary certifications required in the tender.

The JEDI project involves transitioning massive amounts of US military data to a commercially operated cloud.

AI ethics

Bids for the 10-year contract were due this Friday (12 October). Other firms bidding for the contact include Amazon Web Services, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

The decision by Google comes months after the company decided not to renew a contract with the Pentagon’s AI programme following protests from employees who were uncomfortable about their employer working with the military. What followed was a set of principles designed to evaluate the kind of AI projects Google would pursue.

“We are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn’t be assured that it would align with our AI principles,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement it issued to Bloomberg. “And second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications.”

A winner-takes-all aspect to the contract was also a stumbling block for Google, which said a multivendor offering would have been more appropriate. “Had the JEDI contract been open to multiple vendors, we would have submitted a compelling solution for portions of it.

“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.”

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com