Google pulls out of $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract over AI concerns

Google pulls out of $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract over AI concerns


Today, the company said in a blog post that it's "on track" to achieve the Defense Information Systems Agency Impact Level 6 certification, which lets it handle top secret classified data, by the first quarter of next year.

Google is undergoing a broader reckoning over how the company's artificial intelligence algorithms, which are some of the most advanced in the world, should be applied to the work of national defense.

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

In a statement, Google said they "couldn't be assured that [the deal] would align with [their] AI Principles".

Google has ended its bid for a Pentagon contract of $10 billion for a cloud computing project, it announced on Monday. A dozen people resigned before Google pledged to ditch Project Maven but "continue our work with governments and the military".

Earlier this year, Google decided not to renew another defense contract called Project Maven, which provided artificial intelligence for the assesement of drone imagery.

The spokesman added that Google is "working to support the U.S. government with our cloud in many ways".

"They've also been very specific as to how everyone should be securing their assets, including government entities", he said.

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. Having been unable to obtain assurance that JEDI would not be used in this way, the company chose to pull out.

Google cited its AI principles, which were published back in June, as the reason for dropping out of the bidding process.

While Google dropped out of the JEDI bidding, and Oracle has lodged protests arguing requirements look engineered to deliver the award to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft believes it remains a strong contender. But the protests are about more than just the government being unfair, it's also about the Pentagon handing the keys to the kingdom over to a single vendor - a strategy that would make any security pro's eye twitch.

This decision comes just months after several employees signed a petition, and even resigned, over Google's involvement with military projects. The DoD seeks to procure so-called "commercial services" that are wholly inconsistent with the commercial sector and the D&F [Determination and Findings] falls far from meeting the rigorous legal standards required for a single award contract.

  • Terrell Bush