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Google drops out of $10bn Pentagon cloud project

Tech giant said it will not bid on the project because it doesn't align with its AI Principles

The Pentagon

Google has decided to drop out of the bidding for the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year cloud computing project because it may conflict with its "corporate values".

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud involves the migration of defence department data to a commercially operated cloud system. Bids for the work are due on 12 October.

"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 spokesman said in a statement. "And second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications."

The JEDI contract opportunity attracted interest from many of the big cloud firms. However, there was discontent that there could only be one contract winner, with industry players stating their preference would have been for multiple providers to bid for and win the work.

It would seem that Google felt the same about how the contract should have been apportioned, with the spokesperson adding: "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."

The tech giant's decision not to bid for the work follows fairly swiftly on the heels of news that it would not be renewing its contract with the Pentagon's AI weapons programme, Project Maven - a project its employees protested heavily about. Tweets by the Tech Workers Coalition regarding this latest move hint at similar discontent among employees.

The company then released a set of principles which would asses its AI applications against a host of objectives, saying it believes any use of its technology should be socially beneficial, accountable, and incorporate privacy-by-design, and adhere to ethical standards.

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