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After drone program, Google opts out of Pentagon’s cloud service contract

Google (GOOGL) has turned down an offer to compete for the $10 billion cloud-computing contracts of the Pentagon as the company feels its corporate values may conflict with the requirements of the US Department of Defense (DoD). Earlier, a protest by thousands of its employees had prompted the tech giant to opt out of a drone contract with the DoD.

The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud project (JEDI) comprises converting hefty amounts of DoD data to a commercially operated cloud system. The company believes that a certain portion of the contract was out of scope with its current government certifications and AI principles.

Picture Courtesy: Flickr.com

The contract has a tenure of 10 years and the contesting companies need to submit bids by October 12. The other players who are in the fray include Amazon.com (AMZN) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).

The government had released the final requirements for the JEDI project in July. The Pentagon intends to select just one bidder for the project, but companies such as Microsoft, International Business Machines (IBM), and Oracle (ORCL) have sought for splitting the contract among a number of providers.

However, the Defense Department believes assigning multiple vendors would make it a slow process that could prevent the agency from delivering new capabilities and improved efficiency to the warfighter. The department continues to maintain other contracts with cloud providers apart from the JEDI cloud contract.

The previous drone contract code-named Project Maven involved providing machine-learning capabilities to the military for assessing footages from drones in order to take decisions related to surveillance and national security.

Google’s employees felt the technology could also be used in unethical ways such as targeted elimination. The company planned to end this after finishing up existing commitments by early next year.

How much control does Google have on its AI projects?

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