Google Inc. has abandoned the struggle for the billionth Pentagon contract
The other day it became known that Google Corp. refused to participate in the Pentagon’s competition for the development of a “smart” cloud computing system. According to representatives of the company, the refusal is explained by the conflict between the ideas of the project and Google’s ethical principles regarding working with AI technologies.
The contract term is 10 years, the project is called Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud (JEDI). Such companies as Amazon, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM claim to participate in it.
Although the corporation no longer specifies the notorious “Don't be evil” as its principle, it does not take part in the development of technologies for the armed forces, as well as in projects that in any way could violate international human rights standards. In addition, Google is not planning to receive state certificates with the appropriate level of access to military data. Amazon and Microsoft have received such certificates. “We decided not to take part in the competition for the Pentagon contract for two main reasons. First - it is contrary to our principles of working with AI-technologies. The second is that some elements of the contract require obtaining certificates with a high level of access to government data, ”a corporation representative commented on the situation.
One of the leaders of Google told reporters that the company could take up the implementation of some part of the contract if the entire project was carried out not by a single performer, but by several.
According to experts from Tech Workers Coalition, Google would not mind taking part in the work on military contracts, but in the current case, companies were prevented from doing so by their own employees. In particular, at the beginning of the summer, a real wave of protests rose within the company. After that, Google had to abandon, in particular, the Project Maven project - its goal is to develop a system for recognizing people and objects in pictures from drones using AI.
Interestingly, Oracle is also in favor of the Pentagon attracting several artists to participate in JEDI. Oracle manualbegan to try to change the format of the project even before the start of the selection of possible partners. According to the corporation, the Pentagon has chosen a strategy that will damage the systemic development of the country's military power.
Oracle representatives said that the solution should be “multi-cloud”, and the project should take several performers in order to “have a competitive spirit, more often innovations and lower prices for final solutions”.
The contract itself is very attractive for large US companies, since its budget is several times larger than almost everything that technology corporations and the Pentagon itself dealt with. For example, working with the CIA, Amazon dealt with a project worth hundreds of millions of US dollars, and here $ 10 billion. The Pentagon’s total budget for cloud initiatives is much more — JEDI takes only 16% of the cost of such projects. Nevertheless, it is the largest project in this field.
Unlike Oracle, Amazon believes that working on such projects alone is easier, because the whole process goes more smoothly. Last year, the company spent about $ 13 million on lobbying its services, which is more than that of Oracle and approximately equal to the total costs for the same goals from Microsoft and IBM.
Jeff Bezos, founder and permanent head of Amazon, is pleased with the success of his brainchild.
The company's competitors criticized this statement, saying that it is impossible to provide only one company with an opportunity to influence the Pentagon's technological development, it is quite dangerous in every sense. Amazon causes competitors on military contracts noticeable irritation, since the Pentagon cooperates with the Bezos company more often than with all other companies. In addition, Amazon was able to conclude contracts with the US Air Force and the CIA.