Google drops out of bidding for massive Pentagon cloud contract

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JEDI that is officially referred to as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, the bidding of the contract started 2 months ago and will close by this week.

This is partly because the company's new ethical guidelines do not align with the project, Google said on Monday, without elaborating.

The contract has a massive ceiling value of $10 billion over a period of 10 years, one of the largest of its kind in history. At that point, Azure Government Secret will support "Secret U.S. classified data or Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Impact Level 6 workloads", and support for Top Secret workloads will follow soon after, said Julia White, corporate vice president for Microsoft Azure, in the post.

Google employees had also signed a petition over Project Maven. Apparently this project could have strengthened the position of Google in the market of cloud computing; Microsoft and Amazon are at present leading the AI market.

Expected to absorb some of the Pentagon's existing cloud efforts, the JEDI cloud is considered a "pathfinder" effort that the Defense Department will build upon for decades.

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.

In June, Google announced that it would not renew it's contract for the Pentagon's Project Maven program, which uses artificial intelligence to enhance drone strikes. It also pledged not to work on AI projects contravening "widely accepted principles of global law and human rights".

Some Google employees aren't that thrilled about contracts with the government to begin with.

Google is undergoing how the company's artificial intelligence algorithms should be applied. Final requirements for the project were released in July after a months-long lobbying campaign in Washington by tech companies including Microsoft, International Business Machines Corp. and Oracle Corp. that opposed the Pentagon's plans to choose just one victor for the project instead of splitting the contract among a number of providers.

The Pentagon's JEDI contract will be awarded to a single bidder, which led to a urging the government to split the contact up between multiple tech companies. The company stated that in working on such a project, it was directly involved in warfare.

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

The company later said it would entirely ban the development of AI software that can be used in weapons systems and establish a new set of AI principles that would set limits on the company's work moving forward.