Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Electronics | By Shannon Stone

Google drops out of $10B JEDI competition

Google drops out of $10B JEDI competition

Google has removed itself from competition for the DOD's hotly contested Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract over ethical concerns centering on the department's use of artificial intelligence, reports said.

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

"We are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn't be assured that it would align with our AI Principles", said a Google spokesman. The company then released a set of principles created to evaluate what kind of artificial intelligence projects it would pursue. The protest was filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) days before the bidding process closes.

Amazon Web Services is now the only company to have achieved an IL-6 security authorization, besting other competitors including Microsoft, Oracle and International Business Machines.

The government has yet to make a decision about the complaint, but Google said that if the contract had been open to multiple vendors, it would have "submitted a compelling solution for portions of it". A dozen people resigned before Google pledged to ditch Project Maven but "continue our work with governments and the military".

The contract could last up to ten years and the victor of the bid is expected to be announced at the end of the year.

Google says it chose not to compete for the contract because it believes this work would conflict with its corporate principles, and because it believes it may not hold all of the necessary certifications.

The company did, however, add that they are still "working to support the US government with our cloud in many ways".

In its statement announcing it would not bid on the contract, Google also joined a chorus of commercial technology companies in criticizing the Pentagon's decision to award the contract to just one vendor, saying a "multi-cloud" approach would have allowed the Department to better match different solutions to different workload. "You may see a place to recharge your Fitbit but nothing to indicate the sort of patriotic identity that the rest of the defense contractors have".

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) said on Tuesday its expanded Azure cloud service to help government clients save data on their own servers would be available by the end of the first quarter of 2019, as it battles with for a $10 billion Pentagon contract.

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