Google has dropped out of the competition for a Pentagon cloud computing project that could be worth as much as $US10 billion and last up to a decade, citing a possible clash with its corporate values, Bloomberg reported on Monday.
Earlier this year, controversy emerged within Google over the company's participation in Project Maven, an effort to build artificial intelligence for the Department of Defense to analyze drone video footage, which could be used to target drone strikes.
Using its powers for good?"Most importantly, current environments are not optimized to support large, cross domain analysis using advanced capabilities such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to meet current and future warfighting needs and requirements".
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". Final bids are due October 12.
"While we are working to support the U.S. government with our cloud in many areas, we are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn't be assured that it would align with our AI Principles and second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications", a Google spokesperson said in a statement. More than 3,000 of Google's employees signed a letter asking Chief Executive Sundar Pichai to end the company's involvement in the project.
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Google has announced that it will not be placing a bid for a cloud-computing contract with the Pentagon.
The contract, known as Project Maven, is created to automate the analysis of surveillance footage collected by USA military drones, a task that has for years been handled directly by US airmen.
The long and costly process to gain authorization to sell cloud services to federal agencies can give technology companies a boost when they compete for government contracts.
Still, Google's decision to pull out was probably a smart one given that its chances of landing the contract were pretty slim, a second analyst said.
The contract is winner-take-all, with Amazon seen as the frontrunner.
The JEDI program is expected to award the full $10 billion contract to a single bidder, making Amazon the leading contender due to its extensive experience as a cloud provider.