Most tech companies would jump at the opportunity of working with The Pentagon on a multi-billion USD project. That goes double if the project in question had a catchy name like JEDI. Well, Google is apparently not one of those companies. The Mountain View-based tech giant recently stated that it had no interest in participating in the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contest, a competition that could have landed them a $10 billion contract with The Pentagon. Google reportedly declined the invitation to participate because the project might not align with the company’s AI Principles.
Google Backs Away From Another Military Contract
Earlier this year, Google received huge backlash after working alongside the Pentagon on a different program called Project Maven. As part of that program, Google provided The Pentagon with AI software designed to help analyze military drone footage. Neither the public nor many of the company’s own employees were particularly happy about that. As a result, Google put together a set of rules that dictate which sort of AI-related projects it wants to be involved with in the future. These guidelines, or AI Principles, prevent the company from working on artificial intelligence software that could be used for military applications.
According to The Pentagon, JEDI’s main goal is to help transfer huge amounts of data to the cloud. This would allow military personnel quicker access to said data anywhere in the world. That sounds fairly harmless on paper, however, this technology will likely also be used to make the military more efficient on the battlefield. Naturally, that would be great news for the military but it seems that’s not really something Google wants to be involved with. Technically speaking, the AI Principles only prevent Google from working on AI weaponry, not cloud computing. However, it’s possible the company thinks JEDI could be used at some point for other purposes as well.
Google is Not the Only Game in Town
With Google out of the picture, Amazon is now the most likely candidate to receive the $10 billion contract. The company already has plenty of experience with cloud technology, which makes it a perfect fit. Other noteworthy contenders include Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle. It’s interesting to note that all these companies have publicly opposed The Pentagon’s decision to award the contract to a single entity. Oracle even filled a complaint against that decision. Its representatives stated that it would be more efficient to divide the contract between several different companies.
Google representatives also believe that a multi-cloud approach would be a better solution for everyone. The company even said that it would be willing to work on portions of such a project. As it stands, however, The Pentagon is moving forward with the original plan. The Department of Defense stated that awarding multiple contracts and building a multi-cloud solution would be too slow and not a feasible solution at this time.