On October 8, Google announced that it will no longer participate in the US Department of Defense’s $ 10 billion cloud computing business contract, in part because the project is inconsistent with the company’s new ethical code.
The project of the contract is called “Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud” (JEDI for short), which is to transition a large amount of data from the US Department of Defense to a cloud system for commercial operations. According to Bloomberg News on October 9, the contract between the company and the Pentagon can be up to 10 years, and the deadline for bidding is October 12.
A Google spokesperson said in a statement: “We are no longer bidding on JEDI because, first of all, we cannot be sure that it complies with our artificial intelligence principles; second, we determine that a part of the contract is beyond the scope of the government’s permission for us.
According to a Reuters report on October 9, Google previously obtained temporary certification of a “moderate” security level in March 2018 to process data from the U.S. government, but Amazon and Microsoft have higher permission levels, and Amazon is even more affected by Pentagon officials. And technology vendors are generally considered to be leaders in bidding for JEDI.
Google has been fighting for this contract, hoping that this $ 10 billion annual contract can provide a powerful boost to its emerging cloud services, catching up with Amazon and another competitor. Google can also help the Pentagon collaborate with large companies on the market.
But in May 2018, thousands of Google employees launched an intensive protest against Google’s cooperation with the military to use Google technology for war or human rights violations. Under the pressure of public opinion, Google announced in June that it would not renew the Maven project in cooperation with the US Department of Defense, and launched Google’s new ethics code for artificial intelligence tools that month to evaluate the artificial intelligence projects that the company will develop.
In the new code of ethics, Google’s artificial intelligence software is banned from being used for weapons and services that violate international surveillance and human rights practices.
According to Bloomberg, The Tech Workers Coalition, an organization that supports employees’ voices in technology company decisions, issued a statement saying that Google abandoned the bid for this cloud computing contract due to “continuous” pressure from technical workers. Workers “have significant power and are increasingly willing to use it.”