Google Drops $10bn Cloud Contracting Bid Following Employee Pressure

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The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project offers a huge payout potential, which attracted big names like Google, Amazon and Microsoft, with bidding for the contract expected to begin on October 12th. The JEDI project involves moving large amounts of data from the Defense Department to a commercially-operated cloud system.

But it looks like Google decided to withdraw from the bid, citing corporate values as a reason. And also the fact that they had doubts they would be able to get the necessary certifications.

We are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn’t be assured that it would align with our AI Principles,” a Google spokesman stated in the name of the company “And second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications.”

This decision comes just a few months after a number of employees signed a petition, went to the media and downright resigned following Google’s involvement with Project Maven – a Department of Defense project that uses AI to analyze drone footage. Project Maven also had the potential to be used to support combat operations. In the aftermath, Google pulled out of the project due to the sustained internal criticism.

Though it was the single-vendor rule that stopped Google in its tracks from bidding on JEDI, the Tech workers Coalition took credit for the withdrawal with a tweet:

Google had every intention of bidding for, and possibly winning, the JEDI contract. They spent considerable resources and hours of top executive time courting military officials to do exactly this. They only dropped out due to sustained employee pressure. #TechWontBuildIt

In addition to that, they’re also not convinced that the company’s AI principles is the reason why Google made the decision to back down from the bid:

In their statement, Google points to its AI principles as the reason for this decision (principles that are themselves a response to internal dissent). The truth is that the project was stopped by the thousands of workers who demanded a say in what they build. #TechWontBuildIt

Even so, Google was not very vocal in the upcoming bidding war to begin with, so the company’s decision will most likely not impact the bid very much.

On the other hand, Google is still continuing its work on the censored search engine it has been building for the Chinese government, apparently not bothered by the internal pressure it is receiving not only from its employees, but also from the White House itself.

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