Published: Thu, October 11, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Google concedes $10bn Pentagon Jedi data contract amid ethical concerns

Google concedes $10bn Pentagon Jedi data contract amid ethical concerns

Microsoft on track to catch up with Inc. by obtaining top federal security authorizations early next year, bolstering the company's position in the Pentagon's winner-take-all competition for a multibillion-dollar cloud computing deal.

A Microsoft logo is seen in Los Angeles, California U.S. November 7, 2017.

"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.

Whoever lands the controversial Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract will provide cloud computing infrastructure and other services to the USA military for the next 10 years.

Google drew up a new policy on artificial intelligence this year, following staff complaints about its work with the United States government on use of AI in weapons systems. The tech giant announced its latest decision hours after confirming Google+ users' personal data were exposed. Microsoft continues to support more services at both FedRAMP Moderate and FedRAMP High impact levels than any other cloud provider.

Microsoft data centres to power new Xbox streaming service
The development, called Project xCloud enables you to run Xbox One games on PC, other consoles, with a focus on mobile gadgets. At the present time, the offer is still in an experimental phase, the first beta public testing is scheduled for 2019.

This follows Google's cessation of its role within the Pentagon's "Project Maven" AI drone system, which can identify people and areas of interest using drone footage, with Google's involvement triggering a backlash from the public as well as its own workers. IBM executives say the company will have "some, but not all" of the required certifications as of the Friday due date.

Google controls less than 10 percent of the market share around cloud infrastructure services, and a Pentagon contract would've definitely boosted its profile. More than 8 in 10 of the companies surveyed had stated that they prefer a multi-cloud approach and they are on average running applications on 3.1 clouds. That contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, or JEDI for short, would see a single cloud for all of the data the DOD holds.

Google chose to withdraw because the contract may conflict with its corporate values, and its principles over the ethical use of AI. IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have sharply criticized that approach and even mounted lawsuits seeking to overturn it, arguing that the project is unfairly tilted in Amazon's favor. The US government believes that this can give military officials an edge on the battlefield by allowing them to quickly access data wherever they are to make better decisions on the battlefield.

The victor would help the Department of Defense build a single enterprise cloud that stores classified information and enhances its weapons capabilities, while enabling the federal government to consolidate its data centers.

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