Google's announcement on Monday came just months after the company decided not to renew its contract with a Pentagon artificial intelligence program, after extensive protests from employees of the internet giant about working with the military.
"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 representative said in the statement, adding that the company works with the USA government in many areas.
The principles bar use of Google's artificial intelligence (AI) software in weapons as well as services that violate worldwide norms for surveillance and human rights. While it will still work with the military, the guidelines would prohibit the use of AI in weaponry.
For its part, Google told Bloomberg that it also supports the idea of splitting the JEDI contract between multiple providers, and that it would have submitted a bid on those terms.
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Several big tech companies are currently in a race to win the Pentagon's $10 billion JEDI cloud contract, and after Google pulled out from the fight yesterday, Microsoft is now touting an upcoming expansion of its Azure Government Secret cloud service (via Reuters).
Around 4,000 employees signed a petition asking the company to end its involvement with the project and some even left Google completely.
Bloomberg added that a Google spokesperson said, had an effort by a number of companies including Microsoft, International Business Machines Corp., and Oracle Corp.to split the contract into pieces succeeded, the company could have "submitted a compelling solution for portions of it". A dozen people resigned before Google pledged to ditch Project Maven but "continue our work with governments and the military".
The contract is winner-take-all, with Amazon seen as the frontrunner.
In its statement on the JEDI bid, Google joined a chorus of commercial technology companies in criticizing the Pentagon's decision to award the contract to a single vendor, saying that a "multi-cloud" approach would have allowed the department to better match different solutions to different workloads.