Google has dropped a bid for a $10 billion Pentagon cloud computing project, the company announced Monday. The about-face comes after Google employees protested and resigned at what they perceived as their company’s enabling of warfare technology, and demanded a corporate policy to prevent Google from working on harmful technologies in the future.
The bid was for a Pentagon initiative called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), a plan to move the bulk of the Department of Defense’s data to a centralized cloud infrastructure. The plan would see data currently held by defense contractors moved to a commercial cloud solution, and tech companies including Microsoft, Amazon, and Google were lining up to take part.
“While we are working to support the US government with our cloud in many areas, 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,” Google’s statement said.
Earlier this year, Google decided not to renew another defense contract called Project Maven, which provided artificial intelligence for the assesement of drone imagery. After details of Google’s involvement with Project Maven came to light, thousands of Google employees signed a petition asking for Google to bow out of the project, and dozens more resigned in protest
Google’s announcement stopped short of some employee demands to abstain from all warfare-related technology in future, however. Google said that it would “continue to pursue strategic work to help state, local and federal customers modernize their infrastructure and meet their mission critical requirements,” which leaves the door open for more projects with the Pentagon in the future.