Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Kristin Zimmerman

Google picks principles over $10bn Pentagon deal

Google picks principles over $10bn Pentagon deal

The Tech Workers Coalition claimed pressure from Google employees was the true reason for Google's exit. Certain requirements in the RFP either mirror one vendor's internal processes or unnecessarily mandate that certain capabilities be in place by the bid submission deadline versus when the work would actually begin.

According to Reuters, the company's AI principles bar using the software for weapons or with services that could potentially violate accepted global standards on human rights and surveillance.

In June, Google released a set of principles for its work in Artificial Intelligence.

That program, known as Project Maven, is created to automate the analysis of surveillance footage collected by US military drones, a task that for years has been handled directly by the Air Force. But Google Cloud chief executive Diane Greene said at the time that the company could not control the "downstream uses" of the technology. "We do believe that the uses of our cloud and AI will prove to be overwhelmingly positive for the world, and we also recognize that we can not control all downstream uses of our technology", Greene wrote.

Google's move to pass on the contract comes just after news that 500,000 users' personal data due to a Google+ bug.

But FedRAMP certifications are just the starting point for vendors that want to compete for the Pentagon contract, which will transform the military's information technology infrastructure over a ten-year period.

Google won't bid for the Department of Defense's massive cloud contract because it could conflict with its AI principles against developing weapons. Also, says the company, parts of the project are out of scope of its current government certifications.

Google has abandoned the race to win the Pentagon's Dollars 10 Billion Cloud Competition. Some Google employees reportedly quit over the company's work on Project Maven, a drone initiative for the United States government that could weaponize their AI research.

AirAsia's technical team will work with Google Cloud engineers allowing the airline's technical teams to solve specific business scenarios while gaining a solid foundation in AI with Google Cloud's state-of-the-art TensorFlow and Cloud Machine Learning Engine.

Opal, of Microsoft partner SWC, said given a Bloomberg report last week that the Chinese government has compromised the servers of rival cloud providers with a supply chain hack, it is easy to understand why Microsoft would be increasing its reach into the federal market.

The contract has been mired in controversy as a result of the Pentagon's decision to award the contract to a single contractor rather than breaking it up.

Amazon Web Services is largely considered a front-runner for the contract, which is expected to draw bids from Microsoft, IBM and Oracle.

Microsoft plans to continue simplifying its approach to regulatory compliance for federal agencies, "so that our government customers can gain access to innovation more rapidly", White said.

That the Pentagon could trust housing its digital data with Google would have been helpful to its marketing efforts with large companies.

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