Alphabet Inc.'s Google (GOOGL) has announced in a statement Monday that it will withdraw its bid for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), a multi-billion dollar cloud computing contract by the Defense Department.
In a statement, Google said they "couldn't be assured that [the deal] would align with [their] AI Principles". However, Google this week said it was dropping out of the race, citing ethical concerns over the use of its artificial intelligence technology, which would likely have been a key component of the services it would have to provide if it won the contract.
Other bidders include Amazon Web Services, widely seen as the frontrunner, and Microsoft, which announced this week it expects to be certified for Top Secret US classified data by the first quarter of 2019.
Google was hoping that the $10 billion contract would boost its cloud business, which lags behind that of AWS and Microsoft.
Following details of the involvement of Google in Project Maven became known, thousands of employees at Google signed petitions asking for the company to leave the project and dozens resigned as a show of protest.
Microsoft has upgraded several Azure Cloud services to meet the stringent requirements of the federal government just days before final submissions are due for the Pentagon's highly contested JEDI cloud contract.
The trouble started in May, when Google was poised to renew a Pentagon project called Maven that used the company's artificial intelligence technology to enhance drone strikes.
The technology industry is innovating around next generation cloud at an unprecedented pace and JEDI virtually assures [the DoD] will be locked into legacy cloud for a decade or more.
In response, Google CEO Sundar Pichai outlined a long for the company to follow. That cloud provider will be helping the military hit targets and execute missions better, and much, much faster, even if the cloud is not formally involved in target selection or engagement, a job that the Pentagon maintains will continue to be done by human troops for the foreseeable future.
Google's AI principles don't exclude them from carrying out defense work entirely.
Bidding for the JEDI program began two months ago and ends this week. This means Azure public regions in the continental United States will support FedRAMP High applications for US Government agencies who are allowed by regulation to host their information in the public cloud this year.