Google executives last week in a company-wide meeting told employees that they were interested in a Pentagon cloud computing contract and that working for the military wouldn’t necessarily conflict with it Principles created by the company for the way its artificial intelligence technology would be used.
Google continued to pursue the contract three years later an employee revolt forced the company to stop working on a Pentagon program that uses artificial intelligence and set new guidelines against the use of AI for weapons or surveillance.
The persecution may lead to another clash between business leaders and employees. Google’s cloud unit prioritized the preparation of an offer for a Pentagon contract, The New York Times was revealed earlier this month, pulling engineers away from other projects to focus on creating a successful proposal.
The rush to pursue the contract is a dramatic change for Google, which said in 2018 it wouldn’t bid on a major cloud computing contract with the Department of Defense known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDIbecause the work would contradict their AI principles.
The JEDI cloud computing contract was valued at $ 10 billion over 10 years and was awarded to Microsoft in 2019. But opposite legal challenges from Amazon, the Pentagon terminated the contract in July and announced a new plan to purchase cloud computing technology. The new version of the contract, known as Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, will split the work across multiple companies.
The segmented nature of the contract allows Google to work on parts of the Pentagon cloud without violating its gun ban, Google executives told employees in Thursday’s video conference that The Times had recorded.
The exact scope of the work is still unclear as the government has not submitted a formal call for proposals. Google was not asked to bid, but has expressed an interest.
In a blog post Posted on the same day as the meeting, Thomas Kurian, who heads the company’s cloud unit, wrote: “If we are invited to be part of the JWCC contract, we will definitely bid.”
At the meeting, Mr. Kurian said there are many areas where Google’s skills and expertise can be applied “without contradicting Google’s AI principles”.
“We have governance processes that provide guidance and oversight over which AI products we offer and which custom AI projects we are and are not pursuing, and we will be following those governance processes,” he said.
Mr Kurian’s remarks previously made by CNBC, were created in response to a question from an employee about Google’s interest in the Pentagon Agreement and the Times’s coverage of it.
“We understand that not every Google employee will agree to this decision, but we believe that Google Cloud should try to serve the government where it can and where the work is in line with Google’s and the AI principles Our company’s values, ”said Kurian.
Google boss Sundar Pichai repeated his remarks. “I think we are determined to work with the government in a way that aligns with our AI principles,” said Mr. Pichai.
A Google spokesman declined to comment.