Google bids on Pentagon program for Cloud computing technology

Three years ago, Google was pressured by its employees to drop a Pentagon project using artificial intelligence (AI), now, the Big Tech giant is chasing after another massive contract that will work on cloud computing to the military, according to The New York Times. 

In 2018, Google backed away from Project Maven with the Department of Defense (DoD) after its employees harshly protested working with the Pentagon. Three years later, the search engine titan is pursuing another profitable contract, the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capabilities (JWCC).

Project Maven pushed employees to sign a letter objecting to Google’s interest in engaging with a military-backed project using AI, adopted to translate video game photos to deliver a higher level of drone strike accuracy. 

The opposing employees forced the company to develop policies for ethical adoption of AI that forbid using its technology for weaponry or surveillance. With the titan placing cloud computing at the frontier of its future projects, the bidding race for the Pentagon contract will assess the limits of the latest AI policies regarding military and intelligence work.

Google, who succumbed to the pressure, agreed not to renew the contract for the program once it expires.

Earlier in July, the JWCC was first announced as a substitute for the military’s previously revoked Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) initiative. JEDI was outlined by the Pentagon to renovate its IT framework, with a $10 billion budget.

Two of the Big Tech legion giants, Microsoft, and Amazon, were initially set to assist in the modernization of the Pentagon’s IT infrastructure. However, the contract was later put on hold following Amazon’s objection to the Pentagon’s decision to award Microsoft with the complete cloud contract.

Google did not place bids for the JEDI project, following the uproar with its workers for Project Maven.

Now, the JWCC project has seen the light for the search engine giant as the Pentagon is re-initiating its cloud computing project, delivering the tech mogul another opportunity to join the bidding race. According to people close to the matter, Google has already structured a proposal to be delivered to Defense officials.

In September, the company’s cloud unit announced a critical “Code Yellow” with high importance, giving the tech firm the right to extract engineers from different in-house assignments to direct their work on JWCC military project’s proposal.

Google’s company’s cloud unit’s chief executive, Thomas Kurian, met on Tuesday with the chief of staff of Air Force, Charles Q. Brown Jr., with various high-ranked Pentagon officials to demonstrate the tech firm’s vision for the JWCC program.

In a written statement, the Android developer stated that it is “firmly committed to serving our public sector customers,” this also includes the Defense Department and that it is willing to “evaluate any future bid opportunity accordingly.”

Few details have been released to the public regarding the JWCC project, such as its exact size. However, it has been revealed that it will be half the duration of the JEDI program and will be bestowed to more than one tech firm.

From its stance, the DoD did not announce if its work with Google will give it access to the company’s cloud creations since this would be a direct breach of the search engine’s AI guidelines. The only disclosure provided by the Department was the technology will be strictly utilized as an additional reinforcement in armed combat.

It is worth mentioning that even though the DoD could disclose to Google what its cloud technology could be used for, the Pentagon’s policy prohibiting outside parties to obtain access to vital data could potentially prevent the cloud developer from knowing what its technology is being used for.

“As this is an active acquisition, we cannot provide any additional information related to this effort,” Russel Goemaere said concerning the Defense Department’s targeted tech companies to work on the project.

As for Google employees’ stance on the JWCC project, several workers disclosed that the emerging contract does not breach the previously set AI guidelines since the program strictly focuses on facilitating AI and cloud technology generic uses.

The merger between the Pentagon and Silicon Valley exhibited the Department’s ambitious efforts to convert its outmoded technology framework to a cloud-based one to be mired in legal battles. The modernization of the Pentagon’s ecosystem by shifting legacy technologies with innovative systems will allow internet giants to securely shift the DoD to the cloud.