Google pursues cloud computing contract with Pentagon: report

Google is reportedly pursuing a cloud computing contract with the Defense Department after the Pentagon and Microsoft severed relations over the summer.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the Pentagon is looking to resurrect its cloud computing project, giving Google the opportunity to enter the bidding war to work with the military. Four people familiar with the matter told the newspaper that Google is currently working on creating a proposal to present to defense officials.

Google’s cloud unit announced an emergency “Code Yellow” in September for the Pentagon’s proposal, two sources told The Times, which allows the company to transfer engineers from other missions to the military company .

Thomas Kurian, chief executive of Google’s cloud unit, reportedly met with Charles Q. Brown, chief of staff of the Air Force, on Tuesday, where staff at the tech giant explained why his company was fit for the contract. .

The new contract, dubbed Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, will replace the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), which the Pentagon canceled in July. The contract, which was with Microsoft, was broken amid an intense legal battle involving Microsoft and Amazon.

Amazon has been disputing the $ 10 billion contract Microsoft received in October 2019 for more than a year.

The new contract would upgrade the Pentagon’s cloud technology and strengthen support for the use of artificial intelligence as a strategic tool on the battlefield, according to the Times.

A Google spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that the tech giant believed a multi-cloud strategy would present the Pentagon with “the best solution now and in the future,” adding that it would consider future bidding opportunities accordingly.

“We are firmly committed to serving our public sector clients, including the DoD, Department of Energy, NIH and many other government agencies, and we will assess all future bidding opportunities accordingly,” added the spokesperson.

Google’s maneuvers for the contract may come as a surprise to some, after the tech giant withdrew from a project with the Pentagon, dubbed Project Maven, in 2018, after thousands of employees signed a letter that opposed the initiative. The company ultimately decided not to renew its contract with the Defense Ministry that year.

The Maven Project focused on using artificial intelligence as a tool to help review videos, according to the Times. It could also be used to fine tune drone strike targets.

After Google refused to renew its contract with the Pentagon, the company wrote guidelines regarding the ethical use of artificial intelligence, according to which the technology should not be used for weapons or surveillance, according to the Times.

The newspaper noted that while it is not clear whether Google’s involvement with the Pentagon under the contract would violate the tech giant’s artificial intelligence principles, the Defense Department said that technology would probably be a useful tool on the battlefield.

Russell Goemaere, a Pentagon spokesman, told The Times he would hear proposals from a limited number of companies who could verify their demands.

“As this is an active acquisition, we cannot provide any additional information related to this effort,” he added.

La Colline has contacted the Pentagon for comment.

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