In the past, Google employees have protested their company’s work with the military. But that didn’t deter Google from pursuing a major new contract with the United States Department of Defense (DoD).
This contract, known as Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC), would evolve the existing DoD cloud ecosystem. In a statement released over the summer, the DoD said it would solicit proposals for the JWCC from a limited number of potential vendors, “namely Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) and Amazon Web Services (AWS), as the available market research indicates that these two providers are the only cloud service providers (CSPs) capable of meeting the requirements of the ministry. However, other tech companies can compete for the contract – and Google obviously thinks it can win.
To achieve such a victory, Google will have to demonstrate that its teams can meet a large number of requirements, including “advanced data analysis”, “computing, storage and network infrastructure” and “enhanced security. “.
According to The New York Times, Google is scrambling to put together a proposal for the DoD. The news raises a big question: If Google’s proposal wins, will it violate the company’s long-standing commitment not to adapt AI for “harmful use”? The Pentagon is clearly interested in using AI to give it an edge on the battlefield, and any next-generation cloud infrastructure would undoubtedly play an important role in that goal.
Google initially made this AI commitment in 2018, after employees protested the company’s contract with the Pentagon to develop AI capable of interpreting objects in images and video streams. The protesting employees argued that the technology could be used to improve the “sight” of deadly military drones. (Employees at other companies, including Microsoft, have also protested against the AI-related contracts for the military.)
Will Google employees protest any future work with the Pentagon, especially if it involves AI and battlefield technology? This is an excellent question. According to Blind, which runs anonymous polls on a range of issues, some 57% of technologists said they wouldn’t work for a particular company for moral reasons. But not everyone will necessarily view a military contract as immoral, especially if they feel national security is a fair priority.