back to article Pentagon's JEDI mind tricks at odds with our 'values' says Google: Ad giant evaporates from $10bn cloud contract bid

Google has withdrawn from bidding on a multi-billion US military cloud contract, citing corporate values. And a lack of certification. The Chocolate Factory confirmed in a statement on Monday that it has dropped out of the race against tech giants to bag the Pentagon's US$10bn Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) …

  1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Wait! What?

    Google has Principles?

  2. A.P. Veening

    Re: Wait! What?

    Of course Google has principles ... or at least one: the bottom line, just like any other company that is supposed to make a profit.

  3. DropBear Silver badge

    Re: Wait! What?

    No. People have (or lack) principles. Corporations only have an insatiable hunger for profit by any means necessary. Whenever a sufficiently principled person is in control of a company to a sufficient degree, you might get to see the company acting responsibly - in any other situation all you'll see is raw greed thickly glazed with PR.

  4. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Re: Wait! What?

    Of course Google has principles ... or at least one: the bottom line, just like any other company that is supposed to make a profit.

    Google has realised it's employees would cause a ruckus, probably kicking off bad publicity among the general public.

    Think General Melchetts ' pooh-pooh and uprisings from the bottom' speech.

  5. A.P. Veening

    Re: Wait! What?

    Completely true and that ruckus would have a negative impact on the bottom line. Classical management by spread sheet.

  6. juice Bronze badge

    Re: Wait! What?

    Sadly, I suspect that the risk of "employee dissent" would not cause a company to back away from a $10 billion contract.

    Because, let's face it: $10 billion buys a lot of new employees - and a lot of positive PR - and Google is long since past the point where it needs (or, arguably, even wants) individual super-geniuses whose every whim must be satisfied. The dotcom era has been and gone, and if someone's not happy, welp, there's the door.

    And if they were presented with that choice, 99% of the dissenting employees would sit back down again.

    Instead, it's far more likely to be about the cost and timelines for getting and maintaining the required certification, combined with an assessment of how much of a PITA the actual contract itself is likely to be, as the Pentagon will almost certainly be doing their best to push all liabilities onto the supplier with some hefty penalty clauses attached.

    So, what do you do in the above scenario? You back out while loudly proclaiming it's about values and quietly muttering about certification. Employees and pressure groups get to feel smug, Google gets some PR brownie points, and the company as a whole has dodged a potential poison chalice. Everyone wins!

  7. Wzrd1

    Re: Wait! What?

    “In their statement, Google points to its AI principles as the reason for this decision (principles that are themselves a response to internal dissent). The truth is that the project was stopped by the thousands of workers who demanded a say in what they build.”

    No, that big NOFORN tag halted things.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Wait! What?

    "Google has Principles?"

    I think you will find thats just an excuse for Google cloud not having the same class of certified security capabilities as say Azure, and not likely being able to achieve that in the immediate future.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Wait! What?

    "Completely true and that ruckus would have a negative impact on the bottom line. Classical management by spread sheet."

    Or Google realises it relies on talented engineers to do what it does and that they may have indicated that they are less than happy with the idea of government snooping. I don't see that as management by spreadsheet in anyway. For it to be management by spreadsheet, they would have carefully weighed the losses from employees leaving against the potential profit from a Pentagon contract minus the significant investment in haulage for all of the pork...

    While there maybe some irony in Googles reluctance to aid government snooping, if the people who are most likely to be aware of the capabilities of Googles snooping are concerned about those capabilities being used by governments, perhaps they have a point...

  10. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
    FAIL

    Re: Wait! What?

    Yes. Those principles are to embrace authoritarian regimes like the Communist one in China if that will make a bigger buck. Just follow the money.

  11. Prosthetic Conscience
    Joke

    Re: Wait! What?

    Google's AI Principles: We need the humans alive to feed our learning algorithms.

    Bombing them from a drone doesn't really fit in with that to be honest.

  12. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

    Re: Wait! What?

    So, what do you do in the above scenario? You back out while loudly proclaiming it's about values and quietly muttering about certification. ...

    I arrived at much the same conclusion with the additional proviso that they didn't have enough time to put something together to wrong foot the competition as they have in other cases (Google Docs and other office apps spring to mind). It wouldn't surprise me to see them come back to this exact same thing later when it comes up for a different branch of the government.

  13. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Wait! What? Never, Never, Never. :-)

    While there maybe some irony in Googles reluctance to aid government snooping, if the people who are most likely to be aware of the capabilities of Googles snooping are concerned about those capabilities being used by governments, perhaps they have a point... .... Anonymous Coward

    Indeed they do have a point, AC, as any with Flash Beta Crash Test Thinking would Concur to Ensure was a Systemic Core Military SourcedD Vulnerability for Google Alphabet Exploitation and Expansion.

    And such AI ProgramMING is easily made readily available with tailoring and tuning to the Desired Provisional Requirements of Any Engine Searching for the Right Kind of Leading Information .... for Advancing IntelAIgents ....... :-) Humanity's Quite Super Natural Quantum Leap Evolution into New Existences Created for Future Populations Garnering Current Global Assets to Offset and Remedy Past Accrued Liabilities ..... is the sort of Gobbledegook you can easily hear from the likes of a Federal Reserve Punter or World Banker Wallah.

    It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to acknowledge the remarkably rapid progress of ITs AI ProgramMING .... whilst also painting developments as a Abiding Almighty ACTive Existential Threat

  14. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Wait! What?

    It also relies on other countries for $$$$.

    If Google became synonymous with NSA it would be a good excuse for China/India to ban them and the Eu to regulate them up the whatsit.

    There is less risk for Amazon, nobody is about to ban book sales because of links to the NSA

    And Oracle are already so evil that they are planning on a new project making nerve gas from kittens to improve their image.

  15. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Re: Wait! What?

    Unfortunately, I don't think 'profit' is Google's main motivation. It's in there too, but they have a strong left-of-center political bias as well.

    if it were "pure profit" they'd be easier to deal with. they wouldn't be pulling profitable videos off of youtube [or doing a 'shadow ban', same idea] just because they DISAGREE WITH THE POLITICS.

    If youtube were about profit alone they'd WANT more "controversial" stuff [even as defined by the left] because, let's face it, it can easily become CLICK BAIT for ad revenue.

    And that's just ONE example. Other things exist as well like unfavorable search results stacked in front of more favorable, regarding specific politicians (like Donald Trump) and issues (like Conservatism vs Liberalism). These examples have been well documented. Yes, on Fox News.

    So Google's principles don't include the military? Well, having BEEN IN THE MILITARY, I'd say that their right to act like *IDIOTS* is protected by THE MILITARY, because (regardless of how anyone "feels" about it) the world is governed by THE AGGRESSIVE USE OF FORCE and THE WILL TO WIELD IT.

    Those who are strong have the ability [and the moral obligation, in many respects] to KEEP the peace, through MILITARY STRENGTH. Otherwise, evil tin-horn dictators like "Little Rocket Man" will just fire missiles and blow up mountains with 'nukular' bombs to scare and intimidate everyone else, until you pay him to shut up for a few years at a time. Have a weak military, and these guys will pop up EVERYWHERE around the world, where evil dictators can oppress their people and squander their nations' resources. So you need a STRONG MILITARY to keep these people 'in check'.

    And Google has TOTALLY missed the boat on that. No surprise, really. They are, after all, political LIBERALS. And they haven't got a clue... or maybe it's the customer base they're trying to ATTRACT that hasn't got a clue???

    /me considers re-writing this using 'hippy' lingo - maybe they'd understand? Naaah, probably not.

    {oh, and thanks for the downvote!}

  16. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    Re: Wait! What?

    'NOFORN' - yeah, that's right, the U.S. Military often requires 'NOFORN' aka 'No Foreign Nationals' with respect to certain kinds of classified information. Perhaps a close look at Google's H1-B visa policy is unwanted? [they and others have often been suspected of deliberately 'importing' foreign employees and then effectively trapping them so that they have to work for less money]

    when I was in U.S. Navy Nuclear Power School, I had to stamp every page in my notebook 'Confidential' and 'NOFORN'. It was kept inside the building. There were study halls you could go to after hours but the classified info had to stay inside the building. And, of course, disposing of such material involves massive industrial sized shredders and furnaces.

  17. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Re: Wait! What?

    "Those principles are to embrace authoritarian regimes"

    I suspect that Google's management [and probably a lot of their employees] would embrace a communist/authoritarian regime even if there were NO money in it...

    "Filter what people see on the intarwebs? Cool! Track their personal lives and score them for later use in privilege determination? Awesome!"

    But, like the way it appears to be with most elitist types, they would be exempt from its effects.

    "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" - George Orwell, 'Animal Farm'

  18. HolySchmoley

    Re: Wait! What? Never, Never, Never. :-)

    "Indeed they do have a point, AC, as any with Flash Beta Crash Test Thinking would Concur to Ensure was a Systemic Core Military SourcedD Vulnerability for Google Alphabet Exploitation and Expansion."

    What a sentence. Beyond English translation.

    And probably cost more to generate than a Scrabble set and dice, but less than the running cost of many monkeys

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Wait! What?

    Yes, but the USA DOD is too 'conservative' for Google's principles. China, on the other hand, is a socialist utopian worker's paradise that spews forth the blissful platitudes that Google employees love. 1984, anyone?

  20. Someone Else Silver badge

    Re: Wait! What?

    Or Google realises it relies on talented engineers to do what it does and that they may have indicated that they are less than happy with the idea of government snooping.

    Let's assume for the moment that that is indeed true. Still, those same talented engineers don't seem to have any problems with corporate snooping, especially when that corporate is named Alphabet.

    This is the Age of Hypocrisy, after all.

  21. Someone Else Silver badge

    @HolySchmoley -- Re: Wait! What? Never, Never, Never. :-)

    You are clearly new here, grasshopper. When you can successfully parse a post from amanfrommars1, it will be time to leave....

  22. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Re: Wait! What?

    Sadly, I suspect that the risk of "employee dissent" would not cause a company to back away from a $10 billion contract.

    That recent immigrant family separation thing caused a good deal of negativity.

    Employees can be bought off, sacked or promoted sideways, but the more the bums at the company desks are unhappy, they'll pass it to friends and family, and the press.

  23. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    The bad news...

    Is that this increases the the chance that this contract will end up with some beltway bandit defense contractor, like the system integrator arms of Northrup or General Dynamics. That will most likely drive the costs up significantly. However, I don't think that the DoD would want to rely on Google anyway, given that it has a large insurgent group of employees who are hesitant to deliver JEDI per the DoD's requirements.

  24. Mayday Silver badge

    Re: The bad news...

    Why would Northrop Grumman (Northrup apparently) or General Dynamics bid for this? Where is their cloud capability? Same goes for Leidos or whoever else you wish to include on that list.

    All of those players are capable of private cloud deployments but none of them are a cloud provider per se.

  25. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Re: The bad news...

    Which is part of the reason why these companies would cost more than Amazon/Google/Microsoft. They have the certifications and the relationships with the DoD, but they would have to reinvent a good chunk of the wheel that traditional commercial cloud computing providers already have.

  26. DougS Silver badge

    Beltway defense companies

    They don't have the hardware to do it, but I wonder if the contract requires that? They could be the entrance for the cloud, with the data encrypted (again, no doubt) and then passed on to be stored on someone else's cloud, or multiple someone else's cloud.

    So they get paid the $10 billion, and pay $1 billion each to Amazon, Google and Microsoft, to store the data and keep the rest for themselves for hookers and blow. Then the Pentagon says "we need to store more data" and are told "OK, give us another $10 billion".

  27. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Re: Beltway defense companies

    They don't have the hardware to do it, but I wonder if the contract requires that? They could be the entrance for the cloud, with the data encrypted (again, no doubt) and then passed on to be stored on someone else's cloud, or multiple someone else's cloud.

    The bid would contain both hardware and software. For cost control and future proofing, ideally using as much existing tin and glue as possible. Defence contractors have experience running IT to support highly classified projects, but not necessarily scale to JEDI-size. Cloudmongers may not have the security experience.

    It strikes me though as one of those bids where good'ol Big Blue should have been a bit of a shoe-in. It has the tin, it has experience in classified environments, and it has (or had) things like RACF from it's big iron days to handle resource management. Plus it's probably still got certifications from building sim-nuke supercomputers, and depending on job cuts, staff vetted to deal with sensitive things.

  28. JohnFen Silver badge

    Re: The bad news...

    I don't think that's bad news. I think that's neutral news.

  29. DougS Silver badge

    IBM

    They probably don't have any employees left in the US other than sales and management. Who is going to do the classified work?

  30. bombastic bob Silver badge

    Re: IBM

    "Who is going to do the classified work?"

    hire contractors. that's how it's usually done.

  31. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: The bad news...

    >Why would Northrop Grumman (Northrup apparently) or General Dynamics bid for this?

    For the $$$$$$

    >Where is their cloud capability?

    They buy it from Amazon, add 150% markup and re-bill it

  32. Someone Else Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @Marketing Hack -- Re: The bad news...

    "Beltway Bandit". Love it! Can I use that?

  33. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Muddying the Waters and Clearing the Decks for NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Actions

    Exclusive future world utilities with almighty virtualised facilities .... which is really what Prime Premium JEDI Programs are all about* ..... is never going to be something which any previous conventional kinetic defence systems provider will be able to enable and deliver, because ..... and this is what y'all are going to have to accept and get used to and comfortable with, new adept and astute highly ACTive remote competition and relatively anonymous and stealthy opposition are too far advanced in such leadership fields to be troubled by their dabblings and dalliances in the great militarised search for fatty pork barrel funding**

    * .... Well, do you agree or disagree and be able to provide another take on the subject and objective for the JEDI exercise?

    ** ..... :-) There always is the possibility though that specialist dark web black ops sub contractors be flushed with flash cash to run trial secret missions on their behalf off the books. It is the big easy way how such Greater Advanced IntelAIgent Games are played ... Splash to Cash to Catch and Nurture AI Titans which are Able to Supply and Support Future Needs and Seeds ..... COSMIC Source Feeds, but that does require at least one SMARTR Board Head to be present and active in an extant military supply chain operation.

  34. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Muddying the Waters and Clearing the Decks for NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Actions

    Do you think Trump follows amanfromMars on Twitter ?

  35. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Re: The Trumping of Twitter with SMARTR Discourse on NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Matters

    Do you think Trump follows amanfromMars on Twitter ? ....Yet Another Anonymous coward

    Is the President of Russia, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, copied into Almighty IntelAIgent Developments to be fully expected to make a leading move and take a defining position on any and all New Path Founded Territories?

    Vladimir Putin is a news junkie.

    The Russian president’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, didn’t use that expression when we talked by phone, but that’s what he described to me: a man at the center of an ever-churning machine processing vast amounts of news and data at his command.

    “Sometimes we’re wondering what is the limit for a human being for absorbing this huge amount of information,” Peskov told me, “but, well, it’s really a very, very, very heavy job.”

    Peskov, speaking fluent English, described the operation. “First of all, the information and press department of the presidential administration prepares digests on print media, on Internet sources, on domestic media—federal and regional.

    “We have special people working around the clock, preparing TV digests. We’re recording TV news on the [Russian] federal channels for him during the day. Obviously, it’s very hard for him to watch news so we make digests, let’s say, zip versions of TV news, divided into issues.” .......

    He watches TV news channels in English and German—a language he speaks fluently thanks to his posting in Dresden as a KGB agent in the late 1980s—and receives English- and German-language newspapers.

    “Frankly speaking, I wouldn’t say that [Putin] is a fluent user of [the] Internet,” Peskov added, “but he is fluent enough to use some resources, plus, definitely, he is comparing what he sees and hears from [the] press … with the news he’s receiving—when it comes to foreign affairs—from his foreign ministry, from his special services, from intelligence, from various ministries, and so on.” ..... How the Media Became One of Putin’s Most Powerful Weapons

    And that self same question could and should easily be asked of any nation's leadership, given the fact that worlds according to media are presented to multitudes daily in a series of 0Days for acceptance and future realisation with programming instructions for production/direction of continuity relayed in Virtual Total Secrecy for Stealthy Overwhelming Advantage.

    And there's not many of those going round governments encouraging Simple Pioneering Action with Relatively Ridiculous Amounts of Home Grown Fiat Investment .... which makes the Cost Practically Price Free, for it is only then really just fancy paper being granted for Program Spending, is it not? It is not as if it anything uniquely valuable and scarce and expensive.

    Talk about an AI Bargain. Such are Beyond Comparison.

  36. Anonymously Anonymous

    Re: Muddying the Waters and Clearing the Decks for NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Actions

    What do they want exactly amfm?

  37. DavCrav Silver badge

    "A spokesperson told Bloomberg: “Had the JEDI contract been open to multiple vendors, we would have submitted a compelling solution for portions of it … Google Cloud believes that a multi-cloud approach is in the best interest of government agencies, because it allows them to choose the right cloud for the right workload.”"

    Hold on, I thought you said you pulled out because of your scruples.

  38. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    First casualty then.

    Who will fall/fold second?

    But, who will be the ultimate winner?

    I'll go out on a limb and predict that said winner will be fat, bloated and lazy close (or after) the 2-year mark.

  39. EastFinchleyite

    Winner takes or loses all?

    "But, who will be the ultimate winner?"

    Oracle's complaint that the DoD will be locked to one supplier works both ways. That supplier will be locked to the DoD. I bet the stock price of the wining bidder will rise then quickly drop on the news. I wouldn't want to own shares in a company that had hitched its wagon on a long term basis to such a capricious and unpredictable customer. That would apply to the MoD in this country (UK) as well.

    The winner will undoubtedly get a lot of cash initially but it will be stuck providing what the DoD wants. That may well be very different from the yet to be developed profitable services and products in a few years time. The winner will be come a legacy focused provider which is not a good look for the long term.

  40. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    Re: Winner takes or loses all?

    "The winner will undoubtedly get a lot of cash initially but it will be stuck providing what the [customer] wants."

    In other words, business as usual, as it is with ANY large company, rich person, or cash-rich organization, that's being serviced by a small one or individual. If the customer happens to be DoD, that's just what it is. Welcome to the world of contracts and service industries.

    [when you sign the front of the checks, you begin to understand these things]

  41. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Joke

    "A spokesperson told Bloomberg:

    Shouldn't it be rather "spokesdrone"?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let’s be honest, if Hillary had won Google employees would be perfectly happy to do drones, surveillance, you name it

  43. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    Let’s be honest, if Hillary had won Google employees would be perfectly happy...

    Why?

  44. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Meh

    Re: Let’s be honest, if Hillary had won Google employees would be perfectly happy...

    There would be no 'Trump Hate' if Mrs. Clinton would've won, and maybe the drones would be used for purposes more in line with 'slurp' (aka Google).

  45. arctic_haze Silver badge

    The JEDI way

    These aren't the AI Principles you are looking for.

  46. IGnatius T Foobar !

    The Fix Is In (tm)

    It's likely that if Google has withdrawn from bidding on this contract, they're confident that the Pentagon has already selected some other cloud provider and they're not going to bother wasting resources just to satisfy someone's bureaucratic "see we got bids from multiple vendors" process.

  47. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

    Employee rejection of business

    So some vocal portion (likely a minority) of Google employees don't want to work on a DoD project, and Google won't be bidding on the business. That's a scary precedent to set, looking at the political climate these days - You can't make all the people happy all the time, and if the unhappy ones can cause you to reject business/revenue you will eventually run out of customers you can do business with.

    Think about it - the list of customers that could easily be "rejected" is pretty vast: Government agencies, Big Oil/Energy, Big Agriculture, run by Republicans, run by Democrats, Pro-life, Pro-choice... It really starts getting scary when you think about how crippled a company could be by this kind of thing.

  48. JohnFen Silver badge

    Re: Employee rejection of business

    This is just the natural result of living in a corporatocracy. When the major corporations are the ones calling the shots, then normal democratic mechanisms don't apply. People who are working to improve the world (regardless of what they consider "improvement") have to influence the actual powers that be, and when those powers are corporations, the only way of influencing them at all is economic.

    This is the world the corporations wanted and fought hard for, so this is the world they got.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “Had the JEDI contract been open to multiple vendors, we would have submitted a compelling solution for portions of it … Google Cloud believes that a multi-cloud approach is in the best interest of government agencies, because it allows them to choose the right cloud for the right workload.”

    In any other instance, can you imagine Google turning away business on the position that doing so is in the best interest of the potential customer? I have to imagine that stockholders are mad right about now.

    This nevertheless is likely in the best interest for everyone involved. It would be awkward for Google to service DoD's workloads when antitrust suits start to fly.

  50. Big John Silver badge
    Meh

    Meh

    Google is becoming politically radioactive these days, so it's probably for the best.

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018