Google as an international company seems to have different priorities.
The tech giant announced on October 9 that it was dropping out of the $10 billion dollar contract bidding for the Pentagon initiative known as JEDI. In June earlier this year Google opted not to renew its contract with Project Maven, a government project related to drones. However, Google has had no problem forging ahead with the controversial Project Dragonfly, a censored search engine made in cooperation with the communist Chinese government.
The situations are both controversial. The governments of China and the United States offered to work with Google to create a product tailored for their respective unique purposes. The Pentagon wanted a product that aided in defense, allowing top military officials to access information quickly and efficiently in times of war. China wanted a search engine that prevented users from accessing certain opinions or information (in essence a giant propaganda machine.)
According to The New York Times, employees at Google had protested Project Maven and future contracts with the Pentagon. But employees had also protested and resigned over Project Dragonfly. One Google scientist wrote a letter to Congress explaining why he resigned over ethical concerns with Project Dragonfly, saying, “I was compelled to resign my position on August 31, 2018, in the wake of a pattern of unethical and unaccountable decision making from company leadership.”
Google cited numerous concerns with the Pentagon contract as reasons for withdrawing its bid, saying that employees protested and resigned, the company’s new artificial intelligence guidelines conflicted with assisting in military products, and the company lacked the specific certifications needed to accept the contract. However, similar ethical problems with Project Dragonfly have been raised in public again and again, and the venture still stands.
In an official statement to the Media Research Center, a Google spokesperson said, “While we are working to support the US government with our cloud in many areas, we are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn’t be assured that it would align with our AI Principles and second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications. 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. At a time when new technology is constantly becoming available, customers should have the ability to take advantage of that innovation. We will continue to pursue strategic work to help state, local and federal customers modernize their infrastructure and meet their mission critical requirements.”
So why is Google opting to help China with propaganda, but not America with defense?