Google defends defense contract bids on staff issues: CNBC

  • Google’s chief executive defended a bid for a multi-billion dollar US defense contract in all hands.
  • Nearly 1,000 employees voted for a question on the case, CNBC reported.
  • Are you a Google Cloud employee? Contact reporter Martin Coulter at mcoulter@insider.com.

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Google’s chief executive spoke about the company’s pursuit of a multibillion-dollar contract in the Department of Defense at a meeting with all hands last week after employees raised the issue internally.

According to CNBC, which received audio from the meeting, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai and his counterpart in the company’s Cloud department, Thomas Kurian, defended the company’s interests in the US Government’s Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability program (JWCC) and tried to draw a line. between it and previous work with the Pentagon, the latter of which caused outcry among the staff.

CNBC reported that Kurian was also trying to differentiate the JWCC from its predecessor JEDI – the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure scheme – a $ 10 billion project that Google initially launched before withdrawing from the process. JEDI was eventually annulled by the Pentagon after Amazon claimed that President Trump had unfairly awarded the contract to Microsoft.

Pichai reportedly read out a question to Kurian from an anonymous employee who asked why Google was pursuing the JWCC when it had previously withdrawn from its JEDI bid for AI ethical reasons.

Kurian, who took the top job at Google Cloud in 2018, reportedly responded by saying his department would be “proud to work with DoD to help modernize their operations.”

“There will be many areas where our product capabilities and technical expertise can be applied without any conflict with Google’s AI principles,” he said.

He added that Google may not agree with the decision, but that Google’s management believed it should work with the government where there was no conflict with company principles.

Insiders Hugh Langley reported earlier in November that Google’s pursuit of the new contract was annoying employees, who have been out with memes and messages on internal forums.

Alphabet Workers’ Union also tweeted about the problem, writes in response to CNBC story Monday night: “Google, we do not want to modernize warfare.”

Insider contacted Google for comment.

Are you a current or former Google Cloud employee with more to share? You can contact this reporter securely using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+447801985586) or email (mcoulter@businessinsider.com). Reach out using a non-working device.

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