Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian

Google’s top brass defended a bid for a multi-billion dollar US defense contract in an all-hands.
Almost 1,000 employees upvoted a question on the matter, CNBC reported.
Are you a Google Cloud employee? Contact reporter Martin Coulter on mcoulter@insider.com.

Google’s top brass addressed the company’s pursuit of a multi-billion dollar Department of Defense contract at an all-hands meeting last week, after employees raised the issue internally. 

According to CNBC, which obtained audio of the meeting, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and his counterpart at the company’s Cloud division, Thomas Kurian, defended the firm’s interests in the US government’s Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) program, and attempted to draw a line between it and past work with the Pentagon, the latter of which caused outcry among staff. 

CNBC reported that Kurian also tried to differentiate the JWCC from its predecessor JEDI — the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure scheme –a $10 billion project which Google did originally pitch for before pulling out of the process. JEDI was ultimately cancelled by the Pentagon after Amazon claimed President Trump had unfairly awarded the contract to Microsoft.  

Pichai reportedly read out a question to Kurian from an anonymous employee that asked why Google was pursuing the JWCC when it had earlier pulled out of its JEDI bid on AI ethics grounds. 

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

“There will be many areas where our product capabilities and our engineering expertise can be brought to bear with no conflict to Google’s AI principles,” he reportedly said.

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He added that Googlers may not agree with the decision, but that Google’s leadership felt it should work with the government where there was no conflict with the firm’s principles.

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

The Alphabet Workers’ Union has also been tweeting about the issue, writing in response to the CNBC story on Monday night: “Google, we will not modernize warfare.”

Insider approached 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 nonwork device. 

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Source:: Business Insider

      

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