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Google Withdraws from Pentagon’s $10 Billion JEDI Warfighting Program

Acknowledging strong employee opposition and conflicting ethical issues, Google has dropped out of the competition for a $10 billion contract with the Pentagon.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Mountain View, CA, United States (4E) – Acknowledging strong employee opposition and conflicting ethical issues, Google has dropped out of the competition for a $10 billion contract with the Pentagon.

Google said it withdrew from the lucrative “Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure” cloud (JEDI) program because it couldn’t receive assurances from the Pentagon the project won’t conflict with the firm’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Principles.

According to these Principles, Google believe that AI should: 1. Be socially beneficial. 2. Avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias. 3. Be built and tested for safety. 4. Be accountable to people. 5. Incorporate privacy design principles. 6. Uphold high standards of scientific excellence and 7. Be made available for uses that accord with these principles.

Sources said Google withdrew from the JEDI competition due to “sustained pressure” from its employees and others in the tech industry. The JEDI program is expected to award the full $10 billion contract to a single bidder.

With Google’s withdrawal, Amazon is now the leading contender due to its extensive experience as a cloud provider.

The Pentagon’s JEDI program is aimed at finding a solution that will allow the U.S. Armed Forces to transfer massive amounts of data and processing power to the cloud. JEDI will give military commanders quick access to data wherever they are. It will allow them to make quicker and better decisions while on the battlefield. Conflicts with Google’s principles 1, 4, 5 and 7 are already evident here.

Google crafted these AI Principles back in May to help guide it when figuring out which AI projects to develop and pursue. While it will still work with the U.S. military, the guidelines prohibit the use of AI in weaponry.

The company wrote its AI Principles after employees strongly opposed its contract renewal for a separate Pentagon program called Project Maven, which will develop algorithms that can flag drone images for human review.

More than 4,000 Google employees signed a petition asking the company to end its involvement with Project Maven. Many employees refused to work on Maven while some employees even quit in protest. The unexpectedly virulent opposition to Maven forced Google to forego renewing its contract with the Pentagon.

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Politics

Pichai all but Confirms Google will Launch a Censored Search Engine in China

Google will likely push through with its controversial project to develop a “censored search engine” for China that will block terms deemed unfriendly by the communist rulers.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Menlo Park, CA, United States (4E) – Google will likely push through with its controversial project to develop a “censored search engine” for China that will block terms deemed unfriendly by the communist rulers.

“Project Dragonfly” is a self-censoring mobile search engine being developed by Google exclusively for use in China. Dragonfly is a joint venture between Google and a China-based company.

Critics of Dragonfly claim China will use this tool to suppress dissent. It will be launched in 2019 amid what Human Rights Watch calls a “broad and sustained offensive on human rights” by Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai openly discussed the possibility Dragonfly will fly in China at a recent tech conference in San Francisco. He also tried to make Google’s surrender to China more palatable by claiming only “1%” or Google searches will be censored. One percent of one billion searches is still 10 million and there will certainly be billions of searches per month in China.

Pichai said working on a Project Dragonfly is in line with the company’s mission to “provide information to everyone.” He noted that China accounts for 20% of the world’s population.

Pichai said Google is also taking “a longer-term view” about China. He still claims Google hasn’t decided if it will actually launch Project Dragonfly in China. Pichai said it’s time for Google to get an understanding of the Chinese market from the inside out.

“It’s a wonderful, innovative market,” said Pichai. “We wanted to learn what it would look like if we were in China, so that’s what we built internally.

He noted that “given how important the market is and how many users there are, we feel obliged to think hard about this problem and take a longer-term view.”

Pichai hid the fact Project Dragonfly will censor 1% or more of searches by saying this engine will still be able to answer “well over 99% of the queries” put to it.

Google only confirmed Project Dragonfly’s existence when its chief privacy officer, Keith Enright, spoke at a U.S. Senate hearing last month.

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Amazon Believes it will Win $10 billion JEDI Contract from Pentagon

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has no qualms about working on a controversial Pentagon program Google recently abandoned out of conflicting ethical issues.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Seattle, WA, United States (4E) – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has no qualms about working on a controversial Pentagon program Google recently abandoned out of conflicting ethical issues.

Bezos has his eye squarely on becoming the sole provider of the massive cloud services demanded by the Pentagon’s lucrative “Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud” (JEDI) program. Worth over $10 billion, JEDI aims to find a solution that will allow the U.S. Armed Forces to transfer massive amounts of data and processing power to the cloud.

The Pentagon defines JEDI as a single indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract that will be its largest cloud vehicle.

“This is going to be more than an IT system,” said Brig. Gen. David Krumm, deputy director for requirements for the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. “It’s not email, this is not cloud storage, it’s not data transfer. This is about how us and you together are going to change the way that this nation, its soldiers, its sailors, its marines and airmen fight and win our nation’s wars.”

The Pentagon currently lacks an efficient means of getting timely information and systems to remote areas where the U.S. conducts military operations.

“If you’re a student of military history, you know that lives have been saved and lost and that battles and wars have been won or lost based on bad, no or late information,” said Gen Krumm.

Should Amazon secure the JEDI contract, the project implementation will be left to Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Amazon subsidiary of that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms to individuals, companies and governments on a paid subscription basis. AWS technology allows subscribers to access a virtual cluster of computers, available all the time, through the Internet.

“If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the DoD (Department of Defense), this country is going to be in trouble,” said Bezos.

“We are going to continue to support the DoD, and I think we should,” said Bezos. “One of the jobs of senior leadership is to make the right decision, even when it’s unpopular.”

Bezos did admit some technologies might be misused, but that’s not a reason to stop their development. He compared current technology to the invention of books, which have been used for good and bad, including creating “fascist empires.”

“The last thing we’d ever want to do is stop the progress of new technologies,” according to Bezos. Eventually, society will develop an “immune response” to bad uses of technology, believes Bezos.

Like Sundar Pichai at Google, Bezos is facing an angry backlash from Amazon employees over its business deals with U.S. government agencies. Amazon has already worked with the DoD and multiple law enforcement agencies have used “Rekognition,” its facial recognition system.

Anti-Rekognition Amazon employees and civil liberties organizations clain the software could be used violate human rights.

“I like this country,” said Bezos. “I know everyone is conflicted about the current politics in this country — this country is a gem. It is amazing. It’s still the best place in the world. It’s the place people want to come. There aren’t other countries where everybody’s trying to get in. I’d let them in if it were up to me. I like them. I want all of them in. This is a great country and it does need to be defended.”

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Chinese Concentration Camp Imprisons +1 Million Muslim Uyghurs

China has been forced to admit the existence of a massive concentration camp in which over one million Muslim Uyghurs are imprisoned two months after the United Nations blew the lid off this horrific human rights violation.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Beijing, China (4E) – China has been forced to admit the existence of a massive concentration camp in which over one million Muslim Uyghurs are imprisoned two months after the United Nations blew the lid off this horrific human rights violation.

Hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs are being held in other camps spread throughout the homeland of Chinese-Muslims, the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The Uyghurs are fighting for their own Muslim homeland separate from China.

A United Nations human rights panel in August said it had received many credible reports that one million ethnic Uyghurs are imprisoned in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.”

The allegation came from multiple sources. One of these activist groups, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders, said in a report in July that 21 percent of all arrests recorded in China in 2017 were in Xinjiang.

Members of the Uighur community and other Muslims are being treated as “enemies of the state” based solely on their ethno-religious identity.

The U.S. mission to the United Nations tweeted it was “deeply troubled by reports of an ongoing crackdown on Uighurs and other Muslims in China. We call on China to end their counterproductive policies and free all of those who have been arbitrarily detained.”

China, however, continues to imprison Uyghurs and shows no sign of closing what has been described as the world’s largest prison camp. China previously denied the existence of the camp and other camps until confronted with satellite photos showing the sprawling prison complex and documents issued by their own government.

China has confirmed its policy is to use these “vocational training centers” to “educate and transform” people influenced by “extremism,” Beijing has coerced Xinjiang into inserting into its anti-extremism regulations new clauses that prescribe the use of “vocational training centers.” Human rights groups say the amendments are an attempt to retrospectively legitimize the practice of imprisoning masses of Uyghurs without trial.

China’s new defense is the camps are merly “vocational training centers” where the inmates are taught to become better Chinese. Chinense officials also claim these ccenters prevent “terrorism” through “vocational education.”

One official said that because of the alleged vocational training centers, the region was now “safe and stable.” His statement, however, was a tacit admission these prison camps exist.

He went on to make the outlandish claim the centers are intended to improve job skills and Mandarin abilities among Uyghurs and other Muslim Turkic minorities with “a limited command of the country’s common language and a limited sense and knowledge of the law”.

“Through vocational training, most trainees have been able to reflect on their mistakes and see clearly the essence and harm of terrorism and religious extremism,” said the official. “They have also been able to better tell right from wrong and resist the infiltration of extremist thought.”

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