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Judge says Amazon suit alleging Trump interfered in Project JEDI can go ahead

todayApril 29, 2021

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An Amazon lawsuit alleging former President Donald Trump interfered in the selection process for the Department of Defense’s JEDI project can go forward, a federal judge ruled today.

The ruling stems from a 2019 lawsuit where Amazon insisted Trump purposefully snubbed the company in favor of Microsoft for the JEDI account – a $10B program to build AI solutions for the Pentagon. The reasoning for this, according to Amazon, has to do with its CEO’s ownership of the Washington Post, a newspaper Trump referred to as the “enemy of the people” numerous times during his one-time stint as US president.

[Read: Amazon prepares to strike back after Microsoft wins $10B JEDI contract]

Aside from personal beef between the richest person on the planet and the impeached US president, Amazon also asserts its product is far superior to Microsoft’s and claims it’s clearly better-suited to meet the taxpayers’ needs.

The Department of Justice and Microsoft filed a joint injunction request in an attempt to have Amazon’s case dismissed. It’s unclear at this time as to why the Judge refused the pair’s request.

An Amazon spokesperson told Neural:

The record of improper influence by former President Trump is disturbing, and we are pleased the Court will review the remarkable impact it had on the JEDI contract award.

AWS continues to be the superior technical choice, the less expensive choice, and would provide the best value to the DoD and the American taxpayer. We continue to look forward to the Court’s review of the many material flaws in the DoD’s evaluation, and we remain absolutely committed to ensuring that the Department has access to the best technology at the best price.

Quick take: This whole saga is an ugly patch for both the US government and big tech. There’s no unified scientific ethics body for artificial intelligence research and the US government has yet to describe its own policies regarding AI beyond blanket statements.

This means we’ve spent nearly three years watching the richest companies in the world (Google, Microsoft, and Amazon were all in the running) fight over which of them gets to militarize artificial intelligence for the purpose of winning wars with absolutely no legal framework to dictate what that means.  

Not only is taxpayer money being wasted to represent the government and Microsoft in court because the DoD’s selection process was flawed from the beginning, but the continuing presence of Donald Trump’s myriad conflicts of interest and utter lack of principles and ethics means that, by the time this is all said and done, we’ll have spent millions of dollars and years in court before the first algorithm gets installed.

To use a common military acronym: the whole thing is FUBAR.

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