Google Cloud announced today that it landed a contract to supply Veterans Affairs hospitals and Defense Health Agency treatment facilities with AI for predictive cancer and disease diagnosis. The contract comes from the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a Pentagon organization that brings consumer technology into the military.
“The initial rollout will take place at select Defense Health Agency treatment facilities and Veteran’s Affairs hospitals in the United States, with future plans to expand across the broader U.S. Military Health System,” a Google Cloud post reads. “The AI-based models used to assist doctors as part of the prototype were developed from public and private datasets that were de-identified to remove personal health information and any personally identifiable information. All patient diagnostic data will solely be managed by the individual hospital or provider.”
Initially, the solution will assist with research about prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, cervical dysplasia, and lymph node metastasis, a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email. In the future, it could assist with COVID-19-related diagnosis and treatments. The contract will also bring augmented reality microscopes to some military health facilities. The Joint AI Center (JAIC), a group the U.S. military formed in 2018 to ramp up its AI initiatives, will fund the project.
Google Cloud dropped out of the coveted JEDI contract competition, stopped participation in Project Maven, and pledged not to make autonomous weaponry after employee outrage, but that doesn’t mean Google doesn’t want military contracts. In an apparent effort to mend fences, last fall Google head of public policy Kent Walker reaffirmed the company’s commitment to military contracts.
Today’s announcement is just the latest military-related Google news. Google landed a cybersecurity-related contract with the DIU and U.S. military in May. Also in May: Josh Marcuse, executive director of another military group with ties to Silicon Valley called the Defense Innovation Board, left the Pentagon to join Google’s public sector division dealing with government and military contracts. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is head of the Defense Innovation Board and the National Security Commission on AI, a group making policy recommendations to Congress.
In other news at the intersection of military and AI, last month the Joint AI Center announced it awarded a contract worth up to $106 million to Deloitte to build the Joint Common Foundation, an AI development environment for the U.S. military. And the DIU recently cleared five consumer drones for military use.