Google Cloud in announcement onslaught as employees revolt

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Announced at Google Cloud Next 2023, Google Cloud has unveiled several new partnerships, AI innovations and collaborations amidst an employee revolt over its military ties.

The company has entered into a collaboration with AI21 Labs, an Israeli start-up that changes the way people read and write using generative AI and LLMs. AI21 is leveraging Google Cloud’s AI/ML infrastructure to speed its model training and inferencing and is also one of the first partners to offer genAI features on top of BigQuery.

SAP meanwhile has expanded its long-term, strategic partnership with Google Cloud to help enterprises harness the power of data and generative AI. Both companies will combine their integrated open data cloud using SAP Datasphere with Vertex AI to launch new generative AI-powered industry solutions, starting with automotive and introduce new capabilities to help customers improve sustainability performance.

Juergen Mueller, chief technology officer and member of the executive board of SAP SE, said: “Our partnership with Google Cloud is quickly evolving to incorporate generative AI. For this purpose, we utilize our expansive joint data cloud to transform business decision-making and improve productivity, leveraging the potential of SAP Datasphere built on SAP Business Technology Platform.

“With SAP Business AI, we build systems of intelligence with three core principles: they are relevant, reliable and responsible. Customers will not only benefit from AI already embedded across our business solutions, but also from a unified, open data foundation and additional AI capabilities from Google Cloud.”

Also announced at Next 2023 were big moves in the field of healthcare via new collaborations with HCA Healthcare, Hackensack Meridian Health, Huma and Infinitus Systems, all of which are tapping into Google Cloud’s generative AI capabilities to automate and streamline business processes. Leveraging Google Cloud, healthcare organizations can deploy generative AI solutions to enhance patient care and reduce administrative burden on clinicians, caregivers and hospital operators.

Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, said: “Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize how we deliver care, making it more efficient, personalized and effective.

“Artificial intelligence coupled with experienced clinicians will be a game-changer for our nation’s healthcare system and potentially revolutionize how we deliver and receive care.”

Additionally, the Alphabet company has unveiled plans to establish operations in El Salvador thanks to a multi-year partnership with the nation’s government. Google Cloud plans to establish an office and deliver Google Distributed Cloud services to help the country digitally.

Not that it was all good news at Next 2023. In light of the company’s contract with Israel’s military started from 2021, employees of Google Cloud gathered at the San Francisco conference in protest. The 30-odd protestors chained themselves together outside the conference venue and revealed a banner reading, “Google Project Nimbus fuels Israeli apartheid”, in reference to a $1.2bn contract that Google and Amazon Web Services has entered into with the Israeli government and military. Not a good look perhaps amidst the major focus on ESG within enterprise tech, but not a shocking one considering Google’s increased footprint in defense.

“It is not a surprise that Google employees are reconsidering their stance on the vendor’s technology being used for defense cases,” Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research, tells ERP Today. “First of all, they likely know about Google’s lead in the field, and it’s even a self preservation exercise – ‘have the best AI/ML protect you’.

“Secondly, it is widely known in the community on how Chinese and Russian colleagues [at Google] do not even have the choice [to protest], so it makes the support more acceptable in the mainstream. And lastly, some more idealistic Google souls may have thought to set an example – but not expect their colleagues at AWS, Microsoft etc. to have no issues at all with working with [defense entities].”

Additional reporting by Giacomo Lee.