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Jeff Bezos explains decision to work with Defense Department

Jeff Bezos speaks at Wired25 summit

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was a surprise speaker at the Wired25 conference in San Francisco on Monday and discussed everything from his space company Blue Origin to Silicon Valley's relationship with the Trump administration. When asked about Blue Origin's $2.3 billion contract with the U.S. Air Force, Bezos explained his decision to help develop rocket launch technology for the Pentagon.

"We are going to continue to support the [Defense Department], and I think we should. Sometimes one of the jobs of a senior leadership team is to make the right decision, even when it's unpopular. If big tech companies are going to turn their back on the U.S. Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble."

"I know everybody's conflicted about the current politics in this country," he continued. "This is a great country and it needs to be defended."

In June, Google backed away from a contract with the Pentagon that received backlash from its employees. More than 3,000 Google employees penned a letter opposing Project Maven, which aimed to harness artificial intelligence to recognize faces and could potentially have been used to improve the accuracy of drone strikes.

Bezos also explained his long-term mission to help launch humanity into space and said he'd be investing $1 billion annually to support Blue Origin.

"I won't be alive to see the fulfillment of that long-term mission," he told Steven Levy, WIRED's editor at large, adding that his company's goal is to lower the cost of access to space. "We need the same dynamism in space that we've seen online over the last 20 years — and we can do that."

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