During his speech at the National Conservatism Conference, the billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel said Google should be federally investigated by both the CIA and FBI over its “seemingly treasonous” decision to work with the Chinese military and not the US military.
During part of his speech, he laid out three questions that should be asked of Google and its artificial intelligence (AI) projects:
“Number one, how many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated your Manhattan Project for AI?”
“Number two, does Google’s senior management consider itself to have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence?”
”Number three, is it because they consider themselves to be so thoroughly infiltrated that they have engaged in the seemingly treasonous decision to work with the Chinese military and not with the US military… because they are making the sort of bad, short-term rationalistic [decision] that if the technology doesn’t go out the front door, it gets stolen out the backdoor anyway?”
He added that these questions should be asked by both the CIA and FBI and “asked in a not excessively gentle manner.”
Thiel questions are likely referring to Google’s decision not to renew its contract with the US Department of Defense in June 2018 which involved analyzing drone videos with AI and then the subsequent reports that Google is still working with companies that have close ties to the Chinese government and reportedly working on a version of its censored Chinese search engine Project Dragonfly.
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The US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford has previously suggested that engaging in the Chinese market often leads to information being shared with the Chinese military by saying:
“I have a hard time with companies that are working very hard to engage in the market inside of China, and engaging in projects where intellectual property is shared with the Chinese, which is synonymous with sharing it with the Chinese military.”
These comments from Thiel come as Google is facing investigations from multiple agencies and government bodies including the US Congress, US House Judiciary Committee, and the UK Competition and Market’s Authority.