Google's decision to work with China, not US, 'unprecedented': Peter Thiel - Fox Business
Posted: 11 Aug 2019 10:10 AM PDT
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Thiel, a conservative who is an outlier among his peers in Silicon Valley, originally called for the federal investigation in mid-July at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C., accusing Google of working with China but not the U.S. government.
The billionaire, who also sits on the board at Facebook, said Sunday that regardless of whether an American firm works with a civilian company in China, all technology is passed along to the communist nation's military.
"It's not like the U.S., where you have different companies and different people and you have a government sector and a private sector and these things don't always coordinate or work together," Thiel told "Sunday Morning Futures." "In China, these things are still tightly coordinated across the board."
In particular, Thiel said he is most concerned about Google's sharing of its artificial intelligence called "DeepMind," what he deems the tech firm's "crown jewel." DeepMind was founded in 2010 and purchased by Google four years later. The search giant opened its AI research lab in China, the same year that the nation amended its constitution to include a mandate that requires all research done inside the country to be shared with its armed forces (the People's Liberation Army).
"I think it is unprecedented in the last 100 years, or ever, that a major U.S. company refused to work with U.S. military and has worked with our geopolitical rival," he said. "So this is not a liberal-conservative thing … this is absolutely unprecedented."
FILE - This March 23, 2010, file photo shows the Google logo at the Google headquarters in Brussels. Google, the tech giant known universally for its search engine, also has fingers in a number of other pies, like online advertising, email messaging (AP)
While Thiel stopped short of calling the company's alleged links to China treasonous (though he has previously used the term regarding the same matter), he described the company's self-image as "globalist," "post-national" and "cosmopolitan," adding that he believes "more that it's incredibly insular." The billionaire noted the first step toward making change is to talk about the issue.
"This is an open secret in Silicon Valley," Thiel said. "A lot of people think this is like kind of crazy what Google's doing … And I sort of feel like I'm the little kid saying 'the emperor has no clothes.' It's the secret hidden in plain sight."
A Google spokesperson called Thiel's allegations "baseless" and said the company does not work with the Chinese military.
"Our AI work in China is limited, with a small number of people working on global open source and education-related activities," the spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement. "We are proud to continue our long history of work with the U.S. government, including the Department of Defense, in many areas including cybersecurity, recruiting and healthcare."
Thiel's original comments also gained the attention of President Trump (whom Thiel supports), who said he will recommend various federal agencies, and possibly the Department of Justice, "take a look" into Google.
"It's a big statement when you say that Google is involved with China in not a very positive way for our country," Trump, who referred to Thiel as a friend, told reporters at the White House. "So I think we'll all look at that. I know that our other agencies will be looking at it and we'll see if there's any truth to it."
This story has been updated to include a statement from Google
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