As he opened his speech, the billionaire investor cited Google’s attempts to work out a deal with Beijing to develop a tightly-controlled search engine after letting lapse a U.S. Defense Department contract that would have given the American military access to the company’s powerful artificial intelligence tools.
Those actions, Thiel noted, were “seemingly treasonous,” while he suggested that the AI research division of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has been “infiltrated” by Chinese spies.
During his speech, Thiel — a Facebook board member and one of the very few Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs who support POTUS Donald Trump — said U.S. intelligence agencies should be making inquiries into Google’s China connections.
“These questions need to be asked by the FBI and the CIA," Thiel said, "And I’d like them to be asked in a not excessively gentle manner.”
“Number one, how many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated your Manhattan Project for AI?” he said.
“Number two, does Google’s senior management consider itself to have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence?” he continued.
“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 U.S. 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?” Thiel noted further. (Related: Google, Facebook, YouTube censorship of conservative sites, voices just like Communist CHINA.)
The PayPal entrepreneur has been a longtime supporter of artificial intelligence, Bretibart News reports. In conjunction with fellow technocrats Elon Musk and Reid Hoffman, the trio pledged in 2015 to commit to investing $1 billion to OpenAI, a non-profit organization.
Breitbart notes further:
Google has come under fire previously for its relationship with China, particularly the development of a censored Chinese search engine codenamed Project Dragonfly. During a speech before the Hudson Institute in 2018, Vice President Mike Pence criticized what he believes is China’s theft of U.S. technology, urging Gooogle to take action on the issue. Pence said during the speech that other business leaders are hesitant to enter the Chinese market “if it means turning over their intellectual property or abetting Beijing’s oppression.”
During the conference, Pence also called on Google to pay attention to other tech leaders and that “more must follow suit.” Furthermore, he said Google should end any search engine development effort with a Communist rival that seeks to undermine and challenge the United States increasingly throughout the world.
That would include development of Dragonfly, its censored Chinese search engine product.
“For example, Google should immediately end development of the ‘Dragonfly’ app that will strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers,” the vice president noted.
In September during an interview on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson program, Dr. Michael Pillsbury, a China policy expert, recounted that about eight years ago Google co-founder Sergey Brin was praised for balking at doing any business at all with the Chinese government, but that now he appears to have changed his mind.
“Fast-forward eight years and Google has reversed itself, but done so secretly,” Pillsbury noted, adding that Google was “highly embarrassed” when information about the secretive Project Dragonfly was leaked.
“I hate to say it’s a scandal, we use that word too much in Washington, but it’s a growing problem for Google,” he said.
Apparently not. But Thiel has a point: Wouldn’t it be something if, for example, the CIA or FBI would put resources into investigating Google the way the 2016 Trump campaign was investigated? Or how about just turning Project Veritas loose on Google to see what James O’Keefe’s undercover journalists can discover?
The U.S. government is well aware of China’s efforts to spy on the United States, including the face that a Chinese spy actually served as a driver for Sen. Dianne Feinstein for two decades — while she was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
As The Weekly Standard noted in September in reporting on the spy, “Beijing’s nefarious activities in the United States are very worrying.”
Since the Clinton administration, China has been stealing sensitive U.S. military, intelligence, and financial data. Google is a company that is on the cutting edge of technology research, including artificial intelligence. Doing business with China on any level most often involves a demand by Beijing that the American company seeking to crack the Chinese market share and transfer technology.
Why should we expect China to behave any differently with Google? And isn’t Thiel right to be concerned?