Silicon Valley bigwig Peter Thiel believes that Google, which aided China’s military, may be infested with Beijing’s agents, according to a media report. The FBI and CIA now have to keep an eye on the search giant, he said.
Thiel launched his attack on the tech company when speaking at the National Conservatism Conference, a closed-door event that focuses on Trump-era nationalism, Axios writes. The billionaire investor is said to have told the audience about three questions he would like to ask Google.
First, Thiel apparently wants to know “how many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated your Manhattan Project for [artificial intelligence].”
He also wondered if Google’s senior management “consider itself to have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence.”
Thiel, one of the most vocal supporters of Donald Trump in Silicon Valley, suggested that it could explain why the company chose to make “the seemingly treasonous decision” to aid the Chinese, not the US, military.
Now, the FBI and CIA should look at Google and ask these questions, “in a not excessively gentle manner,” he reportedly said.
Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and helped finance Facebook in the early stages, is not the only public figure to have raised suspicion about Google’s alleged contribution to Chinese military hi-tech. In March, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, alleged Beijing’s armed forces “indirectly benefited” from Google’s know-how.
President Trump has also joined in the chorus of critics, saying in an angry tweet: “Google is helping China and their military, but not the US. Terrible!”
Google firmly denied the allegations at the time, saying that it is “not working with the Chinese military,” but is rather teaming up “with the US government, including the Department of Defense, in many areas including cybersecurity, recruiting and healthcare.”
However, it did have issues with the latter, opting not to continue cooperation on an AI contract called Project Maven which saw numerous employees staging a revolt against their technology being potentially used in warfare. Separately, Google decided not to compete for the Pentagon’s JEDI cloud computing project, citing ethical reasons.
Thiel’s comments come as Donald Trump continues his trade war with China. In May, it was reported that Google is cutting ties with Chinese tech giant Huawei after the latter was blacklisted by the US over allegations of being a spying tool for Beijing. China and Huawei repeatedly denied the claims.