Peter Thiel steps up his calls for Google to be investigated over its ‘unprecedented’ decision to work with China and not the US military
- Peter Thiel a Paypal founder suspects Google is sharing AI with Chinese military
- Wants FBI and CIA to investigate the tech-giant to ensure no ‘foreign infiltration’
- Considers the relationship Google has with China ‘unprecedented’
- Thiel thinks search engine is ‘insular’ despite its ‘globalist’ self-image
The co-founder of Paypal, Peter Thiel, stepped up calls for Google to be investigated on Sunday, citing concerns they could be sharing Artificial Intelligence technology with China.
‘I think it’s unprecedented in the last 100 years that a major US company has refused to work with US military and has worked with our geopolitical rivals,’ Thiel said.
He added that Google dropped out of the ‘Project Maven’ deal with the Pentagon after their employees protested against the company’s AI being used for military
Peter Thiel, pictured here on Sunday Morning Futures, said that Google should be investigated to ensure that ‘no foreign infiltration’ had taken place. Thiel is concerned that the tech giant has been sharing its AI technology with the Chinese military
The billionaire, who also sits on the Facebook board, first called for an FBI and CIA investigation into Google’s dealings with China in July and stressed the point again on Sunday.
He said it would be to ensure ‘no foreign infiltration’ had taken place.
In 2010, Google set up its Beijing AI research lab which its website says is focussed on ‘university education, research on natural language understanding and market algorithms, user experience, and development of our globally available tools.’
Google has repeatedly denied accusations that its technology is being shared with the Chinese military after increased scrutiny since it was rumoured to be working on a censored search engine for the Beijing government.
A Google executive said in July that this project had been discontinued, according to Technode.
Google set up its AI research lab in Beijing in 2010 but their website says the facility is focussed on university education and language development. Thiel is concerned that the tech-giant is passing its ‘Deepmind’ technology on to China and not the US
China changed its constitution shortly after Google set up its lab in Beijing. Thiel said that the change made it easy for the army to commandeer information and technology from civil organisations
Donald Trump said in early July that his administration would investigate a claim from Peter Thiel that Google has been infiltrated by China. Thiel has been Trump’s biggest silicon valley supporter and donated to his campaign
According to Thiel, when Google set up the Beijing facility in 2010, China’s constitution was changed to make it mandatory for civil organisations to share information with the military, the People’s Liberation Army.
‘This is not a controversial, crazy conspiracy theory,’ Thiel said on Sunday Morning Futures.
‘This is in black and white in the constitution of the Chinese Communist Party.’
Though Tiel did not suggest that Google is directly passing information to China, his concern is that in the one party system, all intelligence ‘gets handed on’ to military security in Beijing.
The Paypal co-founder added that he felt Google’s ‘self image’ was ‘globalist,’ ‘post-national’ and ‘cosmopolitan.’ He, on the other hand, thinks it is ‘incredibly insular.’
He didn’t go as far as to call their behaviour ‘treasonous,’ despite having used this term in the past.
After his July claim, US President Donald Trump promised to look into Thiel’s allegations, tweeting: ‘Billionaire Tech Investor Peter Thiel believes Google should be investigated for treason. He accuses Google of working with the Chinese Government.’
The president announced Thiel’s ‘[a] great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone!’
A Google spokesman said in a statement: ‘Our AI work in China is limited, with a small number of people working on global open source and education-related activities. 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.’
Who is PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel?
Peter Thiel, 51, is an American entrepreneur and co-founder of PayPal, Palantir Technologies and Founders Fund.
He has a net worth of $2.2 billion, and was 328th on the Forbes 400 in 2018, with a net worth of $2.5 billion.
Thiel was born in Frankfurt.
He moved with his family to the United States as an infant, and spent a portion of his upbringing in South Africa and Namibia before returning to the United States.
Thiel became Facebook’s first outside investor when he acquired a 10.2 per cent stake for $500,000 in August 2004.
He sold the majority of his shares in Facebook for over $1 billion in 2012, but remains on the board of directors.
Thiel is seen as Donald Trump’s biggest supporter in Silicon Valley.
During the 2016 election campaign, he came out in support of Trump, to the surprise of many, and gave him legitimacy in Silicon Valley.
He contributed $250,000 to the Trump Victory Committee in October and was involved in the transition following the President’s election victory.
Thiel, who spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention, hadn’t made a donation to the committee since the 2016 election.