Tech billionaire and Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel is stepping up his campaign against Google, taking the Silicon Valley giant to task over its cozy relationship with China in the realm of artificial intelligence technology.
In a scathing New York Times editorial on Friday, Thiel attacked Google for establishing an AI lab in Beijing in 2017 while ending its AI contract “Project Maven” with the Pentagon, after Google employees complained about the use of their research for defense purposes.
“Perhaps the most charitable word for these twin decisions would be to call them naive,” Thiel wrote in the New York Times.
“How can Google use the rhetoric of ‘borderless’ benefits to justify working with the country whose ‘Great Firewall’ has imposed a border on the internet itself? This way of thinking works only inside Google’s cosseted Northern California campus, quite distinct from the world outside.”
Thiel emphasized that Google’s close relationship with China poses national security risks, since Chinese law mandates that all research be shared with the People’s Liberation Army.
“A.I. is a military technology,” he wrote. “Though less uncanny than Frankenstein’s monster, these tools are nevertheless valuable to any army — to gain an intelligence advantage, for example, or to penetrate defenses in the relatively new theater of cyberwarfare.”
Thiel previously criticized Google in July, calling the company’s relationship with China “seemingly treasonous” during a speech at the National Conservatism conference in Washington.
President Donald Trump took note and later Tweeted that his administration would take a look into the matter.
“Billionaire Tech Investor Peter Thiel believes Google should be investigated for treason. He accuses Google of working with the Chinese Government.” @foxandfriends A great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone! The Trump Administration will take a look!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2019
Thiel, who has invested in PayPal, Facebook, and Palantir, noted in his Times piece that he was one of the first investors in Google’s AI venture, Deep Mind.
But he has since been a vocal critic of Google, going as far to say that the FBI and CIA should look into the company.