Peter Thiel is not just another Silicon Valley tech guru. He’s a multibillionaire entrepreneur who co-founded PayPal, is a director of Facebook and founded Palantir, a highly secretive artificial intelligence firm that does top-secret work for the Pentagon, intelligence community and private clients. He’s also unusual in that he’s a Trump supporter while most Silicon Valley types are firmly in progressive left-wing ranks.
As reported in this article,Thiel recently caused shock waves when he called for U.S. government investigations into Google’s work in China. In particular, Thiel raised issues related to infiltration of Google by Chinese spies, the use of Google’s research to crush human rights in China by enabling sophisticated surveillance including through facial recognition and the extent to which Google’s efforts can be utilized by the Chinese military to defeat U.S. forces. This critique was exacerbated by the fact that Google has refused to do certain projects for the U.S. military due to the objections of a few employees at its headquarters.
Google’s response to these criticism was a terse, “We are not working with the Chinese military.” That’s a nonresponse response because almost every major company in China has some ties to the military either as a supplier, contractor or outsourced research arm. President Trump amplified Thiel’s comments by saying it was worth a look to see what’s going on at Google if the company won’t police its own efforts.
This is just the beginning of the overdue scrutiny of Google, Facebook, Amazon and other mega-corporations in the tech world. These companies could be facing antitrust, tax and national security inquiries. Thiel’s comments are just the tip of the spear.
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