Billionaire Peter Thiel, a Facebook Inc.
board member and President Donald Trump’s most vocal backer in Silicon Valley, called Sunday night for the FBI and CIA to investigate Google’s “seemingly treasonous” ties with China.
Speaking at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, Thiel posed three unsubstantiated, provocative and leading questions that he said should be asked of Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc.
“Number one, how many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated your Manhattan Project for AI?” he said, according to a report by Axios.
“Number two, does Google’s senior management consider itself to have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence?
“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 said those questions need to be asked by the FBI and CIA, and “I would like them to be asked in a not excessively gentle manner.” Thiel offered no evidence that Google has been infiltrated by intelligence services from China or anywhere else.
Thiel was apparently referencing Google’s decision last year not to renew a project with the Defense Department, when it said it would not allow its artificial intelligence products to be used as military weapons. Also last year, Google reportedly shut down work to develop a censored search engine for government-approved use in China.
Google did not immediately respond Sunday night when asked to comment on Thiel’s questions.