Peter Thiel: Google is sharing the 'crown jewel' of its AI efforts with China and it's terrible for America

Peter Thiel, the billionaire founder of PayPal and Facebook board member, is warning that Google sharing its DeepMind artifical intelligence with China is bad news for America.

In an op-ed published in The New York Times on Thursday, Thiel said generals will be the first users of the A.I. tools that are being created today.

"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, where we are already living amid the equivalent of a multinational shooting war," he wrote.

DeepMind, which Thiel believes is the "crown jewel" of Google's A.I. effort, was launched in 2010 and acquired by the tech giant in 2014. Three years later, Google opened an A.I. lab in Beijing. That same year, China passed a law requiring all research conducted in the country be shared with the People's Liberation Army.

And as Google was cozying up to China, it was burning bridges with the United States. In June of this year, Google ended its Project Maven drone project with the U.S. Department of Defense amid employee backlash.

"We believe that Google should not be in the business of war," a letter signed by more than 3,000 Google employees said, according to The New York Times. "Therefore we ask that Project Maven be cancelled, and that Google draft, publicize and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology.”

That's why this is all so troubling to Thiel.

"A.I.’s military power is the simple reason that the recent behavior of America’s leading software company, Google — starting an A.I. lab in China while ending an A.I. contract with the Pentagon — is shocking," Thiel wrote in Thursday's op-ed. "As President Barack Obama’s defense secretary Ash Carter pointed out last month, 'If you’re working in China, you don’t know whether you’re working on a project for the military or not.'"

This isn't the first time Thiel has raised concerns about Google's relationship with China. Last month, he slammned the company for its "treasonous" links to China, and said both the FBI and CIA should investigate. He also wants Google CEO Sundar Pichai answer some questions.

"“I would say answer my three questions," Thiel told Fox News' Tucker Carlson. "How many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated Google? Have the Chinese, in particular, infiltrated? And why are you working with Communist China and not the U.S.?  What is the reason you’re doing that?”


Thiel's accusations drew the attention of President Donald Trump, who said he would have the Department of Justice "take a look."

"It’s a big statement when you say that Google is involved with China in not a very positive way for our country,” Trump, who referred to Thiel as a friend, told reporters at the White House. “So I think we’ll all look at that. I know that our other agencies will be looking at it and we’ll see if there’s any truth to it.”