Google is working with China in ways that benefit the communist country’s military, a top U.S. general said this week.
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “The work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military,” Reuters reportedThursday.
“We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing that there is that indirect benefit,” he said. “Frankly, ‘indirect’ may be not a full characterization of the way it really is, it is more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military.”
Must watch video: Joint Chiefs Chairman says Google refuses to work with US military but provides “direct benefit” to China’s military pic.twitter.com/MadQVJQK4a
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 14, 2019
During the same committee hearing, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan added that Google demonstrated “a lack of willingness to support DoD programs,” CNN reported.
In 2018, Google revealed plans to end projects with the Pentagon, citing noncompliance with ethical guidelines, or complaints from employees.
Among these projects was Project Maven, a program that used artificial intelligence to analyze aerial imagery taken from military drones, which caused an uproar with Google employees.
Some 4,000 Google employees banded together for a petition that demanded from Google “a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology,” CNN reported in June 2018.
The Project Maven contract with Google ends this month.
In October, Google also withdrew their $10 billion contract bid to the Pentagon for a cloud computing project called Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), which would migrate significant amounts of Pentagon data to the cloud.
“While we are working to support the US government with our cloud in many areas, we are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn’t be assured that it would align with our AI Principles and second, we determined that there were portions of the contract that were out of scope with our current government certifications,” Google said in a statement reported by CNN at the time.
Google said it may have kept its bid if the Pentagon was willing to use multiple cloud providers, something the department said would be too complex and timely to transfer the data.
Microsoft, Oracle, and Amazon were said to be vying for the contract.
“The technology that is developed in the civil world, transfers to the military world, it’s a direct pipeline,” Shanahan said this week.
“The way I described it to our industry partners is: look we’re the good guys and the values that we represent and the system we represent is the one that will allow and has allowed you to thrive,” Dunford also noted.