President Trump said Tuesday that his administration will “take a look” at businessman Peter Thiel’s allegations that Google’s work with China is “seemingly treasonous.”
Trump, in a tweet, called Thiel “a great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone!” He added that “the Trump Administration will take a look!”
Thiel, one of Trump’s top Silicon Valley supporters and donors, took aim at Google and the tech industry in a speech Sunday in Washington. He accused the firms of brushing aside U.S. interests while focusing on global markets.
Thiel — who is a Facebook Inc. board member and a co-founder of data-mining firm Palantir Technologies Inc., which helps government agencies monitor people — singled out Google in his speech. He criticized it for agreeing to work closely with China, trying to get its search engine back into the country, while deciding to let lapse a U.S. Defense Department contract that gave the military access to Google’s artificial intelligence tools.
A Google spokesman said the company doesn’t work with the Chinese military but declined to comment further.
Thiel argued that the kind of artificial intelligence developed by DeepMind, which like Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., should be thought of as a potential “military weapon.” He then suggested Google’s actions were “seemingly treasonous,” asking whether DeepMind or Google senior management had been “infiltrated” by foreign intelligence agencies.
Alphabet shares fell 1% in pre-market trading after Trump’s tweet, then more than recovered that loss in regular trading Tuesday morning.