Facebook Board Member Peter Thiel Calls Google 'Treasonous' and Says CIA Should Investigate

Donald Trump meets with Peter Thiel on December 14, 2016 roughly a month before Trump would take power in the U.S.
Photo: Getty Images

Billionaire Peter Thiel has called for a federal investigation into Google’s refusal to work with the U.S. military and says that the tech giant’s relationship with the Chinese military is “treasonous,” according to a new report from Axios late Sunday.

Thiel, a Facebook board member, wants the FBI and CIA to ask questions of Google, starting with, “how many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated your Manhattan Project for AI?”

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There are no public reports that foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated Google, though Thiel did start the company Palantir, which currently works with the Trump regime and has amassed an enormous amount of data on U.S. citizens. It’s not clear if Thiel has any special information about Google or Chinese intelligence activities that have been gained through his company.

“Number two, does Google’s senior management consider itself to have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence?” Thiel continued.

“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?”

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Thiel made the comments to a packed crowd at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C., which started yesterday and runs through Tuesday. Thiel’s keynote speech was called “The Star Trek Computer Is Not Enough,” according to a schedule posted to the conference website.

Thiel, an advisor to President Donald Trump, was likely referring to Google’s 2018 decision not to renew a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense developing artificial intelligence for drones over ethics concerns. Earlier this year, General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made similar comments about the Google decision but didn’t specifically use the word treason.

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Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, Dunford said, “We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing there is that indirect benefit, and frankly ‘indirect’ may be not a full characterization of the way it really is. It’s more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military.”

According to other attendees at the conference on Sunday, Thiel also said that Americans were too fat and addicted to drugs, adding that, “the biggest problem in our society is the problem of political correctness.”

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“American exceptionalism has led us to a country that is exceptionally overweight, exceptionally addicted to opioids, exceptionally unaware and exceptionally un-self-reflective,” Thiel said, according to Keith Urban who attended the conference and previously worked for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Thiel also reportedly called for America’s top universities to lose their non-profit status. Thiel has been a proponent of people dropping out of college to pursue entrepreneurial activities.

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The conference’s four keynote speakers include Thiel, national security advisor John Bolton, white supremacist talk show host Tucker Carlson, and Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri. Carlson’s keynote will be delivered today and is titled, “Big Business Hates Your Family.”

Neither Google nor a representative for Mr. Thiel responded to a request for comment early Monday. Thiel secretly financed the lawsuit that bankrupted Gizmodo’s former parent company, Gawker Media, back in 2016.

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Thiel said that any links between Google and China, “need to be asked by the FBI, by the CIA, and I’m not sure quite how to put this, I would like them to be asked in a not excessively gentle manner.”

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About the author

Matt Novak

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog