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Palantir CEO says Google shouldn't rule A.I.

Key Points
  • Google has faced renewed criticism for its decision to end a contract with the Pentagon, while continuing to work in China. 
  • Palantir CEO Alex Karp told Bloomberg that he doesn't agree with Google's work around AI.
  • Last month, venture capitalist Peter Thiel called out Google's work with China, calling it "seemingly treasonous."
Palantir Technologies CEO Alex Karp
Andrew Kelly | Reuters

Palantir CEO Alex Karp said billionaire investor Peter Thiel is right to question Google's decision to work in China, while abandoning military contracts in the U.S.

Google has faced renewed scrutiny from Thiel, a Trump supporter and Facebook board member, who said last month that the FBI and CIA should investigate the company to see if it has been "infiltrated" by foreign intelligence agencies.

By contrast, Karp said in an interview with Bloomberg that Palantir "doesn't work with adversaries of the US."

"Does the average American trust a platform company, including Google, to decide whether we should be the dominant player in AI?" Karp told Bloomberg. "Is that something we want to outsource to a small number of platforms in a very small part of the world, with people who are from a very narrow sliver of society?"

"I reject that, and I reject that a handful of people in Palo Alto are going to determine what the lawful execution of policy is," he added.

Last June, Google announced it would not renew a controversial contract with the Department of Defense after it expired in March. Under the contract, referred to as "Project Maven," Google partnered with the Pentagon to help it analyze and interpret drone videos using artificial intelligence. The work sparked a firestorm inside Google, prompting dozens of employees to resign in protest.

At the same time, Google has sought to make inroads into China, through a number of AI, cloud computing and hardware projects. The company has repeatedly denied that it works with the Chinese military.

Those moves prompted Thiel to refer to Google's work in China as "seemingly treasonous." The comments caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who said his administration would look into Thiel's claims.

Many experts have downplayed Thiel's concerns, including Trump's national economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, who said: "I meet with Google, I meet with Google's CEO on a regular basis. I think they're working for America, for our military, not for China."

Karp has been a vocal critic of the very community his company is a part of in the past. He criticized Silicon Valley companies for refusing to work with the federal government, while "selling their products that are adversarial to America."

Palantir, which is reportedly eyeing an IPO in 2020, was founded in 2004 by Karp, Thiel and other ex-Stanford students. The company develops defense and intelligence products, as well as corporate management software.

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