Forget Facebook Resignations, Is Google Actually Aiding the Chinese?

March 15, 2019

Okay, okay, the source is Gizmodo. The article may be spot on or a bit like outputs from quite interesting sources from lesser known experts. The value of the write up rests in its reminding me of the duck – rabbit paradox:

image

Is this a duck (Peking variety) or rabbit (cute technological bunny)?

The title which caught my eye was:

Pentagon Brass Bafflingly Accuses Google of Providing ‘Direct Benefit’ to China’s Military

The “bafflingly” is an interesting word. Gizmodo cannot understand why someone from the Pentagon would “accuse Google of providing direct benefit to China.”

I noted this passage:

Dunford’s incendiary comments came during a budgetary hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee this afternoon. During his time for questioning, freshman Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, turned to the subject of Google’s decision to back away from projects with the Pentagon. Hawley asked the panel if he understood the situation correctly and that the men were saying, “that Google, an American company, supposedly, is refusing to work with the Department of Defense, but is doing work with China, in China, in a way that at least indirectly benefits the Chinese government.”

General Dunford is the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

Google has many government projects, a big office near a Metro stop, and a modest lobbying team. Nevertheless, “brass” seems to suggest that our beloved Google is not interested in working on behalf of the US. I wonder if the same could be said of Baidu, Huawei, or ZTE efforts on behalf of the Chinese government?

General Dunford is quoted as saying:

You know, senator, I’m nodding my head on exactly the point that you made: that the work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefitting the Chinese military. And I’ve been very public on this issue as well; in fact, the way I described it to our industry partners is, ‘look we’re the good guys in the values that we represent and the system that we represent is the one that will allow and has allowed you to thrive,’ and that’s the way I’ve characterized it. I was just nodding that what the secretary was articulating is the general sense of all of us as leaders. 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.

Google’s position is:

As an American company, we cherish the values and freedoms that have allowed us to grow and serve so many users. I am proud to say we do work, and we will continue to work, with the government to keep our country safe and secure.

Gizmodo’s interpretation of the baffling comments may be nestled in this paragraph:

But Dunford sent a striking message to any tech companies that might consider getting involved with the DoD in the future: If you get in bed with us and you decide you want to break it off, you might be called a traitor.

I don’t know anything about General Dunford. I know nothing about Google’s current work for the US government. However, I have heard comments from my acquaintances to the effect:

If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. It is a duck.

Stephen E Arnold,  March 15, 2019

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