Why it matters: Google is a world leader in artificial intelligence, causing the company to receive flak for having a lab in China even though its competitors may be offering more direct assistance to Chinese entities. A meeting with top pentagon officials may help educate leaders on what Google is working on as well as how AI advancements are being used universally.
Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai is scheduled to meet with General Joseph Dunford to discuss ongoing artificial intelligence projects that are related to China. Dunford had criticized Google declaring that such AI has provided indirect benefits to the Chinese military, to which Google offered to sit down and meet.
In 2017, Google opened an artificial intelligence lab in Beijing. Dunford mentioned this lab when denouncing Google for helping China advance their technical capabilities.
Unlike other tech giants, Google has shied away from lucrative cloud computing contracts being offered by the United States. Microsoft and Amazon have both very aggressively pursued defense contracts for cloud services, hoping to become essential providers of infrastructure so that winning future contracts becomes even easier. Employee protests could be one reason Google has chosen not to move forward on large military contracts, but it also may be that China is just a bigger market with less paperwork involved.
Google is helping China and their military, but not the U.S. Terrible! The good news is that they helped Crooked Hillary Clinton, and not Trump....and how did that turn out?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 16, 2019
Just one week ago, Google even issued a public statement declaring that it is not working with the Chinese military. Dunford never said that there was a direct connection, but President Trump heavily implied that to be the case.
Going beyond just Google, Microsoft and Amazon both already have cloud services being sold in China. Amazon even has highlighted the fact that it has worked with 33 public sector customers in China in an AWS presentation. Google may appear to be receiving the most criticism, but there are no public records to show what kinds of military AI work the company has done or plans to do in the future.