Google’s AI Technology Used by China to Control World Public Opinion
Google Sold Its Soul to China. Here's Why. [Part3]

(Interviewer: Satoshi Nishihata)

We interviewed a U.S. security expert, who has seen through the Chinese government’s ambitions and warned of Huawei’s dangers early on, about what it means for Google to approach China.


About Robert S. Spalding III: He has served in senior positions of strategy and diplomacy within the US Defense and State Departments for more than 26 years, retiring as a Brigadier General. He was the chief architect for the Trump Administration’s widely praised National Security Strategy (NSS) – the pillar for America’s national defense, and the Senior Director for Strategy to the President at the National Security Council (NSC). He holds a doctorate in economics and mathematics from the University of Missouri.

――In 2010, Google withdrew from China refusing to censor search results and to hack Gmail. But after that, it was reported that Google had been architecting the Dragonfly project. It seems that Google is planning to go back to China. Is it because China’s huge market is so attractive that they can’t resist?

Gen. Spalding: Yes, I think it’s just as emblematic of American companies who have turned away from moral leadership in the world because the Chinese Communist Party has incentivized them financially to do so. So it is part of the degradation of human rights and civil liberties and democratic principles around the world because we’ve brought a totalitarian regime into the international order and allowed them to manipulate corporations, financial institutions, domestic and international political organizations because of their ability to access the international financial system, international trade, and international economics.

――Some people say that advancing into China is just natural for companies as they pursue a profit. But why can advancing into China be a threat to the national security for the United States?

Gen. Spalding: Because of the demands the Chinese Communist Party requires as a condition of access to the Chinese markets and Chinese money… They require that you comply to the Chinese Communist Party’s interests. And so, it is a way to slowly erode the international order by essentially incentivizing businesspeople and financial leaders to abandon liberal democratic principles for doing business with the Chinese Communist Party [through indirect involvement in the forms of forced labor, censorship, etc.].

――Especially, if Big Tech companies like Google advance into China, what kind of problems will be caused?

Gen. Spalding: What you’re going to see around the world, and what you’ve already seen, is a continuation of censorship violation of freedom of religion. The mercantilist economic and trade policies continue. So it’s really just an erosion of the principles upon which the liberal democratic order was created. And I see this also in institutions like the World Bank, United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the World Trade Organization; it is an erosion of those institutions and their movement away from liberal democratic principles to more authoritarian leanings because of the interests of the Chinese Communist Party.


CCP’s Plan to Overtake Google

――As you know, Google opened an AI research center in Beijing in 2017. This center has collaborated with Beijing’s Tsinghua University, which has a close tie with the PLA. In your interview with Ms. Simone Gao in 2019, you stated that this AI center can support organizations like the United Front Work Department. What will the CCP obtain by co-developing AI with Google?

Gen. Spalding: What the CCP seeks to obtain from free countries is innovation, technology, talent, and capital. And it’s no different in the collaboration with Google: technology, innovation, talent, and sometimes capital. And so I think this is the bounty, these things, these four things are the bounty of a free society. And we have freely allowed the Chinese Communist Party to harvest this bounty, in spite of their determination to destroy the systems that provide that bounty.

――The Chinese Communist Party already established the most advanced mass surveillance system based on AI internally. What kind of technology is the CCP trying to get from Google?

Gen. Spalding: It’s really the advanced algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence that can be applied to the extremely large data lake (a storage of raw data) that China maintains. And that what the Chinese Communist Party is trying to do is to become the Saudi Arabia of data (Saudi Arabia prides itself for having the world’s largest crude oil reserves and production). And when they have this data, then the idea is to use this data to develop advanced artificial intelligence. And so they want Google’s help, Facebook, and other large tech companies in the US to assist them in developing this technology and then they will eventually acquire these companies, such as as Baidu and Alibaba and Tencent and other Chinese tech companies in order to become dominant in the global marketplace.

――If the CCP gets Google’s AI technology, how will the PLA’s military capability and the CCP’s mass surveillance system change?

Gen. Spalding: They already have more capability than any democratic society in terms of manipulating the citizens of free societies. So they already have tremendous ability to influence our population using the tools of Silicon Valley, and that’s what is most dangerous. Of course, their military is dangerous, but I am far more concerned about the power of their large tech companies when combined with all the data they’re collecting, and when combined with the technological know-how of our technology companies.


Commercially Intended AI Becomes Destructive Weapon for People’s Liberation Army

――In March of 2019, top Pentagon officials blasted Google for its work in China, saying that Google’s work in China is indirectly benefiting the Chinese military. Could you tell us what that “indirectly benefiting” means? How does Google benefit the Chinese military?

Gen. Spalding: It is in helping improve artificial intelligence — so artificial intelligence can be used to identify targets. They can be used to direct autonomous systems [to move unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned boat units]. And I think that’s the concern of the Defense Department, is the same artificial intelligence that enables self-driving cars and other commercial technologies can be applied on the battlefield.

――Ms. Fei-Fei Li, who headed Google’s AI research center in Beijing, left Google after controversy over the use of the company’s AI technology and a deal with the Pentagon. She rejected the military applications of AI. However, even if she doesn’t work with the Pentagon, she opened the AI research center in Beijing and collaborated with Beijing’s Tsinghua University. This means she possibly supported Chinese military development. How would you see this contradiction?

Gen. Spalding: Without a doubt. Absolutely, of course, because they have civil-military fusion. All civilian commercial companies in China must support the military in China by law.

――If a totalitarian nation deals with Big Tech companies and takes control of all data collected by those companies, what will happen next?

Gen. Spalding: An authoritarian world. We’re already starting to see those elements begin to take root in democracies. It’s already happening.

――So it’s happening already in the United States, you think?

Gen. Spalding: Yes.

――Do you believe that “the world without privacy,” like China controlled by the CCP, is more convenient for Big Tech companies?

Gen. Spalding: Yes, of course.

――More convenient for big tech?

Gen. Spalding: Yes. As you know, Google depends on advertising as a source of revenue. And if they want to raise advertisement revenue, they have to be more accurate in predicting what people want to buy based on big data.

――We have been wondering that Big Tech companies have an affinity with totalitarianism since they have a strong intention to collect all information. How would you see this point?

Gen. Spalding: I think that’s correct.

――So then how can we prevent Big Tech companies from working with totalitarian nations, and how can we encourage them to profit our democracy?

Gen. Spalding: By making it illegal. You have to make it illegal. They will not voluntarily stop.

Google’s AI Technology Used by China to Control World Public Opinion
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