The Google boss defended his company's plan to research a search engine for users in China, despite concerns about the country's strict Internet censors.
In his most comprehensive public commentary on the subject, Sundar Pichai said the entry China is in a sense a part of the company's mission to provide information to the world's population, as a fifth of these people live in China. Even if China complied with the censors, it would be able to provide more than 99% of search results with search results and, in some cases, provide more helpful results than users currently receive from local search engines.
The Comments During a Conversation Monday Interview at a Wired Technology Conference in San Francisco, followed by a few weeks ago reports on Google's secret China search project, which has triggered a backlash by human rights activists and Washington legislators warning that the efforts are one could help repressive regimes.
Google, a unit of
is also under the pressure of its own employees to do only work that corresponds to the values of the company. Hundreds of employees signed a letter in August asking Google to give their staff a voice in the ethics review and the opportunity to work on specific projects.
Google decided in 201
The decision to enter China "weighs heavily on us," Pichai said. When Google expands into new countries, "we always balance a set of values, we give users access to information, freedom of expression, user privacy, but we also follow the rule of law in every country."
Plans for a The Chinese search engine is still "very early" and the company has not committed to continue with them, he said.
Google staff pressure helped influence the company's decision earlier this year, a defense contract that helps the US not renew government identifies images for drone targeting. Staff objections to these efforts, called "Project Maven," also helped the company to conduct a new ethics review process, the introduction of its artificial intelligence technology.
This decision drew criticism from Amazon.com Inc. chief executive Jeff Bezos, who said Monday that technology executives leaders should stick to their strategy, even if it's unpopular.
"When big technology companies turn their backs on the US Department of Defense, this country is in trouble," Mr. Bezos said.
Mr. Pichai, who was interviewed a few hours after Mr. Bezos, downplayed the idea that Project Maven's decision was based solely on employee feedback. He said that Google has also consulted experts on ethics and artificial intelligence.
Google continues to work with the US military in areas such as cybersecurity, Pichai added.
The Google CEO is likely to grumble again about these issues in Washington, where he has agreed to testify in the coming weeks before the congress. Legislators have asked Mr. Pichai questions about China and Project Maven, as well as the company's decision not to inform users about security vulnerabilities that have disclosed the personal information of half a million users.
Published in the printed edition of October 16, 2018 as "Google Defends Chinese Search Plan".