National interest in words, profit in deeds

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On February 23, 2021, when testifying before the United States Senate Armed Services Committee as the then Chairman of the National Security Committee on Artificial Intelligence, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt declared: “Never before have I been concerned that we would soon be displaced by one or more competitors.” Aware of what second place means to our economy, security and the future of our nation.”

It is now known why he was so anxious.

A recent report in the publication Protocol details how Schmidt, one of the richest and most prominent private-sector tech moguls in the world, has sowed the seeds of urgent concern in the United States that it is losing a supposed battle with China for supremacy in artificial intelligence in order to line his pockets.

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The report states that he cultivated a cadre of insiders in Washington to help lay the groundwork for an expanded government mission targeting China “based on misconceptions and perverted incentives,” the report detailing how it is a mission from which Schmidt benefits greatly.

When Schmidt chaired the committee, Rebellion Defense, the military artificial intelligence software provider in which venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors has invested, received contracts worth up to $950 million from the US Air Force. Similarly, AI-powered chemicals and materials company Citrine Informatics that Innovation Endeavors funded was awarded DOE contracts in 2015 and earlier this year, totaling $3.6 million.

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Schmidt also has financial ties to cryptography and artificial intelligence company Duality Technologies, which secured contracts from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency while he headed NSCAI.

According to the report, the nonprofit Schmidt Futures has been a direct pipeline of tech talent into the halls of government, including the Office of the Department of Defense’s new Chief of Digital and Artificial Intelligence, which oversees the adoption of artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Schmidt isn’t the only one who has taken a large share of the military’s security-tech game. The situation is ripe: tycoons are exaggerating the “China threat” and politicians are funneling money into one tech company after another.

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Amplifying the “China threat” has long been a favorite of US politicians who want a scapegoat that the American public can denigrate for the chaos Washington has caused the country to do. But it has also become a lucrative business for those who can make money by opening the national security spigot. It is the average American taxpayer who loses in this game, as their money is embezzled.

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