Google is finally going on the record with its once-secret Project Dragonfly, a censorship-friendly search engine for the people of China.
Speaking at the Wired 25 Summit, Google CEO Sundar Pichai not only confirmed the existence of the project but also boasted about how well testing of the search engine was going.
“It turns out we’ll be able to serve well over 99 percent of the queries,” Pichai said of search results in the testing, pushing back on the controversy surrounding a product that must adhere to the Chinese-government’s strict censorship laws. The Google CEO went on to give an example of how beneficial the service will be for the Chinese people, pointing out that current Chinese search products can return “fake” info for a query like “cancer treatments.”
“There are many, many areas where we would provide information better than what’s available,” explained Pichai.
Pichai made it very clear that Google is going ahead with Project Dragonfly, saying the company is “compelled by our mission to provide information to everyone” and commenting on how China makes up roughly 20% of the world’s population.
It doesn’t look like there’s much room for employee pushback on Project Dragonfly either. When speaking on issues like Google’s choice not to renew its contract with the Department of Defense for its artificial intelligence work known as Project Maven, Pichai made it a priority to downplay the role of employee protest in the decision. “Throughout Google’s history, we’ve given our employees a lot of voice and say, but we don’t we don’t run the company by holding referendums,” declared Google’s CEO.
Google previously launched censored version of its search engine in China in 2006 before deciding that the censorship required to run the product was antithetical to the company’s values. Google pulled the service in 2010. Clearly, eight years later, the U.S.-based search giant feels very differently.