Sundar Pichai For First Time Goes Public With Google's China Plan


The censored search engine is known internally as "Dragonfly" and has been in testing since past year.

While onstage at WIRED 25, however, Pichai said working on a search engine is in line with the company's mission to "provide information to everyone", noting that China contains about 20% of the world's population.

Google has previously stated that they are "not close" to launching a search engine in China but recently leaked discussions paint a different picture.

Google's possible return to China - a market it abandoned over censorship concerns in 2010 - was first leaked in August by The Intercept which reported that the U.S. tech giant was secretly developing "Dragonfly", a custom-made search engine for the huge Chinese market. Google tried to suppress an internal memo written by an employee that detailed how some aspects of the service would work.

"Google has been open about our desire to increase our ability to serve users in China and other countries".

It doesn't look like there's much room for employee pushback on Project Dragonfly either.

Pichai said these compromises do not prevent Dragonfly from helping some Chinese citizens, such as those looking for information about cancer treatments.

It seems likely Bezos was referring to Google as the big-tech-back-turner putting United States interests on the back burner. "I believe it's imperative for us given how vital the market is and what number of clients there are", he said.

A number of concerns arose in September, 2018 with many claiming that the project violates a number of basic human rights and enables the authoritarianism of the Chinese government.

The project was made public in August, when anxious Google employees took internal documents to the press.

Last month, Google research scientist Jack Poulson publicly resigned from the internet giant and has slammed the project to relaunch a search product in China as "unethical" and antithetical to the company's values. According to Pichai, more than 99 percent of queries will still be presented without blocking specific results. In June, Google declined to renew a contract with the Pentagon after employees and outside groups said they were concerned about the use of artificial intelligence in weaponry.

He said that these include access to information, freedom of expression, and user privacy, but added that Google also follows the rule of law in every country. Pichai said deciding whether to work with the USA government or with China isn't done "by holding referendums", although employees are allowed "an important input".