Opinion | The Real Google Censorship Scandal

If this makes you pause, it should, and Washington politicians should take all their sanctimony and direct it at the China issue, which actually deserves some scrutiny. Perhaps that is the real reason Google avoided sending its current chief executive, Sundar Pichai, to the recent Senate hearings, so he could avoid explaining what it was thinking when it came China 2.0: Now With 100 Percent More Hypocrisy.

Google seems to have no problem climbing down off its high horse to grab the thing it needs in China.

Which is, simply put, more data.

That is what Ms. Wong and Dr. Lee, whom I also did a podcast interview with this week, suggested to me was the key impetus for the move.

In his new book, “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order,” Dr. Lee argues that advances in artificial intelligence — the future of computing — will be enjoyed only by those with the ability to essentially shove increasing amounts of data into the maw of the machine.

Right now, he notes, with China’s aggressive use of sensors and you-say-facial-recognition-I-say-surveillance, a population hooked on mobile in a much more significant way than here and consumers more willing to trade away their privacy for digital convenience, China’s internet companies have access to 10 to 15 times more data than American ones. Dr. Lee and others have called it a “data gap” that Google has to bridge, and soon, if it wants to remain competitive.

“You always want more data, as much as you can get,” Dr. Lee said. While the company is likely to again stress its liberating effect, he noted that even if it only got 20 percent of the market back, such a trove of information would be critical for Google.

Ms. Wong agrees, noting that doing otherwise might give China the advantage in the next computing era.

Algolia News

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