Pando

Nothing to see here: Eric Schmidt is taking a second job, as an advisor to the Pentagon

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on March 2, 2016

From The Surveillance Valley Desk

Two weeks ago, I wrote about "Jigsaw," the new division of Google tasked with "tackl(ing) geopolitical challenges".

Jigsaw is headed by former State Department official, Jared Cohen who has talked about building tools to ban those who support anti-American terror groups from the public Internet. 

As I wrote at the time:

Whether you agree with US foreign policy, and cyber policy, or not, this is a big, big deal. For one thing, it positions Google as an explicitly political organization. The word “political” is right there in “geopolitical.”  

Second of all, it positions Google firmly as an American corporation, furthering American (and more broadly Western) goals, as opposed to a company on a mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Apparently the revolving door works both ways. This morning, Reuters reports that Eric Schmidt is taking a second job, advising the Pentagon on how to work with tech companies. 

Specifically...

Eric Schmidt, the former chief executive officer of Google (and now Chairman of Alphabet), has agreed to head a new Pentagon advisory board aimed at bringing Silicon Valley innovation and best practices to the U.S. military, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday...

The new board is Carter's latest effort to kick-start innovation across the U.S. military by building bridges to the U.S. technology industry. The U.S. defense chief announced the board's creation on Wednesday during his third trip to Silicon Valley since taking office just over a year ago.

 Google isn't the only company to have a senior executive who also works inside the Pentagon. Uber's Emil Michael -- yes, the same Emil Michael who threatened to "go after" critical journalists and their families -- also works as an advisor to the Pentagon. Michael previously worked as an assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Mr Gates now works as Chairman of Uber Military.  

It's easy to point to the Apple vs FBI fight as an example of how Silicon Valley is able to push back against the US government. But cases like that don't mean very much if, meanwhile, the rest of the Valley is slowly becoming the US government.