The Pentagon announced an unusual new program calling for hackers to test its digital security today, as well as a "Defence Innovation Advisory Board". Google CEO and Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt will head the board — but, if you'll believe Wall Street Journal sources, this is all for his own personal gratification, not a "company initiative". Hmmm. The Wall Street Journal reported on the tech mogul's new after-work gig:
Mr. Schmidt's appointment to the board isn't a company initiative, but rather a personal move, according to a person familiar with the tech giant. Mr. Schmidt is expected to advise the Pentagon on best practices in innovation, rather than speak for the company, the person said.
As WSJ noted, things haven't always been so chummy between Google and the Pentagon:
Defence Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday that he'd known Mr. Schmidt for a long time. Mr. Schmidt's appointment comes after a period of cooler relations between the Pentagon and the Google parent that he helps lead.
The company pulled out of a Pentagon-sponsored robotics contest two years ago and, while it still bids on federal contracts and supplies some equipment to the military, Google has been sensitive about how its technology is ultimately used.
Hey, I guess if this alliance leads to a mutually beneficial relationship between the Pentagon and the enormous technology company Schmidt heads, that's just a super great byproduct of an incredibly rich and powerful corporate figurehead helpin' out as a personal thing.
Image by David B. Gleason