Google CEO Sundar Pichai calls for government action on cybersecurity, innovation

Topic: Google CEO Sundar Pichai calls for government action on cybersecurity, innovation

Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google and parent company Alphabet Inc., said the U.S. government should take a more active role in policing cyberattacks and encouraging innovation with policies and investments.

In the wake of recent cybersecurity breaches attributed to Chinese and Russian hackers, Mr. Pichai said the time had come to draft the equivalent of a Geneva Convention for technology to outline international legal standards for an increasingly connected world.

“Governments on a multilateral basis…need to put it up higher on the agenda,” Mr. Pichai said in a recorded interview for The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference on Monday. “If not, you’re going to see more of it because countries would resort to those things.”

Mr. Pichai also appealed to the U.S. government to take an active role in fostering innovation amid rising competition from China. Under Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party has outlined an ambitious plan to advance the country’s artificial-intelligence capabilities and develop its own semiconductor sector. The ambitions have coincided with a Balkanization of the global internet as China, Russia and others censor content and require tech companies to store data inside their geographic borders.

Google, whose signature search engine doesn’t operate in China, is investing in quantum computing and artificial intelligence to stay ahead of Chinese internet companies that compete with it to provide services in markets around the world, including Southeast Asia, Mr. Pichai said.

“We can take a long-term view and do [that], particularly at a time when governments have slightly pulled back on basic [research and development] funding,” Mr. Pichai said.

However, he said the government could support Google’s efforts to stay ahead by adopting policies such as providing work visas to talented engineers and scientists from overseas. It also could provide incentives to give the U.S. more control over the semiconductor supply chain, which is largely dependent on Taiwan-based factories managed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

The Biden administration has pressed Congress to address that issue by funding bipartisan legislation known as the Chips for America Act, designed to encourage domestic semiconductor investment.

“Public-private partnerships here can be a good template,” Mr. Pichai said. “This is an area [where], you know, there’s bipartisan interest in making sure that we are thinking about it for the long term.”

Topic Discussed: Google CEO Sundar Pichai calls for government action on cybersecurity, innovation

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