‘Our product is used on occasion to kill people’: Palantir’s CEO claims its tech is used to target and kill terrorists

Palantir CEO Alex Karp. Chesnot/Getty Images
  • Palantir CEO Alex Karp told Axios there are times when he’s questioned the ethics of the company’s business.
  • Palantir is a Silicon Valley-based data firm which has been protested in the past for its work with US Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE).
  • Karp also said the company’s product is used to target and kill terrorists, although he wasn’t specific about what product he meant.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Alex Karp, CEO of data analytics firm Palantir, told Axios in an interview broadcast Monday that the company’s tech is used to kill people.

Karp was answering a question about the company’s involvement with US Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE), a relationship which has provoked protests by human rights activists.

Karp said he had lost some of his favourite employees who thought the company’s work for ICE was unethical.

“I had people protesting me, some of whom I think ask really legitimate questions. I have asked myself if I were younger at college: ‘Would I be protesting me?'”

Karp said he sees questions of injustice in every aspect of the company’s work. “I see this with our work with clandestine services, I mean our product is used on occasion to kill people,” he said.

When pressed by the interviewer on what technology he was referring to and whether this might mean using drones, Karp remained vague.

“If you’re looking for a terrorist in the world now you’re probably using our government product and you’re probably doing the operation that takes out the person in another product we build.”

Earlier this year Palantir picked up a Pentagon contract to develop targeting AI for military drones. The contract, called “Project Maven,” had previously been Google’s but the tech giant abandoned it after employee uproar over the ethics of developing military technology.

Karp’s comments chime with the company’s wider attempts to present itself as vital to intelligence agencies and operations.

Palantir inspires considerable public interest thanks to its mostly secret work with governments and military, and the fact it was cofounded by the controversial tech investor Peter Thiel.

In April, Bloomberg reported that the company – which remains private – is on track to make $US1 billion in revenue in 2020, breaking even for the first time in its 16-year history.

You can watch Karp talking to Axios about ICE and Palantir’s product here: