Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt is quietly building a kamikaze drone startup in the U.S. and Ukraine called “White Stork,” according to a report by Forbes Tuesday. The project is named after Ukraine’s national bird and White Stork hopes to sell advanced AI drone technology to the country’s ongoing war effort.
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Since leaving Google, Schmidt has become a bridge between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon. He led the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, which issued a final report in 2021 that stated, “AI will transform the way war is conducted in every domain.”
Now, Schmidt seems to be capitalizing on that vision with a company that profits on AI kamikaze drones, and it’s branded directly to Ukraine. The former Google CEO has written extensively about how AI drones are the future of warfare, including in a book he co-wrote with everyone’s favorite recently deceased warmonger, Henry Kissinger. Now it’s pretty clear he was just talking up White Stork.
Kamikaze drones cost around $400 and carry a small amount of explosives, according to a Wall Street Journal column Schmidt wrote in July. Compared to the monstrous budget of the United States Defense Department, that’s pennies. Later in that column, Schmidt called kamikaze drones “the most important” new technology that would be key to defeating Russia and future enemies. At the same time, the U.S. government is making fewer deals with traditional arms dealers like Palantir.
The ex-Google CEO published a column Monday titled “Ukraine is Losing The Drone War.” Schmidt details how he has been in close contact with Ukrainian officials, and how poorly Western weapons have fared against Russian defense systems. He also notes that Ukraine will buy more than one million drones from its allies in 2024 – how convenient for him!
Schmidt has been building out White Stork under a series of shell companies, according to Forbes. One of them is named Volya Robotics OÜ, and lists Schmidt as a beneficiary and an employee of his family office as the sole board member. White Stork seems to employ several former tech executives, including Sebastian Thrun, a co-founder of Google’s moonshot lab.
The AI revolution in warfare is not unfounded, and kamikaze drone technology likely will play a larger role in wars moving forward. A viral video of a drone chasing a soldier and exploding circulated on X this week. There’s a lot of AI used in these drones to pinpoint targets and circumvent defense systems. This could mean a greater presence of AI companies in warfare moving forward, which could conflict with their near-unanimous claims about “benefitting humanity.”