Eric Schmidt, Princeton Colloquium on Public & Int’l Affairs


>>WATSON: Good morning everyone. Welcome back,
and welcome to this very special presentation. My name is Mark Watson, and I am the interim
dean here at the Woodrow Wilson School. It is my pleasure to introduce the speakers
for this special presentation. During this session we will be discussing
the role of information technology in the next phase of globalization.
Arguably, there is no better symbol of globalization today than the complex connections of the
world-wide computer network. Our experts will be discussing how IT will
transform the global information landscape. I am pleased to tell you that we have with
us today 2 of the best people anywhere in the world, to help us explore future trends
in the information revolution. Since our time is limited, I will be very
brief in my introduction and outline the format for the session today.
First, we will hear from our experts. Then we will have an extended period, I hope,
for questions, answers, and for discussion. Serving as our moderator and provocateur–I
love that expression–is Ed Felten, a professor of computer science–
We all know him here of course as a professor of computer science and public affairs in
the Computer Science Department in the Woodrow Wilson School,
and the director of the Center for Information Technology and Policy, here at Princeton.
His research interests include computer security and privacy, especially relating to media,
consumer products, and technology law and policy.
Ed’s research on topics such as web security, copyright protection, and electronic voting
have been covered extensively in the media. His web blog at freedom-to-tinker.com is widely
read for its commentary on technology, law, and privacy.
In 2004, Scientific American, named him to its list of 50 world-wide science and technology
leaders. Along with this–this morning–is also of
course Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Google Inc.
Earlier today, I will apologize but, I referred to you as the “Google guy” in our breakfast
meeting. You were in the company of the “UN guy” who
was here yesterday. [all laugh] We have the “Gates guy” here too.
Eric was recruited to Google from Novell, where he lead the company’s strategic planning,
management, and technology development as chairman and CEO.
Since joining Google in 2001, Eric has focused on building the corporate infrastructure needed
to maintain Google’s rapid growth as a company. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in electrical
engineering here at Princeton, and then went on to earn his Master’s and PHD in computer
science at UC Berkeley. In 2006, Eric was elected to the National
Academy of Engineering which recognized his work on development of strategies for the
world’s most successful internet search engine company.
Clearly, obviously, why even say it? [all laugh]
Eric was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.
I am going to quit speaking so we can hear some experts. [pause] [applause]>>FELTEN: While Eric was being introduced,
I Googled the “Google guy,” [all laugh] and in fact your name does come up.
We know that you are, in fact, the “Google guy.” That is the source of authority these
days. I guess I would like to start by asking you
to talk about how Google made the transition from being a graduate student project at Stanford
University, into being the global company that it is today.
How did that happen, and what did you learn along the way?>>SCHMIDT: It is lot easier now because of
the internet, because the internet is global. Americans have this view that all innovation
occurs in the United States, and that it is lately exported after awhile
to these undeserving and otherwise uninteresting people who don’t live in America.
Of course, we all know that America is just a very small part of the global creative commons.
The internet really is–it is remarkable as an institution that we built with essentially
American values– at least according to the other countries–but
allowing very rapid globalization. In our case, what we did is we built a set
of websites that people just started using. The most common question I get about Google
is how is it different everywhere else. I’m sorry to tell you it is not.
People still care about Britney Spears in these other countries. [all laugh] It is really
very disturbing [all laugh]
In fact the key insight of my service at Google has been that people are the same everywhere.
I think it would be the simplest way to run the world, to recognize that the other people,
other races, other cultures, people who don’t speak the same language have
roughly the same things that they care about as you do.
We know this because we can prove it. The only thing that is really different, of
course, is the language. The way we solved that was we got volunteer
translators. We made it very easy to take our website and
literally translate it into the language that you claim to speak.
We have ended up with a lot of languages that don’t actually exist.
My favorite is “bork, bork, bork”, which if you recall is the Swedish Chef language. [all
laugh] You can establish the specific language and
all of our answers are in that subset of Swedish, as best I can tell.
Part of the secret here is that you get the globalization of the internet, and part of
the secret is to get volunteers. I think one of the things that people don’t
appreciate about the global stage is people have a lot of free time.
They do, they are not like us. [all laugh] It is very important to recognize that they
have a lot of free time that could be used for good or evil, but they will use it.
You might as well give them some task like translating your website.>>FELTEN: People will translate websites for
you…>>SCHMIDT: For free.>>FELTEN: For themselves and their own friends?>>SCHMIDT: The next thing you do, since there
are 5 such groups, you get them to compete to choose the one that they claim is the best.
Since you can’t read the language anyway [all laugh]
Once you sort of map the art of manipulating this free energy, it works and it works really
well.>>FELTEN: One of the remarkable things about
the internet, of course, is that as soon as you put anything there it is global.
You set up a webpage yourself. You put maybe an embarrassing picture of your
friend on it, and anyone anywhere in the world can see it right away.
When that happens you are taking whatever it is you are putting out there, and you are
exporting it into many different countries, many cultures, many different legal regimes.
If it just you and your friends, then maybe no one notices.
At some point you get larger and somebody somewhere notices that you are doing something
that they don’t like. That is when you get to see another part of
the global nature of the web. Google has certainly run across this, where
somebody somewhere speaks up and says we don’t like what is happening.
This is contrary to our culture. This is contrary to our public policy.
Maybe they are confused, maybe not, but you do run into these problems all the time.>>SCHMIDT: They are usually not confused.
They have an agenda. Sometimes we agree with it, sometimes we don’t.
I would define Google in the naïve phase, and then the okay we are going to deal with
it phase. The naïve phase goes like this: We are
having a good time; we have all these loud people and all of that.
We put the stuff out, everybody translates everybody, and it is going to be this kind
of Kumbaya kind of moment around the world. The laws, the structure, and the culture are
neither the same nor coherent; a simple rule. Typical example: On the Google.com website
there is information that is legal in the United States and illegal in another country.
What do you do? I now have hundreds of workers who can answer
this question precisely. It goes something like this: We assert that
if it is on the Google.com website then it is essentially controlled by Google in the
United States and controlled by American law. We also, however, publish domains. They are
like .china, .brazil, .germany and so fourth. We do in fact follow those local laws.
The internet community has managed to convince the governments, at least in most cases, to
accept that this is the answer. The first example we had was very early on
this. It turns out because of the despicable history
of the Nazis in Germany; it is illegal to have Nazi websites.
There are about 100 of these groups that are truly horrific. They are legal in the United
States and illegal in Germany. We have a German domain which omits that information.That
is widely accepted as legal, just, and correct. The next one we had was much tougher to deal
with, and it had to do with Brazil. It turns out that we had a social networking
site in Brazil that had some child pornography on it.
Unfortunately child pornographers, again a truly despicable activity, upload this stuff,
you catch them, and they upload again, so forth and so on.
The legal question was whether that activity which was in a service that is hosted in the
United States was within the arms of the Brazilian law.
We were busy getting rid of the stuff, but a prosecutor in Brazil asserted supremacy.
Okay no problem; we have our government [inaudible]. Then you would think it was resolved.
Then what happens is that the prosecutor decides to arrest the people that we had in our Brazilian
operation, and put them in jail for a site that they have no control over,
is not in their town, they have nothing to do with it.
That was a wake-up call. Our head of the country–and these people
have enormous personal liability. They have criminal liability, civil liability.
We obviously indemnify them and all of this. They obviously had nothing to do with this.
It was something that was going on in the US.
This goes on for awhile. That was one was, by the way, successfully resolved after a
few years. We learned a hard lesson, which is that in
the way governments work–including democratically elected governments–
prosecutors have very strong and arbitrary powers, and many of them don’t fully understand
this complex architecture of how the internet works.>>FELTEN: This is one of the implications
of doing business with people at a distance. Even though you have an office in Brazil,
you don’t have people in every area, every town.>>SCHMIDT: In Brazil we actually had people
who they could arrest. In Thailand–We bought YouTube, and I thought YouTube was pretty
neat. Then what happens is it turns out it is illegal
in Thailand to show a video–I have learned this very precisely–
that involved putting shoes on the top of the head of the king in a character.
[all laugh] This is not a video I would have picked as
truly horrific, but you know. It is absolutely illegal. So the person we
had in Thailand fled because of the secret police.
They blocked us for a year. It has since been alleged that perhaps the
blocking had more to do with the military junta’s displeasure with all of those–
It is legal to criticize the military junta in Thailand–but we don’t know.>>FELTEN: This is one of the interesting things
about YouTube, of course, that anyone can upload any video.
It has been a tremendous engine of free speech, of speech of all kinds.>>SCHMIDT: According to many people [inaudible]
very bad. It is really bad according to these people, to let random people upload things
[inaudible] [discussion about sound problems] We can hear each other.>>FELTEN: That is right; we are having quite
an interesting conversation here. [all laugh] Let’s see if this works better. [pause for sound problems]>>SCHMIDT: Hand held devices. You’ll be our
judge. You have perfect hearing, and you have the
center seat.>>FELTEN: We were talking about YouTube and
the way that it allows anyone to say almost anything, anyone who has a video camera.>>SCHMIDT: They can say anything, not almost
anything, and they do. [all laugh]>>FELTEN: I stand corrected. Yes they do.
So it meets our vital needs to see skateboarding dogs, as well as some maybe more important
needs.>>SCHMIDT: The most alarming statistic about
YouTube is that there 15 hours of YouTube footage uploaded every minute to the site.
I don’t know the international percentage, but it is on the order of ¾ international.
Going back to the principal that Americans are not the center of the universe, trust
me people outside the US like YouTube too.>>FELTEN: To the extent that there are complicated
rules and laws about what people can and can’t say in different places.
It is a real challenge for you to deal with. Even looking at all of it before it gets posted,
even having an employee look at it would really be completely unfeasible.>>SCHMIDT: One of the central issues that
the internet has is that there are a number of organizations that would like prior censorship
to publication. I want to come back to that as a serious point.
When we bought YouTube, I did not realize that pictures were much more powerful than
text at the level that they are. We have tolerated on the web really nasty
stuff being published by truly despicable people.
It is tolerated because of the principles of free speech and so forth.
A video image of the same thing is seen by humans all around world in a much worse light.
All of a sudden YouTube brought these issues much more forward.
Right after we bought YouTube, we got sued by Viacom for a billion dollars.
Without commenting on the merits of the suit, except that they were wrong. [all laugh]
One of their arguments, fundamentally, is that when people upload things there has to
be a check before they get published. We fundamentally disagree with this at a very
basic level. It is a principle of the web. An analogous point has to do with the question
of prohibited or inappropriate speech, libelous speech, or worse like pornography and those
sorts of thing. Many governments would like prior censorship
before publication. A typical example here would be Turkey.
We all think of Turkey as a pretty modern state, but I will tell you from a YouTube
perspective they are a seriously backward state.
For the last year they have blocked us. The reason, allegedly, is because of a gentleman
who published something which was critical of Ataturk, who as you know is the founder
of modern Turkey. It is perfectly possible that the motivation
for this censorship has more to do with the political dynamic and criticism of the existing
government. We don’t really know.>>FELTEN: Let’s change the subject to another
example of information being posted online. That is Google Street View.>>SCHMIDT: Oh, my favorite. [all laugh]>>FELTEN: Street View is a facility that lets
you, if you are looking at a map, get a picture of what it looks like to be standing on the
street at that place. If you want to see the front of the building
that you are going to be going to later in the day, you can use Google Street View and
just call it up. The way that this was done was essentially
to send cars driving around the city streets snapping pictures over and over.
Then processing and stitching all that together using computers.
The result was essentially a very large set of candid shots of things happening on the
streets of America and elsewhere. When Google Street View first went up in the
United States, there was this sort of game that was launched where people would look
for [inaudible] pictures. Look, here is a picture of somebody coming
out of a pornographic movie theater. Oh look, that looks like someone breaking
into that house. Of course, if you take a zillion pictures
you are going to find all kinds of interesting things.
This kicked off a kind of debate about the implications of Street View,
which on the one hand is a marvelously useful feature to be able to use if you want to navigate
in a city or town that is covered, but on the other hand, involved the publication
of all kinds of pictures of all kinds of interesting things.
What happened after Street View was launched?>>SCHMIDT: The most important thing that we
did is we brought in the face anonymizer. It turns out that people are not excited if
they are caught without their face being visible. Remember these are public streets and so fourth.
We won a lawsuit by a family who had a funny name, which I won’t repeat.
They actually sued us over driving through their public street and taking a picture of
their house. We won that because it is a public street.
We try very hard to do this. We have an internal video of a Street View
car–these are little Prius by the way–you know it is Google–
they have little cameras on the top and this particular one goes into a–the guy takes
a wrong turn into essentially a water treatment plant in Chicago.
People go berserk and he leaves the Street View camera running for the 8 hours that he
is detained, inspected, hauled in by the police, and hauled in by the FBI, so forth and so
on. They don’t believe that all he is doing is
driving his little Prius around with the little camera.
Last week, one of our cars was driving through a small village in England.
There was a barrier set up by the local population, who blocked the car.
The very friendly Street View driver just sat there for awhile.
They gave a speech about how they didn’t want modernity to arrive in their town.
We are on the edge of this question. The reason we take such a strong position
is that Street View is our most popular, in terms of growth right now, property.
People love using Street View to figure out where they are going and what they are doing.
There is clearly value being provided for the mass.>>FELTEN: On the whole, services like Street
View and indeed the basic technology trends behind them make it much cheaper and easier
to gather and store a lot more information that people are interested in.
Most of what people are interested in is information about what is happening out in the world and
information that involves other people. There is an inherent pressure on privacy that
happens because of this technology. Street View being an example, not that you
set out to do…>>SCHMIDT: What is interesting about Street
View is Street View is precisely not about violating people’s privacy.
If anyone complains about anything in Street View, we do our very best to take it down
as long as it is not a picture of the Eiffel tower.>>FELTEN: But I guess my point was, that in
trying to build this feature, you inevitably ran across privacy issues,
and you had to think very carefully before the product went out and after about how to
handle this privacy issue. I think companies in the technology field
are more and more spending time thinking through privacy implications of what they are doing,
in a way that companies and a lot of other businesses don’t have to do as pervasively.>>SCHMIDT: We do, and we are, and that’s
exactly right. I think privacy is an evergreen issue for the internet.
You are going to be having conferences on privacy for the next 50 years.
People are obsessed about what other people are doing, and whether what they are doing
is correct and appropriate. They are also obsessed about their own image,
public and private. That’s true for 7 billion people, because
people are the same everywhere. I think the best current example of this is
a product called Latitude, which we released a couple weeks ago.
I’ll tell you the story of how this came out. I’m sitting in the usual product review room.
We have all the executives, Larry, Sergey, myself, and the other senior executives doing–we
do product reviews for days on end–we’re basically a product company.
Then this 22-year-old came in to demonstrate his new accomplishment.
He shows a map, and he shows his current position on his mobile phone, and he shows the current
position of his friends. And he has figured a way to calculate–not
just the real-time position of where he and his friends are,
which of course he’s logged on our servers, but also, he can predict how to meet up with
them. As he does his demo, I’m slowly sinking in
the chair. Because, it’s obvious that he has no clue what he has just invented.
And, of course, everyone else in the room says: Oh that’s so neat!
And I’m saying: You have real-time tracking, which you’re storing in our log files anywhere
in the world with an accurate predictor of where the person is going.
Everybody asks: what’s your problem there? I said: can you start with the lawsuits? [all laugh] So think about if it were true, that we had
such real-time log information–ignoring the privacy issues.
Just imagine the number of police and legitimate business and government organizations–and
perhaps some illegitimate ones as well– wandering through, giving us subpoenas, or
going into other countries and jailing our people and so forth to get all this information.
Because, it is incredibly useful if you are trying to “catch terrorists,” or “catch criminals,”
or “persecute people you don’t like.” Whatever it is your government does. [all laugh] There is a spectrum, as we know.
Eventually I won that argument. So it was agreed to do an internal test–which
I also then blocked. Because I said: Ok, so now we’re going to
have lawsuits inside of our company over employee behavior, and so forth.
So, eventually, the 22-year-old is wondering: What have I got myself into. You don’t appreciate
the brilliance of my invention. We made a change, which is very easy to understand.
With Latitudes, you can turn it off. It’s very important to have an Off button.
Also, you can tell it to tell people that you’re somewhere else. [laughter] Right? QED
Now from his perspective, that would never be needed.
So we’re sitting in the board meeting last week, and one of the board members says: Where’s
Jonathan? And I said: He’s at the Wailea in Hawaii.
And we’re obviously not in Hawaii. And the board member said: How do you know
this? And I said: Real-time tracking–there he is! [laughter] The next day, we got a note from a nice lady,
who had been mugged in San Francisco. Who reported on the great use of Latitude
when you leave it on in your purse, and tell the police where you are.
So, these things go both ways. And that’s a good example of how we fought
through the invention by the 22-year-old. And then it’s ultimate application into something
which is also incredibly successful.>>FELTEN: I think this is a good illustration
of what often happens in discussions about these products, and sometimes in the public
policy discussions as well. We now have access to this wealth of information
that we didn’t have before. It might not be so difficult technologically,
to build a product like this once you get the idea.
The hard problem turns out to be figuring out what you actually want to do, how to housebreak
it–if you will.>>SCHMIDT: I should say that the ones that
are actually the most serious of all are called search logs.
When Google was founded, Search Google maintained search logs forever.
It was obvious to me that there would have to be some restriction on that, because these
logs can be used against you. In the United States, we have something called
the PATRIOT Act. There is also a successor called PATRIOT 2,
which can be used by a secret court. It is all legal in the United States.
We do occasionally at least anticipate getting such subpoenas through normal course of business.
In other countries, of course, it’s far worse. The question was: How do you balance the interests
of legitimate governmental interests–there is obviously a legitimate interest–and the
most extreme privacy concerns. We ultimately said: There must be a number.
As an operator, we are going to be regulated in this case.
It turns out the European Data Privacy Commission and the European Commission simply settled
on a demand to us for 18 months. So we just said: Yes. [pause] So that’s an example. [both talking] We actually don’t delete it. We anonymize
it. And what I’m saying here is completely publically
known, we have described the details and so fourth. It has taken a lot of steam out of
the system. Again, I offer that as another example where
the technology people think that because disks are plentiful and it’s so easy to log everything,
we might as well keep everything. You never know when that stuff might actually
be useful. For example, we can use historical logs to
improve our algorithms. So there is a legitimate business reason to
retain those logs, at least from a technological perspective.
Logs retained forever create all sorts of long-term issues.>>FELTEN: To what extent do these privacy
issues limit your ability to get new business? If I were to put on my provocateur hat, I
might say: I’m a little scared of all the information that Google has about me.
You see all my email, things that I look up and read, you store my calendar, and all kinds
of other things about what I have been doing. I may be personally not so worried, but I
think that if Google fell into evil hands I would be pretty concerned about what happens
with all that data.>>SCHMIDT: We have a rule of: Don’t be evil. [all laugh]>>FELTEN: Oh, Ok. Never mind then.>>SCHMIDT: We’re computer scientists [inaudible]
by rules. You’re a computer scientist. You understand.
The serious answer, I think, is that the entire relationship that Google has is based on the
trust of our end users. If we were to do something that would violate
your trust–you as an individual–a reporter would find you,
and they would make such an enormous storm that we would lose three-quarters of our users
within a week or two to all of our competitors. Because we’ve set such a high standard for
ourselves, we take it so seriously, that we’ve had a couple of cases where government has
given us subpoenas which we’ve actually fought. Thank heavens for the judiciary in our country.
We actually fought and won. You really want to fight for the right of
privacy within the context of what I’m describing. If you’re not willing to fight for it, you
shouldn’t be in this business. To be just incredibly blunt with people who
may be confused about this, whether you’re using Google or not, your email system is
subpoenable. In fact, the majority of the activity in police
sections, now, appears to be going through people’s email.
Because criminals use email, it’s obviously terrible to be a criminal that uses email.
You should not assume that you have absolute privacy unless you’re willing to use essentially
a chalkboard inside a room with no windows. It is just not fundamentally there. The systems
do tend to retain information. The solution is: Just don’t commit a crime. [laughter] That’s the easiest way to solve that problem.>>FELTEN: In fact, even if you are in a room
with a chalkboard–even if you are, say, sitting out here in the audience with the camera not
pointing at you– you are in a different world, from an information
privacy standpoint, than you were a few years ago.
It turns out that people like me have cameras in their pockets, and all kinds of things
get recorded. Recorded audio; recorded video; recorded and
snapped as pictures and then republished–which wouldn’t have been in the past.
So we are living more in a fishbowl, even if we are low-tech people now.>>SCHMIDT: I think, technologically–I assume
everyone here has a cell phone on them. Everyone I know has a cell phone, or a mobile
phone, an iPhone, an Android phone, a blackberry–what have you.
If you think about that device, it has a 3 megapixels or greater camera.
It has a CPU in it, which is more powerful than the CPU that I used when I was here as
a student–which is sort of amazing. It has more memory as well.
It has the ability to do pictures, and in many cases, can now do a video.
There are more photographs taken in mobile phones that there are in cameras.
Soon there will be more videos taken by your handheld devices, and so forth.
It has a GPS. Even if it doesn’t have a GPS, we have software which can simulate GPS using
cell tower information–which is really neat. Oh, and by the way–I forgot–it’s also useful
for phone use, [all laugh] This is its least interesting use.
We can talk about browsers, and so forth. That change is a truly revolutionary architectural
change. It means that people are carrying around these
phenomenal computing resources with them, which are hyper-connected
In my case, I like history. So when I walk down the street in New York
or here in Princeton, it should be possible for it to tell me the history of each of the
buildings as I walk by. Right? Why not?
Google has the information. The phone has the GPS.
It’s not doing anything, right? It is just sitting there.
Occasionally I’ll say: Oh what’s going on at Charter Club?
Boom! There is the history of Charter Club, or what
have you. When was Cannon Club converted to a university
facility, or something? My point is that people live in very local
contexts. Now you have Encyclopedia Britannica streaming
to you every day. I’m using the history example; because that’s
the mildest example I can think of. Think of the combination of the phone and
face recognition. Where I bring up–Ed, you were very careful
to hold up your phone. Using modern technology, you might have scanned
the audience, done immediate face recognition, and it would have told you every person in
the audience even though we don’t have their name tags.
That’s when it gets scary.>>FELTEN: Very useful.
The killer product is the one which will sit on your lapel in a cocktail party and tell
you who that person is. [all laugh]>>SCHMIDT: You know, I hadn’t thought about
building that one; but now that you suggest it.>>FELTEN: On the subject of mobile phones,
another big implication of mobile phones is in the developing world,
where you have a lot of people who don’t have access to the kind of computers which we might
have on our desks. You might not have the wired internet infrastructure.
Where a lot of people have these mobile devices, which are ever more capable, which will become
their portal to the information highway. You see companies like Google, who are moving
aggressively to get their services onto mobile phones.
Maybe you could tell us something about what you see happening in the developing world,
via the wireless infrastructure. Generally, about technology taking off in
the developing world.>>SCHMIDT: One of the things which I’m most
proud of is something which we have almost no day-to-day concept of
which is the arrival of another billion people into the modern communications network over
the next few years, and the deployment of these very low cost wireless networks.
For many reasons, the basic connectivity–the basic SMS messaging, which we’ve taken for
granted here– has in the last three or four years become
available to people who don’t have televisions, and have never made a phone call.
Through a combination of micro-lending and the other kinds of things people here know
about. The fact of the matter is people like to talk.
It’s true even there. This means, this platform, which today is
largely SMS–or short message based–is just ripe for the next generation of what are called
feature phones. They are now becoming available at price points
in the $30 to $50 to $70 range. This is low enough that they can be subsidized
into those markets. All of the sudden, they can get basic connectivity
and basic things. You sit there and you say: Oh they don’t care,
they are just poor. They are just living in their little huts.
This is a typical sort of an American reaction. If you are a farmer, and you’re wealth is
determined completely by agricultural prices, and the current temperature and weather.
That SMS message determines whether your family lives or dies, or whether you have to sell
the cow in order to get through a bad winter. We think of this stuff as essential, for them
it is fundamental to get that kind of information. There are many examples in markets where people
will be on a ship near a town, and they used to get ripped off because they would go to
this dock and get a non [inaudible] price for their goods.
And now they can text to get their optimal price.
They have all been able to globalize their information.
There was a food shortage about a year and a half ago.
One of the alleged reasons was that all of the sudden the arrival of this information
had caused people to discover that they wanted to dis-intermediate their suppliers,
because their suppliers were ripping them off.>>FELTEN: Certainly everyone can find some
way to benefit from increased availability of information.
The people who have less information available to them already are the ones who, perhaps,
gain the most from being connected.>>SCHMIDT: We complain about the recession
here. Let me tell you that we have got it good compared
to people in the third world whose export markets just collapsed.
Where there the minerals boom, which so fueled their economic growth over the last ten years,
has also just collapsed. Again, this is not a matter of humor, although
it is fun to talk about. The fact of the matter is that these tools
are now essential for them to recover any form of economic growth.>>FELTEN: So as people in the developing world
become increasingly connected to the global information networks,
how do you think this will change the way we in the developed world look at the developing
world?>>SCHMIDT: One of the other principles is that there is a lot of injustice in the world,
and we are blind to it. You see this now with these horrific YouTube
videos of women being beaten for violating the alleged laws of the country.
When will humanity say enough is enough? That kind of indignity is not ok.
The fact of the matter is that the ubiquity of recording devices and the ability now to
publish them, really does serve as a check and balance–in my view–on despots.
The analogy is, in the 1970s, Ted Turner was the first person to cleverly use the advent
of commercial satellites to create a global television network.
This then allowed the coverage of horrific state actions.
You’ll remember. You know them all in the 1970s and 1980s.
That served a check and balance against the grossest and most horrific state actions.
Now we have the ability, using private communications, to serve as a check and balance against, at
least, the societal sanctioned horrific local actions.
What I worry about is that we are still locked in this old Zeitgeist–Cuba being the current
example. It is illegal for us to have any business
connections, whatsoever, with Cuba. And yet, if there is any group which could
benefit from fax machines, personal computers, and bringing them into the modern world, it
would be the citizens of Cuba. They would then immediately discover that
the people running their country should be overthrown.
It seems obvious. If you were a dictator–I hope none of us
are, and I certainly am not going to be– the first thing that you would do in a country
is you would take your tanks and you would encircle the boundaries of the country.
You would shut off all communication. You would make sure no one could see what
you were doing. The internet is organized to prevent that.
The internet is precisely organized to not allow those kinds of activities.
People who say: We shouldn’t do this, or we shouldn’t do that–the way you invade these
countries, is with information. That information, from their perspective is
an invasion. From our perspective, it allows a leveling
of expectations and of humanity.>>FELTEN: This, I think, is a good point to
open it up for questions.>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is [inaudible].
I am an alumni and an Android developer. I was trying to take signs about what is going
to happen to Android and my business throughout the stock.
Not having heard a word, a single time, I am getting more disappointed.
The question I have is.>>SCHMIDT: What are you disappointed about?>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: To begin with, I have
been watching a work phone you have in your right pocket. It doesn’t look like an Android
phone. My question is: You have an absolutely wonderful
technology. A great toy, a very flexible one, that can simply level and devastate the mobile
market as we know it. Do you plan to dedicate more resources, more
funding, and better management to the program you have right now?>>SCHMIDT: Nice to meet you. [all laugh]. For the background, for the people in the
audience, Android is an open-system operating system that we developed for mobile phones.
It is by far the best Linux based platform for mobile phones.
We did a partnership with a company called T-Mobile which has done very well.
In the next few weeks there will be a whole bunch more partnerships being announced.
As part of that we have a developer program–it sounds like you are part of that–where applications
can be built on top of it. This will be the year when a very large category
of phones–small phones, large phones, touch phones, non-touch phones will be available
on Android. What is interesting to us about Android is
that most of the phones that are delivered are ones we don’t even know about.
That is the promise of open system. So the answer to your question is, yes we
are doing a significant investment increase in engineering and support.
Between now and September, which is this year, you should see a lot more partnerships.>>FELTEN: There is an interesting issue here,
I guess, which we might want to draw out for those who are maybe less familiar with the
technology development landscape. That is the role of open source technologies
and the way that when even a large technology company is rolling out a product,
they rely on building a community of people to turn a product into a really useful ecosystem
that people can use. Android being an example of that.
Google didn’t set out to build a packaged mobile phone with a fixed set of services.
Instead to enable people–like this gentleman–to help make a more interesting environment happen.
When you do that, you are not 100% in control of what happens with your product.>>SCHMIDT: For those of you who don’t know
the details, in the open systems world what happens is you release the software with a
license that generally allows people to do whatever they want.
Sometimes they change it in ways you don’t like, but in many cases they follow your lead.
That is the balance that we are trying to strike.
It has worked incredibly successfully for the web.
Those of you who are familiar with web architecture, the predominant web server architecture is
based on an open system platform. All the licensing came out of that, so this
is a very web centric approach.>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: You mentioned how
YouTube has become very powerful. That you can sort of didn’t really check how we went
back to the day of [inaudible] university text. You didn’t quite see how powerful it
was. You sort of suggested that it is so great for free speech and whatnot. While that is
certainly true, [inaudible]. They were required to say less interesting things on the campaign
trail, and fear that [inaudible] video format. [inaudible] [all laugh] It cuts both ways, the ubiquity of this technology.
When it comes to car dealers, who may not want to public press or push the envelope
here or anywhere else, we might end up just [inaudible].>>FELTEN: Let me repeat the question for those
of you who couldn’t hear. The question was about the impact of YouTube, especially on
politics. The concern that the fact that things can
easily be videotaped and put up for the whole world to see, might make speakers–especially
political speakers–very cautious. Therefore, lowering the quality of political
discourse.>>SCHMIDT: If caution means they stop lying
when they say one thing in one place and one in the other then… [all laugh, applause] I want to distinguish between private behavior
and public behavior. I think everybody here understands the value
of privacy and private behavior. We are not talking about that.
For years I had thought and had said publically that there would be an election that would
be determined by the internet. It turns out that it was 2006. If you go back
to then–we have such short memories around here.
–the House, primarily due to the war issues, became Democratic.
The Senate was not going to become Democratic. There was a seat in Virginia that was in play,
and it was close. The incumbent was George Allen, and a young
gentleman caught him saying a racial slur word apparently by intent, not randomly.
Then that was used in Virginia–which has a history of concerns over such things–and
it on the margin switched to a conservative Democrat.
This then switched the Senate. Switching the Senate changed the political dynamic for President
Bush in a very fundamental way in our system. Small things like that can have a huge political
repercussion. When Nancy Pelosi then took over the House,
she tried to have her closest collaborator become, I think, the whip or something like
this. This is a person who had been in the Abscam;
it was a Democrat who had been in the Abscam scandal.
A video surfaced of his testimony, on the internet.
This became so concerning to everyone that he lost his appointment.
If you are a public figure the reality is–and they have now all learned this as you said–
you have to be careful not to play one side or the other.
You need to be careful not to commit and crimes and stuff like that.
I think it is reasonable for us as citizens to expect our politicians to say coherent
things in the same places, and also not to pander.
There is a history in America of politicians pandering to one group, and then saying something
different. Now we can check that. I am very optimistic
on this from a governance perspective.>>FELTEN: We see a similar issue, actually,
for many of our students with regard to Facebook. The students all have Facebook pages, and
they all put things on those pages that they are willing to show to people now.
Twenty years from now thy may regret some of the things…>>SCHMIDT: I have a solution. I think there
should be a law that you can change your name at 21. [all laugh] It wasn’t me, I don’t look like that anymore,
different person, different name.>>FELTEN: I will be back to you next week
with the algorithm for assigning, for connecting those names up.
One of the interesting things–we see this with Facebook.
When I talk to students about this, sometimes in a: Are you sure you want that on the net
conversation and sometimes just generally, what they say is, look you old guys don’t
understand. The norms will be different when we are 40
and 50 and when I, or someone like me, is appointed to some government position.
The norms will be different and people will be forgiven, not only the knowledge that there
were youthful indiscretions which we have dealt with for a long time in public life,
but the vivid video evidence of them [all laugh]>>SCHMIDT: If that is really true, then why
is the vetting process this year–which is presumably the most liberal of all the years
in the last 50 years–the roughest?>>FELTEN: Well, that politics. [all laugh]>>SCHMIDT: So it is also possible that the
inverse will be true. That 20 or 30 years from now it will be even
more vicious because people will have an even worse summary of what people did because no
one is perfect.>>FELTEN: It could be. These days memories
of what happened back in the 1960s and 1970s are maybe a little vague.>>SCHMIDT: Mine certainly are, and I was here. [all laugh]>>FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: At this point Google
does not charge for all of these wonderful services. You are adding a lot more, the Picasa
etc. Do you foresee in the near future or in the
long-term future that this will change, or will ad revenue continue to…>>SCHMIDT: [inaudible] [all laugh] I will give you the shorter answer, which
is no.>>FELTEN: Up near the back, the woman in the
red shirt. [all laugh]>>FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: I am interested
in this tool, the use of the phone thingamabob as a further tool for research in medicine.
I told Pat about 10 years ago it would be great to have a hand-held device with even
a sensor on it. You would be able to hold it and click at
something, sort of like your history walk down the street in history.
You know what this organ is that you are looking at, this plant, or some sort of device.
It would be kind of hyper search…>>SCHMIDT: There is actually a group doing
that. It is called the Barcode of Life. What they are trying to do is to come up with
essentially a UPC code for the genetic structure of every living organism.
They have developed a sensor which can actually do precisely what you described.
If you use Google, you will find all the details. [all laugh]>>FELTEN: I should look to the left, and call
on someone over here. Here in the blue.>>MALE QUESTIONER: Google’s world-wide market
share and search has grown monthly, based on the stats I have seen, about 1% a month
over recent years. My question is do you see a natural limit to that.>>SCHMIDT: Yes, percentages have limits. [laughter] Let him ask this question. Go ahead.>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible] It has
to do with: Do you see any concerns or issues about monopoly in the future?>>FELTEN: The question is–asking Eric: Does
he see any concerns or issues about monopoly in the future?>>SCHMIDT: We don’t necessarily confirm that
number, so that is somebody else’s opinion on our market share.
We have high market share in some countries. We have low market share in others.
We argue very strongly that we are one click away from losing everybody.
So, it is possible to have high market shares but still be highly competitive.
That is both my personal opinion, and our legal position.
The simplest answer is: We try very hard to not lock people in.
We looked at Microsoft and other historical examples, and wrote an internal policy about
how to be good while being big–how to avoid being evil, essentially.
The simplest rule is: We won’t trap your data. So if you become dissatisfied with us, you
always have the opportunity of leaving and going to a competitor.>>FELTEN: Having been involved in some previous
technology antitrust issues, let me comment on this as well.
I think you have a problem when you have not only a high market share, but also you have
some kind of barrier to entry–or lock in– which makes it hard for customers to go somewhere
else, [inaudible] problem. Then also, when you have some bad behavior.
One can imagine situations developing in the technology field going forward, where that
happens. But I think you have to make a detailed argument
for these other elements as well before Google were to get into antitrust trouble.>>FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, I’m an undergrad
in the economics department. I was just wondering what you thought about
how people claim that as more and more people spend so much time on the internet, and less
face time, they become even more socially disconnected
than they have in the past. What does Google thinks about it?>>FELTEN: The question is about whether people
spending more time online and have less face time become disconnected from each other.>>SCHMIDT: You probably don’t remember the
book “Bowling Alone.” The book “Bowling Alone” is clearly false.
We are more communicative. We are more together. We are more social.
We are just social in these odd ways. From my perspective, the current text-based
communication mechanisms–which is what you were referring to–
are just a transitional communication mechanism to much more interpersonal communication with
pictures, movies, real-time video conferencing, that kind of thing.
The 160 character limit of SMS is just a technological artifact–something which will be gone very
soon. From my perspective, the simplest answer is:
People are spending more time communicating in different ways.
I think we tend to talk in the negative context. Think of it as: There is an explosion of communication.
There is not just an increase. You do that when you use Facebook information
or you use Twitter. I especially think about it for somebody who
has not grown up in our rich part of the world.>>FELTEN: One of the changes we’ve seen in
the way people communicate–these technologies–is a movement from synchronous to asynchronous
communications. Synchronous means we are here together. We
are talking at the same time. I speak, and you hear me at the same time.
We go back and forth in real-time. Asynchronous means I write something, I send
something, I put something on my Facebook page, and you come and look at it later.
So we do see–as Eric said–a tremendous amount of communication going on.
But we are seeing a change in the mode of communication.
That does change social interactions in some sense.
But it is still true that the things that people want to do most of all is talk to other
people and communicate with other people. That is what they are primarily using these
technologies for.>>SCHMIDT: Look at the rise of Twitter, for
example. Which is: What am I doing right now?>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: There is concern in
the newspaper industry is that organizations, such as Google, repackage news and provide
it free. Thus the newspaper doesn’t have a source of
income. It goes out of business. And the very collectors of news–which you
are then repackaging and sending out–will disappear.
How can Google respond to the concern that newspapers such as the Boston Globe may just
disappear?>>FELTEN: The question is about what is happening
to news and newspapers especially, concerns about the vanishing newspaper, and what Google
says and thinks about that.>>SCHMIDT: There has been a lot of discussion
of this recently. I think the recession has really brought this issue to the fore.
Newspapers are suffering from three different problems.
One is the rising cost of newsprint. Another one has been the loss of classifieds.
The third has been the loss of advertising revenue primary, by the way, from autos.
Especially in local markets, it is very severe. We use newspaper content with their permission.
The first part of our answer is always if the newspapers don’t want us to–as you say
republish–or make available copyrighted information that they own and control,
it is trivial for them to put information that would block us from doing that.
In every case they have chosen to give us that information in return for us sending
web traffic to their sites. So many people come to Google looking for
information; we send it to their site, which they can then monetize.
The rough analysis of the problem is that the money that they are getting on their websites
does not make up for the loss of revenue from print circulation.
That is not a problem that we know how to solve.
We have ideas about how to make the online news more effective, and we are working on
those. We fundamentally don’t have any good insights
about the other problems.>>FELTEN: We had a conference last year about
the future of news in the age of technology. My take away from that was that the transformation
that is happening, the challenges to newsgathering and newspapers especially, basically boiled
down to two problems. One is that newspapers now face a lot more
competition. You don’t have to read the one paper or the two papers that are in your town.
You can read whatever you want. That means that there is a lot more competition.
Therefore, the price is likely to go down. This means less revenue for individual papers.
The other problem is that the traditional newspaper was a bundle of different things,
different components. Some of these were cheap and easy to make
and also profitable, say the sports section. Others were expensive and not as revenue enhancing,
say investigative reporting. The sports piece of the newspaper was subsidizing
the investigative reporting part, but they were distributed together.
Now a days people go to different places to get those different components.
They get their sports from a lot of different places.
The result is that the parts that were profitable and subsidizing the sort of hard news can
no longer do that. I think there are some basic economic changes
that are happening and would happen regardless of whether Google or any other particular
company was around. Down here in the front, you have been patient.>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: First off, thank you
for the transparency that Google has provided recently with the [inaudible]. The fact that
this video will probably go on YouTube, some of us do watch them.
And of course your push for social changes Google [inaudible].
My question is text search as an aim for all extends to the tune of roughly 20 million
dollars. In the last week or so there was a report
that came out that said that YouTube is basically costing you guys 5%, 500 million dollars.
I wouldn’t ask you to substantiate that. My question is: When are we going to see the
next type of ad, the Geo Ad that people have been talking about?>>FELTEN: The question was about revenue and
also about when are going to see Geo Ads–meaning ads that are targeted based on where you are.>>SCHMIDT: You think that those Geo Ads would
be useful? Today Google’s–the vast majority of our revenue,
96-97%, is related to the text ads that you see.
If you type digital camera in, you will see ads in various combinations on the top and
on the right hand side. They pay for Google. When you asked earlier will it remain free?
Where is the money coming from? It is coming from there.
By the way it is a good business. The other businesses that we are in are a
fraction of that. In some cases they are growing more quickly,
but they are not as profitable, or they take longer, or they take more investment.
If you are going to have a core business, this is the one to have. That gives flexibility
to have a business and yet also have a lot of these other things.
We can afford to build businesses and lose money at them while we are building them.
In the case of YouTube, we are in the process of building video advertising systems which
we believe will ultimately provide enough revenue.
Not only to cover the costs of YouTube but more importantly to pay for the professional
content. Which is the issue–it is fundamentally the
issue with the newspapers. We want to pay for that professional content,
we are codependent with them. For an ads format perspective the most important
new set of ads formats that we are doing are called display ads.
There are essentially picture ads, where the picture ads are better targeted.
Our observation is that an ad online that is highly personal is useful, and an ad that
is not very targeted to you is pretty much useless.
The example I would offer is my television. The television is on, and it shows the same
shows that I saw yesterday. It is a dumb TV. Why does it not know that I already saw that
show? It is just a computer, right? It should be
able to know that. It also repeats ads over and over again. Why
doesn’t it show me ads that are relevant to me?
Ads for baby diapers–there is no baby in the house, there is no need for diapers, and
that kind of stuff. Changing that model to a more targeted advertising
is what Google is about as a business.>>FELTEN: We have seen this in a big way on
the web. One of the really interesting, often untold, stories about Google is about the
ad model. This advertising model that Google has developed
and its role in really changing the way that print advertising works, and display advertising
works online. We are all waiting for that to come to television,
to come to video. Do you have a prediction about when and how
that might happen?>>SCHMIDT: We have been working on it. These
things are hard. You have to invent new technologies to do it.
In television we have a partnership with a satellite company where we have set top box
and we can actually do targeted ads to your set top box.
We get a signal back as to whether the ad worked or not. That is pretty promising.
We had an ad business for print ads for newspapers because we tried to help them out.
We couldn’t get enough information back about which ones were working, to make the network
and the auction that we run work very well. It is highly dependent–the same thing with
radio. We had a radio ads business where we couldn’t
figure out well enough which radio ad to have you hear on your radio to make it economically
worthwhile.>>FELTEN: Way in the back>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: A question about internet
power laws. You mentioned in the speech [inaudible] in Washington.
That you divide the total number of blogs by the total number of blog readers, and you
got a number that pretty close to one.>>SCHMIDT: Basically 100,000 blogs created
today. The average number of readers for that is one. It actually 1.01 because the .01 is
your mother [laughter]>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: So it hasn’t gone
down at all since then? [pause]>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: I think the gentleman
earlier mentioned Google.org and the effort by Google to have a moto do no evil and accomplish
social good. I am wondering what your conclusions are [inaudible]
that you been at investing through Google.org and [inaudible] fund now.
The focus on renewables, I know, is a personal interest of yours. Can you talk about all
that?>>FELTEN: The question is about Google.org,
which is the philanthropic arm of Google.>>SCHMIDT: We put together Google.org right
after the [inaudible]. We funded it with about 1% of equity.
It has a serious amount of money. We started with a number of initiatives.
The one that has had the biggest impact has been in the area of green and renewable power.
For example, we have been funding and working very hard for plug-in hybrids.
The neat thing about plug-in hybrids is basically if they have a larger battery they use almost
no gas most of the time. They can use off-peak power.
Another thing that we did is called the Google 2030 plan, it was described.
We can up with an architecture, which basically if we just to decide to rebuild America’s
energy infrastructure by 2030 we would essentially not be reliant on foreign oil.
We would also have created a huge number of American high-paying jobs and created a whole
bunch of export industries. The net present value of that was a positive
200 billion dollars. We actually make money to do this.
This, of course, means it won’t happen. The economics are phenomenal.
In order to do that, for example, you need to have a smart grid, intelligent garage solutions,
and so forth which we are working on with a number of partners.
That is an example of the kind of impact that we have been able to have.
Another one that we are particularly proud of is called Flu Trends.
What we do is we statistically look at the log behavior, anonymize the data, and we can
predict it looks like a flu outbreak three or four months before the authorities will
predict it. When people get the symptoms of flu, they
go to Google and they type them in. We can detect that. We believe that this will
save some number of tens of thousands of lives and many more if there is the repetition of
one of these horrific out breaks like 1918 flu virus.
Those are two examples with many more coming.>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: I wonder if you would
give us any thought to how the internet will develop and the way it can assist us in organizing
ourselves politically as local citizens.>>FELTEN: The question is about how the internet
can help people organize themselves politically as a global citizenry.>>SCHMIDT: You have actually done some research
on this. You are probably more the expert than I.
Here is the rough problem. You watch television as somebody says oh; well we have a million
visitors that came to our site. Everybody goes oh, well that is exciting.
The problem is that we can’t tell whether that million visitors is 900,000 computers
and 100,000 people, or whether it is a million people who were paid by some lobbyist to go
talk to the site, or whether it is something that they made
up because their IT person can’t add all the websites correctly. We just don’t know.
When you start to think about trying to govern using the internet, you start to get really
worried about misinformation, lobbying activities, spin, and that kind of stuff.
Indeed, even lack of a paper trail for voting machines. This has been sort of something
that people are very concerned about. If you think of the notion of one person,
one vote, and the traditional principles of democracy,
you want to be sure that you are preserving some aspect of that or just view it as input.
If you are an expert, you can view the sensing and so forth that goes on as input to you.
I would be very concerned if people started to say–here is the example that I was talking
to Ed about earlier– Let’s assume for purposes of argument that
there was a discussion about whether smoking caused cancer.
As far as I can tell in science everyone agrees, smoking is a primary cause of cancer. The
only people that do not agree with that are the tobacco companies.
We do a survey of the average person on the internet. The average person doesn’t really
understand all the details. They read the scientific literature, and then
they read the opposing view. The tobacco companies have a huge financial
interest in making sure that the opposing view appears legitimate.
They will spend an asymmetric amount of information to pollute, if you will, the conversation
from generally accepted–if you will, communal wisdom of this outcome.
I am using that because that is a very simple example that we can probably all agree with.
Of course, the real examples are much more pernicious.>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]>>SCHMIDT: My point is that you have to come
up with systems which allow you to understand whether you are being gamed, in order to effectively
do these things.>>FELTEN: This is one of, I think, the most
important questions about how the internet will transform politics.
Certainly technology increases the quantity of discourse. The question is: Can you use
it to increase the quality, or at least to make it easier for people to understand
what is happening, to get a better picture and to make better decisions?
That is a very hard problem. We have maybe a few inklings that it may be
possible by thinking carefully about the way you design systems, about the way you design
social software. This sort of nudges people in the direction
of having conversations and forms of organization that are more likely to be fruitful.
There is a tremendous amount of research to be done in social science and technology design
to understand how to make any progress on this issue.
One the other hand, if we make even a small amount of progress at raising the level of
quality of a political and public discourse, it can have tremendous benefit.>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: In another talk today,
the person mentioned that we should get away from the old method of governmental security
intelligence, in the spooks and the super secrecy among
the agencies and so fourth. Going more to public information such as can
be found on the internet. Certainly you have described some of Google’s
products internationally. What is your perspective on this?>>FELTEN: The question is about whether technology
will change the way that governments gather information in the sense of intelligence.
Will it be more like traditional intelligence gathering, or will it rely more on the use
of public sources and use of the internet?>>SCHMIDT: So transparency is really fundamental,
I think, in modern governmental systems. You can see it now–at least I can see it
in hindsight understanding the motivations of people who have information.
The information can be used to embarrass them. So there is a natural tendency of governments,
regardless of political party, and regardless of which country, to want to not make information
transparent. It is only negative from their perspective.
It can only ultimately be used to judge them and to embarrass them.
It is seldom used to make them heroes, even when they retire from government.
I think modern functioning democracies have to have a bias for transparency, and they
have to have laws that promote it. We have seen in the United States some of
the costs of that. We discussed that at some length.
From our perspective transparency means publishing the information. The bad information as well
as the good information can all be worked through.
Ed and his team wrote one of the most fundamental papers on transparency out there.
You can talk a little bit about why transparency was so important.
A simple example is do you know what the government did this week?
You think you do because the media reported it, the people who live in the White House
and so fourth. Why do we, for example, have all of the conferences
that are public–that are published for attendance or they are public–
Why are they not streamed onto the internet? So that everybody can see what is going on,
so that people who are directly affected can have an opinion?
They can lobby or however our system works. Transparency is very fundamental.
I will give you another example which is, I think, more controversial.
President Bush decided to invade Iraq based on feedback that he given based on secret
information. Go through the thought experiment where that
information was all public and it had all been debated.
He still may have made that decision, but he would have done it in the background of
a lot more conversation. For things which are of major import, secrecy
seems to almost always be the wrong answer. Public discussion–the difficulty of the framing
of all of our debates. We seem to get to a better answer when the crowd is involved.
Google is all about the wisdom of the crowds. There is a lot of evidence that the wisdom
of crowds produces better outcomes than experts. The sum of people, in almost all cases, is
better than a single decision maker.>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: Could you talk to
them about how Google Health is doing, what the plans are for it and maybe more broadly
why [inaudible].>>FELTEN: The question is about Google Health,
and also about why the healthcare field might be resistant to adopting information technology
in the same way as others.>>SCHMIDT: So Google has a product called
Google Health, which we will talk about in a second.
Healthcare in America is 16% of GDP. It is roughly a third more expensive in terms of
GDP percentage than other industrialized countries. I am not an expert on costs, but I know those
numbers to be true. I know that they are increasing. The current forecast indicates that they will
get to 20, 21, 22% which becomes very difficult to sustain for all sorts of reasons.
I went to announce Google Health at a conference. I gave a speech to 10,000 people.
I thought the healthcare community is really large. Then I discovered that it was the IT
community. This was the little 1% of the community. It
gives you a sense of the scale of the healthcare industry.
In many cases the IT approaches in healthcare have been hampered by secrecy, lack of common
standards, proprietary standards, and those sorts of things.
Under the Bush administration, they worked very hard and, I think, effectively to open
up many of those databases and to standardize. The Obama administration has also indicated
their inclination to do that. You need, again, some level of transparency
with respect to, for example, healthcare codes, healthcare outcomes and so fourth to really
address this. One other observation about health, why is
there not a Wikipedia for doctors. It goes something like this: Wikipedia is
the collective world’s intelligence and it is a remarkable achievement by Jimmy Wells
and that whole group. We use Wikipedia all the time. All of us do
in one form or another. In medicine the collective knowledge of outcomes,
diagnoses, and so fourth in a similar format would have a huge impact
in terms of raising the base case for doctors up to a certain level. That could be done
relatively inexpensively. Google Health is an attempt to have personal
health records that are controlled by the end user.
Its growth rate is completely determined by whether we can plug into the existing healthcare
IT systems, which we are working on.>>MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]Is there
any possibility, is there any way to know at this point–you would certainly assume
that you could see the trends in families. Does bad information drive out good information?
Because of human consumption problems or because of simply [inaudible].
Does it go the other way, does good information drive out bad information. [inaudible]
Human capacity having been defeated by the fact that human consumption of information
at the universal level describes everything [inaudible].
>>FELTEN: The question is about whether, in the information age, bad information drives
out good information or visa versa.>>SCHMIDT: I think it depends on your view
of the public broadcasting system. If you fundamentally believe that PBS–which
was as you know chartered to bring in this very high quality content.
Was it necessary? How do you think it played out, and so fourth?
This is not a new debate, the interests of the common man against those of the intellectuals,
or the interests of the governing versus the interests of the governed.
We have deliberately not taken a position on this question.
If you want to consume the stuff, we will happily serve it to you. We try not to judge
your tastes as being truly as terrible as we think they are. [all laugh]
We just try not to. We just don’t think it is appropriate for
us to judge that. It is a question for the philosophers.
I am an optimist about information. I am an optimist about the goodness of the human condition.
The people really do want a better world. They do want social justice. They really do
want healthcare for their children. They don’t want wars. They don’t want conflict.
They want safety and all those kinds of things. This explosion of information allows us to
see it more clearly. Ultimately it is a philosophical, political,
cultural decision as to how we use it. We are going to continue to build these tools,
the technology enables it. It is up to humanity as a whole as to how
we take advantage of it. I think the benefits of information so overwhelm
the negative concerns. The bad speech and those sorts of things that
are possible are so overwhelmed by the access to information, the good speech,
and the fundamental benefits of using this to make the world a better place.
To me the answer is clear that it will be a better place because of it.>>FELTEN: I think that is a beautiful place
to stop. I would like to thank Eric and all of you for this conversation. [applause]>>SCHMIDT: Thank you all.

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