Daniel Doherty
Daniel Doherty 26 June 2013

Eric Schmidt on the New Digital Age

Eric Schmidt was interviewed by Bryan Appleyard at the National Geographical Society on 25th May 2013.

Eric Schmidt the Chairman of Google is one of the leading visionaries of our time. He has taken Google from a small start-up to one of the world’s most influential companies. On 25th May, in an event hosted by Intelligence Squared in partnership with TLG. Schmidt set out the themes of his new book The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, which he has co-authored with Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas.


Eric Schmidt was interviewed by Bryan Appleyard who was the Financial News Editor and Deputy Arts Editor from 1976 to 1984 at The Times. He is currently a special feature writer, commentator, reviewer and columnist for The Sunday Times and also reviews books for the New Statesman.


Daniel Doherty from Digital Doughnut was in attendance at the Royal Geographical Society that and has included some highlights of the talk in note form below. Along with the full length video of the live stream courtesy of Intelligence Squared.



BA – Joked about a picture of Eric Schmidt in a bullet proof vest, “was that in the uk?”
ES – No, Iraq
BA –It’s a Gadget future – not golden future
ES – This will be enormously important in different scenarios
ES – We now have a super computer in your hand
       It is enabling 3rd world woman – to catalogue atrocities and give them a voice.
BA – Now adays children are either online or asleep
ES – Kids are getting smarter and their motor skills are getting better due to gaming
ES – In the future you will wake up
       Then ask the screen – do I need to get up
       It will know your your calendar and that at work you have nothing important to deliver for your boss, it’ll let you know you can go       back to sleep!
       Must be opt in – always have an off button
       The computer should be your helper
       That is our aim for Google NOW
BA – The sssue with ‘opt in’
        Is lawyers list everything that could go wrong
ES – Government – may not want ‘hidden people’
        If we lose your trust, we lose our customers
ES – Google want you to be able Export all data and upload to a competitor
BA – Trade of privacy V benefits
ES – Your mobile phone knows where you are so the emergency services can reach you in an emergency.
ES – There is “No delete button on the internet”
ES – Look at the 3d printer – someone printed a gun
        “Once that was published – it cannot be retracted”
ES – Great walls of China to prevent information spread.
       Including about Religion
       Or anything embarrassing to their leaders
       Iranians do not like Google Maps
       So they created their own Iranian Maps…it omits Israel
ES – China Vs US are currently going through a code war
         But with open borders, money flows
ES – Technology should be neutral – It empowers
ES – The internet should be Meritocratic – that is Google’s values
       North Korea turned the internet off – Theytrialled 3G for 2 weeks then turned it off
ES – Google care about security & speed, we then give a lot of tech away for free. We want to do things that matter, for good. Certainly with my role as Chairman for 2 years and CEO 10 years.
ES – We gave up the China market – with lots of people and huge advertising potential.
BA – Let’s discuss the Elephant in room – tax
ES – What Google does is “Perfectly legal”
        Tech companies follow a certain financial schedule
ES – Google does like Britain
        We have 3,000 employees plus heavily investing in the Kings Cross development
ES – We follow International Tax regime
       It’s the governments that should tell companies the amount of tax to pay
ES – If a computer scientist designed the tax system, it would be much more ordered
ES – Tax is compulsory


ES – In Iran the population maintain on average 8 different online personalities
ES – Carbon neutral
        1 billion dollars – Green Tech– Commercial Investment
ES – Turkey – every connection must have internet filter it’s the law.  It’s a family filter
        but there is no definition and people can’t find out!
ES – I know David Cameron and others UK policticians personally. We share similar outlooks
ES – 44 countries filter in some form and it is a slippery slope
ES – We just need to deal with it and have better better education
        If we train strong parental role models we will better prepare our children.
ES – Parents should have password till the child is 18
       to help avoid internet ills and Pornography
ES – Insufficient number of computer science graduates, although their have been big steps forward
ES – I’m a supporter of the “Khan Academy”
ES – We want to encourage Competition in education
ES – Lets measure kids output and then Iterate improve
ES – Social networks and texting –mean people have more friends
       Kids would have watched TV from 30 years ago.

Tax Question (It was always going to be raised)– Are google hyprocrites?

ES - If we pay more than minimum how do we classify it to our shareholders?
That company then becomes an “innovation drug”, which will prevent us doing stuff

BA – Can you elaborate on what the Futurist – Ray Kurzweil will be doing for Google?
ES -   I can’t go into details but he is working hard on things he writes about
ES – Ray and his team joined to have Google’s computing power at his disposal

BA – Question about what Google is doing for education
ES – Mentioned the Platform – course builder and how many people have now now built upon it.
ES – Also mentioned “Speak to tweet” where users could dial an international number and speak a message that would be tweeted out

BA – Questioned Google Glass, how do you opt out? When technology invades physical space
ES – Fear is right – Google is saying ‘no to facial recognition now’ due to privacy issues.

Question – different information v. knowledge
ES – 1. New ways to teach critical thinking
        2. Can measure outcomes of education

Question – Pornography – Kids charity report
ES – smoking 50 years ago
        “Google bombing”
        “Use of internet is not relinquishing responsibility”

Question -  I use but don’t trust Google
ES – who would you trust?

No Answer, spoke volumes!

Question – With power comes great responsibility
ES – Algorithm, try not to be bias
       No intention to discriminate
       “Trust Google to rank information”
ES – We make 800/900 changes per quarter
        We have people review decisions, user panels, per county, per language and review
ES – Amazon – recommendation engine
ES – If you are logged in, get some personalisation – very mild so far

Question – “Fight for privacy or lose it” (ES Quote) What does the fight look like and who is on what side?
ES – Not sure – In Britain people are used to CCTV, after Boston many American might now opt in to CCTV now.

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