Articles, Blog, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Eric Schmidt at the Personal Democracy Forum

Eric Schmidt at the Personal Democracy Forum


TOM FRIEDMAN: Thank you for
having us here, it’s a treat to be here. I’m Tom Friedman from the New
York Times and the flat world and my partner in crime
here, Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google. And Eric, thank you
for being here. I just want to begin with
a broad question. As a newspaper reader, it seems
Google is in the news every day and it’s
something new. I just have a really simple
question, where are you guys going? What is the new, new thing for
Google and what is kind of the macro frame around it? Because I know these disparate
stories I’m reading, they all are connected to a
broader strategy. ERIC SCHMIDT: Maybe. TOM FRIEDMAN: I hope. ERIC SCHMIDT: You’re giving
us a lot of credit. Well thank you all for
having us here. It’s a pretty important and I’m
so glad people could spend the time, thanks to the
university for sponsoring it and so forth. The news this week, of course,
is that we’re integrating the way search works. We’ve taken the disparate
sources of information, video, news, and so forth and put them
together in a common set of answers, which we call
universal search. What was happening, of course,
is people were spending all their time in these specialty
searches, but they really wanted to ask the right
question and get all the right answers. And our signals, our algorithms
as we call them, are getting better as we get
more information, we understand personal behavior
and so forth. Last week we talked a little bit
about an expansion of the company’s mission as search,
ads, and apps. Search, of course, what most of
you know Google for, ads in the sense that it’s the business
that Google is in, and applications primarily
targeted at things at we do every day, so things like email
and so forth, all in the new online world. TOM FRIEDMAN: Eric, some people
say the internet is the dial tone of the 21st century
and that access to it not only should be free but a right for
every citizen, that is now so essential to how we think, work,
play, and collaborate. What are your thoughts
on that? ERIC SCHMIDT: I don’t know
that the internet is more important than health care, for
example, but I think it’s certainly almost as important. And what’s happening now is that
if you’re not online and you don’t have access to the
kind of information that all of us in the room have, you
really don’t have access to the modern world. I think that’s what people are
referring to and Google is one of the ways in which
that occurs. There’s hope though and unlike
other industries which seem to be caught in quagmires of this
and that, and cost structures, and inflation, and so forth,
we live in a world of rapid technological improvement and
relative, if you will, deflation and prices, simply
because of the way technology works because of Moore’s law. One way to thinking of it,
Moore’s law is that we talking about it doubling every 18
months, it’s really improving by a factor of 10 every 5 years,
or 100 over a 10 year period, which is a
big, big number. So a lot of the things that
we’re talking about now are things that if you go back
5 or 10 years ago we were talking about then, but they
weren’t broadly available and now they’re broadly available. And that’s simply because prices
have fallen and prices have fallen because of the
microprocessor revolution, the broad application of fiber
optics, and the use of this enormous wireless spectrum
that’s opening up. TOM FRIEDMAN: Is there
a Moore’s law for search, in a sense? You see, in effect, happening
in terms of the depth and breadth of search? ERIC SCHMIDT: We see you what
most people would call a network effect in that we get
more and more people putting information in and
that makes the network itself more valuable. If doesn’t follow a Moore’s law
in a mathematical sense, but you get a concentration of
value and understanding. An easy way to understand this
is that as you all, if you choose to, use the personal
version of Google, where you can log in, what’s known as
iGoogle, we learn more and more about what you do, who you
are, how you behave. And again, this is subject to you
choosing this, we’re very careful about this. And we can tailor the results
more and more. So you can imagine 5 or 10 years
from now, Google in some form basically says, good
morning and you’re late already, but you’re
always late, Eric. And it’s a little creepy
sometimes, but it’s a pretty powerful notion of having the
computer that’s so personal it actually understands almost the
way you think, or at least can mimic some of the things
the way you think. TOM FRIEDMAN: While you’re
speaking people are searching and people are authoring content
right here in the room at the same time. ERIC SCHMIDT: By the way, this
looks like a Google meeting. At most Google meeting,
no one is actually looking at the speaker. They’re all basically online. And speaking as an older
person, this has always bothered me, but I
have given up. When we started I had my staff
meeting and I said for 60 minutes we’re going to turn
off our computers. Now I know 60 minutes, now how
many hours are there in a week, we have a meeting once
a week, it’s one hour. So we did this for one week, the
next week they’re all like this and I’m going, god, these
guys are listening to me really carefully. Of course, they had their
BlackBerrys under the table. So the addiction gets stronger
and I’m glad to see that fellow addicts are
with us today. TOM FRIEDMAN: My motto is when
I, at least, speak to a small group is I want to see all
10 fingers on the table. ERIC SCHMIDT: I think this is
a battle that we have lost. And I think it’s fine and I
think it’s a statement of how important this technology is. And I do think it’s a
permanent change. TOM FRIEDMAN: This is the
Personal Democracy Forum, what do you think will be the
political impact, broadly speaking, of this instant
access, this instant ability to author content, and to
search content, and to globalize this content? ERIC SCHMIDT: It’s easier if
we talk with the negatives first, so the most obvious is
that a very small group, using computers, can analyze the
foibles, mistakes, and errors that occur in natural human life
and can exploit them for their own benefit. I can’t imagine that
you all are perfect every day all the way. I know that our politicians
are not, they do make mistakes. And they make a single mistake
of word or wordsmithing or so forth and then they are
excoriated in the media for very long time because somebody
else is trying to take them down. So that’s an easy way of
thinking about it negatively and I think everyone
can see the other examples of that negative. Let’s talk about
the positives. Most people understand
politics in a before television way and after
television way. When I first went to one of the
political conventions just to sort of see it, I was
surprised that you’d have these sort of normal politicians
and a television camera would get in front of
them and all of a sudden they would change their
personalities. It was as if they had all gone
to school as to how to behave. And of course, we all know that
they did go to school to learn how to do all
this stuff. The power of television in
politics was phenomenal. You can imagine the same thing
now occurring with these personal media. And again, it’s because people
want to connect and they want to have a specialized message. So you can imagine, for
example, a politician recording 50 different greetings
and then based on who you are and so forth, you
get a personalized greeting from the politician. It sounds hokey, but it
would probably work. We’d certainly get votes,
which is what politics is all about. There are more lofty goals and
impact that politics can have, the most obvious one being that
people who really are and really do care about truth can
use this medium to detect it. I mean the most obvious product
that you need is a truth detector. You want to know basically did
this person say this last year or did they say something else
because people are always very sensitive about these
sorts of things. Well it’s easy to do that. And it’s very, very easy now to
have a compendium of every word, and deed, and so forth. Indeed, there are people
tracking them anyway. So now of course we
can detect that. And I think it will help with
some of the poor behavior we’ve seen the political
process. It will also be an easy
way to refute fact. The other thing that’s going
to be interesting is that voters will also, and this may
or may not be seen as making them more cynical, will become
much, much more unlikely to believe things that they read
the first time they read them because there will be so
much coming at them. Did you know this, did you know
this, did you know this? I’ll give you an example. There are these email trails
that are sent around, so there was one about the Arabs and
gas and it was negative. And it includes a picture of a
building which is reportedly a palace of a king and you know
it’s gold and the car is all gold and so on. And in fact, it’s not
that, it’s a hotel. So there are sites like Snopes,
many people in the room know what I’m talking
about, which are set up to debunk these sort
of urban myths. So the possibility of urban
myths and myth making is made much more stronger. So one of the arguments that
you could make is that education will change and the
people in universities and ideally in high schools will
be taught how to use the information revolution to
confirm their biases, learn something new. You’ll be taught literally how
to learn, how to search. TOM FRIEDMAN: How to navigate. ERIC SCHMIDT: How to navigate. And when I first interviewed
at Google, I walk into to Larry and Sergey’s office, and I
walk in, and this to me this is amazing, it’d be obvious now,
Larry has a projector on his screen and he has my
biography and my picture on his wall as he’s about
to interview me. And I thought, god,
what arrogance that he would do this. And today this is routine. And of course, he knew
everything to ask me because it’s all this stuff I
had said, which he didn’t agree with. And the rest is history. TOM FRIEDMAN: Your answer
triggered several questions. One is, my friend Dov Seidman,
I don’t know if you met, has got a book coming out called
How and it’s really how you live your life now, how you do
your business, it always matters, but it’s going to be
more important now because you are so transparent. George Bush never could have
gotten elected president had he been at Yale now and there’s
been cell phone cameras of every time he was
young and crazy, as he said. There’d be a whole library of
George Bush photos splayed out on a couch somewhere. ERIC SCHMIDT: And maybe
Tom Friedman. TOM FRIEDMAN: Plenty of those. When you and I applied for a
job, me at the New York Times in 1981 and you at Google after
Novell, you got to hand them a resume. And the resume, as Dov points
out, was a proxy for who you are and you got to
write that proxy. Now, potential bosses can shoot
right past that proxy and Google you. If they want to know how you
write, they can search your everything from Myspace,
to Facebook, to your college newspaper. If they want to know about your
record, whether you’ve been good or bad. How did you and Google
handle that? ERIC SCHMIDT: I have a societal
proposal, I think that at the age of 21
it should be OK to change your name. [LAUGHTER] Anything you did before 21 and
there’s no way without a court order to connect the two. Yeah, that sort of looks like
me, but it wasn’t really me. TOM FRIEDMAN: That cell phone
camera, skull and bones. ERIC SCHMIDT: Two separate two,
one of the problems we’re having is that we’re developing
a lifetime of memories not every one of which
we want people to know. I can think of all the things
that I did in high school that I’m glad people have
forgotten. I think everybody has something some set of such things. And as you get older and so
forth, you begin to understand that your actions are
consequential. You don’t understand that
at a certain age. My daughter calls this too much
sharing at a young age. And there may in fact be a
backlash among some of the high school and college
communities where people begin to understand the negative
consequences of this over sharing. When kids are lonely, they want
friends and so forth, they offer themselves out and
instead of finding compatible, equivalent age people, all the
other bad things that kind of happen to them online. It’s a very serious issue and
something that we all have to think about. And especially with children,
you have to talk to them about it, I think that everybody
understands that. The other consequence has to do
with the fact that people are always now in the
media in some form. Since everyone is carrying a
mobile phone and every mobile phone has a camera, everyone
here in the room has a camera. So you’re all, if you will,
digital agents of photography. If there’s an accident outside,
you can take a picture of it. I used to, as a boy, carry this
you clunky camera and I saw myself as a photographer. Of course, I never had anything
to take a picture of. Now of course, there’s lots of
that kind of stuff and it’s all online and can
also be searched. Very, very, very good databases
are now being developed that can search all
sorts of public information that used to be not available. So you have another problem
which is information that was publicly known but hard
to get to is now becoming generally known. And you can imagine all sorts
of things about people with criminal pasts where there’s a
name alias and so forth and they get [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. So we’re going to learn,
I think, two things. One is that people can be
falsely charged and actually be innocent. And that’s sort of a new fact
for most of us because the technology allows that. And then the second thing, I
think, has to do with living with a historical record. And people are going to be much,
much more careful about how they talk to people, how
they interact with people, and in particular, what they
offer of themselves. In the blogging world, if you
look at the distribution there’s a very wide
distribution of the kind of blogging. You have people are very highly
technical, very limited in their blogging, you have
other people who blog every thought, which is
their choice. And you’ll see people making
much more informed decisions as a result of the consequences
of those things. And there are a number of cases,
the most recent one being the Yale law case, where
there’s in fact a whole investigation about misuse of
that kind of information. TOM FRIEDMAN: You and I knew
each other when the world was round and before that kind of
flatness allowed for that kind of transparency. How does it change being
a public figure now? I’d like to get you
to elaborate on that a little bit. I was teaching a class up in
Boston a couple years ago on globalization. I was at Logan airport after
the class and went to buy a newspaper, picked up off
the shelf, and I walked to the pay counter. And I got there and a woman
was coming from the other direction and I thought I got
there first and I put it down, put my money down. She said, excuse me, I was here
first. And she gave me that look like I know
who you are. If that happened today,
Eric, I’d say, ma’am, can I buy you magazine? Could I shine your
shoes maybe? Would you allow me
to buy you lunch? Because the immediate
thought is she’s going to go post that. God, I was at the newsstand
and that jerk from the New York Times, that pushy– ERIC SCHMIDT: And here’s
his picture. TOM FRIEDMAN: Here’s his
picture with his thumb. What’s it like for you? ERIC SCHMIDT: One scenario is
that everyone can adopt –this is a little too depressing– we could all adopt the lifestyle
of Paris Hilton. TOM FRIEDMAN: Go
the other way. ERIC SCHMIDT: Maybe
not you and I. TOM FRIEDMAN: Wouldn’t
work for us. ERIC SCHMIDT: But the lifestyle
of every hour being completely in the media and it
doesn’t matter what people say about you, it does not matter. People who are public figures
have, again, reputations to maintain and so forth. And the information about their
behavior, in particular, these little things can be used
to create a meme and it can be a false one. Did you know, in fact,
this guy’s arrogant and here’s a fact. And the way the brain works is
that we tend to find stories where they’re not. So what happens is
that there’ll be an isolated incident. Let’s use Tom because we
know this is not in fact true of you. But now by mentioning it,
it might be true. Do you see what I’m saying? That’s how it works. So we have this isolated
incident. We have another isolated
incident of you in another airport where another
crazed fan sees you stealing her newspaper. We now know to not go into a
newspaper stand with you. We know your behavior. We are sure about Tom Friedman
because you have two data points, both of which
are false. And one of the problems with the
way storytelling works for people is you tend to erect
stories where there isn’t, in fact, a fact pattern. And it’s part of our belief
system that this is how humans got through the Jurassic
period and those kinds of things. And we’re going to learn that
those things are not necessarily true. Another thing that’s interesting
about biases is once they are set in people’s
minds, they tend to be very difficult to unset. Again, since this is a political
forum, once you have a particular view about
President Bush, or Senator Clinton, or whatever, very
hard to unseat it. And then it’s called
confirmation bias, everything that you see confirms
that initial bias. So again, we can imagine
two scenarios. We have you and the lady in the
newsstand and then we have another scenario where
you’re a saint. And of course, the saints never
write about you, but let’s assume that
they do as well. So you have both patterns, well
each person who has a bias will then see both truths
about you, neither of which is in fact true. And just to bring this back to
Google, it’s possible, using Google, to truly mislead
yourself because of this. Because we now have established
this historical record of your misbehavior and
we’re sure at the end. In fact, people will write
whole papers about your misbehavior in the
newspaper stand. And it becomes a fact even
though it really wasn’t. TOM FRIEDMAN: Eric, I want
to go back to the politics point you made. And who one of the most
fascinating samples I came across last year was in
the Bahraini election. I don’t know if you saw this. ERIC SCHMIDT: I did. TOM FRIEDMAN: Bahrain, tiny
island state off the east coast of Saudi Arabia, an
emirate, a constitutional monarchy, where the ruling
Khalifa family lives in very large palaces. And the majority population,
they’re Shia, tend to be underprivileged. And for the first time in this
election, they were using Google Earth to take pictures of
what was actually going on the other side of those walls
of those palaces. And for the first time in
Bahraini history, actually Bahrainis got a view of how much
land had been pushed out or taken over by the
ruling family. and these were then
emailed throughout the election campaign. And it became a big issue there,
they tried to shut it down and couldn’t. What happens if the King of
Wamastan, we’ll make up a country, says to Google one day,
you looking behind the wall of my palace is a personal
threat to me and a national security threat
to my country. How do you handle those
kinds of things? ERIC SCHMIDT: The short answer
is we look at it on a case by case basis. We had a situation, the Bahrain
one is a particularly humorous one because we
ultimately won that one. Governments, even dictators,
even kings, even non democracy structures, do at some level
need some level of political support in order for them to
continue their leadership and or domination of the country. And they will respond to some
degree to political pressure. In the case of Bahrain, what
happened was that when they shut down Google Earth there was
such a backlash that they turned it back on again. And the backlash promoted the
information more than the lack or shutdown would have. I think
we all understand this and sometimes the cover-up
is worse than the crime. And it looks like in a lot of
these specific censorship cases, unless the censorship,
or however you want to call it, that was clearly censorship,
unless it has some moral basis that the people
can say, that’s an inappropriate picture or
something or a huge invasion of personal privacy, most
people, just the way humans are built, will say, I don’t
know, why are they not letting me see these pictures? The Bahrain example is another
good example because Google Earth has brought a third
dimension of information. A lot of people, especially
people who don’t have the privilege of traveling
by air really see a two dimensional world. They see what they can see from
their cars or if they stand on ladders and
things like that. And Google Earth has allowed
people to actually see the real structure the way
that a pilot sees it and to do so uniformly. And it’s a pretty phenomenal
view of the world. I was struck by how different
the world is when you have this third dimension or you
can begin to locate information geopositionally,
whatever the word is. The obvious example
is with cameras. Go through the logic, every
phone has GPS in it now because of 911, every phone is
a camera, every camera is therefore a phone with a GPS,
roughly speaking, therefore every picture has a
GPS coordinate. Therefore you should organize
your picture in a picture book based on the earth. Where did I take this picture? You can also organize
them based on time. We had a more recent example
with the Thai government. And I as you know because you’re
written about this, the Thai government was an elected
government until about last year and then a set of generals
took over against a popular democracy with
or without the support of the king. In Thailand it is illegal to
lampoon the king because the king is a venerated figure. And it really is illegal,
that’s what the law really says. However, there is
no law against lampooning the generals. So the government blocked
YouTube and it didn’t just block the video that was
submitted that lampooned the king, which was, in our
judgment, a violation of their law, it also blocked
all of YouTube. So after a lot of discussions
with the government, it was agreed that roughly eight videos
out of the many, many, many hundreds of thousands that
are in YouTube were in fact violating their law. So that seemed like a
reasonable outcome. Now this was again against a
threat of criminal sanction. So I think we’re going
to see more of that. And so the question you asked
is how do we handle that and the answer is painfully
and in each case. Each case is different. We looked at the number of what
we call legal take towns of information and there’s
thing called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which
a lot of people here in New York know about because
Viacom is busy suing us over it and it’s a very important
piece of law and one which we believe we’re operating
very carefully under. So there are many, many DMCA
take downs that we honor. But there are other
take downs. For example, if you publish
somebody’s social security number, we take that down
because we views that as a violation of their privacy. We have a long list of
things like that. TOM FRIEDMAN: What’s happening
with China? You talked about the
Bahrainis, in a way, backing down. Did you see any back down on
restrictions the Chinese government has been
insisting on? And did you see Chinese finding
more and more ways to get around whatever those
restrictions are? ERIC SCHMIDT: Let me explain
little bit about how that the Chinese structure works. There appears to be something
called the Great Firewall. They have a long history of
these things, I guess. And this Great Firewall does
in fact prohibit some information from
entering China, as best we can determine. We don’t know this, there’s no
website that describes the operation of the
Great Firewall. So there appears to be such a
thing and if you’re on one side you see a different answer
than on another side. So as part of our entry into the
country, which we decided was important, we had to be
subject to the media laws, which are quite broad. And we by law we had to be part
of that and there’s a specific set of terms, which
essentially involve political expression. It’s a very, very difficult
issue for us, probably the hardest decision Google
has faced. And what’s interesting about it
and the reason I explain it is that this is an issue where
there’s more than one legitimate point of view. This is an appropriate thing
to debate about. How do you handle
the situation? I think the Bahraini issue
is pretty obvious. So in our case, what we decided
to do was to enter the country, do so legally, of
course, which we have to. And if we omit one of the
results, which occurs in one out of every 10,000 searches
or some very minor number searches, we tell the Chinese
citizen that this information was omitted. Now, you can imagine what they
do when they see this because there are a number of
techniques, which I probably should not go through, since
everybody here us busy blogging, which allow you to go
around this alleged Great Firewall and the information
then gets to the person. So far, that structure
has not broken yet. What we do see is that the
arrival of the internet in China is changing Chinese
politics because there is a lot of expression
in other areas. The Chinese press is very
aggressive, there’s a whole blogging community,
which is great, people are getting online. The numbers are there are
about 140 million or so internet users. Our traffic, that is our
user traffic, has been growing very quickly. We appear to be gaining
marketshare. So it looks like the strategy is
working from the standpoint of getting information
to the Chinese. And you have to believe, and
I suspect everybody in the audience believes, that the
arrival of broad access to information has to be good for
the evolution of the eventual democratic state of China. TOM FRIEDMAN: As Google becomes
the dominant entry point now for the web
for so many people. ERIC SCHMIDT: Please don’t
use that word, dominant. TOM FRIEDMAN: Oh, I’m sorry. ERIC SCHMIDT: No, you’re
a journalist. Say what you think. [LAUGHTER] TOM FRIEDMAN: And as you see
yourself, Eric, getting involved in all these decisions,
political, social, economic, technical, from net
neutrality to censorship in China, should Google be
a regulated utility? That is, has it grown into
something that is just much bigger than any private company
can possibly handle? And should it be a utility in
the sense that the public should have real transparency in
how your decisions are made and with some oversight? ERIC SCHMIDT: Well we’re trying
to very much to be more transparent about how
we make decisions by talking about them. Most of the most controversial
decisions are not easy decisions, even inside
the company. From a global perspective,
there are plenty of governments trying to regulate
us, who are unhappy with the prospect of having a much
broader access to information, so I would not encourage
more of it. The company itself is run, and
we’ve talked about this in many different forms, under
a set of principles. One is called 70/20/10, 70% of
our investment in our core ads and search, 20% in adjacent
markets, 10% on other interesting things. We also have a principle
called 20% time where technical folks, primarily, can
spend essentially one day a week working on things which
they think are interesting that might change the world
and use the technology. A lot of the interesting
products have come out through that mechanism. The company faces many of the
issues that we’re describing now, if I go back, to say, two
years ago looking at the list of things that the management
team and myself were worried about, these were not top of
list. I was not, for example, very familiar with the
differences in legal structures in one democracy
versus another. I didn’t know how we were going
to handle those things. Internally, we’re much more
focused on just growing. We made a decision about a year
and a half ago to be more transparent and so we try now
very much to tell people what we’re doing why we’re
doing it. And of course the great thing
about Google is if you don’t like what we’re doing, you’re
not forced to use it. There are good alternatives. So we think that’s a
reasonable outcome. Of course we were able to
purchase YouTube, which is just this incredible
phenomenon. So another thing we’re trying to
do trying to use YouTube as much as we can to document what
we’re doing so people can see it and then they can
judge for themselves. And smart people will take the
time to learn what we’re trying to do in and then provide
a good criticism. And that criticism is healthy. I think that the criticism that
the company gets has made the company stronger and so
I would encourage it. TOM FRIEDMAN: What have you
learned since buying YouTube about the whole phenomenon
of people creating video content like that? What’s the new trend that you’ve
seen that made even surprised you before
you bought it? ERIC SCHMIDT: We made the
decision to purchase the company fairly quickly, so we
had sort of idea of what we were getting ourselves into, but
I think we didn’t really know until afterwards. And there are a number of
things that we learned. One was the incredible
complexity of the professional media world. So if you go and visit one of
the organizations that does media and media distribution,
any of the companies that we’ve met with, they
have an incredibly complicated set of rights. They’re essentially rights
management companies as well as production companies. So do I have the rights
for this, do I have the rights to that? And that turns out to slow down
a lot of decision making in ways that I think
provide some stability to the business. But ultimately, I think
technology will make it much easier to do things like
rights clearing. Another thing that we learned,
which is obvious now that you think about it is that people
get much more upset about a video than they do
about words. Video has a much bigger impact
on people positively or negatively than words do. If I told you, for example, that
presidential candidate so-and-so had two minutes
to have his hair blown dry, you’d say, OK. Well I show you the video it
has a much bigger impact. And there are many, many
such examples for all the political parties. Indeed, Senator Allen, who
uttered an inappropriate word in a particular context on the
margin may have lost the election in Virginia, which on
the margin flipped the Senate from Republican to Democratic. I’m not suggesting it’s causal,
but I’m suggesting it’s one of the components. That was a surprise to me. YouTube turns out to be a
different phenomenon than television. And a lot of people assume that
YouTube will follow the commercial structures and
the other structures of traditional television that
we’ve grown up with for all these years. It’s pretty clear that’s
not the case. The average person on YouTube
watches 5 or 10 videos of 3 minutes each. And the vision the Chad and
Steve had is of user programmers. Literally rather than having
professional people who choose content, their vision was that
the community, people would say this is a great video, this
is a great video, this is a great video. This is exploding. And it looks like video is one
of the keystone technologies for the web. As I was discussing earlier, in
addition to describing the impact of your mobile phones,
remember many of your mobile phones are also now
video recorders. So imagine eventually there
will be a button upload to YouTube and now we’ll have a
video of you back in that newspaper stand. And this is a big change. The explosion in that content
is very, very valuable to a very large number of people who
care a lot about specific communities. And you’ll see a lot of that. It will have very much a
long tail distribution. So an easy way to think about
this is that we think Google has the best answer for certain
kind of information. So let’s say that some important
information, some book in the 16th century, and
you go well, frankly, I haven’t read a book from 16th
century since I was forced to college, so he gives a, well
that’s your attitude, and surely my attitude. But the person who’s dying to
get that reference exactly right, that information is
incredibly valuable to them. And the same is applicable
to video, as well. So not only is YouTube different
from television, it’s also a case where highly,
highly important information, it’s important to a small
community, can be delivered very quickly, just as you
can with the web. TOM FRIEDMAN: I want to go back
to something you raised earlier, which is this whole
question of hiring. If I want to get hired at
Google, how do I go about it and how do you go about
sifting me out from the next person? I want to apply for a job. What happens and how
many people are doing this every day? ERIC SCHMIDT: We have a number
of hundreds of recruiters who operate globally and they try
to find the top talent. I think in our case we can
probably just have a direct conversation because
we know each other. TOM FRIEDMAN: I appreciate
that. ERIC SCHMIDT: Just kidding. TOM FRIEDMAN: In my hometown. ERIC SCHMIDT: When the company
was founded, Larry and Sergey had a very specific notion of
how you would build the organization. And we get accused of
arrogance here, so I apologize upfront. We decided that we would put in
a scientific way of finding the very best talent. And the techniques that they
used had to do with GPA, universities, energy level,
and every candidate had to have something unusually
interesting about them. So they hired a person who was
a rocket scientist in his spare time. The person who did the original
network wiring was also a medical doctor who had
given that up because he said it was too boring. The Vice President of
Engineering, Wayne Rosing, was hired they didn’t know what a VP
of Engineering looked like, but Wayne was in fact an amateur
astrophysicist, which they though was very,
very interesting. He has since retired to do
astrophysics full time. So the characteristic of
recruiting was to look for people who had something
beyond a normal corporate view. They had an interest
or passion. And that I think has been the
best lesson I’ve learned of all at Google, that the most
important decision you make as an executive is recruiting and
the most important decision you make in recruiting
is what kind of a person are you getting. Now there are plenty of jobs in
the world where you don’t actually want people to be
astrophysicists, you actually want them to be the expert
in just this and not an astrophysicist. But in creative
jobs, and again I suspect that with this audience
and here in New York, most of you are in these
creative roles. You really want people who
have a broad range of interest. And it doesn’t really
matter what it is, but the fact that they have one. There’s an interesting statistic
that in the 1940s there was a test that was
essentially a rote test that people did and it was thought to
predict IQ and performance. It was ultimately proven that
had no correlative prediction whatsoever, with
respect to IQ. However, it did in fact predict eventual success in school. So eventually, social
psychologists went back and figured out that the fact that
you could take the test and pass it was the fact that was
predictive, it didn’t matter what was in the test. The fact
that you could actually get through it was predictive of
your eventual behavior. So one way to think about it
from a Google perspective is the fact that you have a broad
range of interests means that you’re a much more likely
to be successful in the mission to end. TOM FRIEDMAN: Marc Tucker who
heads one of the national education foundations has a nice
way of putting this, he says where innovation comes from
is actually having two or more specialties and applying
the specialty of one field to the specialty of another. It’s like kind of a
mashup basically. And that’s where the most
interesting syntheses come from, people who do that, who
connect dots, I think are very often fit that bill. ERIC SCHMIDT: But
innovation is a great strength of America. If you look at the educational
system, in particular the higher education system, it
produces these amazingly creative people who
need a platform. And the internet is the best
platform yet upon which for you, in a small group, to
innovate in your new idea. And another thing that’s
happened, especially post bubble, is that the cost of
being an entrepreneur has gone down very dramatically. So there’s a very large number
of opportunities now where the barrier to entry to becoming an
entrepreneur is very, very low and people are going
to try things. One rule about the internet
is every avenue is tried. So if you sit there and you say
well, this will happen, this will happen, this will
happen, this will happen and I have to choose, in the internet
all of them will be tried and one or two will
actually sort themselves out. And that’s one of its
strength, it’s a biodiversity strength. We really do eventually come up
with something that’s very, very resistant to disease,
if you will, in the disease metaphor. TOM FRIEDMAN: Andrew, we
go to questions now? Great. So to the floor is open. Sorry. MALE SPEAKER: We’d like to make
sure that the questions come from paid attendees,
not from the press. So if you could identify
yourself at the beginning of your question. TOM FRIEDMAN: I’ll let you
guys choose the people? MALE SPEAKER: You can go ahead,
Tom, just want to let everybody know. TOM FRIEDMAN: Go
ahead, please. Identify yourself. [SIDE CONVERSATION] MALE SPEAKER: Go ahead,
Jeff, it’s fine. AUDIENCE: Jeff Darbus, I don’t
have the rules here. Jeff Darbus, I covered the
election through the eyes of YouTube on [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. And I’m curious, I think
candidates have barely began to use this at all decently. I’d like to hear your advice
what should a candidate be doing [UNINTELLIGIBLE] especially on YouTube. ERIC SCHMIDT: Well, first as
you know in YouTube because you’re covering it, we’ve done
this You Choose phenomenon where we’re busy showcasing the
various leading political choices from both parties
on a weekly basis. We’re also pleased to announce
that one of the Democratic debates is actually going
to be on YouTube. And obviously, we’d like to do
that with the Republicans if they’re willing. I think part of the issue is
that people are not used to now using the medium to its
fullest, which is the premise of your point. And many, many organizations
produce an awful lot of video that doesn’t go anywhere. So a simple thing that a
politician can do to simply say I want everything that
I record, that I do, be available at least one person. So after all of the other stuff
has been distributed, and all these paid infomercials,
and these beautiful shots of me and my
constituencies, and all the dams that I’ve built and all
the great things that I’ve done as politician, all the
other stuff I’d like to have it on YouTube. And part of it is because it
will generate a buzz, part of it is because it will get people
excited about corners. People are always debating, well
what is such and such a person’s opinion on
this or that? You can organize, for example,
your political campaign around 10 YouTube videos. So another specific example,
10 YouTube videos, each of which is 3 minutes long where
you talk about a specific area, health care, what have
you, local issues, taxation, the war, those kinds
of things. And it’s a good medium
to get that out. When you get the right message
in that kind of form, what will happen is that people
will begin to send it to each other. You can imagine the
following model. Let me use a sports metaphor
because it might be easier because we just did a
deal with the NBA. We have a short NBA basketball
film that is sent to my mobile phone. And I look at it and I think
that I disagree with the guy, I don’t think he played very
well so I send it to Tom. On his mobile phone, he looks
at the video, he says, no, Eric, you’re completely wrong
and he sends it to you and annotates it. You can imagine, once that viral
structure is in place, you get a very, very strong
positive political outcome. Furthermore, if you don’t
do it, and this is a unfortunately in the negative,
someone could do to you. The most evil things
said by this politician and cut and paste. It’s much better to seize
the medium now. And I do believe that
technologies like YouTube, Google, the internet will have
a significant effect on the ’08 elections. I’m not suggesting that it will
cause the outcome, but I do think that all of these
technologies will be a significant impact. TOM FRIEDMAN: One of the
chapters that I’ve added to The World is Flat, which I’m
going to talk about afterwards is around that rule that when
the world is flat, whatever can be done will be done. The only question is, will
be done by you or to you? Up there. AUDIENCE: Can I ask
a question? TOM FRIEDMAN: Please. AUDIENCE: Can we have the
microphone please? TOM FRIEDMAN: Is there
a mic up there? AUDIENCE: Yes, there is. There’s a mic upstairs. Look straight. Here, I’ll stand up. ERIC SCHMIDT: Hi, there. Go ahead. AUDIENCE: I wanted to ask you
a question in terms of your experience in the international
realm. Taking on from Jeff’s
conversation, there was work in the English campaigns that
are beginning to start with Webcameron, do you have any
other experiences using the tools, both video and others,
in international campaigns that we can learn from that
you’ve seen from the Google point of view? ERIC SCHMIDT: I have not seen
anything particularly different from what we
just talked about. Again, I think that everything
we said about the United States elections will
also be used in other democratic elections. The most interesting question
is, how will this technology affect less than democratic
political processes? My personal view is that they
will accelerate a more open dialogue, a more critical
nature. Because even people who are the
winners in a nondemocratic election process, however they
got there, are sensitive to the way they’re perceived,
their perks, and power structures that they have can be
toppled by the will of the masses at some point. So people are going
to use this. The example I would use there
is let’s imagine that you we become a dictator for a day,
this of course would never happen, and we assign
you a small country. So the first thing you would, do
since dictators have tanks, is you would take your
tanks and you would close the borders. The next thing you would do is
take your tanks and go to the television station in the
country, and of course there’s usually one, and you
would take it over. And at this point, the
population of the country is shut off. And then you can do your evil
deeds as a dictator. The internet makes
it essentially impossible to do that. It’s essentially impossible
to shut down the kind of communication that
unfortunately, example here, a dictator could have
done years ago. So my personal view is that
the internet is the best single argument in favor of
democratic expression, but more importantly, personal
individual freedom that’s ever been built. And I think it’s a
wonderful thing. TOM FRIEDMAN: Andrew. AUDIENCE: Eric, I’ve noticed
that American politicians when they have a video camera in
their face, they think it’s television. It seems that all the
presidential candidates who have been doing their
announcements on the internet or anywhere else, they somehow
react to the video camera as if it’s a television medium. And they don’t quite seem to
understand it’s a completely different culture and their
authenticity doesn’t seem to slow in the internet media as it
were as it would in network television. Do you have any thoughts on
why that is or is that an example of the old
culture not quite understanding the new culture? ERIC SCHMIDT: Well, it’s surely
a generational shift. And it’s perfectly possible that
the next generation of political leaders will be very,
very differently in a form which is more and
more dominated by smaller video segments. The counter argument is that
politics, as we’ve seen it practiced, has always been
about sound bytes and the internet is the best way of
delivering sound bites ever invented, just one after the
other after the other. So I don’t think we know yet. We do know that online video
tends to need more humor, it tends to need more excitement,
it tends to need to be quicker, perkier, whatever term
you want to use for it to be effective. People lose interest quite
rapidly when they see some long monotone on their
computer screen. TOM FRIEDMAN: Yeah, please. AUDIENCE: Hi, I’d like to know
Google’s reaction to the recent restrictions by the
military on social networking sites like YouTube,
Flickr, Myspace, BlackPlanet, et cetera. ERIC SCHMIDT: We would
prefer that they not. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] AUDIENCE: Do you think
it’s political? ERIC SCHMIDT: I don’t know. I just read the story, it seems
to me that people are pretty good at deciding how they
should spend their time. So we’re not in favor of people
limiting access to any of them, certainly
not YouTube. TOM FRIEDMAN: All the
way back, up there, in the white shirt. OK, we’ll go back to you. Please go over here. AUDIENCE: OK, Dr. Schmidt, I’m
Steve Petersen from the Bivings Group. About personalized search
that Google has recently implemented, the whole idea is
you want to provide more relevant results when someone
searches on the individual level, but at what point are
you concerned that it might provide information, for
instance, political information that conforms to
someone’s world view and bolsters it and in a way and
it prevents people from finding new information or
information that challenges their world view? ERIC SCHMIDT: I think this is
why we need to invest more in education in our country. We’re not going to, as a
company, make a value judgment on how people should
personalize or how personalized their information
sources should be. We want people to make those
decisions themselves. What I certainly hope will
happen is that people will understand that they shouldn’t
have too narrow a view. Narrow minded people will be
narrow minded people with or without Google, Google can make
them even more narrow minded, that’s obviously
not a good thing. But from a personalized search
perspective, a reasonable statement is that people who are
searching are learning and learning is always a part
of a good life. AUDIENCE: You’re talking about
all these new technologies in terms of the old world where
you have to petition the authorities or the king
to get anything done. The internet is not a phone
system, it’s sort of a way of doing things without having
to ask permission. As you said, it brought the US
being a lot of innovative and entrepreneurial, but to a larger
extent that is because it didn’t have to ask permission
or be even be aware there was a government. How do you see this view
of the internet giving individuals the ability to have
an effect locally and compositing that affecting it
versus a more hierarchical having to influence and sell
ideas to everybody? How do you see that
transformation of our political mindset playing out? ERIC SCHMIDT: Let’s imagine
a political process where instead of having politicians
who told us what their policy should be, we simply
voted on what positions they should take. AUDIENCE: But what if you
[UNINTELLIGIBLE] the vote, you can act. ERIC SCHMIDT: I’m making the
argument about the internet that assuming that you had
authenticated users, that you actually knew that they were
humans, it would be possible, for example, for politicians to perfectly sample what people– AUDIENCE: –No, I understand,
but you see you’re assuming that the goal is to use this to
influence politics and that there’s this phone system
called the internet. But what about obviating the
need to make so much political versus individual actions
to composite. I prefer to use the word
topology to flat, but let’s use flat, in a world where you
don’t have to go up to the authorities to act. ERIC SCHMIDT: I don’t think
politics are going to go away. I think that the political
process that we’ve all grown up with will morph and
I think it would be political at every level. It’s true that the internet
allows self action, which is what you’re referring to,
it’s more direct. But that’s always been true,
just now on a larger scale. So the balance between
individual interests and group action and political action is
something which has been debated for many, many
years in our society. What’s interesting, by the way,
is the different cultures have different views
on this question. It’s really a cultural question
that you’re asking. There’s a long history of
American entrepreneurship having to do with the wild west
and the great expanse of land and so on. Other countries don’t have that
as a shared model of how people should behave, they’re
much more conformist. The question, to me, is to what
degree do the existing cultures that we all take for
granted in stereotypes around the world, to what degree does
the internet change them or reinforce them? It goes roughly like this,
there’s going to be another billion people who are going
to join the internet revolution in the next three,
four, five years. They’re going to
do it primarily through mobile phones. When their voice is heard past
their village, past their town, past wherever they are,
when tey’re heard in a larger audience, does the world become
more flat in the Tom Friedman analogy or does it
become more polarized? Do they find people like
themselves and become an even more polarizing force or do
they become more socially shall we way acculturated
in a good sense? I don’t think we know. We’re running that experiment
as a society now and I think it’s important that we do as
much as we can to shape the good society model outcome. My personal view is that it will
come that way, that the benefits when people see so
much information, even if there’s not such perfect
information all the time, my personal view is that the
benefits of that empowerment are so overwhelming the concerns
that everyone has that it’s a much better world
as a result of it. MALE SPEAKER: That’s our last
question and I’d like to thank our keynoters. Let’s give them a big
round of applause.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. SORRY GUYS!!! DONT READ FROM THIS POINT ON YOU'LL REGRET IT!! If you do not copy and paste this onto 10 videos your mom will die in 4 hours… I hate these things… -_-

  2. how do you put a movie from over 100Mb on youtube, your film is suposed to be shorter then 10 minits H04XX0R

  3. Very pleasant love-in with nice easy questions from his old college chum Friedman. A more conscientious journalist might have asked why YouTube is censoring users for purely political reasons (see my video "Anticonsumer flushed down the YouTube".)

  4. The last minute or so was interesting, his seemingly open-mindedness, to YouTube, or its like, being a conveyance, 'to a hybrid', top down political structure, or a real paradigm shifting model, yet to come of age, conveyance, that empowers, vis-à-vis, affinity groups, that become, political/legal, groups, legally recognized, similar to participants of some religions, while others not in that legally recognized religious group, are not afforded certain rights as a matter of law.

Related Post