Eric Schmidt at Virginia Business Higher Education Council

Eric Schmidt at Virginia Business Higher Education Council

ERIC SCHMIDT: The governor of
Virginia is the clearest thinking politician
I have met. [APPLAUSE] ERIC SCHMIDT: With well-thought
words, he articulates a vision
of a great state. And he does it with the energy,
which we’ve worked with him for a while on. So for example, he decides that
all of the information that’s publicly available in
Virginia needs to be available to its citizens. So he invents with us something
called Sitemaps. And all of a sudden, all that
information that could not be available before is now available to everyone worldwide. We’ve now replicated that
in ten other states. An example where the governor,
his vision, our teams, make something happen. And now everyone else
is scrambling. This is also a governor– one more plug for this
governor– this is the only governor I’ve ever met who
actually cares about outcomes. [APPLAUSE] ERIC SCHMIDT: I mean, I think
most of you would agree to me that outcomes are actually
what you should be judged against. But apparently not
in normal government. But a Virginia we’ve
got the leadership. And that’s why the state is
doing so very, very well. To me, Virginia is an upcoming
leader globally. I was sort of studying this. And I was looking at UVA and
the College of William Mary are now ranked among the top
public universities. UVA, William and Mary,
Virginia Tech, Mary Washington, and James Madison
among the top 25 best values for education. I used to play football
against Thomas Jefferson High School. And I’m quite concerned that
they were ranked number one among public high schools
in the nation. Isn’t that phenomenal? We used to beat them
by the way. My point here is there’s
something afoot here with the consensus that has been
built in this state. And I think, to some degree, the
success also marries the success of the Internet. The Internet, of course, is
this phenomenal thing that’s going on. There are somewhere around 1.3
billion users on the order of 200 million users being added
on a yearly basis. The Internet is this phenomenon
that will define essentially the rest of our
lives, and our children’s lives, and our grandchildren’s
lives, and so forth and so on. And a lot it in our case is
occurring because of things called Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law means
that everything doubles every 18 months. There’s a lesser known law
called Kryder’s Law, which says the data storage doubles
every 12 months, which is why you have this enormous amount
of crap on your computer. [LAUGHTER] ERIC SCHMIDT: The drives
just get bigger, and bigger, and bigger. And so if you think about it,
if you just sort of do the math a little bit, let me give
you an example of a problem. By the year 2019, it’s going
to be possible to have an iPod-like device that will have
85 years of video on it. So you will be dead before you
watch the whole thing. Does this cause any
stress here? I am really quite upset
about this. I intend to be alive n 2019. And I’ve already consumed a
whole bunch of those 85 years. It’s a very serious issue. And this rate of connectivity,
the rate of innovation is not slowing. People tend to underestimate
what can be done with these things. Because it compounds, and it
compounds, and it compounds just as the success of the
investment in education is going on here in Virginia. It’s a compounding. The investments that were made
70 years ago to create VPI as a land-grant university where
I was fortunate to grow up. And we have the President
of the university here. It compounds now. Now all of a sudden, they’re
busy looking at this interesting new biotech
maneuver, which nobody ever thought about when it
was going to be an agricultural school. But the quality of the faculty
is so good now that they can actually expand. And the governor and his
programs are consistent with the funding that they need. So that’s how these
things work. Now, by the way, it’s only
going to get worse. Because the rate at which
people are, for example, blogging, there are like
70 million blogs. It’s frightening. Every day eight hours of video,
actually every minute eight hours of video is
uploaded to YouTube. By the way, most of it
is kind of iffy. So don’t worry. But some of it is
extraordinary. Pictures of people families, but
there are amazing things going on there as well. So it is this new phenomenon. There are more than 10,000
applications that have been built on top of Facebook. There are more than 20,000
iGoogle applications which are part of the way Google works. This phenomena is now
extending, and it’s extending globally. Google started with
25,000 web pages. We now have tens of billions. So again, the growing
continues. You’ll never read it all. You’ll never get it all. It’s only going to continue. And we’re undergoing this
interesting shift from the shift where you have your
computer and you have everything on it, to keeping
everything on the net. So one of my literally people
I grew up with, was running admissions for Virginia Tech. And one of the things that she
was very proud of is that they put an online form. So you would apply online
without any hard copy. A simple thing, huge improvement
in terms of outcomes and so forth and
so on, a simple idea. There are many, many examples
of how in this new model the services that universities and
governments provide can be provided on any device for
any particular reason. So this shift is
just beginning. It’s always hard to put yourself
in the mind of a college student, partly
because it’s a little frightening. I want you all to think about
the world of a college student today and how they
perceive things. I was quite alarmed. We hire lots of people
right out of college. And I asked people,
how many of you have a land line telephone? I bet you if I ask this
group it’s 99%. There’s one person here
who doesn’t have one. 95% did not. I said, how can you possibly
operate without a land line? They say, why would we have
to have an extra phone? Again, it’s a simple
example of the gap. And for all of you who manage,
lead, teach, getting inside their minds and understanding
such a simple observation is fundamental. It’s a completely different
way of living. In fact, the statistics are that
42% of users 18-29 are going to use the Internet as
their primary news source for the ’08 presidential election. It’s a little frightening. And by the way, those people
are going to vote too. So all of a sudden this online
shift changes the world view. There are lots and lots of
interesting statistics. 45% of college students who
wants series television– you know, the sort of
series of episodes– watch them online. You can imagine what that does
to the advertisers on the traditional mechanisms. 30% of
users in the same age group use a video sharing
site every day. Again, watch them. You’ll see it’s very
different. Now, when you think about it as
an educator, the world is very, very different. So when I was in seventh grade
in Montgomery County– and I assume that you still have
a requirement in Virginia to study Virginia in
seventh grade– we had to memorize
the names of all the counties of Virginia. And I succeeded. I tell you that story to think,
why did I need to know that now that I have Google. [LAUGHTER] ERIC SCHMIDT: Which one of
you made me do this? [LAUGHTER] ERIC SCHMIDT: Can’t I
just look it up now? A more serious point is do you
remember the whole thing with the SATs and how they weren’t
going to let you use calculators at the SATs? It’s a huge crisis. Because, of course, people have
to be able to do math, and use pencils, and
so forth and so on. Now you’re required to
use a calculator. Interesting. So we have evidence that
education shifts based on the world view of the student
and the things which are accessible to them. My central thesis here is that
we, all of us, have not shifted sufficiently at the rate
of change that is going on, which, I think, is the fundamental message for education. All of us have to
anticipate that. So another example is that we
hire lots of young people. They’re more collaborative
than my generation was. They’re used to working in
teams. So if your model as a professor is a single student
doing his or her research, working in the lab lonely
late at night, you’ve got the wrong model. The new model is teams. And by
the way, not just teams in the lab, teams across the world. People who have research
relationships with people they haven’t even met, that’s
normal now. And we need to teach
it that way. So this notion of collaborative
and collaborative learning is, in
fact, how people will get to the next level. Going back to the governor’s
initiative around getting Virginia to be number one– my goal too– it’s going to take this shift. We’re going to have to think
it through and figure out a way to get there. Now when you make the
information that you have available, you’re going to have
to make it available to the students. What do the students do? They’re on video games. They’re on iPhones. They’re on iPods. They’re on so forth. You’re going to have to find
a way to get it to them. Because that’s how they want
to consume information. And they’re ultimately
the customer. An example is Old Dominion
University, which is a really, really sharp group, launched
their own YouTube channel with putting course content on it. And the resolution is OK
and so forth and so on. But given the complexity of
students’ lives, it really has served them very, very well. There’s something called iTunes
U, which I think is fascinating, where basically
people are now putting lectures and campus speeches
from famous people all around the United States,
another example. Berkeley and YouTube are
doing something similar with their core work. Google Book Search, and you
all have heard about this. We’re busy indexing and making
useful copies of all the books that are in people’s libraries
around the world. So you can look them up. And you sit there and say, well,
who really cares about the manuscript in 1880. What happens is, it’s
3:00 in the morning. It’s snowing. The library is closed because
students aren’t real good with their time management, right? Not news to you guys. And all of a sudden
the key insight is right in front of them. You want to talk about having an
impact on somebody, that’s when you have the impact, when
they’re stuck, when they needed that thing. And all of a sudden it’s there
and it has huge implications for what they learn and
how they operate. In the 16th century, Henry
VIII dissolved the monastic libraries. And there are only 538
manuscripts of this time. So we have another group that
is busy basically digitizing and putting them all online. Because they have the majority
of the English history from the six to the 15th century. And people can just touch it. They can look at it right now. Again, think about the
difference between when we grew up having to go
to the library. [UNINTELLIGIBLE] wasn’t there, and you have to
wait, and so forth and so on. And now it’s all right there. It changes the way you think. It changes the immediacy
of decision making. And it changes the depth
of one’s learning. I want the students
to do that. Because the challenges they’re
going to face 20 and 30 years from now are going to require
that level of knowledge, that require that level of
sophistication as the world gets even more interesting. So when I think about
all of this, I’ll give you another example. There’s another professor, this
guy named Jerome Burg has created a web site called
Google Lit Trips. And what he does is he uses
Google Earth and Google Maps. And if you haven’t played with
them, they are phenomenal. And he actually goes through
Homer’s Odyssey on the map with pictures and music. So here you’ve got somebody
who says, crap. I can’t deal with
Homer’s Odyssey. The guy’s been dead
for 2,000 years. Or is it 3,000? All of sudden you now have a
way to reach that student. But the way, that student was
me, and maybe some of you to be honest. Voltaire’s Candide, Steinbeck’s
Grapes of Wrath, all of these things, in fact
we have projects in the company where we’ll look at
a whole document and then produce a map of the book, all
the places in the book, all of the documents, everything
that’s referred to, and building a global map
of where you are. So OK, fine. You don’t really want
to read the book. At least you can navigate
through where the book takes you so you can get a sense of
what it’s about, and get excited about it, and maybe
learn something that way. It’s all about learning
however you can, whatever it takes. If it’s a traditional mechanism,
or a YouTube video, or a book, any of those
are fine as long as we ultimately win. And the outcome we want is
knowledge and insight. That’s what we’re going for. That’s what we care
a lot about. So the principle here is
that we as a group have to do four things. We have to adapt. We have to adapt to the fact
that this Internet phenomena that I’m talking about
is getting bigger. And I told you the math. Do it in your head. Remember doubling every 18
months is a factor of ten and five, and a factor
of 110 years. 100 times faster, 100 times more
information, 100 times more complexity in ten years. Ten years happens pretty fast
when you’re an adult. Now all of a sudden, it’s
going to happen now. We need to get organized
about that. The second thing is
that we have to learn from the students. Everybody here knows you have
the sharpest students and you have the OK students. The sharpest students will
show how they learn. They can teach us. And every one of them that I’ve
talked with uses every device I just described. They literally take it all in. They all put it together. They have a map in their head
of how they learn, and they just do it. We have to grow the knowledge
base about how to do this. Here in this room we have
the leaders of higher education in Virginia. You guys are in charge. But you also manage a very large
set of people who are not in this audience. How are they going to
get this message? How are they going to learn? How are they going to grow? How are they going to develop
all of these new ideas unless you go and you tell them? And you tell them, you’ve got
to get organized around this new phenomena of learning, this
Internet-centric version of learning. And then the final thing is we
have to invest. The governor has laid out his plan, which I
obviously think is brilliant. You have to invest in capital. You have to invest in faculty. You have to invest in research
collaborations. Google, by the way, remember,
came out of a collaboration at Stanford. The fact of the matter is, I
don’t know what it is, but universities produce these
extraordinarily talented creative people every year. And every one of them has an
opportunity to go and create another Google here in Richmond,
in Newport News, in Roanoke, in Northern Virginia. Every single one of them is
producing entrepreneurs. The only problem we have is we
don’t know who they are. We don’t know their names yet. Out of all those people, we
don’t know the winners. But we want to make sure
that the system will make that happen. The Human Genome Project started
as a partnership between Merck and George
Washington University that was sort of nearby, in Virginia
and near Virginia. And, of course, it’s
changed the world. Because we now understand a lot
about the human genome. So if you look at the progress
of history, you look at the progress of science, you
look at the progress of accomplishment, it all starts
here with what we do, the way we work. And by the way, it’s because the
students are the ones that will make a change with our
help, with our leadership. That’s what it’s all about. Ultimately the student
is what matters. So if I think about this, I
think about this and just finish up with one thought. I believe this next generation
expects and deserves the absolute best. I think that
Virginians expect it. And I think that they
deserve it. It’s a great state. What I like about what you all
are doing, is I believe that Virginia with Google helping
will really deliver on that. That’s why I’m so excited
to be here. So thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: Eric,
thank you very much. And now what we want to do is
open it up and have questions. You’ll see me a lot
and have many chances to ask me questions. So I would hope that most
of the questions would be for Eric. I’m glad to answer some too. But with that, we’ll
open it up. And I’ll kind of play
emcee and watch for hands around the room. Yeah, please, Jim. And then we’ll repeat the
question so that all in the room can hear. AUDIENCE: Eric, Google has the
reputation of hiring the most brilliant students. Can you describe how you screen
does Google hire the most brilliant students? How do you screen for it? And how do you find talent
that can help an organization like this? Go. ERIC SCHMIDT: We copied the
way universities do it. Universities have hiring
committees, and they do searches, and they have teams,
and they look at accomplishments. Every person we hire is
graded on a score. We look at their GPAs, which
turn out to matter. We look at the nature and the
quality of the school and the program that they were in. And then we give them a test. By the way, programmers have to
do a programming test. It’s kind of obvious if you
think about it. Marketing people have to write
a marketing document. Sales people have to do a sales
call on a salesperson. You can imagine how intimidating
this is. With managers, what we do is
we asked them to write what are they going to do in the
first six months in the job? And by the way, we don’t tell
them that after they write that we throw it out. Because we want to see what
their thinking us. So it is possible to put a
science around recruiting. We don’t allow friends
to hire friends. Often the hiring manager is
not part of the hiring committee, as an example,
which again is a university thing. Very, very few companies
do this. And as far as know, we’re
the only one that does it with our rigor. The other thing that we do
is we look at outcomes. We measure predictive scorers
from the interview scores versus predicted outcomes and
then we adjust based on bias. So if you, for example,
are an easy grader. And we look at the quality and
the predicted outcome of people who you convinced us to
hire, a year from now, we’ll actually mathematically adjust
your grade down. Sorry Jim. It is possible to bring science
and data to something as heuristic as recruiting. GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: Please
over here, Allen. AUDIENCE: What should the
presidential candidate be talking about in terms of
increasing science and technology [INAUDIBLE]? GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: But for the
whole room, what should the presidential candidates be
talking about in terms of increasing science and
technology capacity of our population that they are
not talking about now? ERIC SCHMIDT: The first thing
I would do is give them Governor Kaine’s speech
and have them just repeat it word by word. [APPLAUSE] ERIC SCHMIDT: That’s
the first thing. The second thing is that there
is this bizarre rule called H-1B visas. People here may be
aware of this. These are people who are
very, very educated in science and math. And there’s a quota which is
filled within a few days of the window opening on
a yearly basis. So we and other technology
companies have employees who want to come to the United
States, who are brilliant scientists, who are parked
in another country. And when they get permission,
they come in. They work for us anyway. When they come to the US,
they pay taxes and they change the world. This anti-immigration phenomena
in the country is a real issue, I think,
for creating the world’s best place. We want, in the United States,
the smartest people. We don’t want them in
other countries. Sorry. [APPLAUSE] ERIC SCHMIDT: And by the way,
because of the quality of US a higher education, they
want to be here, which is to your credit. It’s phenomenal, right? You have a situation where the
higher education system, a typical example is in China. Everyone is obsessed
with China. Our higher education system is
100 than the Chinese one. And nobody wants to
talk about it. Let’s talk about what
our strength is. So that’s the second point. The third is that both parties
have been bizarrely restrictive on the funding
required for a lot of key research programs. Computer
science, which is what I’m part of, has had essentially
flat to slightly declining budgets for five years. And by the way, guess what? The percentage of graduates in
computer science has also been flat to declining in
the United States. No surprise. The money matters. I went to Berkeley and
was funded because I didn’t have any money. It was funded by a National
Science Foundation fellowship. I needed the money. It was only $3,000. But I didn’t have it. The concept of leverage
is really fundamental. And in government, a small
investment now creates entrepreneurs and scientists who
create billions of dollars of businesses. They create enormous amounts of
taxes and create huge jobs. The problem is that that
lifespan is ten years, and the average politician is
in office for two, three, four, five. So we have to have the
conversation which is multigenerational. It has to be a part
of both parties. We want the United
States to be. In Otherwise what’s going to
happen is we’re going to have a Sputnik moment. I mean, all of the science and
math that I was part of occurred because we were
terrified of the Russians. So now what’s going to happen
is somebody else is going to do this. And finally we’re going to say,
well, you know, we should certainly invest in science. Why don’t we do it now? So I think that’s a simple list.
There’s a lot of others. GOVERNOR TIM KAINE:
Please, Ross? AUDIENCE: Is there still a
digital divide and is that still affecting the ability
to advance? GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: Digital
divide question, how deep is that divide and maybe some
thoughts on eliminating it. ERIC SCHMIDT: Governor, you
have a view on this. Why don’t you talk about
this state, rural and [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: Sure. I’ll be glad to. And then maybe I’ll say it and
then Eric, you can weigh in from Google’s standpoint. Aneesh Chopra, my secretary of
technology I know is here. And he and others in the state
work hard in these digital divide issues. We have viewed the digital
divide somewhat as geographic with limited access to high
quality Telecom, high Digital Telecom in rural parts
of Virginia. With funds from the Tobacco
Commission, but also some other funds, funds from the
Federal Government, we are building out a very extensive
digital network throughout rural Virginia, Southwest, and
Southside of significant spine there, Eastern Shore, so that
we can really put the best capacity in all of the
communities of the Commonwealth. And so trying to build that
infrastructure and build it in parts of the Commonwealth that
have not been served, has been a key initiative that we’ve
been promoting. We have an advisory committee. And I think Governor
Warner actually has agreed to come back. And he’s the chair
of it right now. So as we continue to build out
that network, we think we’ll solve some of the geographic
digital divide. But I think Ross, probably it’s
also getting at, OK, so now it’s available everywhere. What about families of different
income levels or different education levels
and how they access these opportunities for their
youngsters. That’s an additional serious
issue that we have to tackle. ERIC SCHMIDT: In the early 90s,
Blacksburg did something remarkable. Blacksburg, when I was growing
up, was really quite remote. It became the most wired
city in America. Those of you who were in
Blacksburg or were part of VPI know this. Because they had
the foresight– and I suspect you had a
fair to do with this– to actually go and take all
those apartment complexes that the students live in and
wire them with fiber. Somebody just had the idea
and they did it. It was a small enough town
they could just do it. So I learn something. And the thing I learned was
that this digital divide Internet thing, is the same
thing as rural electrification in the 1940s. We’re too young, thank goodness,
to remember the fights in the ’30s and ’40s
around the infrastructure required to get electricity all
throughout the rural areas of America. And many governors, including
this one, have recognized that it’s very, very important that
access to information be independent of where
you are physically. And the technology helps because
the technology is getting cheaper. So the problem you have now is
you have the other problems. And the fact of the matter is–
and you all as educators know this– if you put a
computer in a classroom, the quality of teaching does
not a priori go up. People like me say, well,
put a computer in. Let them have it and
have a good time. It’s a system. We can get it connected. I think that the current digital
divide is the values, expectations, parental
involvement, and school involvement in getting people
to use these things. I will tell you that I encounter
all sorts of people who say, I was in
this rural area. My family was poor. And I learned from Google. I go, this is like terrifying. But if they’re sitting there
in some terrible, remote place, that is their source
of information. So I know it’s having
an impact. But it has to be supplemented
by many other things. GOVERNOR TIM KAINE:
I saw a hand. Yes, in the red shirt there. AUDIENCE: With the crazy amount
of information that’s getting on the internet, how
does Google or the whole industry plan to [INAUDIBLE]? GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: Yeah, the
glut of information question– with more and more information
and more and more storage, how does Google try to make sure
that search results retain relevance and don’t just haul
in all the dreck out there? So yeah, how do we do this? ERIC SCHMIDT: We do haul in all
the dreck, we just put it lower than the high
quality stuff. The good news about your
question is search is what Google does. So every problem that we see,
we see is a search problem. So when I go through the math
about the number of videos, and the amount of blogs, and so
forth, you’re never going to organize those anything other
than a search process. We use very, very sophisticated
algorithms that are proprietary to company– they’re so complicated, I don’t
even understand them now as a computer science– to actually rank and relate
all that information to produce results that you see. A typical situation is that our
computers are looking all the time for new information. And they’re being ranked
in parallel. So the tenth of a second or less
that you see as a result, there are 100 computers that
collaborated to rank, and rate, and give you
that information. We have a lot of ideas of
how to make it better. A lot of them have to do
with personalization. The classic example
is hot dog. If the query is hot dog, am I
hungry or do I have a dog that’s hot. Do I cool them off
or something? Put them in a bath of water. How do you disambiguate
those sorts of things. The ambiguity of language is
something that artificial intelligence techniques are
very, very good at. And we have a lot of new
things coming there. The other interesting thing
we’re doing that I didn’t talk about but is probably relevant
here, is that we’re working on translating every language
to every other language. Computers can do this. Humans can’t. We have something called
statistical machine translation where we look at a
text and we look at the other language text, which has been
transmitted by a good translator. And then our algorithms can sort
of figure out how to do that repetitively
for any texts. It’s magic. I don’t really understand
it and it’s been explained to me twice. I don’t think I’ll ever
understand it. But basically what happens is
you take all of this stuff and you translate it. So we do Chinese, Arabic,
and English. One of the terrible things in
the world is that there’s a very, very large body of Arabic
work that’s never been translated into any
other language. So here we are. We’re all obsessed with all
these problems in the Arab world and we don’t even
understand their culture. And it works both ways,
by the way. They benefit from seeing
all our stuff too. GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: Question
here in the back. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE PHRASE]? ERIC SCHMIDT: I didn’t
want to do too much of a plug for Google. We’re doing one thing that
everybody should know about, which is that we’re offering
people the ability to essentially have
university-branded Gmail accounts for free
for students. And you say, well, why
would we do that? The answer is, of course, they
then get used to our products and they use them when
they graduate. So it’s a good business
deal for us. It’s a great business for
universities because the management of that corpus of
computers and activity is pretty low value-added
and it’s a huge pain. So this is an example where our
computers can do it better than a university can. And that’s the test
that we applied. In the case of book search,
we’ve signed up on the order of 20 libraries now–
we’re adding more– who are giving us mostly works
that are pre-1923. So it’s pre-Copyright Law. And we’re trying to have the
largest database of that. We give that information
back to the library so they have a copy. But the reality is it’s easier
for the library to just let us do the hosting. Again, they can have
the rights to. And then their students
can use it in the normal course of business. So far everybody seems to be
pretty happy with that. We depend critically upon
an educated citizenry. We depend in every country, not
just in the United States. So it’s in our interest to get
every university up to speed, every bit of information
available to the smart students who really want
to pursue that. It’s good business for
is conversations between Google and textbook
purchasers, particularly for students or school systems
that might have financial challenges to have these
textbooks available. ERIC SCHMIDT: Actually we have.
And we’ve had such great conversations that they’re
busy suing us. [LAUGHTER] ERIC SCHMIDT: So
we worked hard. And we actually like them. And we’re sort of trying
to work it out. So don’t take that
too seriously. But the offer that we’ve made
is that for things which are in print, so these textbooks,
which is what you’re referring to, we are perfectly happy to
get a snippet, that is a small piece of information, and then
refer the student to the book and to a web site where the
book can be purchased. We don’t want to just take the
book and a copy of it, one because that would be a
violation of copyright, and two, the publishers actually
have to get paid for their work. So we want to distinguish
between the cost and the consumption. My view is that people will
consume media on any format and that book publishers
should be willing– for the same amount of
money, by the way– to make it available in a
book as well as online. The trick is how to make
all that work. And that’s our goal. GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: Questions? Yes, please. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE PHRASE]? GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: The question
is about Eric’s view on the wiki phenomenon
as a way of putting knowledge together. ERIC SCHMIDT: I have
been struck by how good Wikipedia is. There are so many sites
that we deal with. It’s Gresham’s Law. The bad content drives
out the good content. You see them all in all when
you spend time online. But Wikipedia has somehow
managed to avoid that. And if you study what they did,
they have a charismatic founder who does this out
of love for the world. And he’s a hero in my view. They have volunteer editors who
make sure that defamation, and sort of the scatological,
and just all the wacky stuff that happens online is
quickly eliminated. People who do evil things to the
information are shut out for a while as punishment
for their evil behavior. And it has produced a
remarkably accurate user-generated content. It is the poster child. The question I have is how
reproducible is that? So here you are in your
university, and you want to build your own wiki. Do you have to do all
the same things that Wikipedia has done? We at Google use the Wikipedia
technology. And wikis, for those of you
who don’t know, are collaborative bulletin
boards essentially. What to do is people are just
constantly adding information and so forth. It’s a knowledge network, if
you will, of information. But within a corporation, we
have control over who has access to it. And again, we can control
for quality. The fundamental question about
user-generated content is the Gresham’s Law issue. If you have everybody producing
user-generated content, you get people who
are literally mad who have nothing to do but to generate
spam hate mails. They just want to pollute
everything. I don’t think they’re
in Virginia. I think they’re in some
weird country. What do we do about
those people? I think that’s the problem that
the industry as a whole is addressing. GOVERNOR TIM KAINE:
Google do to foster continuous innovation always ranked as
one of the most innovative companies within
its employees? ERIC SCHMIDT: The company
is very bottoms-up run. I seldom make any decisions. It’s all percolating
all the time. And the key incendiary thing is
something called 20% time. And basically if you’re a
technical person, a product person in the company, we
encourage you to spend 20% of your work time on something of
your own interest. It doesn’t even have to be about Google. It doesn’t have to be
about the Internet. And as far as I know, we’re the
only place in the world that does that. And all of the interesting ideas
have come out of that. Because what will happened is
that some employee will spend the weekend, or Friday, or
whatever working on it. And then all of a sudden
they’ll begin to recruit their friends. And then a wave starts going. And all of a sudden I’ll show
up and there’s ten people working on. And each one of them is 20%. So it’s like two people. Well maybe you should
combined forces. And off we go. So the other aspect of what we
do that’s actually useful is we have a ship and iterate
philosophy. What we try to do is we try to
make changes constantly. We don’t wait for
a product cycle. Education, if I may, and I don’t
mean to offend anyone, is the slowest moving
organization I ever deal with. Let’s say you want to bring
out a new textbook. OK, well, how long does it take
to produce a textbook? A year. Then you have to get three
years of approvals. Right? So now we’re up to four years. I’m sorry. That was a low number. So how are you ever going to use
a textbook model and get it to match this Wikipedia
model? So I think that you all should
think about how can you use these ideas like 20% time. And, of course, the culture is
tolerant of failure, tolerant of fast iteration, and
encourages individuals to spend 20% time. And I do want to be clear that
there are groups that we do not encourage to do 20% time. So for example, finance people,
we want them working on keeping the money
Google deal with the identity theft issue making sure that
sensitive information is not uploaded and then utilized
by people who intend to do others harm? ERIC SCHMIDT: It does happen
to some degree. And it’s obviously
not a good thing. We detect credit card numbers,
for example. We detect social security
numbers. We throw them out. In other countries, there are
equal numbers to the social security number, so ID
numbers and so forth. And when we detect them
we throw them out. And we try our hardest to
let people have choices. So, for example, since all of
you have landlines, type your phone number into Google. And you’ll see if we have it. Because we may have gotten it
through some database that you happened to have signed up
with a long time ago. We give you the ability
to delete it. You can leave it there
if you want. GOVERNOR TIM KAINE:
important is it for Google that the employees that they
are hiring for technical positions also have a
good liberal arts founding in their education? ERIC SCHMIDT: I think the blunt
answer is it depends on where they are in our
protocol stack. We have some people who live
in our engine room. And as best as I can tell, they
only come out at night. And I think their lives are
probably much better enhanced by having a liberal
arts education. Their communication skills
are not so high anyway. I think anything you can do
with them is appreciated. The more serious answer is
that we have a cohort of people who build our consumer
products where the liberal arts education that you all have
provided them has been phenomenal because they have
judgment, taste, sense, color, style, all the things that are
engine room fellow lacks. Let’s see, maybe take
one or two more. Please, yeah President Runte. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE PHRASE]? GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: All right,
let me summarize this. [APPLAUSE] GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: Simple
and powerful point. The earlier discussion was about
liberal arts and the value of liberal arts even in
hiring for technical capacity. And President Runte sort of
extended it by saying, in a world of more and more content,
so now a glut of content, isn’t liberal arts
really important to be able to determine what is the content
that is really valuable? So really promoting liberal
arts as the building capacities of judgment to be
able to take the massive amount of information and boil
it down to the essentials. ERIC SCHMIDT: Again, I actually
agree with the thesis of your question, that we’re
very good at organizing information. But we still don’t
have insight. Insight comes from a student,
and faculty member, and a conversation, and the
kinds of things that you all do so well. That is the benefit of a
liberal arts education. With this explosion of
information, it gets worse. How do you sort out this idea,
this idea, and this idea? So you have to build in your
student a thesis, an approach, a model of how good decisions
are made, or good insights, or so forth, and then let
them run with it. The only thing I can suggest is
that universities will have to help students
search better. Literally there will have to
ultimately be some kind of assistance. Well, maybe this is
how you should think about this problem. This is how you should look
up this information. This is how you should
view it. And that’s, I think, an
emergent phenomenon. GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: I’m going
to take one more question. But just before I do, just to
encapsulate a little bit of this, it’s been an interesting
presentation for Business Higher Ed. Council. It hasn’t been a speech
just on you why higher education is important. But I think two themes really
emerge from– at least two– from Eric’s speech. First, he’s shared with us the
way learning is changing, and the way learning is changing
among the young. It’s driven by technology. But it’s even bigger
than that. And so how that’s going to
change the mission of all of our organizations and certainly
require our universities to really be at the
forefront in this because they’re at the forefront
of learning. But the second aspect of the
speech that really bears on the Business Higher Council’s
lesson is just the phenomenal success story of Google. It would not have been without
higher education. The beginning points of Google
in a higher education environment and then this
continuous innovation that has brought about by bringing in
people who had access to the best highest education
in the world. Other nations may have passed us
an x, y, or z, even in the percent of people that
have higher ed. Degrees. But in the quality of the higher
ed. programs we have, It’s not a close race. We are head and shoulders above
the rest of the world in terms of the quality of the
educational programs we have. The phenomenal success of
Google, and then its ability to transform the world wouldn’t
have happened without a strong higher education
system. And so those are two very
powerful messages the changes the way we learn and the
critical nature of higher ed. to this success story an so many
others that really bear on your mission. Let me take one more question
and then we’ll move to lunch. Just straight back
sort of there used to be a number of search engines that
were competitive with Google. Now Google is ubiquitous and we
all use the word Google as a verb now. So that really is the test for
how ubiquitous it’s become. So are there other
competitors? Or if not, do you have some
additional responsibilities as sort of a monopolist in the
search for information? ERIC SCHMIDT: Very well
said, Governor. I’ll carefully not answer
the last part of the sentence by the way. GOVERNOR TIM KAINE:
I can see why. ERIC SCHMIDT: The sites that
you named are still around. What they do is they become
more specialized. and they offer specialized
value for looking in some specific areas. Our primary two competitors are
Yahoo! search engine and Microsoft search engine. Yahoo bought a bunch of them
and aggregated them into a competitor. And they do a good job. With respect to our market
share and our role in the world, we take it
very seriously. We understand that people are
making decisions based on Google search results. A typical story is we get this
letter, this fellow saying, I typed in my symptoms. The
answer came back. The first result was, you
are having a heart attack, dial 911. So the person dials 911. The paramedics show up
in three minutes. And they said if you had not
done that, you’d be dead. That’s a life changing
experience. So we tell that story. Imagine if you had
the wrong result. This person would be dead. So we take it very seriously. One thing that’s alarming is
that a significant proportion of our queries are
health-related, and yet, we’re not doctors. We’re just trying to organize
medical information in the normal course of business. And indeed, we have some
initiatives around that, around Google Health. So we take it seriously. Ultimately there are
always going to be choices in this space. We hope to be a common
denominator, a basic choice that you can start with. And if you have specialized
interests, you can go to some of these specialized engines. GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: Please
thank Eric again. [APPLAUSE]

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Fascinating stuff, though the intro kind of reminded me of a band showing up in Nowhere, Kansas and yelling, "We love you Kansaaaaaaaas!"

    So, now thanks to Google I'm staying up too late, my productivity will be less tomorrow, and my ability to grow my business damaged – thus, via leverage, destroying tens of millions of dollars in future tax revenue. Hoisted by your own petard, eh Schmidt? πŸ˜€

  2. Check out Eric Schmidt as a young pup back in 1985 where collegues play an April Fools Joke on him. I can't link here so just go to Google Video and type in "April Fools Joke" It should be the first result. Also "Public Speaking Class" (1988) and "More Public Speaking Training" (1989).

  3. I was at this luncheon, it was amazing.. there were students and representatives from every school in virginia, including a lot of movers an shakers, it was an interesting dichotomy and he was an excellent speaker

  4. Have I been thinking about these problems my entire Life or is it google's fault that I now have to think about them? hah Anything you can do I can do better!

  5. I've used Google since its inception. I love it. But yesterday they refused, again, to commemorate 911. Enough.
    Yesterday I cancelled my gmail and changed my search and homepage to Bing. And I will encourage everyone I come in contact with to do the same. Short of an apology to the American people, I will NEVER use google again.

  6. @gangsterdave2000 but you realize you're still watching videos on youtube, which is owned by google… lulz.

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