90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Video: Google CEO Eric Schmidt

Host Tom Ashbrook was on stage with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, asking him about some of the biggest technology and business issues of our time.

It was part of an MIT event held on Thursday, Nov. 5, to commemorate computer science professor Michael Hammer, who died in 2008. Here’s video of the full interview, courtesy of WBUR.org:

Among other things, Schmidt said the possibilities of the unfolding revolution in technology are greater than many people even realize. “Think about a world of an infinite amount of new sources of information, an infinite number of digital devices, all GPS-located, attached to people,” he said. “Imagine the scale of the kinds of questions you could ask that you could not ask before.”

We’ll pull out a couple of excerpts here.

Tom probed Schmidt on the business scale of Google and on fears that it is getting too big:

TOM ASHBROOK: Google is enormous. We see a lot of your strengths. On the front of vulnerabilities: Do you see your major vulnerabilities as economic or political? And in particular when it comes to scale, Christine Varney is President Obama’s new antitrust chief – I know we all saw the Fortune article “Obama and Google: A Love Story.” But their bottom line was that your scale has become such you may well be a target of antitrust attention by the federal government. How do you look at that? Are you an out-of-control monopoly, sir?

ERIC SCHMIDT: (laughter) I can’t think of the appropriate response, aside from “no.” (laughter)

TOM ASHBROOK: Christine Varney will review the tape later, but go ahead. (laughter)

ERIC SCHMIDT: That’s right. There’s a number of different sort of ways of approaching that subject. We get a lot of criticism as a company, I think, fundamentally because we’re disruptive, and also because we are a scale company, as you said. And then finally, because people care a lot about information. So we’re used to that side of the issues, and I don’t think that’s going to go away. What we do believe is that as long as you are on the side of the consumer, you’re pretty much on the right side of all these debates. And that there’s a lot of sort of hem and haw, going on and on and on and on about it. But the fact of the matter is – and people will review what we do and so forth – but as long as we’re consumer-focused, we’ll be fine…[Google co-founder] Larry Page in fact wrote a memo which, early in our years as a company, that said, “If we were to become big, what were some of the principles that we would establish?” And we’ve established those. And one of the most important ones is that you own your own data. So, we don’t trap end users. So if you, for example, decide that you’re unhappy with Google services we make it easy for you to take the data that we have of yours, and you can go to a competitor or whatever you want to do. We recently announced the oddly named “data liberation front” group at Google, whose sole job was to make this actually happen. So we’re real serious about this.

And Tom asked Schmidt about the physical side of Google’s operation:

TOM ASHBROOK: Give us a sense of the scale of Google’s own infrastructure at this point. We’re hearing about server farms the size of cities, or maybe that’s just in our imagination. Give us a sense of that.

ERIC SCHMIDT: Well, people like to imagine all of that stuff. We benefit from centralization. So we have some number of relatively large data centers which are attached very near to power dams, literally hydro, water systems because we need a constant supply of base load to power these things. And we don’t say the exact number, but think that we benefit from Moore’s Law, and we build our own essentially super computers out of p.c. components. Connected with them is a fiber-optic network that we own and control, which we bought…Remember everybody built all that fiber and it was all cheap? Well, we bought a whole bunch of it. Technically, we bought. It was a great deal. Trust me. And we span the globe with that. And we needed to do that in order to move all the data around. When you look at the scale of YouTube, had we not done that, with the growth of YouTube, YouTube would have taken Google out, simply because of the amount of video and audio and so forth that is used. And again, those of you who are scientists can do the math in your head. But imagine that number of video streams, even with compression, and yet we’ve been able to handle it. So we engineered Google in the same way that Michael [Hammer] would have, with a notion of scale. And when you imagine the next set of applications that will be real time intensive, data intensive, maps intensive, we’re ready for that.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    Excellent interview Tom. Schmidt is brilliant and you asked just the right questions to get him thinking and talking about the interesting stuff.

    It’s my guess that Schmidt will enter politics at some point although I can’t imagine Google without him at the helm.

  • jerry diakiw

    Still having problems with sound on class in america is it possible to correct it

ONPOINT
TODAY
Jul 28, 2014
This June 4, 2014 photo shows a Walgreens retail store in Boston. Walgreen Co. _ which bills itself as “America’s premier pharmacy” _ is among many companies considering combining operations with foreign businesses to trim their tax bills. (AP)

American companies bailing out on America. They call it inversion. Is it desertion?

Jul 28, 2014
U.S. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker watches as wounded American soldiers arrive at an American hospital near the front during World War I. (AP Photo)

Marking the one hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One. We’ll look at lessons learned and our uneasy peace right now.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jul 25, 2014
Guest Renee McLeod of Somerville, MA's Petsi pies shows off her wares. (Robin Lubbock / WBUR)

There is nothing more American than a piece of pie. We taste and talk pies.

 
Jul 25, 2014
Pallbearers carry a coffin out of a military transport plane during a ceremony to mark the return of the first bodies, of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, from Ukraine at Eindhoven military air base, Eindhoven, Netherlands, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (AP)

Secretary of State Kerry to Israel. Obamacare back in the courts. Mourning as remains of Malaysia Flight 17 victims come home. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: July 25, 2014
Friday, Jul 25, 2014

Why the key to web victory is often taking a break and looking around, and more pie for your viewing (not eating) pleasure.

More »
Comment
 
The Art Of The American Pie: Recipes
Friday, Jul 25, 2014

In the odd chance that our pie hour this week made you hungry — how could it not, right? — we asked our piemaking guests for some of their favorite pie recipes. Enjoy!

More »
Comment
 
Hillary Clinton: ‘The [Russian] Reset Worked’
Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took time out of her global book tour to talk to us about Russia, the press and the global crises shaking the administration she left two years ago.

More »
2 Comments