Google’s Eric Schmidt On Collective Intelligence: “In God We Trust…But All Others Bring Data”

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Eric Schmidt fullThere are few people in the world with a resume like Eric Schmidt. Just finishing his decade long run as Google's CEO, Schmidt is also a former Apple board member, former Stanford Business School Professor, and a pretty kickass programmer back in the day. In his time this billionaire has advised world leaders and shaped global perception of the internet. Now, Schmidt is leveraging his expertise in online search and communication to discuss one of the most important emergent technological developments of the 21st Century: Collective Intelligence. Formed as huge numbers of people share incredibly enormous amounts of data freely over the net, Collective Intelligence is seen popularly in Wikipedia, Linux, and Yahoo Answers. This past fall at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Schmidt presented his thoughts on how the focus on hardware and software will fade in importance to harnessing the globally generated network of knowledge and data. See all of Schmidt's talk, "The Future of the Global Mind", followed by an entertaining Q&A session in the video below.

Introduced by MIT's Thomas Malone, one of the leading researchers in the field of Collective Intelligence, Schmidt explores a wide range of topics. By the time the presentation really gets going around 11 minutes in, he declares the global network of knowledge to be “as important, if not more important, as the development of electricity.” He also gives the audience a new motto: “in God we trust, but all others bring data”. Of course Schmidt brings Google into the conversation, pointing out how the search engine giant researches 200,000 experiments in their field each year, incorporates 500 new developments, and faces an ever changing web – 16% of searches each day are new. Google's also becoming more open, revealing some of their recent changes in approach last fall. On a more personal note, Schmidt's data-centric approach to global problem solving shapes not only his take on politics (leaders should follow facts, not opinions), but also his take on the future of humanity. Around 22:00 he delves into the merger of the physical and virtual worlds. Yet for all the change Schmidt foresees, and he predicts quite a bit, he clearly views the global sharing of information as a powerful tool for freedom against oppression: “the last gasp of an autocrat is to turn off the internet.”

Questions, starting around 33:30, discuss digital rights managements, renewable energy, global warming data, exponential growth in intelligence (41:20), pending government regulation, how to maintain physical intuition in a virtual reality dominated Earth, and the ways in which we can use data to motivate behavior.

[image credit: Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons, CC-by-3.0]
[screen capture and video credit: MIT TechTV]

Discussion — 8 Responses

  • visualign February 6, 2012 on 2:32 pm

    Great talk by Eric Schmidt. Some sound bites:

    “Technology is not about hardware and software anymore. It’s really about the mining and use of this enormous data…”

    “I see the world getting divided into things that computers are good at and things humans are good at. Computers: Infinite memory, needle-in-haystack problems, … Humans: Intuition, getting ourselves in trouble, falling in love…”

    On countries attempts to censor the Internet: “If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, don’t break the mirror but fix your own issues instead.” “If you don’t like people’s behavior online, then regulate their behavior… (instead of blocking its expression online)”

    I agree that data should drive decisions and leaders should follows facts, not opinions. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. Many societal problems, however, are too complex to be exhaustively reduced to a set of data. There are also fundamental limits to understanding and predictability in nonlinear dynamic systems (think of the weather forecast beyond a week or so). It’s not (only) a problem of insufficient data. It’s a problem of essential irreducibility of chaotic systems. In short, there will always be surprises. Consider the vexing phenomenon of economic inequality (which I have written about in various posts on my Data Visualization Blog While one can measure it more accurately, it’s not as clear what’s causing it or which policies increase or decrease it. Perhaps a field of study worthy of Collective Intelligence?

  • PeterMCao February 6, 2012 on 9:25 pm

    Google’s era under Eric Schmidt had involved into multiple crimes in Stanford which is fascism by

    Google’s Eric Schmidt had abused google resources to financially and politicially support a criminal suspect named Gabriele Scheler, along with a Stanford Computer Science faculty Sebastian Thrun, against ruling from Stanford and police authorities. During their fight with Stanford, Eric Schmidt’s side had murdered an innocent Stanford student May Zhou in 2007 to threaten me and to terrorize Stanford. When they found I would not compromise a bit but actively tried to clarify the case, Eric Schmidt’s side did plot a murder on me as well. The only reason they didn’t make it a reality is becaue they were closely watched by police and they are afraid of leaving evidence (not becasuse they have any mercy on me as a human being, fascism by nature.) Eric Schmidt lost his CEO position because of his involvment into these crimes. Proof of real names, dates, photos along with a police case number are listed in my blog link [ ].

    These accusations stand still which Eric Schmidt and Sebastian Thrun dare never deny to the public. Eric Schmidt and Sebastian Thrun had not paid for their crimes

  • PeterMCao February 6, 2012 on 9:28 pm

    As far as I understood, Eric Schmidt and Sebasitan Thrun had tried to cover up his involvmented with May Zhou’s case on the questionable suicide theory in official authorities conclusion. However, after I pointed out major flaw of suicide theory, authorities no longer insist it’s suicide, but accept that May Zhou’s case is a plotted murder. As I further point out that it is people on Sebastian Thrun and Eric Schmidt’s side who murdered May Zhou for Thrun’s sake to threaten me and to terrorize Stanford.

  • PeterMCao February 6, 2012 on 9:30 pm

    This is actually a war between fascism and anti-fascism. At this stage, fascism still prevail in our lives.

    Eric Schmidt and Sebastian Thrun are just two forefront people we can see in this fascism circle. There are a whole pack of fascists behind them.

    They had spread fascism spirit around the world to conspire victims and to cover up their crimes. As one of the victims, my basic rights of living were taken away and that I had sacrificed many years of my life in fighting against these fascism criminals. They had spread their fascism spirits around to every aspects of my life as a retaliation. If these fascism criminals could not be concurred, their fascism spirit would infect more and more innocent people.

    However, the more I suffer from their fascism crimes, the stronger I had the determination to clarify their crimes to the public and have these fascism criminals brought to justice.

  • PeterMCao February 6, 2012 on 9:32 pm

    For Sebastian Thrun’s side, you don’t want to threaten another person’s life with the death of student from your own school. You don’t want to terrorize your school boss with the killing of student from your own school. That’s absolutely unforgivable. You never feel regret of what your side had done, and that’s make it even more unforgivable of you.

  • PeterMCao February 6, 2012 on 9:34 pm

    Anyway,Eric Schmidt and Sebastian Thrun’s names are not clear in Stanford Student May Zhou’s death, as well as a conspiracy on my life at a later time, and neither Eric Schmidt nor Sebastian Thrun dare publicly deny his involvment into this crime and follow-up crimes. Can anyone deny this fact?

    What’s the problem? I bet that’s because they are afraid of facing lawful responsibilities once they deny such accusations

  • PeterMCao February 6, 2012 on 9:42 pm

    Google’s era under Eric Schmidt had involved into multiple crimes in Stanford which is fascism by nature. Eric Schmidt’s side had murdered an innocent Stanford girl MayZhou(MIT alumnus, TAIWAN origin)and plotted a murder on me as well

  • PeterMCao February 6, 2012 on 10:00 pm

    Victims are still being cursed; if these crimes could not be clarified, victims would not come back to real life, retaliation on victims would happen again and again