Google's Schmidt On NSA Snooping, Drones, Artificial Intelligence And More

BoxDev2015 EricSchmidt AaronLevie KK

Box’s second annual developer day, Box Dev Conference 2015, kicked off on Wednesday, April 22nd at San Francisco, CA, with keynote speaker Eric Schmidt of Google sitting down for a chat alongside Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Schmidt touched upon a wide variety of issues ranging from cloud computing to NSA’s data-mining programs, from robotics to the future of the open internet and from enterprise software to cyber-security. He spoke about why he thought the technology industry needed to do away with what he called an “artificial distinction” between enterprise consumers and retail consumers. Asserting that the internet needs to continue being free for new companies to keep coming up, he said that most jobs in the US are being created by tech startups and that, there’s a vast opportunity for these new, fast-moving “gazelles” to offer “mobile-optimized”, cloud-based solutions that would provide a better experience to enterprises and consumers alike than what the incumbents have been able to offer thus far.

Talking about cyber-security, he argued that individual consumers also need the same level of security as enterprise consumers, with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) schemes gaining more acceptance within the mainstream with each passing day. He said, that Google is betting big on robotics and autonomous vehicles. Speaking about the company’s buyout of Boston Dynamics in 2013, he said “We try to do things which are likely to produce big returns in five to ten years, which solves some significant problems”.

Talking about something that has hitherto strictly been in the domain of science-fiction, but is slowly becoming a reality, Mr. Schmidt asserted his belief, that the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) makes people more productive. That’s where Google’s much talked about experiments with drones and self-driving cars come in. He pointed out that Google only “added software and navigational capability and particularly high quality laser which runs on the top of the car. We’re actually able to watch what’s going on better than you are. The laser sees better than the human eye”.

Eric Schmidt has been vociferous in his support for a free and open internet in the past and has spoken out in favor of net-neutrality as well. Put into that context, his argument today against software back-doors being written into codes to allow the federal agencies to snoop on private citizens, and his promise to “fully secure data” that his customers trust him with, gives us an idea about what his vision for the future of Gmail, Android, Google Cloud, Google Search and other Google services might be. Speaking on the NSA data-mining imbroglio, he protested Google’s innocence by saying “No one gave us a heads up” about the goings on and that, they weren’t complicit with federal authorities in the whole unseemly episode.