I’m a big fan of Google.
I say that both because it’s true and because Google is probably monitoring every keystroke I type right now- and that’s one fight I would never pick.
Jokes aside*, Google is one of the two most powerful and influential corporations in the world right now (the other being one of Google’s major competitors, Apple), impacting the modern, internet-using population in more ways than we can imagine.
So, when Google CEO Eric Schmidt goes on the Charlie Rose Show (one of my favorites, as well), I make sure to pay attention.
In the Rose interview last night, Schmidt covered the expected topics of social networking, privacy, smart phones, and Chinese censorship. Though I could probably fill a number of posts with the content of this interview, one of Schmidt’s points stuck out to me more than the rest.
When asked “where is Google today and how does it see the future”, he responded with the following:
One way to think about this is we’re trying to make people better people– literally give them better ideas, augmenting their experience. Think of it as augmented humanity. Think of it as trying to get the computers to help us at the things we’re not very good at and have us help the computers at the things they’re not very good at.
I’m interested to see what reaction most people have to the term “augmented humanity” and the idea of “making better people”.
Those are emotionally charged words, and I’m sure that is intentional.
But, that’s the vision of Google. Schmidt talked of our computers (or the software on our computers) “knowing what we are going to ask before we ask it”, supplying us with unlimited information about our immediate surroundings, translating our conversation into another language in realtime. The list goes on and on.
But, can technology really make us “better people”?
Replacing my arm with a fishing pole is technically an augmentation- but I, personally, wouldn’t make that trade-off. Again, all good conversation begins with definition- and “better” is quite ambiguous.
Ultimately, its undeniable that there are more than a few ways to define “better” which lead us to answer the question “Yes”. Only time will tell if these definitions prove authoritative.
*Sergey and Larry, I promise I didn’t mean it!