Google CEO Eric Schmidt is having one hell of a week—The Colbert Report on Tuesday, an interview with Charlie Rose yesterday. He may have already dropped some unforgettable lines, but this week Schmidt really cemented himself in the canon of nerdy, quote-worthy CEO’s of the Internet era with statements like this:
There’s such an overwhelming amount of information now, we can search where you are, see what you’re looking at if you take a picture with your camera. 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.
In the same Wall Street Journal article in which Schmidt predicted a future where adults will change their names to escape the drunken-Facebook-picture-follies of their youth, he articulated his vision for mobile devices that can aggregate search terms and personal information to furnish you with random facts you “didn’t know you wanted to know.”
Because using artificial intelligence to remind me that I’m out of milk on my run to the bodega really ‘augments’ the human experience. The rather unsettling thought of technology using search data and GPS to predict your very next footstep prompted Colbert to ask: “At what point will Google’s algorithm become self-aware and turn on its masters?”
So at best, Schmidt aspires to be an omnipotent demigod with knowledge of our most visited sites, our address books, and our grocery lists; at worst, he’s working toward a future where our cell phones are tied to our brains. Schmidt might just be running away from himself, though: in response to Colbert, he said “Hopefully not in our lifetimes.” Let’s hope the cyborgs get him first, then.