Is Eric Schmidt losing his PR acumen? For years, the Google CEO's optimism and foresight dazzled the press. But recently, his remarks to journalists have led to retractions and clarifications (and in one case, an over-the-top attack ad). In a recent discussion at The Atlantic's Washington Ideas Forum, Schmidt invited further criticism, saying "Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it." Is Schmidt just facing an unlucky string of gaffes or is his company simply becoming more difficult to defend?
It Seems Like Google's Ambition Knows No Bounds, writes Ian Paul at PC World: "Schmidt's vision sees an even deeper integration with computers surfacing pertinent information to you automatically and unprompted...It remains to be seen whether people are ready for an even deeper integration with Google services and for computer's to start telling us what to do. Hopefully our digital overlord Google will always be a benevolent dictator."
- He Just Makes Things Sound a Lot Creepier Than They Are, writes Nick Saint at Business Insider: "
The Atlantic has posted video of the full interview in which Eric talked about 'the creepy line', and it is chock full of unsettling sound bytes. In particular, he had the following to say on privacy:
"With your permission, you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches. We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about."
That sounds absolutely terrifying. And it's too bad. Eric is clearly extremely bright and has a lot of interesting things to say in this interview about technology, the rise of China, the role of lobbyists in crafting legislation, and more. He's just not very good at choosing his words.
Mnemonic for remembering that Google CEO Schmidt is an Eric, not Erik: the ‘c’ is for ‘creepy’.
- Google's Going Down a Dark Path, writes Andrew Orlowski at The Register:
It must be a sore point to Google that humans play any role in the system at all - when its engineers could simply program software at each end of the interaction change and set the software bots free to interact with each other, in a giant AI simulation. Google is already halfway there, manipulating its misleadingly-named "auction" to produce the optimal outcome for Google. The quest seems to be to automate the rest of the system - and this means diminishing the role humans play...
It's arguable whether relentless Schmidt's emphasis on dehumanised cybernetic drivel - something he shares with the techno-utopians at DARPA - is really doing the company and its shareholders any favours. ... Google is full of clever engineers, and small things can make a big difference. But guiding the company down a path that puts it on a collision course with humanity can't be good for the stock price - in the long run.
- Schmidt Scares Us, writes Matthew Zuras at Switched: "This isn't the first time that creepy Schmidt has creeped people out with his futurist vision of Google. He toed this same line when he talked to the Wall Street Journal back in August, saying, 'I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions... They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.' Schmidt doesn't think it's creepy that he wants a dictatorial Google, guiding memory-less users from one thing they didn't know they wanted to the next. We'd almost rather take the implant."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.