Sharing. Openness. Transparency. These are things we value—not just in the startup spaces of Silicon Valley, but in society at large. Whether you're talking about information or weather, what could be better than sunlight?
Darkness, for one thing.
In a talk at the Washington Ideas Forum today, Astro Teller, head of Google[x], made the case for opacity. (Well, for contextual opacity.) When your name is Astro Teller, and you head up Google[x], and your official work title is "Captain of Moonshots," you tend to split your time pretty evenly between the present and the future. And the latter of these places, courtesy of Google's generally secretive skunkworks, may or may not include: self-driving cars, balloon-powered Internet, and augmented reality-bearing glasses. The primary mission of Google[x], Teller told Hari Sreenivasan, is "to go out in the world and find new problems for Google to have."
Here's where the secrecy comes in. "It is the essence of innovation to fail most of the time," Teller pointed out. Google[x] is big on crazy ideas; one of its main challenges is to figure out which tiny proportion of those crazy ideas can become—should become—reality. (Or, as Teller put it: "I'm trying to work with the people at Google[x] to kill projects as fast as we can.")