Google CEO Shares the Meaning of Life

    May 19, 2009
    Chris Crum

Eric Schmidt gave a commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania yesterday. The full video is below, but I have pulled out some of the good quotes from it (there were quite a few).

He begins with congratulations and talks about how great Penn is, and how there are 250 alumni who work at Google. He says it’s the most desirable place for Google to hire interns because the "quality of graduates is the best in the world."

He notes that they also have the best cheesesteaks in the world, displaying the humorous tone that emerges throughout the inspirational speech. A good portion of the video is spent comparing what it was like in his college days as compared to how it is now. Here are some of the comparisons he made:

"We had tang. You have Redbull."

"we used 700 dollar VCRs. You have Youtube."

"We got our news from newspapers….remember them? You get your news from blogs and tweets."

"We stood in line to buy pong. You stood in line to buy the Wiis."

"We didn’t tell people about our most embarrassing moments in college. You record them and post them on YouTube and Facebook everyday. And i am looking forward to watching these for the next 30 or 40 years."

"We used mainframe computers with 300MB of storage to go to the moon six times. You use an iPod with 120GB – that’s about 500 times more – to get to your next class."

"We thought that friending was a noun. You think of it as a verb."

"We had phone booths. Remember them? You have cell phones."

"We wore watches. We took pictures with cameras. We navigated with maps. We listened to transistor radios. Again, you have a cell phone.

The next portion of the speech is dedicated to how technology is improving the world. He also talks about the thing Google is widely known for trying to accomplish – organizing the world’s information. Points related to this he mentions include:

– information is power
– people have fought over it
– people care a lot about it
– it serves as a check and balance on politicians
– if you were a dictator, the first thing you would do would be to shut off all the communication…

"We have an opportunity to have everyone in the world have access to all the world’s information. This has never been possible," says Schmidt.

He then talks about the future
– communication through video and translation, and healthcare from across the world because your medical records are right there (Google Health, though he doesn’t say this specifically).

"Imagine a scenario where all the world’s information will be translated into all the world’s other languages. So we can find out what everybody really thinks. And we can develop a new insight into what they care about and they can with us," he says.

"In the next ten years it will be possible to have the equivalent of iPods in your purse or on your belt that’ll have 85 years of video…that’s how profound this technological revolution is."

On Team Work for innovation…

"None of us is as smart of all of us… You can see Twitter as an example as a form of social intelligence. Use it, find a network of people who care about you and so forth and so on…"

"In a networked world, trust is the most important of currency," he adds.

Finally, Schmidt takes on the meaning of life. Here are some of his words on that:

"In a world where everything is remembered, and everything is kept forever – the world you are in – you need to live for the future, and the things that you really, really care about."

To know that, he says you’re going to have to turn off you computer and your phone, and discover all that is human around us. "You’ll find that people really are the same all around the world. They really do care about the same things."

"A mind set in its ways is a life wasted…don’t do it," he concludes.

Not a bad speech at all really. If you’ve got 13 minutes to kill, you could do a lot worse.