For Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the next step in technology is the same that it has always been — augmenting humanity to handle information that a human brain couldn’t otherwise keep up with, and just make things work.
“Computers will clearly handle the things we aren’t good at, and we will handle the things computers clearly aren’t good at,” Schmidt said. That can range from helping users find their way to a new restaurant to managing their inbox.
And there are a great number of things that humans aren’t good at — including driving, Schmidt said.
“It’s amazing that people drive cars, computers should be the ones driving cars,” he said. “It seems to me like a bug that cars were invented before computers.”
Google’s own goal is to help provide users — at least on the search front that Google specializes in — with autonomous searching and new applications that delve into everyday aspects of daily life, Schmidt said. One obvious starting point was Google Maps, which has killed the traditional map and has kept users from ever getting lost again, he said. The most recent augmentation came in the form of Google Instant, which provides real-time search results and shaves off microseconds of the search process to “give part of your time back,” he said.
The search giant’s next step is to index just about everything else — including email and other data that people typically keep close to the chest. Google hopes to access that information “after asking for permission about 500 times” and provide users with an easier way to access the pore through the massive amount of information that a human brain typically couldn’t keep track of.
But the next logical step is mobile, which the smartphone revolution has brought to the forefront with mobile apps like Google’s own Maps, he said. LTE, the next generation of wireless networks that promises speeds of up to 50 megabits per second, will open up a whole host of data-intensive applications that will again “do the things that humans just aren’t good at,” Schmidt said.
Google itself has gained a lot of traction trying to augment humans with their mobile products, with more than 200,000 devices running Google’s mobile operating system Android activated daily, Schmidt said. Mobile search traffic grew 50 percent last year and traffic from Android phones tripled in the first half of 2010 as well, he said.
The key technology that will help Google — and pretty much everyone — meet their lofty mobile goals is actually cloud computing, which will basically provide the computing firepower for data-intensive applications like translation apps and search remotely and out of sight and mind for users.
“Cloud computing can be understood as the magic behind what the phones can actually do,” he said. “This is the stuff of science fiction, I’m thinking ‘oh my god we can actually do this.'”