Business

Both Google co-founders reveal beliefs on rent, privacy, taxes, law, & future tech (in 7 quotes)

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It’s rare to get one Google co-founder to speak publicly, let alone both at the same time. But noted venture capitalist and longtime friend Vinod Khosla managed to get both Google co-founders to reveal their thoughts on everything from novel government policies to the future of technology.

Here is how two of the most powerful technologists in the world imagine the future.

Tax waste, improve efficiency

Sergey Brin says it’s kosher for the government to eliminate waste and bad behavior through taxes.

I think ideally, one would try to tax more of the things that we don’t want, and either subsidize or encourage the things that we do want. The kinds of things people spend money on that are wasteful, you can imagine having higher taxes on. Or things that are harmful, like carbon, could be taxed at a higher rate. On the one hand, presumably it will slow wasteful spending.

Unnecessary work for everyone, part-time

Larry Page says he’s optimistic that robots will usher in a world of abundance and eliminate much of the work we do today. In the past, he argues, most people were farmers, but thanks to machines, they can dedicate themselves to other pursuits. However, the robot work-apocalypse needs to be balanced with the desire for people to feel apart of a productive economy.

Most people like working, but they’d also like to have more time with their family or to pursue their own interests. So that would be one way to deal with the problem, is if you had a coordinated way to just reduce the work week. And then, if you add slightly less employment, you can adjust and people will still have jobs.

A limit on the number of laws

Larry Page evidently wants governments to put a ceiling on the number of laws. As a global company, he estimates that Google has to comb through millions of laws and come up with a complex system to adhere to them all.

One thing I propose is that– I was talking to some government leaders. I said — actually to the President of South Korea. It was great. I said, ‘Hey, why don’t you just limit your laws and regulations to some set of pages? And when you add a page, you have to take one away.’ She actually wrote this down. She’s great.

Get rid of HIPAA

I’ve written extensively about Larry Page’s desire to save lives through a public database of health information. The law currently holding back the ability of researchers to mine health information is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which puts strict regulation on patient privacy.

Imagine you had the ability to search people’s medical records in the U.S.. Any medical researcher can do it. Maybe they have the names removed. Maybe when the medical researcher searches your data, you get to see which researcher searched it and why. I imagine that would save 10,000 lives in the first year. Just that. That’s almost impossible to do because of HIPPA. I do worry that we regulate ourselves out of some really great possibilities that are certainly on the data-mining end.

For good measure, Sergey Brin noted that the company’s blood glucose monitoring contact lens is “coming along pretty well”.

The problem with rent control

Rent control is the only thing saving many San Franciscans from getting booted out of their homes, thanks to skyrocketing housing prices. Page seemed to imply that because San Francisco has refused to build enough housing, rent control laws ultimately end up hurting the poor, because they’ve never been able to own a home.

We’re building lots of jobs, lots of office buildings, and no housing. So it’s not surprising that caused a lot of issues. You also have a lot of people who are rent controlled, so they don’t participate in the economic increase in housing prices. It actually hurts them. It doesn’t help them. So I think those problems are more structural and very serious problems. We’re not really on a path to fix those problems in this area.

Robots better than humans

With the acquisition of artificial intelligence firm, DeepMind, Sergey Brin foresees building machines that are, in some ways, much better than humans.

We do have lots of proof points that one can create intelligent things in the world because– all of us around. Therefore, you should presume that someday, we will be able to make machines that can reason, think and do things better than we can.

Read the full transcript of the talk here, or watch it below:


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39 comments
Eric Penzel
Eric Penzel

(they're) it's not that hard to learn grammar

Andrei Rînea
Andrei Rînea

WTF does kosher mean? ("Sergey Brin says it’s kosher for the government to eliminate waste")

Nikk Wong
Nikk Wong

Yeah--VB--what issue do you have with any of their claims? 

Tim Dick
Tim Dick

They don't understand the link between job and income for 99.9% of people. Scary.

Paul Vance
Paul Vance

venturebeat puts a negative liberal spin on everything, they don't even realize there doing it

Paul Brzhustovsky
Paul Brzhustovsky

What, most of these thoughts are fully coherent, venturebeat reLly thinks otherwise?

Scarlet LeMay
Scarlet LeMay

I did sign up with a user name by the way! Here are my beliefs on these ideas.

   Getting rid of HIPAA is such a dangerous idea. Already, people are discriminated against when people find out something that is on their medical records. I am perfectly capable providing my records to whomever I deem trusted and necessary to have them.

    Robots replacing people should really depend upon the industry.Clearing out nuclear waste, yes ,a robot is a great idea. Testing dangerous chemicals in a laboratory , there again a robot is a good idea. Not everyone is a techie...Personally, I like doing some of my own projects around the house . I find them relaxing. On the larger scale, robots should not replace people who may not have the skills to compete in the IT or other marketplaces. What will become of people with low IQ's if robots are used to do the most mundane jobs? Will they be extinguished...not allowed to exist because they will have become useless? 

  Higher taxes, not a good idea. This is another very judgmental type of area. Who is to decide what is wasteful and what is not? As more environmentally sustainable solutions become available, companies and people usually begin to want to use them. The USA is not a business friendly place as it is. We need to get rid of these high corporate taxes in order to gain our economic strength back in America.

  Less Laws and Regulations, oh yes that would help society very much. The USA is stagnant right now due to overregulation and way too many laws.

  Rent control-I have mixed feelings about this one. I have never had a rent control apartment. I know middle aged adults that have basically wasted their lives and resources after inheriting a parent's apartment . They continue living in it for 30 years or so, renting out the extra bedrooms. Most of the people I know who are lucky enough to have rent control apartments don't even fix them up. It makes me crazy. I know I am jealous. I have to admit it!

  I don't believe people should work part time. I believe people should fill up ther time wisely. Most people are time-wasters. Now if you have someone who wants to be an artist, or musician or write, that is using their time wisely. Going to school is using one's time wisely. Taking a Sabbatical is fine as well. I really believe work is good for the soul. Not drudgery , mind you, but a good 40 hours or so a week of a job weel done.

   I believe that my privacy has a right to be protected and I feel that this should be a personal choice. If someone wants to be a part of a data base, by all means, go for it!!

Stephen Fortner
Stephen Fortner

Rent control somehow hurts the people who'd be in the street without it? Spoken like a true aristocrat, Mr Page.

Chris Grey
Chris Grey

Mostly good common sense. However, his anti-privacy stand combined with building an army of smart robots should scare everyone. Do you want an army of smart robots knowing everything about you?

Alex B
Alex B

"A limit on the number of laws."

Well, the bible kept it simple, 10 Commandments! Special interests then took over.


UPDATED: VentureBeat, I wanted my USER NAME used ('oflife') NOT my actual name, please change it IMMEDIATELY or delete this comment! Thanks.

David Jouarisse
David Jouarisse

San Franciscans becoming homeless "thanks to" skyrocketing housing prices. Is it my English or shouldn't venturebeat use "because of" ?

Lafayette Howell
Lafayette Howell

This piece underscores why they (founders) continue to need professional grooming. The comments sound naive, self-serving and actually limiting. The fact is, San Francisco has limited usable space to build more housing at a sizable scale. What these guys describe sounds similar to the movie Elysium; a place where the "haves" kept its distance from the "have nots". Typical comments from people with myopic views of the world.

Mitch Allen
Mitch Allen

The housing problem is because like most Silicon Valley companies they haven't mastered how to hire and use a remote work force. Mountain View is over crowded. They should open up more offices elsewhere instead of trying to jam so many people into one location. They should also do more to utilize a remote workforce (within the US - not just cheap labor offshore). They like to solve puzzles. It's a simple overcrowding / distribution problem to solve. But for some reason they aren't seeing it and just making the situation worse.

Scott Lightner
Scott Lightner

Wasting time (carbon) online needs to be taxed? Limit the number of laws? WHY? Is man, culture, technologic, static? Maybe we could limit the amount of technology which could cause harm too? For every new thing we need to outlaw another? Oh, but that would be another law.... :/ These guys sound like naive sophomores touting libertarian theory with little understanding of human nature / reality.

Keith Emery
Keith Emery

Does it occur to no one that if there were no rent controls and property owners could charge what the market would bear that more housing would be developed and prices would fall. Who wants to invest in any enterprise where someone limits your potential return?

Esau Frazier III
Esau Frazier III

Google Scans all content check Google will not let you post Bad Content!

Ty Whalin
Ty Whalin

There are so many hands in the pot and so many laws governing all of the Internet it is more less not controllable anymore. The primary portion of it probably revolves around money and not some much the law. There are specifics in place of course to aid in maintaining what can or can't be done on the net, but overall there are just to many laws in place and something should be done about it.

Evgueni Iagniatinski
Evgueni Iagniatinski

The statements in the article make me believe that these guys should better stay out of public matters

Allison Reynolds
Allison Reynolds

Might want to fix the typo in "with the desire for people to feel apart of a productive economy." as it is exactly what you are not trying to say ;)

Monique Perez
Monique Perez

Wow. I guess I have a better understanding of the google culture. Al Gore, please educate these boys about the real world.

Westin Joy
Westin Joy

The whole rent control comment cracks me up. Yes it's true that there isn't enough housing in SF to keep up with demand, and in affect rent prices have skyrocketed. But how does rent control actually hurt renters? Give me a break. I don't quite understand that portion of your comment Page.

Kyle Pearce
Kyle Pearce

Imagine our government was run by entrepreneurs rather than lawyers and politicans...

Rachel Aisner
Rachel Aisner

They've got it all figured out. Even Skynet!

Peter Kalu
Peter Kalu

Funny thing about HIPAA, even after expanding the the entire acronym, the writer still followed it through with "HIPPA". Oh how our brains work sometimes...

Brian Wisti
Brian Wisti

It's "HIPAA" not "HIPPA." I've been corrected on that one more than a few times myself ^_^

Scarlet LeMay
Scarlet LeMay

There are too many laws and regulations. People are not so needy of having their hands held and being watched over by the government. Bridges, libraries, railroads and our entire Country was built without taxes or too many laws. We have grown much more civilised and aware of human rights over the last 100 years to need so much regulation. People would not even work for a company that treated them badly in a free market these days. In an unregulated, less taxed business environment, there would be many more choices for employment across the board.

K N
K N

@Kyle Pearce  it's up to us to get them voted into office, let's tell our family members and friends about this idea. let's also encourage transparency in the government, we need to know where every cent is going, right now i can't seem to find that info easily online federal and state level.