Google's Schmidt to Colbert: I'm a joker

In an appearance on "The Colbert Report," Google CEO offers that he was only kidding about teens being able to take on new IDs to mask youthful online indiscretions.

Much of the alleged battle between Google, Apple, Facebook--and anyone else who's large and occupies the tech playground--is being waged in the public sphere.

Each of these companies realizes that making people feel warm about their boss is just as important as making them feel warm about your product. Indeed, it IS making them feel warm about your product.

Some choose to create warmth by donating large amounts of money to troubled schools. Others simply explain jokes.

Indeed, what a delight it was to see Google CEO Eric Schmidt make an appearance on "The Colbert Report." Should you be at one with your inner snark, you will remember that very recently Colbert offered a searing condemnation of Google's rather shaky notion of privacy.

Schmidt decided the best way to answer was to face-to-face rather than via Gmail.

Perhaps his most interesting comment arose when Colbert reminded him that he had suggested teens should be able to change their names in order to leave behind all their online indiscretions of the past.

Did Schmidt offer that he would only approve of such a scheme once humanity had been sufficiently subdued and robotized? Not at all.

"It was a joke," he said.

While some might find it thoroughly heartening that Google is expanding its notion of humor, surely an expansion of its notion of self-awareness is beyond most of our wildest and unrecorded imaginings.

But the fact is that, in reference to the joke, Schmidt added: "And it just wasn't very good."

A little humility goes a long way. A little humility from Google touches the parts of one's emotional stratosphere that even Susan Boyle has barely scraped.

True, some of Schmidt's other replies were a little more troubling. While emphasizing that Google does erase records of your searches after some time, he also offered a very portentous view of life today: "The serious goal is just remember when you post something that the computers remember forever."

For one who is hoping that Pfizer invents a drug that gives computers permanent amnesia, this idea of one's lesser actions existing in perpetuity on some server or cloud is most disturbing.

Still, please enjoy the whole clip. One hopes that this is just the first of many appearances in more human-focused media, one that will, one day, lead to a lunch (preferably somewhere in Napa) with Technically Incorrect. Just imagine the jokes we could tell then.

 

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