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Google's Schmidt to Colbert: I don't understand the Internet

In a pleasant appearance on "The Colbert Report," the executive chairman offers a tinge of hope for humanity that Google will still have some role in the digital age.

A beacon of hope? Comedy Central Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

To hear someone from Google claim they don't understand something is like hearing a fundamentalist religious believer suddenly declare he has celestial doubts.

There was something, therefore, stunningly heartwarming about Eric Schmidt's appearance on Tuesday night's "Colbert Report."

In a previous appearance on the show, Google's executive chairman had tried to be funny. This time, he allowed Colbert to be the comedian -- which was a good decision.

Instead, Schmidt took the opportunity to thrust his new book "The New Digital Age" at the cool, ironic world and offer a little hope.

His first uplifting admission was that no one understands the Internet, not even Eric Schmidt.

This was surely a blow to all those who believe that Google's view of human agency is the equivalent of a farmer's view of the cow he's milking.

Colbert attempted to help. He explained that the Internet is merely "a series of tubes."

Schmidt, though, insisted that it was actually a collection of what people do and humans are not predictable.

Although Google would so love it if they were. (That sentence was commentary. Back to "The Colbert Report.")

Schmidt expects another 5 billion people to be on the Web in the next few years. That will cause so many more complicated interactions for Google to follow and pump ads towards.

At one point, Colbert was troubled by Schmidt's apparent evasiveness when it came to hard facts. He threatened to leave him sitting there and just Google the answers.

Still, it was left to Schmidt to offer a definitive explanation of the relationship between humanity and technology.

Computers and robots are good at infinite memory; humans are good at judgment.

You see, Google doesn't want to interfere in our essential humanity, in the things that we are good at.

That's why the company created self-driving cars -- the ones that trust their own judgment, rather than yours.