Eric Schmidt on computing's future, competition, and his new role

Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt outlined his vision of the future of computing, where he sees Google heading, and the possibilities Moore's Law can provide the public with. In an interview with The Telegraph, Schmidt, reminiscing on his days of using time-share computers, pointed to the shift from enterprise to personal computing that occurred over 10-15 years as an indicator of the direction industries are going in.

Schmidt's vision is largely based around the idea of converging social networking and searching with location-based technology. Computers will become "personal assistants," aided by information provided by its users, and will advise and inform users based on gathered data. "On mobiles we know where you are, down to the nearest foot," Schmidt said, "so, here in Davos, where I come every year, it knows where I am and where I was, and it can say, you forgot that you went to that meeting last year and you hated it because I could tell it or it could observe that I was only there for 15 minutes."

But Schmidt was keen to stress the importance of consent and permission. "If you want anonymity and you don’t want your friends to know what you’re doing, that’s fine with us," Schmidt said. Google has been known for questionable data usage, and most recently came under fire for collecting Wi-Fi data from Street View cars. Despite Google's apparent need for cautiousness over customer information, Schmidt does not want to see Google's future being determined by lawyers. "The lawyers, on balance, will be more conservative, because that is how lawyers work. So I always say to the product makers, just build the best product you can."

Schmidt downplayed any possible competition between Google and Facebook, and also explained that the recent shift in roles with Larry Page taking over from Schmidt as CEO was his decision. "People have never believed that the three of us could run the company as a triumvirate, but [this is] a very, very well-managed business. The three of us will be on all of the big decisions together," Schmidt said.

The full interview can be read here.

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