Schmidt shares his vision of the future at MWC

Former Google CEO and now Chairman Eric Schmidt delivered the evening keynote at the Mobile World Congress 2012 and took the opportunity to deliver some interesting predictions. Even though Apple managed to steal most of the press' attention with their keynote invitations, Schmidt delivered an interesting talk, even for non-Google fans, as shown by Electronista's live blog.

He decided to take an interesting route with the keynote, mostly steering clear of Google services and products and focusing instead on his idea of the future.

“While we overestimate short term change, we massively underestimate the long term technological change,” Schmidt said, before embarking on series of predictions ranging from 'tiny robots' that would allow you to attend a rock concert and a business meeting at one time to driverless cars. For the wealthy, Schmidt said that technology will only be limited by “what we deem ethical.” In other words, completely limitless.

Schmidt seemed particularly fascinated by 3D holographic displays, the technology he said would allow people to be two places at one time, to see a total eclipse on another continent, or to experience foreign revolutions.

Schmidt seemed proud of the increased political participation and awareness brought about by technology, saying that:

There are those who create and those who buy. Those who buy will purchase the creations of others. But they’ll be educated consumers, supporting the creations of the 10 percent. They’ll defend the commons of the web from attacks... In this new world there will be far fewer places for dictators to hide... I'm very proud of my tribe. Let us resolve as developers and entrepreneurs to build a world where everyone has the opportunity to be connected.

He's definitely not alone there. The really interesting stuff came after the keynote, though, when audience members got a chance to pose their own questions to Schmidt.

One audience member asked Schmidt when Android would appear on feature, or 'dumb,' phones. “Question is, 'why don't you get a smartphone?' Moore's Law. This year's $400 phone will cost $100 next year. Companies here are working on phones that cost $100 to $150, eventually $70. When you get to that point, usage explodes. Resold phones cost $20-30, so it's very achievable.”

Another person noted that there 'hadn't been much advertising' in Schmidt's hypothetical future. “I wasn't trying to do a Google advertisement,” Schmidt grinned, "but since you've given me the opportunity to do so..."

Google search gets even more accurate. With your permission, we can give you better answers... That core mission isn't changing. Advertising is still 97-98% of Google. The most exciting part is in the mobile ad space. It can do an even more targeted ad. IF you can do it for the person who's a likely buyer, that's important. Lots of that coming.

That's sure to give privacy watchdogs a warm and fuzzy feeling deep inside. Schmidt brushed aside concerns raised by one such person, who asked how he felt about worries that one company was controlling too much information. “What's the name of that company?” Schmidt asked.

Not all of the questions, however, involved Google. Schmidt lit up when asked how he felt about more governmental control of the internet. “The nightmare would be many organizations regulating it in different ways. It flattens things out. Do not give up that easily! I cannot understate that. Moves that seem logical at first could endanger that freedom later.”

Regardless of what you think about Schmidt, he has some ideas about the future that are, at the very least, entertaining. Chances are a lot of them won't come to pass, at least not in any way that we can imagine now, but Schmidt's message is, for the most part, highly optimistic, something to be striven for. Head over to Electronista to read the whole live blog.

Image courtesy of Electronista

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