The free & open internet is under attack in countries globally, tech giant CEO Sundar Pichai has warned. He states several countries are restricting the data flow, & the model is often taken for granted. Pichai also noted controversies around data, tax & privacy. He argues that AI is more profound than electricity, the internet, or fire. Sundar Pichai is the ultimate leader of firms or products as varied as DeepMind, FitBit & Waze. At Google, he oversees Google Chrome, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Photos, the Android OS & several other products. Over the past 23 years, the tech firm gas probably shaped the mostly free & open network we have today more than any other firm.
According to Pichai, over the next quarter of a century, 2 other developments will further revolutionize our world: quantum computing & AI. AI is at the base, the attempt to replicate human intelligence in machines. Numerous AI systems are already better at solving specific problems than humans. However, quantum Computing is a totally different approach. Ordinary computing is based on matter states that are binary bits: 0 or 1. But at the quantum, matter behaves differently. It can be 0 or 1 simultaneously or on a spectrum between the two, a mind-blowing approach that could change the world. Pichai & other leading technologists find quantum may not work for everything. There are things for which quantum computing will open up an entirely new range of solutions. Neither the browser, Chrome, nor Android, the mobile OS, were his idea.
For several years, Google has paid large sums to lawyers & accountants to legally minimize their tax obligations. Google is engaging with policy-makers on identifying ways to make tax more effective & simpler. The firm indeed generates most of its revenues & research in the US, which pays most of its tax. Moreover, it has paid an effective tax of 20 percent over the past decade, which is greater than several firms. The other significant issues where the firm constantly faces & growing scrutiny surrounding privacy, data, & whether or not the firm has an effective monopoly in Search are totally dominant.
Tech Evangelists Unites
The evangelists are united on a few points. First, Google is now a more cautious firm than before. Second, it has many Me-Too products rather than original ideas; where other people make great inventions & then it unleashes its engineers to enhance them. Third, many of Pichai's big deals have failed: Google Wave, Google Glass, Project Loon & Google Plus. Google could reasonably retort that there is experimentation & failure value.
Fourth, that Google's aim to solve the most major human problem is waning. With the most significant concentration of PhDs in Computer Science in San Francisco goes an argument, shouldn't Google solve cancer or reverse climate change? These days, Google is frequently in the news as staff walks out of pay or diversity; or because critical people have leftover controversial problems around identity.
With more than 100,000 staff, several of them hugely opinionated on internal message boards, & activist in nature, it is just impossible to control. There is a tension between Google embracing cognitive diversity by having people among its global staff & at the same time standing up for specific issues as a firm.
When asked whether the Chinese internet model is in the ascendant, Sundar Pichai stated that the open & free internet is being attacked. Notably, he didn't mention China directly but went on to say: "None of our major services & products are available in China." With regulators & legislators proving ineffective, slow, easy to lobby & Covid-19 taking up plenty of bandwidth, the democratic West is hugely leaving it to people like Pichai to choose where we should all be heading.
Image source: CNBC.com