Google I/O 2013 keynote

Google I/O Transcript: Google's Larry Page on negativity, laws, and competitors

Larry Page

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Google I/O 2013 keynote

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[Google CEO Larry Page appeared at the end of Wednesday's Google I/O 2013 keynote, making a long statement and then answering audience questions. Here's our complete transcript, compiled by the nimble fingers of Jason Snell and Amber Bouman. Check back later for deep-dive analysis of what Page said.]

I’m really excited to be here. First I want to start with a story. I was very, very lucky growing up, and I was thinking about this as we were preparing for Google I/O. My dad was really interested in technology. And I was just remembering, he actually drove me and my family all the way across the country to go to a robotics conference, and then we got there, and he thought it was so important that his young son go to the conference—one of the few times I’ve seen him really argue with someone, to get someone in who was underage—successfully, into the conference, and that was me.

And one of the themes I just wanted to talk to you about is how important it is for developers here in the room and watching to really focus on technology and get more people involved in it. And also thinking about my dad. His degree, he was lucky enough to get a degree in communication sciences. And you might ask, what the heck is communication sciences? Thats what they called computer science when computers were a passing fad. Sounds kind of funny now, right? I bet that there was a time when that was true.

And I think everyone today is excited about technology. You know, we don’t have to worry about that so much anymore. And I think Android and things like that are being adopted much faster than anything else in the past. I look at the rate of adoption of those things, on any basis, are much, much faster. And it’s incredible. I pull out my smartphone, it’s amazing what we have in the smartphones. We have almost every sensor we’ve ever come up with. You know, I recently got a scale, and it measures air quality, and it uploads it to the Internet. I’m sure those things will end up in your smartphone, right? That’s amazing. And your phone can talk to anyone in the world, almost anywhere in the world.

I was talking to my teams about this. You take out your phone, and you hold it out, it’s almost as big as the TV or a screen you’re looking at. It has the same resolution as well. And so if you’re nearsighted, a smartphone and a big display are kind of the same thing now. Which is amazing. Absolutely amazing.

So I think we also have a lot more devices that we use interchangeably. We use tablets, phones, laptops, and even the Google Glass. All those things we’re using. And that’s why we put so much focus on our platforms on Android and Chrome. It’s really important in helping developers and Google build great user experiences across these devices. To have these platforms. And I’m tremendously excited about all the innovation that you’re bringing to life.

Technology should do the hard work so that people can get on with the things that make them the happiest in life. Take search, for example. Perfect search engine, as Amit mentioned, is the “Star Trek” computer, right? Can understand exactly what you meant, can give you exactly what you wanted. And our Knowledge Graph, which you saw, really brings this a lot closer.

I think Google Now, which Johanna just demonstrated, gives you information without even having to ask. And it understands the context of what you talked about before, so you can use things like pronouns, it’s amazing. Flight times, your boarding passes, directions, next appointment, all with no effort. Think about a really smart assistant doing all those things for you so you don’t have to think about it. You saw how easy some of those experiences felt. And we’re just getting started.

Negativity and progress

The opportunities we have are tremendous. We haven’t seen this rate of change in computing for a long time. Probably not since the birth of the personal computer. But when I think about it, I think we’re all here because we share a deep sense of optimism about the potential of technology to improve people’s lives, and the world, as part of that.

And I’m amazed every day I come to work, the list of things that needs to be done is longer than the day before. And the opportunity of those things is bigger than it was before. And because of that we, as Google, and as an industry—all of you—really only have one percent of what is possible. Probably even less than that.

And despite the faster change we have in the industry, we’re still moving slow relative to the opportunities that we have. And some of that, I think, has to do with the negativity. You know, every story I read about Google, it’s kind of us versus some other company, or some stupid thing. And I just don’t find that very interesting. We should be building great things that don’t exist. Right? Being negative is not how we make progress. And most important things are not zero sum. There’s a lot of opportunity out there. And we can use technology to make really new and really important things to make people’s lives better.

I think back to a very long time ago. All of humanity was basically farming or hunting all the time. And if you lived at that time, you probably hoped that you could feed your family. And unfortunately that’s still true for a lot of people in the world. But certainly for us, we don’t worry about that. And the reason for that is technology. We’ve improved how we grow food and so on, and the technology has allowed people to focus on other things if they choose. By the way, I think being a farmer is great if that’s what you want to do. But it’s not great if that’s what you have to do. And that’s what technology lets us do, is free up ourselves to do more different things.

And I’m sure that people in the future will think we’re just as crazy as we think everyone in the past was in having to do things like farming or hunting all the time. So to give an example of this, Sergei and I talk about cars. He’s working on automated cars now. And imagine how self-driving cars will change our lives, and the landscape. More green space, fewer parking lots, greater mobility, fewer accidents, more freedom, fewer hours wasted behind the wheel of a car. And the average American probably spends almost 50 minutes commuting. Imagine if you got most of that time back to use for other things. And unfortunately in other countries the commute times are still pretty large. Not as large as the U.S. but still pretty significant.

Now to get there, we need more people like you, more kids falling in love with science and math at school, more students graduating from school with science and engineering degrees, and more people working on important technological problems. And it’s why Google got involved with the movie “The Internship.” I’m not sure we entirely had a choice, but they were making a movie and we decided it would be good to get involved. Laurie is up front, she’s really responsible for that. And I think the reason why we got involved in that is that computer science has a marketing problem. We’re the nerdy curmudgeons. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I am. Well, in this movie the guy who plays the head of search is by far the coolest character in the movie. And we’re really excited about that.

So today we’re still just scratching the surface of what’s possible. That’s why I’m so excited Google’s really working on the platforms, in support of all of your innovations. I can not wait to see what comes next. I got goosebumps as I was watching some of the presentations here. And I really want to thank you for all of your contributions. So with that I’m going to do something kind of unconventional and try to take some questions, actually, from all of you….

There’s over one million people watching this live over YouTube. It’s unbelievable. So let’s thank them for participating.


Robert Scoble: Where are we going with sensors in devices?

This is a big area of focus, I think you saw that in the presentations. I think really being able to get computers out of the way and really focus on what people really need. Mobile’s been a great learning experience for us and for all of you. You know, the smaller screens, you can’t have all this clutter. I think you saw on the new Google Maps how we got all sorts of stuff out of the way. You know there’s like 100 times less things on the screen than there was before.

And I think that’s gonna happen with all of your devices, they’re going to understand the context. You know, just before I came on stage I had to turn off all of my phones. So I’m not interrupting all of you. That’s crazy. That’s not a very hard thing to figure out. So all that context that’s in your life, all these different sensors are going to help pick that up and just make your life better, and I think we’re, again, only at the very, very early stages of that. It’s very, very exciting.

Daniel Buckner, Mozilla: Question about future of web development.

Sorry, you’re asking about the future of the Web? We’ve been very excited about the web, obviously, being birthed from it as a company. And I think that we’ve really invested a lot into the open standards behind all that. And I’ve personally been quite saddened at the industry’s behavior around all these things. You just take something as simple as instant messaging. We’ve kind of had an offer forever that we’ll interoperate on instant messaging. I think just this week Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us, but not doing the reverse. Which is really sad, right? And that’s not the way to make progress. You need to actually have interoperation, not just people milking off one company for their own benefit

So I think Google’s always stood for that. I’ve been sad that the industry hasn’t been able to advance those things. I think generally, because of a focus on negativity and on zero-sum games. So I hope we try to be on the right side of all of those things, but we also try to be practical and look at what other people are doing, and not just rely on our principles to shoot ourselves in the foot, and our users in the process.

So I don’t know how to deal with all those things. And I’m sad that the Web’s probably not advancing as fast as it should be. We certainly struggle with people like Microsoft. We’ve had a great relationship with Mozilla, I think, and value that deeply. I’d like to see more open standards, more people getting behind things, that just work, and more companies involved in those ecosystems. I think that’s why this conference is so important. But I wouldn’t grade the industry well in terms of where we’ve gotten to.

In the very long term, I don’t think you should have to think about, as a developer, am I developing for this platform or another, or something like that. I think you should be able to work at a much higher level. And software you write should run everywhere, easily. And people like Mozilla should be able to add meaningfully to that, and make platforms and other things. So that’s how I think about it.

It’s a very, very complex and important question, though.

Woman from Colombia: Question about Google’s policies toward free speech.

This is part of the area where business gets interesting. I think we at Google pretty clearly have a strong desire for freedom of speech, for a free flow of information, and one of the main things we do is probably translate that into practice in hundreds of countries around the world, and make sure we’re talking to government leaders, and making sure we’re all helping advance that. And our chairman, Eric Schmidt, has been kind of traveling the world talking about that, and I really applaud those efforts in thinking about that.

So we’re working very hard on that, making sure we’re protecting your private information, making sure that we’re ensuring computer security, which is required, to make sure we’re protecting your freedom of speech and your private information as a part of that. And making sure we’re as transparent as we can about the requests we get from government and things like that.

So it’s a big area of focus for us. And hopefully we can do a lot to help the world and move it along there.

Ryan from Provo, Utah. Question about Google Fiber.

I mean, from an engineering point of view it’s just kind of a no-brainer. We got started building data centers, and one of the biggest problems we had is networking in the data centers. And so I guess as a computer scientist I just view it as kind of sad we have all these computers out there, and they’re connected through a tiny, tiny, tiny little pipe that’s super slow. And so in a sense, most of the computers we have in the world are in people’s houses, most of them can’t be used for anything useful.

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