So it’s obviously a ways to go from where we are now, we don’t really have software that’s designed to use those things yet, but we know if we build that capacity we’ll be able to use those computers for all sorts of interesting things. And even basic things like the bandwidth of your visual system, it’s pretty high compared to the bandwidth most people have. And I think it’s pretty clear we want to deliver bits to your eyes. Just as a basic thing. So I’m really excited about what we’ll be able to do and what you’ll all be able to do as we get more people with super high-speed connections. And probably gigabits are just the beginning for that. What we really need are low-latency connections that operate at computer speed, whatever that is, that you have inside of your house. So I’m excited about that. We’re just getting started.
Yaniv Talmor from Vancouver: Question about Google’s physical endeavors like Google Fiber and the self-driving cars and renewable energy. What further projects are you planning there?
My compatriot Sergei Brin, last year arranged the skydiving, but this year did not. He’s focused, Google X is focused, on real atoms and not bits. Part of why is they feel there’s a lot of opportunity there. And Sergei’s having a great time doing that. That’s, I think, a really fascinating and amazing job.
I think that possibilities for some of those things are incredibly great. If you look at technology applied to transportation, it hasn’t really started yet. We haven’t really done that. Automated cars are just one thing you could do. You could do many other things. So I think we’re very excited about that area.
We also think it’s a way that the company can scale. I think that to the extent that all our products are interrelated, we actually need to do a fair amount of management of those projects to make sure you get a seamless experience, both as a user and a developer, that all makes sense. When we do some of these other kinds of things, like automated cars, they have a longer time-frame and less interaction, so I actually encourage maybe more companies to try to do things that are a little outside their comfort zone, because I think it gets them more scalability in what they can get done.
We’ve been surprised, also, even when we do things that are kind of crazy, like these automated cars, it turns out—you just saw the mapping stuff that we finished with—the technology for doing mapping and automated cars turns out to be the same. And so we have a bunch of great engineers that just moved over from those efforts, and they did it naturally, and scalably. And they’re excited about it. So I’m really, really excited about that too.
Every time we’ve done something crazy—Gmail when we launched it, I think we had 100 people when we launched Gmail. And people said you’re nuts, you’re a search company, why are you doing Gmail? ‘Cause we understood some things about data centers and serving and storage that we applied to email. And that was a great thing that we did that. And so I think almost every time we try to do something crazy we’ve made progress. Not all the times, but almost every time. So we’ve become a bit emboldened by that.
And the good news is, too, no matter how much money we try to spend on automated cars or Gmail in the early stages, they end up being small checks. So they don’t really cause a business issue, either. So I’m really excited about that. And I tried to talk about that in my remarks. That’s why I say we’re at one percent of what’s possible.
Greg with DSky9: What are the largest areas of opportunities for developing on Glass outside of what Google is going to do, and what will the production run be for consumers?
I have to ask Sergei that. I don’t know what the production numbers will be. We’re more focused on, with Glass, Glass is a new category, it’s quite different than existing computing devices, so I think it’s great that we’ve started on it, but I think our mail goal is to get happy users using Glass. And so we put a bunch out to developers, I see a lot of people with them in the audience. We want to make sure we’re building experiences that really make people happy. So the team has tried to build the minimal set of things, just for practical sake, a minimal set of things that will provide a great experience and make happy users. And then we can get going and work on it for the next 10 years. And every successive one is going to be better, obviously.
So I think part of the answer is, we don’t know. I think the basic use cases we have around photography are amazing. I love taking pictures of my kids with Glass, and movies, and so on. And I find that for me, that’s enough. I have young kids. For me, that’s enough reason to have Glass, just there. I think if you didn’t have young kids you might not feel exactly that way. Communications are also pretty amazing, navigation is amazing. Certainly if you’re walking, if you’re in Manhattan or something, having Glass for navigation is unbelievable. I find it’s really, really nice. Some of the core experiences we have are, I think, pretty amazing. Communications, phone calls, SMSes, voice, you saw the things we’re doing around voice—it’s amazing to always have a device there to do that.
So I think ultimately a lot of your experiences can move to Glass. And we’re relying on all of you to figure all of that out. We’re trying to get the base thing to make happy users so we can get on with things.
Kaoba Allen: What advice would you give to the rising generation of technologists? What would help technology keep moving at the pace it’s been moving at, and how would they do that responsibly?
I think for me, actually, I try to use Google a lot, and I research things really deeply. So you know, before we get something started, I try to actually understand it. And not just really understand it, but understand the crazy people in the area. And Google’s great for that. You can find the craziest person in any given area. And normally I think people don’t do that.
So you want to think about the base thing, whatever it is. Obviously working on smartphones a lot, they’re relatively expensive now. With Nexus 4, we tried to improve that a bit, but if you look at the raw cost of a smartphone, I guess it’s mostly glass and silicon. Tiny bit of silicon, a little bit of fiberglass. I don’t know, the raw materials cost of that is probably like a dollar or something like that. I think glass is 50 cents a pound or something like that. Metals are 20 cents a pound. Phones don’t weigh very much, right? And silicon is very, very cheap.
So I think when I see people in industries like who are making things, I ask this question: How far are you off the raw materials cost? And they never know the answer to that question. So I think, kind of as an engineer, as a technologist, trying to go to first principles and say, what is the real issue? What is the real issue around our power grids? Or what’s the real issue around manufacturing or whatever it is. I think people usually don’t answer those questions, and as a result, most of the work that’s done is very incremental. And because of that, we don’t make the progress we need to.
With that said, I mean it’s very hard, if you’re going to make a smart phone for a dollar. One dollar, that’s obviously almost impossible to do. But I think, you know, if you took a 50 year time frame or something like that, if you took a longer view, you’d probably start to make the investments you needed to. And along the way, you’d probably figure out how to make money. So I just kind of encourage non-incremental thinking and a real, deep understanding of whatever you’re doing. That’s what I try to do.
[Question about the future of Android. With Oracle in control of Java from 7 forward, how does Google advance Android when one of the core technical underpinnings is not in its control.]
Yeah, I mean, I think we’ve had a difficult relationship with Oracle. Including having to appear in court as a result of it. So I think, again I think we’d like to have a cooperative relationship with them, that hasn’t seemed possible. And I think, again, money is probably more important to them than having any kind of collaboration or things like that. So I think that’s been very difficult. I think we’ll get through that. And I think obviously Android’s very, very important to the Java ecosystem. And so we’ll get through that just fine. Just not in an ideal way.
Prashan, developer from India: Most of my opinion, I can trace back to a Google search. As search becomes more and more personalized, and predictive, I worry that it informs my world view and rules out the possibility of some other serendipitous discovery. Any comment on that?
People have a lot of concern about that—I’m totally not worried about that at all. It sounds kind of funny to say but that’s totally under your control. And our control is cool. So I think, I think it’s very important to have a kind of a wide world view, to have education, all those kind of things.
But the right solution to that is not randomness. You can’t really argue doing a bad job of returning whatever you wanted is the right way to educate you. It’s just not. It would be better to return exactly what you wanted, when you want it and use that saved time to have you read the news or read textbooks or books or other things that might be more general. So I think we can put that into the algorithms.
In my very long-term world view—you know, 50 years from now or something—hopefully, our software understands deeply what you’re knowledgeable about, what you’re not, and how to organize the world so that the world can solve important problems. You know, people are starving in the world not ’cause we don’t have enough food. It’s ’cause we’re not organized to solve that problem. And our computers aren’t helping us do that.
So I think, if you think about it that way, if you think about, we need to make computer software on the internets that helps people solve important problems in the world. That will cause, as a side effect, more people to be educated about the things they should get educated about. And that’s not the same as a demand. ‘I’m asking for a particular thing, I’m searching for…’ Those are different modes. Just kind of make sure we’re serving both modes and that computers can help you do that. So I’m… I cannot be more optimistic about that. I think computers and software and things that you all write, and we all write, are going to help us solve those problems for people rather than just doing it at random.
[Kevin Nielsen from New Jersey: I was intrigued about your comment about the positivity and the negativity and I’m very interested in helping other people be positive about technology—as you are—and I’m interested in what your advice would be to help us sort of reduce the negativity and focus on positive, and focus on changing the world.]
I think people naturally are concerned about change. And certainly not all change is good. I do think the pace of change in the world is increasing. Part of what I would think about is, I think that we haven’t adapted mechanisms to deal with some of our old institutions like the law and so on aren’t keeping up with the rate of change that we’ve caused through technology. You know, if you look different kinds of laws we make, and things like that, they’re very old. I mean, the laws when we went public were 50 years old. Law can’t be right if it’s 50 years old. Like, it’s before the Internet. That’s pretty major change in how you might go public. So, I think we need to—maybe some of you, maybe the million people watching you all love technology—maybe more of us need to go into other areas and help those areas improve and understand technology. I think that that’s not happened at the rate at it needs to happen.
The other thing in my mind is we also haven’t maybe built mechanisms to allow experimentation. There’s many, many exciting and important things you could do that you just can’t do ’cause they’re illegal or they’re not allowed by regulation. And that makes sense, we don’t want our world to change too fast. But maybe we should set aside some small part of the world, you know, like going to Burning Man, for example. Which I’m sure many of you have been to. Yeah, a few Burners out there. That’s an environment where people try out different things, but not everybody has to go. And I think that’s a great thing, too. I think as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out some new things and figure out: What is the effect on society? What’s the effect on people? Without having to deploy it into the normal world. And people who like those kinds of things can go there and experience that. And we don’t have mechanisms for that. So those are the kind of things I would think about.
I also think we need to be honest that we don’t always know the impact of changes. We should be humble about that. I’m not sure getting up on stage and saying, “Everything is amazing,” and so on, is the right thing. Maybe we should be more humble and see what the effect is, and the doubt, as we go. So those are kind of my thoughts.
Ben Schachter, McQuarrie: How can you improve health care?