CEO of Google Eric Schmidt On Thursday, he predicted the end of the Internet as we know it.
At the end of a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where his comments were broadcast online, he was asked to predict the future of the web. “I will answer simply that the Internet is going to disappear,” Schmidt said.
“There will be a lot of IP addresses … a lot of devices, sensors, things that you wear, things that you interact with that you won’t even feel,” he explained. “It will be part of your being all the time. Imagine that you are entering a room, and the room is dynamic. With your permission and all that, you are interacting with the things that are happening in the room.”
Schmidt’s conclusion: “A very personal, very interactive and very interesting world arises.”
Also participating in the session, titled The Future of the Digital Economy, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and others.
Earlier in the discussion, Schmidt discussed the issue of market dominance. The European Union has been looking at Google’s dominance of the search market in a long-running antitrust case, as the European Parliament called late last year for it to be dismantled.
“Now you see a lot of powerful tech platforms coming, and you’re seeing future rearrangements and rearrangements of dominance or leaders or whatever term you want to use due to the emergence of apps on the smartphone,” Schmidt said Thursday. The Google chief argued, “All bets are off at this point on what the smartphone app infrastructure will look like” as a “whole new set of players” emerge to play smartphones, which are nothing but supercomputers. “I see that as a completely open market at this point.”
Asked about his recent trip to North Korea, Schmidt said the country has many internet connections through data phones, but no roaming and web use is “very supervised.” “It’s very large usage monitoring,” Schmidt said, which he said isn’t good for the country and others.
Sandberg and Schmidt praised the Internet as an important way to give more people in the world a voice. Currently, only 40 percent of people have access to the Internet, Facebook’s COO said, adding that any growth in access helps increase people’s voice and increase economic opportunity. “I am very optimistic,” she said of her outlook for the industry. “Imagine what we can do” once the world reaches 50 percent, 60 percent and more in terms of internet penetration.
She cited women as being among the beneficiaries, saying the Internet narrows divisions.
Similarly, Schmidt said broadband can address governance issues, information needs, personal issues, women’s empowerment needs, and education issues. “The Internet is the biggest enabler of citizens…in many years,” he said. “Suddenly the citizens had a voice, which could be heard.”
During another technical session at the World Economic Forum on Thursday, the CEO of Yahoo Marisa MayerCEO of Liberty Global Mike Fries Others answered questions about the need to regulate online privacy standards and the technology companies tracking the Snowden case, the Sony hack and the like.
Mayer said that a dedicated Internet “is a better Internet,” emphasizing: “We do not sell your personal data… We do not transfer your personal data to third parties.” Users own their data and need to be in control, she said, adding that people give up data to the government for tax assessment, social services and other purposes.
Fries said Liberty Global subscribers watch billions of hours of content and generate billions of clicks, but added, “Today we do nothing.” “We’re making zero revenue from all of this information,” he explained. But he acknowledged that big data was big business for a lot of people.
Both executives said transparency is important to making sure users know privacy standards and the like.
Gunther OettingerWe need a compelling global understanding, we need a United Nations agency for data protection and security,” he said at the session. When asked what form “understanding” should take, he said he is looking for “clear, realistic and market-based regulation”. “It’s a public-private partnership,” Oettinger explained.
Such a solution likely won’t happen in the near term, Fries said, given the size of the European Union. “I think it will take several years,” he said, adding that parliaments of some countries are likely to take a stab at it.
But he cautioned that a joint solution would make more sense. “We don’t want Germany to have its own internet,” Fries said. He warned that “some countries may build their own internet” and “balkanize” the web.
On the issue of regulation, Meyer said, “I like Tim’s idea better about the beneficiary market.” I talked about a colleague and a computer specialist Tim Berners-Leeknown as the inventor of the World Wide Web.
Asked how Yahoo stores and processes customer records, she said the online giant “changed the way we store and transmit data” after Snowden and also changed encryption between data centers. She added that the company protects users through encryption methods. Mayer said the trust and confidence of Yahoo users has since rebounded.
Mayer was also asked what happens if the government requests user data, a question of new importance after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, which led some to call for increased internet monitoring powers for governments. Mayer said Yahoo always evaluates whether this request is reasonable. “We have a very good record of facing the unreasonable,” she said.