Google’s CEO on globalization, freedom, Internet dictators

Yesterday, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, FP's parent organization, launched its new vision for a global think tank centered in Washington, but with local offices in Moscow, Beijing, Beirut, and (soon) Brussels. The difference between a think tank that deals with international issues—those are a dime a dozen in this town—and a think tank ...

Yesterday, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, FP's parent organization, launched its new vision for a global think tank centered in Washington, but with local offices in Moscow, Beijing, Beirut, and (soon) Brussels. The difference between a think tank that deals with international issues—those are a dime a dozen in this town—and a think tank that is itself international may sound like a fine distinction at first. But being based locally and working in the language is key to understanding other countries as they see themselves. With a dangerous political situation and the world's view of United States foreign policy lower than ever, it's vital that high-quality dialogue flow between places like Beijing and Washington. Carnegie's new global vision will help that tremendously.

But there are broader changes afoot that cross other boundaries. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, spoke about how technology is transforming the world (and simultaneously being transformed by it) in yesterday's riveting keynote address at Carnegie's launch event for the new vision.

One particularly intriguing question Schmidt asked was, What happens when the next billion Internet users go online? What are the implications for freedom of speech?

Yesterday, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, FP's parent organization, launched its new vision for a global think tank centered in Washington, but with local offices in Moscow, Beijing, Beirut, and (soon) Brussels. The difference between a think tank that deals with international issues—those are a dime a dozen in this town—and a think tank that is itself international may sound like a fine distinction at first. But being based locally and working in the language is key to understanding other countries as they see themselves. With a dangerous political situation and the world's view of United States foreign policy lower than ever, it's vital that high-quality dialogue flow between places like Beijing and Washington. Carnegie's new global vision will help that tremendously.

But there are broader changes afoot that cross other boundaries. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, spoke about how technology is transforming the world (and simultaneously being transformed by it) in yesterday's riveting keynote address at Carnegie's launch event for the new vision.

One particularly intriguing question Schmidt asked was, What happens when the next billion Internet users go online? What are the implications for freedom of speech?

One billion is a lot of people. How will they communicate with each other?

Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland popped up to ask an interesting question: Are intellectual property rights a thing of the past in the Internet age? Schmidt responded by explaining how "intellectual property rights are fundamental to how we operate." Google Books, for instance, is raising all kinds of new and interesting questions about intellectual property.  

To another questioner worried about how dictatorships or other forces could seize control of the Web, Schmidt was reassuring. Kind of: 

I'm not as worried about it as you might be, because I understand how difficult it is to go in and impose your bias on a single node in the Internet …. You have to be able to shut down the borders …. Anyone who can do that on the Internet is quite dangerous …. The good news about the Internet is it's structured to make that extremely difficult …. Unless you're able to get control of all of the interconnection points, which is essentially impossible in most, at least, democratic countries, it's very very difficult to see how the kind of manipulation you're describing would occur."

Check out his response for yourself: 

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