Eric Schmidt's ambiguous new role at Google seems to be as its chief public ambassador. That's an odd position for someone who inserts his foot in his mouth with such regularity. Here are five of his greatest public bloopers.
Google will speak...and you will obey
One of Schmidt's most chilling comments about Google's capabilities was made in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Here's what he had to say about the future of search:
"We're trying to figure out what the future of search is. I mean that in a positive way. We're still happy to be in search, believe me. But one idea is that more and more searches are done on your behalf without you needing to type."I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next."
Google knows what you're thinking
At the Washington Ideas Forum, here's what Schmidt had to say about Google's previously unknown ability to read minds:
"We know where you are...with your permission. We know where you've been, with your permission. We can more or less guess what you're thinking about."
Let your conscience be your guide
Possibly Schmidt's most famous quote of all about privacy came in December 2009, when in a response to a question about privacy he told Maria Bartiromo in an interview on CNBC:
"If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."
We spied on your Wi-Fi? No harm, no foul.
Google took plenty of heat because its Street View vehicles gathered people's private communications on their home WiFi networks. One might expect Schmidt to publicly apologize for that. However, that's not even close to what happened. According to the BBC Schmidt,
said that there was "no, harm, no foul", after the firm admitted that it had been collecting snippets of web activity from people's wi-fi.
The BBC said that he then added:
"Who was harmed? Name the person."
Don't want Google to invade your privacy? Move to Mars.
In a CNN interview on the Parker Spitzer show, Schmidt made this comment about people who don't want their homes photographed by Street View:
"With Street View, we drive by exactly once, so you can just move."
Given Google's reach, it's not clear where you can move to avoid it --- maybe to Mars? Schmidt later said that he "misspoke" when he said that, although it's not exactly clear what he meant by that disclaimer.
If you're looking for more of Schmidt's greatest quotes, over at the Washington Post, Rob Pegoraro has done a great job of rounding up some of those public bloopers, most of which have to do with privacy issues. And Computerworld's Sharon Gaudin has rounded up five of his comments having to do with privacy.