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Updated: August 19, 2010 00:47 IST

Google CEO on online privacy: Change your name

DPA
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Google CEO Eric Schmidt
AP Google CEO Eric Schmidt

The chief executive of Google has a novel suggestion for those wishing to preserve their online privacy: Change your name.

Eric Schmidt, the CEO of the company made the comments in a Wall Street Journal article about the implications of having so much data online.

“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” he told the paper.

He predicted that “every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites,” the report said.

“We really have to think about these things as a society,” he added. “I’m not even talking about the really terrible stuff, terrorism and access to evil things.”

The comments came as Google’s Android operating system for mobile phones is set to overtake Apple’s iPhone, and as the company is snapping up social networking start-ups as it attempts to beef up its competition with Facebook.

Combining its wealth of data with the ability to know where you are creates a whole new level of location-based services. “We know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are,” Schmidt said.

“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.” The implication: “If you need milk and there’s a place nearby to get milk, Google will remind you to get milk. It will tell you a store ahead has a collection of horse racing posters, that a 19th-century murder you’ve been reading about took place on the next block,” the report said.

From here to reading your mind, is but a short step or two, Schmidt said. “As you go from the search box (to the next phase of Google), you really want to go from syntax to semantics, from what you typed to what you meant,” Schmidt said. “And that’s basically the role of (Artificial Intelligence). I think we will be the world leader in that for a long time.”


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