Google Chairman Eric Schmidt Discusses the Globalization of Technology

As developing nations get greater access to the internet, individuals and businesses alike will experience new challenges and opportunities, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt told an audience at the Yale School of Management on April 24.

“We’re going to a world where most people are fully connected and fully informed,” said Schmidt, who spoke as part of the Leaders Forum lecture series.

Yale SOM broadcast Schmidt’s talk in a Livestream viewed by students at partner schools in the Global Network for Advanced Management. He answered questions from students in the room as well as those watching from Seoul National University; INCAE Business School, with campuses in Costa Rica and Nicaragua; and Renmin University of China School of Business, all members of the network.

Schmidt said that while the developed world is already highly connected—and will become more so as the cost of mobile devices continues to fall—the impact of increased access in developing and “closed” nations will be profound. “Imagine what it’s like to go from no information to an infinite amount of information,” he said.

For business, Big Data will play an increasingly important role. Every industry, Schmidt said, will employ computer-generated data analysis to determine what customers need and how to supply it.

While some observers focus on the dangers of cyberspace, Schmidt described a future in which the physical world and the parallel digital world would complement each other. For example, he said, when the Chinese government tried to quiet reports of a high-speed-rail crash in Wenzhou in 2011, the online community helped force greater transparency. "Each world keeps the other one in check," he said.

Snyder asked Schmidt to comment on the future of capitalism in the wake of the upheavals of recent years. "Are people going to have the same confidence that markets work?"

"I don't see an alternative," Schmidt said. "Capitalism is how economic wealth is grown, it's how new jobs are created, it's how new markets are created. "

Together, markets and technology are making corporations nimbler than governments, he said. "Google has such reach because we're a private firm. We can actually run at Google speed. Whereas governments, which are complicated compromises among lots of special interests, even in democracies, have all sorts of reasons why they move slowly, including the fear of failure. Capitalism means that you can take risks."