Most of us are so focused on our daily grind that we hardly have time to take a break, step back, and look at the big picture. This is true in most areas of modern life, but in the tech world, where things change by the minute, it’s especially difficult to see beyond the noise. A new smartphone, a new leak, a crazy rumor… Statistics, marketing, tech-talk… they all compete for our attention, making things appear larger than they actually are.
So, from time to time, it’s refreshing to see someone step back and leave all the “My smartphone is better than yours” madness aside and just talk about where the world is heading. And this is precisely what Google Chairman Eric Schmidt did yesterday during his keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Schmidt thinks that technology will radically transform the very essence of our society, and even the building blocks that make it. Instead of social classes based on wealth, Google’s former CEO sees new social classes that are based on the level of assimilation of technology. From the hyper-connected minority at the top, to an “aspiring majority” without access to the Internet at the bottom, we will all be directly influenced in what we can do with our lives by our ability to use modern technology.
Schmidt sees a future where the fortunate that leave in modern cities will be able to enjoy telepresence, self-driving cars, holographic displays, and seamless, ubiquitous access to the cloud. Of course, Google’s chairman alluded to some of Google’s own projects. For example, it’s well known that Google is close to developing a self-driving car, which Schmidt said that it’s closer to reality than we think. Indeed, Google obtained authorization for testing the vehicle in several American locales, and its robocar has already driven thousands of miles across public roads.
Another of Google’s pet projects that Schmidt referred to in his speech is the gigabit-level Google Fiber network, currently in deployment in Kansas City, KS, which serves as a trial for the project that ultimately aims at delivering ultra-high speed network access across the U.S. We can only speculate about the other technologies that the bright minds at Google are working behind the doors of the new Google X labs in Mountain View. Some of them, like the Google Glasses or Android @ Home are likely to be revealed to us soon. For others, we might have to wait for years.
Regardless, it’s always interesting to see how a man that has intimate knowledge of Google’s plans sees the world and the future. Eric Schmidt discussed many other interesting things in his keynote, but we’ll let you learn more on your own. Here’s a partial recording of Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt keynote speech at MWC 2012.