Excerpt from voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward

Google's Eric Schmidt steps down, depriving Web of future quotes

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Rob Pegoraro
Friday, January 21, 2011

Eric Schmidt: Open mouth, insert foot

As Eric Schmidt steps down as Google's chief executive, his performance as a spokesman will be difficult to repeat. His attempts to answer concerns about Google becoming Big Brother-like have yielded several foot-in-mouth moments.

l In October, attendees at a forum organized by Atlantic Monthly heard him testify: "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about."

l In a CNN interview later that month, Schmidt joked that users offended by photos of their homes showing up in Google's Street View mapping feature could "just move." He quickly clarified that he "misspoke."

l At a conference in August, Schmidt told attendees that "if I look at enough of your messaging and your location, and use artificial intelligence, we can predict where you are going to go."

l That month, he also opined to the Wall Street Journal that "most people don't want Google to answer their questions. . . . They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next."

l In March, as reported by Fortune, he said: "One day we had a conversation where we figured we could just try to predict the stock market. And then we decided it was illegal. So we stopped doing that."

l In December 2009, he told CNBC's Maria Bartiromo: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

I've heard Schmidt speak at length more than once and didn't find him to be anything like the James Bond villain you could concoct from those quotes. But, as Schmidt has noted many times, the Internet never forgets.


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