Robots will never take over the world, says Googles Eric Schmidt

Author

Szu Ping Chan in Davos

January 23, 2015

Google boss rubbishes idea that technology only benefits the rich and will leave everyone else “rioting”

Advances in technology will create a tidal wave of new jobs and opportunities, according to the chairman of Google, who dismissed suggestions that innovation threatened a generation of workers.

Eric Schmidt said cheaper online access and the development of a stronger digital economy would help to “empower people” in the advanced and developing world.

He said that for every job created in the sector, there were seven more created in non-technology roles, and claimed that a digital single market in Europe would help to create 4m new jobs.

“The core question is an economic one. Can you afford to stay behind in a technological or business opportunity, or does it make sense to become more efficient? All the laws of economics tell you that a globalised solution that is more efficient ultimately produces better wealth for everyone,” he told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“What happens to the job that is lost? It’s the same thing that happened when people stopped farming and started using tractors. They find new skills and services. So while there is an enormous assumption that this time it’s different. That somehow no one is going to have a job in the world, and it’s just going to be the Davos elite who is going to have a good time and everyone else is going to be rioting is completely false.”

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, agreed that technology was both a “creator and destroyer of jobs”, but said the benefits outweighed the costs.

“Technology creates jobs in non-tech world. “[I met two women in India who] started a company that makes hair accessories and sells them through Facebook. They employ three other women who were previously unemployed. None of them is coding.”

In a separate panel discussion, tech bosses warned that governments and companies had to do more to address the growing public concern over the lack of privacy.

Vittorio Colao, the chief executive of Vodafone, said geopolitical tensions and rising extremism did not give snooping governments a “license to do everything”.

“There is no doubt, governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But that should not be a license to do everything because a balance has to be reached.”

Marissa Mayer, the boss of Yahoo!, agreed that requests for data had to be proportionate. “Users own their data, they need to have control,” she said.

Marc Benioff, the chief executive of cloud computing company Salesforce, added: “Trust is a serious problem for the internet. We all have to step up to another level of openness and transparancy if we are to address this problem. People need to know where their data is, who is using it and why, and where there is a problem, we need full disclosure, no secrets. That’s not where we are today.”

This article was written by Szu Ping Chan in Davos from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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