Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Google's Eric Schmidt Sounds Off

Sometimes Google's CEO Eric Schmidt seems to be getting ahead of himself. Don't get me wrong; since he's an alumnus of Princeton University, he must be a good person.

Eric Schmidt, CEO Google, Inc.

But on television he claimed that Google Inc wants to organize and own all knowledge and put it online. This to me, ranks with the outlandishness of President Bush calling other countries "evil empires." I agree there are evil people, but people are in the end just people, not machines, at least not yet.

Now, he says, supposedly seriously, according to a recent interview at the Wall Street Journal, that if people in the future have a problem with their online identities, then poof! They can just change their names. No problem.

"The Wall Street Journal's Holman Jenkins writes in his interview with Eric Schmidt that the CEO "predicts, apparently seriously, 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."

"I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time," Schmidt said."
This simply sounds preposterous, doesn't it? The idea that everyone, or anyone, really, should change given names to wipe clean any signs of previous online mistakes obviously has enormous legal and social consequences. Does he envision people identified by numbers (such as cell numbers) rather than names?

I don't know anything about his home life, but hasn't he ever thought of naming a child for life or about the value of intellectual and family genealogies? How will society work if people are forced to just change their names to erase online shame? Sure it's a new idea, but  it's not necessarily a good one. Please weigh in and leave a comment.

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