Eric Schmidt's University of Pennsylvania commencement address

Uploaded by Google on 18.05.2009

>> Graduates, families, alumni, and honored guests,
it is my great pleasure to introduce a leader who epitomizes inspiration, innovation, and
corporate responsibility, a man who knows there is as much to be gained
in the searching as in the finding: Eric Schmidt.
>>SCHMIDT: Thank you for that. Let me begin by congratulating all of the
graduates. It's exciting. It's exciting to be graduating,
and I especially want to congratulate the parents.
Remember that they still need you, and maybe, now they will listen to you.
If you're not sure who I'm talking to, I'm actually talking to both the parents and
the students. So, congratulations to everybody.
We owe a debt, in my industry, to Penn that is profound.
It was in 1946 that the ENIAC was invented right here
in a basement down the street, and literally, everything…
literally, everything that you see, every computer, every mobile phone,
every device, descends from the principles that were invented right here.
This really is the center of my world. Now, 63 years later, 250 of your alumni work
at Google. This is most desirable place for us to hire
interns anywhere in the world, and I can tell you that we know the quality
of the graduates that I see before me are the best in the world. It is exciting
to be a part of this. [clapping]
Now, when I think about…when I think about Penn,
I think about the metaphor of resilience, of a culture that works, of a hunger to change.
If you think about 20 years ago, when Penn was struggling,
and the changes that the people around me made to turn
it into the most desirable undergraduate major from a standpoint
of high school applications in the country. From the kind of culture that has been built
here, you see that the culture works,
and that the combination that you see represented on the stage,
that the parents are so proud to have sent their students to,
really has delivered the very best that we can do here in America.
Of course, we also have the best cheesesteaks in the world, which is not so bad.
When I look at this group, I see the Google and Facebook generation.
When I was first in this stadium, my track buddies and I got in a station wagon,
you remember them, and I drove up here to go to a track and field
event with the great Marty Liquori, and I think about this is almost 40 years
ago. So, we had Tang; you have Red Bull.
We programmed computers in a language called Basic; you, of course, use Java.
We had VCRs that had an hour of video and cost $700;
you use YouTube, and you upload things. 15 hours of YouTube video every minute.
We got our news from newspapers. You remember them?
You get yours from blogs and tweets, and for those of you who do not know what
a tweet is, it's not what you here in a zoo. Right?
We stood in line to buy Pong; you stood in line to buy the Wiis.
We didn't tell people about our most embarrassing moments in college;
you record them and post them on YouTube and Facebook every day,
and I am looking forward to watching these for the next 30 or 40 years.
We used mainframe computers with 300 megabytes of
storage to go to the moon 6 times; you use an iPod with 120 gigabytes –
that's about 500 times more – to get to your next class, which is not that
close, because it's an urban campus.
Now, we thought that friending was a noun; you think of it as a verb.
We had phone booths. Remember them? You have cell phones. We wore watches.
We too pictures with cameras. We navigated with maps.
We listened to transistor radios. Again, you have a cell phone. [laughter]
We thought that the marvels of computer and technology would help us improve the world.
You agree, and we're both right. So, despite all of these marvels,
this is a great time to be graduating. Now, you went to college to develop the kind
of analytical skills, the analytical thinking skills, to deal with
enormous amounts of complex information that you all face for
the rest of your life, but I would argue that you have, in many ways,
the best opportunity before you, because you are graduating into a tough time.
I used my favorite search engine, of course. What did the Great Depression spur?
Well, it spurred Rice Krispies, Twinkies, and the beer can.
You would never have gotten through college without these things. [laughter]
Right? So, it seems to me that, with all of the technology
and the connectedness that we see, you have an opportunity
that's even better, even stronger, than anything that I
ever faced when I was sitting in the same seats.
You're seeing a situation where, due to the enormous goodwill of people here
on the stage and others, we have an opportunity to have everyone in
the world have access to all the world's information.
This has never been possible. Why is this so important?
Why is ubiquitous information so profound? It's a tremendous equalizer.
Information is power. People have fought over it.
People care a lot about it. It serves as a check and balance on politicians.
If you were a dictator, which, of course, you're not going to be because you're a fine
graduate from Penn, the first thing you would do was shut off
all of the communications so that the people couldn't actually talk
to each other and figure out to make the world a better
place. Information is very, very important.
In fact, the way that you should invade these oppressive regimes is with information.
The citizens will take that information and turn their societies into better societies.
This is going to continue and continue and continue.
What are we going to do with this vastly more popular Web?
Well, we're building a contemporaneous and historical
record that is unparalleled in human history. There are all sorts of interesting possibilities.
You'll have megabits of bandwidths to, essentially, every human pair of hands in the world for
knowledge, for entertainment, for all of the things that
people care about. You could have a face-to-face meeting around
the world, and with automatic translation, you can talk
to them, even though they don't speak your language.
If you're traveling in Mongolia – Those of you who are graduating
and want to take a week off, go to Mongolia, and you fall off your motorcycle, you can
get medical care with a doctor who doesn't speak your language
because your medical records can be right there.
This is life-changing, life-saving, life-fundamental. Imagine a situation happening very soon where
all of the world's information will be translated into all the other languages,
so we can find out what everybody really thinks and we can develop a new insight into what
they care about, and they can with us.
In the next 10 years, it will be possible to have
the equivalent of iPods in your purse or on your belt
with 85 years of video, which means, if it's given to you at birth,
you're going to be frustrated the whole time. You'll never be done watching all of the videos.
That's how profound this technological revolution is.
You could ask Google the most important questions like,
"Where are my car keys, after all?" because, all of a sudden,
we'll know where everything is, and we can make that available.
Computers are good at some things, and they're particularly good at these sorts
of things. We can detect flu outbreaks, because we can
watch what people are doing quicker. We can do things that--Here's another example.
What I really want is, while I'm typing a paper,
I want the computer to tell me what I should have been writing instead.
Wouldn't that have been useful? Another product that we have suggested, but
has not been built yet, is the paper lengthening project.
It adds 10% to every paper, and it's recursive. It would have been very useful.
The point is that the computers really can help you,
even, now that you don't need it anymore, if you're in college.
So, if you think about mobile phones as a metaphor,
as an extension of you, with image-recognition, avatars,
and all of the technologies that are coming, you can see that the ability for us to make
our lives even more powerful is all right before
us. So what should you do right now, then?
Well, you should start by listening to George Bernard Shaw,
who said that all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
Graduation gives you the courage to be unreasonable. Don't bother to have a plan. Instead, let's
have some luck. Success is really about being ready for the
good opportunities to come before you. It's not to have a detailed plan of what everything
that you're going to do. You can't plan innovation or inspiration,
but you can be ready for it, and when you see it, you can jump on it, and
you can make a difference, as many of the people here today have already
done. The important point here is that,
if you forego your plan, you also then have to forego fear.
In many ways, for the last 4 years, and maybe in high school as well,
you have been penalized for making mistakes. From now on, the rewards will gravitate to
those who make mistakes and learn from them, as the President said.
So, stop right now. Take a minute, and think of something completely
new, and go work on that.
Take that as your challenge. Take that as your opportunity.
Whatever you care the most about. So, how should you do it? How should you behave?
Well, do it in a group. It's much more fun anyway.
None of us is as smart as all of us. Universities now are good at teaching you
how to work with other people. It's no longer the lone light sitting in the
lab. It's a team, and you can see Twitter as an
example, as a form, of social intelligence.
Use it. Find a network of people who care about you and so forth and so on.
I mean, you can imagine Watson and Crick, who discovered the structure of DNA, did it
at a university. So, you can imagine, today, there are 2 people
that probably meet on Facebook at a university, and they're going to say to each other,
"Well, what are you up to right now?" "Oh, I'm finding the secret of life. Then,
I'm off to a pub. LOL" [laughter]
It's okay. Do it together. Amidst all of this, some truths emerge.
Leadership and personality matter a lot. Intelligence, education, and analytical reasoning
matter. Trust matters. In a network world, trust is
the most important currency, which brings me to my final question.
What is, in fact, the meaning of life? In a world where everything is remembered
and everything is kept forever--the world you
are in-- you need to live for the future and the things
that you really, really care about. So, what are those things?
In order to know that, I hate to say it, you're going to have to turn off your computer.
You're actually going to have to turn off your phone
and discover all that is human around us. You'll find that people really are the same
all around the world. They really do care about the same things.
You'll find that curiosity and enthusiasm and passion are contagious.
I see it with the students. I see it with the faculty.
I see it with the Trustees and the President here. It's contagious.
Make it happen. Take it with you. You'll find that nothing beats holding the
hand of your grandchild, as he walks his first steps.
You'll find that a mind set in its ways is a life wasted. Don't do it.
You'll find that the resilience of the human being
and the human spirit is amazing. You'll find, today, that the best chance that
you will ever have is right now to start being unreasonable,
but when you do-- listen to me--be nice to your parents and
true to your school. Good luck, and thank you very much.
[clapping] Thank you.