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Monday, November 19, 2007

Barack Obama’s Speech at Google

Last Wednesday, on November 14th, Barack Obama – potential US presidential candidate for 2008 – visited the Google headquarter. He held a speech and was later interviewed by Google CEO Eric Schmidt. In his speech Obama said as president he would want to help the “Google’s” of today to start-up their dreams and innovate in science and technology, just like Larry Page and Sergey Brin were able to do around a decade ago. Pushing for net neutrality, as well as more broadband internet access, were some of the important aspects Obama sees. When Obama mentioned an “open internet,” the Google employee crowd listening to him spontaneously erupted into applause.

Also, Obama says he wants to “put government data online in universally accessible formats.” (Google’s self-proclaimed mission, too, is to make information universally accessible, and this earned Obama another round of applause.) Obama even wants to set up a Chief Technology Office for the government to ensure that new technologies are applied properly.

Another item in Obama’s speech was pushing for online health care records as part of a “bottoms-up” approach of all US citizens empowered by technology. “Just imagine what we can do... if we commit ourselves to electronic medical records, then we can lift up the quality of health care, reduce error and dramatically lower costs.” (Google is pushing for something similar with their Google Health program announced for 2008.) Obama added, “If we take on special interests, and make aggressive investments in clean and renewable energy, like Google’s done with solar here in Mountain View, then we can end our addiction to oil, create millions of jobs and save the planet in the bargain.”

Later in the Q&A with Eric Schmidt, the following quip took place:

Eric: Now Senator, you’re here at Google, and I like to think of the presidency as a job interview. Now, it’s hard to get a job as president ... it’s also hard to get a job at Google. We have questions and we ask our candidates questions ... What is the most efficient way to sort a million 32-bit integers? [crowd laughs]

Obama: Well, ah ... I think the bubble sort would be the wrong way to go. [crowd cheers]

Eric: Come on, who told him this?! I didn’t see computer science in your ...

Obama: We got our spies in there... [laughs]

The full video of the talk and Q&A is available at YouTube.

[Via Google public policy blog.]


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