Google at the Global Philanthropy Forum

JANE WALES: So what we’re going
to do is talk a little bit about the values that guide
Google, that guide .org, as well as interviews of how to
conceptualize these issues and how to apply information
technology and other means to addressing them. And I’m just hoping that this
mike is now working. It is. Thank you Sergey. Sergey, I’m going to open with
you and just ask you about the genesis of do no evil. Is that the way to say it? It’s do no evil? SERGEY BRIN: Do no evil,
see no evil. A lot of people misinterpret
that. They miss the implicit second
person subject. Because of course, it’s not
we’re not evil, it’s you don’t be evil. We’re speaking to the
rest of the world. JANE WALES: And how
are we doing? SERGEY BRIN: Well, so to enforce
this concept, we now have- Larry, tell them
about the laser. I’m joking. I know you were all worried. Don’t be evil was originally
written down, I believe by our employee, Amit Patel. And it was at the time
when we first hired business people at Google. After about a dozen employees
or so, and he was concerned. He was one of our
early engineers. But it serves now as a reminder to all of our employees. That’s actually the “you” or the
subject of the sentences. And to consider the consequences
of their actions. But after a little while we
realized it was wrong. It was a mistake. And it should really say not
don’t be evil, but be good. Because we can be very careful
about the small consequences of everything we do in
trying to make sure that they’re not evil. But ultimately, we’re in a
position where we do have a lot of resources, a lot of
unique opportunities, and wouldn’t be stepping even beyond
that to say, well, not only should you not be evil,
but you should really take advantage of the opportunity
you have to do good. And that’s basically the genesis
of and that’s what we’re trying to
learn from all of you how we can best achieve that goal. LARRY PAGE: However, if it was
be good, she wouldn’t be asking you about it. JANE WALES: Well, if your core
mission, Larry Page, is to provide usable information and
you’re translating that information into the languages
of the developing world, what is the potential economic
development impact? What is the impact in
potentially combating poverty, simply in that core mission? LARRY PAGE: Well, I think one
of the things we’ve been really excited about is
automatic transmission technology. And we have a team now that’s
doing translation of the best, for example, Arabic to English
translation in the world that’s done by machine,
not by people. And you can use that now. And we think that those kind
of things can have a really big impact. Because for people who only
speak Arabic or something like that, their view of the world is
quite different maybe than our world, our view
of the world. And having that translation
can really help with that. And being able to search other
information and then get access to a wide variety
of things. And I think that’s true for very
many of the places that are developing. I mean, they have very small
amounts of information, very small amounts of books,
and so on. And for them to get access sort
of all the information in the world, even if somewhat
imperfectly translated, is still a huge, huge boon. I think we can really
start to do that. JANE WALES: The 2003 I think
it was, was when the Arab development report was released
and one of the findings were that
Arabic-speaking world was truly isolated because of the
lack of translations of scientific texts, of
great classics, of a variety of works. Larry Brilliant, how important
is this to reversing that trend? DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: Well first
of all, I’m sorry that we have two Larrys here because
I know it makes it harder for you. JANE WALES: But it was kind of
your parents to offer you two different last names. Just for tonight. LARRY PAGE: Also, at least
one of them is smart. DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: There’s
nothing I could possibly say that wouldn’t get
me into trouble. Well, I really don’t know the
answer to that question. I know that in the past few
weeks we’ve been fortunate to meet with a lot of the
politicians from Rwanda, Tanzania, the presidents of
both those countries. Larry and I were just talking
that it is remarkable that when you speak to them, the
first thing they say is they want jobs. It isn’t that they want
more information. It’s not that they
want handouts. It’s not that they want
more foreign aid. They don’t want model
Millennium villages. They don’t want demonstration
projects. They don’t want foundation
money. They want jobs. And that is a clear-cut message,
I think, for all of us as we look through
the world around us. And you just look at the
trajectory of growth and the trajectory of change. And you can use words like
democratization, but really what makes a country better is
a more fair distribution of resources, a chance for
people to get out of the cycle of poverty. And that translates into jobs. LARRY PAGE: Can I add something
too, actually? I was really amazed. I had this simple
goal for Google. We have about 10,000 employees
now, or more than that. I said, well, it seems
like we should have one in every country. 10,000 people’s a lot of people
and Google’s available in over 100 languages, and
we’re used in every country in the world. Maybe a few exceptions
where they don’t have internet at all. But I think that’s a pretty
simple goal and I set out to do it. And you know, sort of six months
later our lawyers come back and they say, well, we
can’t actually do that because of the Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act. You’re going to have huge risk
to the company even if you have one employee
there and so on. And I think after a year or so,
people worked really hard on it and we’ve actually
got people maybe in 20 or 30 weird countries. And those countries are
expanding and they’ve been tremendously useful. I mean, you can imagine a
company with our footprint in places like Egypt or something
like that, which might not be on the list of high tech
companies where they would have offices. There’s a lot of people that use
Google in Egypt and they want to talk to the– the press
wants to talk to us and things need to happen. And it was really a wake-up call
for me about how hard it is for multinationals, which
have been very successful, in doing a lot of business in the
world to really do business in some places where you wouldn’t
normally go. Ghana, the Republic of Georgia,
or places where we talked to the government
there. And those places just simply
don’t have any jobs at all. And they would have a lot more
jobs if it were easier for companies to go in. And there’s no lack of
smart people in a lot of these places. So that was I just think an
interesting sort of structural issue I wasn’t really
aware of. JANE WALES: So in the
end, policy matters and governance matters. LARRY PAGE: And I’m not saying
it’s bad that we’re trying to reduce corruption. That’s obviously a huge issue. But I think that that’s had
unintended consequences. And a lot of businesspeople
aren’t willing to take the risks that are necessary
to operate in some of these places. And I think that’s a loss
for those places. JANE WALES: We were actually
talking at the dinner table about the way businesses have
in fact, contributed to transparency and coping with
the corruption problem, in part because the extractive
industries got together– Shell, BP, and others– and led
an effort that involved posting publicly any transfer
of funds to any government official so that bribery
couldn’t happen, or if it did it was known to the public. And so there’s a very positive
role that can be played if you’re already there. And your problem is just
in getting there. Larry Brilliant, if you’re
talking about generating jobs, a big part of this three days is
going to be focused on the whole question of building
what’s called the SME sector, the Small and Medium
Enterprise Sector. Everything from mom and pop
stores to factories to larger businesses. How important is that
as a strategy? And is this the kind of
investment strategy that makes sense for philanthropically
absolutely huge. We’re doing a number
of things. Some are small pilot projects,
others are kind of learning initiatives, and some are big
dreams as you might imagine. Let me just ask the question,
how many people here are working in Africa
or India at all? If you’d raise your hands. Of those, how many are working
in or are interested in working in job creation? It’s almost– I don’t know if it’s 80%. But it’s a high percentage. And it’s almost a synonym of
economic development and economic job creation. I must say, we worked with
TechnoServe and I think Bruce is here someplace. Are you here, Bruce? Bruce is there in the back
with TechoServe in Ghana. And with Rachel Payne, is
Rachel’s here, who did just a wonderful job. They created a business planning
contest. And I was skeptical at first. I mean,
there are so many business planning contests at Stanford
and we’re all asked to come and judge them. You know, they become really a
kind of an academic exercise and nobody is going to take that
plan and do anything with it other than maybe use it
to get their next job. But in Ghana, it wasn’t
like that at all. What Bruce and his team did was
they spent almost a year planning for it. They went to every
corner of Ghana. They dealt with every religious
community, every language community, every
geographic area. Especially with women. At the end, I think it was
700 plans, business plans, that they got. Out of which they found 10
winners, 3 different categories. The top 3 category women winners
will be at no surprise to anybody here,
were all women. [APPLAUSE] DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: And each
of these entrepreneurs received a $25,000 prize. On top of that, they received
maybe $100,000 worth of mentoring and goods
and services. The top winner is coming
to Tanzania [INAUDIBLE] the TEDGlobal award. This was an amazing event. And why I say it was a
transformative event because how can 10 $25,000 grants be
transformative for a country? It can’t be. But one of the investment
bankers in Ghana who had trained with Morgan Stanley in
New York, came back to Ghana. He saw this emerging talent
that was invisible to him before and he started a bank. And he has put $2 million now
into venture only to be used for the people who participated
or won that business planning contest. Now I may have my facts wrong
on that, but there’s no– I don’t have my facts
wrong on that. Thank you very much. So the net result was a weird
idea of a business planning contest that was due executed
properly, evoked a feeling of hope in an entire country,
and now there’s capital-chasing deals. Which is what you want. Capital-chasing deals is better
for a country than deals chasing capital. And so it’s a really
great success. So that’s one SME answer. I know Alan Patricof is here
with a really great idea on SME funding. And there’s a lot of
people here who are thinking about it. Tim Worth is here. There’s a great number of ideas
in this space right now. I really encourage people who
are interested to find each other, talk about it,
and compare notes. Because it’s one of the most
important things we can do together as a community. LARRY PAGE: Actually, can
I ask a question? How many people here have
been to Africa? [INAUDIBLE]. DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: That
wouldn’t happen in a typical meeting in America,
by the way. That wouldn’t happen
in congress. [APPLAUSE] JANE WALES: Let me say in part
why I think Larry Page asked that question. Because since you’ve been here,
you’ve been using your vacation time. I love the concept that you have
to– do you have to apply to Sergey for vacation
time, and Sergey then applies to you? But in any case, you use your
time off to go to the developing world, isn’t
that right? LARRY PAGE: Well, my
long vacations. It takes a while to get there. Yeah, no, that’s true. And I was asking because I’ve
been pretty amazed. I just want to Ghana recently,
for example, and I saw one of the business plan winners. But I was pretty surprised at
the level of development in some of these places. And for me, I asked people even
before I go, some of our people who have been there, and
I just can’t get any idea of one of these places
until I go. I mean, I didn’t expect
Ghana to have a really nice yellow pages. I actually brought it back
and I showed it to our businesspeople. They have this yellow pages
just like ours. You know, it’s not such
a weird place. JANE WALES: And are you going
to be encouraging Googlers because I know that you’re
encouraging Googlers to volunteer their time. Are you going to be encouraging
them to be traveling overseas as well and
to have that kind of firsthand experience? DR. LARRY BRILLIANT:
I’ll take that. We’re actually creating– and here you’ve heard
the name– Google Corps. Actually, we had the
name before we heard it on stage today. And we’ve been working
on a two-part plan. You know, Jane, very well on one
part of it, which is an 18 month course, sort of a graduate
school level course on economic development, global health, and climate change. And then, for graduates of that
course, the idea that they could go and– [APPLAUSE] LARRY PAGE: They haven’t
graduated yet. DR. LARRY BRILLIANT:
Is that good? And is Marty Krasney? Marty, raise your hand. Are you here? Marty Krasney’s been
working on that. There he is back there. JANE WALES: And he didn’t
even lead the applause I don’t think. DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: I
think he started it. He’s really sneaky. But the idea is that people
come to Google– LARRY PAGE: When were you going
to tell us about this? DR. LARRY BRILLIANT:
Applications are open. So the idea would be that people
who get trained in economic development will make
better volunteers, whether you’re going to work with
[UNINTELLIGIBLE] or you’re going to work
at the [INAUDIBLE] hospital. And obviously, the HR functions
will have to be you’ve been here for X amount
of time, you get this amount of leave. You’ve got accumulate
it, whatever it’s going to be. Because until people do what
Larry’s done and actually are face-to-face with the countries
that they’re interested in working in, until
they really learn what the economic determinants are
of these disparities, the first ideas that we suggest on
how to eradicate malaria, how to stop poverty, how to stop
climate change, they’re frequently not the
right ideas. It takes a long time to deal
deeply in these areas. And we’re fortunate in Google
that we have a group of employees and family members
who deeply care about that. So yes, the answer is it’s
a good deal for us. JANE WALES: Sergey, your own
experience in living in a country that experienced in
recent years, the rapid impoverishment of many, after
having a strong middle class, did that at all shake your
concern about social change, about social benefit? How did it lead you to
where you are today? SERGEY BRIN: I think probably
from my experience, there wasn’t as much growing up in
Russia as the coming to the United States. And recognizing the tremendous
opportunities that I had as a result of my parents and myself
immigrating when I was six years old. I think seeing that it
makes me see how– LARRY PAGE: See today,
we wouldn’t have let him in the country. DR. LARRY BRILLIANT:
Very true. SERGEY BRIN: I might have
won the visa lottery. I get those emails. I probably just should
bide my time. That lawyer that emailed
me assured me that– anyhow. I think that I’d like to see
everyone have the kinds of opportunities I had. And you know, we were
very poor, even when we came to the US. And yet, the country makes it so
accessible to try to do the best you can. Get through school, try to
get an education, be entrepreneurial. And that just doesn’t exist
in other countries. And everybody has just the same
capacity to develop and be successful, it’s just that
they don’t have a chance. [APPLAUSE] JANE WALES: When you think about
the issues that you’ve identified as priority issues,
all of them are responsive to science and technology
kinds of solutions. Science and technology has
got a huge role to play in all of them. How important is it that
we provide a welcoming atmosphere, welcoming
environment for people from the brightest students from
around the world to come to our universities to study
science and math and engineering and/or other topics,
and then, bring those skills back home? Lead their countries, build
their economies, build business or stay here and
start companies here. How important is that to us
and to your objectives? SERGEY BRIN: I think it’s
increasingly less important to them, believe it or not. Because I actually see a lot
of those opportunities emerging in these other
countries in terms of the schools, the caliber of the
employees and whatnot that we can hire in our India or China
offices and whatnot. They’re very talented people. And they have been now well
educated and they have entrepreneurship there. They have businesses. And a lot of these places, not
all the world, parts of the world I was referring to before,
people don’t have opportunity. But now there are a number of
places outside the US where they do have opportunity. And really, I feel that we’re
shortchanging ourselves. It really hurts our companies
when we can’t hire the best and the brightest here and
you have to go abroad. And in fact, disproportionately
it hurts smaller companies because we now
have offices in all these places, so we can hire them. But when we were just a few
years ago, we couldn’t. And we didn’t have access to
that fantastic talent. And it’s just silly. JANE WALES: Larry, you were
about to add something. LARRY PAGE: That’s good. JANE WALES: At the graduate
level there’s a huge opportunity in India
with the IITs. At the graduate level there are
huge opportunities here. But Larry Page, do we give
enough attention to science and math education at early
ages both here and in the developing world? And is that an area
for investment? LARRY PAGE: Yeah, I think
you must have seen my talk I gave recently. I gave a talk at AAS, the sort
of scientific society. And I had sent it out to some
people inside the company. It was basically about science
and technology and how it really is what is sort
of the main leverage point in the world. And we have this guy, Hal
Varian, who’s a famous economist at Berkeley. And he’d seen the talk before
I gave it and he said, well, you need this one slide. And basically the slide
shows the GDP. Or sorry, the earning per capita
and it sort of bubbles around for a long time and then
it hits the industrial revolution and it just
goes straight up. And it keeps going,
by the way. It doesn’t stop. It’s still going straight up. And he said, the only real
explanation economists have for that is technology. It was mass production
of things. It was technology for farming
and all those kind of things. It wasn’t that we were suddenly
so much smarter at that point in time. We had developed technology and
we had replicated and we could do things without
using as many people. And I feel like we’ve
lost that intuition. It’s not the case that
that stops somehow. You know, when we started
Google if we hadn’t had computers that were as fast,
we wouldn’t have built it. You know, computers somehow,
they’ve been getting twice as fast every year basically,
for a long time. And then all of a sudden,
you can have something like Google. You can search all the
world’s information and it can be free. Or ad supported. And that actually helps people’s
productivity and helps the world and so on. So I think somehow,
as a world, we’ve lost sight of that. People don’t think about
it that way. And there’s still a huge
opportunity there. And I did some estimates on
the number of people who graduate, for example,
in the US. You know, it’s like a small
percentage, like 3% or something that really
graduate in areas that have high leverage. Areas where people develop
technology that could really change the slope of the
curve that’s going up. And I figured if we modestly
multiplied it by 10 to say, 30%, which wouldn’t be that big
a percentage, we probably have 10 times the rate of
development that we have now of those technologies, which
really do affect things. So I guess I’m very optimistic
about this. Because I see that a few more
people and all of a sudden we could have much greater
development than we have now. And I Also think some of the things
that people have been talking about here, like global warming
issues, I’m optimistic we can get $0.01 per kilowatt
hour solar thermal. And I just look at that and go,
well, if we can do that, we can replace all the
coal-fired plants really quickly and nobody really needs
to do anything else. And somebody can do that
in their garage, right? It’s not impossible for a
couple of really smart technology people to figure
out how to do that. And I guess I’m very optimistic
about these things. I’d like to have many more
people trying to do those things, trying to use technology
to do things that are very impactful. JANE WALES: How important is it
to have political leaders that are science literate? LARRY PAGE: Well, I guess in
the talk I gave, I gave the example that– for example, the prime minister
or president of India is a rocket scientist. And we
actually met with him and he asked us about the encoding,
language encodings that we use at Google and all the different
languages in India. It’s not really what you
expect– the conversation you expect to have with somebody
who heads a country. It doesn’t happen in
most countries. And you can argue about
causality in India, but it’s not an accident that they have
tremendous information technology and all this economic
growth and all that. Maybe that caused him to be
president and maybe also he caused that in some sense. I do think it’s important. Taiwan has also had an engineer
leader for a while, which is also a very high
technology place. So I think it’s correlated. I don’t know about
the causation. JANE WALES: And China has
often had in leadership positions electrical
engineers, or engineers in general. LARRY PAGE: Yeah. Well I guess engineers
here are low status. JANE WALES: You’ve moved us
though into the investment, the sort of supply side
of the energy problem. The question of alternative
fuels. John Dorr has referred to this
as the mother of all markets. And then I think he sort of
thinks he ought to temper that a little bit. But I’m not so sure. Is this the mother of all
markets and where are the real opportunities? LARRY PAGE: I wanted to
give a quick stat. You know, Steve Chu, the Noble
Prize winner, has great stat that I think Americans
have about a thousand energy helpers. So if you take the number of
calories you just ate for dinner and multiply by your
other meals, you take a couple thousand calories a day. And then you take the energy use
of the US and divide it by all the people, there’s a
thousand people helping you. So there’s a thousand people
pushing your car, pumping the water in your toilet, and
all those things. You know, those things like
water we take for granted. You know, transporting this
water bottle on a truck and all that. A thousand people for
each one of you. And that’s a lot of people. China I guess has about a
hundred people per person. So they have a significant
amount of energy. I’m sure the developing
countries have much, much less than that. And so we kind of take that
for granted, but there’s a huge amount of energy that’s
used for good purposes. I mean, it’s great to have
clean water and flushing toilets and all these things
we take for granted. But I think that I would turn
the stuff around and say, we can make energy cheaper, like
say using solar technology. Everybody in the world can have
10,000 energy helpers and it won’t have that much effect
on the world and we’ll all be pretty happy. We’ll be happier than we
are now hopefully. JANE WALES: Are you attracted,
Sergey, to wind, to solar, or are there more revolutionary
technologies that you think are around the bend? SERGEY BRIN: I think in the
near term that wind is a really good bet. Because it’s already
cost competitive. And certainly longer
term, solar. And also, of course, on the transportation side, the ethanols. And I know these are very
conventional answers, but I think that people are overly
conservative when they estimate where these are
going to end up. And it’s easy to see the
cost and whatnot today. Which, by the way, are already
in many places competitive. But just extrapolating some
of these curves 10 years down the road. And of course, somebody has
to do work by the way. And hopefully accelerate it
beyond the present rate of cost decline. But I think we could see really
cheap, clean energy in the not too distant future. JANE WALES: And I should note
that Google has made a very large solar commitment in terms
of your own facilities. You ought to say a
word about that. SERGEY BRIN: I wouldn’t
call it very large. It’s sort of large by corporate
campus scales. LARRY PAGE: We claim it’s large,
but it’s not really. SERGEY BRIN: It’s not large
on a global scale. I guess it is visible
from space. LARRY PAGE: So are
many things. SERGEY BRIN: But so are many
things assuming you have a good enough lens. We have about a third of our
campus power usage that we’re going to run on solar. And much of it has already
been installed. And the remainder– I don’t know if any of you have
challenges of parking. That’s because we’re finishing
off the solar car ports and whatnot. And it was interesting, it’s
just not all that expensive. It’s somewhat more expensive,
but not by a lot. And in fact, the companies
that we’re working with, they all have– and others that we talk to– they have better products
coming down the pipe. So next year we’ll be able to
get cheaper, more efficient and the year after that. We’re looking at other
areas to deploy. LARRY PAGE: This is not a
question of if, it’s a question of when. People get confused about this,
but there’s a curve, a cost curve for solar and it’s
been changing for a long, long time and it’s relatively
predictable. I think we have about a seven
year payback, but we have some subsidies in place. But pretty soon that’ll
be a seven year payback with no subsidy. And in that case, you’d be
stupid not to do it if you’re own the building, right? It’s not a question of if,
it’s a question of when. SERGEY BRIN: Most of the cost
session add today is not the solar panels. It’s the installation. You have to get permits
and you have to have– you know, there’s the union
labor that installs it. There are a whole bunch
of hurdles. And I think that those can be
over time as it becomes a much more regular thing to just cover
with solar and whatnot, all those things become
[INAUDIBLE] too. LARRY PAGE: Actually, one other
point I wanted to make about wind was that there’s some
pretty amazing studies that show if you had a good
electricity grid, winds would be hugely cost competitive
now. So there’s a study that says,
for example, you could generate 80% of your total
electricity use in Europe if you simply had an electric grid
that connected Northern Africa, say Egypt, all the
way to Scandinavia. And that’s actually technically feasible thing to do. Now my guess is on our current
path, it will take us 30 years to do that because all the
governments have to talk to each other. But might be a good project for
some of the people in the room to try to really figure
out if that’s worthwhile. Winds costs about $0.03 a
kilowatt hour now, which is the same as coal. The catch is it’s not
windy all the time. And so the real cost
of wind is about $0.09 a kilowatt hour. And because it has this
variability, but you get to take out all of that variability
for 80% of your total power if you just
interconnect those areas because it’s always
windy somewhere. And you can make up your 20% in
many reasonable ways, using peak power generators. So I mean that wouldn’t
get rid of your– that would be much cheaper
than the way they produce it now. And it would be, I think,
a very good thing to do. But I think some of these
things are going to take large-scale coordination and
some good engineering and technology. People thinking about
how to do it. JANE WALES: As you think
about investments as a strategy in order to– not just to make money, but as
a strategy for social change, what is your sweet spot? Are you looking for the sort
of game-changing kind of investments that are high enough
risk so that they would not attract traditional
equity? They wouldn’t attract
venture capital. They wouldn’t attract
project finance. Are you willing to lose
money on this? LARRY PAGE: I don’t think
it’s that issue so much. I think there’s a
lot of money– I mean, we’ve been doing
some small investments. But there’s a lot of money
available for these things. The issue is there’s very few
people who are doing them. I mean, I get interested
in this thing. We could figure out how many
people are really working on improving the electric grid in
Europe, but I’m sure it’s a small number who are thinking
about it strategically. It makes sense for somebody to
fund somebody to do that. And there’s plenty of money
available to do it, it’s just that there aren’t people
doing those things. I think in any of these areas,
people look at novel kinds of solar, or whatever. There’s a lot of money
available, but very, very few people. JANE WALES: What about on the
demand side of the equation, the whole question of
conservation technologies. Is that an area where you think
that markets will push the process? And just the fact that
the cost of energy as it currently exists. SERGEY BRIN: My personal opinion
is that conservation is poorly marketed. In a sense, consider
light bulbs. So you can take out 100 watt
incandescent light bulb in your house and replace it with
like a 20 watt compact fluorescent. And in the old days it would be
kind of low, but too high temperature it will look
blue and it would maybe not turn on quickly. And now they’re better
and whatnot. But it’s still, they probably
over-market a little bit. Really, it will be more like
80 or 90 watt incandescent. But I feel it’s the
wrong approach. You should tell a person to
get a 50 watt compact fluorescent to take our their
100 watt incandescent, and then they’ll get a much brighter
bulb that also will save half the energy. LARRY PAGE: Actually, Sergey’s
been ordering these and they’re ridiculously bright. I put one in and it
like blinded me. SERGEY BRIN: I’ve been buying. They’re actually hard to get,
like the normal hardware store doesn’t tend to carry them. But they look really bright. I like having a lot of light. And they’re still less power
than the conventional watt. I mean, I don’t think people– people like to do charitable
things, things good for the world kind of because it feels
rewarding and whatnot. But there’s sort of a limit
to how rewarding. Oh, I just saved three
watts for the world. It’s not that exciting. DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: I mean,
it’s so wonderful for me having great engineers to talk
to because they really deeply understand this stuff. But I heard Ira Magaziner this
morning and I thought he did a really good job. And what he was saying was that
there are places that 35% of all the energy
is just wasted. That is the definition
of low-hanging fruit. And I heard [UNINTELLIGIBLE] say, and it’s just a
compelling image. He says half of the wealth
that China is creating is running out of its single-pane
glass windows every day. And I think those are compelling
images that need to be looked at as low-hanging
fruit. LARRY PAGE: I definitely agree
with that, but I do think it causes an emerging problem. I mean I think we should do all
the conservation things, but I also think that if you
had $0.01 per kilowatt hour solar energy, you’d have lots
of swimming pools with no covers everywhere and you
wouldn’t care that much. DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: Yeah. I think it’s both/and rather
than either/or. And it’s a timing issue too. Because there are some things
that you can do right now and it feels kind of profligate
not to do right now. And so we try to invest,
I think, simultaneously in both of those. We’ve recently had Dan Reicher
join us who was the system secretary of energy in the
Clinton administration. One of our Clintonistas
on board. And he’s been doing a lot of
testimony at the senate talking a lot about
conservation. But at the same time, we’re
trying to run an investment portfolio doing exactly
what Larry and Sergey’s talking about. So I don’t find a
contradiction. LARRY PAGE: By the way, I think
all the nuclear plants in the US were– the energy saved by the Energy
Star refrigerator policies was roughly equal to that. Or actually, I think it was
substantially more for the refrigerators. The energy we saved by just
doing a minor change to the refrigerators, which
had almost no manufacturing cost change. JANE WALES: Sorry, were you
about to say something? SERGEY BRIN: I’ll throw out
another example, just if you look at the single-pane windows
issue or whatnot. I think you can give people
more clear benefit. Like here at the office– and
we should really fix this. But if I get up in the morning
and it’s nice and hot out, like let’s say it’s 75
or 80 degrees out. And actually, I bike to work
pretty often because it’s good exercise and whatnot. Thank you. I’m trying to avoid
emitting fuels. But realistically, I probably
care more about my health just a practical matter rather than
the tiny amount of gas it will take me to drive. But I put on something
commensurate with the weather. So maybe it will be a t-shirt
if it’s hot out. And then I get here to the
office and I’m freezing because it’s a constant
temperature that they keep. Or they try, probably about
70 degrees or so. It’s very uncomfortable and
then I have to find something to put on. LARRY PAGE: Usually
it doesn’t bother. SERGEY BRIN: And then later
at night like if it’s cold outside and you walk out and
you’re all kind of reasonably dressed inside, but it’s
freezing outside you’re just mismatched. So instead what you could
do is you should let the temperature in the building
fluctuate a bit. You know, when it’s hot
out, you make it a little bit hotter. And when it’s cold out you make
you it a little cooler. I think people will be more
comfortable that way because it’s irritating to have the
sudden change when you go in and out anyway. I don’t think you have to phrase
it as a savings for the environment. You just would say, it’s
more comfortable if you [UNINTELLIGIBLE] outside. LARRY PAGE: That’s what we’ll
tell our employees, Sergey. JANE WALES: I should point out
that what he’s talking about is changing from a t-shirt to a
long sleeve t-shirt and then back to a t-shirt again. LARRY PAGE: You forgot there are
people who don’t live in California, Sergey. JANE WALES: They put on ties
during dinner just out of respect for the Pangea folks
from the International Finance Corporation who have
brought those ties to us from Cambodia. But I could not persuade
them to wear ties all the way up to stage. That was too long for these two
guys to be wearing ties. Let me go back, Larry Brilliant,
to your point. You noted that Dan Reicher was
testifying on the Hill with regard to energy policy, and
there is some movement on energy policy on Capitol Hill,
with Jeff Bingaman chairing the committee in the senate. How important is it for the
philanthropic community to be playing a significant policy
role and trying to shape the policy environment in which
these decisions are taken? DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: I love
these rhetorical questions. I mean, how could anything be
more important in a way? I mean, I don’t know how many
of you worked on AB 32. Let’s take a state issue. First of all, I think Google’s
really proud of the fact that we supported and lobbied
for AB 32. And there was a moment in time
when if it hadn’t been for the support of the companies
and support of– LARRY PAGE: Wait,
It’s a shirt size. JANE WALES: You actually
should describe the legislation for those
not from California. DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: It’s a
California legislation that requires the state of California
to meet global warming gas emissions standards,
and it has become a catalyst like rolling thunder
all over the country. There are now seven other states
that are using model legislation like that. And in fact, part of the
testimony that Dan was doing at the federal level was to see
if there were ways that this piece of legislation could
become part of federal legislation. And it was a near thing. It was one or two votes
from not being passed. And there are people in the room
here with phone calls and with friends and with support
that could influence one or two votes on almost any
issue like that. So it’s really critically
important. Because sometimes
I think people– it’s like not going to
vote in an election. You think your vote
doesn’t matter. Here clearly a vote with
fewer voters and it matters a lot more. So I think it’s terrifically
important. And on different issues,
it matters even more. We have a moment in time now
where I think that the state and federal legislation is
favorably disposed to making changes that will help our kids
and our grandchildren live in a better world as
far as climate change. We should not take it for
granted that we’re always going to have that favorable
climate. Things change very quickly. We should act now. JANE WALES: And how important
was it to– is this– [APPLAUSE] JANE WALES: Is this a large
reason for the decision to make .org activities be largely
treated as not tax exempt activities? Was this so that you could
be more active in the policy sphere? SERGEY BRIN: I mean, basically
it’s because of all of you. Or many of you that we spoke to
in the process of setting up .org and even
prior to that. And many of the organizations
that we met with that had regretted perhaps their choice
of structure and whatnot. You know, a lot of organizations
felt that they’d rather have more flexibility. We were pretty far
down the path. In fact, we did create Google Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3). But that’s now just a portion
of And we just found a lot of the
peers who were present here and elsewhere, who really told
us, gave us really I think great advice before we finalized
setting things up that we want the flexibility. And we’ve been enjoying
it because we can do things like that. LARRY PAGE: We said to you were
pretty profitable, so the tax difference is not as
significant for us either. JANE WALES: I wanted to just
turn to– because we began by our conversation about how
you leverage information technology, how you leverage
search in order to engage the public, educate the public, put
them in a position to be taking smart decisions that
they want to take. Say something about the
conscious application of search in the case of Google
Earth, Larry Brilliant. DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: Of
Google Earth or of– is this our ending swan song? JANE WALES: Actually,
before we do that. No, because I want to ask
you about Instead, also. DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: Oh, OK. Because we have a treat for
the ending question. I just needed to be queued up
and know which one that is. So this is not that question? JANE WALES: This is
not that question. DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: OK. So remind me when we get
to that question. So you’re talking about
Instead now? JANE WALES: Oh, he doesn’t
want to do the question. OK, let me just say that instead
what we’re doing is now we’re shifting to the topic
of public health and the ways in which you can use
information technology for early detection and response. So tell us about instead. DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: So Bill
Foege, who’s in the audience hiding was my mentor in the
smallpox eradication program and he created a novel way of
dealing with disease control programs. And in this
case, eradication. Which was to find every single
case of smallpox on the planet earth at the same moment in
time, and then respond to it by putting vaccine– vaccinating people or
quarantining them, and put a circle of immunity around
every case. So search, surveillance, and
then containment, which led to eradication of smallpox. And as a similar strategy to
that, which is being used by the Carter Center in guinea worm
and is being used by WHO in polio eradication. And when I watched what happened
with SARS, with that background in mind of find every
case, and then respond to it, as opposed to
try to vaccinate everybody in the world. In the case of smallpox, if
there was an epidemic of smallpox in Tokyo, god forbid,
it would not help to vaccinate in New York. You have to put your vaccine
where the disease is. So in the case of SARS, it took
us an awful long time for there to be a recognition
of a new and novel communicable disease. A coronavirus in this case. A virus which happens to have
its real home in bats. It then got to civet cats,
and then people ate those civet cats. So it seemed like a really long
time and it gets very disquieting when it takes one,
two, three, four, five epidemiological generations to
find the disease, which grows logarithmically. It’s a good thing to get
there quickly and– LARRY PAGE: Exponentially. LARRY BRILLIANT:
Exponentially. That’s what I said,
exponentially. So good, you should come
to our board meetings. It’s just terrible. I said exponentially. It’s on the tape. So what we watched with SARS was
it took almost nine months for the government of China
to announce that it had a case of SARS. But there was a web crawler in
Ottawa that had detected SARS six months earlier than the
Chinese government had actually announced it. And that was because they were
trolling a very small number of websites– 20,000 it turned out– and
a very small number of languages, and they found
all this chatter about this new disease. And anyway, it’s a long story. This same website called the
GPHIN was able to locate bird flu in humans in Iran six months
before the government of Iran notified it. So that led to the idea that the
tremendous investment that Google has made in search
technology could be used for finding novel diseases. And in fact, pandemics,
or almost pandemics, or new epidemics. Or even, any other kind of an
imminent disaster earlier than before, and then use the other
technology that Google has, Google Earth to visualize
the disaster area. To be able to use some of the
tools for collaboration and communication. To do an almost event
management system. So we’ve been doing that and
working really hard with a group, nonprofit that
we started. And Judy Rodin, the co-funder
of that from Rockefeller and many of the other people here
in this room have been tremendously supportive
of that. We have about 30 disaster
response organizations that are working on that, are
partners in that. And half a dozen or eight
different technology organizations working on it. And our hope is to take this
technology and all the technology, I guess, that
Silicon Valley has produced, put it together, and make it
as a gift to the disaster response community so that we
can deal better with disaster. [APPLAUSE] JANE WALES: I should note that
Tim Worth, when he was undersecretary of state for
global affairs, led an inter-agency process to try
to develop an emergency surveillance and response
network, much like this. This has been something that’s
been on the minds of political leaders for a long time. And it’s a question of capturing
what the private sector has to offer here. But what’s interesting about
this problem is it’s a kind of a focus on the user and the
rest will follow problem. And that is that those who know
about the disease will sometimes not be a doctor or
someone in a local clinic, it may be a schoolteacher who sees
the patient percent of the student percent. It may be a ship’s captain. It may be the pilot on an
airline because the disease may manifest itself after
the person has boarded. So this is an opportunity to
[INAUDIBLE] information. LARRY BRILLIANT: Well, what’s
happening as a result of all these community-based
information services– Google’s one, eBay’s another. There’s a lot out there now– is that it is becoming much more
reliable and much more almost expected that citizens
will have the ability to report things they see. You all do it. you’re
driving on the highway, you see an accident. The first thing you do is you
reach for your phone, you call 911 and you say, I don’t
want to bother you, but I just saw this. It’s almost becoming
a reflex now. 20 years ago that wouldn’t
have happened. So what we’ve seen I think is
a change in the way that the official reporting networks
view what used to be unofficial information. Before SARS, 100% of all of
the disease reports that reached the United Nations World
Health Organization came from governments. That was the law. There are 193 governments
that are members of WHO. The same thing’s true for all
the other UN agencies, where the information that they
received about disaster had to come from a government. When this GPHIN was able to
detect SARS and then bird flu earlier, and it reached a point
that 70% of all of the outbreak information that was
reaching WHO came not from the governments, but came from
individuals that were reporting through these
technology, these trolling services. So that led WHO for one, to
change the World Health regulations. So that beginning in June, for
the first time legally, WHO will now be allowed to receive
information about new outbreaks, potential pandemics,
and other catastrophes from individuals. So the technology is changing
the way in which the traditional system works. And I think that’s an amazing,
almost bottom-up revolutionary change in the way we process
information. LARRY PAGE: But they had to
change a law to do that? LARRY BRILLIANT: They had to
change the law to do that. They actually had to change the
World Health regulations, which are codified every May
when all the health ministers of the countries that for all
intensive purposes, are the shareholders and the board
members of WHO. LARRY PAGE: OK, let’s hope that
we don’t get an outbreak that takes less than a year. LARRY BRILLIANT: So as
long as we wait until June, we’ll be fine. JANE WALES: Because you’re
ready to deal with your last question. Before you do that, I want to
ask Larry and Sergey about Google Earth and about what
you think it’s impact is. First, describe it
really quickly. I think most people in this room
know about Google Earth. LARRY PAGE: Who hasn’t
used Google Earth? JANE WALES: One person
has not used– two people have not
used Google Earth. LARRY BRILLIANT: Get
their names. JANE WALES: But what’s
interesting is how it can be used for environmental
purposes. To understand the environmental impact of actions. Are we tracking that? Do we have a sense of
how it’s being used? SERGEY BRIN: Well, Google
Earth can be used for environmental issues, for
social, political. It’s just incredible and
that’s why I fell in love with it. Prior to Google buying it, it
was Keyhole before and that was the company. It was called EarthViewer. But it’s just incredible
how much more information you can get. Now don’t forget. There had been satellites and
things imaging the earth for a long time, and airplanes
and whatnot. The problem is that that imagery
wasn’t connected to all the people who could
make use of it. And that’s where you have a
tremendous inefficiency because you have all this
incredible amount of– Oh, that’s me. I was hoping Google Earth
was back there. Anyhow, you have a tremendous
amount of information. JANE WALES: You look good. SERGEY BRIN: Much more
information than that. Before you had to contact this
agency and it cost you $100 to get one view. It was very expensive. And so maybe large companies and
government agencies would occasionally do it. And it would be really
a waste. And now, so many people
can use it for so many different things. Whether it’s a humanitarian
crisis, like the earthquake that we had near India and
Pakistan a little while back, or Katrina, or any
number of things. Environmental issues. People use it to buy
real estate. And you need to consider
those aspects to. I mean, if you can now look at
other parts of the world, and anybody can look at them, does
that now help create a better market for say, that real estate
or for the vacations there, or for any number
of things? I think unlocking that
information, I was very excited that the Keyhole folks
did that and we acquired them and helped fund them to do
that even more broadly. JANE WALES: I just wanted to ask
you too, before Larry gets to talk about his
dreams for .org. In the beginning you said you
hoped that its impact would ultimately eclipse
Google itself. Now Google, itself, keeps
raising the bar, making it hard to eclipse Google itself. But do you see that day? SERGEY BRIN: Yeah, I think so. You know, today almost
all of our products– not quite all, but a vast
majority only touch people who have internet access. And we have a number of things
that work over SMS and mobile and so that touches a somewhat
broader community. But it’s a reduced
functionality. But unless all of– and by the
way, it’s not just Unless together with
all of you can really make internet access,
information access universal, our products aren’t really
going to be able to touch those people that effectively. And that’s why it’s so
important, and I’m very optimistic about it. LARRY PAGE: I was going to
say, I mean, I think it’s really daunting to
be in this room. Because sort of by definition,
all of you have been working for a long time, longer than us
probably mostly, on sort of intractable problems. They’re by
definition, the intractable problems because they’re the
really important ones that haven’t been solved
yet, right? And they’re important enough
that they would have been solved if it was
easy to solve. And so, I don’t know. I’m a little but daunted
by that. I think the good thing about
what we’re trying to do is that at least we’ll be– I guess in the small room we
have here, we’ll be a part of that group that’s trying
to do things that could be impactful. Once your goal is to be very
impactful, like I mentioned with the solar, there just
aren’t that many people doing that. So if your goal’s really to
change the world, you don’t have that much competition
in that. And so I think in that way I’m
very hopeful, but I’m also I guess realistic. These things are very, very
difficult problems that this community has all worked on. And I think it can take a long
time to make traction. But maybe over a long period of
time, we can do something really significant. [APPLAUSE] JANE WALES: When you got the
TED prize, you were given a wish to change the world. Is your wish being fulfilled? LARRY BRILLIANT: In India they
have several different tenses that we don’t have. In Hindi,
my favorite tense is not the past present, it’s not the
future perfect, it’s not the present, it’s the continuous
present. So in India if you ask somebody
if your tea or your food is ready they will always
say, just now coming. I guess I feel that way about my
wish, which is that at one level because I’m a geek at
heart, I’m like a kid in the candy store here. And I’ve got some phenomenal
people to work with. So I have all these tools that
I never dreamed that I’d be able to use for the TED wish. It’s a very different kind of
place and this is a very different kind of product. It’s very difficult
as Google likes to launch early and often. And as Larry was saying, when
you’re dealing with some of these humanitarian issues,
you can’t really launch early and often. It’s a different process. So I think the convergence of
these complicated, intractable problems with the minds and the
energy and the tools at Google has given me a
chance to see far beyond my original wish. And I love it. I absolutely love it. JANE WALES: I’m going to ask
you to show us one of the tools because we have the last
day and for two days ahead been focused heavily on market
solutions to these large problems. But in fact, some of
the problems we face are not responsive to market solutions,
problems such as genocide in Darfur. And I wanted you to just show us
how Google Earth is used to advance understanding of that
issue in particular. And then let us close
for the night. LARRY BRILLIANT: Let me invite
Megan to come up and tell you. Megan Goddard, who is from
Google Earth and some of you have seen on the news recently
Google Earth product that’s been used to help visualize
Darfur and the tragedy there. And I think under the overall
guideline, which is that bad things happen in places that
have no light and in the middle of the night
in dark places. And the more light you can shine
on something, the more antiseptic it is. Megan, can you tell them
what you’ve been doing? LARRY PAGE:
to tell the whole story. MEGAN GODDARD: I’m just waiting
for this to come up. There we go. My name’s Megan Goddard and I
am a member of the Google Earth team. I had the honor of working
with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. We’ve been working with them for
about a year and a half, and it was actually a 20%
project from Andria McCool. So we’ve been working with them
to try to describe what’s going on in Darfur. So here you see United States. I’m going to go through
and show you exactly where you are. How many people have actually
used Google Earth? And we’ll flip the
question here. OK, good. Now keep your hands raised. How many people have used Google
Earth for more than going to your own house? OK, good. So we have some people who
have used it for more. Most of the time the hands
are still raised. So here we are at Google. These layers were released
yesterday. And actually, I’m a little bit
jet-lagged right now because I was at a press conference
yesterday in Washington, DC, for this. And I’m going to
zoom you here. Has anybody seen this yet? The great thing about this
is that these layers are considered to be
on by default. So if a person is flying around
earth, they’ll see this and wonder what this is and
want to look at it. So this has a very
good impact. So I’m going to step you through
this and this is pretty much going to
tell its own story. So you see here is the
Darfur region. A lot of people before this
project was released, I asked a lot of friends and family,
do you know about Darfur? Some of them had heard about
it, some of them not. A lot of people really don’t
know where Sudan is. So number one, this is showing
everybody where this is. I’m going to zoom in here. And what you see is a
collection of icons. We worked with the museum to
pick out a selection, sort of a preview set to get people’s
attention so that they will go and explore it more. So I’m going to [INAUDIBLE]
through this. So you start off here with
this icon and this is an actual photo of two people in
a refugee camp in Chad. When you click on this, this was
a design from the museum. They give you an introduction so
that people can read about what they’re looking at. And you see this collection
of icons here. The orange ones represent
damaged villages and the red ones represent villages
that have been completely destroyed. This data was collected from
the US government and there are 1,600 points. So this in combination with high
resolution imagery, will really start to tell a story. I’m going to take you to
one of the villages. This was a village. There’s no name available. It used to have 870 structures
and it’s considered destroyed. It’s kind of hard to
tell what this is. I’m going to zoom in just
a little bit more. Each one of these circles
represents somebody’s house. This is a mud and grass hut. When you start zooming around,
you can see all these different icons and how
many of them are. But to me, this really makes
a very big impact on me to really see the devastation. The other thing that’s included
in this are a collection of photos. And I have to say, nothing
tells a story like a photo or a picture. So here’s a picture of a girl
collecting wood outside of a refugee camp. A lot of people are attacked
outside of these camps. Each one of these pop-ups
includes a little link here where you can download
additional information. So if you click on this, you
get another layer here that gives you even more
information. So I’m going to turn this on. We have a legend here. This shows testimonies from
Amnesty International, more photos, videos. It shows all the refugee
camps, which are these different colored blue icons. The light blue are in
Chad and the dark blue are within Darfur. This layer is actually directly
downloaded from the Holocaust Museum’s website. So we’re hoping that people
see this and they want to take action. So if you want to learn
more about it, we have this link here. This brings you to a website
that describes the project, where you can download
more information. And more importantly, what you
can do to take action. There’s also a link here
that says, learn more. When you click on this– whoops. There’s also a link here
called, how can I help? When you click on this, it
brings you to a website called What Can I Do? This was all again, developed
by the museum. And it gives you a list
of action items that anybody can go and do. I want to emphasize that this
was all information that was curated by the museum. They worked with many different
organizations. Photographer such as Mia
Farrow, the US State Department to get the locations
of the maps. So this is a collaboration from
many different places. And we were fortunate enough to
be able to help them to be able to put this in, so that
people see it when they’re flying around learning
about our earth. So to me, this is how we can
leverage information and technology to promote awareness
and inspire action for social change. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] JANE WALES: I think the lesson
of this gathering is often that we have the conscience,
we have the values, we have the resources. Sometimes all we need is simple
access to information, so that we can act collectively for the public good. So thank you all. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC PLAYING]


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