As Google I/O's opening keynote neared its close, co-founder Larry Page took the stage to offer a somber but optimistic take on technology's future, asking the tech world to "create things that don't exist" instead of being dragged down by negativity. While comparing earlier views of computing as a "passing fad" to our present high-tech world, Page still said developers have "barely scratched the surface of what's possible." Page said that "we haven't seen this rate of change in computing for a very long time, probably since the birth of computing, citing the optimism of technologists.
"Not every new technology is zero-sum."
Nonetheless, he worried that "we're really only at one percent of what we can do... we're really moving slow." Part of that, he said, was due to negativity and infighting. "Every story I read about Google is about us versus some other company, or something else, and I really don't find that interesting. We should be building things that don't exist." Being negative, he said, "is not how we make progress," and "not every new technology is zero-sum."
Before taking questions, Page discussed the new frontiers technology could open up, citing self-driving cars as one example of something that would allow more time for creativity. "The average American spends almost 50 minutes commuting," he said. "Imagine if you got all that time back for other things."
"We struggle with people like Microsoft."
Whether despite or because of his call to avoid negativity, Page told an audience member that "we struggle with people like Microsoft." He cited the example of interoperability: "I've personally been quite sad at the industry's behavior around all these things. If you take something as simple as IM, we've had an open offer to interoperate forever. Just this week Microsoft took advantage of that by interoperating with us. You can't have people milking off of just one company."
Despite Page's call to progress, it's been a fairly conservative Google I/O keynote: from Google Music All Access to Hangouts, we're seeing iterations on either Google's own products or those of competitors. There's been little mention of Glass, and the only hardware so far has been a stock version of Samsung's Galaxy S4. The moonshots, it seems, will have to wait.