Google’s Eric Schmidt Talks Mobile Phones, Privacy and the Future

In the future, mobile phones will tell users when they need new jeans. Then, the phone will be able to tell them the location of nearby stores with jeans, which store has better prices, and how much parking is available at said store so users can make an educated decision for their denim purchase. This is all according to Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google. Moderated by Walter Isaacson, he spoke to a sold-out crowd at The Aspen Institute campus in Colorado on Tuesday, touching on everything from censorship and China to QWERTY keyboards.

People will have to sign up for the location-based service on mobile phones which helps them find things like jeans, says Schmidt. So, it won’t be a blanket policy, which would make many uncomfortable in terms of privacy. And when it comes to subscribing to such apps “some people will and some people won’t.” He added that, historically, pure anonymity has not been possible because of communities and socialization.

Schmidt adds that Americans need to be the ones to make decisions when it comes to privacy. Generally, the country has wanted to keep the government out of their private lives when it comes to tracking and surveillance, but “you need to fight for your privacy if you want to keep it.

His company recently introduced Google Glass, a wearable technology that will  become increasingly present in society. Because of it, people will have choices to make when it comes to etiquette. And Google has choices to make too; to start, the glasses won’t have facial recognition technology. With the rise in popularity of voice recognition, AI (artificial intelligence) will begin to become more mainstream too, says Schmidt. Though it sounds crazy, there are already computers that can judge emotion, and this could have medical benefits in the long-term future.

Schmidt’s buzzwords for the future are mobile, social and local. As the executive chairman for Google, and former chairman and CEO of Novell and chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems, he knows a few things about the evolution of technology. Stay tuned.