Google’s Eric Schmidt fancies himself a tech guy who can also sling politics. You can check out his parlor act at any one of the numerous Senate Subcommittee meetings he has appeared at, where he is able to spin plates for hours on end while never really saying anything. He’s been expanding his political ambitions to tech ambassadorship, having already visited North Korea, much to the delight of the U.S. State Department. His message seems to be “teh tecknologees iz gud”. It’s too bad he knows so laughably little about them.
In what may be my only use ever for WikiLeaks, the site recently published a transcript of a conversation Schmidt had with Julian Assange about Schmidt’s upcoming book “The New Digital World”, which he is co-authoring with former advisor to Hillary Clinton Jared Cohen. I assume the co-authorship deal is meant to dull the edge of the knife you’d want to plunge into your eyes were you to read something penned by Schmidt himself. There were a bunch of other government and former government staffers present, but by far the most entertaining presence was Schmidt’s, probably not for the reasons he intended. I’d encourage people to cringe through the whole thing, but I’d like to share my personal highlights.
Schmidt the Technology Savant
Eric Schmidt: Can we start… I want to talk a little about Thor. Right. The sort of, the whole Navy network and…
Julian Assange: Tor or Thor?
ES: Yeah, actually I mean Tor. Uh…
JA: And Odin as well.
Bonus points to Assange for delivering the Odin kidney punch after Schmidt’s vinyl-scratching gaffe. That guy may not be so bad after all.
JA: When we were dealing with Egypt we saw the Mubarak government cut off the internet and we saw only one – there was one ISP that quite few of us were involved in trying to keep its connections open, it had maybe 6% of the market. Eventually they cut.. eventually the Mubarak government also cut off the mobile phone system. And why is it that that can be done? People with mobile phones have a device that can communicate in a radio spectrum. In a city there is a high density… there is always, if you like, a path between one person and another person. That is there is always a continuous path of mobile phones, each one can in theory hear the radio of the other.
ES: You could form a peer to peer network.
JA: So in theory you could form a peer to peer network. Now the way most GSM phones are being constructed and others is that they receive on a different frequency to that which they transmit…
JA: …and that means that they cannot form peer to peer networks. They have to go through base stations. But we’re seeing now that mobile phones are becoming more flexible in terms of base station programming. And they need to do this because they operate in different markets that have different frequencies. They have different forms of wireless output, and so … and also, even if there is not sufficiently flexible mobile phones, we are seeing that in the mobile phone aspect, maybe WiMax is coming along which will give them greater radius for two way communications. But also it is getting very cheap to make your own base station. There is software now which will run a base station.
ES: Right, right.
I CAN HAZ PEER TO PEER? Actually, no, you can’t. And notice how the Mole falls in line after his ignorance of mobile device security is laid bare. The “Right, right” line is actually where Schmidt spends most of his time: either agreeing with or parroting Assange (who I have to admit acquits himself disturbingly well throughout the interview). The high probability of Schmidt’s shoe jamming into his mouth with every third word out of it makes silence and deference his best shots at not sounding like an idiot.
Winner of the Award in the Field of Explicit Godwinning: Eric Schmidt!
ES: We went to Berlin, there is a place where they signed the final order, what’s it called?
Lisa Shields (Vice President of the Council on Foreign Relations): Final solution. Wannsee.
ES: Wannsee, and these are Germans. So they documented everything.
ES: So it’s exactly your point, so that in order to kill six million Jews, you actually have to write it down.
Because nothing stimulates the appetite like Holocaust statistics. At least he got the number right.
Schmidt as the Early-onset Alzheimer’s Philosopher
ES: Here’s an aside for you. A few weeks ago I was with Warren Buffett… who’s 78. And I said What are you up to? And he said ‘This next year will be the best year of my life. And I thought ok…
Scott Malcomson (long-assed title, some kind of bureaucratic ghostwriter): I need to go the rest room. Upstairs?
“I’m hoping Eric will get more interesting once I take a couple of belts from this flask I brought for exactly this reason.”
ES: So I thought ok. He’s obviously playing with me, and then I figured it out that if you’re 76, then the next year is going to be the best year of the rest of your life. Because at some point there is going to be a year where it’s not going to be so good. And then you are going to be dead. And so, I love that, right. This next is going to be the best year.
76, 78 – whatever. Maybe Schmidt hit the bathroom 10 minutes before Malcomson.
Schmidt as the Gifted Public Speaker
Number of times [inaudible] appears after Schmidt’s initials: 9. I’m sure whatever didn’t get picked up by the mic was wrong anyway.
Eric Schmidt: Google representative to the U.S. Government – and now to all the world. No wonder the rest of it hates us.