If you’re not familiar with Eric Schmidt, he’s the former CEO of Google. Schmidt played a pivotal role in shaping Google into what it is today. He left the position of CEO once founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were comfortable enough to take the reigns themselves. While he isn’t involved in the day to day operations at Google any longer, he’s still out giving talks and making appearances.
One such appearance was at a private event hosted by investment firm Village Global VC. It’s here where Schmidt suggested that within the next decade, the internet will split into two versions. One version will be controlled by the United States while the other version will be controlled by China. Schmidt’s comments were prompted by a question from economist Tyler Cowen who asked. “What’s the chance, say, 10 to 15 years, we have just three to four separate internets?”
Schmidt’s response was:
“I think the most likely scenario now is not a splintering, but rather a bifurcation into a Chinese-led internet and a non-Chinese internet led by America.
If you look at China, and I was just there, the scale of the companies that are being built, the services being built, the wealth that is being created is phenomenal. Chinese Internet is a greater percentage of the GDP of China, which is a big number, than the same percentage of the US, which is also a big number.
If you think of China as like ‘Oh yeah, they’re good with the Internet,’ you’re missing the point. Globalization means that they get to play too. I think you’re going to see fantastic leadership in products and services from China. There’s a real danger that along with those products and services comes a different leadership regime from government, with censorship, controls, etc.
Look at the way BRI works – their Belt and Road Initiative, which involves 60-ish countries – it’s perfectly possible those countries will begin to take on the infrastructure that China has with some loss of freedom.”
It’s interesting to hear Schmidt say this as Google is in the midst of developing Project Dragonfly. The project is a version of Google Search built for China. It adheres to the Chinese government’s strict rules and regulations it imposes on its people. The project is controversial not only among public opinion but also with Google employees.
Last Updated on September 25, 2018.