Google: Brace yourselves for the data explosion

Google CEO Eric Schmidt says a data tsunami is coming -- and we're totally unprepared to handle the deluge. He's right.


Google CEO Eric Schmidt had some scary things to say about privacy yesterday.  In a nutshell, he said there's an almost incomprehensible amount of data out there about all of us -- much of which we've generated ourselves via social networks, blogs, and so on -- and we are totally unprepared to deal with the implications of that fact.

Schmidt was speaking at the Techonomy confab, currently underway at California's Lake Tahoe, where large-brained people gather to talk about how technology and the economy intersect.

[ See also: Whom do you fear: Apple, Google, Microsoft, or God? ]

Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read Write Web distilled the highlights:

"There was 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003," Schmidt said, "but that much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing...People aren't ready for the technology revolution that's going to happen to them...."

"If I look at enough of your messaging and your location, and use Artificial Intelligence," Schmidt said, "we can predict where you are going to go."

"Show us 14 photos of yourself and we can identify who you are. You think you don't have 14 photos of yourself on the internet? You've got Facebook photos! People will find it's very useful to have devices that remember what you want to do, because you forgot...But society isn't ready for questions that will be raised as result of user-generated content."

Are visions of 2001's HAL 9000 or maybe The Terminator's SkyNet dancing in your head yet? How about Minority Report or Enemy of the State?

In those movies, it was malevolent machines or government agencies that played the boogieman. In Schmidt's scenario, the source of evil is a lot murkier.

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