Google CEO Sundar Pichai: ‘Tech Doesn’t Solve Humanity’s Problems’

‘Technology doesn’t solve humanity’s problems’: Google CEO Sundar Pichai admits we are ‘over-reliant’ on tech

  • Pichai says tech firms were ‘naive’ to believe it could ‘solve humanity’s problems’
  • He defended Google’s controversial project to launch a search engine in China 
  • He vowed to push through with the technology ‘whatever form it takes’
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Google’s CEO has admitted that Silicon Valley was ‘naive’ to believe it could ‘solve humanity’s problems’.

In a new interview, Sundar Pichai, 46, also defended Google’s controversial decision to launch a censored version of its search engine in China.

Google remains fully committed to the project, despite receiving heavy criticism for the tool following a string of high-profile leaks, Pinchai says.

He vowed to push through with the technology, which will reportedly block search terms linked to human rights and protest – ‘whatever form it takes’.

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Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai (file photo) has admitted that Silicon Valley was ‘naïve’ to believe it could ‘solve humanity’s problems’

After he was asked by the New York Times whether he felt ‘like Silicon Valley has retained that idealism that struck you when you arrived here,’ Pichai responded: ‘There’s still that optimism, but it is tempered by a sense of deliberation.

‘Things have changed quite a bit. We deliberate about things a lot more, and we are more thoughtful about what we do.

‘But there’s a deeper thing here, which is: Technology doesn’t solve humanity’s problems. It was always naive to think so.

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‘Technology is an enabler, but humanity has to deal with humanity’s problems.

‘I think we’re both over-reliant on technology as a way to solve things and probably, at this moment, over-indexing on technology as a source of all problems, too.’

Pichai also defended Google’s decision to work with authoritarian governments, including China, where it is planning to launch Project Dragonfly next year. 


Pichai, 46, also defended Google’s controversial project to bring a censored version of its search engine to China. Pictured are the company’s offices in New York City (file photo)

‘Dragonfly’ is a rumoured effort inside Google to develop a search engine for China that would censor certain terms and news outlets, among other things.

Reports claim the tool ties users’ Google searches to their personal phone numbers to help the Chinese government monitor its citizens. 

Pinchai said: ‘One of the things that’s not well understood, I think, is that we operate in many countries where there is censorship.

WHAT IS GOOGLE’S ‘PROJECT DRAGONFLY’ SEARCH ENGINE?

Google intends to launch a controversial censored version of its Search app for China by July 2019.

‘Dragonfly’ is a rumoured effort inside Google to develop a search engine for China that would censor certain terms and news outlets, among other things.

Reports claim the tool ties users’ Google searches to their personal phone numbers to help the Chinese government monitor its citizens.

Outside of high-profile leaks, few details have emerged on what the search engine entails as Google has kept tight-lipped on the project.

A former Google employee warned of the web giant’s ‘disturbing’ plans in a letter sent to the US’s senate’s commerce committee in August.

Jack Poulson said the proposed Dragonfly website was ‘tailored to the censorship and surveillance demands of the Chinese government’.

In his letter he also claimed that discussion of the plans among Google employees had been ‘increasingly stifled’.

Mr Poulson was a senior research scientist at Google until he resigned in July 2018 in protest at the Dragonfly proposals.

‘When we follow “right to be forgotten” laws, we are censoring search results because we’re complying with the law.’

‘I’m committed to serving users in China. Whatever form it takes, I actually don’t know the answer.

‘It’s not even clear to me that search in China is the product we need to do today.’

Google is currently wrangling with what is arguably the toughest period in the company’s 20-year history.


Google is currently wrangling with what is arguably the toughest period in the company’s 20-year history. Thousands of high-paid engineers and other Google staff walked out of their offices in protest last week over over the company’s male-dominated culture (file photo)

Workers left their cubicles in dozens of offices around the world to protest what they considered management’s lax treatment of top executives and other male workers accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct.

The protest’s organisers estimated that about 20,000 workers participated.

Google bowed to one of the protesters’ main demands on Thursday by dropping mandatory arbitration of all sexual misconduct cases.

That will now be optional, so workers can choose to sue in court and present their case in front of a jury.

It mirrors a change made by ride-hailing service Uber after complaints from its female employees prompted an internal investigation.

The probe concluded that its rank had been poisoned by rampant sexual harassment.

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