Google CEO on China vs US AI Race
So you've got the presidents of the two biggest economies in the world right here in big tech's backyard. And everybody has questions about A.I.. How much do you think is going to drive economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region and really the world? Let's say over the next decade? That's a big question. It's a good, good Walmart. I think the obviously rightfully I think the excitement around A.I. is is well-founded. I'm glad it's a big topic.
Let me start with the Asia-Pacific question. One of the things that excites me is if you're in a region unlike the past technologies. Take the PC revolution yet in some ways play catch up. Mobile was the first transition, I think, in Asia. You know, you almost co-developed it. I look at Android. It wouldn't have happened without all
the work we did in Asia. Our partners in Asia be with Samsung or HTC, in Taiwan and so on. But I think you started leapfrogging and you need to play catch up with legacy. I think I takes it the next step further. I think it's the first technology. I think you're all in a real position to be right right there from the start and have a seat as this technology develops. So I think that has profound implications. You know, you all can be as a native, as
as what's happening in the US and so on. So I think in that way, you know, it's a it's going to have a big impact. I think the way you do that, though, is by, as you know, Apex countries. I would say you have to have a
pro-innovation mindset. You have to embrace it at the start. Make sure you have the right infrastructure in the country to facilitate innovation. You're thinking about the right balance regulation, both from an innovation and safety standpoint. And then as government maybe lead the way.
What are the projects you can visibly do? How do you use A.I. to digitize services and service citizens better? I think if we lead the way and then invest in skilling, etc., I think there's a real chance. I think it could be more exciting. India, your native country, is now the most populous country in the world. Do you see AI as a massive opportunity
for India, or could it lead to a massive dislocation given the number of lower level coding customer services jobs based there? I do think it's going to be a massive opportunity, you know, across India has India has to make progress on many, many fundamental areas, Right. Beat health care, agriculture, food security, climate change and so on. So an air is going to help us make progress.
So it is a big opportunity. I think even on the labour market, you know, a few things I would say. There's a study from M.I.T. economist David Order that if you look at today, a vast majority of jobs that exist today are in new specialities or categories that have come about since 1940. So in some ways this can be counterintuitive. Over the last 20 years, we've all worried about automation and, you know, it hasn't quite played out the way we predicted it. Having said that, I think your question is important. I think for many jobs, it also has an
opportunity to played out in a much better way. It make the jobs easier to do. Like, you know, if you can imagine how do you have radiologists to cover India's breadth of population? I can actually help expand access. But finally, there are a category of
jobs where there will be a shift. And I think that's where the only way to make progress. No one can do it alone. You have to invest in the hard work of skilling and workforce transition. That's true for India. That's true for every country in the world, I think. You've met with President Biden on AI in Washington, Prime Minister Sunak on AI in London.
How do we get to global consensus on smart AI regulation? It's not going to be easy, but. But I would start from the premise that I will proliferate. So this is not the inherent nature of software. Advances will get out to all countries. And so it is naturally the kind of technology. I don't think there is any unilateral safety to be had.
We all have a shared incentive to solve for safety. You know, you could have a go wrong in one country that will impact every other country. So in some ways it's like climate change on the planet. We all share a planet. I think that's true for A.I.. So now that you know that that will be true, I think you have to start building the frameworks globally to make progress. I've seen encouraging progress when the
G7 happened in Hiroshima. I think it was a good start. You've seen more progress. The UK summit last week, the administration here, the White House has been leading the way as well. And I saw good encouraging announcements even yesterday for U.S. and China to start having a dialogue on A.I.. Well, that was my next question. Should Chinese regulators be part of
this conversation on AI regulation? I you know, my sense is there is no way you make progress over the long term without, you know, China and the US deeply talking to each other on something like A.I.. So I think that has got to be an integral part of how you make progress. So I think I'm glad to see it. And, you know, we have to lay the foundations. The good thing is we are still in the
early days of the technology. So laying the foundations now will allow us to work through the tough issues and build a common framework over time. Google and other big tech companies have been criticized for pushing self-serving regulation and pulling up the ladder behind them in a way that will stifle A.I. innovation among startups.
How do you respond to that? Quite the opposite. I mean, pretty much on most areas we have worked on. We have deeply supported open innovation. You know, if you look at things like Android or Chrome, you know, these are all big open source projects. Most of the current AI revolution is
based on work, which we published as a company and shared with the world. And I think as we move ahead, open source is going to play a critical role in driving innovation forward. And I think we have to be careful not to do regulation in a way that, you know, either harms open source technologies or smaller companies. So I actually think we care about that. You know, having said that, I think. We are also being asked to contribute for. How would you tackle air safety? Right.
And so we have to think through issues like that. I don't see this as being at odds with each other. For example, next year, about two and a half billion people around the world would participate in an election. Right. The biggest election in history is going to be happening in India. That's right. And, you know, many more countries around the world, including the US, so maybe almost one in three people in the world may participate in the electoral process next year.
So how do you think about, you know, generally way I, you know, casting misinformation there? You know, these are real problems. So we are thinking through areas like that. But I think that that is not the that shouldn't hinder innovation because of the opportunity opportunity we talked about earlier.
So we you know, we we think about this framework as being bold and responsible at the same time. And I think it's important to do both. And I think that's true for governments as well. We've already seen, you know, as it pertains to India, 3D generated holograms of Prime Minister Modi, generated voice and voice and songs. How do you think AI and obviously the US presidential election coming up as well? How do you think A.I. is going to further test election integrity? I think, you know, over time it's going to lower the barrier for creating, you know, artificial information which may or may not matter what's happening in the real world.
Right. And that barrier will come down. So in this cat and mouse game, how do we amp up our defenses against that? We are in early stages, right? You know, we were one of the first companies to announce a watermarking technology for image generation. It's called S.A.T., done by DeepMind, and we are providing API access to it.
But all of us need to tackle it. These are areas where regulation will have to play a role, right? And then governments will have to, over time, pass regulations about what is okay for, you know, some of this synthetic content. And so which is why I think you have to think about it, you know, together. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has said
repeatedly he wants to know more about what's happening with AI in China. What do you know and what do you not know about where China is on AI? Look, I think they're making. From what I can tell, they're making deep investments in A.I.. The scale of A.I. research talent in China is just simply astounding to see. So I think, you know, in some ways, this question, China is going to be at the forefront of A.I. And, you know, I think that's a given.
And so the question is, how do we work over time both for, you know, other countries to make sure you're making progress in A.I. And over time, how do we develop the frameworks where, you know, countries can coexist peacefully in a world in which they will be, you know, everywhere? You know, President Biden actually just said he doesn't see the US decoupling with China, but the world does seem to be on a path to two separate Internets. Do we continue in that direction and what does that mean? It's tough to see things go through in phases. I think we are definitely in a phase where there are more forces pulling it apart. But, you know, inherently these technologies also facilitate easy exchange of information. So I think there are countervailing forces as well. So I think it's tough to predict.
I do think information wants to flow freely by nature. So, you know, my hope is over time, you know, things to come back again. Could I or cloud some of these newer businesses that Google has been building? Could that be a path back into China for Google? You know, today we you know, our presence in China is limited, limited. And we are definitely focused on we we deeply partner with governments around the world. In fact, one of the big opportunities we have with cloud and AI is many governments are working and they are thinking about how to incorporate A.I. to transform their services to their citizens, improve their infrastructure, etc.. So it's an area where we really focus
on, but not mostly because of China. Now, the conversation around A.I. is super polarized. Either we're headed toward human extinction and the robot collapse, or we're all going to have superpowers. Which one is it? You know, I am I'm optimistic, Right. I think as humanity, we have harnessed every technology to our benefits, you know, and more than any other technology have seen us be worried about it at its earliest stages. So in some ways, that gives me hope. I do think we have to be very optimistic because it can really drive progress, you know, at a fundamental level, beat scientific discovery like we are seeing with Alpha fold at Google. So I think there's a lot of optimism to
be had. And I think we have to work hard to harness it. But that is true of every technological advance we've had before. It was true of the Industrial Revolution. I think we can learn from those things, act earlier to work hard at making sure there's a better outcome. So I'm optimistic. Yeah.
You pivoted Google to an AI first company in 2016, and yet there's still this perception that Google is somehow missing the boat on AI. Are you behind? Are you behind open? I you know, look, I mean, credit to them for I think Chad was a great product with a great product market fit. But when I look at me, we have been incorporating AI in our products for a long time. A lot of the underlying technology is built from Google. We are building our next generation of
models with Gemini and I am extraordinarily excited at the innovation coming ahead. If anything, I look ahead, I think we built the company for this moment. I expect it to be a golden age of innovation ahead and can't wait to bring all the innovations to more people. So tell us more about Gemini. Give us a glimpse. I mean, this is something that's been touted as a magic ingredient for search. What have you seen and how transformative.
Look, I be. I think all of us are trying to push the state of the art of gender. The way is our goal with Jim and I, you know, is is to put out a state of the art model, right? That's where we would start with Gemini 1.2 and then add more innovations. You know, truly make the multimodal bring in features like memory and planning in and so on. But we are focused on getting it out. You know, I view Gemini as a series of models. We have focused on getting Gemini 1.2 out as soon as possible, make sure it's
competitive state of the art and build from there on. Google just invested $2 billion in anthropic. Microsoft, of course, has billions in openai. I recently sat down with Lina Khan, who's the chair of the U.S.
Federal Trade Commission, and she said they're hearing concerns that big tech companies are extending their power by investing not just money, but also sharing their clouds with these AI startups. Is that fair? Can innovators succeed and startup succeed without allying themselves with big tech? Well, you know, I mean, it all depends on the details. And, you know, in these deals, when we deal with these companies, we are enabling them because of our cloud technology. And we you know, we don't have a controlling stake in any of these companies. So they are independent companies in which we are a technology provider. Right. And I think I actually make the argument the opposite way.
If you just look at the last year, look at all the new names we are talking about. To me, it shows that we are in an incredibly dynamic moment again. You know, and so and and, yes, we I think we we have to play a role in enabling the next generation of companies, which is what cloud does. And cloud allows us to take the same technology that Google is built on and actually share it with everyone else. So I think if anything, it's pro-innovation.
And so I think there's a lot of good things about it. You've been spending some time in Washington lately. There are a couple of big trials underway. The US Justice Department, for one, is trying to prove that Google is a monopoly, a search monopoly. Google does dominate 90% of search, which is 90% of like how we see and experience the world. It's hard to get information and not use Google.
Why should any one company have that much power? You know, I genuinely think we don't have that position. We are not 90% of users information needs. You know, I look at my kids generation on their phone. They have access to the entire world's information at their fingertips. They're getting a lot of their information from social media.
They get to go to wherever they want. And so, you know, those are not people who don't always go to a general search engine for information. And that plays out in the ads market, too. I think we've just talked about when I look at how much tech is constantly innovating and we have to work harder every year.
You know, there's irony in your question of R&D in this position and R&D behind me. I mean, so both can be true at the same time. So it's clearly a dynamic moment. And, you know, I'm glad we get a chance to make that case. And so I think I think the facts would speak for themselves. Some of Google's work with governments around the world has gotten pushback from your own employees. Obviously, we've got the world watching the Israel-Hamas war right now. You've got a contract project Nimbus,
whereby Google provides cloud and AI services along with Amazon's US to the Israeli military and government. Can you give us an update on that project? It's very much in line with what I said earlier. We work with governments around the world. You know, we think it's our
responsibility as an important technology. How do you use it to modernize your country's infrastructure and your services project? Nimbus. This was a RFP from Israel's Ministry of Finance to modernize their digital infrastructure, and that's the project. And we are proud to be doing Project Nimbus like we do with many governments around the world. There was, you know, Russia, Ukraine, and now we've got Israel and Hamas.
How do you think about wielding Google's geopolitical power in a time of conflict? Look, I mean, I view this as a partner to, you know, like minded governments which share democratic values around the world. I think we can be a critical technology partner. I think we want to participate in important issues that affect these countries, beats killing and educating their workforce by bringing access to more knowledge and information.
And that's the role. And we're helping them build out their digital infrastructure, including A.I.. And I think that's the role. You know, we don't see it in the geopolitical context. We see it in an enabling context. We want to be partners to these
companies. And, you know, and there are times information plays an important role in these moments, and we want to get those moments right. And so that's the way I think about it. Mm. Google in so much. Not every government is like minded, right.
Google and so much of U.S. tech relies on Taiwan for chips. If tensions escalate between Taiwan and China, how big a threat is that to the US tech industry? And is enough being done to mitigate that risk? This goes beyond Google. I think in today's world, a lot of the semiconductor manufacturing technology, you know, comes out of the innovation from Taiwan. And, you know, that's a dependency which exists. And so, you know, but this is not a unique Google thing.
And, you know, my sense is it'll be that way for a long time to come. Eight years ago, you changed Google's motto. Google changed its motto from Don't be evil to do the right thing. What does it mean to do the right thing in an AI powered world? Hopefully I will also help us, you know, give inputs to it.
But look, I think it has to be grounded in the fundamental values of humanity, human rights and universal human values we all agree on has got to be the foundation for it. And, you know, you have to build it up from there. And there'll be a lot of debate about it. But, you know, that's the foundational thing I would go back to.
And, you know, as long as I reflects the essence of what's good about enabling, good about humanity, I think will be will be okay. Everyone likes to ask you what keeps you up at night? And I'm curious right now, this year. What do you worry about? You know. But look, I am excited because it's an extraordinary moment of innovation. You know, when I look at the pace of activity, you know, even at Google, it reminds me of Google's earliest days.
So so there's a lot of energy I get from that, you know, innovation because, you know, it plays out and will drive benefits in the world. I do worry about many things making sure we are meeting the moment and moving fast as a company to. Making sure to the election question We talked about getting it right and the responsibility to do so. So it's a it's a balance of all of that. All right.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, thank you for spending your time with us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.