A series of early interviews on NPR this week are setting the stage for a new book from Google’s CEO and former State Department technology guru who works for Google’s in-house think tank. They explore the promise and limits of information–and implications for the Arab Spring, repressive regimes, and the changing role of nation-sates.
Schmidt: “The power of information is underrated. When we went to North Korea, we felt that if there was any way we could help get that country on the right track, [it] would be to get a little bit of Internet into the country. In many countries, the Internet is the only way to get an alternative point of view in, and the Internets arrival could destabilize some of these autocratic regimes, who we believe will fight it. They cant completely shut it off, because the Internet is too important for their business and their other goals, so a little bit of Internet in there will bring some openness and some ideas to every single country.”Countries that have the Internet already are not going to turn it off. And so the power of freedom, the power of ideas will spread, and it will change those societies in very dramatic ways. North Korea is the last stop. Its the one country thats never had the Internet, where its been blocked — in my view, very harshly — by the government. All they have to do is turn it on a little bit, and they cant turn it back. Once the ideas are in, you cannot kick them out of the country.