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Chasing the next billion with Sundar Pichai

The Verge has a long and detailed profile of and interview with Sundar Pichai, the man at Google responsible for just about anything you use.

We sat down with Pichai to hear his vision for the Google of the future. He laid out a plan to improve Google’s products through machine learning – but more importantly, he sketched out a grand effort to deliver computing capabilities to billions of people around the world. Both in the way he manages his internal teams, and in his belief that technology can change people’s lives for the better, Pichai advocates an egalitarian ethos.

If there’s one thing that stood out during the I/O keynote yesterday, it was that Google was really hammering on the fact that it wants to create products for everyone. It wasn’t said with so many words, but the clear implication was “unlike Apple, which only builds products for rich people in the west”.

This egalitarian view permeated every aspect of the keynote, including the people on stage – instead of the usual procession of western, white 40-something men, almost half of all the presenters were women (I think there were three, like a VP of engineering), and a few people weren’t even western to begin with. This is unprecedented for technology companies – Apple, for instance, hasn’t ever had a woman present on stage (although Tim Cook did interview a supermodel on stage once).

We need this. Technology needs this. We need people from “new” economies, as well as women, to play a big part in the development of our technology to ensure that technology isn’t just designed for rich white people, but for everyone. Pichai knows this, and it was drop-dead obvious throughout the entire keynote.

Say what you want about Google – and there’s a lot to say – but in this aspect, they are so far ahead of the competition it’s not really a competition to begin with.

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