Larry Page, co-founder and CEO of Google, is not a fan of the US government's privacy intrusions. "For me, it's tremendously disappointing that the government secretly did all this stuff and didn't tell us," he told Charlie Rose during an interview on the TED stage this week. "I don't think we can have a democracy if we have to protect you and your users from the government."
Not that Page is against open data. As the sufferer of a rare condition that has caused him to lose his voice, he's open to the opportunities that medical data can offer.
"Wouldn't it be amazing to have anonymous medical records available to all research doctors?" he asked. Page also suggested that patients could be notified whenever a doctor looks at their record. As we noted in our list of the world-changing ideas for 2014, doctors are already thinking about the possibility of transferring data from wearable health sensors into electronic medical records, de-identifying it, and making it public.
Page believes that data—like location data from phones—can also be useful in our daily online lives, if it comes with the proper protections. "We’re excited about incognito mode in Chrome, and doing that in more ways. But just giving people more choice and awareness of what’s going on," he said.
The Google co-founder also discussed some of the big-picture projects that his company is working on, including self-driving cars and balloons that offer Internet access in remote areas. His belief: a mesh of these balloons can cover the entire planet, offering Internet access to all.
Painting by Paul Corio.