LIVE: Google Cofounder Sergey Brin Answers Hard Questions

Sergey Brin Wearing Google Glass Portrait Illustration

Mike Nudelman/Business Insider



This evening, Google cofounder Sergey Brin is giving a rare interview at the Code Conference in Southern California. He's being interviewed by Code editors Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. We're on site, taking notes.

Walt wants to know if Sergey is as upset by NSA's spying as he was China's hacking Sergey says the Edward Snowden revelations were a huge disappointment.

He says if you go back to the Cold War, when the NSA was spying on Soviets generals etc, and protecting us from total annihalization, it made sense.

He says that during the War on Terror, you have to spy on everyone, and the threat is not total destruction, and so the balance is different.

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9:45 PM

Sergey says that Google was upping its defenses prior to the NSA revelations 9:46 PM


Kara wants to know what responsibility Google has now Sergey says there is always more you can do. He said Google has almost a 1,000 people working on Internet security.

He said that Google will encourage the government to reconsider its policies.

9:46 PM

Walt asks if its weird how much Google knows about its users Sergey says there is a lot of data that Google processes and stores, but doesn't "know" because "know" implies sentience.

9:48 PM

Sergey points out that Google depends on its users trusting Google So it is motivated to protect that privacy.

9:48 PM

Walt asks if there could be an Edward Snowden of Google Sergey says if you were able to see executive deliberations and emails, you'd see that there are people who care very deeply about privacy and safeguards.

9:50 PM

Kara asks what Sergey's view of privacy is Sergey says it's having the expectation that things intended to stay private, stay private.

9:52 PM

Walt asks Sergey why he didn't want to be CEO Sergey says: Is it true? I'm not CEO? He says that wasn't in his bullet points for the interview.


He says, I'm not the CEO very much by choice. There are a bunch of regulatory issues I'm glad Larry is taking on not me. He says he loves Google X, which takes him back to his roots.

He says Google X has preciesly 8 projects and doesn't allow new ones until old ones graduate.

9:53 PM

Walt and Kara ask Sergey to go over all 8 projects There are the Internet-providing balloons. One has gone around the world twice or three times, maybe four.

There's Project Glass, which by the way, Sergey wasn't wearing…

9:55 PM

Kara asks where Glass is now Sergey says there is a lot of backlash in the press. He says he uses it outdoors mostly. While he's biking or with his kids at the beach. He says early users are getting good experiences out of them. He says Google is still learning.

Fundamentally, what I've learned is: You get the most value out of them when you use them in context of eye-wear.

9:55 PM

He puts on a pair of Glass


Kara tells him to take them off because she hates them.

9:56 PM

Kara asks where is this going. Sergey says computers have been getting closer to your face.

9:57 PM

Sergey dropped his hotel key from his pocket and said "Walt, here you go for later." Kara says: "Sergey we're not going there tonight." An oblique reference to Sergey's affair with a Google marketing exec?

9:59 PM

Walt wants to know if Glass will be a commercial product this year Sergey says: "Plus or minus."

Kara: "What?"

Sergey: I hope by the end of the year.

9:59 PM

There's something new on self-driving cars We're watching a video…

10:12 PM

Sorry for the delay Here's a full post on the new car.

10:17 PM

The last several minutes have been a conversation about the new self-driving car Click on that link if you want to know what's being said.

10:18 PM

Kara says Google could do anything because it makes so much money from search. She says Google could open a restaraunt "Sergey's" and no one would care because it makes so much money from search.

Sergey says: "Who told you?"

10:19 PM

Kara's question is why do these moonshots? Sergey says: It's important for companies to do new things.

10:21 PM

Walt wants to know if other parts of Google are up to big things like this Sergey says I hope so.

10:22 PM

Kara asks how is Sergey's relationship with Larry Sergey says he sees Larry a couple times per week, but most of the time he's at Google X building which are futher away.

10:25 PM

They want to know what Sergey would do to reform patents Sergey says he would shorten the term of patents. He would require that the patent holder be actually practicing the patent.

He says there are a lot of times when inventors are patenting ideas that someone else was about to come up with anyway, and that those patents shouldn't exist.

10:28 PM

Who are Google X's competitors? Sergey says he can't really think of any

10:29 PM

What does Sergey think of social? He says he's the wrong person to ask because he's not very social.

"I'm kind of a weirdo."

10:30 PM

Walt: Does Google need to be in social? Sergey: You want to be able to take pictures with Google Glass and share it.

10:31 PM

Walt presses: It's not as though you need Google Plus to upload photos Sergey says that when Google Plus came out, it wasn't as easy to upload photos as it is now.

10:32 PM

Kara: How long are you going to keep doing this? Sergey: I dont' know. I'm pretty happy. As long as I'm happy. I've been much happier since I did Google X. I might pick one project to be able to focus. I like to be closer to the iron.

10:32 PM

Time for questions from the audience 10:32 PM

Jessica Lessin wants to know what Google is doing with satellites 10:33 PM

Sergey says: We already have a fleet of a million satellites "Just kidding"

Then he says: "There are no satellite projects I can announce today."


10:34 PM

Walt: What's interesting you about satellites? Sergey: Ok there are no Google X projects related to satellites. We work with a lot of satellites for things like Google Maps.

10:35 PM

How long before the world is ready for "remember somoene's name"? Sergey says we've not put facial recognition into Glass and have asked our developers not to.

Facial recognition is an area society is still formulating its views on, so we're going to focus on other things first.

10:36 PM

A European court said people have the right to be forgotten So what's Google going to do?

Sergey: "I wish we could forget the ruling."

He says it's a pain in the rear, and a lot of vagueness in the decision.

10:40 PM

Sergey fields a hypothetical question about self-driving cars Basically: in a certain scenario, how will it decide between killing you or killing pedestrians?

Sergey said the car is going to avoid hitting the pedestrians and that it's made out of durable materials that will protect you.

These kinds of hypothetical situations don't occur substantially, but there are 30,000 fatalities in the world and they are almost always driver error.

10:42 PM

What's up with Calico? Calico is the subsidiary that is working on solving death.

Sergey says he's not that exposed to it.

10:44 PM

Question: Why does it take so long to get things like Glass out? Sergey: Good question. For me, I've learned a lot about how hard it is to get hardware out. There are a zillion components from all over the world. It just takes a while. An online service, you can turn around every day. It's also a new formfactor and we're getting feedback.

More broadly, I'm frustrated by the development cycles. I want to record this question to show it to my team: why does it take so long?