Google CEO Eric Schmidt went head-to-head with Stephen Colbert yesterday evening to discuss everything from data-mining to China to Schmidt's "joke" about privacy.
Colbert grilled Schmidt about Google's search algorithm, and what information the company collects about its users.
"It's true that we see your searches, but then we forget them after while," Schmidt explained (he later told Colbert he would "encourage" him to erase his browser history).
"And I'm supposed to trust you on that?" Colbert probed, asking later, "You wouldn't call that data mining?" Not surprisingly, Schmidt answered with firm, "We actually don't do data mining."
Colbert also brought up Schmidt's notorious suggestion, allegedly made during an interview with the Wall Street Journal, that in the future, "every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends' social media sites."
"It was a joke," Schmidt said of the statement. "It just wasn't a very good one...The serious goal is just rememeber when you post something, the comptuers remember forever."
Colbert probed Google's decision to shut down its search operations in Mainland China and pressed Schmidt on the company's "Don't be evil" motto.
To Colbert's question on why Google pulled out of China, Schmidt said, "We didn't like their laws."
"You immediately didn't like their laws?" Colbert asked. "How long did it take you to not like their laws?"
"Four years," Schmidt admitted.
And what about Google's commitment to not doing evil? "Right now your stock price is $513," Colbert said. "How low will that have to go before you say 'That's it we're going with evil?'"
"We were not evil when we had no stock price at all," answered Schmidt, to which Colbert quipped, "All men are sinners."
See Schmidt on the Colbert Report in the video below.