(Businessweek / Peg Korpinski)

(Businessweek / Peg Korpinski)

In our continuing series Talking Schmidt we bring you the most insightful lines from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Schmidt, who is promoting his new book The New Digital Age, spoke with NPR over the weekend on the Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! program in a rather lighthearted appearance.

NPR host Peter Sagal asked the executive chairman how much Google knew about its users at the top of show, which prompted Schmidt to admit, “Well, as much as you’ll let us know.”

Schmidt also mentioned that the company really doesn’t quite know the definition of evil, from its famous slogan “Don’t Be Evil,” and that he thought it was “the stupidest rule ever” when he joined the company.

He mentioned that the rule is useful, though, because it allows anyone to offer their veto on a project if they are not comfortable with its direction.

Schmidt discussed his ability to tap into the email of Gmail users at any time, but suggested that the risk far outweighed any curiosity he might have:

SAGAL: I’ve been to Googleplex in Mountain View?

SCHMIDT: Mountain View.

SAGAL: Mountain View. And they’ve got this screen up that shows, like, Google searches right now, things that people are typing into the search engine, so you know. If you wanted to, could you just flip a switch on your office computer and just, like, read my emails just for the hell of it?

SCHMIDT: Yes, and I would lose my job, be fired, and be sued to death.


SAGAL: If you admitted it.


SCHMIDT: Someone would find out, trust me.

His NPR appearance is by far one of the most delightful plugs for his new book so far, but also playfully asks some of the most daring questions.

The show is just over 10 minutes and is available on NPR’s website along with the full transcript.

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