Skip to main content

Don't fiddle with the Wibble, Schmidt tells Gov.

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt had a word or two for British Prime Minister David Cameron in his wide-ranging, Google TV-promoting, MacTaggart Lecture delivered in Edinburgh on Friday.

Along with expressing dismay at the way the British education system foolishly splits science from humanities, a fundamental flaw which Schmidt reckoned led to a shortage of creative engineers in the country, Schmidt also hit out at Cameron's knee-jerk reaction to unrest on the streets of British cities - shut down the Web!

Cameron thought the use of the likes of RIM's BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter and Facebook helped looters locate the best flat-screen TVS and trainers on the high street. He thought would be a good to ban the use of such technology when public order is threatened.

He sang from a different hymn sheet when witnessing the 'Arab Spring' uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, however.

"I think it's a mistake. I hope that's a clear answer," Schmidt said during his lecture. "Whatever the problem was, which I don't really understand... the Internet was a reflection of that problem but turning the Internet on and off is not going to fix it."

Schmidt said: "It's a mistake to look in the mirror and decide to break the mirror. The fact of the matter is whatever the problem was ... whatever the underlying problem was, the Internet is a reflection of that problem but turning on and off the Internet is not going to fix it.

"You better fix whatever the underlying problem was."

Part of the problem for Schmidt is an education system that divides students into "boffins" and "luvvies".

"Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it's made. That is just throwing away your great computing heritage," he blasted.

Schmidt is the first non-broadcaster to deliver the annual lecture, dedicated to the memory of actor and producer James MacTaggart.