Google’s Eric Schmidt Delivers 2012 Commencement Address at Berkeley

On Saturday, May 12, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, a 1982 graduate of UC Berkeley, delivered the keynote speech at graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2012. This is his address:

It’s great to be back at here on campus. It’s an honor to have been invited; it’s an honor to hold a degree from Berkeley. It’s an honor to look out on the next generation of Golden Bears.

When you return to a place of intense memories, you think it’s the place that has changed so much. But in truth, you are the one who has changed much more. Your memories will be vivid, things will look a little different, but feel very much the same.

When you return to Berkeley, you will have changed — and, in turn, you will have changed the world.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt addresses Berkeley’s Class of 2012 (Peg Skorpinski photo)
Before I really begin, let me just remind you tomorrow is Mother’s Day — all of you Mothers out there: The graduates might be the stars today, but just know that they would not shine as brightly if it were not for you. I say to all you graduates: If at first you don’t succeed … do it like your Mom told you to do it. That might be the best advice I give you today.

“Tempus fugit. Time is money. Most of all, time is dreams. And computers give you time for dreams.”

I walked across this stage in 1982. That year, the computer was Time magazine’s Person of the Year. That quote is from that article.

Computers were just entering the mainstream, big blocky contraptions, lugged into houses and plunked down on desks. Most of America had no idea the power in those machines. But, most Americans started to find they suddenly had more time for dreams.

Even in their wildest dreams, though, there is no way they thought that 30 years later, their children, their grandchildren, would carry something exponentially more powerful with them, everywhere they go, on their laps, in their pockets — digital connections forged among millions around the world, tethered together at all times in a form of worldwide community.

Computers obviously gave me time to dream, too.

Back then, back when I was, like you, going to the Greek Theatre before Stanford games and wandering up and down Telegraph, it felt like a new world was being imagined right here on campus, in all the different labs and workshops and dorms. There was something in the air that made you think — something that made you dream.

And today, I feel that again.

Just the other day, I saw video of a Berkeley student who totally automated his dorm room, his lights, his refrigerator, his TV, everything powered from his pocket. The “Romantic Mode” mirror ball was a nice touch, I might add. That’s just one small-scale example, obviously. But the energy here is similar to the energy 30 years ago, and 30 years before that … and before that, going back generations.

That’s what’s so special about this place. A place committed to personal liberty and free expression. A place where humanism and science coexist–and even feed off each other, in service of a better day. Twenty-two Nobel laureates … Olympic gold medalists … a Supreme Court chief justice and a secretary of defense … writers, artists, business pioneers, Oscar winners … even the reigning NFL MVP. They all roamed this beautiful campus and left to make their mark on the culture, on society, on the world.