Google’s Eric Schmidt Delivers 2012 Commencement Address at Berkeley

Yes, it’s true, we have all this knowledge literally at our fingertips. But, just because we know much more than we used to doesn’t mean our problems just go away.

The future doesn’t just happen. It’s not etched or written or coded anywhere. There’s no algorithm or formula that says technology will do X, so Y is sure to happen. Technology doesn’t work on its own. It’s just a tool. You are the ones who harness its power. And that requires innovation and entrepreneurship.

Innovation is disruptive; one thing I’ll tell you: you know you are innovating when people are worried about you! Graduates, please make people worry …

Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of a new economy, and a more prosperous society, the engine that keeps communities growing. Two-thirds of the new jobs created are in small businesses, and you all should try now to create a small business… or be part of one… and, of course, I would recommend you use all of what Google has to offer to set it up.

You all have a chance to make an original contribution. Don’t just be a shepherd following someone else’s vision and ideas — new models, new forms, new thinking — that’s what the world needs.

You don’t need to become an aid worker or a teacher (though, I obviously applaud those who do). You don’t need to be an engineer (though, I’m pretty sure I’d support that, too). Everyone — all of you — can make their mark by creating new standards of brilliance and innovation.

And, those standards can spread — can scale — in ways once unimaginable. The collective intelligence of our society, our version of the Borg, is really quite different.

Think of it as a new society, with mostly American norms and values, that crosses continents and unites all of us. The empowerment of each of us empowers all of us; and the distinctive feature of your new world is that you can be unique while being completely connected. That, to me, more than anything else, is really the American dream.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I believe fully in the power of technology to change the world for the better. And I believe even more fully in the ability of your generation to use that power to great effect — to rule technology. But you can’t let technology rule you.

Remember to take at least one hour a day and turn off your devices. Shut it down. Learn where the OFF button is.

Take your eyes off the screen, and look into the eyes of the person you love. Have a conversation — a real conversation — with the friends who make you think, with the family who makes you laugh. Engage with the world around you, feel and taste and smell and hug what’s there, right in front of you — and not what’s a click away.

Life is not lived in the glow of a monitor. Life is not a series of status updates. Life is about who you love, how you live, it’s about who you travel through the world with. Your family, your collaborators, your friends. Life is a social experience first, and the best aspects of that experience are not lonely ones — they are spent in the company of others.

Our landscape has changed, yes, but our humanity will always remain, and that, above all else, is what makes us who we are. And who YOU are is a proud, talented group of Golden Bears.

At Berkeley you have all come to know extraordinary people. Look around — a few years ago you started off on the road to adventure with these people, knowing them as boys and girls, wandering around campus, dazed and overwhelmed. Now you are all extraordinary men and women, in total control of your destinies, ready to make your mark not on history, but on the future.

At times it may have seemed like the road ahead was an impossible slog. But today you have made it. And the friendships you forged when the times were good, when the times were bad — and when you realized you just overslept your lecture — those are the friendships that will matter for life. The people you have met at Berkeley will be some of the strongest friends and closest allies you will ever meet in your lives. It’s been that way for me.

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