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Google boss warns politicians about Internet power

Google boss warns politicians about Internet power

Imagine being able to check instantly whether or not statements made by politicians were correct. That is the sort of service Google Inc. boss Eric Schmidt believes the Internet will offer within five years.

Politicians have yet to appreciate the impact of the online world, which will also affect the outcome of elections, Schmidt said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Wednesday.

He predicted that "truth predictor" software would, within five years, "hold politicians to account." People would be able to use programmes to check seemingly factual statements against historical data to see to see if they were correct.

"One of my messages to them (politicians) is to think about having every one of your voters online all the time, then inputting 'is this true or false.' We (at Google) are not in charge of truth but we might be able to give a probability," he told the newspaper.

The chairman and chief executive of the world's most popular Internet search engine was speaking during a visit to Britain this week, where he met Prime Minister Tony Blair and spoke at the Conservative Party's annual conference.

"Many of the politicians don't actually understand the phenomenon of the Internet very well," Schmidt told the Financial Times. "It's partly because of their age ... often what they learn about the Internet they learn from their staffs and their children."

The advent of television taught political leaders the art of the sound bite. The Internet will also force them to adapt.

"The Internet has largely filled a role of funding for politicians ... but it has not yet affected elections. It clearly will," Schmidt said.

Writing in the Sun tabloid, the Google boss said the online world has empowered ordinary people with the ability to challenge governments, the media and business.

"It has broken down the barriers that exist between people and information, effectively democratising access to human knowledge," Schmidt wrote.

"This has made us much more powerful as individuals."


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