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Google chairman anticipates ‘heart attack day’ for technology


The day when the estimated five billion people who live day-to-day without technology connect to the Internet—for the first time—and receive a cell phone with access to communication will be a “heart attack day,” said Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google.

Right now those people lack textbooks, medical care, and entertainment. One day, they will join the world in receiving pages of information about issues such as medicine and education.

“ ‘Boom, all of a sudden there are all these things I can learn,’” he said. “These people are just like us. They are just trapped in a system that doesn’t teach them.”

Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, traveled to North Korea earlier this year in an attempt to convince the country’s leaders to open Internet channels. He told msnbc’s Louis Burgdorf in an Afternoon Mo’ Joe greenroom interview that North Koreans have access to cell phones but lack the data signals for communication because the government refuses to release the required access. The entire Western world not only connects to the Internet, but can also acquire fast service guaranteed by carriers.

The North Korean government’s level of control is “astounding” and “disturbing,” Schmidt said.

“Our goal was to get them to open it up just a little bit so at least people could have a little bit of a sense that maybe what the government is saying was not all the truth,” he said. “I don’t know if we had an impact, but it was a very strange place.”

People enjoy communicating, and more communication is a positive aspect of technology advancements, Schmidt said. Mobile devices have changed people’s lives, exceeded society’s expectations, and made desktop computers obsolete. New applications on these devices will advance technology within the next decade.

“We’re not quite able to build that product, but we’re getting there,” he said.

On Tuesday’s Morning Joe, Schmidt discussed his book, The New Digital Age, which he co-authored with Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas.

Schmidt joined Google in 2001 and helped grow the company from a start-up to a global leader in technology. In his current job as executive chairman, he builds partnerships and broader business relationships, and is responsible for government outreach and technology thought leadership, according to the company’s website. He also advises the CEO and senior leadership on business and policy issues.

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