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A Googley Good Evening

Brand Meir Brand, Google’s VP and Diector of EMEA

One hundred people recently logged in to a Zoom meeting with Google's VP and Director of EMEA Emerging Markets. Despite the impressive title, Meir Brand proved to be a regular friendly Israeli guy, very well-spoken, knowledgeable, and personable.

He started off with a glimpse of three major future technological trends.

Connectivity: Half the world's population is connected to the Internet and to each other, leaving an awful lot of people that aren't. It is one of Google's goals, he told us, to reach those parts of the world that have no access to the Internet, and to eventually see everyone connected.

The growing digital skills gap: The need for advanced digital skills is constantly growing, and the available qualified workforce is not keeping pace with market demands.

Artificial intelligence (AI): He likens its arrival on the scene to the discovery of fire or electricity - that's how much it propels technology forward, opening up new worlds of possibilities.

The rest of the event focused on selected questions sent in by participants, including students from ESRA's Students Build a Community project.

It's not easy for an inexperienced graduate to land their first job in high-tech. Do you have any tips or suggestions?

My first job 25 years ago was as an economic advisor, not much like what I'm doing today. Every job you do gives you tools for later in life. Don't be picky about your first job and don't be shy. Be an entrepreneur and take initiative, being active in your search. And don't worry. Everyone finds a first job. 

How has Google contributed to Israeli society?

Google has grown tremendously in Israel because there's amazing talent here that helps drive the economy with the export of knowledge. Google has used its technology to Israel's benefit, such as putting the Dead Sea Scrolls online; enabling Yad Vashem to preserve live testimonials; offering free start-up training, and now all online; and more.

What has Google's role been during the pandemic?

The Internet and companies like Google have been a lifeline for personal connection, work, and governments. And after the pandemic, it will play a critical role in accelerating economic recovery, providing the tools for ecommerce and connectivity.

How does Google deal with privacy when people can be tracked?

Privacy goes with security, and that means transparency and control. The user decides if and when to allow tracking. For instance, when using WAZE, you allow the app to track you. Data is auto-deleted after 18 months.

How safe are social networks for children?

The Internet is an overwhelming force for good. But like any new technology, it poses challenges. Entering YouTube is like entering the world. If you wouldn't let your kid wander the streets alone, don't them wander YouTube alone! We've recently launched YouTube Kids.

How does Google filter out things like antisemitism?

The Internet is a mirror of the world, reflecting all the good and all the bad. We use machine learning to disallow unethical content. We react to people flagging undesirable content. Technology can recognize and explain what's bad or false, but it can't make it not happen. It's out there in the world.

Meir Brand also talked about Google's Alphabet XLab, developing new projects and checking their feasibility, such as auto-drive cars, or balloons for providing worldwide connectivity. He predicts that once connectivity reaches everywhere, Africa will become the world's biggest workforce.

The evening's moderator, Internet entrepreneur Ben Garrun, ended with an appeal for donations, mentioning that NIS 250,000 is still needed for ESRA to cover the coming year's costs of its Students Build a Community projects. Now operating in six communities in three cities throughout the country, they provide free housing for financially stressed students. In exchange, the students tutor and mentor local schoolchildren and become activists in the community, raising the children's academic level and transforming whole communities. These are projects where everyone wins - as did the people who helped to contributed by joined the Zoom event and enjoyed a fascinating evening with Google VP, Meir Brand.

Thank you Meir and thank you Google. 



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Monday, 20 May 2024

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