Google Boss takes on NDTV Boss with elan-2
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

Google Boss takes on NDTV Boss with elan-2

October 23, 2017

[Continued from yesterday]

But…it is (Artificial Intelligence) better than human beings at analysing, so here is an AI, impartial, non-political machine; learning comes out of the forecast, the worries are big time,” says Prannoy Roy.

Hello, is there someone in India who wants a civil war?

A big time question! Let it be. If it were to be prophetic, so be it. Let us take solace in what the Prince of Denmark Hamlet was bemoaning with these iconic lines:

The time is out of joint — O cursèd spite,

That ever I was born to set it right!

Nay, come, let’s go together.

The smart good guy that Pichai is, he wisely parries the political question and enters the dark, quiet tunnel of science and technology that is his forte. Talks about how far away we are from developing AI and how AI is now able to translate languages so that one could talk to any person who does not know your language. He disclosed a product Google launched recently called Google Tez in India. This was possible “because of the digital payment infrastructure, right, that India has done… from here we take it to the rest of the world… So yes, very proud.”

Now that Prime Minister Modi gets the credit, it is time for Prannoy Roy to avoid the subject and pack off to China to ask about Chinese browser company etc., etc. to show how Chinese are smarter than Modi’s India!

Sundar Pichai, Prannoy Roy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as seen in the interview.

Aadhaar and Privacy

However, soon he returns to Modi by other means to discredit him in another front. Aadhaar. So, Prannoy Roy leads to it with a subterfuge in the question about Privacy which, according to him is a worry. A question of security of your data: Will my privacy be compromised by AI or Aadhaar?

Sundar Pichai assures a worried Prannoy Roy that just as “Your money is safer in the bank,” Google builds the most secure system in the world.

Prannoy Roy doggedly pursued the question: So how important is data security and privacy?

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Security is the foundation of everything Google does, was the reply. But a news-hound, determined to get an answer he wants, pursues the prey, giving a hot chase. Apparently Pichai sees through the camouflaged question and outsmarts the tired old news-hound who asks:

“Nobody can hack  into it and suddenly…

What suddenly? Here is what Pichai said with his Rama Bana of an answer:

“Security you have to earn it every day… we give security to our users.”

After some cherry-picking, Prannoy Roy descends on India, about security. “Will other countries do it, will India do it?” Pichai says that when users demand it must be provided.

Look how nuanced Prannoy Roy’s tendentious question or remark is to fix, well who else:

NDTV: If you do not trust it, you won’t use that browser.

Let me add a caveat to this. Actually, Prannoy Roy wanted to say Aadhaar instead of browser. Well, I may be wrong!

Sundar Pichai: That’s right, browsers or phones or whatever, it is right.

Hip, Hip, Hurrah. The high soaring eagle at last descends hoping to scoop the much rubbished Aadhaar delivered by UPA but embraced with great love by Modi’s NDA.

NDTV: We have in India the Aadhaar card, which in my opinion is… wonderful, but there is a lot of worry.

This is how Sundar Pichai responded: “You know I am not fully familiar with it. In such matters you have to generate benefits to its users. For example, when I go to get a driver’s licence, I am giving up some privacy. I do it because I see the benefit of it, getting a driver’s licence. The good that comes out of it far outweighs the privacy you give up. But you have to put checks and balances to make it work well for you.”

Prannoy Roy then says, rather with sarcasm, that one has to worry because some are (read Modi) so smart that you have to worry what their intentions are. When Pichai says “Yes,” NDTV brings in EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) and says wonderful as they are, can’t be hacked, yet nobody trusts them, “I mean the losers don’t trust them.”

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“I wish we had EVMs here in USA…” was Pichai’s response.

I guess giving interviews to journalists with an agenda is like entering into untested waters that is silent on the surface. This one seemed no different.

However, Sundar Pichai is no novice either. Which is why when Prannoy Roy asked him a question that involved President Trump prefacing it saying that President Trump “Just didn’t quite fit in with my view of America,” as if it mattered to others and adding “I think Obama was just wonderful.” Then, in a pre-emptive move, saying “You are nodding, you agree?”

Sundar Pichai: I am not here to talk politics, but I deeply respect democratic process…

But Prannoy Roy is not the one to give up. Finds devious, subtle (or was it cunning?) ways to bring the world famous technician-scientist-administrator Sundar Pichai to bite the fat smeared bullet (remember 1857?) of a question. But Pichai refused to bite. Prannoy Roy asks a leading question like the defence advocate: India’s diversity is in danger.

“No I have faith in the system. It will keep India together for a long time despite diversity,” opines Pichai, disappointing the interviewer, nay the interrogator.

Then comes questions about the religion and caste as a snare. Pichai dodges the clever question cleverly.

“Focus on what matters; economic growth, job prosperity, GDP growth… so that people can be better off,” was Pichai’s wise counsel to a doomsday prophet who again reverts to his pet obsession — Diversity and Social Media.

Poor Pichai was looking like one facing an old, famished man-eater of a tiger confident of getting at its prey. But the young antler with nimble legs gave slip to the salivating predator each time it thought the prey is almost in its clutches.

Towards the end, Prannoy Roy asks for a memorable quote of what happened when he became the CEO.

Sundar Pichai: May be nothing stands out.

I too felt, nothing stood out in this hour-long interview. Like peeling an onion, the Genetically Modified onion for mercy, without tears.


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