Google boss sees sci-fi future

2012-03-05 22:49

Hanover - Google's executive chair Eric Schmidt cast a science-fiction vision of the future as the world's top tech fair opened on Monday, with the German IT sector predicting record sales in 2012.

"Think back to Star Trek, or my favourite the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Much of what those writers imagined is now possible," said Schmidt.

"Translating... voice recognition, electronic books. The people who predict that intelligent robots, virtual reality or self-driving cars will soon be commonplace are right," he added.

"Governments will be able to spot the economic makings of a crisis before they happen and doctors will be able to accurately predict the outbreak of disease before anyone feels it," predicted Schmidt.

The tech boss was speaking at the opening ceremony of the CeBIT, the world's biggest high-tech fair in the northern German city of Hanover, with 4 200 exhibitors from 70 countries expected to wow punters with their latest gadgets.

This year, the fair was to focus on the possibilities offered by "cloud computing", the concept of storing data remotely rather than on individual machines, as well as "managing trust", or the hot topic of internet security.

Declaring the fair officially open, Chancellor Angela Merkel returned to this theme of "managing trust", saying it was especially important among world leaders as they battled to solve the global economic crisis.

Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, this year's "partner country" at the CeBIT, expressed the hope that "technology, when put to human interests, can certainly produce a true revolution for the well-being of the people at large."

During the fair, tech giants Samsung, Sharp, Microsoft, Google and Facebook will be showing off the latest ultra-thin tablet computers and the smartphones of the future for work as well as futuristic, weird and wacky gadgets for fun.

Virtual eraser

Among the highlights is a robot that can make your lunch and a car that can change its length to slot into tricky parking spaces.

Others include a virtual "eraser" for wiping out traces of potentially embarrassing mistakes on the internet, a system for protecting smartphones from eavesdropping and a mobile device for asthmatics to assess the air quality.

And in the run-up to the fair, the German IT sector published new forecasts saying it expected to shrug off the eurozone debt crisis and register record sales this year.

IT industry lobby BITKOM said it expected sales growth of 1.6% this year to €151.0bn, pinning its hopes on the futuristic "cloud computing" technology.

If confirmed, this would be a significant improvement on the 0.5% gain seen last year in the sector and the first time sales have topped the €150bn mark.

"The debt crisis in Europe has not been able to touch the German high-tech sector yet. Companies' order books are filled nicely," said Dieter Kempf, the body's president.

"The IT sector is doing much better than the general economy and is therefore acting as a stabilising factor," Kempf told reporters, presenting the new forecasts.

More jobs

The positive trend in the sector should feed through into the labour market, BITKOM added, predicting an additional 10 000 jobs would be created this year.

The most meteoric growth was likely to be registered by "cloud computing", which has proved to be a "complete change in the way the sector operates", he said.

This sector was expected to enjoy growth in Germany of 37% per year on average until 2016. This year, the "cloud computing" business was expected to grow by 47% to €5.3bn.

Despite the bullish forecasts, BITKOM said that the IT sector in Europe would under perform other parts of the world.

In China, the sector was expected to grow by 9.7%, in the United States by 3.1%, in the whole 27-nation EU by 1.8% and in Japan by 1.1%.

At a global level, the sector is expected to grow by about four percent this year, according to the BITKOM forecasts.

Read more on:    google  |  eric schmidt  |  germany  |  technology  |  computing

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Things are slowly starting to slot into place. There is still some preparation work to be done to help consolidate and ground more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.