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February 20, 2007

Larry Page Speaks About Marketing Great Ideas

Last week, Larry Page spoke at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. He explained there are "some people at Google [who] are really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale. It's not as far off as people think." CNet resumes his conclusions: "His guess, he said, was that the brain's algorithms weren't all that complicated and could be approximated, eventually, with a lot of computational power."

Larry Page talked about his Tesla complex. "As a boy, Larry Page was fascinated with inventors and their creations. But he was troubled by stories of those who revolutionized everyday life, but were never fully recognized for their inventions." He read Nikola Tesla's autobiography and couldn't understand how someone who discovered things of groundbreaking importance could be "ostracized and regarded as a mad scientist". Now Larry Page tells the scientists to market themselves and their inventions and "get in the habit of investing part of their scientific grant money to marketing budgets, in order to get the word out to the media about their research".

Google offers some ways to market their ideas: they can make their research available in Google Scholar, record scientific lectures and upload them to Google Video, but there's still a lot to be done. "Most of the works you guys have done are not represented in those searches. We have to unlock the wealth of scientific knowledge and get it to everyone. I don't care what we do, but we need to do something."

He also talked about some important ideas that could change the world, but aren't put into practice because people don't try hard enough:
* Noting how 40,000 people die annually in U.S. auto accidents, Page proposed giving computers control over cars. While many people fear the loss of control, he said, "I am pretty sure if computers guided cars, a lot fewer people would die."

* Build fewer roads in underdeveloped parts of Africa. Instead, he suggested ultra light planes capable of traveling at up to 90 mph (145 kph) and which would consume less gasoline than ground vehicles.

* Solar energy installations in the Nevada desert were capable of producing 800 megawatts per square mile (2.5 square km), somewhat less than half the 2,000 megawatts of a nuclear power plant, he said. (A mid sized natural gas-powered plant generates around 400 or 500 megawatts).

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