Google cofounders Larry Page (left) and Sergey Brin do a fireside chat with VC Vinod Khosla.
It's not often that Google's two founders do a joint interview, so when they do it's worth paying attention.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin conducted a fireside chat late last week with Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, about everything from self-driving cars and artificial intelligence to health projects and the unnecessary complexity of government.
Page, currently Google's CEO, discussed the need for business leaders to maintain a 20-year vision instead of a 4-year vision and revealed the criticism he got from Steve Jobs ("You guys are doing too much stuff.") He also tackled a couple hot-button issues, including his belief that society doesn't actually need everyone to work full-time anymore.
"If you really think about the things that you need to make yourself happy—housing, security, opportunities for your kids—anthropologists have been identifying these things. It's not that hard for us to provide those things," he said. "The amount of resources we need to do that, the amount of work that actually needs to go into that is pretty small. I'm guessing less than 1% at the moment.
So the idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people's needs is just not true.So the idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people's needs is just not true."
He acknowledged, however, that people need "things to do" and "need to feel like you're needed," desires that are fulfilled through labor. One solution he offered: reduce the work week and perhaps split one full-time job into multiple part-time jobs.
"You just reduce work time," Page said. "Most people, if I ask them, 'Would you like an extra week of vacation?' They raise their hands, 100% of the people. 'Two weeks vacation, or a four-day work week?' Everyone will raise their hand. Most people like working, but they'd also like to have more time with their family or to pursue their own interests. So that would be one way to deal with the problem, is if you had a coordinated way to just reduce the workweek. And then, if you add slightly less employment, you can adjust and people will still have jobs."
If that wasn't controversial enough, Page also addressed the increasing protests against Google and other tech companies over growing gentrification in the city. In his response, he effectively laid the blame on the city government, rather than the technology companies.
"This kind of thing is a really a governance problem, because we're building lots of jobs, lots of office buildings and no housing," Page said in the interview. "So, it's not surprising that caused a lot of issues. You also have a lot of people who are rent controlled, so they don't participate in the economic increase in housing prices. It actually hurts them. It doesn't help them. I think those problems are more structural and very serious problems."
Brin, who now oversees the company's secretive Google X division, focused more on Google's moonshot projects. In particular, he talked up Google's self-driving car, which he believes could potentially make a car ownership unnecessary for many.
"If you look at the self-driving cars, for example, I hope that that could really transform transportation around the world, and reduce the need for individual car ownership, the need for parking, road congestion and so forth," Brin said. "If that was successful in its own right, we would be super happy."
The whole interview is worth a watch:
Tags: BUSINESS, LARRY PAGE, SERGEY BRIN