Google CEO Sundar Pichai during an interactive session at IIT Kharagpur, Jan. 5. (Swapan Mahapatra/PTI)
Admitting that he used to bunk classes during his engineering days at IIT Kharagpur, Google CEO Sundar Pichai expressed surprise to find young IITians aiming to get into IIMs even as he stressed on the importance of getting real world experience.
“There is a lot of pressure to follow a set of rules throughout your career (in India). When you are in high school you think of college. I get very surprised that people get into the IITs and immediately they are thinking about IIMs and so on. It is so important to get real world experience,” Pichai said at an interactive session with IITians during his visit to the IIT Kharagpur campus, Jan. 5.
When asked by students, he said, “You can build for a global market from India.” – @siliconeer #siliconeer #SiliconValley #California #SundarPichai #Google #IIT #IITKharagpur #India #Technology #ArtificialIntelligence #IITian
On a nostalgic trip to relive his campus days, Google CEO Sundar Pichai went to his hostel room, met teachers and interacted with students. Back to the campus 23 years after completing B.Tech in 1993, Pichai said students spend a lot of time on books and learning academically.
“Of course,” was his answer when asked whether he bunked classes.
“We used to stay up late at night and in the morning missed classes,” he recalled.
Pichai said he gets shocked on hearing that some eighth-grade student has started preparing for IITs.
“During my time, lot of people said this person didn’t get into this college and that’s the end of the road for him,” he recalled.
He advised students of his alma mater to try out different things, take risks, be well rounded and follow their passion.
India, however, he said, has a strong foundation in education as parents talk about it all the time.
In America, Pichai said, at Stanford for example, students choose majors only when they are in their last year.
Confident that India will soon be a global player in the digital economy, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that in the next 3-4 years, big software companies will emerge from the country.
“India will be a global player in the digital economy and it will be competitive with any country in the world. There is a timing issue. We are doing well as a country. We need to stay at it. We need a few more years and we will get to it. I am absolutely confident,” said Pichai.
He was asked by a student to comment on whether India can take on China.
Pichai advised Indian companies to aim higher and compete with MNCs, as the local market is not large enough to invest in technology.
“Part of the problem is that in India, the potential is there and market is developing. It will take a few more years for it to realize it’s potential. Digital market is still developing,” Pichai said, while asking Indian companies to set their sights higher as trends are in their favor.
Google bets Big on Artificial Intelligence
Technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning can make huge difference to everyday life and Google is investing in bringing these to “as many people and as fast as possible,” Pichai said.
“We are making a big bet on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Advancement in machine learning will make a big difference in many many fields,” he said.
He pointed out that the ability of computers to do tasks like image recognition, voice recognition or speech recognition, are reaching a tipping point.
“So, we are definitely at a point of inflexion,” he said, adding that Google is investing a lot in this space and if the investments are sustained over a few years, it will pave the way for the next wave of computing.
Pointing out to a paper published by Google recently, Pichai said machine learning can be used to detect diabetic retina, which can cause blindness if treatment isn’t administered on time.
“This is an early example of the kind of changes that will happen when you apply machine learning to all kinds of fields. Google alone won’t do this. What I am excited about is bringing machine learning and AI to as many people and as fast as possible,” he said.
Pichai said that at Google, the aim is very high and the criterion is building technology that will apply to the lives of billions of people.
On India, he praised that the PPP model has been working well and the company is a big supporter of the Digital India campaign.
“To really make Google work in India, you need to make it available in as many languages as possible. English is spoken by only a small segment of the population,” Pichai said adding Google has progressed but wants to work more in rural conditions and in the right dialects.
To improve access to digital world, he said he would love to see cheaper smartphones hit the market.
“You really need to bring the prices of entry level smartphones down at around 30 dollars,” he said adding connectivity is also extremely important.
He described India as the most dynamic Internet market in the world and the second largest one.
“When we built for India, we built for the world,” he said citing the YouTube offline feature, which is now available across 80 nations.
In the next 3-4 years, Pichai expects there will be big software companies coming out of India.
When asked by students, he said, “You can build for a global market from India.”
Pichai said he is convinced that India will become a global player soon.
“I am confident that it will compete with any player in the world. It is growing well as a country and will take few more years,” he said when asked to comment on whether India can take on China.