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Larry Page on Charlie Rose (charlierose.com)
128 points by qasar on May 23, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 73 comments

I think it's so great that someone as goodhearted and intelligent is so damn rich and powerful. The previous generation of tech giants seem really quite nasty and brutish in comparison. The industrial moguls seem like they were even worse. I really hope it's a trend that better people end up in positions of power.

Imagine a world where most of the powerful people in business and politics were like Larry Page. We'd have ourselves a Star Trek-esque utopia within 30 years. Actually that's kind of what Google campuses remind me of: Starfleet HQ (which is also based in the bay area, hmm....http://i.imgur.com/gPsTC.jpg)

Most - all? - the people I know who are very wealthy/successful are honest, intelligent and hard working.

I know my sample size is extremely small, but I tend to believe these qualities help reaching the top, if they are not mandatory.

Sly, idiotic and lazy people eventually fall from the sky.

I can only speak on why such a perception appears to hold. Anyone is free to spend their money in whatever manner they wish. But they cannot choose how people will percieve such actions, rational or not. The following reasons are why power tends to be associated with dishonesty:

- The hold that powerful entrenched interests have over government that only maintain a positive status-quo with respect to themselves. But negative for the long term development of society

- The offensive allowance and use of patents and litigation by powerful people with the intention to slow progress lest they become obsolete.

- The lavish displays of opulence despite the fact that people are still starving to death

- The still strong existence of classicism

- The love to hate relationship society has with divas and their transformation from normal people

- The inverse proportional relationship between net-worth and probability of proper enacting of justice

- Concentrations of power in government and finance are not typically associated with honesty. Politicians, lawyers and wall street are not held as paragons of noble behavior.

- The prevalence of dictators and corrupt rulers in developing nations

- The extravagant efforts available and taken by the extremely wealthy to minimizes the relative damage of taxes.

- The paucity of efforts like the X Prize, Gates Foundation, Planetary Resources, Space X.

- The difficulty in ensuring that money given to charities actually end up being used efficiently (powerful less needy people somehow end up getting the lion's share of this aid).

My previous boss was not lazy or idiotic, but he was very manipulative and would sell his mother to get a contract. I guess grandparent didn't mean most bosses are stupid and lazy, he meant most are greedy and won't care a dime about those people they have to throw in the sewer to achieve their selfish goals.

Was your previous boss a billionaire?

> ... a Star Trek-esque utopia ...

Years of M.I.C. brain washing at work. Star Trek is run by a military Junta. (Did you note?)

Goodhearted? Why this looks like merely a calculated PR move for me?

Power corrupts.

The opposite seems more likely: the corrupt get more power.

Excepting people like Page who got there thanks to technical acumen.

It's like the brilliant quote by Douglas Adams: "Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."

The opposite seems more likely: the corrupt get more power.

I think that's a false dichotomy. Power corrupts and the corrupt get power. Also, it's not binary but rather goes by degrees. Thus the long pursuit of power tends to lead to thorough corruption.

I don't think someone like Page is completely immune to the allure of power, but he may have a high resistance to it.

Caveat: I'm using the term a little loosely - there are different sorts of corruption.

Run for office. See for yourself what it takes to win. Then check back with us.

I wonder how difficult it is standing up to the bullies.

Goodhearted? The guy is a bazillionaire. You'll be good hearted too when you have so much money that no amount given away is a sacrifice anymore.

FYI: You can't really tell if someone is genuinely goodhearted by watching them being interviewed by Charie Rose. It's what they do when they know no one is looking that will reveal the true nature of a man.

Page is running a company which has no regard for their users privacy. Don't try to make him appear good. He is a scumbag, just as any other CEO. He may have a great PR team but he still is a scumbag.

The average person doesn't have much regard for his own privacy either. Are they all scumbags too?

What kind of reasoning is that? They are not breaking privacy of others.

The point is that if privacy were such a valuable thing people would treat it as such.

Many people treat it as such.


Big part of society is actually concerned about their privacy. It is not like 99% of people are brainless zombies.

Great interview, they both brought up some interesting points.

I still can't agree with what Page says about 'personalised results' though. He talks about 'search understanding you' as if it just makes existing search 'better'. But to me search is about 'I know what I'm looking for so I ask for something specific', usually looking for a fairly certain answer. If this involves my search history, or people that I know, I will be able to tell the search platform that when I search, I don't want them to assume this on my behalf - this just makes my results less specific than I originally intended.

Its a bit of a conflation between advertising and search really, they are trying to second guess what I am interested in before I know it, which I'm not sure is very positive.

But to me search is about 'I know what I'm looking for so I ask for something specific', usually looking for a fairly certain answer. If this involves my search history, or people that I know, I will be able to tell the search platform that when I search, I don't want them to assume this on my behalf - this just makes my results less specific than I originally intended.

We (the HN community) are not the target audience for these optimizations. Ever watched your mom type in a search query? It's aweful, sometimes I'm amazed at the results Google can produce for crappy search queries. It's those people that will benefit tremendously from these kind of optimizations.

For us, who do not want the personalised search results, the standard answer has been that we should simply log off and it will be generic. While I do feel that Google should simply make this an account preference (so I don't have to log off from my gmail account just to be able to use search in a fashion I appreciate), I can clearly see and appreciate why Google is going for personalised search.

I think we probably use this feature far more than any other segment - terms we use for our technologies are often overloaded. I don't want to have to constantly specify whether I want gems to be gem stones or ruby packages.

For the record, having personalized search results is a setting in the search preferences[1], accessible through the gear icon on the search results page.

[1]: https://www.google.com/preferences?hl=en

When I search for "Eclipse Java", I want results about the IDE. When my girlfriend searches, she's probably interested in Twilight-themed coffee or something. That's what personalization is all about.

And if you usually search for programming languages, but this time want to understand what your 13-year-old cousin keeps blabbing about? Suddenly it all falls apart and everything about the whole process seems murky and over-complex.

The idea is that ambiguous search queries would default to the meanings related to your normal search behavior, and if on a particular occasion you discover Google resolves the ambiguity incorrectly, you could make your query more precise. In the above scenario, you could search for `java eclipse stephenie meyer' and your 13-year-old cousin could search for `java eclipse ide'.

Maybe there should be an advanced search option like that ...

    twilight java pov:"thirteen year old girl"
Joking aside, there are probably other ways of clarifying that if you know what you are doing (e.g. add 'vampire' to the terms).

That might get you an IDE plugin for working with Java VAMPIRE tools for Bayesian statistical analysis of gene expression array data.

In my experience, for overloaded terms, the less pertinent one tends to pop up near the bottom of the front page. For example, when I search for "Python" the sixth result is about snakes.

Open an incognito tab. Done.

...and that level of personalization requires that Google collects a lot of personal data about you. Happy to make the trade-off?

I'm impressed at the quality of questions that Rose asked. They weren't all easy and they were questions I was interested in hearing Page answer.

I take it that this was your first Charlie Rose interview? He is one of the best interviewers still around. I just wish Mr. Russert could have interviewed Larry Page.

Ugh, are you kidding? Charlie Rose is a terrible interviewer, fawning all over people he thinks have high status, and constantly interrupting and pissing on people he disagrees with. [He’s maybe better than cable news shows, but that’s a pretty low bar.] He asks far too many ridiculously leading questions, cuts off insightful lines of discussion by his guests to bring them back to whatever point he’s trying to make, and often just starts rambling about something irrelevant. His show is worth watching because of the fantastic quality of the guests, not his skill as an interviewer. My favorite Charlie Rose moment was maybe 10 or 15 years ago, in an interview with I think Bill Joy, but it might have been someone else. Charlie asked some rambling minute-second “don’t you agree that...” type question, and his guest responded with a bored look, “well, duh.”

Go listen to a couple of episodes of Terry Gross’s truly masterful interviews on Fresh Air, or watch interviews by, say, Bill Moyers, and then come back and watch an episode of Charlie Rose. Try paying attention to the different ways they lead an interview, and the resulting differences in the conversation. Often someone will be in the news or have a new book out, and will appear on both Charlie Rose and Fresh Air at about the same time; the Fresh Air interview is always dramatically better.

100% agree. Also notable is the Charlie Rose persona of "really interested, really earnest interviewer". He almost always takes on this persona, whether it impedes the interview or not.

Sometimes it's unintentionally comical, when he uses his earnest, excited voice to ask a mundane, obvious question to which there's really only a pat answer.

Searching at random, here's a clip of him interviewing Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, etc.):


I love that portentous pause when Rose says "religion and .... business". When the camera cuts to PTA and (especially) DDL in turn, it seems like they may be trying to suppress a giggle.

"Try paying attention to"? Have I given you any indication that I would have trouble focusing on the interview?

Terry Gross is certainly a good interviewer for art and culture guests. I agree that she does not get the same quality of quests that appear on Charlie Rose's show. I think that is part of the reason I may have discounted her quality as an interviewer. In light of that I would like to compare the two interviewers. Can you think of any guests who have appeared on both shows recently? Do you think Rose's fawning/pissing on behavior is any different than Gross's interviews with Franken and O'Reilly?

> Have I given you any indication that I would have trouble focusing on the interview?

Sorry, I’m not trying to imply that you’d have trouble following the interview. I mean pay special attention to the form of the interview, and the style of the questioning (i.e. watch out for when Terry follows up on something the guest said, when she allows him to keep talking and when she re-centers the conversation. Think about what kinds of insights the she draws out, what she can get him to say that wasn’t pre-planned, etc.), rather than only to the content of what the guest is saying. I think if you pay close attention to the way Charlie interviews, you’ll find yourself wanting to throw something at the screen.

Terry Gross’s interview with O’Reilly was impressively respectful and polite, considering the way he was acting. Asking difficult questions is different from pissing on people. What I mean is, Charlie Rose will ask a guest a question, and then when the answer isn’t what he wants to hear, he’ll parrot back at them effectively “well isn’t what you just said completely wrong, and isn’t it actually like this ....?” What is the guest supposed to say to that?

> Can you think of any guests who have appeared on both shows recently?

Here are some from the last few months:

Steve Coll: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&#... http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12336 http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12341

Peter Bergen: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&#... http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11463

Peter Beinart: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&#... http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12282

Matt Weiner: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&#... http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12256

Jonah Lehrer: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&#... http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12302

Ahmed Rashid: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&#... http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12281

Charles Duhigg: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&#... http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12254

Masha Gessen: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&#... http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12210

Tim Weiner: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&#... http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12283

Katherine Boo: http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&#... http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12151

I have only watched one or two Charlie Rose videos, but I agree that Terry Gross is the best interviewer I have ever heard. By far. Hmm actually I think Adam Carolla is not bad either.

I'm not trying to be a jerk, I'm asking with all due respect; was the adam carolla comment a joke? Its just that I've never heard adam carolla discussed in the same sentence as Gross, Rose or Russert.

Adam Corolla does great interviews. He's often caricatured as a wannabe fratboy douchebag, but he's very intelligent and insightful -- not to mention very funny.

His podcast is great because there's no hard time limit, so he often has a guest take you through their entire life story.

I like him and his show, but there have been more than a few instances when corolla just won't shut up. A few guests I was really hoping to hear from have gotten about four sentences in edgewise. When he's taking the interview seriously he does a good job.

I have to admit I was surprised to see Carolla mentioned in a discussion of Gross, Rose and Russert. I would like to check him out. Nothing jumped out at me after cursory review of his recent episodes. Can you give me any pointers/recommendations for a good interview to listen to?

Agreed -- he did his research. I was imagining him having to be equally knowledgeable in many other domains when interviewing political leaders and so forth, and came away impressed. Although I'm sure he has a team that helps prepares the questions, he still has to think on his feet a bit.

The only place where he perhaps came off uninformed is when he implied that Google hadn't acquired any companies in 2012, when in fact they've acquired dozens. But that's not a very substantive mistake.

And imagine the wide variety of people that he interviews. Being a good interviewer like that takes talent and intelligent because he has to become a quasi-expert in pretty much everything, within a week.

It's true that he is a very intelligent person but let's not forget that he has people working with him, like many other talk show hosts. As a funny fact I happened to be at Bloomberg that day for a meetup and sit next to him for a few minutes while he met one of his aids carrying a notepad which what seemed to be information for the interview.

Is something wrong with my browser? I see a picture of Page, click it, and then it disappears and all I hear is audio. Is there video somewhere?

is he right when he says that Facebook will eventually be forced to release personal data to its users? Would it be a market constraint? If so from whom? Or would be a legal constraint?

He is arguing that the customers will demand it; I am unsure of whether this is actually true or simply wishful thinking.

He argues that the data belongs to the user, and the user should be allowed to easily transfer it to another service.

We could argue about privacy stuff, but the fact that Facebook allows Yahoo access to the data means that Facebook uses this only as an excuse, all they really care about is giving competition a hard time.

I didn't watch the interview (is there a transcript somewhere?). Does he mean release like is possible under the "Download a copy of your Facebook data" link on the account settings page, https://www.facebook.com/settings? Or more?

It just takes one succesful lawsuit by a user.

Also there is legislation being drafted in the EU for data portability.

Its a great interview. Its interesting to hear about his thoughts on YouTube. He is expecting majority of GOOG's revenue coming from YouTube. Is YouTube going to be "hollywood killer"?

This was my favorite quote: "I look at what's possible to do with technology, and I think we're still 1% of the way there."

To anyone else who doesn't understand: you have to click on the picture of Larry Page and then it plays a video.

The comments on the site are ridiculous.

Why are Charlie Rose interviews only available via Flash? It's a shame that these amazing interviews are only accessible on systems that run Flash. I'd love to even get an audio only file.

Did Page dye his hair? A bit off topic but it's a bit shocking that a 39-year-old would have hair that gray. I guess even running a wildly successful company is stressful.

> Did Page dye his hair?

Page doesn't really strike me as the type to invest heavily in appearances.

> it's a bit shocking that a 39-year-old would have hair that gray.

shrug maybe. I've had significant gray hair in my beard since I was 19 or so & my uncles were both bald by 25. Weirder things have happened.

> I guess even running a wildly successful company is stressful.

Probably more so than a failure. At least failures end :-P Having had recently to negotiate various potential outcomes in parallel, with nothing but upside all around, I couldn't believe how incredibly stressful it can be. It's an odd thought to find yourself wishing for (startup) death, to make the stress go away. However, on the other side, most of that type of stress is self-imposed. Maybe the same thing that made him so successful is what made his hair go gray...

I'm surprised that you haven't seen other relatively young people with gray hair. It's more common than you think, and it's not always stress, it just runs on the family sometimes.

I have a friend who is under 35 and his hair is going nearly completely gray at this point.

I'm 30 and half of my hair are grey. I spotted first grey hair when I was in 8th grade ;)

He's nervous even in this interview.

I can't believe Page didn't know the name of the companies they have acquired so far in 2012.

They bought Milk (Kevin Rose) & TxVia (some type of mobile payment company)

I think his thought process was more like "what am I allowed to say" and decided not to take a risk :D

here is the link to the flv file if you want to download it and watch it later and/or having streaming speed issues:


At the moment it is not slow for me at all. I am getting 2.2MB on a standard tw.rr.com cable connection...

I was impressed with his humility. It's amazing how he hasn't let all the success he's had and being a billionaire feed his ego.

streaming is slow for me on the site. it's also on hulu, though: http://www.hulu.com/watch/364027/charlie-rose-larry-page

306 mb

Is there any way to watch this on an iPad or AppleTV?

there are video players that can play .flv files on ipad e.g., http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/oplayerhd-lite/id385896088?mt...

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