Science needs entrepreneurs, says Google founder
San Francisco, Feb 18: Scientists need more entrepreneurialdrive and could benefit by doing more to promote solutions to big humanproblems, Google Inc. co-founder Larry Page told a meeting of academicresearchers.
''There are lots of people who specialise in marketing, but as faras I can tell, none of them work for you,'' Page told researchers atthe annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement ofScience late on Friday.
''Let's talk about solving some worldwide problems. Let's get people really motivated,'' he said.
Page, a 33-year-old billionaire who remains co-president ofMountain View, California-based Google, said he took inspiration fromthe history of Silicon Valley, with its frequent cycles of innovation.
As a computer science graduate student 11 years ago at StanfordUniversity, Page said he came up the with idea of ''page rank'' --weighing the relative importance of hyperlinks to improve the relevancyof Web searches -- completely randomly.
Page rank remains at the heart of the world's most popular search system.
''It is not hard to do this,'' Page told hundreds of scientists,meeting in San Francisco. ''You need to think that business andentrepreneurship is a good thing.'' ''If no one really pays attentionto you, then you have a serious marketing problem,'' said the Internetboy wonder, who recently transformed his appearance, adopting a modishhaircut and light stubble.
Page offered a variety of proposals to raise the profile of scientists in society.
Among the ideas he says deserve further attention: -- Noting how40,000 people die annually in US auto accidents, Page proposed givingcomputers control over cars. While many people fear the loss ofcontrol, he said, ''I am pretty sure if computers guided cars, a lotfewer people would die.'' -- Build fewer roads in underdeveloped partsof Africa. Instead, he suggested ultralight planes capable of travelingat up to 90 mph and which would consume less gasoline than groundvehicles.
-- Solar energy installations in the Nevada desert were capable ofproducing 800 megawatts per square mile, somewhat less than half the2,000 megawatts of a nuclear power plant, he said. (A midsized naturalgas-powered plant generates around 400 or 500 megawatts).
-- A major limitation to wind power is the need for a distributiongrid to move power from regions where wind blows to where populationsare centered. He said 80 per cent of the electrical grid of Europe andNorth Africa could be served by an ambitious wind distribution gridcross-connecting the two regions.
''Are we going to build that grid? I don't think so. But I thinkit would be a good idea.'' Page said the reason many scientificundertakings did not succeed was due to a lack of human effort ratherthan technical hurdles.