ONDON (Reuters) - Imagine being able
to check instantly whether or not statements made by politicians
were correct. That is the sort of service Google Inc. boss Eric
Schmidt believes the Internet will offer within five years.
Politicians have yet to appreciate the impact
of the online world, which will also affect the outcome of
elections, Schmidt said in an interview with the Financial Times
published on Wednesday.
He predicted that "truth predictor" software
would, within five years, "hold politicians to account." People
would be able to use programs to check seemingly factual
statements against historical data to see to see if they were
"One of my messages to them (politicians) is
to think about having every one of your voters online all the
time, then inputting 'is this true or false.' We (at Google) are
not in charge of truth but we might be able to give a
probability," he told the newspaper.
The chairman and chief executive of the
world's most popular Internet search engine was speaking during
a visit to Britain this week, where he met British Prime
Minister Tony Blair and spoke at the opposition Conservative
Party's annual conference.
"Many of the politicians don't actually
understand the phenomenon of the Internet very well," Schmidt
told the Financial Times. "It's partly because of their age ...
often what they learn about the Internet they learn from their
staffs and their children."
The advent of television taught political
leaders the art of the sound bite. The Internet will also force
them to adapt.
"The Internet has largely filled a role of
funding for politicians ... but it has not yet affected
elections. It clearly will," Schmidt said.
Writing in the Sun tabloid, the Google boss
said the online world has empowered ordinary people with the
ability to challenge governments, the media and business.
"It has broken down the barriers that exist
between people and information, effectively democratizing access
to human knowledge," Schmidt wrote.