Google CEO Sundar Pichai pushed back against talk of regulating tech companies, saying that the move could have unintended consequences, according to a report by CNBC.
“I worry that if you regulate for the sake of regulating it, it has a lot of unintended consequences,” Pichai said. “You know, if you take a technology like artificial intelligence, it will have implications for our national security and … for, you know, other important areas of society. And so having leadership I think ends up being pretty critical.”
Pichai acknowledged that large companies need to be scrutinized, but he also talked about the need for large companies be left alone so they can be successful. Big companies, he said, can push “long term development” and invest in futuristic but potentially life-changing technologies, like artificial intelligence.
The government “can’t take for granted” the success that companies like Google have, Pichai said. Others in the space have had similar sentiments. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, for example, has warned that China might get an advantage over U.S. innovation if the government steps in to regulate how companies go about their business.
“Now there are many countries around the world which aspire to be the next Silicon Valley,” Pichai said. “And they are supporting their companies, too. So we have to balance both. This doesn’t mean you don’t scrutinize large companies. But you have to balance it with the fact that … you want big, successful companies as well.”
The U.S. isn’t the only one looking to regulate Google.
European Union officials are looking for feedback on the company’s attempts to shut down two antitrust investigations.
Sources revealed to Bloomberg that Google started showing a box with links to rival websites in March in addition to the usual search results, in response to the EU investigating complaints that less search traffic was going to these competitor sites.
Regulators have reportedly sent out screenshots of Google’s box showing three restaurant booking sites, asking various travel companies for their opinions on the sites. In addition, the EU asked recruitment companies about how links to job websites have been displayed. The companies had until June 13 to send initial responses.
The links box is similar to a solution Google has already been using to comply with a 2017 EU order that required the tech giant to give equal treatment to other shopping comparison websites. It’s a fix that its rivals, including Yelp, don’t believe is enough to remedy the situation.
“The amount of traffic Google has stolen from the web has doubled over [European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe] Vestager’s term, and attempting to put a Band-Aid on that problem with a rival links proposal doesn’t address the core problem,” Luther Lowe, its government affairs vice president, said in an interview on Wednesday (June 12).