At one point, Schmidt had the audience repeat after him the following sentence: “In God we trust, all others have to bring data.” This is the deepest and most fervent belief of technocrats, but in the lived experience of politics, it is not [Ed. note: s/]he with the most facts or data that wins.
This attitude is precisely what I always used to find a bit unnerving circa 2004-2006 when I visited my friends at Google for lunch. Google was a far less controversial entity back then and still friendly with Apple, but I always found the Googleplex a very different-feeling place from Infinite Loop. While you might think Apple would be the more idealistic and Kool Aid-drinking of the two companies, I always felt that I and my fellow Apple employees were actually pretty pragmatic and only too willing to snarkily point out when the company had done something lame or not up to its usual standards. People associate Apple and Steve Jobs with world-changing rhetoric, but at the time Apple was still an underdog and was mainly scrappily concerned with its own welfare. The people I met at Google, however, seemed to take it for granted that Google’s interests always aligned with the world’s and that they were part of an enlightened few who were going to make the world a better place through the power of reason and superior intellect. I suspect that this may be somewhat less true today, but it’s still hard for me not to view a lot of Google’s decisions through the lens of this technocratic arrogance.