December 13th, 2007 | Published in Google Public Policy
How many heads of state, both present and former, can boast an engineering degree, claim responsibility for the development of a national space program, and cite a professorship at a premier academic institution - all prior to assuming office? Just one that I know of: Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, who recently spoke to Googlers here in Hyderabad.
Before his talk, President Kalam lamented the dramatic drop in support staff since leaving the presidency in July and thanked Google's search engine for being a trustworthy "friend" throughout the transition. Though President Kalam's lecture touched on many topics, he focused on how the ability to access, comprehend, and effectively utilize information can be "an instrument of economic growth and national development."
The former president argued that delivering valuable information over the Internet can be an important way to boost creativity, innovation, and competitiveness in a given society, leading to the creation of a what he referred to as a "knowledge society." Said President Kalam: "The challenge is not the technology alone, but how the application and service are facilitated or delivered to the people as per their requirements."
Along these lines, he offered three recommendations to the information communications and technology industry: first, industry should lead society's key stakeholders in broadly accepting the Internet as "the new way of living, the way of learning, the way of trading and business, the way of socializing and the way of governance."; second, he encouraged the ICT industry to facilitate the creation of local content online that could bring economic prosperity to a particular region; and third, he asked industry to promote public policy changes that address issues such as authentication, security, intellectual property rights, and the prevention of abuse on social networking sites.
In closing, President Kalam urged Googlers to tackle some big problems: the development of speech-recognition and speech-production technologies that would create "language-independent access to knowledge and information"; the creation of digital libraries of information for science and engineering students in the developed anddeveloping worlds; and the building of a system that generates, collects, and distributes clean energy.
Here's the complete video of former President Kalam's talk.