Google CEO to grads: "Turn off your computers"

Perhaps a couple of decades ago, someone like Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt would have been urging college graduates at their commencement to turn on computers, learn the latest technology, spur us forward.

This being now, Schmidt instead suggested to graduates at University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University that they turn off their computers and experience real life every now and again.

You read that right, the CEO of the biggest company in, well, ever, which makes its money off the Internet, told a bunch of 20-somethings that they should get away from that glowing screen — even the small ones on their cell phones — every now and again. At Carnegie Mellon, he said:

You should live for the future and the things that you really care about. Don't live in the past — live in the future. And what are those things? To figure this out, you need to actually turn off your computer. I know this is difficult. You need to turn off your phone. You need to actually look at the people who are near you and around you and decide that it is humans that are ultimately the most important thing to us.

Schmidt pointed out that a great many of the minds who created the structure of the Internet as we know it and the hardware and applications we use to navigate it every day were trained at Carnegie Mellon. He similarly reminded UPenn students that ENIAC, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer - the first general-purpose, electronic computer was created on their campus back in the 1940s.

The two speeches were more or less the same - he told students that even though they were graduating into a recession, not to worry; the Great Depression was a time of great innovation. How would they have gotten through college without Rice Krispies, Twinkies and - GASP! - beer in cans? Those all were products of creative minds during that time.

He recited a litany of things he was able to do when he was a college student - listen to music on transistor radios, make phone calls, watch television, get information from newspapers. Now they can do all that on their cell phones. But he expressed pleasure that his youthful indiscretions were never recorded and uploaded to the Internet for everyone to see, reminding these graduates that theirs will be visible to millions for decades.

That could be the biggest reason they should shut off their computers every now and again.