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Google CEO Advises Grads To Turn Off Their Computers

May 19, 2009

Google Inc CEO and chairman Eric Schmidt addressed some 6,000 graduates on Monday with unexpected advice: “turn off your computer.”

You’re actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around us,” Schmidt said while speaking at the commencement ceremony of the University of Pennsylvania.

“Nothing beats holding the hand of your grandchild as he walks his first steps,” he added.

Schmidt received an honorary doctor of science degree during the ceremony, as the University’s President Amy Gutmann noted his “manifold contributions to putting the world at humanity’s fingertips.”

“You have devoted your career to heralding a new age of learning empowered by technology,” Gutmann added.

Schmidt acknowledged Penn’s role in developing ENIAC, one of the first electronic computers ever built, in 1946.

“Literally everything that you see – every computer, every mobile phone, every device – descends from the principles that were invented right here,” Schmidt said.

The day before his visit to Penn, Schmidt received an honorary degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he delivered a similar speech.

Schmidt joked at the vast differences between his generation and what he referred to as the “Google and Facebook generation,” while he also acknowledged the tough economic times surrounding the Class of 2009. But he argued that recessions could provide a great opportunity for innovation.

“You can’t plan innovation or inspiration, but you can be ready for it, and when you see it you can jump on it and you can make a difference,” he said.

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