Sundar Pichai on the Role of Big Tech Firms in Fighting the Pandemic

Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai finally spoke on the roles big technology companies should play during this pandemic. In the past few weeks, many governments have turned to Alphabet, the mother company of both Google and YouTube, for aid during the pandemic crisis.

By now, most of you may have noticed the new additions to your phone’s settings, under the Google option that detects whether you have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19. In a rare collaboration with Apple, the company recently turned your smartphones into contact-tracking devices. This new creation is one of the many efforts big tech companies have started with as they play their part in combating the virus.

In an interview with the Times, Sundar Pichai shared some of the ways he is navigating this new landscape. Here are some of the key points from his interview.

Crisis Leads to Innovation

Sundar Pichai explained how this pandemic will inspire people to come up with long-lasting solutions to problems with severe constraints. He also thinks that this situation will make people think ahead, into what problems we are likely to face in the future, and how to deal with it. He revealed how Google was founded just before the dotcom crash, and it catered for a very scarce need at the time.

Coming Together as a People Despite Our Differences is important in Difficult Times

Sundar Pichai discussed his unexpected partnership with his competitors and stated that after a lengthy talk with his rivals, they all came to the conclusion that the pandemic is larger than their rivalry. He goes on to state that they have already set protocols that would help them work together. You could take this important tenet to heart and start working with the people in your community to help spread awareness and love.

The “infodemic”

Sundar was quizzed on the statement made by the World Health Organization that called our current state an “infodemic.” This is to mean that the world is living in a flood of misinformation, which is mostly spread online. He expressed that he is fighting this problem by supporting trustworthy institutions whose sources have been tried and proved. He also advises people to look to health authorities and scientists to verify all the facts.

Mental Health Crisis

When asked whether he was worried about the mental health of his colleagues and staff members, Sundar’s response was, “ Absolutely.” He also stated that he has received reports that some of his employees are suffering from isolation and loneliness. He has urged people to address the issue of mental health stating that although the pandemic has affected all of humanity, data has shown that it hits people disproportionately. Some people may be more affected by the current pandemic than others.

Bridging the Gap

Sundar stated that efforts are being made towards providing internet technology to those who have little or no access to it. The lack of internet technology and home technology has put some workers and students at a serious disadvantage. Alphabet has so far partnered with the California governor and T-mobile to purchase Wi-Fi hotspots and Chromebooks to communities that are under-served.

It is evident that COVID-19 is changing people’s lives. According to the words of Sundar Pichai, we should do everything within our power to assist one another and get through this tough period together.

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