How do I become like Sundar Pichai

Hello Neighbor!

It's about artificial intelligence, the changed world of work and a fresh look at great art: Google's CEO Sundar Pichai opens the new office in Berlin and seeks an exchange with students, politicians and cultural workers

Above: Together with two IHKs and ver.di, Google wants to convey digital knowledge to German employees. From the left: Philipp Justus (Google), Sabine Frank (Google), Lothar Schröder (ver.di), Gerhard Eschenbaum (IHK Düsseldorf), Sundar Pichai (Google), Katharina Hochfeld (Fraunhofer IAO), Armin Barbalata (IHK Munich and Upper Bavaria) and Annette Kroeber-Riel (Google).

A sunny winter morning in Berlin. In front of the Audimax of the Technical University of Berlin, students line up in a queue that is getting longer and longer. Everyone got one of the 1,200 free seats for the event with Sundar Pichai: The 46-year-old studied materials research and has been CEO of Google since 2015. At the start of his one-day visit to Berlin, he deliberately comes to the TU and talks to the prospective engineers about the nature of successful innovation. After the one-hour dialogue, it continues: Sundar Pichai announces a new phase of a digital education offensive, he meets government politicians and in the evening opens the Google office across from Berlin's Museum Island. But one after the other.

1. Develop the future of artificial intelligence

"For me it's like coming home," says Sundar Pichai to the students in the Audimax of the TU Berlin. He came to the university for a dialogue format: After a short conversation with Professor Volker Markl, the audience had their say. Right at the beginning a term comes up that dominates the discussion: artificial intelligence, or AI for short. "AI is present in everything we do," says Sundar Pichai. Products like Google Maps or the Google Assistant are inconceivable without machine learning techniques. Doctors can already be supported by AI in evaluating X-ray images. Ideally, according to Pichai, AI will give medical professionals time in which to turn to their patients.

Sundar Pichai shortly after the end of the dialogue in the Audimax of the TU Berlin in conversation with Professor Volker Markl (left) and Christian Thomsen, President of the TU Berlin (right).

But Google's CEO formulates the opportunities with care. He refers to the seven AI principles that he has imposed on his company for new developments with artificial intelligence: For example, they must not cause any damage and must always be of benefit to people. Pichai warns the budding engineers and computer scientists not to expect too much from the new technology in the near future. "We tend to overestimate technology in the short term and underestimate it in the long term."

We tend to overestimate technology in the short term and underestimate it in the long term.

Sundar Pichai CEO of Google

The exchange with the students then also focuses on the future and on the possibilities that can be derived from the current state of the art. "Make sure that you deal with artificial intelligence in your training," Pichai calls out to his 1200 listeners. "It's a great time to be an engineer."

2. Work better in the digital age

The applause has just died down when Sundar Pichai gets on a small bus in front of the main building of the TU Berlin and drives past the Victory Column and Brandenburg Gate to Berlin-Mitte. If he was just talking about the future of artificial intelligence, he is now formulating his thoughts on the future of work in Google's new office on Museum Island. And he is not alone: ​​Together with representatives of the service union ver.di and the IHKs Düsseldorf as well as Munich and Upper Bavaria, Sundar Pichai gives the go-ahead for the next phase of Google's education offensive.

"Google is committed to ensuring that everyone can benefit from the possibilities of digital technologies," says Pichai. »During my last trip to Germany a good two years ago, I announced a new program for digital education called Google Future Workshop, in which more than 500,000 people in Germany have participated since then. I am pleased that we are expanding this program with our partners. «

130 people will move into the new Google office on Berlin's Museum Island, with space for 300 employees.

Since 2016, Google has been offering free training courses for personal and professional development at Zukunftswerkstatt.de. The participants will deal with the question of how they can be found online or what a good marketing strategy for the digital age looks like. These courses are now being further developed in cooperation with the IHKs and ver.di and made available to companies and interested parties free of charge. "The digitization of business processes is changing the world of work," says Lothar Schröder, member of the board of ver.di. »There are new qualification requirements for employees. Our joint project meets this requirement and wants to make a contribution to identifying and closing qualification gaps. "

3. Google in Berlin and in Germany

Once again, Sundar Pichai gets on the small bus that takes him to the government district of the German capital. The exchange with politicians and representatives of social groups is part of his everyday life. After all, digitalization is driven by people for people; technical progress only makes sense if it is understood and accompanied by everyone. Seen in this way, Sundar Pichai's day in Berlin is a day of listening and exchanging ideas: According to Google's CEO, innovation and further development only bear fruit where people work together across borders and disciplines.

Not least because of this, Pichai, together with the German Google colleagues, invited more than 250 people to the official opening of the office on Tucholskystraße. Already in the early evening the first visitors explore the converted house with the rich history - the main telegraph office and the telecommunications office were once housed on the site, the centers of the beginning communication age.

In the middle of the city and in life: On the left, the new Google office on the Spree. In the background the TV tower on Alexanderplatz, on the right the Bode Museum on Museum Island.

In 2019, the address symbolizes the importance that Germany has for Google. 130 Googlers are working on digital projects here, and another 170 could be added in the foreseeable future. "With this new office space, we can more than double the number of Googlers who work here in Berlin," explains Sundar Pichai to his guests, including State Minister Dorothee Bär and Berlin's Governing Mayor Michael Müller.

A total of 16,000 people work for Google in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. There are 1,400 at the four German locations in Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Berlin alone. "Many of Google's most important products, including some of our global tools for protecting privacy, were developed by our German engineers," emphasizes Sundar Pichai.

Space for developments and ideas: The conference rooms in the new Google office in Berlin are named after famous songs about the German capital. For example, “Looking for Freedom” or “Heroes”.

But the Googlers use their knowledge again and again in partnerships with initiatives or with cultural institutions. As part of the Google Arts & Culture project, the holdings of large museums around the world have been digitized for years. Today everyone can view works from the Louvre in Paris or the Prado in Madrid from their computer.

Many of Google's key products, including some of our global privacy tools, were developed by our German engineers.

Sundar Pichai CEO of Google

Sundar Pichai (center) welcomed a number of guests to the opening of the new Google office. From left in the picture: Florian Dohmann (data specialist and artist), Hermann Parzinger (President Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), Ramona Pop (Mayor and Senator for Economics, Energy and Enterprises in Berlin), Dorothee Bär (Minister of State for Digitization), Annette Kroeber-Riel (Google), Roman Lipski (painter), Philipp Justus (Google) and Lothar Schröder (ver.di).

Or from the State Museums in Berlin, right across from the new Google office. Hermann Parzinger is president of the Berlin Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, to which these museums belong. He comes on stage at Sundar Pichai and presents the guests with the photograph of the painting »The Annunciation to Mary« by Piero del Pollaiuolo. The image was taken by Google with an extremely powerful camera and made available digitally. In this way, even the smallest technical but also visual details become visible that even experienced curators did not notice before this work step. The still young neighborhood in the center of Berlin is already bearing fruit and, according to Sundar Pichai, should bear many more fruits - well beyond the borders of the capital.

Photography: Markus Mielek (2), Google Inc., Lars Huebner (5)