More flexible regulations [will help] to unleash the creativity of [South] Korean citizens,” Google cofounder Eric Schmidt said during a visit to Seoul before the weekend.
“Regulations often hold progress back. The secret to the Internet was that it was not regulated,” he added.
South Korea is in the midst of a protracted economic slowdown, with its government now seeking to implement further deregulation in an effort to stimulate the economy.
That’s the context in which Schmidt’s comments are to be taken. “I know that your country is seeing an economic slowdown,” he told the audience during his visit, before recommending further deregulation in the tech space — not just in areas like employment and finance.
During Schmidt’s trip — his first to South Korea since 2013 — Google announced a new partnership (funded through Google.org) with the country’s largest science museum to provide a “kids’ makerspace.”
Children will be able to engage in different workshops/activities, “From creating a stethoscope that can measure and convert electric resistance of various objects to sound, to making a model of a friend’s face using black strip resistor and LED lights,” Google’s country director for Korea, John Lee, wrote in a blog posting.
Google has been pretty active in the country of more than 50 million this year. It opened Campus Seoul, its “first community space for startups in Asia,” and also announced a partnership with South Korea’s National Hangeul Museum offering another interactive space for kids.
Next year, the company is due to open a 2,000-square-meter outdoor “science playground” at South Korea’s Gwacheon National Science Museum.
For now, though, Alphabet’s (Google’s newly-formed parent company) big priority in Asia seems to be around how it can get back on good terms with the Chinese government — and once again do serious business in China — after it largely pulled out of the country in 2010 over cyberattacks and censorship issues.
This trip, though, was a nod to South Korea that Google has not forgotten about it — and an important reminder to everyone about one of the “secrets of the Internet.