By Eric Schmidt
Today we’re announcing the expansion of Google Ideas, Google’s think tank, as a technology incubator called Jigsaw. The team’s mission is to use technology to tackle the toughest geopolitical challenges, from countering violent extremism to thwarting online censorship to mitigating the threats associated with digital attacks.
Jared Cohen, who ran Google Ideas, will serve as CEO of Jigsaw. He will also continue to serve as an advisor to me.
We created Google Ideas five years ago as an in-house think tank to explore how technology might help the next five billion people coming online for the first time. Many of the newest Internet users are coming online in societies where censorship, corruption, or violence are daily realities.
Over the years, we’ve hired engineers, product managers, and research scientists to build tools with these people in mind.
Many of the team’s current products aim to protect access to information, including Project Shield, which harnesses Google’s computing infrastructure to protect independent voices from DDoS attacks; contributions to open-source efforts like uProxy, which lets people share access to the free and open internet; and Password Alert, which helps protect against phishing.
Some of the team’s other initiatives aim to counter money laundering, organized crime, police brutality, human trafficking, and terrorism.
Staying true to its think tank roots, the team has also explored global challenges using data visualizations, such as the Digital Attack Map, which displays the top digital attacks in the world in real time, and the global arms visualization, which illuminates the global arms trade. Currently some of the team’s research is exploring hate and harassment online with the goal of substantially reducing it.
And we’re just getting started.
Why Jigsaw? For one thing, the new name acknowledges that the world is a complex puzzle of physical and digital challenges. For another, it reflects our belief that collaborative problem-solving yields the best solutions.
As a technology incubator, Jigsaw will be investing in and building technology to expand access to information for the world’s most vulnerable populations and to defend against the world’s most challenging security threats.
The world is as complex as ever, but we believe that a unique combination of principled research and technology expertise can help put the puzzle together—one piece at a time.
*Update — Jared Cohen’s title was changed to CEO (from President) on November 15, 2017.