Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has launched a quest to find the 100 brightest youngsters around the globe – and said the magic age for identifying possible wunderkinds is 16.
“The sooner we can get the next generation in charge, given all the errors we have made, the better,” Schmidt, 65, told Time.
“They are generally smarter, more optimistic, they have more energy. There’s a lot of reasons to turn this thing over to them,” added the former tech executive, who founded Schmidt Futures with his wife, Wendy, in 2017 to empower “talent who want to work on the hardest problems.”
Last month, his outfit unveiled Rise in partnership with the Rhodes Trust to canvass the world for its most outstanding teens and to support them “through life” as they harness their talents to build a better future.
The initial class of 100 will be announced in July 2021, according to Time.
“The question was, what’s the lowest age at which we can get a signal for excellence? And all of the anecdotal claims are it’s around 16,” Schmidt told the mag.
“We’ll see if it’s true or not, but the claim is that you can tell through a series of tests and challenges and so forth who the really exceptional people will be,” he said.
“And exceptional here doesn’t mean just math, it means sort of creativity, verbal skills, sort of the kind of skills that are correlative with great impact,” added Schmidt, chairman of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Reimagine NY commission, which is working on ways to handle the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s lots of people who believe that the signal below 15 or 16 is unreliable. There’s lots of 12-year-olds who are super impressive, but the consensus is that it’s 16,” he said.
Asked how the first batch of 100 kids gets chosen, Schmidt said: “The system is designed so that an individual can nominate themselves, but you can also have someone else nominate you. And I personally prefer the latter, because it provides some signaling into the system.
“But part of our thesis is that there’s people sitting in Afghanistan who are the next Einsteins, who if we can get a phone to them we can communicate with them and we can identify them. And eventually get them out of Afghanistan and into sort of becoming a research scientist or a great musician or whatever it is,” he said.