Google parent company Alphabet’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, revealed on Tuesday that they are transforming the company’s web and policy think tank, Google Ideas, into a tech incubator named Jigsaw. Jigsaw will be a part of Alphabet and not Google, said an Alphabet spokesperson. Also it won’t be a separate Alphabet unit like Nest, Fiber or Calico.
Why such a name?
Schmidt used Medium to break this news and said the team will have its focus on using the technology “to tackle the toughest geopolitical challenges, from countering violent extremism to thwarting online censorship to mitigating the threats associated with digital attacks.” Google Ideas was founded in 2010, and since then, Jared Cohen has been running it. He will be continue to be the head of Jigsaw.
Cohen, who is a former member of the U.S. State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, has helped foster links between Google and the State Department. The division faced criticism once from activist Julian Assange for taking part in “regime change” activities around the world.
Many must be wondering why the company opted for the name Jigsaw. Explaining the reason, Schmidt wrote that there are two reasons for selecting this name. First, the name acknowledges a lot of the physical and digital challenges the world is made up of. Secondly, it reflects the company’s belief that collaborative problem-solving yields the best solutions.
Jigsaw – a rebranding of Google Ideas
Project Shield and Digital Attack Map are some of Google Ideas’ initiatives. The former was a tool to prevent distributed denial of service attacks on vulnerable websites in countries with oppressive regimes, while the latter uses data visualization to track cyber-attacks across the globe.
The future projects Jigsaw will focus on are not known for now, but they are likely to stay aligned with the division’s original aims. In the past, this division has acted as a unit of engineers and research scientists exploring how technology can be put to use in a manner that proves helpful to the next 5 billion people who will come online for the first time, Schmidt believes.
In addition, countering money laundering, organized crime, police brutality, human trafficking, and terrorism are some of its interests, Schmidt added. This means that Jigsaw is more of a rebranding of Google Ideas than a substantial change of focus.