Google CEO Eric Schmidt has admitted that comments he made regarding people automatically changing their identities in the future, to rid themselves of the amount of information the web holds on them, was 'a joke'.

Speaking to Stephen Colbert on the The Colbert Report this week, Schmidt explained that he said the comment was meant to be light-hearted and that "it was a joke; it just wasn't very good."

The 'identity' remark was taken from a piece in the WSJ back in August but no verbatim quote was attributed to Schmidt in the article.

Regardless, his comments spread like wildfire around the web and painted an interesting picture of what Scmidt thought the future of identity was.

Data mining

In the Colbert interview, Schmidt was also asked about Google's apparent data mining of information users feed into the Google search engine, but Schmidt tried to dampen the privacy debate explaining that: "It's true that we see your searches. But we forget them after a while."

Although The Colbert Report is known for its satire, the Schmidt interview looked to be played straight with Schmidt explaining about what it does with the information it acquires, noting: "We actually don't do data mining.

"Our computers go out and they find out everything going on on the web and they figure out what points to each other and that gives us the algorithm, which is called PageRank.

"And that's how we decide how to rank the results."

Via the Register