• New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has tapped former Google CEO Eric Schmidt to lead a commission aimed at "reimagining" the state post-pandemic.
  • Cuomo announced during his daily briefing Wednesday that Schmidt would chair a 15-member group to help New York "use technology in the economy of tomorrow."
  • Schmidt, who dialed in by video conference, said the commission would focus on telehealth, remote learning, and internet access and infrastructure.
  • Cuomo faced criticism previously for leaning on Schmidt for advise on classroom technology while he was still at Google, raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that former Google CEO and Chairman Eric Schmidt will chair a commission tasked with "reimagining" the state's relationship with technology post-pandemic.

The 15-member commission will draw on tough lessons from New York's coronavirus response to drive innovation within the state's operations, Cuomo said.

"On a larger scale, how do we really use technology in the economy of tomorrow, and that's the lesson we're all learning," he said.

The governor praised Schmidt's leadership and vision at Google, saying Schmidt's experience would help New York develop a more tech-savvy approach moving forward.

"The first priorities of what we're trying to do are focused on telehealth, remote learning and broadband," said Schmidt, who dialed in by video conference. "We can take this terrible disaster and accelerate all of those in ways that will make things much, much better."

Schmidt said the pandemic has provided the state with an opportunity to update old and neglected systems and develop new ways to do things, and stressed that the commission's "intent is to be very inclusive" in its approach.

Cuomo previously tapped Schmidt in 2014 to advise the state on updating technology in schools, but faced criticism due to Schmidt's role at the time as Google's CEO, raising concerns that Schmidt would be able to make recommendations that could benefit his company. The state's education department ultimately approved the use of Google Chromebooks in classrooms (though it did not require schools to purchase them).

Schmidt is the third billionaire Cuomo has tapped in recent weeks to advise New York on post-pandemic changes. On Tuesday, Cuomo announced that philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates will help rethink what the state's public schools could look like when they reopen this fall. Cuomo also enlisted former presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg to spend $10 million of his own fortune and work with Johns Hopkins University to develop a contact tracing program for the tri-state area.

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