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Tools and Weapons

The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age
Length: 13 hrs

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Publisher's Summary

"A clear, compelling guide to some of the most pressing debates in technology today." (Bill Gates, from the foreword)

From Microsoft's president and one of the tech industry's broadest thinkers, a frank and thoughtful reckoning with how to balance enormous promise and existential risk as the digitization of everything accelerates.

Microsoft president Brad Smith operates by a simple core belief: When your technology changes the world, you bear a responsibility to help address the world you have helped create. This might seem uncontroversial, but it flies in the face of a tech sector long obsessed with rapid growth and sometimes on disruption as an end in itself. While sweeping digital transformation holds great promise, we have reached an inflection point. The world has turned information technology into both a powerful tool and a formidable weapon, and new approaches are needed to manage an era defined by even more powerful inventions like artificial intelligence. Companies that create technology must accept greater responsibility for the future, and governments will need to regulate technology by moving faster and catching up with the pace of innovation.

In Tools and Weapons, Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne bring us a captivating narrative from the cockpit of one of the world's largest and most powerful tech companies as it finds itself in the middle of some of the thorniest emerging issues of our time. These are challenges that come with no preexisting playbook, including privacy, cybercrime and cyberwar, social media, the moral conundrums of artificial intelligence, big tech's relationship to inequality, and the challenges for democracy, far and near. While in no way a self-glorifying "Microsoft memoir", the book pulls back the curtain remarkably wide onto some of the company's most crucial recent decision points as it strives to protect the hopes technology offers against the very real threats it also presents. There are huge ramifications for communities and countries, and Brad Smith provides a thoughtful and urgent contribution to that effort.

©2019 Brad Smith, Carol Ann Browne, Bill Gates (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“This is a colorful and insightful insiders’ view of how technology is both empowering us and threatening us. From privacy to cyberattacks, this timely book is a useful guide for how to navigate the digital future.” (Walter Isaacson, best-selling author of The Innovators and Steve Jobs)

“Perhaps more than any industry leader, Brad Smith understands that technology is a double-edged sword - unleashing incredible opportunity but raising profound questions about democracy, civil liberties, the future of work and international relations. Tools and Weapons tackles these and other questions in a brilliant and accessible manner. It is a timely book that should be read by anyone seeking to understand how we can take advantage of technology’s promise without sacrificing our freedom, privacy or security.” (Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright) 

“With clarity and candor, Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne have crafted an indispensable guide to understanding and tackling the mightiest tech challenges of our time. Drawing on firsthand experience as well as the lessons of history, this perceptive volume shows that solutions will not be solely governmental nor corporate, but must involve collaboration across sectors and borders. Timely, essential reading for all who care about where the tech world goes next.” (Margaret O’Mara, author of The Code

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