ATG Book of the Week: Tools & Weapons: the Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age

by | Oct 17, 2019 | 0 comments

Title: Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age
Author: Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne
Hardcover: ISBN 9781984877710, $30; Paperback: ISBN:978-1529351576, $23.55
Ebook: ISBN 9781984877727, $15.99
Imprint: New York: Penguin Random House, 2019


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…”

Reviews

“‘When your technology changes the world,’ writes Smith, ‘you bear a responsibility to help address the world you have helped create.’ In Tools and Weapons, Smith and co-author Carol Ann Browne, make a persuasive, pragmatic case for owning that responsibility, in everything from digital privacy and surveillance to cybersecurity and social fragmentation to artificial intelligence and facial-recognition technology.” —Seattle Times

“Casual readers who know Microsoft primarily for Windows, Office and maybe Xbox will be surprised by the level of insight Smith brings to some of the biggest issues facing not just the industry but humanity. [Tools and Weapons] is written for a mass market, not just tech and policy wonks. It offers a framework for everyday readers to understand and think about the implications of powerful new forms of technology. . . . It’s full of behind-the-scenes anecdotes, from internal Microsoft meetings to high-level sessions at the Obama and Trump White Houses. It makes ample use of historical references to put modern trends and technologies in context.” —GeekWire

“Smith’s book is not the typical vanity project churned out by so many Fortune 500 leaders, the generic tomes on leadership and teamwork stocked at airport bookstores near the neck pillows. Tools and Weapons is a glimpse behind the curtain as Microsoft reckoned with the Snowden revelations, defended against the vicious cyberattacks, and took both the Obama and Trump administrations to court.” —Rolling Stone

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