Ram Madhav
May 4, 2020

Tools and Weapons – The promise and the peril of the Digital Age

Author: Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne
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A fascinating, and a bit frightening account of the digital world we live in, this book is a must read for all tech entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, developers, and more importantly those in governments dealing with or regulating digital technology affairs.

Authored by no less a person than the President of the world’s leading IT giant Microsoft, Mr Brad Smith, together with a senior colleague Ms Carol Ann Browne, ‘Tools and Weapons’ eloquently portrays the perils and challenges that pop out of the fast progressing world of technology inventions.

We are living in a ‘tech-intensive’ world, as Satya Nadella has once put it, and none can escape the exposure of it. But how many in the IT industry and in governments understand the challenges that lay in the path? Do we realise that “Issues like cyber security and disinformation will shape the future of war and the protection of our democratic process”?

Albert Einstein had cautioned that the technology advances “could have made human life carefree and happy if the development of the organising power of man had been able to keep step with his technical advances”. Have we developed that ‘organising power’?

We can’t slowdown technology innovation. But as Einstein warned ‘we need to speed up the work to manage it’.

Through brilliant storytelling Smith and Browne alert us to that urgent need. It is the democratic world that has helped these sectors like AI and digital to grow. But it is not just the democracies that use them. They are universal in nature. The peril is in non-democratic and rogue forces using these tools as weapons and the biggest threat will be for democracies only.

To ward off this new challenge, the democratic world needs to come together for drafting a new ‘Geneva Protocol’ for cyber world. That is the central message of this book.

Not for casual reading though. Read only if you want to understand the intensity of the challenge and you are in a place or position to deal with the issue. Of course, a good book for general knowledge as well.

Published by Ram Madhav

Member, Board of Governors, India Foundation

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