Tools and Weapons
Brad Smith, Carol Ann Browne
*THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM BOOK CLUB PICK*
‘A clear, compelling guide to some of the most pressing debates in technology today.’ Bill Gates
‘A colourful 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, bestselling author of Steve Jobs
From Microsoft’s President and one of the tech industry’s wisest thinkers, a frank and thoughtful reckoning with how to balance enormous promise and existential risk as the digitization of everything accelerates. With new chapters on the pandemic and beyond.
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 pre-existing 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.
In Tools and Weapons, Brad Smith takes us behind the scenes on some of the biggest stories to hit the tech industry in the past decade and some of the biggest threats we face. From Edward Snowden’s NSA leak to the NHS WannaCry ransomware attack, this book is essential reading to understand what’s happening in the world around us.
Praise for Tools and Weapons:
‘The de facto ambassador for the technology industry at large.’ The New York Times
‘In Tools and Weapons, Brad and Carol Ann Browne wrestle with some of the world’s toughest technology challenges with common sense and valuable insight reflecting their inside experience. The ideas in Tools and Weapons won’t solve all our problems, but they’re a very good place to start.’ – Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix
‘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
'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 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 Tools and Weapons reads like a techno-legal thriller, yet offers a thorough and eye-opening account of the major tech controversies of the last decade, from NSA spying through AI ethics and the US-China standoff. Brad Smith, a believer that "great power brings great responsibility" makes it evident that the future of humanity may depend on ethical and responsive leadership in the tech industries, and in this book he sets a high bar for his peers. - Tim Wu, author of The Curse of Bigness Brad Smith has emerged as a vocal and principled thought leader addressing how technology can either help uphold or undermine human rights. As digital technology continues to proliferate, these issues will only grow in importance and command more of the world's attention. - Amal Clooney, international human rights lawyer and co-founder and president, Clooney Foundation for Justice '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 Coming from an industry driven by disruption, it's refreshing to read Brad Smith's call for the tech sector to assume more responsibility. In Tools and Weapons, Brad and Carol Ann Browne wrestle with some of the world's toughest technology challenges with common sense and valuable insight reflecting their inside experience. The ideas in Tools and Weapons won't solve all our problems, but they're a very good place to start. - Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix 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, bestselling author of The Innovators and Steve Jobs Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne get to the heart of some of the biggest tech issues of our time, including privacy, cybersecurity and responsible AI, and their impact on all of our lives. - Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Brad Smith makes the case for a new relationship between the tech sector and government - closer cooperation and challenges for each side. - New York Times 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 Taming Big Tech will not be easy, but this book . . . shows where to start. - The Financial Times 'A colourful and insightful insiders' view of how technology is both empowering and threatening us. From privacy to cyberattacks, this timely book is a useful guide for how to navigate the digital future.' - Walter Isaacson One of the few executives willing to speak openly about the industry's most vexing issues. - Sunday Times Tools and Weapons offers a clear view of the questions raised by new technologies, and a potential path forward for tech companies and for societies. - Bill Gates
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