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Tools and Weapons

The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age
Length: 11 hrs and 11 mins

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Publisher's Summary

"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)

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 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 audiobook 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

What the critics say

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

"'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)

What members say

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  • John Anderson
  • 2019-09-16

Captivating, not just for the tech enthusiast!

If you have a smart phone, tablet or computer, this audiobook is worth every penny. I’m not too tech savvy, but Brad and Carol wrote the book in such a way that it will keep your attention and wanting more, whether you’re a tech novice or industry expert. I really enjoyed this audio book and it gave me a new fresh perspective on Microsoft and hope for technology and humanities future.

-John

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • CB
  • 2019-09-15

CEO ... lawyer

it was interesting to hear an 'inside' perspective on some major news / media events, but the diplomatic and at the same time biased p.o.v. of a company CEO limits interest and insight.