The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen


Two Google executives write in this book The New Digital Age, about the future as they see it in the hyper-connected world. They talk about the future of identity, Citizenship & Reporting. They talk about the future of states, future of revolutions. And terrorism and the future of Conflict, Combat, and Intervention. And how things would change from how they have traditionally existed in the society when the hyper connectivity takes over our lives completely. They explore the synergies between the virtual world and the real. As they will become parallel universes in many ways.

I liked the first chapter in Identity, Citizenship & Reporting. With literally every action captured as data, there is no such information about us that would be not available to agencies. To analyze, synthesize and use. Will it lead to no privacy whatsoever for us? It seems so. As our mobile phone records will always create a history of where we went and what we did. Coupled with the ubiquitous cameras that will capture us all the time. How will the use of this data be regulated? What can be done and what cannot be, remains to be seen. Since we will interact and transact online where there are no borders at least not as of now – they talk about concepts that could emerge like digital currency.

They talk about the power and responsibility of big technology companies, which will be like states in their own ways. And may need to come out with their own policy frameworks for their citizens factoring in domestic and international dynamics.

In future of States, they extensively talk about of virtual communities that are physically scattered. But that may come together for a purpose. They talk about two versions of states one that exists online and one in the real world. Along with the state’s use of digital technologies to interact with the citizens, they talk about their interactions across borders. They talk about the censoring of the Internet at various levels. From the basic minimum that bans things like child pornography to harder ones that restrict things that are available to most of the rest of the world. They predict that in the future every country may have their own version of the Internet. And hopefully in their own languages.

Rest of the sections of the book The New Digital Age were too focused on the Arab world and what happened there in the last couple of years. I think the worldview in these chapters was quite a western hemisphere centric. I agree with them that it is very easy to start a revolution in the digital world. But it is very difficult to take it to point where it can be effective as the leadership required for that is usually missing. Terrorist, as we know, are always the first and the best users of any technology would definitely be already planning their moves on the new technologies. These chapters were too stretched. Repeating the same point and not really offering any new point of view.

As Technology Company I understand they need to understand these trends. And probably build their future designs in a way that they can protect their systems from any attack.

Some interesting quotes from the book The New Digital Age:

  • Internet is a “lawless” space, ungoverned and ungovernable by design.
  • Everything is equidistant in virtual space.
  • Internet was not built with criminals I mind – it was based on a model of trust.
  • Today government officials, with a few exceptions, don’t understand and Internet – not its architecture or its manifold uses.
  • Thick skin would be a necessity for technology companies in coming years of digital age.
  • Empowerment of people comes from what they have access to, while states can derive power from their position of gatekeeper.
  • The most important question in 10-year’ time won’t be if a society uses the Internet, but which version of it, they use.
  • Some form of Visa requirement will emerge on the Internet.
  • Cyberspace will be the Fifth Domain of military operations, alongside land, sea, air, and space.

You may buy this book – The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations, and Business by Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen at Amazon.

The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen

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