On January 20, our latest #BookTalk brought together Microsoft President Brad Smith, co-author of Tools and Weapons: The Promise and Peril of the Digital Age, and Azeem Azhar, founder of the future-focused podcast and newsletter Exponential View.
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. Tools and Weapons: The Promise and Peril of the Digital Age, recently published with co-author Carol Ann Brown, addresses some of the thorniest issues faced by industry and society today, asking: how can the hopes technology offers be protected against the very real threats it also presents?
In conversation with Azeem Azhar, Brad Smith said that it is not surprising there are more calls for governments to address digital technology, but rather that it’s taken this long for this call to spread around the world. When asked about limiting the use of facial recognition technology, he mentioned we must ensure the technology isn’t used in certain contexts, like any kind of mass surveillance that conflicts with the protection of fundamental rights, but ultimately argued there’s only one way at the end of the day to improve technology; use it.
After admitting the chapter on China was the hardest to write, Brad Smith said there are two things Europe should do: ensure the economic value deriving from data is benefiting European companies and industries as well as think about a global AI alliance of the world’s like-minded democracies to come together to defend human rights and civil liberties. You can read more about his thoughts on these topics in the top 10 technology policy issues for the decade here.
Watch the conversation about how to harness the power of today’s technology while tackling the threats of an increasingly digitized world below.
#BookTalk is an author series hosted at the Microsoft Center in Brussels on topics shaping our world – covering a wide variety of subjects, ranging across policy, politics, technology and societal issues. You can access some of our past #BookTalks here.