The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business

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Overview

In an unparalleled collaboration, two leading global thinkers in technology and foreign affairs give us their widely anticipated, transformational vision of the future: a world where everyone is connected—a world full of challenges and benefits that are ours to meet and to harness.

Eric Schmidt is one of Silicon Valley’s great leaders, having taken Google from a small startup to one of the world’s most influential companies. Jared Cohen is the director of Google Ideas and a ...

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Overview

In an unparalleled collaboration, two leading global thinkers in technology and foreign affairs give us their widely anticipated, transformational vision of the future: a world where everyone is connected—a world full of challenges and benefits that are ours to meet and to harness.

Eric Schmidt is one of Silicon Valley’s great leaders, having taken Google from a small startup to one of the world’s most influential companies. Jared Cohen is the director of Google Ideas and a former adviser to secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. With their combined knowledge and experiences, the authors are uniquely positioned to take on some of the toughest questions about our future: Who will be more powerful in the future, the citizen or the state? Will technology make terrorism easier or harder to carry out? What is the relationship between privacy and security, and how much will we have to give up to be part of the new digital age?

In this groundbreaking book, Schmidt and Cohen combine observation and insight to outline the promise and peril awaiting us in the coming decades. At once pragmatic and inspirational, this is a forward-thinking account of where our world is headed and what this means for people, states and businesses.

With the confidence and clarity of visionaries, Schmidt and Cohen illustrate just how much we have to look forward to—and beware of—as the greatest information and technology revolution in human history continues to evolve. On individual, community and state levels, across every geographical and socioeconomic spectrum, they reveal the dramatic developments—good and bad—that will transform both our everyday lives and our understanding of self and society, as technology advances and our virtual identities become more and more fundamentally real.

As Schmidt and Cohen’s nuanced vision of the near future unfolds, an urban professional takes his driverless car to work, attends meetings via hologram and dispenses housekeeping robots by voice; a Congolese fisherwoman uses her smart phone to monitor market demand and coordinate sales (saving on costly refrigeration and preventing overfishing); the potential arises for “virtual statehood” and “Internet asylum” to liberate political dissidents and oppressed minorities, but also for tech-savvy autocracies (and perhaps democracies) to exploit their citizens’ mobile devices for ever more ubiquitous surveillance. Along the way, we meet a cadre of international figures—including Julian Assange—who explain their own visions of our technology-saturated future.

Inspiring, provocative and absorbing, The New Digital Age is a brilliant analysis of how our hyper-connected world will soon look, from two of our most prescient and informed public thinkers.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

To learn about the future, it's best to go to those who are helping create it. By any standard, the co-authors of this book qualify as sources: Eric Schmidt is an executive chairman of Google and its former CEO and Jared Cohen is the director of Google Ideas. Their laser-sharp appraisal of the emerging digital age offers breathtaking scenarios of tiny gizmos that will improve our lives and privacy invasions that could imperil us. Illuminating glimpses not only into tomorrow, but also the day after tomorrow.

Publishers Weekly
This transformational work from Google's Schmidt and Cohen examines the boundaries of the physical world we currently inhabit and offers a vision into our digital future: a world where everyone is connected, and what it means for people, nations, and businesses. Global connectivity can help generate more jobs in internet security and intellectual property and privacy law, while offering visible figures access to media outlets for self-promotion. Schmidt and Cohen address global connectivity and the relationships between invasion of privacy and government's control over people's private information; such connectivity opens doors to identity theft and increases the risk for cyber warfare. Societies will be at risk of fragmentation, facing ethnic and religious strife, as well as trouble emerging from online communities. The possibility of cyber terrorism and cyberwarfare will increase the likelihood of "new code wars" in which silent attacks are inevitable. Schmidt and Cohen outline plans to reconstruct societies and offer ideas for innovative policies that may allow societies to recover quickly. Technology connects us all, but as we become more dependent on it, will it eliminate physical human contact altogether? (May)
From the Publisher
The New Digital Age is a considered work…It shifts the debate about technology, elevating it from mundane arguments about the utility of dating apps to the wider issues of how technology interacts with power.”
The Economist

“This is the most important—and fascinating—book yet written about how the digital age will affect our world. With vivid examples and brilliant analysis, it shows how the internet and other communications technologies will empower individuals and transform the way nations and businesses operate. How will different societies make tradeoffs involving privacy, freedom, control, security, and the relationship between the physical and virtual worlds? This realistic but deeply optimistic book provides the guideposts. It’s both profoundly wise and wondrously readable.”
-Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs
 
 “Every day, technological innovations are giving people around the world new opportunities to shape their own destinies. In this fascinating book, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen draw upon their unique experiences to show us a future of rising incomes, growing participation, and a genuine sense of community—if we make the right choices today.”
-Bill Clinton
 
“Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen have produced a searching meditation on technology and world order. Even those who disagree with some of their conclusions will learn much from this thought-provoking volume.”
-Henry A. Kissinger
 
“This is the book I have been waiting for: a concise and persuasive description of technology’s impact on war, peace, freedom, and diplomacy. The New Digital Age is a guide to the future written by two experts who possess a profound understanding of humanity’s altered prospects in a wireless world. There are insights on every page and surprising conclusions (and questions) in every chapter. For experts and casual readers alike, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen have produced an indispensable book.”
-Former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright 
 
“Jared Cohen and Eric Schmidt have written a brilliant book that should be required reading for anyone who wishes to understand the huge ramifications of the Age of Google not only for our lifestyles but, more importantly, for our privacy, our democracy and our security. If you already know about the law of photonics, data remanence, Stuxnet, Flame, DDoS attacks and CRASH (the Clean-Slate Design of Resilient, Adaptive, Secure Hosts) then you can probably skip it. If, like me, this is all news to you, you had better download The New Digital Age today. The 'technoptimistic' case will never be more smartly argued.”
-Niall Ferguson, author of Civilization: The West and the Rest

The New Digital Age is must-reading for anyone who wants to truly understand the depths of the digital revolution. Combining the skills of a social scientist and a computer scientist, Schmidt and Cohen blend the technical and the human, the scientific and the political, in ways I rarely saw while in government. They challenge the reader’s imagination on almost every page.”
-General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA
 
 “This is a book that describes a technological revolution in the making. How we navigate it is a challenge for countries, communities and citizens. There are no two people better equipped to explain what it means than Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen.”
-Tony Blair
 
“Few people in the world are doing more to imagine—and build—the new digital age than Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen. With this book, they are looking into their crystal ball and inviting the world to peek in.”
-Michael R. Bloomberg
 
“Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen’s thoughtful, well-researched work elucidates the staggering impact of technology on our daily lives, as well as what surprising and incredible developments the future may hold. Readers might be left with more questions than answers, but that’s the idea—we are at our best when we ask ‘What’s next?’”
-Elon Musk, cofounder of Tesla Motors and PayPal

The New Digital Age offers an intriguing fusion of ideas and insights about how the virtual world is intersecting with the ‘Westphalian order.’ It seeks a balance between the discontinuities of technologists’ ‘revolutions’ and the traditionalism of internationalists’ study of states, power, and behavior. The authors explain that technology is not a panacea, yet the uses of technology can make a world of difference. This book should launch a valuable debate about the practical implications of this new connectivity for citizens and policy makers, societies and governments.”
-Robert B. Zoellick, former president of the World Bank Group

“We have long needed an incisive study of how the ever-evolving world of technology leaves almost no aspect of life unchanged. We have it in The New Digital Age. Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen offer a rigorous approach to decoding what the future holds in a story that is as well written and entertaining as it is important.”  
-General Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor

“At last, a brilliant guide book for the next century—what the future holds for entrepreneurs, revolutionaries, politicians, and ordinary citizens alike. Schmidt and Cohen offer a dazzling glimpse into how the new digital revolution is changing our lives. This book is the most insightful exploration of our future world I’ve ever read, and once I started reading I was simply unable to put it down.”
-Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman, Virgin Group
 
“This brilliant book will make you re-examine your concepts of the digital age, the way the world works, what lies ahead, and what all this means for you, your family and your community. A must read.”
 —Mohamed El-Erian, chair, President Obama’s Global Development Council

“This work of futurology combines optimism and pessimism in an informed and level-headed presentation.”
Booklist

“Ambitious [and] fascinating . . . [this] book is filled with tantalizing examples of futuristic goods and services.”
Anna Kuchment, Scientific American
 
“[Schmidt and Cohen] encapsulate a vast sweep of ideas, including personal citizenship online and off, censorship of electronic information as national policy, and even what future revolutions will look like in years to come . . . A thoughtful and well-balanced prognostication of what lies ahead.”
Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Two Google executives examine how emerging technologies will change the future of foreign affairs. "Forget all the talk about machines taking over," write Schmidt and Cohen (Children of Jihad: A Young American's Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East, 2007, etc.). "What happens in the future is up to us." The pair met in Baghdad in 2009 while working on a memo for the State Department. While there, they found that Iraqis not only valued technology, they believed in its potential to improve their lives and their country. With that in mind, the authors look at our increasingly networked world and speculate on what new global connections could bring, particularly as it will change foreign affairs in a future that "will be more personal and participatory than we can even imagine." The authors encapsulate a vast sweep of ideas, including personal citizenship online and off, censorship of electronic information as national policy (e.g., in China), and even what future revolutions (similar to the Arab Spring) will look like in years to come. The ability of technology to change the world for the better sometimes comes across as either excessively optimistic or bordering on science fiction. In one passage, the authors surmise that witch doctors, false holy men and procurers of child brides could all soon change their ways, since "[w]ith more data, everyone gains a better frame of reference." Conversely, the chapter on the future of terrorism is especially chilling, offering such possibilities as mobile explosive devices made from parts easily bought online or a well-coordinated, simultaneous bomb explosion in multiple American cities, followed by cyberattacks to cripple emergency services. The likelihood that technology could create a future that is both better and worse, in different ways, is probably the book's most accurate prediction. A thoughtful and well-balanced prognostication of what lies ahead.
The Barnes & Noble Review

Not content to just invent the future, the technology barons of Silicon Valley are now turning their formidable minds to authoring books about this future. First there was LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman's bestselling self-help manual, The Start-up of You. Then Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg provoked a national debate with her feminist polemic, Lean In. And now, with The New Digital Age, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Google Direct of Ideas Jared Cohen have written a book that, in just under 300 pages, attempts to map out the entire future of our networked century.

With chapters on everything from the future of our selves and our identities to the future of states, revolutions, and terrorism, Schmidt and Cohen certainly can't be accused of thinking small. Indeed, their book, subtitled Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, contains the breathtaking ambition of a start-up with a particularly disruptive technology — a play that, inside Google, is known as a "moon shot."

"The Internet is the largest experiment involving anarchy in history," Schmidt and Cohen write. But it's "among the few things humans have build that they don't truly understand."

Their goal is to repair that failure and make sense of this anarchy, to actually understand the Internet. So is this the book that successfully imagines the destination of this historic collaboration? Have Schmidt and Cohen succeeded with their moon shot?

The answer, I'm happy to report, is mostly yes. I was impressed with both the conceptual scope and empirical research packed into The New Digital Age. Schmidt and Cohen make a formidable intellectual duo, combining Schmidt's encyclopedic knowledge of digital technology with Cohen's equally impressive grasp of international diplomacy and politics. And as a co-authored effort, The New Digital Age reads with surprising clarity, verve, and even occasional wit — a consequence, I suspect, of the admirable editorial skills of Schmidt's daughter, Sophie, the book's "internal editor," to whom the authors acknowledge "a huge debt of gratitude."

As executives at Silicon Valley's most aggressively cheerful company, Schmidt and Cohen's version of the future is, of course, mostly optimistic. The central theme in The New Digital Age is the shift in power from traditional twentieth-century political, economic, and cultural institutions to the twenty-first-century individual. The authors certainly aren't the first to note this great transformation, but they do examine it with subtlety and intelligence, particularly their focus on the ways in which digital technology potentially empowers the citizen.

I particularly liked Schmidt and Cohen's sophisticated analysis of the future of identity on a radically transparent network where individual privacy is essentially dead. With this death of privacy, they explain, public reputation becomes our most valuable asset — the thing that will most define our success and failure in a hypervisible world. They are good also on the educational ramifications of a world in which, by 2025, all 8 billion humans will be on the network — a change, Schmidt and Cohen predict, that will empower experimental online schools like the Khan Academy.

I found their section on revolutions particularly balanced and interesting. They note that the Internet is no friend of autocratic regimes. And yet they believe that the pace of revolutions driven by online protest will fail to generate mature revolutionary leaders like Nelson Mandela or Lech Walesa. Most memorable of all, however, is their warning about "revolutionary tourists" — the online activists of the future who will "spend all day crawling the web for online protests to join?.just for the thrill of it."

My only criticism of The New Digital Age is that occasionally Schmidt and Cohen let their techno-enthusiasm get the better of their analysis. The section, for example, on holographic travel — of being able to essentially transport oneself digitally somewhere else — is a bit too Star Trek–ish. And their classic Silicon Valley belief in the power of reason — in a strictly utilitarian network of rational people and rational government — sometimes crosses over into the Fordism so savagely parodied in Huxley's Brave New World.

But it's their quasi-religious faith in the democratizing power of the Internet that is most irritating. Here, Schmidt and Cohen sometimes leave their own scientific reason at the door. "In the future," they promise, "people won't just back up their data; they'll back up their government." No, I won't drink that Kool-Aid. And nor, I suspect, will anyone reading this book in Iran, China, or Russia.

That said, The New Digital Age can't be dismissed as another cyber-utopian manifesto about the ways networked technology will inevitably save humanity. Schmidt and Cohen are careful to remind us that their work is "about humans" and that "what happens in the future is up to us." They understand and detail the darker side of the Internet, with its real-time warlords, its online mobs seeking immediate collective justice, and, most of all, its data that democratizes the making of terrorist bombs and drones.

"Technology", these two titans of Silicon Valley so rightly tell us, "is no panacea." The future, they say, is a "tale of two civilizations." It's the story of darkness and light, of both the freedom and tyranny created by the twenty-first-century network. This is the muddy, ambivalent online world mapped out The New Digital Age. It may not have the clarity of Google maps, but it's just about the best guide we have for a misty digital future that even writers as perspicacious as Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen can't quite see.

Andrew Keen is author of The Cult of the Amateur, which has been translated into fifteen languages. He hosts "Keen On," the popular weekly media and culture show on Techcrunch.com and regularly tweets at www.twitter.com/ajkeen.

Reviewer: Andrew Keen

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307957139
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/23/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 268,228
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

ERIC SCHMIDT is executive chairman of Google, where he served as chief executive officer from 2001 to 2011. A member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Schmidt also chairs the board of the New America Foundation and is a trustee of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

JARED COHEN is director of Google Ideas and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a Rhodes Scholar and the author of several books, including Children of Jihad and One Hundred Days of Silence. He is a member of the Director’s Advisory Board at the National Counterterrorism Center.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
 
Our Future Selves
 
Soon everyone on Earth will be connected. With five billion more people set to join the virtual world, the boom in digital connectivity will bring gains in productivity, health, education, quality of life and myriad other avenues in the physical world—and this will be true for everyone, from the most elite users to those at the base of the economic pyramid. But being “connected” will mean very different things to different people, largely because the problems they have to solve differ so dramatically. What might seem like a small jump forward for some—like a smart phone priced under $20—may be as profound for one group as commuting to work in a driverless car is for another. People will find that being connected virtually makes us feel more equal—with access to the same basic platforms, information and online resources—while significant differences persist in the physical world. Connectivity will not solve income inequality, though it will alleviate some of its more intractable causes, like lack of available education and economic opportunity. So we must recognize and celebrate innovation in its own context. Everyone will benefit from connectivity, but not equally, and how those differences manifest themselves in the daily lives of people is our focus here.
 
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Increased Efficiency
 
Being able to do more in the virtual world will make the mechanics of our physical world more efficient. As digital connectivity reaches the far corners of the globe, new users will employ it to improve a wide range of inefficient markets, systems and behaviors, in both the most and least advanced societies. The resulting gains in efficiency and productivity will be profound, particularly in developing countries where technological isolation and bad policies have stymied growth and progress for years, and people will do more with less.
 
The accessibility of affordable smart devices, including phones and tablets, will be transformative in these countries. Consider the impact of basic mobile phones for a group of Congolese fisherwomen today. Whereas they used to bring their daily catch to the market and watch it slowly spoil as the day progressed, now they keep it on the line, in the river, and wait for calls from customers. Once an order is placed, a fish is brought out of the water and prepared for the buyer. There is no need for an expensive refrigerator, no need for someone to guard it at night, no danger of spoiled fish losing their value (or poisoning customers), and there is no unnecessary overfishing. The size of these women’s market can even expand as other fishermen in surrounding areas coordinate with them over their own phones. As a substitute for a formal market economy (which would take years to develop), that’s not a bad work-around for these women or the community at large.
 
Mobile phones are transforming how people in the developing world access and use information, and adoption rates are soaring. There are already more than 650 million mobile-phone users in Africa, and close to 3 billion across Asia. The majority of these people are using basic-feature phones—voice calls and text messages only—because the cost of data service in their countries is often prohibitively expensive, so that even those who can buy web-enabled phones or smart phones cannot use them affordably. This will change, and when it does, the smart-phone revolution will profoundly benefit these populations.
 
Hundreds of millions of people today are living the lives of their grandparents, in countries where life expectancy is less than sixty years, or even fifty in some places, and there is no guarantee that their political and macroeconomic circumstances will improve dramatically anytime soon. What is new in their lives and their futures is connectivity. Critically, they have the chance to bypass earlier technologies, like dial-up modems, and go directly to high-speed wireless connections, which means the transformations that connectivity brings will occur even more quickly than they did in the developed world. The introduction of mobile phones is far more transformative than most people in modern countries realize. As people come online, they will quite suddenly have access to almost all the world’s information in one place in their own language. This will even be true for an illiterate Maasai cattle herder in the Serengeti, whose native tongue, Maa, is not written—he’ll be able to verbally inquire about the day’s market prices and crowd-source the whereabouts of any nearby predators, receiving a spoken answer from his device in reply. Mobile phones will allow formerly isolated people to connect with others very far away and very different from themselves. On the economic front, they’ll find ways to use the new tools at their disposal to enlarge their businesses, make them more efficient and maximize their profits, as the fisherwomen did much more locally with their basic phones.
 
What connectivity also brings, beyond mobile phones, is the ability to collect and use data. Data itself is a tool, and in places where unreliable statistics about health, education, economics and the population’s needs have stalled growth and development, the chance to gather data effectively is a game-changer. Everyone in society benefits from digital data, as governments can better measure the success of their programs, and media and other nongovernmental organizations can use data to support their work and check facts. For example, Amazon is able to take its data on merchants and, using algorithms, develop customized bank loans to offer them—in some cases when traditional banks have completely shut their doors. Larger markets and better metrics can help create healthier and more productive economies.
 
And the developing world will not be left out of the advances in gadgetry and other high-tech machinery. Even if the prices for sophisticated smart phones and robots to perform household tasks like vacuuming remain high, illicit markets like China’s expansive “shanzhai” network for knock-off consumer electronics will produce and distribute imitations that bridge the gap. And technologies that emerged in first-world contexts will find renewed purpose in developing countries. In “additive manufacturing,” or 3-D printing, machines can actually “print” physical objects by taking three-dimensional data about an object and tracing the contours of its shape, ultra-thin layer by ultra-thin layer, with liquid plastic or other material, until the whole object materializes. Such printers have produced a huge range of objects, including customized mobile phones, machine parts and a full-sized replica motorcycle. These machines will definitely have an impact on the developing world. Communal 3-D printers in poor countries would allow people to make whatever tool or item they require from open-source templates—digital information that is freely available in its edited source—rather than waiting on laborious or iffy delivery routes for higher-priced premade goods.
 
In wealthier countries 3-D printing will be the perfect partner for advanced manufacturing. New materials and products will all be built uniquely to a specification from the Internet and on demand by a machine run by a sophisticated, trained operator. This will not replace the acres of high-volume, lowest-cost manufacturing present in many industries, but it will bring an unprecedented variety to the products used in the developed world.
 
As for life’s small daily tasks, information systems will streamline many of them for people living in those countries, such as integrated clothing machines (washing, drying, folding, pressing and sorting) that keep an inventory of clean clothes and algorithmically suggest outfits based on the user’s daily schedule. Haircuts will finally be automated and machine-precise. And cell phones, tablets and laptops will have wireless recharging capabilities, rendering the need to fiddle with charging cables an obsolete nuisance. Centralizing the many moving parts of one’s life into an easy-to-use, almost intuitive system of information management and decision making will give our interactions with technology an effortless feel. As long as safeguards are in place to protect privacy and prevent data loss, these systems will free us of many small burdens—including errands, to-do lists and assorted “monitoring” tasks—that today add stress and chip away at our mental focus throughout the day. Our own neurological limits, which lead us to forgetfulness and oversights, will be supplemented by information systems designed to support our needs. Two such examples are memory prosthetics—calendar reminders and to-do lists—and social prosthetics, which instantly connect you with your friend who has relevant expertise in whatever task you are facing.
 
By relying on these integrated systems, which will encompass both the professional and the personal sides of our lives, we’ll be able to use our time more effectively each day—whether that means having the time to have a “deep think,” spending more time preparing for an important presentation or guaranteeing that a parent can attend his or her child’s soccer game without distraction. Suggestion engines that offer alternative terms to help a user find what she is looking for will be a particularly useful aid in efficiency by consistently stimulating our thinking processes, ultimately enhancing our creativity, not preempting it. Of course, the world will be filled with gadgets, holograms that allow a virtual version of you to be somewhere else, and endless amounts of content, so there will be plenty of ways to procrastinate, too—but the point is that when you choose to be productive, you can do so with greater capacity.
 
Other advances in the pipeline in areas like robotics, artificial intelligence and voice recognition will introduce efficiency into our lives by providing more seamless forms of engagement with the technology in our daily routines. Fully automated human-like robots with superb AI abilities will probably be out of most people’s price range for some time, but the average American consumer will find it affordable to own a handful of different multipurpose robots fairly soon. The technology in iRobot’s Roomba vacuum cleaner, the progenitor of this field of consumer “home” robots (first introduced in 2002), will only become more sophisticated and multipurpose in time. Future varieties of home robots should be able to handle other household duties, electrical work and even plumbing issues with relative ease.
 
We also can’t discount the impact that superior voice-recognition software will have on our daily lives. Beyond searching for information online and issuing commands to your robots (both of which are possible today), better voice recognition will mean instant transcription of anything you produce: e-mails, notes, speeches, term papers. Most people speak much faster than they type, so this technology will surely save many of us time in our daily affairs—not to mention helping us avoid cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. A shift toward voice-initiated writing may well change our world of written material. Will we learn to speak in paragraphs, or will our writing begin to mirror speech patterns?
 
Everyday use of gesture-recognition technology is also closer than we think. Microsoft’s Kinect, a hands-free sensor device for the Xbox 360 video-game console that captures and integrates a player’s motion, set a world record in 2011 as the fastest selling consumer-electronics device in history, with more than eight million devices sold in the first sixty days on the market. Gestural interfaces will soon move beyond gaming and entertainment into more functional areas; the futuristic information screens displayed so prominently in the film Minority Report—in which Tom Cruise used gesture technology and holographic images to solve crimes on a computer—are just the beginning. In fact, we’ve already moved beyond that—the really interesting work today is building “social robots” that can recognize human gestures and respond to them in kind, such as a toy dog that sits when a child makes a command gesture.
 
And, looking further down the line, we might not need to move physically to manipulate those robots. There have been a series of exciting breakthroughs in thought-controlled motion technology—directing motion by thinking alone—in the past few years. In 2012, a team at a robotics laboratory in Japan demonstrated successfully that a person lying in an fMRI machine (which takes continuous scans of the brain to measure changes in blood flow) could control a robot hundreds of miles away just by imagining moving different parts of his body. The subject could see from the robot’s perspective, thanks to a camera on its head, and when he thought about moving his arm or his legs, the robot would move correspondingly almost instantaneously. The possibilities of thought-controlled motion, not only for “surrogates” like separate robots but also for prosthetic limbs, are particularly exciting in what they portend for mobility-challenged or “locked in” individuals—spinal-cord-injury patients, amputees and others who cannot communicate or move in their current physical state.
 
-
 
More Innovation, More Opportunity
 
That the steady march of globalization will continue apace, even accelerate, as connectivity spreads will come as no surprise. But what might surprise you is how small some of the advances in technology, when paired with increased connection and interdependence across countries, will make your world feel. Instant language translation, virtual-reality interactions and real-time collective editing—most easily understood today as wikis—will reshape how firms and organizations interact with partners, clients and employees in other places. While certain differences will perhaps never be fully overcome—like cultural nuance and time zones—the ability to engage with people in disparate locations, with near-total comprehension and on shared platforms, will make such interactions feel incredibly familiar.
 
Supply chains for corporations and other organizations will become increasingly disaggregated, not just on the production side but also with respect to people. More effective communication across borders and languages will build trust and create opportunities for hardworking and talented individuals around the world. It will not be unusual for a French technology company to operate its sales team from Southeast Asia, while locating its human-resources people in Canada and its engineers in Israel. Bureaucratic obstacles that prevent this level of decentralized operation today, like visa restrictions and regulations around money transfers, will become either irrelevant or be circumvented as digital solutions are discovered. Perhaps a human-rights organization with staff living in a country under heavy diplomatic sanctions will pay its employees in mobile money credits, or in an entirely digital currency.
 
As fewer jobs require a physical presence, talented individuals will have more options available to them. Skilled young adults in Uruguay will find themselves competing for certain types of jobs against their counterparts in Orange County. Of course, just as not all jobs can or will be automated in the future, not every job can be conducted from a distance—but more can than you might think. And for those living on a few dollars per day, there will be endless opportunities to increase their earnings. In fact, Amazon Mechanical Turk, which is a digital task-distribution platform, offers a present-day example of a company outsourcing small tasks that can be performed for a few cents by anyone with an Internet connection. As the quality of virtual interactions continues to improve, a range of vocations can expand the platform’s client base; you might retain a lawyer from one continent and use a Realtor from another. Globalization’s critics will decry this erosion of local monopolies, but it should be embraced, because this is how our societies will move forward and continue to innovate. Indeed, rising connectivity should help countries discover their competitive advantage—it could be that the world’s best graphic designers come from Botswana, and the world just doesn’t know it yet.
 
This leveling of the playing field for talent extends to the world of ideas, and innovation will increasingly come from the margins, outside traditional bastions of growth, as people begin to make new connections and apply unique perspectives to difficult problems, driving change. New levels of collaboration and cross-pollination across different sectors internationally will ensure that many of the best ideas and solutions will have a chance to rise to the top and be seen, considered, explored, funded, adopted and celebrated. Perhaps an aspiring Russian programmer currently working as a teacher in Novosibirsk will discover a new application of the technology behind the popular mobile game Angry Birds, realizing how its game framework could be used to improve the educational tools he is building to teach physics to local students. He finds similar gaming software that is open source and then he builds on it. As the open-source movement around the world continues to gain speed (for governments and companies it is low cost, and for contributors the benefits are in recognition and economic opportunities to improve and enlarge the support ecosystems), the Russian teacher-programmer will have an enormous cache of technical plans to learn from and use in his own work. In a fully connected world, he is increasingly likely to catch the eyes of the right people, to be offered jobs or fellowships, or to sell his creation to a major multinational company. At a minimum, he can get his foot in the door.
 
Innovation can come from the ground up, but not all local innovation will work on a larger scale, because some entrepreneurs and inventors will be building for different audiences, solving very specific problems. This is true today as well. Consider the twenty-four-year-old Kenyan inventor Anthony Mutua, who unveiled at a 2012 Nairobi science fair an ultrathin crystal chip he developed that can generate electricity when put under pressure. He placed the chip in the sole of a tennis shoe and demonstrated how, just by walking, a person can charge his mobile phone. (It’s a reminder of how bad the problems of reliable and affordable electricity, and to a lesser extent short battery life, are for many people—and how some governments are not rushing to fix the electricity grids—that innovators like Mutua are designing microchips that turn people into portable charging stations.) Mutua’s chip is now set to go into mass production, and if that successfully brings down the cost, he will have invented one of the cleverest designs that no one outside the developing world will ever use, simply because they’ll never need to. Unfortunately, the level of a population’s access to technology is often determined by external factors, and even if power and electricity problems are eventually solved (by the government or by citizens), there is no telling what new roadblocks will prevent certain groups from reaching the same level of connectivity and opportunity as others.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1 Our Future Selves
Chapter 2 The Future of Identity, Citizenship and Reporting
Chapter 3 The Future of States
Chapter 4 The Future of Revolution
Chapter 5 The Future of Conflict, Combat and Intervention
Chapter 6 The Future of Reconstruction
Chapter 7 The Future of Terrorism
Conclusion
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2013

    Jason

    I write fiction and biographys, Im in ninth grade. I liston to rock. If get this job I'll be greatful. Thanks for your time.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Kenny

    Hmpf.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 28, 2014

    Valuable information - but intensely boring

    The authors are big shots at Google, so their knowledge and opinions about the effects of connectedness on privacy and security and how technology is rapidly changing the world is valuable. However, they make the same points over and over. If a Readers Digest condensed version comes out, it may be worth reading, but this sucker needed very much to be condensed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    Interesting, current and predictive of what is in store for us.

    Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen present a comprehensive, account of how the world will become increasingly connected, more subject to having our secrets revealed, and our lives on display for anyone to access, without our permission, or even knowledge of same. All information will be ultimately available to anyone about everything and everybody. And there's not much one can do about it. Bank accounts will be increasingly vulnerable to unauthorized entry, as well as any personal data we may have shared from years ago as reckless teenagers through existing social media. Any safeguards will be compromised by adept hackers.

    From the author's perspective, that's the way it is, get used to it. I daresay I'm glad I won't be around for same. And there's security in that.

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  • Posted May 15, 2013

    *A full executive summary of this book will be available at newb

    *A full executive summary of this book will be available at newbooksinbrief dot com on or before Tuesday, May 21, 2013.

    Many of us living in the developed world have come to rely very heavily on digital technology (including the internet and our mobile/smart devices) in both our personal and professional lives—indeed, for many of us, our relationship with our various screens is nothing short of addiction. And we are not the only ones who are increasingly becoming connected. We are also beginning to hook up our various man-made systems (such as our infrastructural systems and financial systems) to the internet as well. Given how radically digital technology has transformed our lives, it is easy to forget just how recently this trend has come upon us; for, indeed, all of this change has occurred entirely in the past 15 to 20 years. This is significant because it reminds us that the age of connectivity is but in its infancy, and that most of the changes are yet to come.

    This is true for us here in the developed world, but is even more so the case for those living in the developing world, where almost 5 billion people are expected to go from no connectivity to full connectivity within the next 20 years. While it may well be the case that the overall impact of the connectivity revolution will be enormously beneficial, we would be fool to think that the impact will be none but positive. With forces such as criminals, rebel groups, terrorists and rogue states prepared to take advantage of the new technology, the connectivity revolution poses some very serious challenges as well. Google executive Eric Schmidt and U.S. policy and media expert Jared Cohen are particularly well-placed to assess how all of the upcoming changes will play out, and in their new book The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations, and Business the two let us in on their ruminations and prognostications.

    Beginning closer to home, the authors chart how the new digital age stands to increase our efficiency and offer new opportunities for both business and leisure. To begin with, the two argue that most of our day to day routines and workload will be streamlined by way of being hooked up to the internet and aided by various artificial intelligence machines. Over and above this, consider some of the extravagant possibilities: imagine attending a 9 a.m. teleconference with business associates from around the world in a 3D virtual space, where each individual’s comments are translated into your native language near perfectly, and near instantaneously. In the evening you enter a different 3D virtual space that captures a sporting event in real-time. After that you enjoy a holographic recreation of your wedding with your spouse.

    Though the book does explore domestic matters, it is mostly focused on how the digital age will impact international relations and conflicts. The only faults I see in the book are that it occasionally indulges in speculation that borders on fear-mongering, and there are several cases wherein the authors do not explore their reasons for believing why a particular trend will emerge (instead favoring bald and sweeping statements). All in all the two authors have a very unique and privileged vantage point from which to view things, and it is very interesting to look in on their thoughts. A full executive summary of the book will be available at newbooksinbrief dot com, on or before Tuesday, May 21; a podcast discussion of the book will be available shortly thereafter.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Okay

    I liked it, i got it from the library and enjoyed it but wouldnt recommend buying it. Was very entertianing though

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted August 26, 2013

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    Posted December 8, 2013

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    Posted May 23, 2013

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    Posted May 9, 2013

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