Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen are co-authors of one of the year’s most widely discussed books about the future of technology. In The New Digital Age, Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, and Cohen, director of Google Ideas, seek to describe how the Internet and other new technologies will shape our lives in the coming decades. Schmidt, a tech billionaire who was Google’s CEO for a decade, and Cohen, a geopolitical expert and former U.S. State Department official, may seem like an odd pair, but the intersection of technology and global politics is growing more relevant by the day.
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By starting with the idea that “technology is neutral, but people aren’t,” the authors aim to move beyond the now familiar optimist vs. pessimist dichotomy that has characterized many recent debates about whether the rise of the Internet will ultimately be good or bad for society. Although Schmidt and Cohen are optimistic about many aspects of the Internet, they’re also realistic about the risks and dangers that lie ahead when the next 5 billion people come online, particularly with respect to personal privacy and state surveillance.