The first book by Microsoft CLO Brad Smith, exploring the biggest questions facing humanity about tech
With a foreword from Bill Gates
From Microsoft's President and one of the tech industry's wisest 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. Now, though, we have reached an inflection point: Silicon Valley has moved fast and it has broken things. A new understanding has emerged that 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 that is impacting our communities and changing the world.
In Tools and Weapons , Brad Smith takes us into 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 AI, big tech's relationship to inequality and the challenges for democracy, far and near. While in no way a self-glorifying "Microsoft memoir," the book opens up 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. Every tool can be a weapon in the wrong person's hands, and companies are being challenged in entirely new ways to embrace the totality of their responsibilities. We have moved from a world in which Silicon Valley could take no prisoners to one in which tech companies and governments must work together to address the challenges and adapt to the changes technology has unleashed. There are huge ramifications to be thought through, and Brad Smith provides a marvellous and urgently necessary contribution to that effort.
In Tools and Weapons , Brad Smith takes us behind the scenes on some of the biggest stories to hit the tech industry in the past decade. From Edward Snowden's NSA leak to the NHS WannaCry ransomware attack, this book is essential reading to understand what's happening in the world around us.
About the Authors
Brad Smith is Microsoft's President. He is responsible for the company's corporate, external, and legal affairs and serves as the company's chief legal officer. He plays a key role in representing the company externally and in spearheading the company's work on critical issues relating to the intersection of technology and society, including cybersecurity, privacy, accessibility, environmental sustainability and digital inclusion.
Carol Ann Browne is a Director of Communications at Microsoft. She joined Microsoft in 2010 and is an experienced communicator with a broad background in writing, video, multimedia, and social media work.
Tools and Weapons offers a clear view of the questions raised by new technologies, and a potential path forward for tech companies and for societies. - Bill Gates
One of the few executives willing to speak openly about the industry's most vexing issues. - Sunday Times
Smith's book is not the typical vanity project churned out by so many Fortune 500 leaders, the generic tomes on leadership and teamwork stocked at airport bookstores near the neck pillows. Tools and Weapons is a glimpse behind the curtain as Microsoft reckoned with the Snowden revelations, defended against the vicious cyberattacks, and took both the Obama and Trump administrations to court.' Rolling Stone
Brad Smith makes the case for a new relationship between the tech sector and government - closer cooperation and challenges for each side. - New York Times
Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne get to the heart of some of the biggest tech issues of our time, including privacy, cybersecurity and responsible AI, and their impact on all of our lives. - Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
This is 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, bestselling author of The Innovators and Steve Jobs
Coming from an industry driven by disruption, it's refreshing to read Brad Smith's call for the tech sector to assume more responsibility. In Tools and Weapons, Brad and Carol Ann Browne wrestle with some of the world's toughest technology challenges with common sense and valuable insight reflecting their inside experience. The ideas in Tools and Weapons won't solve all our problems, but they're a very good place to start. - Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix
'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
Brad Smith has emerged as a vocal and principled thought leader addressing how technology can either help uphold or undermine human rights. As digital technology continues to proliferate, these issues will only grow in importance and command more of the world's attention. - Amal Clooney, international human rights lawyer and co-founder and president, Clooney Foundation for Justice
Tools and Weapons reads like a techno-legal thriller, yet offers a thorough and eye-opening account of the major tech controversies of the last decade, from NSA spying through AI ethics and the US-China standoff. Brad Smith, a believer that "great power brings great responsibility" makes it evident that the future of humanity may depend on ethical and responsive leadership in the tech industries, and in this book he sets a high bar for his peers. - Tim Wu, author of The Curse of Bigness
With clarity and candor, Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne have crafted an indispensable guide to understanding and tackling the mightiest tech challenges of our time. Drawing on firsthand experience as well as the lessons of history, this perceptive volume shows that solutions will not be solely governmental nor corporate, but must involve collaboration across sectors and borders. Timely, essential reading for all who care about where the tech world goes next. - Margaret O'Mara, author of The Code
'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