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Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,146 ratings  ·  148 reviews
With a foreword by 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
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Penguin Press
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Donald I think in the sense that he admits MS was providing email services, messaging, etc to ICE.

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
Superficial material that could've been read in a newspaper. Some of the stories covered in detail but never in enough of it to be worthwhile. Some 'Russian hackers', some 'Chinese hackers', bits and pieces of this and that.
Never in any significant detail. Never any deep insights. The overall rating is closer to 1 than 2.
Shilpa Rao
Oct 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
Picked up this book in the hope I would learn something on evolving policy and tech companies, governments and data protection, but the book is a PR exercise for Microsoft. Very disappointing, and of course, I've learnt nothing new. ...more
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Democracy, privacy, cybersecurity, rural broadband, government regulation of tech and more – this book is so much more than just “will AI-infused robots take over the world.”

It’s a quick, easy read that breaks down these complex issues in a comprehensible manner with really interesting connections to lessons from history, providing fascinating insight and perspective on topics we should all be considering.

Living in a rural community, I found the rural broadband issues, including government repor
Matthew Gabert
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a very good book, full of information and details about things that I knew about at a cursory level, but never knew the full details of. This book is about Microsoft, and has little to do with anything else. It has to do with the digital revolution of Microsoft and Brad's role in that. I felt as if he was making Microsoft out to be the best thing since sliced bread and had little to no faults in the transition and issues. Very preachy of how good Microsoft is/was, and that rubbed me the ...more
Mohamed Haydar
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Microsoft loves you.
Microsoft only wants what's best for the people.
Microsoft is willing to die for your privacy.

Here's a template of how every chapter goes:
- Somewhat relevant historical anecdote.
- Technology issue happens.
- Microsoft is the first company to do the right thing even though the dum dums at Google and Apple were against them.
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
One long msft commerical
Jeeva Bharathi Hariharan
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
If this book had been published two or three decades ago it would have been categorised as science fiction. This book brings into perspective the staggering progress of technology and the role each of us has to play as a member of the society on how technology should be implemented and used in the future.
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brad Smith, President of Microsoft, wrote this book with Carole Ann Browne, about all the wonderful things Microsoft has done in the realm of the digital revolution. A more appropriate and less misleading title would have been: Tools and Weapons, How Microsoft has delivered the Promise and saved the world from the Perils of the Digital Age.
While Microsoft certainly has some praiseworthy accomplishments to show for, such as its outreach to rural America, where millions of people still live withou
Ubaid Dhiyan
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
Great title, not so great content. Reads essentially as a history of Microsoft’s PR - which admittedly includes many admirable and important initiatives - but comes across as bland and uninspiring.
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I work in the department at Microsoft of the authors. That may make me like the book slightly more than I would otherwise. And I loved this book. For one thing, the authors enjoy history and the way it does not repeat, rather it rhymes. Putting today's complex issues surrounding into the context of their historical analogs does something more than help the reader understand where we may have seen this before. It also helps break down the complexity while providing guideposts to ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: technology, policy
I like this book. It's not traditionally the kind of book that I read, but as a friend has been telling me lately, I need to expand my horizon when it comes to non-fiction.

Smith's book reads smoothly. It is more of a propaganda machine regarding Microsoft than I would have liked, but it's hard to argue with a man stating his case without rancor and with honesty. Knowing that it's written by a top-level MS employee with all the insight and bias that entails gives my reading sufficient context to
Rayfes Mondal
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Powerful title for a weak book written by the president of Microsoft and about all the great things they've done to protect me. Reading a book about his meetings with important people wasn't interesting. Talks at a high level about important topics but there's no depth in the technological discussion and no prognostications about the future. A little bit of interesting history here and there. I kept waiting for the book to kick in to high gear and get better but it never did. ...more
Annie Wilson
May 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book really does not offer any deep insights above a superficial survey of the pros/cons of technological development and considerations. It also felt like one giant Microsoft propaganda piece....maybe they’re as good, ethical, and pro social as the book suggests, but it felt too much like the author was constantly patting himself on the back with every story/example rather than giving a deep dive into all of the considerations of decisions and changes.
The  Conch
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: legal
It is all about how Microsoft is protecting their customer from worldwide hacking effort on their server or product. This books gives glimpse of coming terror which can devastate IT sector. However, all giant companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook etc., even if they are competitor, are collaborating their effort to fight new form of terror.
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
I learned that Microsoft is primarily driven by a desire to serve the public good, rather than a profit motive, and that Microsoft (with Smith’s legal leadership) often stood up to other tech companies to ensure benevolent progress.
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sdg-book-club
This whole book was an ad for Microsoft. It did contain good information for someone who does not work in the tech world.
Vinayak Hegde
Apr 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, science
The book is written by Brad Smith, Chief legal officer at Microsoft. He also led Microsoft battle in the antitrust case in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The book touches upon several issues at the interface between technology, policy, politics, history, and law. The book has extensive Microsoft references but if you filter that there are interesting lessons/ideas to be learnt. I would love to read a book on similar topics from FaceBook (from Alex Stamos?), Google or Amazon to get a complete pe ...more
Shweta Jha
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tools and Weapons – “The Promise and the Peril of digital age”

It took me almost a year to finally buy this book. Brad Smith is a story teller and the facts shared in this book makes me even more humble and proud than ever.

Working for an organization that runs on ethics and responsibilities have always been the biggest reason for me to feel motivated and accountable.
Microsoft runs on trust and after reading this book you will see how the organization stood for what was right even if it required
Scott Wozniak
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is book full of stories about hard situations where technology, government and cultures are pulling on each other. It isn't a technical book, though. It's about the society impact and the big questions that are underneath all these situations. It covers situations like privacy (when should they share customer data with police forces?), getting internet connections to all communities (the normal method in America is to see if internet is available somewhere in the county--leaving many cities ...more
Mauricio Coindreau
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 rating. The book was a pleasant surprise to what I was expecting. Definitely a very interesting way to look at technology, politics and the future of humanity through the lens of the behemoth that is Microsoft. I've always been a fan of Brad Smith corporate work and really appreciate how the book went to on to illustrate not only how Microsoft has changed, but also how it been able to increasingly take strong position in worldwide discussions.
The book can get a bit tedious at time as it stru
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. If you have any interest in the future of technology, but also what goes on at companies like Microsoft, Brad Smith gives you a great insight through "Tools and Weapons." In particular, I liked the chapter where he describes walking through data centers, with their different levels of security, and the massive scale of delivering technology we all take for granted. I also felt the author did a good job with introducing politics and technology together, but stayed away ...more
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
In a world where immense amounts of data are saved to the cloud, tech companies are more and more powerful, and their behavior in managing that information (our digital lives, but that affects most parts of our offline lives) is vitally important. In a global digital world, your data could be racking up digital miles all over the world even while you sleep, and without your knowledge.

In Tools and Weapons, Microsoft President Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne address a wide range of issues, such a
Barbie Adamson
This was a pretty interesting book, although I did think it was a bit too simplified in the content discussed and a bit too long. The digital diplomacy and consumer privacy were two very great chapters. The ending in open data revolution was a logical conclusion but with flaws.
Skyler Jokiel
Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Aside for the technical insights, Brad offers a unique view into the workings and wide impact of one of the largest Global corporations in the world.
Tõnu Vahtra
Apr 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I was looking for new insights from this book, but the description of the challenges (privacy and GDPR, cyber war, surveillance, social media, moral conundrums of AI, challenges to democracy) was way too generic. Primarily the book is actually about Microsoft and how the company responded to those challenges. I was also slightly alienated by the patronizing tone that was occasionally used. You are better off reading about these challenges separately and also reading a few books that are intentio ...more
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's a great skim across the landscape of the tech issues we're facing today, from the point of view of one major company (it's also neat to see your own work referenced in a book!) ...more
Mark Smith
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that needs to be read now.

I like how on point the messages this books delivers for the world we live in today. It address questions that technology is creating now and how it will effect our future.
Paweł Rusin
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A series of chapter, each dedicated to one developing trend in nowadays IT but from more social/political standpoint. It broadened my understanding on some more humane aspects of current technological progress. "Tools and Weapons" also greatly benefits from author who was a witness and sometimes a central actor of the events described in the book.
Pretty self-congratulatory account of Microsoft’s engagement with tech policy issues domestically and internationally. The book is rescued by a new explanation of Microsoft’s view of government regulation of various tech industry as well as a useful discussion of AI challenges.
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full of information and recommendations with insights into some of Microsoft's internal operations. ...more
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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
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“We learned that we needed to look in the mirror and see what others saw in us and not just what we wanted to see in ourselves.” 0 likes
“One of our biggest challenges was how to talk publicly about the threats. Every tech leader was reluctant to name names, and we were no different. We were companies, not governments, and while we all had lived through governmental criticism before, we weren’t accustomed to accusing a foreign government of misusing our platforms and services. But it was becoming increasingly apparent that our silence risked further enabling the very threats we wanted to help stop.” 0 likes
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