Nerval's Lobster writes: Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen begin their new nonfiction book, “The New Digital Age,” with a rather bold pronouncement: “The Internet is the largest experiment involving anarchy in history.” Subsequent chapters deal with how that experiment will alter life in decades to come, as more and more people around the world connect to the Internet via cheap mobile phones and other devices. The authors aren’t shy in suggesting that the Internet will ultimately change lives for the better. In fact, any other position would have been odd: Schmidt is chairman of Google, and Cohen director of Google Ideas. While they quote a number of very opinionated people throughout the book—including Henry Kissinger, who offers the realpolitik version of “Get off my lawn,” and Android designer Andy Rubin—the pair always come back to the same conclusion: that the cloud will grow, that the cloud will store more data, that the cloud will offer more features, that the cloud is good, good, good. Of course, Schmidt and Cohen extolling the virtues of the cloud is like two corporate board-members of McDonald’s insisting that burgers are delicious and everyone in the world should eat them three times a day. “The New Digital Age” is worth reading as a survey of how the future could look. But it may leave you wishing for a book that explored, in a more thorough manner, the inevitable mess that the coming technological revolutions will leave in their wake.
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