Fletcher in the News

Fletcher Hosts Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen for a Discussion about the New Digital Age

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Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Google Ideas founder Jared Cohen discussed their new book, The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations, and Business, in front of a full auditorium Wednesday evening.

The event hosted by Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy drew a number of awkward laughs — courtesy of some comic air balls from moderating professor Bhaskar Chakravorti — but even more poignant questions from the audience.

Here’s a round up of the highlights — and lowlights — from the night’s event:

Haircuts, digital fluency, and 3 billion people joining the ‘smartphone revolution’

Bhaskar Chakravorti: Will continuous updates to the book be made on the Google Play Books version as they happen?

Eric Schmidt: That’s a good question.

What we’re trying to do now is update everybody on the things we talked about 9 months ago when the hardcover came out and it’s shocking how much has happened in the geopolitical world since. Not only Snowden but lots of conflicts — Syria, Ukraine, so forth — which are changed dramatically because of the principle of connectivity.

Jared Cohen: And the book is really just an excuse to talk about current events and look at them through a technical lens.

Chakravorti: The New Digital Age is coming and Syria and all that is really important but for me the most important aspect of your book was the anticipation that we’re going to have haircuts that are automated.

How is the new digital age different from the old digital age?

Schmidt: We ultimately concluded that there’s a massive shift of power to individuals: Three billion more people joining the smartphone revolution in the next five years.

That’s a one time way of changing the power structure with enormous implications.

The mobile phone of course is the solution to education, entertainment, safety and so forth, just in that one device. For people in poverty — the average person in the world — that’s a life changer.

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