As millions of people continue to arm themselves with technology, governments and corporations have begun arming themselves in kind. Worldwide concerns over security now gives organizations unprecedented access to data—in ways even more provocative than an Edward Snowden revelation. This has created the single biggest power shift in the history of humankind.
In “The New Digital Age” session, Eric Schmidt, Executive Director of Google and Jared Cohen, Director of Google Ideas, discussed this shift and its implications. They offered a dramatic example: an international security checkpoint drama in which an individual whose mobile data was confiscated, and found to be sympathetic to a rebel cause, was immediately executed by airport snipers.
The ability to instantly seize or suppress the transfer of digital knowledge has massive implications, not only for governments and corporations, but for humankind. Who will ultimately own that power? How can the promise of technology be used to both liberate and oppress? This will remain an ongoing question for generations to come.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Wide access to digital information is proving to be both liberating—and terrifying.