Google’s executive chairman and State Department official Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen consecutively have penned a book, “The New Digital Age” (Random House). Jared Cohen is also the man behind Google Ideas, a Google sponsored think tank.
After assessing the initial portion of the book, Wall Street Journal’s Corporate Intelligence blog has found out China to be the most dangerous superpower according to the author’s observation with regard to the country. The reason cited by Schmidt and Cohen is deliberated by calling China as “the world’s most active and enthusiastic filterer of information” plus “the most sophisticated and prolific” spy of foreign companies.
The practice of using cyber crime to their advantage is what’s setting China apart from all other superpowers and improves the chances of economic and political invincibility for China.
Though, Schmidt continues with the trend of citing age-old technology penetration estimates by citing the visuals where an illiterate Massai cattle herder uses his smartphone to know about the market prices on any ordinary day and seek out information on whether any predators are nearby the livestock.
Mass uprisings like Arab Spring :
Schmidt however plays the warning horn also before letting the readers go on the imaginary trip of a utopian world driven by technology and suggests how the emerging technology could be used by authoritarian, fundamentalist and such other malicious forces to further their propaganda.
Another well known work to have come out of the Schmidt-Cohen duo titled “The Digital Disruption” came out in November 2010. It foresees Arab Spring like public uprisings in the near future and observed that in countries where people armed with nothing else but a cell phone will challenge the tyrannical regimes.
Post the publication of this document, in about a month’s period; the Arab Spring broke out in January, 2011. Cohen was not only in Cairo on its outbreak but also had dinner with Wael Ghonim, Google executive and activist, before he was whisked away by armed forces in the wake of protests.
Chinese integration of businesses with government:
Coming back to the observations made by the duo on China, they said, “The disparity between American and Chinese firms and their tactics will put both the government and the companies of the United States as a distinct disadvantage,” as in their opinion “the United States will not take the same path of digital corporate espionage, as its laws are much stricter (and better enforced) and because illicit competition violates the American sense of fair play,”
“This is a difference in values as much as a legal one.”
USA is also guilty:
Meanwhile Schmidt-Cohen did not gave US a clean chit either as the technological espionage enforced upon by US by infecting computers in Iran’s Nuclear Facilities with homegrown Stuxnet virus is nothing to be forgiven. Also the kind of surveillance software and technology exports undertaken by US to target countries with poor human rights enforcement systems, it is equally at fault in devising such form of unethical practices.
Penetration of Chinese telecommunication companies:
The way Chinese telecommunication companies are gaining ground around the world is another cause of worry for western countries. As by gaining control and expertise over production of this hardware, it can set its terms for the western countries and the rest of the world to comply.
China’s Political Status:
The state of political affairs in China being far from inclusive is also paid importance by the authors. With advanced technological tools well in reach of mass public, it may turn out to be difficult for China to continue its oppressive rule without allowing for reforms in its political structure.