Two powerful, conflicting tech execs exchange thoughts on the future of the Internet.
In the early summer of 2011, while WikiLeaks was under full investigative crackdown, its Australian co-founder, Assange (Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet, 2012), was under house arrest in Norfolk, England. When given a chance to be interviewed by Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, for a book he was writing, Assange welcomed the opportunity to possibly “understand and influence what was becoming the most influential company on Earth.” (Assange’s pan of Schmidt’s eventual book is dutifully included in this volume—“a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism.”) With neither technological revolutionary an advocate of the other’s philosophy, the sparks flew throughout their three-hour conversation, which is transcribed here. In response to Schmidt’s probing, Assange discussed his frustration with the URL system; Bitcoin’s statelessness; and WikiLeaks’ motivations and the development of its defining technology. This book also contains Assange’s heavily footnoted commentary on the preamble leading up to his discussion with Schmidt, its aftermath, and the prospects facing contemporary digital media. Assange describes Schmidt as a wunderkind who acts with “machinelike analyticity,” a quality apparent during the interview, even though their intricate verbal volleying becomes diluted by the hovering, intimidating presence of Jared Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton and current director of Google Ideas. Their jargon-filled conversation will surely fascinate the tech-savvy and perplex neophytes while redefining both Assange and Schmidt as extremists in their shared passion for ushering in the next wave of digital development. Though the two men are opposites in their objectives, the book emphasizes their roles as visionary predictors forecasting the future of Internet communications.
A provocative, engrossing dialogue sure to raise eyebrows.