Tools and Weapons with Brad Smith

Microsoft, Brad Smith

Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith speaks with leaders in government, business, and culture to explore the world’s most critical challenges at the intersection of technology and society. As a 30-year veteran of an industry driven by disruption, Brad Smith hosts candid conversations with his guests that examine, reframe, and explore potential solutions to the digital issues shaping our world today, including cybersecurity, privacy, digital inclusion, environmental sustainability, artificial intelligence, and human rights. read less

Our Editor's Take

Technology has vast power to help and to harm. Tools and Weapons, hosted by Microsoft president Brad Smith, examines technology from both angles. It also features feedback from technology, culture, and policy experts.

This podcast began with a book. Smith's New York Times bestseller with Carol Ann Browne, Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age, started the conversation. Now, this podcast continues the dialogue. Smith's goal is to help people use technology for their benefit.

Comedian-journalist Trevor Noah appeared on the podcast's first episode. Outspoken on misinformation in the media, Noah shares Smith's commitment to authentic journalism. They discussed Noah's belief that society needs an “agreed-upon reality.” Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner also has been a guest. He echoed the importance of independent journalism and discussed how it protects democracy.

Smith invites artificial intelligence experts like Kai-Fu Lee to Tools and Weapons. Lee is an AI enthusiast who explains how humans must adapt to avoid job displacement in the future. He recommends students focus on soft skills over rote skills like math.

Listeners can learn about tech breakthroughs and how to find trustworthy content. Smith's tone is hopeful and helpful—two feelings listeners need in the digital age.

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Satya Nadella: Earning the skeptics’ trust
Nov 30 2022
Satya Nadella: Earning the skeptics’ trust
Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, says a multinational company’s license to do business is earned by creating “local surplus” wherever it operates. In this episode, Brad and Satya unpack what this means, how it connects to the company’s mission, the responsibility that companies have to create inclusive growth, and how software is one of the biggest deflationary forces during inflationary times. Satya Nadella is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft. Before being named CEO in February 2014, Nadella held leadership roles in both enterprise and consumer businesses across the company. Joining Microsoft in 1992, he quickly became known as a leader who could span a breadth of technologies and businesses to transform some of Microsoft’s biggest product offerings. Most recently, Nadella was executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group. In this role he led the transformation to the cloud infrastructure and services business, which outperformed the market and took share from competition. Previously, Nadella led R&D for the Online Services Division and was vice president of the Microsoft Business Division. Before joining Microsoft, Nadella was a member of the technology staff at Sun Microsystems. Originally from Hyderabad, India, Nadella lives in Bellevue, Washington, with his family. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University, a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago. Nadella serves on the board of trustees to his alma mater the University of Chicago, as well as the Starbucks board of directors.Click here for the episode transcript.
Mathias Döpfner: Can democracy survive without independent journalism?
Jul 27 2022
Mathias Döpfner: Can democracy survive without independent journalism?
Why does the head of a global media powerhouse still give his occupation as “journalist?” Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE, is driven by deep convictions about journalism’s role in safeguarding democracy – a perspective forged in his youth after viewing the American miniseries Holocaust.In this episode, Brad and Mathias dive into the worrying trends developing in democracies around the world and how technology can reduce – or amplify – the danger. They discuss how new business models can strengthen digital journalism, their shared belief in the power of truth, and what he believes is the one precondition for great quality journalism.Dr. Mathias Döpfner is the CEO of Axel Springer SE, the largest publishing house in Europe. He started his career as a journalist in 1982 and has been with the company since 1998, initially as editor-in-chief of Axel Springer’s flagship daily newspaper, Die Welt (The World). Döpfner became a member of the Executive Board in 2000 and has been CEO since January 2002. Since Döpfner became CEO, Axel Springer’s revenues from its digital initiatives have increased twenty-fold, and its worldwide digital audience expanded to more than 400 million users. An active public speaker, Döpfner is engaged in efforts to preserve freedom and the free press for democratic societies. He is also a member of the board of directors of Netflix and Warner Music.Click here for the episode transcript.
Kai-Fu Lee: How AI teaches us what it means to be human
Jul 20 2022
Kai-Fu Lee: How AI teaches us what it means to be human
In 2017, leading AI expert Kai-Fu Lee shared a dire prediction: half of all jobs – both blue collar and white collar – could be automated within ten years, replacing the workforce with solutions built on artificial intelligence. Brad and Kai-Fu discuss what this coming change means for national economies and for people who care about their work. Kai-Fu lays out practical steps policy makers can take today to prepare, the three areas he believes human intelligence will continue to lead, and why he remains an AI optimist.Dr. Kai-Fu Lee has driven innovation in AI research and development for over three decades. He is the Chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures and President of Sinovation Venture’s Artificial Intelligence Institute. Prior to founding Sinovation in 2009, Dr. Lee was the President of Google China, and a senior executive at Microsoft, SGI, and Apple. In the field of AI, Dr. Lee built one of the first game playing programs to defeat a world champion, as well as the world’s first large-vocabulary, speaker-independent continuous speech recognition system. His bestselling book AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order discusses US-China co-leadership in the age of AI, as well as the greater societal impacts wrought by the AI technology revolution. His new co-authored book AI 2041 explores how AI will change our world over the next 20 years.Click here for the episode transcript.
Thomas Friedman: It's not what we know, but how well we listen
Jul 13 2022
Thomas Friedman: It's not what we know, but how well we listen
Thomas Friedman believes if you want to understand human nature, live with people in extreme situations. And if you want to know the future, hang around people inventing it.  As a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Thomas Friedman has spent a career reporting from a civil war in Beirut, observing some of the world’s leading companies from the inside, and discovering that the key to understanding globalization is studying the only system that mirrors it in complexity – nature.  In this episode Brad and Thomas explore how our biggest challenges in society are tied to the environment and the economy, and how the key to our future hinges not on what we know, but on how well we listen.Thomas Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter, and columnist. He is the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes—two for international reporting from the Middle East and a third for his columns written about 9/11. He started his journalism career with United Press International in 1978. After serving as a Beirut reporter for UPI for two years, Friedman was hired by the New York Times in 1981, where he served as the Beirut bureau chief, Jerusalem bureau chief, chief diplomatic correspondent, international economics correspondent and, since 1995, its foreign affairs columnist. He is the author of seven New York Times bestsellers — From Beirut to Jerusalem; The Lexus and the Olive Tree; Longitudes and Attitudes; The World Is Flat; Hot, Flat, and Crowded; That Used to Be Us (with Michael Mandelbaum); and, most recently, Thank You For Being Late.Click here for the episode transcript.