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Tools and Weapons with Brad Smith

Microsoft, Brad Smith

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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, a ...
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Noah Smith & Brad DeLong Record the Podcast We, at Least, Would Like to Listen to!; Aspirationally Bi-Weekly (Meaning Every Other Week); Aspirationally an hour... Key Insights: * A number of years ago, Brad DeLong said that it was time to “pass the baton” to “The Left”. How’s that working out for us? #actually, he had said that we had passed the ba…
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Noah Smith & Brad DeLong Record the Podcast We, at Least, Would Like to Listen to!; Aspirationally Bi-Weekly (Meaning Every Other Week); Aspirationally an hour... Key Insights: * Someone is wrong on the internet! Specifically Brad… He needs to shape up and scrub his brain… * Back in the 2000s, Brad argued that the U.S. should over the next few gene…
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Noah Smith & Brad DeLong Record the Podcast We, at Least, Would Like to Listen to!; Aspirationally Bi-Weekly (Meaning Every Other Week); Aspirationally an hour... Key Insights: * Vernor Vinge was one of the GOAT scifi authors—and he is also one of the most underrated… * That a squishy social-democratic leftie like Brad DeLong can derive so much ins…
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Bayer CEO Bill Anderson considers himself a scientist at heart, a chemical engineer by training, and a lifelong student of biotechnology. Now at the helm of a 160-year-old German pharmaceutical and agriculture company, he's employing science and technology with a bold mission — Health for All, Hunger for none. In this episode, Bill discusses AI’s r…
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In which Noah Smith & Brad DeLong wish Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson had written a very different book than their "Power & Progress" is... Key Insights: * Acemoglu & Johnson should have written a very different book—one about how some technologies complement and others substitute for labor, and it is very important to maximize the first. * Neither…
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Gutenberg's invention of the printing press led to a new economy, which created a new sector of businesses, industries, and jobs. Generative AI is providing a similar opportunity today. In this episode, Brad Smith draws on the lessons from the printing press and supporting industries to illustrate how different technologies are coming together to c…
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Yves Ubelmann is a technologist, artist, and architect who is on a mission to digitally preserve the world’s cultural and natural heritage. He is the founder and CEO of Iconem, a company that creates stunning 3D models of endangered sites and environments. In this episode, Brad and Yves take a boat trip through Venice, touring the subject of his mo…
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Producer Confidence & Consumer Confidence (in the Economy), & Our Confidence (in Our Analyses): Noah Smith & Brad DeLong Record the Podcast We, at Least, Would Like to Listen to!; Aspirationally Bi-Weekly (Meaning Every Other Week); Aspirationally an hour... Key Insights: * The disjunction between all the economic data having been very good and ver…
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& a start-of-the-semester academic-email-addresses-only paid-subscription sale: Key Insights: * Young whippersnappers Oks and Williams are to be commended for being young, and whippersnapperish—but we disagree with them. * Contrary to what Brad thought, the fertility transition in Africa really has resumed. * The problem of how you provide mass emp…
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As the United States’ first Ambassador-at-Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy, Nathaniel Fick is leading a tech-centered global diplomatic mission. Nate brings extraordinary depth to this important role in contemporary foreign policy – not as a career diplomat, but from a wide range of experiences: a Classics graduate from Dartmouth, a Marine l…
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Key Insights: * Finally, at long last, over the next two generations the tide is likely to be flowing strongly toward near-universal global development... * The fear was that dehyperglobalization would rob poorer countries of their ability to develop the export comparative advantages to support the manufacturing engineering clusters they need for l…
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Ben Rhodes had a front-row seat to one of the great transformations of our time - how people consume and react to information on social media. From his post as Deputy National Security Advisor and speechwriter serving under Barack Obama, Ben watched, as this technology evolved from a democratizing force of the Arab Spring to a weapon used to spread…
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The SubStackLand community gains another valuable member. We welcome him to the NFL SubStackLand: Key Insights: * Bing-AI says “Brian Beutler” is pronounced “Bryan Bootler”—that is, rhymes with “lion shooter”, which shows how far political incorrectness has penetrated Silicon Valley… * Noah has figured out a solution to his problem of losing the sc…
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As a young child, His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama developed his confidence and leadership skills through video games, which sparked his passion for history, strategy, and problem-solving. Today, he’s putting these skills to use as the first in the world to hold a cabinet level position on AI as the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence,…
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Liberals vs. leftists once again, with the principal conclusion being that trying to find and join your tribe by shouting online—Schmittian picking-an-enemy as the core of your identity—is no way to go through life, son. Nor is artfully screenshotting in order to make sure your readers do not see the sentence just below the ones you quote. In which…
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Throughout her impressive career leading businesses, nonprofits, and now as the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman has been driven by a simple question: "What are we going to do about it?" This relentless focus on action propelled her as she transformed eBay from a fledgling startup into a global e-commerce powerhouse and guided her as CEO navig…
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Key Insights: * The Chinese Communist Party is very like an aristocracy—or maybe it isn’t… * If it is, it will in the long run have the same strong growth-retarding effects on the economy that aristocracies traditionally have… * Or maybe it won’t: China today is not Europe in the 1600s… * We probably will not be able to get Noah to read Franklin Fo…
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Key Insights: * Critics: Cato-style libertarians, including AEI’s Michael Strain. The last die-hard classic Milton Friedman-style economic libertarians—and starting in 1975, Milton Friedman would say, every three years, that the Swedish social democratic model was going to collapse in the next three years. * Critics: Progressives—Biden is a tool of…
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Key Insights: * Brad has a new microphone! * Noah has jet lag: he is just back from Japan. * Brad has jet lag: he is just back from Australia. * Perhaps inflation’s ebbing has not yet made its way into the minds of people when they answer pollsters. * We reject the hypothesis that it is because of lagging real incomes. * More difficult mortgage bor…
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Microsoft’s Chief Technology Officer, Kevin Scott, believes that for AI to benefit everyone, humans must be at the center of its development. His philosophy was shaped by his rural Virginia roots, where he belonged to a hardworking community that used creativity, perseverance, and curiosity to support each other and tackle practical challenges. In …
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Key Insights: * Brad’s microphone is dying, and a new one is on order. * However, 75% of the talking on this episode is Noah: he came loaded for bear. * Although Noah has not yet read Acemoglu & Johnson’s Power & Progress, he nevertheless has OPINIONS! * Friedrich von Hayek was right when he pointed out that we could not know the shape of future te…
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Key Insights: * Rome did fall. It did not merely “transform”. * Across Eurasia, from 150 to 800 or so there was a pronounced “Late-Antiquity Pause” in terms of technological progress and even the maintenance of large-scale social organization. * There was a proper “Dark Age” only in Britain, Germany, the Low Countries, and France—with Spain, Italy,…
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Nadia Calviño is a world leader who has earned a reputation for getting things done. As Spain’s First Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, she created the first national agency for regulating AI. In this episode, she explains how she rearchitected Spain’s economy to embrace AI in every sector while protecting …
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AI may be the most consequential technology advance of our lifetime. Rapid advances are creating new opportunities, challenges, and questions that require the public and private sectors to come together to ensure that this technology serves the public good. In this special episode, recorded as part of an event hosted by Microsoft in Washington D.C.…
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At a time when most Africans had not yet heard the sound of a ringing telephone, Strive Masiyiwa, an impatient young engineer, successfully challenged Zimbabwe’s state-run telecoms monopoly to get the licenses he needed to launch Econet Wireless. The court’s decision reverberated across Africa, clearing the way for private sector operators to enter…
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Brad and Carol Ann discovered that riding in an autonomous vehicle as it learns to navigate the streets of London can be a bit nerve-wracking. But these hands-on experiences are crucial to understanding the impact that AI's sudden surge has on everyday life at the intersection of technology and society. In this episode, Brad's co-author, chief of s…
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Key Insights: * The global trade network is immensely valuable… * Friendshoring is not deglobalization, but raher shift-globlization… * Brad was stupid in 2005 in thinking “passing the baton of hegemony” constructively and progressively was a possibility… * Countries have no gratitude, and only remember what is convenient… * William James sought fo…
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As a young engineer, a simple question about life’s meaning directed Paulo Benanti’s journey to an unexpected destination – living in a monastery next to the Vatican. Now known as Father Benanti, he’s a Franciscan monk, but he’s also a technology and bioethics professor who advises Pope Francis on the ethics of artificial intelligence. In this epis…
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Key Insights: * Yes, it is possible to talk about everything in an hour… * We are not very far apart on what the Fed is doing and should be doing—there is only a 100 basis-point disagreement… * Miles would be 100% right about the proper stance of monetary policy if he were in control of the Fed… * Miles is not in control of the Fed… * Thus Brad thi…
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Key Insights: * Information really wants to be free—if it is not free, if it is “charged for” by advertising, or otherwise, you will get into a world of hurt. * In the information age the capitalist mode of production has become a fetter on economic development and human flourishing: Friedrich Engels was right. * We need free public-funded Mastodon…
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As Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis has put digital technology to work to drive economic resurgence, develop a vibrant tech sector, and transform the way everyday citizens interact with the government. In this episode, we cover Greece's ambition to be an energy hub for Europe, its efforts to digitally preserve ancient cultural sites, an…
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Pre-Note: Here in the U.S., at the leading edge of the world economy, measured producivity growth fell off a cliff in the late 1960s, recovreed somewhat in the 1980s, resumed what had been its “normal” pre-1970 pace in the 1990s with the dot-com boom—and then fell off a cliff again in the mid-2000s. Did the neoliberal swing toward “short-termism”, …
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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 o…
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Pre-Note: One thing we did not get into was the relationship between the claps of FTX and the associated fraud and “Effective Altruism”—Effective Altruism not so much as a philosophy, but rather as a doctrine preached by a life-coach. If you want to have the highest chance of becoming rich, you make your bets as if you had a logarithmic utility fun…
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Key Insights: * Since 1870, we humans have done amazingly astonishingly uniquely and unprecedentedly well at baking a sufficiently large economic pie. * But the problems of slicing and tasting the pie—of equitably distributing it, and then using our technological powers to live lives wisely and well—continue to flummox us. * The big reason we have …
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Key Insights: * The only way to buy insurance against the fiscal theory of the price level’s becoming relevant for the inflation outlook is to keep Trump and Trumpists out of office * We have one political party that could well, someday, turn us inflation-wise into “Argentina”: the Republicans. * But thankfully we have only one such political party…
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Key Insights: * We should avoid the tendency to paint the past, nostalgically, as a golden age. * If we take the long view there is an overwhelming continuity in the immigrant experience. * The immigrant experience is a very positive story—both then and now. * There is great hope for positive change in our immigration system: comprehensive immigrat…
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When it comes to reporting on the tech industry, nothing escapes Kara Swisher. For four decades, the influential journalist has used the power of her pen and microphone to not only report the news, but influence the events of the day. Sharing insights from her career, they explore patterns that help her see what’s coming in tech before others, the …
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Key Insights: * Be pragmatic! Do what works! Reinforce success! Abandon failure! * CHIPS & IRA are only, at most, 1/4 of what we should be doing. * These are both very good things to do, as far as running a successful industrial policy is concerned. * Maybe there was something to Biden’s claims that he could lead congress after all. * Hexapodia! Re…
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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 worry…
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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. Ka…
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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…
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is determined to stop the spread of extremism and radicalization online. In the aftermath of the 2019 terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, she saw the livestream of the tragedy go viral across social media feeds, including her own. In response, she led the creation of the Christchurch Call, a co…
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Since his first night anchoring The Daily Show in 2015, Trevor Noah has used comedy to connect the dots between local events and global issues. In this episode, Brad and Trevor discuss the intersection of the news of the day and technology. Focusing on the rise of disinformation, they explore how we become susceptible to it, the threat of ”cybertri…
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With things heating up around the world—environmentally, socially, and politically, now is the time to discuss the role technology plays – for good and bad – as we work together to solve our biggest challenges.  Microsoft Vice Chair and President Brad Smith speaks with leaders in government, business, and culture to explore the world’s most critica…
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Key Insights: * The most recent round of Tech elephants, rhinoceroses, unicorns, and spiny lizards—Netflix, Shopify, etc.—are very unlikely to payoff for those investors who stay on the ride to the very end. * That said, they were very much worth doing even if they never make their shareholders any money. The growth of communities of engineering, e…
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Key Insights: * Not so much key insights, as key questions: (a) What are the teams? (b) 1920, 1948, 1951, 1974, or 1980? (c) Are there any true members of Team Transitory left? (d) Who is on Team The-Fed-Has-Got-This? (e) Who is on Team Hit-the-Economy-on-the-Head-with-a-Brick? (f) What inflation rate do we want to support economic reopening? (g) W…
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Key Insights: * There is a perspective from which “today” means “post-Ordovician” * Catul-Huyuk as 900 families living cheek-by-jowl, and after 1500 years… people leave… * Angkor’s uniquely vulnerable water reservoirs… and eventually… people leave… * Cahokia’s sophisticated organization of labor… but eventually… people leave… * Pompeii… well, we kn…
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We Truly Did Not Have History Rhyming to the Spanish Civil War on Our 2022 Bingo Card!… Subscribe to get this in your email inbox. Become a paid subscriber if… I will not say that this ‘Stack will cease to exist without paying subscribers. I will say that the frequency of this ‘Stack depends on enough people being paying subscribers for me to feel …
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Become a free subscriber to receive this ‘Stack in your email. Do note that this Grasping Reality newsletter is a reader-supported publication—I really would like to collect enough from it to hire an RA. So consider becoming a paid subscriber, please, if you find this project worthwhile and think it worth continuing: Thanks for reading this. And pl…
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