Google Chairman Eric Schmidt Thinks Cell Phones Can Stop (and Start) Wars

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt Thinks Cell Phones Can Stop (and Start) Wars

And fax machines could have prevented the Bay of Pigs

Google chairman Eric Schmidt has a solution for global conflict: smartphones.

Schmidt stopped by the Paley Center on Friday for a chat about privacy, YouTube and the theories underpinning his new book, “The Digital Age.”

The book, which Schmidt co-wrote with Jared Cohen, discusses various technological revolutions – the printing press, the fax machine and so forth – and posits that the Internet (and interconnectedness) can solve many of the world's problems.

Schmidt gave some examples how the United States could have averted recent military catastrophes with technology.

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The Bay of Pigs?

We should have dropped fax machines.

Iraq?

Smartphones.

Afghanistan?

Ditto.

The U.S. “could have airdropped a million [smartphones] into Afghanistan or Iraq as a thought experiment,” Schmidt said.

“Would that have altered the course America pursued 10 years ago? I think so. All of a sudden you have a very different political situation inside.”

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Lest you think smartphones are only for preventing foolish wars, they could also help oppressed citizens. Schmidt argued the phones and the web could help foment a revolution in Iran — and would induce one in China within the decade.

How?

Hundreds of millions of smartphones are sold each year in China, where huge swaths of the populace also use online messaging  services like Weibo.

“Some time in the next decade that broad sense of community movies, and it moves in a way the government can't fix,” Schmidt said.

The Chinese will grow tired of pollution poisoning their children and their friends being thrown in jail.  These societal flaws will energize the middle class.

“Are there analogous things?,” Schmidt asked. “Think about gay rights (in the United States).”

Does China have Grindr?