The one-sentence summary

Soon most of the world will be online, and so technology will influence almost every personal and state activity.


· Two of Google’s top people make predictions about the reshaping of people, nations and businesses. The main ones are:

1. Technology is no panacea for the world’s ills, but smart use of it can make a world of difference.

2. The virtual world will not overtake or overhaul the existing world order, but it will complicate almost every behaviour.

3. States will have to practice two foreign policies and two domestic policies – one for the virtual world and one for the physical world – and they may appear contradictory.

4. With the spread of connectivity and mobile phones around the world will give citizens more power than at any other time in history.

· The internet is among the few things humans have built that they don’t truly understand.

· Soon everyone on earth will be connected – there are 2bn online with 5bn more set to join.

· Virtual statehood reduces the importance of scale and provides everyone with a voice.

· A world with no delete button creates many legislative dilemmas. For example, how to deal with peoples’ digital footprints when they are technically children – should material from adolescence be admissible in court?


· It’s a thoughtful overview of the effect of technology on individuals, identity, citizenship, reporting, states, revolution, terrorism, conflict, and reconstruction.

· Revolutions are easier to start with technology, but harder to finish.

· Technology can really help education: within months of preloaded tablets being distributed in Ethiopia, hundreds of kids were writing complete sentences in English.

· Every hub exists somewhere, and states that wish to control can pull the plug or establish their own systems. For example, Iran wants to set up a halal ‘clean’ internet.

· 90% of people have their mobile phones within 3 feet of themselves 24 hours a day.

· Aadhaar (meaning ‘foundation’) is India’s unique identification programme aiming to provide every citizen with a card embedded with their biometric data and iris scan.


· It’s a very hard book to navigate – there is no contents page, and seven long chapters with barely a heading. You have to dig hard for any shape.