Eric Schmidt and WikiLeaks founder talk “radicalization of internet educated youth”

Apr 23, 2013
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As the book "The New Digital World" is published this week by Google's Eric Schmidt and co-author Jared Cohen, a transcript of a "secret" meeting held between the two men and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has come to light. The transcript of this meeting - as well as the audio (uploaded this week) has been being mined by the public, revealing notes such as the one appearing today involving "internet educated youth" as spoken about by both Assange and Cohen.

While the original intent of those involved in this meeting was the exchange comments which would eventually be used in the book The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future, it would appear that it wasn't Schmidt or Assange that approved of the transcript of the meeting being published by WikiLeaks. The WikiLeaks team is part of the subject being spoken about, this youth which is becoming radicalized in our modern internet age.

Jared Cohen: I am just wondering, on the human side of this, you have such experience of the world you described earlier. ...some combination of technical and altruistic people and what amounts to a kind of subculture that you've been in for some 15 years now.. So you know about how the subculture works. And that subculture needs to either I guess stay the same or expand in order to do the work that you are describing, and so since our book is about ten years away...

Julian Assange: It's dramatically expanded...

JC: What are the patterns there in terms of the people part, rather than the...?

JA: That's the most optimistic thing that is happening. The radicalization of internet educated youth. People who are receiving their values from the internet... and then as they find them to be compatible echoing them back. The echo back is now so strong that it drowns the original statements.

Completely.

The people I've dealt with from the 1960s radicals who helped liberate Greece and.. Salazar. They are saying that this moment in time is the most similar to what happened in this period of liberation movements in the 1960s, that they have seen.

Assange continued by expanding on the idea that young people are changing the way our society acts and thinks with the tools they've created for themselves with the internet. This age we're in now, he says, is one in which the technical generation that created the internet - and those that are coming in with the web as a given - are becoming politically educated.

JA: This is the political education of apolitical technical people. It is extraordinary, in the same way that the young...

Lisa Shields: A-political? Do you mean one word?

JA: One word. People are going from... young people are going from apolitical to political. It is a very very interesting transition to see.

Lisa Shields is another of the very few people in the room during this conversation, she having been mentioned in our first short glimpse into this environment last week. This isn't the last time we'll be jumping in to this set of ideas being explored by Schmidt and Cohen - now that the book is out, we'll be leaping in all week long!


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