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In his new book, From Gutenberg to Google: The History of Our Future (Brookings 2019) former Federal Communications Commission Chairman and communications entrepreneur Thomas Wheeler looks back at Johannes Gutenberg’s 15th century invention of movable type, the invention of the telegraph, and steam locomotives to bring perspective to where we are now, at a time when artificial intelligence and the emerging “semantic web” is posing new dangers to the state and individual.
A recent interview in Wired magazine notes that when President Obama first appointed Tom Wheeler to head the FCC back in 2013, comedian John Oliver famously compared putting Wheeler in charge of the FCC to hiring a dingo to babysit your kids. (Wheeler had launched several companies offering new cable, wireless, and video communications services). As it turned out, Wheeler proved no “dingo” and, on his watch, the FCC adopted the Open Internet Order that established net neutrality and reclassified broadband internet providers as “common carriers” similar to landline and cellular phone providers. Wheeler understood the explosion of digital networks and how they’ve upended virtually every aspect of life. He recently has testified before Congress on issues related to net neutrality and been interviewed on NPR, SiriusXM, CSPAN, BloombergTV, NBC. His articles and Op-Eds have appeared in the New York Times and various other mainstream media outlets and blogs.
A visiting fellow at Brookings and a senior Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, his previous books include Take Command: Leadership Lessons from the Civil War (Doubleday, 2000) and Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails: The Untold Story of how Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War (Harper Collins, 2006).