Geoffrey Cain

• Award-winning foreign correspondent

• Author of 'The Perfect Police State' & Samsung Rising'

Geoffrey Cain is an award-winning foreign correspondent, author, commentator, anthropologist and scholar of East and Central Asia. He is the author of The Perfect Police State: An Undercover Odyssey into China's Terrifying Surveillance Dystopia of the Future (2021). His first book, Samsung Rising, from a decade of his coverage inside the world’s largest technology conglomerate, was published in March 2020 by Penguin Random House.

A former correspondent at The Economist, Cain is a regular commentator in The Wall Street Journal, Time, Foreign Policy, The New Republic and The Nation, and a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, BBC and Bloomberg. Cain writes about the ways that technology is upending our lives, communities, governments and businesses. His work takes him to the world’s most authoritarian and far-off places, from inside North Korea to the trans-Siberian railway across Russia, from investigations into genocide in Cambodia to experiments in technological surveillance in China. In 2021, Cain joined the House Foreign Relations Committee as a Congressional Innovation Fellow.

Cain is sought out as a consultant on government and technology, having advised the World Health Organization, Open Government Partnership, the United Nations humanitarian affairs office, and major multinational corporations and investment firms. A Fulbright scholar, he holds degrees from London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and The George Washington University, which he attended on a music scholarship. He is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a security fellow at the Truman National Security Project.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Chicago, Cain lives in Washington, DC. He plays the jazz trombone.

Speech topics

Inside the real-world 1984

Geoffrey Cain has spent three years among the Uighurs, a group in western China that lives under the most sophisticated surveillance state ever created. A vast surveillance system called SkyNet (yes, like Terminator) spies on everyone through artificial intelligence and millions of cameras. If SkyNet suspects they will commit a crime, they can be arrested on the spot and sent to a concentration camp.

It’s a troubling future, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are things you can do today, at home, to protect yourself, your identity, your cyber-security and your future.

The first step is acknowledging that your technology is spying on you. The second is to set up a cyber-security system – it’s surprisingly easy, and I’ve developed it based on my reporting. The final step is to know how to verify truth in our social media world.

Success in technology means breaking old habits

Based on a decade reporting on the Apple vs. Samsung wars, in both Silicon Valley and around the world, Geoffrey Cain explains the keys to victory in the fast-changing technology industry. First, breaking old habits. Second, achieving scale. Third, telling the best story. Finally, the small steps should not overpower the big vision.

These four factors determined how the world’s costliest and most iconic business battle played out—and how each side attempted to get an edge on the other, leading to dramatic victories for both.

Where the world is headed

As a foreign correspondent, Geoffrey Cain has lived all over the world, exploring the remote, improbable, dangerous and authoritarian—and, for his investigative work, has been subject to a police investigation for spying and detained many times.

He’s found that emerging authoritarian nations like China and Russia, with growing power, will shape the future for American business and political leaders.

First, the world of the future will be determined by who controls the software space—AI, facial recognition, biotech, while the era of hardware is fading. Second, business victories will also go to the leaders who can tap into creative and narrative-driven fields, since AI will automate reasoning-heavy fields. Finally, as epidemics like coronavirus and geopolitical conflict takes hold, most successful businesses will pull back from China. They’ll bring manufacturing home due to falling logistical costs and AI advancements.

Books

The Perfect Police State: An Undercover Odyssey into China's Terrifying Surveillance Dystopia of the Future

An in-depth, on-the ground view of how Chinese officials have co-opted technology, infrastructure and the minds of their people to establish the definitive police state.

Samsung Rising: The Inside Story of the South Korean Giant That Set Out to Beat Apple and Conquer Tech

An explosive exposé of one of the biggest and most secretive companies in the world, Samsung, as the Korean juggernaut battles Apple and Sony to dominate the world of technology

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