This Week in Tech 565
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech. Becky Worley and Harry McCracken are here! We're going to sit down and talk about all the news. Artificial intelligence, are we living in a simulation? And, I come off as grumpy cat in the new kitten wedding commercial. It's all coming up next, on TWiT.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 565, recorded Sunday, June 5, 2016.
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It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech, the show where we cover the week's tech news. I bathe in this show. I'm soaking, and basking in the glorious refulgence of our guests today. Becky Worley is here, my dear friend from 20 years ago, from Tech TV, ZD TV.
Becky Worley: What was that word?
Becky: It is a polysyllabic word I am unfamiliar with.
Leo: It's only three. Refulgence. It's the glow. Bathing in the glow. That would be a better way to say it.
Becky: I already learned something. I am so excited about the show this week. There is an amazing amount of tech news that needs to be analyzed and I really want to hear what you two big brains have to say.
Leo: You came in bouncing with excitement, which is awesome.
Becky: I am. It's a great news week.
Leo: Also here, if you have a great news week, Harry McCracken is a great guy to have here. From Fast Company, the Technologizer himself. Great to see you.
Harry McCracken: Great to be here with Becky!
Leo: What's nice, I don't know. First of all, it's friends talking, but also smart friends who have great insight, and I thought we should start with Artificial intelligence, since we're so smart.
Becky: Does it feel like we need the artificial intelligence? Well, I do. I feel like there was a crescendo this week that we had bots and Microsoft bringing this in and piece-by-piece...
Leo: Facebook did their bots, but all of a sudden, Google and IO announces we've been doing machine learning. They like to call it machine learning. We're going to start in. We can kick this off with an interview I did on Monday with Kevin Kelly. He started Wired. Great guy. His new book is about the innovations in the next 20 years and how they're going to affect us. He's talking about AI and Machine learning. He says, "When you get a new technology, it kicks off innovation in an interesting way. When electricity became widespread in the US, farmers would do things like, there's my hand pump for water. What if I applied electricity to that and an invention comes out of it. We've seen it with the Internet too. What if I take a magazine and add a little Internet to that? We're in the era now where this is going to start happening with AI. We're seeing AI applied to all sorts of things, and you're going to get all sorts of massive innovations around it." A lot of times, we think of AI we think of a human like mind. He had a list of all kinds of minds that would be appropriate. You don't have to think of Alexa as a human like mind. It's simple, but it's simple enough to do those basic things like shopping, and what time is it, that are very useful.
Becky: How do you define artificial intelligence, Harry? Do you have a sense of what it is at its narrowest definition?
Harry: I think it's super amorphous. In the old days, you could define it as thinking like a human, and a lot of the stuff that's interesting today is not all that human like. I think in terms of the technology that people use to build it, they are building technologies that work a little more like the human brain does and conventional software has. You're not necessarily trying to build something that can do all the things the human brain can do. In a lot of cases, you're building technology to do one thing really quickly, such as look at photographs, and identify the objects in that photograph.
Becky: Make decisions we would have thought of as subjective and only humans were capable of in the past.
Harry" They're fuzzier things. In the old days, we thought of computers making decisions like a flow chart, very binary. If you look at a photograph and you're looking to see where there's a car in it. That's not something you can flow chart. Any card, any angle.
Becky: It also seems like now that we have so many devices that can handle human language processing, that we can see AI in a more transparent way and it’s become more realistic and possible in people's minds.
Harry: It's everywhere. It's in a lot of places where you don't notice it's there, but it's the next big sea change. In the 80's you had the PC and that wiped away most of the computer companies that existed. Ten years after that you had the web, that wiped away most of the PC companies, then you had mobile, that wiped away the phone companies. Before very long, you'll have companies that made AI that survive and companies that don't figure out how to deal with AI go away, or become nowhere near as relevant as they once were.
Leo: If you were going to throw cold water on all of this though, you could point out that the idea of AI is fairly old, going back to Marvin Minskey and it was really a failed idea. Why didn't AI take off in the earliest days of its...?
Harry: I tweeted this idea that it's going to change everything.
Leo: They've been saying that for decades!
Harry: Michael Johnson from Pixar said we thought that in the 1980's and it didn't happen. My thought is maybe it is changing everything, it's just happening very slowly. It really is paying off now.
Leo: It may be a hockey stick. A lot of what we see is hockey stick. It's exponential growth. It's slow slow slow, fast. That happens certainly with processors. They initially were very dumb, slow, very limited. But when they took off, they really took off.
Becky: I think it was Sundar Pichai who was saying there are three things that have come to a nice crossing point, which is with computational power, the amount of data that we now have, and the third might have been natural language processing. There was a third pillar that he had that is a Nexus and we've gotten to that point where now everything can take off.
Leo: Let me read to you. I got Kevin’s' book. It's called the Inevitable. He says, "It's silly to think of it as human minds. There could be a mind like a human mind, but it's faster in answering. That's the easiest AI to imagine, but what about a very slow mind composed of vast storage and memory, or what about a global super mind composed of millions of dumb, individual minds in concert." Kevin's the guy who came up with the hive mind. That sounds like his hive mind. How about a mind trained and dedicated to enhancing your personal mind, but useless to anybody else? A mind capable of successfully creating a better mind once. That's the point is to be creative, we don't have to assume it's going to look like us. I think we often do with artificial intelligence. That's where it's a failure is you say, "Can it appear to be human," that's a very limited way of thinking of AI.
Harry: It's incredibly limited.
Leo: If you have a broader definition of it, you can see it everywhere. Somebody is pointing out in the chat room, Alexa had 135 skills in January, has a thousand this week.
Becky: Let me just run through. This is a sum of the things, so you guys jump in here as I go through. Facebook says for the first time, AI is doing more content monitoring then humans, that's a little bit of a tipping point.
Leo: Remember, Facebook is the one who denied there were human curators and had to admit it. They may prefer that you think it's all AI, right?
Becky: Right and that they're all perfectly in the middle of the blue/red spectrum. OK. Jeff Bezos, he said at the code conference that artificial intelligence is in such early days that they made the baseball analogy. Not only is it the first inning, he thinks it's the first guy at bat. He really sees this as early days. Sundar Pichai also said early days. Melinda gates said all the books Bill is reading are about AI. He said, Bill Gates, two problems. Loss of jobs, who controls the AI. Making sure people stay in charge. We'll get back to that, because the Elon Musk story is incredible in that realm. Let's go into the details though. Sundar Pichai talking to Walt Mossburgen said, I thought this was interesting, his sense of AI was so different than anybody else who was talking about it in the global and in the speculative. It was literal in what are they doing, here are the specifics, and it made me realize without bragging too much, he did say that their AI is better than everybody else's, but they're really into details. They're not in the huge over-arching...
Leo: that's how tech is, isn't it? The people who are making the tech are often very much in the weeds. Maybe nobody is looking at the larger implications of it. They're so busy solving problems, specific problems.
Becky: The guys who are actually doing it... maybe that's why I feel like in some sense is this is me when I really pay attention is I see bigger trends...
Leo: That's our job, since we can't be solving problems, at least we can be at thirty thousand feet looking down.
Becky: There are a lot of big brains doing that right now.
Leo: That's what AI.org was all about right? That's Elon, who else got involved?
Becky: Is this open AI?
Leo; Open AI. yeah. This was the idea, no one company should own this, it should be part of... everybody should weigh in on this. It should be available, more importantly from their point of view. Open AI.com. It should be available to everybody. They're non-profit, but they are funding research and funding it big time.
Becky: Let's get into that. My mind felt like it was exploding listening to Elon talk for an hour and a half about artificial intelligence. Harry, what did you take away from that conversation?
Harry: Well, a whole lot. He talked about them being a company that scared him, but he wouldn't say what it was. The one thing that does scare me about AI is the privacy implication and essentially for good AI you'd want a server on the other end to be able to do anything and everything with your data. For privacy you want end-to-end encryption, which essentially makes AI impossible. The world is going to have to decide what it wants, and I hope it's not Facebook that decides on its own without any input from its users.
Leo: Facebook is getting a lot of competition. Bezos said they're at a thousand people at Amazon.
Harry: Amazon has nowhere near as much data as Facebook.
Leo: Who has the most?
Harry: Facebook and Google. And Apple, except Apple has been saying that they're opting out of this and they don't want to use your data and they want to encrypt everything.
Leo: That's a little... I don't want to say disingenuous of Apple, but clearly they are collecting and using your data. All they're ultimately saying is "We're not going to give it to a third party." Clearly Apple is, or a lot of the stuff they do wouldn't work, right?
Becky: Well, I'm fascinated you think it was Facebook he was referring to. Can we listen to the clip? The context is really important.
Leo: OK. Here's Elon Musk at the conference.
Elon Musk: ...the intent with open AI is to democratize AI power. There's a quote that I love from Acton, he was the guy who came up with "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Which is that freedom consists of the distribution of power and despotism in its concentration." So I think it's important if we have this incredible power of AI that it not be concentrated in the hands of the few and potentially lead to a world that we don't want.
Woman: What world is that? What do you see?
Elon: It's called a singularity because it's difficult to predict what kind of future that might be, except I don't know a lot of people who love the idea of living under a despot. I think people generally choose to live in a democracy over a dictatorship.
Woman: The despot would be the computer?
Elon: The people controlling the computer.
Man: Do you worry about any of the companies I mentioned... who all seem to be pivoting towards this as a battleground over the next ten years?
Elon: I won't name a name, but there is only one.
Leo: I'd say there's two!
Elon:... there's only one.
Becky: That's where that conversation had come from with Walt talking about Apple and Elon was very confrontational. Never has anyone sounded so bored talking about such amazing things.
Leo: He's not bored. He's thinking.
Becky: Right, but it was so mellow and monotone that ...
Leo: Here's why he's worried about Apple, if it is Apple. Apple's secret, and Apple does what it's doing in secret. At least with Google, less with Facebook, but you know that they're being open about what they're up to.
Harry: They're pretty open about it. I visited their AI labs, I did a big story on Facebook at the end of last year and a large chunk of that was their AI stuff. They also published a lot of their research.
Leo: If it is Apple, I disagree with Elon. I don't think you should worry more about Apple if you're a global fashion brand than if you're an AI developer. Apple seems to have changed their tune quite a bit. Rarely do you hear the word Apple and AI together and all you have to do is look at their one AI product, Siri to say that's not very scary. You think they've got a lab somewhere?
Harry: They can't opt out entirely. Tim Cook has had this drum beat about how we're not going to use your data, we don't want to store it on our servers. Other companies that do that, you should be concerned about. At some point, Apple is going to have to figure out a way to live the life it wants to live, but also address some of the stuff, because if you want to set up scenarios where Apple is blown away it's where the sea change happens.
Leo: They have opted out and they may have painted themselves into a corner. Right?
Harry: I find it odd that he talks about despotism given that you can opt out of Facebook. You don't have to use Google services. It's a little different than if the person running your country suddenly decides he's going to tell you exactly what to do.
Becky: I don't feel like you can opt out of Google if you're a real human. I mean, who is like living a day-to-day life.
Harry: It would be tough, but it would not be impossible, and if they ever do anything terrible, millions of people could opt out of using Google.
Becky: Fair enough. You've made the case for potentially Facebook, why probably it's not Apple, the other player would have to be Google. What would be his sphere or concern? How would they play into that, just because the sheer amount of data they have on you in every facet of your life?
Leo: If I were scared of Google, what would make me scared is that they have shown no reluctance to use these technologies, right?
Harry: Google controls a phone full of sensors, which Facebook doesn't do. Google has way more opportunity than Facebook does in some respects to track where you are and what you're doing.
Becky: OK. I know we're going to talk about this later, but you were talking about on This Week in Google about how when they bought Ness they didn't want to put a microphone into it to get the home assistant, because they didn't want people to think what are they doing with that.
Leo: Google is very aware of their public persona as being the... everybody thinks Google is going to do skynet, the terminator computer that sent the machines after us. There's one candidate for Skynet at this point, isn't it? It's Google. I'm a little more nervous about Facebook. Did you read the article in Vanity Fair this week from a book about... by a former Facebook employee who is supposedly blowing the lid off Facebook and he talks about Mark Zuckerberg as being nearly psychopathic in his drive to win at all costs. I didn't find it very damning article after reading it.
Harry: The way he talks about Jim Jones and Jonestown. The actual story is just that he's incredibly ambitious and pushes people who work for him to be incredibly ambitious and to work work work. Google maybe is at least a tiny bit more mellow than Facebook.
Becky: the lighthouse has turned off of Amazon in this realm?
Leo; The eye of mordor?
Harry: Amazon has a lot of data on us, but it's very specific to the things we like to buy.
Becky: I just meant the work culture and the whole idea that Bezos was this taskmaster that created a thunder dome work environment where it's kill or be killed. It's interesting that seems to be a story that resonates and they're looking for a new victim every six months.
Harry: I've seen that story about a lot of companies.
Leo: Is Facebook listening to you via your Smartphone? You saw that story this week. I think it was somewhat debunked.
Harry: I was reading that. You could tell it was all theory.
Leo: Although there was an article a few months earlier in the BBC, it's an interesting article in which he says... let me see if I can find it. "Is your Smartphone listening to you?" This is Zoe Kleinman. "I was doing some ironing when my mum came in to tell me that a family friend had been killed in a road accident in Thailand. My phone was on the worktop behind me. But the next time I used the search engine on it, up popped the name of our friend, and the words, "Motorbike accident, Thailand" and the year in the suggested text below the search box. I was startled, certain that I had not used my phone at the time I had had the conversation - my hands had been full. Had I started to look the details up later on and forgotten? Or was my phone listening in?"
Leo: We're heard a lot of anecdotal stories by people who think their Echo or their phone is somehow monitoring or changing search results or shopping recommendations based on conversations. Certainly, there's no way to prove that it's not doing that. In fact, in this article, she went to a pen testing company and said can you write something for an Android device that would listen in and collate what I said, and would it be detectable? So they actually did create a prototype app, demonstrated its functionality. He said in order to use this app, you have to have permission to use a microphone, although many apps do if you're going to talk to an app, you need to have that permission. "We had to set up a listening server on the Internet, and everything that microphone heard on that phone, wherever it was in the world, came to us and we could then have sent back customized ads. The battery drain during our experiments was minimal and, using wi-fi, there was no data plan spike." I would hope there are hackers and testers out there who are running wire shark from time to time on their devices to make sure its not. Google of course denies it.
Becky: I'm going to sound naive. But I don't have enough conspiracy theory in my soul to believe that companies would do this without having it explicitly in their terms of service.
Leo: But, what's to stop Amazon from getting a national security letter from the FBI saying could you turn on Leo's echo? Just for the time being and we'd just like to listen in. By the way, this is a national security letter, so...I'm sure they have the means.
Becky: What difference is that theoretically then search results? If you could get the paradigm there, that it's akin to that, would it fall under different legal purview because it's a bug? Or is it...? I don't mean a bug like a bug in the software. I mean like they're bugging your house.
Leo: Of course. They'd have to get a court order. That's why it's a national security letter. They could get a Fiza court, which by the way has never turned down a request in the last two years of thousands of requests, they have said yes to every one of them. So that's not so much of a protection.
Becky: Even without any conspiratorial thoughts in my being, I do see that as a possibility.
Leo: We're going to take a break, come back. Let's talk more about AI. As long as we're talking about AI, let's talk about Elon and his suggestion that the chances are a billion to one that we are all living in a simulation. Not one in a billion, a billion to one.
Becky: Don't forget neural lace.
Leo: I don't know what that is, but we'll talk about it.
Becky: It's not a fashion trend.
Leo: It's not a fashion statement? Neural lace? Don't go googling that. Out show to you today brought to you by Carbonite online backup. You've got to keep your business safe, and as you know, if you listen to any of our shows, ransomware is on the optic hundreds of millions of dollars spent by businesses. not just businesses. Hospitals, Massachusetts police department that got bit by ransomware and paid the fee to unencrypt their computers? If they just had Carbonite, for crying out loud. You've got to wonder what kind of IT department this hospital had. You don't need an IT department. You can have the best backup solution that will protect you against ransomware right now for less than you'd imagine at Carbonite.com. Why take the risk? Why worry about downtime. They've got Carbonite for home, for office, for Macs, for PCs, for servers. More than 500 billion files have been backed up. More than a million and a half homes and businesses use Carbonite. They have restored 50 billion files. That's 50 billion files. It belongs forever it it weren't for Carbonite, and yes it does protect you against ransomware, because Carbonite and Windows does versioning. That means if you get bit a ransomware and you don't catch it, it starts encrypting your files, first thing to do, stop the ransomware, then restore your unencrypted files from Carbonite. They have versioning, you can even go back a couple of versions to that file that is unencrypted. Try it today free, no credit card needed, but do use our name TWiT in the offer code. TWiT. That way you'll get two bonus months if you decide to buy. Do it right with Carbonite. Becky Worley is here from GMA.
Becky: I'm from your past.
Leo My past and my future, I hope. Becky was the founding member of tech news today, thank you for setting it on its track.
Becky: I'm back. Regularly on that show.
Leo: Every other week, right?
Becky: that's right.
Leo: Love having you. How often are you in GMA these days?
Becky: Once a week. Twice a week sometimes.
Leo: Are you still doing the consumer stuff?
Becky: Consumer. Some interesting things. This week talked about Amazon suing some of its reviewers. The people who buy fake reviews. We could talk about that, that was interesting. I was thinking about it. Here's the analogy in terms of what you do for a living versus what I do for a living as a consumer reporter. Let's imagine we're all working in the fashion industry and you are setting up the windows at Barney's. Or you're creating a lay out...
Leo: By the way, my lifetime dream.
Becky: We'll make that happen in some reality. You're setting up the Windows in Barney's, you're styling a shoot for Vogue. That's the way that your work goes around technology. Me. I'm folding the pajamas in the center of Costco. I'm putting the dungarees out there. I am with all my people in the everyday consumer, and technology is a huge part of that, but I love it. I think it's helpful.
Leo: I'm going to derail this show, since you mentioned folding clothes, did you see the Kickstarter? There's a Kickstarter for a clothing, automatic clothing folding machine.
Becky: No way! That would be a life-changing event.
Leo: It's called the foldy mate. Is that right? It's the miracle Fold. Apparently when I Google this, there's more than one.
Harry: There's more than one of anything.
Leo: Anything good. This is a machine. It's the funniest video ever.
Becky: It's like Rosie the robot.
Leo: It sounds like that in principle until you see the video, then you realize... is this it? Foldy Mate. They're taking pre-orders for next year, so it's not on Kickstarter. So you've been here. You're trying to fold and the kids are just throwing the clothes in the air, and it's one step forward, two steps backwared, enter the foldy mate. Mom takes the clothes and clips them into the special foldy mate device and then watch what happens. The clothes are sucked in to the foldy mate where the mechanical foldy mate arms automatically fold and smooth your fabric but spray it with deodorizer. Even steam it for...
Leo: Very important. At the end of the day, the kids help too because it's so much fun. Dad is sitting there going what the what? And then the tray is full. Look!
Becky: It spits out 12 perfectly folded t-shirts.
Leo: I completely de railed this. 700/850. that's the target price, by the way. The obviously haven't built it yet.
Becky: It will be on GMA next week. Thanks guys.
Leo: You really are in the back at Cosco folding clothes.
Becky: I'm a guy. I'm the person who buys one kind of sock, and then it doesn't matter what you pair them with.
Leo: What do you need colored socks for?
Leo: I shouldn't tell you this story. I'm going to. I'm reading... what was the book about Seal Team six? It was called No Bad day, no good day. Mark Bassonet. He got in trouble, because he was the guy in Seal Team six that killed Bin Laden. There was a detail in the book. Everybody is paying attention to how they arm themselves. their strategies for getting in, how they found Bin Laden, how they got him. I'm reading along and I read, we looked in his clothing drawer and all of his t-shirts were rolled up, and I thought, wait a minute, that's a great idea. The Bin Laden technique. T-shirts, fold them in half, roll them up. Works great.
Becky: Life hack from Bin Laden.
Leo: This is what I get from that whole book. I could learn how Seal Team trains, no. Osama Bin Laden folded his t-shirts. Thanks, Osama. I'm sure he didn't invent it. Let's get back to artificial intelligence.
Becky: You said I was here, but you didn't say Harry is here.
Leo: Harry's here too.
Harry: I'm here.
Leo: The Technologizer. Do you still use that?
Harry: Technologizer.com points to by flipboard magazine.
Leo: You shouldn't throw it out. Keep it.
Harry: It's a curated experience rather than me creating new stuff. All my fast company stuff is also on my flipboard.
Leo: People get mad at me. I call you the Technologizer and they say he's not that any more. I say he will always be...
Harry: At least in your eyes.
Leo: I have very limited memory, so I have to put you in a box and keep you there. You're basically rolled up in my t-shirt. Forever branded the technologizer. Elon Musk also speaking at the re-code conference. It's funny, because I'm watching this video, and who shows up at the Q and A but Joshua Tebolski. I've been wondering what he's been up to as the creator of Engadget. Our editor in chief. I don't know if he created it, but he was editor in chief at Engadget, and then he did the Verge, and he left. He left Fox and I don't know what he's doing these days. Apparently he's asking questions, the recode. He ran Bloomburg for a while. He's starting something new. He hasn't said anything. He had this question and...
Man:... philosophical concept that an advanced civilization will be able to create a simulation...
Elon: I've had so many simulation discussions it's crazy. It got to the point where every conversation was the AI/simulation conversation. My brother and I finally agreed that we woud ban such conversations if we're ever in a hot tub."
Man:... any advanced civilization could create our existence, so the theory follows that maybe we're in the simulation. Have you thought about this?
Elon: A lot.
Leo: A lot. This is our tony Stark. Listen to his explanation of why he believes it.
Elon: The strongest argument for us being in a simulation probably being a simulation is the following. That 40 years ago, we had pong. Two rectangle and a dot, now 40 years later we have photorealistic 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it's getting better every year. Now we have virtual reality, augmented reality. If you assume any great improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality. Even if that rate drops by a thousand from what it is right now, then you just say OK, let's imagine it to ten thousand years in the future, which is nothing in the evolutionary scale. Given that we're clearly on a trajectory to have games indistinguishable from reality and those games could be played on any box or on a PC or whatever and they would probably be billions of such computers, it would seem to follow that the odds that we are at base reality is one in billions.
Leo: Stop it there. The odds that we are in "base reality" is one in a billion! That seems pretty high odds that we are in a simulation. He's not that crazy. Here's a scientific American article from last month in which Neil Degrasse Tyson says it's more like 50/50. What?!?
Harry: I think it should be said that while games look better than they did 40 years ago, the gameplay has not kept up and a lot of games are not that much more sophisticated than a really fancy version.
Leo: This is a panel in scientific American had of physicists, philosophers, Neil Degrasse Tyson moderated it. What the physicist said, if you want to prove or disprove this hypothesis, what you do is observe and look for shortcuts that the programmers might have taken, like OK. You're laughing, but eventually you would discover something a little blurry, right? The lack of it doesn't mean you're not in a simulation, it just means that the simulation is better than one would expect. Or better than you think. He says "If there is an underlying simulation of the universe that has the problem of finite computational resources, just as we do, then the laws of physics have to be put on a finite set of points in a finite volumes. Then we go back and see what kind of signatures we find that tell us we started from non-continuous spacetime.” In other words, the kind of evidence that would convince me is something that tells me it's not quite right. A glitch they called it in the Matrix. The problem is, whether we are or not, what the hell are you going to do with it? I find it fascinating that Elon brought it up. I guess really Joshua brought it up.
Becky: One in a billion. Does the guy really believe that?
Leo: Basically he says it's a certainty.
Becky: That he's going through life like that is insanity. I mean, I walked away from listening to this entire talk with my head exploding thinking "genius? insane?" The one he got to at the end of the talk was neural lace. His point being, let's say one in a billion we're not, in a game, that this is real life and we'll wing it. If that's the case, let's go for it. The robots are going to take over. I'm over generalizing. He has a fear of artificial intelligence, as we discussed. He said that the way that humans will continue to evolve and exist is that we will create an artificial intelligence, neural lace that intersects with our own brains to augment our brains and then we will be able to compete and maintain dominance over the artificial intelligence agents. The way that he put it when speaking was somebody's got to do it. If nobody else does it, I might do it.
Leo: Somebody explain Elon's willingness to make big bets. If it's a simulation, you might as well. What does it matter? You're playing with house money.
Becky: Other fascinating insights. He said when asked about space, I like doing space because it's not just solving problems, it's actually something that interests me and keeps me walking in the door to work every day. Tesla is just solving problems.
Leo: He needs a little extra oomph to keep him interested. How are we going to get to Mars? He says he's going to put a man on Mars in a couple of decades. Doesn't matter if it's a simulation, just put another quarter in.
Becky: But that's, you go over and listen to Jeff Bezos talk about space and you realize he makes it sound so much more sane. Elon made it sound sane in some aspects, but Jeff Bezos made it sound logical and pragmatic.
Leo: Here's the real problem. Once you have a certain amount of money, you can do anything you want, and it's kind of boring so you come up with crazy things to keep yourself interested, because the things that challenge us, like where am I getting dinner tonight and... you got people doing that. You're already in a different universe than the rest of us. Do you know any really rich people?
Becky: I do. My Mom is a realtor on Maui, so she deals with extraordinarily wealthy people.
Leo: Oprah has a house there.
Becky: Yeah. Peter Teal, Steve Finn, the Senegals who own Costco. I can list a million. No one you know, and not any of the people I just listed, they do this thing that my mom and I refer to as serial manipulating. they have so much fun playing with all the chess pieces.
Leo: Wealth makes you psychotic.
Becky: You do all these things because you're trying to find something that still stimulates you.
Leo: F Scott Fitzgerald said "the rich are not like you and me." Peter Teal is a good example. I don't know Peter, have you met Peter?
Harry: I've seen him talk on stage. I've never exchanged words with him.
Leo: He supposedly was the inspiration for that weirdly autistic venture capitalistic, the first season of Silicon Valley. Is he like that? Is he strange and... anyway. I'm thrilled he was going after Gawker. I'm really torn on that one. We've talked about this before. Not with you guys. On the one hand, I want someone to take down Gawker. But you don't want people just because they have means to be able to undermine the press, undermine Democracy and use the courts against people just because you can afford to lose a lot of money.
Becky: Free speech. First amendment!
Leo: Denton and the Gawker are protected by the first amendment.
Becky: But the laws create space for people to sue other people and there to be consequences.
Leo: But this is the point. If you have a lot of money, you can afford to sue people on frivolous lawsuits. Bankrupt normal people, even Hulk Hogan is a normal person when you come to Peter Thiel money. Bankrupt normal people defending these lawsuits, I think it's safe to say Nick Denton had to go out and borrow money to pursue this, to defend himself. Even if there is no merit in this, if you've got billions of dollars, you could spend a hundred million dollars going after somebody, harassing them, even if there's no merit in them. That's not an appropriate use of the courts at all.
Becky: But it's within the purview of the law. The bottom line is...
Leo: The judge has a right to say, "This is frivolous." Mr. Thiel.
Harry: In the old days, you could not fund somebody else's court case.
Leo: There are some rules that protect people against frivolous libel suits.
Harry: The basic issue is, if Peter Thiel could do it to Gawker, someone could do it to TWiT, someone could do it to Fast Company. Most of us would have a hard time defending ourselves from somebody with ten billion dollars.
Becky: Let's play the other side of the coin. We're all journalists, we're going to protect the first amendment and the right to free speech. That's obvious. The law says you can sue people. That is the law. It took so much for someone to finally say enough with Gawker. He's admitted, and he spoke on it this week and said we've had some terrible news judgment. Nick Denton said this about Gawker. He was very recalcitrant and really not the tone that I expected him to come out with.
Leo: He just got religion. Maybe there's something to be said for Peter Thiel's...
Becky: I know in principle I stand with Gawker, but I see the legal system and financial system of capitalism as a part of journalism playing into this, because it took that much for Gawker to get...
Leo: They talked me out of it last week, you just talked me back into it. Go get them, Peter.
Harry: Maybe the way to address this is you can pay for somebody else's court case, but it all has to be public.
Harry: He waged a secret war, not a public one.
Becky: I'm torn because I feel constricted as a journalist.
Leo: Gawker is not good for journalism.
Becky: We have such stringent rules at ABC. We have such standards, it has to go through legal, and we talk it out and the news judgment that's applied is so center.
Leo: Is it that way because of fear of lawsuit or because it's the right thing to do? A lot of that lately is this cover-your-ass stuff. Doing things because it's the right thing to do is great. Doing things because you don't want exposure is often not good. Our lawyers are always saying shut up. Don't do that, don't say that, not that it's wrong or that you're wrong, but that it's risky.
Becky: I think the point that I have learned in my 11 years working at a network is if you're going to take the risk, it better be worth it.
Harry: You shouldn't be unnecessarily sued. If you have a story that might cause somebody to sue you, you should button down every detail. Make sure you don't point somebody in the eye for pointless reasons. Poke them in the eye because you have facts behind it.
Leo: Gawker's defense, and I think it's a disingenuous defense, it's a rationale, not a defense, is we have to speak truth to power. But outing Peter Thiel is not speaking truth to power.
Becky: That's not the only reason why he was ticked. Peter Thiel said he was mad because they had done grievous harm to his friends, including Sean Parker.
Leo: We all know somebody who has been slimed by Gawker.
Becky: You have to put TMZ and Page six in the same category.
Leo: Here's where I say this is different. Roberto Baldwin schooled me on this. He used to work for TMZ. He said, this is a symbiotic relationship. Within that 30-mile range anything goes because celebrities want that coverage. They call TMZ and say you might find me outside of a wall mart.
Becky: Sometimes they want the coverage. Johnny Depp did not want the coverage this week. I think that's not as utilitarian as you think it is.
Leo: But between Hollywood and the gossip columnists, there is a symbiosis. That's part of the Industry, and if you're a movie star, you know. Peter Thiel is a venture capitalist. I don't think he made the implicit agreement that my private life is now public. Why would he even consider that? Just because he's a public figure, why would he consider that's fair game for any journalist?
Becky: It doesn't feel good; any of it. It feels so yucky. I think Jeff Bezos said this week that it's not the pretty speech that you need to defend, it's the ugly speech. That's the bottom line. You get into these horrible situations where if you're defending the first amendment, you end up doing it in cases that make you feel yucky.
Harry: There's a lot of stuff that feels lucky and should be absolutely legal.
Leo: I want you to tweet that. Then just let the chips fall where they do. I'm trying to think of what that would be.
Harry: A lot of journalism that makes people uncomfortable and causes trouble for people...
Leo: That's appropriate though.
Becky: It's just bad judgment. You can't legislate bad judgment down to an inch of its life. So... Yeah.
Leo: This is not going to go away because we live in a new age for journalism where there is intense pressure on journalistic entities to survive and they are all threatened by the Internet and the end of the homepage, and they were all in desperate need to get clicks and traffic and links and journalistic rules seem to be going out the window. You're both long time journalists. Some of the things we thought 20 years ago would never happen happen all the time now. Even from well known journalistic entities.
Becky: That's where the legal system and the financial punishments here that may be handed down in this case, I'm not saying Peter Thiel should have funded them secretly, but they may have a chilling effect on the needless publishing of stuff that doesn't need to be out there, and doesn't help anyone. That's one of the things that Nick Denton said is the amount of information that's now available has increased exponentially as much as the competition and all the other sources online, news sources. They have to be more discriminating in what they choose to publish.
Leo: Speaking of artificial intelligence, Google has now said that we are hiring novelists to give our artificial intelligence personalities. A backstory, this is a fast company story.
Harry: I find that really disappointing. One of the things I liked about Google up until now is its made no attempt to have a personality, it doesn't understand jokes, it is just really smart about the stuff it does, as opposed to Siri and Cortana and Alexa, all of which are programmed to be funny.
Leo: they get annoying, don't they?
Harry: After a certain point, it was very entertaining and novel when Siri did it a few years ago. I liked the fact that Google is utilitarian. I'm worried about them getting too cute.
Becky: They're not after you. Just like the television networks really care about the millennial demo, they are trying to attract users for their entire life. That's my kids.
Leo: Do your kids want the exchanges to be more human-like?
Becky: Totally. Their expectation of human language is high. That's why one of the women they hired to do this is a woman named Emma Coates, she's from Pixar. At the Mood Fest, she was joking that this really is about humor. One of the things is their preparing answers to questions they get a lot, which is, "Do you fart?" This is a quote that they said. It might lead the artificial intelligence to say, "Not recently." Or perhaps something more sassy. Maybe Google could ping data about air quality test results. I'm being flip about this, but there is a willingness to go to a different demo than your traditional tech reviewer/tech mature audience. I think that they're realizing that there is an opportunity. We aren't going to ask those questions. Our kids will.
Leo: Isn't it, kind of singularly unsatisfying when Siri says I can't answer that question or Alexa says I don't know what you're talking about?
Harry: Well Google has a better chance than anybody of not having that happen.
Leo: They at least can answer the question. But what if you ask it a non-sensical question? what should it's response be? That question is nonsense? That's insulting.
Harry: I would be OK with it saying I don't understand. They want everybody to use this, and Google Now is really great. I have a feeling that even a pretty high percentage of people who have Android phones have not done nearly as much with Google now as they could. It's not all that engaging, it's just useful.
Becky: This is the point. Sundar Pichai sent this tweet that they are trying to make an individual Google for every single user. If they were true AI, it would learn whether you want that or not.
Leo: That would be good. I think what Google, I mentioned this before, but I wanted to say it again. Google's real opportunity here is to be your intermediary to the rest of the world. Where bots went wrong is you had to have a relationship with a variety of fairly annoying things and whether it's 1-800-flowers or poncho the weather cat, I don't want all these relationships. What I really want is one relationship, a personal assistant who then goes out and has the relationships with Poncho and these other things. Is that what Cortana is going to do?
Harry: Microsoft says they're agents. An agent is something that works on your behalf, and knows an awful lot about you, and your agent works with bots. A bot might be from 1-800-flowers, or a hotel chain. They work on behalf of a hotel chain and know a lot about it, but the only access they have to your data is what your agent gives to them.
Leo: Jeff Bezos said something that scared me this week. We're all going to have a lot of these, and I imagine this mantel piece filled with an Echo and a Google Home and a bunch of things, then you have to remember which can do what and who to ask for and what the syntax is. That seemed like the future Jeff Bezos envision. I hope that's not the case.
Becky: This is a whole new way of having the ecosystem discussion. So we all live within multiple ecosystems, and you'll choose which one does what for you, so if you really want to have something that, Oh, I'm out of cornmeal, Alexa order more corneal. I'm just making this up, or if it's more about music...
Leo: By the way, you just bought cornmeal for several hundred people in our listening audience. I hope you can use that cornmeal everybody.
Becky: Alexa, cancel the cornmeal order please. I think that you will choose an ecosystem based on your most pressing needs, interests, and existing affiliations.
Leo: This is what Bezos said. I think there are going to be a bunch of artificially intelligent agents in the world, they're going to be specialties. You may not ask the same AI for everything. I bet the average household will use a number of these, but to me, that's a very exciting seed we've planted. I love working on stuff like that and the team is brilliant. I don't know.
Harry: It's complicated though, because I want a relationship with Facebook, I want one with Amazon, they're all quite different. These companies are all doing different stuff.
Leo: In my imagination I'd say that Google is the winner, the incumbent, and my house will be a Google house, and I will say Google, I'm out of toilet paper, order me some more, and it will tell Alexa to get Leo some toilet paper. I want that. I don't want 12 personal assistants, each with a different skill. No one wants that. Right?
Becky: I'm going to start doubting Alexa.
Leo: Alexa, buy cornmeal stock.
Becky: Alexa is next to me now. That's Echo? Who is this?
Leo: That's Echo. By the way, that one is triggered by Echo. Not by the A word.
Becky: I won't say the name or the repeating sound word.
Leo: It's like saying you want four different operating systems in your house. You're going to pick one, aren't you? That's what an operating system does, it intermediates. I'm not a usual, but I guess everybody will have an iOS and an Android device and a Mac and Windows device. That's not unusual.
Becky: Yeah, we have a nest, which is a Google world. We buy all our stuff on Amazon. We have mostly Macs and iPhones. We're all living in an ecosystem that looks like a Venn diagram.
Leo: Ideal. In her, you dealt with Scarlet Johansen. She did everything for you. Isn't that what you want?
Harry: You'd like to have a choice. There was a period where Microsoft seemed like the only technology viable.
Leo: We've seen this before with instant messenger programs. You had ICQ and Microsoft messenger and none of them talked to each other, and each of them wanted to own that space 100% and really the way to win would have been to have one that could talk to everybody. Nobody wanted to do that, because they wanted to own the market.
Becky: I think you're presuming this based on a hardware mindset. Because you're presuming you're only going to buy one piece of hardware that's going to...
Leo: I don't want a mantelpiece full of black tubes.
Becky: You have all kinds of stuff now. Your phone, you have all kinds of stuff. The air freshener on your mantelpiece is an intermediary step. Secondarily, hardware is not the issue. You look at Amazon as an example. It is a crime they are charging anything for this device, given that it is a conduit to purchase more things.
Leo: It's almost 200 bucks. It's expensive.
Becky: They will give these things away because each one of them will find a business model that has nothing to do with the hardware. And Apple's not in it right now is because they can't figure out the business model without the hardware is my personal opinion. They still think of themselves as a hardware company.
Harry: Maybe they are working on something.
Harry: Apple is working on something akin to an Echo.
Becky: This is the WDC announcement.
Harry: Not for WWDC, but at some point. At WWDC there will probably be news about Siri that starts to tiptoe in this direction, such as opening up Siri to third party services. Apple is the kind of company that takes its time. It doesn't need to come out with something like the Echo immediately. It will do it when it feels like it has something more interesting than the Echo.
Leo: I think Apple is going to be at a disadvantage because they are so worried about privacy, right?
Harry: And they don't have huge AI chops yet.
Leo: Echo, order me an Elvis costume.
Amazon Echo: Based on Leo’s order history, I found Aloha Elvis Deluxe Costume, white, extra large.
Alexa: To order it, tell me Leo’s voice code.
Leo: So I can have an Elvis costume tomorrow.
Becky: Echo, are you sure he needs extra large?
Becky: Now, if Echo is—
Leo: Now is that a convenience or what? How many times have you been walking around the house thinking, “Gosh you know what I really need is an Elvis costume.” And now you just ask the house and it delivers it.
Harry: You buy clothes from Amazon? How does it know your size?
Leo: Yea, I get more socks. Echo, order me some socks.
Becky: Jeff Bezos says that fashion is one of the categories he’s most excited about in retail.
Leo: Yea. See, that’s what you don’t want.
Harry: It’s supposed to make a funny joke. I know.
Leo: Yea. You say socks? I thought you wanted sex.
Leo: No, that’s not good (laughing). That’s really not good. Sorry about that.
Becky: Sending porn to your phone now.
Leo: Tomorrow you will receive some VHS tapes. Let’s take a break.
Becky: Oh, Lord.
Leo: Oh, Lord!
Becky: You really ticked off the Alexa owners now. It was like a full-fledged—
Leo: No, because I don’t say the A word, I trained it to say the E word. Now of course there’s people who listen to the show who say, “Oh, I can’t use the A word, so I’m going to use the E word.” Now they’re really mad.
Becky: I see.
Leo: But you can also use the other A word, Amazon. But that’s another thing by the way. Each of these should have its own unique trigger phrase. Why in heavens name are we still like all using the same trigger phrase? That’s terrible.
Becky: Different Google for every user.
Leo: By the way, have you seen our Google Home? Have you tried it yet?
Leo: It smells really good. Mmm.
Becky: Oh, my.
Leo: Cinnamon and vanilla flavor. That’s new and probably not going to last.
Becky: I’ll put that far away.
Leo: Our show today brought to you (laughing)—that is a Glade air freshener. But I think that that’s pretty close in size and shape. In the chatroom, the gem doctor says, “You know an Elvis costume is such a waste of money. A pantomime horse costume would be far more useful.”
Leo: That takes two. That’s the problem, it takes two people to wear it. Our show today—
Becky: I am not down for that.
Leo: No, I’m not going to do that. I’m tempted. But I don’t think there’ll be a pantomime horse costume in my order history. It’s surprising what is in my order history though. You can try a few things. Just see what happens. That’s another kind of a leak of information. Yes, I know, Wealthfront. I know. Our show today brought to you by Wealthfront.com. You invest I hope for the long-term for you and your financial health, your family’s financial health. You’ve got kids? You’ve got kids going to college someday. It seems like that’s a long way off. They’re only 8 years old. 10 years is nothing. Nothing. Start putting money aside. But obviously you’re not going to put that in a savings account at the bank. You might as well put it under your mattress if you’re going to do that. It will just whittle away to nothing. You need to invest it. But how do you invest? Do you hire somebody? Pay them 1, 2, 3% of what you’ve got under management? By that time, you know, you’ve got to make 3% more just to break even. Are you going to do it yourself? That’s what I thought. I’ll read all the books. I’ll be smart and I’ll learn. And I did. I think I did a good job 10 years ago. I haven’t checked in a while. And that’s the problem. You need to kind of monitor this stuff and rebalance and re-jigger and kind of keep an eye on what’s going on. Well I’ve got a way to do it that doesn’t cost you 3% of what you’ve got under investment. Doesn’t cost you any time. It does a better job than you could ever do because it’s watching all the time. It’s called Wealthfront. And because Wealthfront is computerized, it’s software, software works cheap. One quarter of one percent a year with no additional charges. No transaction fees or anything. Wealthfront is really, really interesting. This was created by some very, very smart people using something called modern portfolio theory. It adjusts your own personal risk tolerance in your time frame. But it does stay diversified and tax efficient. They use tax loss harvesting to make sure that you get the highest return at the lowest tax cost to you. It’s really cool. You can get this Wealthfront dashboard where you can see exactly what they’re invested in, you know day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. It’s not, now of course they’re constantly rebalancing but it’s not day trading. This is for long term investing. It’s going to take a few minutes to sign up. I’m not saying do this right away. But I do want you to go right now to Wealthfront.com/twit and at least get the portfolio analysis, answers to a few questions about time frame and risk and they will actually create a portfolio for you. But they’ll look at your existing portfolio, see how much you’re spending in fees, how efficient it is, what the tax consequences are of your investments. And then every trade they make once you do invest, you can see right there as well as all of your other accounts. They put it all in one big batch for you whether they’re at Wealthfront or not. Wealthfront is now managing $3 billion dollars in finances. That’s because it works. It really works. I want you to find out more. Go to Wealthfront.com/twit. $500 dollars is the minimum investment so it’s easy to test it out. But, I love this, as a TWiT listener you’re going to get $15,000 dollars managed for free. Your first $15,000 dollars entirely free of charge. And not just for the first year, but forever. So that is a really good way to start your nest egg. If you haven’t started saving retirement, for college, for a house, for a vacation, just for a rainy day fund. Everybody should have one of those. Wealthfront.com/twit. We thank them so much for their support of This Week in Tech.
Becky: What a week.
Leo: Well AI is a good subject. And you know, I think Facebook is using AIs to look at offensive photos. That’s actually good because I once saw an article about the poor people that have to look at every image. What a horrible, horrible job that must be.
Becky: You get PTSD. I mean, it’s horrible.
Leo: So Facebook now as an AI that will go through all the pictures and report offensive photos. More, they do a better job than humans do they say. And there’s the most important thing that I really like. First I thought, oh, this is dopey. Then this sentence got me. This is from TechCrunch. “AI can quarantine obscene content or offensive content before it ever actually is seen by a human.” Not just them, but anybody, right? They can catch it that fast. And I think that that’s great. I mean there’s stuff that I regret every having seen, you know? Like me in an Elvis suit. And it would be nice if nobody ever had to see that at all.
Harry: I did a story recently on Whisper which is using AI to hide secrets which people post to Whisper.
Leo: Whisper’s still around?
Harry: They’re still around and they’re using AI for something similar to what Facebook is doing but for text messages.
Leo: That was the big problem with Secret, Whisper and all of these is that people were using them to say really scurrilous things on Whisper.
Harry: Whisper doesn’t want you to be able to do that and they’re able to hide a lot of that without humans being involved. Not all of it, but a lot.
Leo: That would be great.
Harry: And they also say that computers are better at moderating stuff than human beings are.
Leo: This I find hard to believe. Because obviously they’ve gotten better than in the days where they would measure the amount of flesh in a photo. I mean that’s what it did, right, and if it was more than 30% was naked flesh, well we’ve got to figure there’s some nudity here. But how do you see a beheading for instance and know what that is? That’s got to be pretty sophisticated. Although when I think about how Google Photos, what a good job of categorizing my photos. All of my beheading photos are in a single folder. No, that’s terrible. I shouldn’t make that joke.
Becky: (Laughing). And we’ve gone to beheadings. Wow.
Leo: Really. That’s a new—Godwin’s new rule.
Becky: Was it Periscope this week? Yea, Periscope has a new—
Leo: I like this idea, a jury system.
Becky: Yes. So they’re going to have a sort of crowd sourcing the comments that are deemed offensive. So if someone who’s broadcasting sees a comment that’s offensive, they can flag it and then the people who are in that broadcast viewing it, a select group will be chosen—
Becky: Randomly to vote on whether they felt that that comment was inappropriate, offensive or abusive. It’s a little, the way they described it is a little laborious because those 7 or 8 people vote and then the results of that vote are shown to the entire group and then they decide if the commenter should be banned from that, banned from commenting in that broadcast. And that’s the other thing that I find to be a little bit of a problem here is that the penalties are kind of limited. You’d like to see them maybe do that on a one time basis but if someone, if one user is banned repeatedly, maybe then they have a more serious repercussion. But the idea of crown sourcing comments. Thoughts?
Leo: I think this is interesting mostly because they choose the jury randomly. So that would I would think eliminate kind of mob pool and ganging up on people and stuff. But maybe not. I think it’s a great social experiment. I’ll be very curious what happens.
Harry: It’s like the opposite of AI is using actual human brains.
Leo: Yea. Well we know ultimately, aren’t human brains better at this? Maybe not. I don’t know. Facebook says not.
Harry: I don’t think so when there’s so many examples of humans either not moderating stuff they should have or moderating stuff they shouldn’t have moderated. It is so fuzzy and almost none of this is binary. And even Facebook as said that they don’t entirely understand things like beheadings are ok if you’re not putting them up there because you love beheadings—
Leo: Right, it’s a news story.
Harry: Because you hate beheadings and then it’s ok.
Leo: How do you know, right, what’s the sentiment?
Becky: You can talk about AI all day long but fair use which is basically whether you look at it in a legal context or in this context of posting something that is inappropriate in one context but appropriate in another, that has got to be one of the hardest things for humans and let alone—
Leo: The Google Oracle trial they had to judge fair use, right? Wow.
Becky: Yea, on that, no thanks. Have you ever—reading comments on Facebook, I’m just picking Facebook randomly, have you ever hit the abusive button to report abuse?
Leo: Never. Have you?
Leo: You don’t see them. Maybe I don’t see them. Now on Twitter I would do it at least 50% of the time (laughing).
Leo: Oh yea.
Harry: Twitter for a while I would always report spammers.
Leo: Twitter could use some of these tools. Now I think it’s interesting that Periscope’s doing this because I would wonder if this goes well on Periscope, Twitter owns Periscope, maybe they could apply this to tweets.
Becky: I like the idea of the people who are in the content being told to make the decision.
Leo: Right. And you can do that with a live stream. Because they know the context. They’re watching the video. They know contextually, is that an offensive comment in this context.
Becky: So would that be enough? I mean I’m trying to think drawing a parallel to Twitter. Twitter you’re just reading it you know.
Leo: Twitter you can’t really. It just has to be based on what was said.
Leo: But still I think I like the idea of a randomly selected jury.
Becky: You’re always a wisdom of crowds guy.
Leo: Who would it be? Who would it be though? Yea, I like that. I like the wisdom of crowds. It’s the individuals I hate.
Harry: I mean in theory, Twitter should be able to identify who the most upstanding members of their community are in some respects.
Leo: Would it be people following that person and the other person?
Harry: They know which people get followed a lot. They know which people get a lot of likes.
Leo: What if it became a kaptcha. Like whenever you log into Twitter it says, “Ok and just to prove you’re not a robot, is this offensive?”
Becky: Well, it’s like—didn’t they say people were using porn to get kaptchas done so you could use porn to get comments officiated.
Leo: Before you see Mary Joe and her friends, is this offensive? That’s the wrong people to ask.
Becky: (Laughing) Right. The barrier’s low there. The bar is low.
Harry: On Twitter with almost more than anything, context is everything. There’s almost no tweet ever stands alone. You have to read the tweets before it and the ones that follow. And sometimes you need to know whether the people tweeting at each other know each other or not.
Leo: I wonder how many people are on the team at Twitter. It’s got to be fairly big. The abuse team that reviews these. This actually, I’m trying to remember. Who was it that suggested we send pizza to the Twitter? I read a Medium post by a guy who said, “I probably shouldn’t talk about this.” This is, I think it was today or yesterday. “But I’m being trolled on Twitter. And these people have ordered pizza sent to my house.” And let me see if I can find the article. It was a very short article. And he says—all right. How it was—hmm. How he, at the end of it he said, “I think everybody reading this should send pizzas to the Twitter team.”
Becky: Just to let them know what it’s like to be trolled in this way?
Leo: Yea. Because his complaint was that they were slow to respond. I’ve not found that to be the case, but I can’t find the article.
Becky: Are we going to, when it comes to this issue it seems to be reaching a crescendo pitch right now about abuse and the fact that all of these services are not handling it well. What’s your feeling that we will either collectively get a thicker skin or technology will solve the problem?
Leo: Oh, gosh, I don’t think we’re going to get a skin that thick. I don’t think we’ll ever get a skin that thick.
Leo: Some of this stuff is really terrible. Why do you think Snapchat is suddenly more popular than Twitter? In fact this was the week that it surpassed Twitter in the daily users. 150 million people use Snapchat every day. That’s more than Twitter which is 140 million. I think it’s because you don’t get abuse on Snapchat, right? It’s just your buddies and your friends sending you stuff. It’s also the fact that nothing survives, nothing lives, it’s temporary. My kids, Henry loves Snapchat. That’s what he uses all the time. Your kids are too young.
Becky: Well it’s meant to be ephemeral and therefore there’s not as much meaning if you do.
Leo: Right. And your boss, your future boss isn’t going to check it out when you apply for a job in two years. I think that—I don’t know. If I were Twitter I’d be a little nervous about that.
Becky: Well it does seem like the fractured social ecosystem is cracking even more and it just feels like tribes.
Harry: I think we went through an era where people thought, “Hey it’s the web. It should be open. It shouldn’t be censored.” I also think about the fact that lately the websites have done away with comments. People in comments are so horrible and a lot of them are trolls or are basically just horrible people. In the old days you would have said you need to let these people speak. And today people are more like this stuff is horrible. It’s not improving the experience. If you’re not a troll it’s making in unbearable to go to these sites. And so I think we’re sort of entering an era where it’s not only acceptable but preferable not to let every person on the web run wild on the internet.
Leo: I feel like we, certain I initially was a wide eyed optimist about all this. And I said, “Oh, democracy. Everybody has a voice. And when everybody’s talking and you’re shining light on everything, even if you turn over a rock and there’s something horrible, the light of day will cleanse it. And in the long run the good stuff will out.” I really believed that. Boy, was I wrong. It has not been that way at all, has it?
Harry: A tiny, tiny number of trolls can make life unbearable for the vast majority of people on the internet who are thoroughly decent people.
Becky: Anonymity allows it.
Leo: You know I changed my Twitter nickname to be my name with three parentheses around it. Because that as you know is the new dog whistle for anti-Semitism. Did you know about this?
Leo: I guess it originated at a well-known anti-Semite site. They wanted to highlight that this person is Jewish. And the way they did it, you know a dog whistle was something that normal people won’t hear but people that you’re aiming at will hear like a dog will hear a high pitched whistle. By putting these hugs—it used to be hugs—around this name, it was a dog whistle to anti-Semites that this is a Jewish person. And so I wanted, in solidarity, I thought maybe we should all just do this. And that would just go away. But isn’t that reprehensible? So they published on Twitter and other places names of Jewish people with these parentheses around it.
Harry: They have a Chrome extension to help them manage their—
Leo: They wrote a Chrome extension.
Harry: Yep. Which people just got on recently when it was available.
Leo: Of course, yea.
Becky: See I live in the, in more of the everyday where you don’t see it as much. I just feel like so many people go through life kind of with the Amazon Reviews Philosophy which is don’t read the five star reviews, don’t read the one star reviews, just look in the middle and try to ignore the top and the bottom.
Leo: Cut the top and bottom off. Yea.
Becky: But like you said, there’s certain things you can’t un-see and when things strike a chord and they’re critical I think that you know, it does, it damages your, it damages the internet because you don’t want to put yourself out there like that in that way. You know on all of these social platforms but that’s horrible.
Leo: It is a little bit a disappointment to me that what I thought would be this amazing democratizing force has just turned out to be a way to spread hate and vile filth. And I think it’s a small number. And what it turns out is that this small number has a megaphone just like the rest of us. And so it appears—
Harry: They can find each other.
Leo: Yea, and they can find each other and in fact maybe even they’re better at using the megaphone. And I have to point at the presidential election which is coming up in this country and the candidate that has benefitted the most from Twitter is Donald Trump because it is an unmediated, unfiltered way for him to express himself and to find an audience for what he believes.
Becky: It also rewards those who authentically speak.
Leo: Well isn’t that interesting because he’s off all the candidates the only one who’s using his own. If he’s got somebody posting this for him, they’re doing a really good job.
Harry: He dictates a lot of them.
Leo: Yea. Hey, write a Twitter. And this is huge. You can tell he’s dictating it because it’s so off the cuff that if you actually wrote it down you would say, “Well, I’m not going to post that.” But because it’s just like something—it’s like him, it’s like Tourette’s. “Hey, Joe, write this.” And it gets written.
Leo: It’s like, I mean really. So the article if you want to read about these things comes from Mic, M-I-C Magazine. It’s about the three parentheses. I guess it, I thought it was fairly widely known. The secret symbol Neo-Nazis use to target Jews online. People are probably wondering why I wrote my name with hugs around it. That’s why. I wanted a hug. I have no good friends. It came from an editor at the New York Times who wrote a story about a week ago about how he has been harassed using this dog whistle he said. And he didn’t know. “Why are you putting my name in parentheses?” And somebody tweeted at him “It’s a dog whistle, fool, belling the cat for my fellow goyim.”
Leo: Ooh. So it turns out, we turn over the rock and all the snakes slither out in public and go, “Hey. It’s nice out here.”
Becky: We have a platform.
Leo: We have a platform.
Becky: I just think that we’ll, we will end up finding more tools to be critical users of the internet. You know, I mean—
Leo: Is it foolish of us to think that AI can help?
Harry: AI is already helping. It can help more.
Leo: Can it? Good. I hope you’re right.
Becky: Slight sidebar. How many reviews on Amazon, what percentage do you think are fake?
Leo: Ah, that’s a really good question. Do you, and the secondary question is, do you think you can tell? Like do you know—sometimes you know it’s a fake review because it’s a glowing review of a product nobody ever heard of.
Becky: Old days I think you could tell. Not anymore.
Leo: Not anymore?
Becky: The sophistication has gone up. Pick a number. What number do you think—
Harry: I was going to say 20 too.
Leo: One in five.
Becky: Ok, there’s some numbers that say 13-15% of all the reviews online are fake. Those are the numbers that have been published and they’ve studied them.
Leo: That’s not so bad.
Becky: So like your Trip Advisor.
Becky: Yelp. I mean and these are—
Leo: And so it’s more, for instance, Yelp it’s higher I’m sure because every business owner writes a Yelp review that’s positive of his business and then goes and writes the bad reviews of all the competitors. I’m sure that happens a lot more on Yelp. I would say it’s more like 50% on Yelp. And Amazon it feels like it would be a little bit better especially because you can kind of tell if somebody’s used the product or if it’s a real review.
Becky: Well remember you have to purchase the product to write the review.
Leo: Right. If you’re a verified purchaser, that’s going to be—
Becky: Of that product.
Leo: A more valid point.
Becky: They told me this week, it’s less than 1%.
Leo: That low? Wow. Do you think they’re lying? They are now suing people, sellers who buy fake reviews.
Becky: Right, so back in April, they sued about 1,000 people who had written fake reviews. Now that was just going for the—
Leo: But there’s businesses that do this, right?
Becky: Right. So they were going for the small fish and I thought, that’s weird. Why would they be playing a game of whack-a-mole when these guys are getting $5, $10 bucks to write a fake review? Well it turns out they were using the information from those lawsuits to find out who was buying the fake reviews.
Leo: So they’re going after the sellers.
Becky: And now they’re going after the alleged purchasers of the fake reviews who are profiting from the fraud allegedly and they’ve shut those sellers down. They have an arbitration agreement so they don’t actually take them to court. They take them to arbitration but they have in their EULA they can shut them down. And they’re clearly sending a message to other, other sellers.
Leo: And they’re suing for damages in some cases.
Becky: Yea. I think so.
Leo: 1% seems low. I think it’s higher, don’t you?
Becky: I was shocked. They did say that they have a really—
Leo: How do they know, I guess would be the question. How would they know?
Becky: They’re using algorithms to figure out what a repeated phrase is, so.
Leo: Oh, syntactic analysis would probably work, wouldn’t it? Because if you’re writing fake reviews, you’re probably going to be using those same phrases in multiple reviews.
Becky: Right, especially if you’re making that small amount of money.
Becky: I think that a lot of this stuff is done out of country. So they’re looking for non-English speaking reviews and they’re looking harder at those.
Leo: Somebody in the chatroom says, their takeaway from this is, “I can make $10 dollars writing fake reviews? Where would I go to do that?”
Becky: (Laughing) Let me tweet that link to you guys. I’ll hook you up. Work from home. I saw that posted on a telephone pole.
Leo: But can’t, honestly, while I agree, Amazon and Yelp and everybody else should do the best they can to get rid of these, can’t we kind of tell? I mean—
Harry: I think I can.
Leo: When I buy something, I always read the Amazon reviews before I buy it.
Harry: And it’s the negative information reviews that’s most helpful.
Leo: That’s the key. It’s not the thumbs up or thumbs down, it’s information.
Harry: Even if it’s a great product, what you want to know is any potential pitfalls. And no matter how many favorable reviews somebody stuffs in there, you can’t prevent other people from exposing the pitfalls. And even for the most obscure product on Amazon, like some iPhone case from a company you’ve never heard of, there do seem to be actual reviews from actual people who tell you what it’s like.
Becky: That’s why I think the best product reviewers are curmudgeonly, grumpy, detail oriented, you know, I’m the worst one.
Becky: I wasn’t -- (laughing).
Leo: But wait a minute. I’ve got to tell you. That may not be true. Dvorak once told me he could review a product just by looking at the box. Although, I think in some cases, this was talking about software, but I think in some cases he was right. You can look at the box and go, “Oh, that’s not going to be good. That is not going to be good.” But I think normally you would want to install it just to try it. But you’re right. Cranky is good. Picky is good.
Becky: Right. Because they give you detail.
Leo: Finicky is good. And you know enough to go, “Well you know, he’s being picky. I’m going to ignore that one.”
Harry: Amazon also pushes up the best negative reviews to the top so it’s easy to find them.
Becky: They did say the ranking is really important and one thing I hadn’t thought about before is that they do a date based ranking because products change even though it’s the same SKU and the same, the product may have been listed on Amazon for the last 6 years, but the product has changed incrementally so a review that might be very popular from way back when it may have been completely resolved by now.
Leo: They do have to fix that. I sometimes will go to a site and it will be a review of a related but different product. That happens to me a lot.
Harry: And some of the best Amazon reviews are from somebody who bought a camera and used it for 9 months, which professional reviewers—
Leo: That’s what I like.
Harry: The day the camera ships. And there’s all sorts of stuff that you discover that you’ll discover if you use it for a long time.
Leo: All right. Let’s take a break. Come back with more. Harry McCracken is here from fastcompany.com. From GMA, Becky Worley. Glad you’re here today. We had a good week on TWiT. Hey, Becky.
Leo: Caught you right in the middle of a drink.
Becky: Water this time.
Leo: And by the way, weren’t we going to have booze today?
Becky: I’m being good.
Leo: Are you ok? You didn’t bring wine. I could get you some.
Becky: You know, I was so excited about all this stuff.
Leo: Let’s all get in the hot tub and talk about sims. Anthony Weiner. Weiner (laughing). Anthony Hillson who for some reason I continually call Anthony Wiener.
Becky: That’s something you wish you could un-see.
Leo: Is that Freudian?
Becky: That is like a combination of the Gawker story and the Facebook Image story. Some stories need to be, challenge the power but you don’t need to see that image.
Harry: Great documentary by the way we just saw.
Leo: Of Anthony Wiener?
Harry: The Weiner documentary. It is really good.
Leo: So what’s the bottom line on that so to speak?
Harry: Well he and his wife allowed a camera crew to follow them when he was running for mayor. And they were incredibly open around the camera crew. And even after his campaign melted down, they continued to allow the camera crew to follow them. It’s the most real like political documentary I’ve ever seen.
Leo: I will watch that. I will absolutely watch that.
Becky: Does she still work for Hillary Clinton?
Harry: She does.
Becky: I have to see that.
Leo: What’s it called?
Leo: If you thought you were going to get a hot dog documentary, no.
Becky: Weiner House? Isn’t that a chain?
Harry: Or Weinerschnitzel.
Leo: We are Weiners. Bum da bum da bum bum bum. This episode of This Week in Tech brought to you by Stamps.com. I know a lot of you sell online. It’s very popular. But what is your package? When you send it, what does it look like, your Etsy, your EBay, wherever you sell? Is it wrapped in brown paper with twine and then a bunch of licked stamps on there and a hand written address? That does not cast—first of all, your buyer may be reluctant to open it. I know I am. Like what is this? Stamps.com makes it look professional. With Stamps.com you can buy and print real US Postage right from your computer and your printer. You do not need a postage meter. You just need a printer and a computer and it looks great. And you can print a label for any kind of mailing. You can print right on the envelope if you’re sending out brochures or bills or whatever with your company logo. It automatically puts your return address. And it will take the address of the recipient from your address book. It reads almost all kinds of address books. If you sell on EBay or Amazon or Etsy or a bunch of other websites it will actually get the information from the website so it saves you typing. And it will automatically validate the address using the postal service database and make sure you’ve got exactly the right postage. It does that with this USB scale. I tell you what. I’m going to get you the scale. And I’m going to get you Stamps.com for a month for free. And I’m going to get you $55 dollars in postage coupons. So I’ve got a really good way to try Stamps.com. Visit Stamps.com and in the upper right hand corner, there’s a microphone. Do you see it? Go to the top. There it is. It says, “Heard us on a podcast?” Click the microphone and use TWiT when it asks for the offer code. Just type in T-W-I-T. That’s how you get the really good trial offer. The postage scale’s awesome. It will tell you how much the item weighs. It will give you mailing options for all classes of mail, even certified mail. It will fill out the forms for certified mail and for express mail so you don’t have to. Customs forms if you have a—it fills them out. Does all the work for you. You never have to go to the post office. The mail carrier comes, picks it up. It is awesome. Stamps.com. Make everything you sell online, make it all look super pro, super cool. If you’ve got a business that does mailing, we even use it. We don’t do a lot of mailing but we do enough that it’s really worthwhile. Stamps.com. Get our special $110 dollar bonus offer by going to Stamps.com, clicking the microphone in the upper right hand corner and using the promo code TWiT. Good week on TWiT this week. We’ve got a little mini-movie. I think Victor put this together for us to show you some of the highlights. Let’s watch.
Narrator: Previously on TWiT.
Leo: I love your setup. Wow. Is this your man cave?
Mitch Waite: This is a Mac cave. Yup. Totally Mac.
Leo: Have you heard the good word about Linux?
Jason Snell: Don’t. Stop.
Narrator: TWiT Live Specials.
Father Robert Ballecer: We’re here at AWE, the Augmented World Expo to take a look at the latest and greatest in augmented reality.
Male: Maybe there’s really a better technology for welding training. Not only can you see where he’s welding, you get digital feedback on how you’re doing and see how you need to improve.
Leo: I tell you, if you ruin it. That was really cool.
Narrator: Know How.
Fr. Robert: What we’re going to do is we’re actually going to show you the process, the process that we use here on Know How. From just downloading and printing objects.
Leo: Exactly. He even mentioned that. You don’t have to set your hair on fire.
Fr. Robert: On finding something in the real world that you want to fix or you want to improve and then somehow making it better.
Narrator: All About Android.
Florence Ion: Bloomberg last week had a report about how Google is looking to revealing an Android update report card.
Ron Amadeo: I want to like make a list and hand out gold star stickers like it was kindergarten and you’re going to like get the kids to try harder.
Florence: You did such a great job on that article, Ron.
Narrator: TWiT. Some assembly required.
Leo: Gold star for Ron. We’ve got a week ahead. Who is it, Jason or Megan? Megan Morrone from Tech News Today taking a look at what’s ahead.
Megan Morrone: Thanks, Leo. Coming up this week it’s the deadline for the second round of bids for Yahoo. Anyone want to make an offer?
Leo: Oh, boy.
Megan: Anyone? Twitter? Yes, many sources are reporting that Twitter has discussed a merger with Yahoo which sounds to me a little like one drowning person hanging on to another. Of course it’s unclear whether the talks are serious or not. Verizon’s still seems to be the front runner in the race to purchase Yahoo. Other news, Xiaomi will start selling its Mi Band 2 in China this week as a fitness tracker with a heartrate monitor. And it has a 20-day battery life. You can get all of that for only $23 dollars. We chatted about the announcement on last Thursday’s Tech News Today so download that to watch or listen if you’re interested in finding out more. Also this week at Lenovo World, we expect to see Google’s first Project Tango phone and we think that we will see new Moto and new Droid phones. You will hear all about this news and a whole lot more on Tech News Today hosted by Jason Howell and myself every weekday at 4:00 PM Pacific, 7:00 PM Eastern. Back to you, Leo.
Leo: Thank you, Megan Morrone. Make sure you watch TNT. That’s a good show and listen, this one here shows up from time to time.
Becky: Those two together, they’re just so great. And they are thoughtful and insightful and just such nice people and it comes across. I love listening.
Leo: Is that credible that Twitter might buy Yahoo? No.
Harry: Sounds like that’s an old rumor rather than something recent from what I can tell.
Leo: I don’t think Twitter has the money. We’re talking, not $8 billion. That was the original. But we’re still talking $3 or $4 billion dollars to buy it.
Becky: I don’t get it. It doesn’t make any sense. They’re not going to outbid the phone companies that are interested.
Leo: Verizon, right? Or I think they seem like the most likely.
Becky: They want those emails.
Leo: Isn’t that sad? That’s all it is. It’s just the information about users after all this time.
Becky: Poor Yahoo. It’s like seeing your brother-in-law going drinking again.
Leo: You don’t drink any more, you don’t drink there anymore.
Becky: (Laughing). I don’t work there.
Leo: You don’t drink there anymore.
Becky: My brother-in-law needs to go to rehab. It’s so sad. I thought he pulled it together.
Leo: (Laughing) Oh, no. And back in the gutter.
Becky: A lot of good people there. A lot of good people there. I still believe in Yahoo as a news platform and I think they do have potential there. They just have to figure out their business model and figure out what they’re going to do with themselves.
Leo: I don’t blame them at all. I think that was a very difficult challenge and I think Marisa Mayer knew it. We said it when she went there, that she must have looked at this and said, “Wow if I can do this I can do anything.” And she couldn’t. Because it was just a challenge. I don’t know, what would you do with Yahoo? I don’t know what you would do.
Becky: How many hours you got?
Leo: Yea. Really? You’ve got an idea?
Leo: No. No. What do you do with Twitter? Same problem, right? What do you do? It’s not that Twitter’s—at least Twitter’s making money. Actually Yahoo’s still making money, right?
Becky: Yea. The revenue’s come down significantly.
Leo: You know what? Both of these companies could just continue doing what they’re doing and make money and everybody’d be happy. It’s the stock, the shareholders that are really forcing this. In a way I think that’s an unfortunate thing. The activist investors and people who want, I want money for my shares. And I think that’s forcing the company to do things that they don’t want to do. And if they’re not growing quite fast enough to sell and in a way I think it’s kind of unfortunate. Is Yahoo really doing that bad?
Harry: They’ve been shrinking. Their ad revenue has been going down which is not a good thing in any context.
Leo: Yea, but they’re not about to go bankrupt or anything.
Leo: They’re shrinking.
Harry: But they’re in a market that’s growing and they’ve been shrinking.
Leo: Ah. Are they, are they really in a market that’s growing? I mean aren’t— I guess that’s the question is, are—
Harry: It’s growing except Facebook is getting most of the growth.
Becky: Ok, let’s just have a quick, we don’t have to go through all of it, but to your point, so Mary Meeker’s internet trends and slide deck came out this week and one of the things I found interesting was she said that under monetized, over monetized is television advertising.
Leo: Yup. In other words too much value for what it’s worth.
Becky: Right. And under monetized is still web advertising, specifically video and mobile.
Leo: So growth is on the side of internet advertising.
Becky: I’m just bringing that up to try to answer your question with some data from someone who knows a lot more than we do because she uses—
Leo: Well she’s famous for this. Whether she’s always right, I don’t know. I mean she’s pretty astute I guess.
Becky: I think the interesting thing, the things that caught my attention is that internet growth is relatively flat, 3 billion users, 42% of the world’s population. Smart phone adoption growth is slowing but Android is doing better than iOS. Video viewership, way up, exploding. Snapchat, Facebook Live.
Leo: This should be good for me, right? For TWiT.
Becky: I mean, yea. I think people—
Leo: Ok, I’m a little flea riding on the back of a whale but a rising whale raises all fleas, right?
Becky: That’s right. I think you’re a barnacle because you’ve held on for a long time.
Leo: A barnacle’s better than a flea. I’m a barnacle.
Becky: Yea. You’ve, yea.
Leo: But the whale is going up.
Becky: Yea, yea.
Leo: He gets some new krill, some fresh krill.
Becky: Yea, you’ve got that going on.
Becky: And you’re under monetized as said.
Leo: I am under monetized. I want more money.
Leo: No actually, look, I’m not trying to become a big internet TV player by any means but growth has been nice and steady and always has been. For 10 years it’s been very steady. And what I do see is a lot of advertisers fleeing traditional advertising where—you know at first it was because we can’t get metrics. Now it’s because it’s not working. And you know, I didn’t like that we can’t get metrics because that meant, oh, but we want metrics from you. We’re going to the internet because now we can measure our audience, we can find out more about our audience, we can measure clicks. I thought that was a bad reason to go. You should go because it works better. Because you are engaging your customers. You’re having a conversation with them. You’re dealing with them on a more equal basis, not your breath must smell so buy some mouthwash but here’s the benefits of our product and we have something to offer you and if you’d be interesting, why don’t you try it. That to me is much more.
Becky: I think that media networks should be really nervous about the Amazon model. Because it completely eradicates the need for advertising. What they’re—
Leo: What’s the Amazon model?
Becky: Basically that by providing media through Prime, they then create Prime member subscribers who have a higher buy rate that non-Prime.
Leo: But how does a brand do that? What are you going to have Tide TV?
Becky: You’re going to have—
Leo: Proctor and Gamble TV?
Becky: Disintermediate with the loss of advertising and create relationships with businesses themselves that create media.
Leo: You see I think that’s all so futile, that this is the native content argument. I know everyone’s trying to do that. And first of all I find it reprehensible because it’s really in my mind native content is advertising that tricks you, that’s trying to trick you into thinking it’s not advertising.
Becky: But that’s different than what this is. This is business relationship that Amazon has with its viewers. Says we will give you something in return for your loyalty. Remember, this is where Jeff Bezos got all of these ideas from Sinegal, who’s the head of Costco. Loyalty. Membership.
Leo: Costco invented that, didn’t they?
Becky: Loyalty and membership creates long term revenue with small margin.
Leo: Yea it’s good for Amazon but how does a brand take advantage of that? How does Proctor and Gamble take advantage of that?
Becky: They don’t. They have to find an aggregator.
Leo: Oh, that’s bad
Becky: They have to find an aggregator like an Amazon.
Leo: Ok, so you’re not saying there should be Proctor and Gamble TV.
Leo: Because people did, people proposed that of course that every brand should have—you know, REI should have the camping channel and you’re watching content that’s aimed at REI customers but features REI products. That’s native advertising. Not as crazy about that idea.
Becky: No, I think it’s deceitful.
Leo: Yea. It is ultimately, you want to trick people into seeing brand messages without knowing it.
Becky: Wow, those judges on American Idol sure like Coke.
Leo: I want to drink some Coke so I’ll be just like them.
Becky: Yea, that’s the—it’s just—we’re sheeple but not that much of a flock of sheeple.
Leo: That might work. I don’t know.
Harry: Amazon has the scale to do that. I’m curious as to whether anybody else can do it.
Becky: I think that’s a—what are the other models? It’s not going to be the same but I think that one of the keys is ecosystem based. So what is each ecosystem going to do? So for example, Jeff Bezos was talking this week about why the Amazon Prime player is not on the Apple TV? Because it doesn’t bring people to the store. There’s a conflict of ecosystem, therefore it’s not going to work because the model that Amazon’s working on is too direct.
Harry: And they won’t sell you an Apple TV because you can’t watch Amazon content on it.
Leo: By the way, I’ve had a little debate on Twitter on whose fault that is. And I guess there’s some fault, there’s some blame to both. Amazon in January said, “Well we’re making an app.” But they never released it and I guess the latest is, “Well we didn’t release it because we can’t get good deal, a good terms from Apple.”
Harry: It’s all confusing because they are on the iPad and the iPhone.
Leo: But Apple takes 30% of everything sold through the app.
Harry: But they don’t as long as you don’t have sign up within the app.
Leo: Right. So what Amazon does on a lot of platforms is, I noticed this on, what is it, Roku or one of my TVs I can watch anything I purchased on Amazon Prime but I can’t buy anything there. I have to go to the Amazon website and buy it and then I can stream it minutes later.
Becky: But that’s why it’s not, but that’s why it’s not on—
Leo: But why don’t they do that on Apple TV if that’s the case?
Harry: That’s the mystery.
Becky: No, but doesn’t it make perfect sense though because you can’t also access the store.
Leo: So Amazon might, Apple might be keeping it off. Who’s keeping it off is my question.
Harry: I guess what Amazon wants is they want the app on the Apple TV with the ability to buy stuff and not giving 30% to Apple.
Becky: Ding. Ding, ding, ding, ding.
Harry: And Apple doesn’t seem willing to negotiate on that so.
Becky: That would be crazy.
Harry: You can decide which one.
Leo: They’re both being pig headed, aren’t they?
Leo: Yea. Here’s now video ads can work per unruly, which I guess, this is a Mary Meeker slide. Online advertising still has a long way to go but it can work if it’s authentic. I think we check a few of these boxes. Entertaining, evoke emotion, personal, relatable, useful, viewer control. The only one that doesn’t work so well is work with the sound off. And non-interruptive ad format. We miss those two. But that’s pretty good.
Becky: No, you’ve still got visuals.
Leo: Yea, but you don’t want to turn the sound off on a podcast then there’s nothing going on, not much going on (laughing). Look at this one. This is the one that scares advertisers and content companies together. Global ad blocking users. It is, talk about a hockey stick. It is growing. And in mobile, that’s the blue line, growing even faster because it went from zero to you know, 5, almost half a billion ad blocking users. And I don’t know about you, but I notice a lot now on websites when I’m running an ad blocker, they’ll say, “I see you’re running an ad blocker.” They may not, they may let me in. Bloomberg makes me wait 5 seconds. Most of them encourage you to turn it off because this is how we make a living. Which I think is the right thing to do. Some will not let you in but most people have not taken that attitude yet. How do you solve this? What does Fast Company do?
Harry: We worry but we don’t prevent people from coming to our website.
Leo: You worry. Right. Because that could have a negative reaction too, right? But I understand. If I go to Fast Company with an ad blocker, you make no money off me.
Harry: Ultimately what you want to do is have advertising which people actually find to be valuable on some level or at least not objectionable. And a lot of, such a huge percentage of the advertising on the web is objectionable, particularly because it destroys the experience by sucking up so much bandwidth.
Leo: Right. Well that’s the problem. Ad Tech just got way out of hand. Way out of hand.
Harry: A website that loads quickly, you don’t want ads that are too in your face. Ideally you want ads that people find to be of benefit somehow.
Leo: Yea, yea.
Becky: I do think based on Mary Meeker’s slides that you should translate this show into Chinese and have Chinese advertisers.
Leo: And India. Let’s not forget India.
Becky: Oh, man.
Leo: Yea. You know I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about this or not. We have been talking with networks about being on linear. You know what linear is because you’re a television person. I know I didn’t know what it was either.
Becky: I don’t know.
Leo: So we’re on demand, right? Linear is like cable TV.
Becky: Oh, I see.
Leo: You watch it in order. It’s real time.
Becky: Well it’s like your live stream is linear.
Leo: Live stream, if you’re watching it live which very few people do, but if you’re watching, relatively, but if you’re watching live you’re watching linear. But we’ve been talking with people about putting this on in linear and there’s a lot of interest in India. Because they want to know about tech. They speak English. I don’t think anybody’s asked us to be in China. But who knows? Yea. It is an interesting world that we’re living in. And it is changing rapidly I have to say.
Becky: It’s changing very rapidly for Tony Fadell at Nest.
Leo: Oh. What do you think happened there? So Tony Fadell who created the iPod, was one of the creators of the iPod at Apple and then about 8 years ago founded Nest, that start thermostat that so many of us have purchased and never used again. I do. I have two Nests. I’ve never used them.
Becky: Yea, but wasn’t it great the first time you programmed it?
Leo: It was great at first but then I moved and I didn’t bother putting it on because you know what? It’s not so much great than the existing dumb thermostat that turns on when I get home and turns off when I go to bed.
Becky: It was 100 times easier to program it in the first place. It was worth the cost.
Leo: But sales plummeting because it’s a lot of money.
Becky: All right.
Leo: There’s competition from a lot of companies including Honeywell, the incumbent and Ecobee which as some features that are superior. Did Fadell leave? Was he pushed out? I mean he had been there two years. Maybe he invested and he said, “Ah, I never planned on staying.” What happened? Come on, Harry. You know.
Harry: We don’t know. I mean there are a bunch of things to look at. Supposedly Nest was not living up to the revenue expectations that Google had. A lot of the news about Nest in the last few month has been stuff involving like having Nest employees who thought that Tony was pushing them too hard or was obnoxious.
Leo: You also feel like Alphabet was kind of shunning Nest, like was not, like they were—this happens in any workplace where there becomes, somebody becomes the pariah.
Harry: I think Alphabet still has this issue that they have all these different companies doing stuff that relates to hardware and or the smart home. And the whole idea of Alphabet is they’re going to have people like Tony Fadell run companies on their own without intervention.
Leo: But they may fund competition.
Harry: It’s a great idea in terms of what’s really hard to do in reality.
Leo: Google hired Rick Osterloh from Motorola to run their hardware division.
Leo: And I have to think they’re getting into competition with their own Alphabet buddy.
Harry: And I think Tony Fadell is a really significant figure and Nest is still, for all the years that the smart home has been around, if you ask somebody to name a smart home product at random—
Leo: Nest is the one.
Harry: Nest is the one. Or maybe Dropcam which Nest bought. And but there’s still an open question as to whether people really want these smart devices in their home or not. It’s kind of weird. I think depending on how you look at it, Nest has been incredibly influential and important. Or maybe the whole category it’s in is still something where there’s not been anything that’s been quite transformative on the level of the iPod.
Becky: Whenever someone of this caliber leaves a company or moves there’s always this series of statements and letters that are made. And this one in particular has made me really wish there was something that was like a good-bye letter subtext generator.
Becky: Because this would be—
Leo: We need some syntactic analysis here.
Becky: Because this would be Larry Page. “Under Tony’s leadership, Nest has catapulted the connected home into the mainstream.” Meaning, subtext, given their competitors lots of stuff to work with and then catapult over them. “Secured leadership positions for each of his products. Grown in revenue in excess of 50% a year.” That is pathetic in Google’s standards. “He’s a true visionary.” Subtext, and an ass. “And I look forward to continuing working with him in his new role as an advisor to Alphabet.”
Leo: He’ll still be an advisor, right?
Becky: Subtext, we’ve put him in the farthest corner of the campus and told him he doesn’t have to come to work except on Wednesdays.
Leo: It doesn’t really mean a whole lot.
Harry: When Andy Rubin left Android, he also stayed around for a while. Eventually he left. And you’ve got to think that eventually Tony Fadell, who’s a really smart and ambition guy will find himself something more to do than advising Page.
Leo: Maybe with Andy Rubin. They used to work together at General Magic, right?
Becky: I just think so many of these companies have matured to the point where you can’t ask a guy who got his start basically driving a Zodiac to jump on the Titanic and feel satisfied piloting the wheelhouse a couple days a week.
Leo: Well that was the point of Alphabet is to give them that kind of feeling of being in a startup still even though they’re under the Alphabet umbrella. But I think that along with that comes other problems like having competition from other Alphabet companies. And losing the favor of Larry Page. That still is an issue I would imagine. The FBI is building a tattoo tracking AI. You must have put this story in here, to capture criminals. Why do you need an AI?
Becky: Well I was going to say I don’t think this is so much AI as it is like when we were talking about facial recognition. I mean, yes, there’s AI in it. There’s all kinds of stuff. But this is, there’s something about this story that just makes me laugh.
Leo: Automated tattoo recognition tech. This is a study from the Electronic Frontier Foundation who says they’ve been working on this with NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It says 2014, the idea—oh, this is more, this is deep. This is not merely oh, you know, you’ve got a picture of a tiger on your chest, you must be the guy. It’s to develop profiles of people based on what their tattoos say. What?
Becky: Couldn’t, I mean wouldn’t this be easier for using similar technology to facial recognition?
Leo: It’s not just to recognize. It’s to say, “We’re going to profile people.” And this is why the EFF is a little worried about it. They says it threatens free speech and privacy. If you have a particular tattoo then you’re at risk for a particular kind of crime?
Harry: If you have a swastika on your forehead, it is probably not a great sign.
Leo: But, but you can’t profile people just because you have a swastika on their forehead, right? I was getting on a Virgin America flight last year and a very nicely dressed flight attendant welcoming people on. She had her, you know she stuck her arm out to take the boarding pass and she had Kiss, the Kiss log tattooed on her wrist. And I just know that she had a young and vibrant, you know her youth was exciting.
Becky: Yes, very.
Leo: And I’m sure nowadays she probably deeply regrets having a Kiss tattoo on her wrist.
Harry: She will when she’s 90.
Leo: But I certainly wouldn’t hold it against her, right? She, you know, she just wanted to party all night and rock and roll all day. Or is it the other way around? Rock and roll all night and party every day (laughing). See? It’s tattooed in my brain. I don’t have it on my wrist but I do think this is a little troubling if people were profiled based on the tattoos they have. But there are tattoos, speaking of dog whistles and white power signifiers that may not—I mean the Nazi swastika’s very obvious but there are less obvious ones.
Becky: So every Christmas we get our Christmas tree from Delancey Street which gives jobs to ex-cons who can’t get jobs because they have a record.
Leo: But it’s a wonderful organization for rehabbing people and getting them back into the mainstream.
Becky: Oh, it’s amazing. And so this year, we had to go someplace else because of the timing, they weren’t open, blah, blah, blah and my daughter says to me, “That wasn’t as much fun. They didn’t have the guys who have the teardrops right by their eyes.” And she had no idea. No idea. And then the year before my son was like reading the guy as he’s putting the Christmas tree up on top of the minivan and across his forehead it says live to hate. And my son’s asking love, live. I’m like ok, look over here, Santa. But it’s just so funny. Like they don’t, I meant the teardrops they don’t have any idea. But they identify that with Christmas trees, so there you have it.
Leo: 15,000 images of tattoos obtained from arrestees and inmates were handed over to 3rd parties including private companies with little restriction on how the image is maybe used or shared. Many of the images reviewed by the EFF contain personal identifying information including names, faces and birthdates. But they also didn’t follow protocol for ethical research involving humans. For instance they only sought permission from supervisors after the first set of experiments were completed. The same researchers have also not disclosed to their supervisors the tattoo datasets they were using to seed the experiments came from prisoners and arrestees. So there’s some real issues with this. And you know what? If you made a mistake in your youth and you got a tattoo that you know, isn’t something that reflects your personal beliefs today, I don’t think you should be targeted by law enforcement because of it.
Becky: No. It just did make me think that wow—I know this is not what the story’s about but what made me think is wow, if there was a way to database tattoos you’d think, on known criminals you would think that the government would be doing it because it’s identifiable.
Leo: Yea but this isn’t like having a mole on your chin. It’s kind of predictive. The idea is that it’s predictive.
Becky: I completely agree with you that that’s creepy whackadoo.
Leo: So they had a competition. They sent the tattoo database to 19 organization, 5 research institutions, 6 universities, 8 private companies including MorphoTrak one of the largest marketers of biometric technology, MorphoTrack, to law enforcement agencies and the idea was a challenge. They called it the Tattoo Recognition Technology Challenge. Experiments included identifying whether an image contain a tattoo, whether algorithms could match different images of the same tattoo. The most alarming research involved matching common visual elements between tattoos with the operational goal of establishing connections between individuals. So a gang tattoo perhaps.
Becky: Oh, ok.
Leo: I don’t know. I don’t know. Did you know that 1 in 5 adults in the US, 1 in 5 adults in the US has a tattoo?
Becky: I did know that because I’ve done some stories on laser tattoo.
Leo: How effective is that?
Becky: It has changed dramatically in the last few years. It’s a place where I would see, if you wanted to make some money figure out how to do that better.
Leo: There’s going to be a big market. Yea.
Harry: I assume that must be way higher for people under a certain age.
Leo: Interesting. Is that trend dwindling?
Becky: You got ink? You got ink?
Leo: I’ve got no ink. Oh, I do have ink.
Becky: You do?
Leo: I do have ink. I’m one of the 20%. I’m a twenty percenter, want to see it?
Leo: We’ll have a private viewing.
Becky: I’ve been in a hot tub with you and I have not seen that. It must have been relatively recent.
Leo: Yea. It’s the TWiT logo. I got it tattooed on my butt.
Leo: For charity.
Harry: Your wife told me about this story.
Leo: It was New Year’s Eve.
Becky: Oh then. Right.
Leo: And what was I thinking? I also shaved my head that year. And by the way we have not had another New Year’s Eve event since. Connection?
Becky: Hmm, possibly.
Leo: Ask the FBI. Lenovo is in the news again.
Becky: Oh, you love this story.
Leo: Oh, man. What is wrong with this company? So twice already they’ve been tagged for putting basically malware on their system. In both cases to ostensibly to help users keep their systems up to date. In one case, the malware was really about intruding, putting ads into their surfing, right onto their browser and it had the side effect of allowing man in the middle attacks by Malefactor. So Lenovo apologized. We’ll never do this again. They didn’t do it on their business class computers. They did it on their consumer class computers. And I am sure as usual it was just “Ah, we’re just going to make a little extra because we don’t make enough on these consumer grade computers.” Now they have an updater app that unfortunately is vulnerable. Dou Security discovered the holes in the support app would allow eavesdropping attackers to tap into their unencrypted update channels. In other words updating over HTTP not HTTPS and use that to compromise users. Lenovo Accelerator Application could lead to exploitation by an attacker with man in the middle capabilities. Lenovo says, “Oops. Can you delete that? Can you delete that from your Lenovo?” Lenovo recommends customers uninstall the Lenovo Accelerator Application.
Becky: No credibility issues there.
Leo: And by the way, they’re not the only company. 5 vendors were putting this, putting OEM software with equal—laptops from Acer, Asus, Dell and HP. Half were found to have a dozen vulnerabilities. All contained at least one flaw that would allow a bad guy to hijack the computer most of which are easy to exploit. This is according to The Register. Lenovo says some 46 notebook and 25 desktop lines are affected, including its top end Y700 gaming—oops. I keep spilling my water. I’m sorry. My gaming laptop, my IdeaCentre and all-in-one desktops and the Yoga flip netbooks. However, ThinkPad an ThinkStations have once again skated.
Harry: Basically if you use a Windows PC, you want to use it with Windows in as close as possible to an unadulterated state.
Leo: Yea, Paul Thurrott’s been saying this for some time. Get the signature edition, Microsoft Signature Edition which unfortunately a lot of OEMs have not offered signature PCs but that is the best way to do it. Or and I suppose I should do this with my HP that I just bought, wipe the machine and install the pure version of Windows.
Harry: Start all over.
Leo: Get it from Microsoft, not from HP. But I think, I feel like there’s drivers and stuff I’ll be missing by doing that.
Harry: I always think so too but it never seems to be an issue.
Leo: That’s never the case, is it?
Harry: It’s very similar to the Android phones. You want an Android phone with as little stuff done to Android as possible.
Leo: Yea, fortunately you can buy a Nexus device from Google that is pure. And you can buy Microsoft devices that are pure. Although I heard from some that maybe even those signature PCs aren’t completely free of bloatware. I’m not sure what the status is of that. But my Surface Book seems to be pure Windows. It doesn’t seem to have anything else on it. Windows 10 is there. That may be, there are those who say that is not the best choice. Now there’s a new report that says, this is from ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley writing, Microsoft makes blocking Windows 10 Recommended update nearly impossible. When will they learn? Did you see the video of, what was it the Congolese Freedom Fighters (laughing)?
Becky: Random patrol. Go.
Leo: What was it? They were fighting the rebels. Where was it? They were fighting—poachers.
Leo: Oh, that was it. Poachers, not rebels. I confuse poachers and rebels.
Leo: Even in the remotest Africa, Windows 10 nagware ruins your day: Update burns satellite link cash. Lives could have been put at risk by the pushy upgrade. This was in the Central African Republic. These are forces trying to protect the wildlife from armed poachers and the Lord’s Resistance Army. So poachers and rebels. The Chinko Project manages 16,000 square, 600 square kilometers of rainforest in the eastern part of the Central African Republic near the border with South Sudan. They use satellite links to get their data. So the staff was a little more, more than a little displeased when one of the donated laptops the team used began upgrading to Windows 10 automatically, pulling in gigabits of data over a radio link. This is just really ridiculous.
Becky: I’ve been really enjoying the weather forecasts that have interrupted—
Leo: That’s a fun one. Yea, that’s a fun one. We showed that one.
Becky: That is so good.
Leo: You work in television news. She handled that quite well I thought.
Becky: You know, the real truth is in TV you pray for moments.
Leo: That’s what you hope for.
Becky: You really pray for moments.
Leo: For something to take you out of your dull day to day routine.
Becky: That’s right. And if it’s a Windows Security update popping up on your weather wall it’s so much better than you falling down in front of your weather wall. That’s really all you want.
Leo: Yea, don’t fall down.
Becky: There’s the good YouTube you know highlights and the bad ones, so if it’s Windows 10, sure. Sure.
Becky: So Mary Jo Foley says that – this process, every week there’s more bad news from Microsoft.
Harry: I have several friends who are civilians who ended up with Windows 10 on their computer and not been entirely sure how it got there.
Leo: Yea. So here’s Microsoft’s response says—by the way, we always recommend and Mary Jo recommends and uses Steve Gibson’s great utility Never 10. There are other tools but Never 10 really is the best. It uses Microsoft’s own recommended procedure registry modifications to prevent this. Microsoft released an official statement on this. The Register report is inaccurate. The Windows 10 upgrade is a choice designed to help people take advantage of the most secure and most productive Windows. People received multiple notifications to accept the upgrade and can reschedule or cancel the upgrade if they want. So the heck with you. That is kind of a tone deaf response but the whole thing’s been tone deaf all along.
Harry: People are confused.
Leo: It is just not the way. You know, you want people to love Windows 10 but you’re making them hate it.
Harry: And if 99.5% of people aren’t confused on Windows scale one half of one percent is still a lot of people.
Leo: That’s a lot of people. Millions.
Becky: I like that you said civilians.
Harry: People who are not like tech fans. People who don’t read tech sites.
Leo: Oh, muggles. Yea, yea.
Harry: People who don’t watch TWiT.
Becky: Right. There’s been an evolution of that word as a tech journalist. It started out as my mom. Which I now—
Leo: Yea, which now has to stop.
Leo: We can’t do that.
Leo: Because most of our moms are very smart.
Becky: Yes. And your mom used to call into the show every once in a while she was great.
Leo: She’s was a hoot.
Becky: My Aunt Peg called in the show. Remember that?
Leo: My mom is wired. She’s got a Galaxy Note 5. She’s got an iPhone 6S Plus. She’s got an iPad Pro. Of course I sent her all this stuff but she uses it. She’s got a couple of Macs PCs, a Windows 2000 PC. She’s pretty wired.
Becky: We will not use my mom. That’s not happening. Then it was average joes. And then it was Joe Six-Pack. Remember that, they used that for a while.
Leo: Hate that. Hate Joe Six-Pack.
Becky: Then we had—I tend to use consumers a lot.
Becky: I say consumers.
Leo: But you’re talking about GMA which is talking mostly to normals.
Leo: You don’t want to call them normals or muggles or civilians.
Becky: I say us. I say us.
Leo: Us. There you go (laughing). Smart move. You know we really don’t understand this Windows 10 upgrade, do we?
Becky: It’s forcing it on us.
Leo: What is Windows doing to us?
Becky: We are the persecuted.
Leo: Yea. That’s good. Us. Much—you know what? That’s good. That’s inclusive.
Becky: Well it’s not something you could do because you can’t be an us and do what you do. It’s very difficult to ride that line.
Leo: Yea. And I actually use Windows 10 so I don’t—and the fact that Microsoft’s giving it away seems good. But at the same time, I get people calling me all the time saying, “What happened? I didn’t want Windows 10 and suddenly I have it. How did that happen?” And there are good, legitimate reasons for not wanting an upgrade.
Becky: Anything besides Siri that’s going to come out of this WWDC? Thunderbolt?
Leo: We don’t know. We don’t know. It’s a mystery.
Harry: New version of iOS. New version of OS10.
Leo: We know that for sure.
Harry: New Watch OS probably. New Apple TV OS hopefully.
Leo: How about hardware though?
Harry: They’ll only have hardware updates if it happens to be ready. They won’t do hardware because that’s at the center of announcements probably.
Leo: There was a rumor which Rene Ritchie at iMore has thrown out that there was going to be a new display with what was it? Built in GPS?
Harry: Built in GPUs.
Leo: Oh, GPUs. Ok. Well I want to be the first on record to say that Apple will not release a display with the GPS built in this year.
Becky: (Laughing) find my monitor.
Leo: Oh, GPU. That makes a lot more sense. It actually doesn’t. Why would you build a GPU into a display?
Harry: Because then you can have a laptop that might be too wimpy to power a really great display and it will power it by having the GPU built into the display.
Leo: You’d have to have like Thunderbolt 3 or something so you’d have a lot of throughput, right?
Harry: And this is based on stuff like Thunderbolt where you have great throughput.
Leo: Right. Yea. Ok. Monitor with GPS would be even more interesting. There were rumors that there will be a new MacBook Pro with as weird as a GPS frankly an function keys that aren’t function keys but are OLED screens.
Harry: So it can be really programmable.
Leo: Soft keys, yea. Do you think that will happen?
Harry: it’s actually cool.
Leo: It sounds cool. I would buy it but it doesn’t sound like—
Harry: the moment it sounds like something that might be real it probably not going to come out in the immediate future.
Leo: Wasn’t there a keyboard, remember that? It seems kind of fictional that had OLED keys?
Leo: And it was like from a Russian guy so that sounded—Art Lebedev. But I think it was real now that I think about it. Did anybody ever get the Optimus keyboard?
Becky: That would be cool for like editors and stuff.
Leo: Well exactly. They always have stickers on them
Leo: So the idea is that instead of you know, fixed keys is that every key on the keyboard would be a little OLED screen.
Leo: I guess, is he selling these?
Becky: Ridiculously expensive.
Leo: $1,500 dollars. Ok, never mind.
Becky: Yea, exactly. Like I said.
Leo: How about the Popularis?
Becky: Oh. That one’s down to $1,000.
Leo: The Maximus. That’s got to be the most—it’s sold out.
Becky: That’s a lot of keys.
Becky: Geez who.
Leo: They did sell, I think I do remember like these little pads so that you could—that would be like an editor would use that. Because that would be a controller.
Becky: So you know our control room at GMA, you know how you always have the control room and had all the monitors?
Becky: It’s all just one screen now.
Leo: Oh, neat.
Becky: It’s just a wall screen.
Leo: Well what do you want bezels for? You don’t have any bezels.
Becky: So they can maximize and minimize whatever they need to size to based on whatever the live remotes are.
Leo: I just bought this new Dell. We still haven’t set it up. Maybe we’re going to set it up next week. One of these days. 43” Dell monitor that could be 4 displays. It’s kind of what like what you’re doing in the control room. I don’t know what I’m going to do with that. No, John, you don’t have to get it out. Every time I mention it, John pulls it out. He really wants us to set it this thing up.
Becky: He’s the prop master.
Leo: Yea, yea he is the prop master isn’t he among other things. Let’s take a little break. We’re—oh, shoot. The game began.
Becky: That’s ok. Let’s keep going. I’ve got a DVR.
Leo: You’ve got DVR? No spoilers. Becky’s in the DubNation.
Leo: Are you? Are you in the DubNation?
Becky: I’m in the Dub. I live in Oakland. What else do I have?
Leo: Are you in the Shark Tank?
Becky: I’m not in the shark tank. I can’t watch hockey accept when it’s live. My eyes have gotten too bad.
Leo: Yea. It’s hard to follow that puck. Our show today brought to you by ITPro.TV. I know you love IT. You wouldn’t be watching this show if you weren’t into technology. And being in IT as a job I think for a lot of you would be the dream job, right? You get to work with technology all the time. How do you get into the world of IT? Well it turns out there are these certifications, these tests you can take. And getting a cert is often the key to getting a great job. But how do you learn? ITPro.TV. They are incredible. They’ve been basically doing what we do here at TWiT but for the IT professional and the aspiring IT professional. Now they have two studios. They do 50 hours of new content every week. On their site, in their library, thousands of hours of content on every aspect of IT. And now they are the first IT video provider to go do this new Amazon Video Direct thing so you can actually buy ITPro.TV content on Amazon. But really the best way to do this is to subscribe, right, because once you subscribe, one flat monthly or yearly rate you get access to everything. Microsoft Server 2016, MCSA, Microsoft System Center Configuration, CCNA, AWSF, Ethical Hacking. Yes, there’s an ethical hacking cert. VMware. They just completed, I think it’s pronounced CISA, C-I-S-A, it’s a globally recognized cert for audit control and security of information systems. Brian O’Hara who’s written a book on it for Cybex was their instructor. Coming up this month, CCNA security with Cisco, VCP6, that’s VMware, Adam Gordon is back for the version 9 of my favorite cert. I really want this cert. Certified Ethical Hacker. Three words that describe me.
Becky: I’ve always thought that.
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Becky: Certified Ethical Hacker? That’s the title of your dream?
Becky: That’s shocking me because I thought it was male exotic dancer. That’s what I thought. That’s what I thought you were going with that.
Leo: Someday. MED.
Becky: You’re going to be a MED.
Leo: A MED. Leo Laporte, MED.
Becky: Leo Laporte, MED.
Leo: I do have breakaway pants. The Elvis costume, actually
Becky: Love it.
Leo: Next time you see an Uber, Lyft, or delivery driver, you might see groceries inside. Walmart’s going to be testing delivery. That makes sense. You’ve got a lot of drivers driving around, Uber drivers not doing anything.
Becky: They have got to maximize capacity with their drivers to keep them driving. Or go driverless.
Leo: That’s the next step. First Uber is a company, a cab company that owns no cabs. Soon they are going to be a cab company that owns no drivers. But then they’ll have to buy the cabs, so. How much did Saudi Arabia put into Uber? What? Some huge amount of money.
Harry: It was enormous.
Leo: That is interesting. It is the government? I guess when you’re talking Saudi Arabia it’s still a family whether it’s you know, the country is still the family, right?
Becky: Fascinating. They’re issuing a bond for the first time right now, raising cash.
Leo: Saudi Arabia?
Becky: Yea. Also, I mean just the finances there are so just ornate.
Leo: It’s still the royal family though, right?
Becky: Sauds, right.
Becky: So I was in Spain at a, doing a documentary about green energy and they have one of these, they have one now in Nevada but it’s one of these solar arrays that uses mirrors to heat salt and then the molten salt heats water which makes steam which makes electricity. And their largest investor is Saudi Arabia.
Leo: They got a lot of sun there.
Becky: Because they have to diversify.
Leo: Yea, and oil—
Becky: They have to diversify.
Leo: You know if you’re an oil power, what’s the next big thing, right? Be big in sun. I think that’s actually very smart.
Becky: So it makes sense that they’re also looking at you know, they also want to create a car based economy that’s new so if car ownership is going to diminish as many think that services like Uber and Lyft will lead to a reduction in car sales despite the fact that cars are booming now because gas is cheap and other reasons. But it makes sense that they would want to have a stake in that as well.
Leo: Sad news. McJugger Nuggets is retiring.
Becky: Oh, are you going to bring Minecraft to me again?
Leo: No, no, this is another story. Minecraft, yes. I know. Do you still forbid your kids?
Becky: Hmm mmm.
Leo: No Minecraft for you. You know it sold 100 million now? This is the new sales. What is it, is it 53,000 copies every day since the beginning of the year. Every day, 53,000 copies, each month more than 40 million people go into their Minecraft world. I have three Minecraft world servers running. I love it. Minecraft is everywhere.
Becky: What would you—what do you think my kids are going to be? My kids are 8. What’s their best case job when they’re 25? 30?
Leo: You know there’s actually a good living to be made building Minecraft worlds for corporations?
Leo: I’m not kidding. One of our viewers does this for a living.
Leo: The Sims have discarded gender rules for all clothing customizations. Here’s good news. You can use any bathroom you want.
Becky: Nice. Go Sims.
Leo: Go Sims. You want to put heels on a male Sim? I didn’t know you couldn’t. But apparently they had rules that they’ve rightly so unlocked the Sims for customizations options.
Becky: I love it. Did you see that L’Oréal is going to have makeup for Snapchat that they’re going to virtually put on?
Leo: That’s the hottest thing is those Snapchat filters, right? Isn’t that hot?
Becky: They already have it? Oh it’s—wow.
Leo: I’ve done that.
Becky: Yea, I know. Didn’t I have you do that?
Harry: That’s the future of advertising.
Leo: You see my mom’s—wait a minute, maybe you haven’t.
Becky: I haven’t seen.
Leo: My mom has an Instagram account. I told her she should do it on Snapchat where she plays a character using—it’s the same idea. Aw, did she kill it, her account? Aw, I think she did.
Harry: Is your mom on Snapchat?
Leo: No, I couldn’t figure out how to—I tried to (laughing). I couldn’t figure out how to explain Snapchat to my mom who’s 83 and very smart. But she does have an Instagram account. I think it’s gone unfortunately I’m sad to say. And she had a character called Miss Honeybelle that was the makeup from like a Snapchat filter of big red cheeks and big eyes. And then I guess she started doing it and it, and she started channeling some strange character, Miss Honeybelle.
Becky: Miss Honeybelle. Wow. Is Miss Honeybelle Southern, or is she a Rhode Islandee?
Leo: She’s from the South.
Leo: I wonder if she has taken it down.
Becky: You’re mother’s a secret Southern belle.
Leo: She’s a very strange person. Maybe she’s still there.
Becky: Oh, that is so funny.
Leo: Yea, I believe she is. Do you want to see?
Becky: Oh, I want to see Miss Honeybelle.
Leo: Miss Honeybelle. She’s putting her art up there now which is—
Becky: Oh (laughing).
Leo: And you thought I was joking.
Becky: That is adorable. Oh my God.
Leo: Oh, you can’t hear it. We haven’t got the sound working.
Becky: Oh, she’s so cute.
Leo: Oh, man, I want you to hear Miss Honeybelle. That’s my mom, yea. That’s—L’Oréal is going to be speaking to her.
Becky: Wow. She’s got this.
Leo: She can be a model for them.
Becky: She has got this.
Leo: Miss Honeybelle.
Becky: Well, you know, I won’t let my son play Minecraft and I won’t let my daughter play L’Oréal makeup so, you know they have this to look forward to in their retirement.
Leo: (Laughing) yea, yea. Miss Honeybelle. I wish I had audio for you. I knew it. We worked so hard to get this. It’s this honking giant laptop in front of me. Does it look—show the single. Is this too big now?
Becky: Does my laptop make my hands look big?
Leo: Is my laptop making me head look small?
Becky: That’s a first.
Leo: It is giant. This is a Brian Brushwood sized laptop. It’s 17”. It’s a Linux laptop and I’m thinking now as I look at it, it might be a little too big.
Harry: It’s very slimming.
Leo: Slimming. Leo seems to have shrunk.
Harry: It makes all of us look a lot tinier.
Leo: I tell you what. Let’s wrap this sucker up. We’ve got a ballgame to go to.
Becky: Whoop! Whoop!
Leo: Whoop, whoop. Becky DubNation Worley, so great to have you from Good Morning America.
Becky: @bworley on Twitter.
Leo: @bworley on Twitter. Anything else you want to plug? What are you up to? What’s going on?
Becky: I don’t know. Tweet me a good book you’re reading. I just finished Boys in the Boat. Amazing.
Leo: What’s that about?
Becky: It’s about the 1936 crew team from Washington that went to Berlin and it’s just a phenomenal summary. I cannot say enough good things about it. But I’m looking for—I realized I loved, you know what was the—Zamperini book? Unbroken?
Leo: Oh, yea, Unbreakable. Unbroken, yea, yea. What a great book that was.
Becky: It felt like that for me. I mean I didn’t love that movie because it was just too brutal but the book was great, so.
Leo: The movie was brutal.
Becky: Yea. So tweet me a good book like that if you love it. @bworley.
Leo: Oh, that’s nice.
Becky: Yea, I’m on ABC in the mornings but watch Good Morning America because you know, it’s a way to connect to the world.
Leo: You’ll be seeing the Fold It any day now.
Becky: What, what?
Leo: The Fold it. The clothes folding machine.
Becky: Oh yea, it’s going to be on.
Leo: I want you to get one.
Becky: I’m gonna.
Leo: Bring them on.
Becky: I’m gonna. Done.
Leo: (Laughing) Harry McCracken, he’s at the fastcompany.com. He’s the technologizer.
Harry: The technologizer.
Leo: Yep. We love him. I wanted—you can tell I was going there. But he’s also @harrymccracken at Twitter. And follow him on Instagram. I still love all the retro stuff you post picture of.
Harry: I love how you say that. Like my Instagram—for the longest time I was following more people on Instagram than were following me, and whenever you plug me, it rises.
Leo: But is this becoming your calling? Like the retro thing because—
Harry: It’s fun. We went to the Gerald Shultz Museum before we came here and it was—
Leo: Oh, isn’t that fun? Don’t you love that?
Harry: Yes. Peanuts and Washington DC. With like Ronald Reagan’s letters to Charles Schwartz and Snoopy wrote a letter to Hillary Clinton in 1968 when she became the president of the Wesley School Government.
Leo: So you’re the, you’re on Instagram as technologizer.
Harry: Yes. There’s my stuff from the museum. We all voted. I voted for Linus for president.
Leo: (Laughing). He ran. Too bad he never won.
Harry: He’s running again this year.
Leo: Yea. I love this. Farah’s Glamour Center.
Harry: The Farah Glamour Center.
Leo: I think L’Oréal could learn a little from this.
Becky: They could. Those bangs.
Leo: You and Noreen were in an antique store because she posted a bunch of pictures from the antique store as well. What is (laughing), is that Miss Honeybelle?
Harry: That’s my mom who I just recently discovered was on Twitter.
Leo: Oh, neat. You see? You see?
Harry: She said she wasn’t and then I said something on Twitter and she commented. And I said, “I thought you weren’t on Twitter.” And she replied to that saying, “Only occasionally.”
Leo: My mom’s on Twitter.
Leo: All right.
Harry: She’s still an egg though. Maybe I should show her how to upload her photo.
Leo: Yea. I don’t want to know what this was.
Harry: It was the new Apple Store. We went to a Beyoncé concert.
Leo: Oh, that’s Beyoncé. I should have known, yea. You learn so much about your friends following them on Instagram.
Becky: Wow. Harry McCracken is so much cooler than me. I have just come to that realization.
Leo: Are you really into Beyoncé?
Harry: I’m glad I went once. Actually from a technological standpoint it was really interesting.
Leo: You know what’s changed concerts is these incredible screens they have. The projection.
Harry: They had this screen that’s like unbelievable.
Leo: Because they don’t have to build sets anymore. They can make it look like anything.
Leo: It’s really remarkable.
Harry: Yea from a technology standpoint it was very interesting.
Leo: I agree. I’d love to know more about the screen technology they use at concerts these days because it’s very good. It’s vivid.
Harry: And every seat in the house was pretty good.
Leo: Yea. You can’t have a bad seat because you’re looking at this giant screen. And then of course there’s a lot of theatre going on as well with the dancers and the performers.
Harry: The stage goes out into the audience.
Leo: Yea, these concerts really become quite interesting I think. The big tours. We thank you for being here. We do the show every Sunday afternoon, 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Eastern time, 2200 UTC. Love it if you can watch us live and be in our chatroom at IRC.twit.tv. If you can be in the studio even better. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll put a chair out for you. You’re going to want to do it soon because we’re going to be moving out of the brick house in three months I think at this point, at this stage. Construction has already begun on our new studio down the road a piece. We’re really excited about it. If you watch at home it won’t look so very different. We’re going to take our sets with us. But the experience in studio will be somewhat different I think. So come here now while you can. Oh, Michael O’Donnell, our staff photographer at this point—is that on his Twitter?
Becky: (Laughing) oh, man.
Leo: Yea, Twitter.com/photo.
Becky: Before the show we talking about the fact that my daughter, I had to close all the windows that she had used to write up the wedding vows for her best friend and her best friend’s kitten. And so—
Leo: And so here they are.
Becky: The Kitten Wedding Vows.
Leo: I look like grumpy cat. I don’t know. You’re marrying grumpy cat.
Becky: (Laughing) I look hot.
Leo: You look fantastic. What the hell’s going on with grumpy cat?
Becky: I think you’re mad that my ears are pointing in the wrong direction. That whole ear and nose and whiskers thing is working for me.
Leo: Are you doing that on your phone, Michael?
Becky: That was incredible.
Leo: What app are you using?
Michael O’Donnell: Perfect 365.
Leo: Perfect 365. That’s pretty cool.
Leo: So if you want to be in the studio and take pictures of us, you can do that too.
Leo: Email email@example.com. Now of course we make on demand audio and video of all of our shows available at the website twit.tv or wherever you subscribe to podcasts. And of course the TWiT apps that are everywhere and every platform thanks to our fabulous 3rd party developers. Here’s the website. Thank you all for being here. We’ll see you next time. Another TWiT is in the can. Go Warriors! Go Sharks! Let’s go home.
Miss Holleybelle: Oh, I just think life is a ball. I’ve been going to so many parties lately that I haven’t really done you justice, honey. But I’m thinking of you all the time.