This Week in Tech 624

Leo Laporte:  It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech.  Great show ahead for you! We're going to talk about DefCons, coming up this weekend.  Roberto Baldwin is on his way, he's from Engadget.  Greg Ferro is back from the IETF meetings, we're going to talk about the Internet engineering ahead, and Mike Elgan is also here, our digital nomad.  Wants to talk about artificial reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, and Audis, with Facebook on the screen.  It's all coming up next, on TWiT


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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode number 624, recorded Sunday, July 23, 2017.

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It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech, the show where we cover the week's tech news with the best tech journalists in the biz.  We've got a great panel for you today, because we're coming off of Black hat and going into DefCon and Roberto Baldwin is here.  He's actually literally going into DefCon.  Very nicely done. 

Roberto Baldwin:  I haven't set up my burners yet, though.

Leo:  You don't want to bring real phones, real equipment. 

Roberto:  Not to the floor. 

Leo:  That's smart.  That's Mike Elgan to your left.  Nice to see you, Mike.  Back from his digital nomadicness. 

Mike Elgan:  Yes.  We were in Italy, Spain, Morocco, and France.  It was wonderful. 

Leo:  You're back visiting family.  But are you going to be back on the road?  You're going to Barcelona next month. 

Mike:  We're going to Barcelona and we're probably going to go to Italy and France again.  This time we're going to have my son and his wife with us, that should be pretty...

Leo:  Princess Squishy Face in Morocco. 

Mike: Yeah.  We're not going to bring her to Morocco.  We're going to introduce her to the nicer place, which is Provance, which she will love because she loves French things.  She's 8 months old.  My wife bought her tiny dresses and stuff.

Leo:  Becoming Nomad. 

Mike:  It's 

Leo:  Can we put that on the lower third?  I want to give a plug to Mike's business, because you can go.  Last time I saw, there was room for one more couple in Barcelona. 

Mike:  We have assembled the most incredible team of experts, the best bread baker in Spain is going to give us a personal tour and class, we're going to learn how to make Sangria and Paella. 

Leo:  We're going to be so close, we're going to be in Monte carlo at that time.  We were looking at your pictures.  It's the Vegas of the Riviera. 

Mike:  It's almost like Inception.  It's amazing.

Leo:  Can't wait. Hey, look who's here from the UK?  Greg Ferro and the Packet Pushers network.  Good to have you.

Greg Ferro:  How's it going?

Leo:  Nice to see you, Greg.

Greg:  Yep, sorry I can't be there in person.  I just flew back from Prague on the weekend, so it was available for this. 

Leo:  I'm thrilled.  You mean you came back just for the show? 

Greg:  The ITF wars that were happening in Prague.  You know the people who make the standards that drive the Internet, and I was hanging around there with the people who.. these are the nerdy nerds, if you can imagine that.

Leo:  What is that like?  The ITEF meetings?

Greg:  For normal people, they would walk in there and go like there is no fashion crime not being committed. 

Leo:  Sandals with socks?  That's nothing.  This goes way beyond that. 

Greg: This goes way beyond that.  Like a 20 year old suit code?  With a 35 year old t shirt underneath.  There was one guy who was wearing bright florescent orange trousers, big baggy ones, and a bright yellow shirt.  He was generously proportioned in every way.  It was like a flag walking past.

Leo:  How do you get in this group?  who are these people?

Greg:  Most of them started out... the older people who had been there for 30 or 40 years, building a standard since the 1960's...

Leo:  Are they University types?

Greg:  They've all gone through various incarnations.  Anybody can participate.  The ITF is a volunteer effort, so anybody who wants to can jump in and start participating in the standards process.  You joined the mailing list, you build up your calmer points by contributing stuff to people and telling them about stuff, and as you build up more points, you can participate  in more stuff.  Right now, a lot of the people who participate are employees of Wawe, Google, some are from Comcast.  Sysco has a number of people.  These people are often very unaligned.  They may be working for the companies, but their best intentions are by and large in the interest of the world or the community as a whole.  These people work hard to do encryption on the Internet.  They're the people who are responsible for the new TLS 1.3 standard and trying to prevent companies like Google from sniffing your traffic as it's in motion, and they're making standards to be able to improve data centers, they're making standards to improve connectivity.  It's so many different areas, it's not just networking now.  They're also doing browsers and stuff like that.  It's been a real effort to bring this around.  It's fascinating to see it all, because it's all volunteers getting in a room and basically hashing out the things they can't sort out on the mailing list.  If you have something on a mailing list and you can't agree, then they'll take it to the conference and they'll hash it out in person, so it's all these people huddled around arguing over this arcane computer science, and it's the most fun thing to be around.  You can smell the nerd smoke coming off as you're moving around.

Leo:  Because you have a fairly deep understanding of this stuff, it's probably meaningful to you.  A lot of people it would just be nonsense of what they're saying. 

Greg:  I'm nowhere near as smart as any of them, so please don't make that comparison.

Leo:  You're smarter than me, so that puts me... I'll be like a lizard.  I wonder if... of course there's no battles harder fought.. how hard fought are these battles?  Are they vicious, or do these guys (I presume it's mostly guys) have a sense of the importance of what they're doing and how much this means to the world?  That may be a more important meeting than the G20 summit. 

Greg:  It's very collegiate.  It's very community.  Battles may be hard fought, but that's unusual, and often battles aren't fought along company lines.  They're fought on technology lines, like I believe my technology is the best way forward, and people go around and try to convince other people that my vision of technology is the right way.  The people who have been doing it for the longest, who have the most karma, who tend to be listened to more.  As a rule, there's a stabilization between people just entering into the process and those who have been participating and contributing for 20, 30, 40 years.  I conducted a YouTube video with Susan Errs.  She's the chair of the routing group, which is the one who does the routing for the Internet backbone, the BGP, and autonomous systems, she was telling me how back in the 1970's and 60's, what it was like when we started doing these technologies for the first time, and telling stories about how we built these routers or why we did this, because she was there.  It's just fascinating to talk to.

Leo:  How many women are there? 

Greg:  It's pretty well attended, there might be five, maybe ten percent. 

Leo:  That's good.  It should be 50, but better than nothing.

Greg:  It's difficult to go to these conferences.  The ITF meets in person three times a year, usually meets somewhere in the Americas, and then in Europe, and then in Asia somewhere, although they stopped going to the US because of the Visa policy.  It meant a lot of people couldn't attend these meetings, so they shifted the meetings from the US to Canada, which is disappointing.  I feel sorry for everybody in the US.  The idea behind the ITF was to make it as participative as possible, and as much as anybody can get in, and to move it outside the US cuts you off from a  market, and I know they were sad about that, but it's not fair to people coming in from Africa or the Middle East to not be able to attend.

Leo:  No kidding.  We'll get more about some of the goings on there, but I'm glad you're here, Greg.  How about you, at Defcon?  Are you looking forward, Roberto, to anything in particular? 

Roberto:  I like Defcon a lot.

Leo:  It's fun, isn't it?

Roberto:  It is.  It's really fun. It puts you, keeps you on your toes the entire time.  You can't go in with your sort of regular digital life.  What happens is you go with your regular digital life.. you're on the wall of sheep, or someone hacks you.  It's a great way to show you the potential of the future.  How much we have to protect our privacy, protect our security.  Everything that's happening there, there's potential for it to be what the real world would be like if companies, if people don't get it together, which they won't.  Individuals getting it together, you can only say, hey, use different passwords every time, use two factor authentication, every time.  You can keep telling people that, doesn't mean they're going to do it.

Mike:  Don't worry, the Government will take care of our privacy.

Roberto:  It behooves the companies that these researchers and hackers are talking about, the systems that they're talking about to say "Hey.  We found this issue, fix it."  That's what Defcon is.  WE found something wrong, fix it.

Mike:  We're going to shame you into fixing it.

Leo:  Before Defcon is Blackhat.  And Blackhat is this weekend.  What is the difference between the two? 

Mike:  Blackhat is more of a corporate event. Instead of giving individual talks, you end up getting talks from security companies, they talk about what their thing is, while they're networking. Everyone dresses like this with a tie at Blackhat.  Then they go back to their room and put their t shirt on, and they comb out the stuff in their hair that makes it one color.  They let themselves be themselves at Defcon.  Defcon is more "Hacker summer camp."

Leo:  Where will we learn more about exploits?  Do Hackers bring their exploits to Defcon to talk about, or do they do it more Blackhat?  I know we always brace ourselves this time of year.

Roberto:  I think we're going to learn more from Defcon because people who are presenting are presented as individuals, so there isn't the concern about the company behind me or this behind me, I have to worry about what my boss thinks.  So you have that mentality, which breeds a better presentation.  It's more fun, more loose. 

Greg:  We're also seeing a transition, Leo, where we used to only see security vulnerabilities announced at the hacker conferences, so that you could build up some Hacker grid, get some ego striking going on, but increasingly, we're seeing bounties being paid.

Leo:  There's so much money in it now, you want to hold onto it. 

Roberto: Some of the talks at Blackhat and at Defcon are about things that have been known already.  They talk about the journey and how they found it out.  The journey is really the more interesting part.  How did you find out about this?  How did you reverse engineer this malware?  How did you figure out that...

Leo:  Is Defcon going to suffer from the same kind of Visa issues that the IETF suffer from?  I would imagine there are a few hackers who say I'm not coming to this. 

Roberto:  I've asked them about that.  They don't have any official, our people who have said on Twitter that we're not going to go to Defcon this year because they're concerned about Visas or border patrol, there's a lot of things. 

Leo:  That seems to have been a little overblown.  I think we were very worried about that, but Mike, you've traveled in and out of the country.  I have also in the last few months.  It was a snap for me.

Mike:  It's largely theoretical.  It's mostly targeted. 

Leo:  It could happen to you.  We know it's happened to people.  It's probably worse if you're Muslim, you're brown, somebody who doesn't look like you and me, Mike, but the border patrol says it's a very small percentage of people that we do this to.  It may be just the risk of that, as opposed to the certainty of it. 

Mike:  That's a calm and reasoned approach.  The other approach is to consider the fact that should there be a horrible incident of some kind, we're one bomb away from a full on laptop ban where the laptops will be banned from the cargo hold and the cabin.

Leo:  We're going the opposite direction.  The laptop ban was completely lifted... it was always weird to me that they were Middle eastern airlines coming from the Middle east, not American owned airlines coming from the middle east, as if you're a bad guy, why would you say I got to fly on Emirates.  I can't fly United.  A ban like that can only be effective if it's universal.  Otherwise, if you've got a laptop bomb, you don't fly those five airlines. 

Roberto:  Or you drive or take a plane or a boat to another country and get on a plane there.

Mike:  It's probably based on one of two things.  One of them is they handed Morocco or whatever a list of things they wanted them to do at the airport, and Morocco said not really, and they said we're not going to make you do it, and the other one is...

Leo:  Iman, Cairo, Istanbul, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, Casablanca, Dubai, and Abu dabi.  Those airports.  You can presume, maybe there's security issues in those airports.

Mike:  But the other thing that is very likely is the leader in these spaces is Israeli.  Israel has better intel, stronger airport security.  They've excelled in this area, and they're pushing the US to do certain things, and the US is going OK, that makes sense.

Leo:  I think we think because of Trump's leaking to the Russians in the oval office that it was in fact Israeli intelligence that drove the laptop ban. 

Mike:  A huge amount of the airline based anti-terror spy info comes from Israel, because they're all over that.

Leo: They do a great job.

Mike:  Coming in and out, my son travelled from Cairo to Tel Aviv.  He was in an interrogation room for six hours. 

Leo:  interesting though.  The Israeli security forces rely on that, interviews more than anything else.  They feel like if they talk to you they can catch you.  It's very expensive, ma power wise. 

Mike:  They're apparently very good at it.  You come into a major US airport, come into LAX, it's this cattle being herded through this mass process.

Leo:  Bruce Snyers always said security theatre, not true security.  It's obvious, because if for instance you are flying first class, which the 9/11 terrorists flew first class, you are often exempted from those searches.  Every time I fly business or first, I get TSA pre check.  I don't have to take my shoes off, let alone take my laptop out.  But that's... it's theatre.  What they don't want to do is disadvantage wealthy people.  But that's where the terrorists fly, first class, because they're closer to the front of the plane and it was easier for them to hijack the plane.

Mike:  There was a wonderful cartoon I saw a couple years ago where airport security says this bottle of water may be a bomb, I'm going to put it in the trashcan with all these other potential bombs where all the people are. 

Roberto:  Where the largest concentration of people are outside of a plane is at the TSA booth.

Leo:  I'm all for security.  I want us to be safe.  I don't want anything bad to happen to anybody in flight, certainly not me or my family, but I also don't think that security theatre is the right way to go. 

Mike:  We've come a long way.  Leo, you and I remember when you could get on a plane with a pistol and go to Cuba. 

Leo:  People hijacked planes all the time.

Roberto:  Those were the days. 

Greg: There's two things I could add to this.  One is, when I first started traveling to Las Vegas four or five years ago, there used to be three flights a day in and out of Vegas.  Most days of the week.  Now there's one plane a day, and that plane is not full.  So the impact of the visa changes and the increased border security from my point of view has definitely had an impact.  I can only get one plane a day, but that plane is empty, which improves my life a little bit.  The second thing is that keep in mind, the computer systems that customs are using, and they're all inter-linked, what they really do is a deep data search on you before you get on the plane based on when you bought the ticket, how did you pay for it, what address did you put on it, is it your home address?  Your passport of course is the key of the data.  So don't underestimate the ability of the computers that customs is using to identify potential people, because it's still true that when I go to board the plane, there are people being picked out of the cue by name and searched.  There's definitely a different approach. 

Mike:  That actually happened to me, coming back.  I was randomly selected, I had to walk a half a mile to the other side of the airport and wait.  It was an extensive frisking and bag search. 

Roberto:  They did that to me on the way back from Spain.  I only had to walk from here to here.  As everyone was getting on the plane, they said you go there.

Leo:  Has anybody on this panel who are visitors from overseas, have any of them had the thing we've feared of, which is give me your phone, unlock it, and I'll be back in half an hour. 

Roberto:  I have a phone almost exactly like this phone that is my international travel phone.  I have a dummy phone.  All it has is Netflix and Amazon Prime so I can watch movies.

Leo:  I am all for security.  I would prefer to see us do Israeli style security, if it was effective, than an ineffectual theatre.  That's a waste of time for everybody. 

Mike:  I'm super concerned about it.  We live in a gadget centric world, we and everybody listening to this, and if they go after laptops and tablets, and if you can travel with those, that's going to... I can't imagine.  They're going to have to have processes to detect whatever it is they're afraid of into the future.  We have to be able to work on...

Leo:  This is what you worried about.  The minute something bad happens, and a laptop does take a plane down, all of these bans will immediately go into effect.  Nobody is going to get any work done in the sky.  But I'm not sure I'm against that.  I'll bring a book. 

Roberto:  You pull your laptop out and they scan it.    The issue with the scans, is the scan not good enough?

Leo:  Turn it on.  If it's a bomb, you're not going to be able to get a screen. 

Mike:  This is the problem.  With miniturization...

Leo:  You put a bomb in his Macbook air.  It's unlikely it would also boot. 

Mike:  His Macbook air might just be powered by an iPhone inside, and the rest of it is...

Leo:  I shouldn't be arguing it with you...Did you get your badge yet. 

Roberto:  Visual badge, you don't get until Defcon. 

Leo:  There's always something going on. 

Roberto:  The badge community is insane, so I'm actually working on an article talking about the badge community, talking about badge makers, and they're sending me stuff.  I've gotten two badges already.  It's got a screen on it it looks like Bender.  It's amazing.  Most of the badge is because of the design.  The badge can be this big with a screen on it.  But it's these very nice designs that you wear and I'm a nerd. 

Leo:  We talked to the guy who was on that committee for badges.  I can't remember.  On triangulation, it was a long-time hacker. Really great.  All right.  That's all futures.  I can talk about the past.  Did you know that Amazon was started 22 years ago this week?  Yes you do.  1995.  What a long way we've come. 

Mike:  22 years from now they'll be the only company.

Leo:  I was playing with the Amazon shopping app.  We've been showing this all week, because I didn't know this, but they've hidden all these additional tools in the Amazon shopping app.  If you go into Amazon and you go into the Hamburger menu on the left, there's something new called programs and features.  Maybe they've taken it away from me, maybe it's on Android only.  There's a treasure truck.  It comes to your town, it has one item on it.  You sign up for the treasure truck.  Do you have...?

Roberto:  That's the treasure box. 

Leo:  Amazon Spark which is the strangest social network ever, it's basically Instagram for shopping. 

Mike:  If you recall, when Google Plus first launched in 2011, they had a new service called Sparks, I think.  So for them to take that name...

Leo:  And the way they bury it and step on it, I wonder if anybody even... why would you spend any time there?  I did the outfit.  They have the new outfit compare.  We should do this.  Unfortunately, you need to have two outfits.  Did you bring two outfits? 

Roberto:  No. 

Leo:  I tried to do this.  You can't do it with different people, but I did it on Wednesday with a nice outfit and a creepy outfit, and the creepy outfit won.  You take a picture of yourself with two different outfits, and it says you should wear that today.  This is going to be part of the new Amazon look when it comes out.  That's the camera echo. 

Roberto:  The machine learning needs more data.

Leo:  Maybe that's what is going on, but it has nothing to do with my look. 

Mike:  How perfect would that have been to go to Greg's conference?  See, that's what...

Leo:  Orange pants and a yellow shirt?  How about a yellow shirt and orange pants? 

Greg:  Not just orange, but florescent.  It wasn't enough to wear open toed sandals, they have to be fantastic. 

Mike:  I had an interesting revelation the other day.  I went to Santana Roll in San Jose, and I was walking around latish at night.  I told my wife, remember there was a Barnes and Noble there.  There was a big, beautiful Barnes and Noble.  Walked another block, and there was an Amazon store opening.  They ran the bookstores out of business so they could open bookstores. 

Leo:  This is Business Insider, the original Amazon 1995 webpage.  Remember when all web pages were grey?  We didn't have white.  I don't know why.  It says if you explore just one thing, make it our personal notification service.  One million titles, consistently low prices. 

Mike:  Remember when one million titles was wow.  That's way more than the bookstore!  Every book ever printed.  Except for the book you're looking for.

Leo:  The Earth's biggest bookstores. 

Greg:  Amazon was getting up in the anti-trust.  They're know saying the Government is starting to look very closely at what Amazon is doing as far as an anti-trust, because if it gets much bigger...

Leo:  I think they should.  At the same time, I have to admire Jeff and his ambition. 

Mike:  He's up there with Elon Musk. He's a true visionary, and a very disciplined visionary. Elon Musk is like it's all a simulation.  Still a visionary.  Jeff Bezos doesn't go into flights of fancy.  He is focused, focused on running everybody else out of business and stealing their business.  I say that like it's a bad thing.  It's a mixed bag.

Leo:  But we get some benefit from it.  This week I probably ordered 15 things on Amazon.  I get boxes every day from Amazon.  It's basically my shopping. 

Roberto:  I'll go and I'll be like, no I'm going to Amazon.  I go to the store and I want a specific thing.  I hate shopping, I want a specific thing when I go to the store and they never have it, and I go I guess Amazon is getting the money and I get on my phone and look it up. 

Mike:  I ordered some little thing.  $17 thing, and they said it'll arrive Sunday.  I ordered it Saturday.  I ordered it Saturday and it's arriving on Sunday?  And it arrived early.  I was like, Wow. 

Leo:  And yet you do worry as they eat more of the world, as they buy Whole Foods, as they eat more of the world, pretty soon there will be no other retailers.  Right now we choose to buy from Amazon.  In 2025, we probably won't have the choice. 

Greg:  Keep in mind that shopping at WalMart's not exactly a pleasant experience.

Leo:  It isn't.  There are people though.  It's funny. We're nerds.  We shop online.  But I think there are a lot of people who say I like to shop, I like to go to a store, I like to look at merchandise. 

Mike:  Here's one that blew me away.  I always thought of Amazon as a US market.  We made a really good friend in Morocco, and she's obsessed with reading books, and she has a big book collection.  Where are you getting these books, because they're all in English, she's like  I'm like in Morocco? 

Leo:  And she probably has overnight delivery.  It's amazing. Sears, which was the Amazon of its day...

Roberto:  Sears had the opportunity to be Amazon. When I was a kid, I remember we would go to my Grandmother's house and she would give us the Sears catalogue, the Christmas toy catalogue.  We'd look through it, and she would order it, and Sears had the opportunity, and they blew it. 

Leo:  Sears has closed 200 K mart stores this year alone, they have lost about 10 billion dollars in the last few years, and now they've announced they're going to start selling Sears kenmore appliances on Amazon. 

Mike:  And those appliances will run the E word.

Leo:  Kenmore is adding Echo functionality, and I imagine a dash button too.  If you have a washer/dryer, you push the button.  It doesn't go to Sears.  It is an amazing thing.  I would imagine it's hard, first of all in the current political climate, I don't think there will be much anti-trust action anyway, but they're busy with all these Goldman sacs guys.  Even so, it would be hard to prosecute Amazon, because Amazon can rightly say we have competition in every market. There's a store on every corner, how could you say there's a monopoly?  We dominate because we're better. 

Mike:  Most of our products are from other companies. 

Leo: They're smart that way.  They're empowering Sears. 

Mike:  If we can get back to this refrigerator thing, I think what they're gearing towards is the future of fridges where it's not bar codes.  They'll have AI looking at what's in the fridge, and determining what you're low on and what you need more of.  They're working on it in their store at their headquarters where you're supposed to take out products without paying, and the way they do that is you pick something up. The shelf has a scale on it, and it knows it's this much lighter.  Looks at the person's history, because using face recognition, that person buys a lot of yogurt.  It looked like Yogurt in the AI, they just picked up yogurt  Using all these different sensors and AI together to figure out what food products are.

Leo:  Are we giving them too much power when we use Echos and we shop in the Amazon stores?  These things have probably lost leaders in order to gain data, and once they have that data, they can eat the world.  Should we be thinking now about not participating?  Greg, you're in the Uk.  You don't even have the choice, right?

Greg:  The thing about Amazon ultimately is the same that we have with Google and Facebook and Netflix.  They have so much data they can outcompete. 

Leo:  They have a huge advantage.  At some point insurmountable. 

Greg:  It's all about the data.  The second thing is these companies are tech companies, whereas Sears and Wall Mart made the mistake of thinking they were management companies or sales companies.  They didn't understand the trend that technology, the mistake I made about Amazon 5, 10 years ago when I was up on... I used to wander around Wall Street talking to investors and discussing this point.  I made the mistake of thinking Amazon was a retail company, and it turns out they're absolutely a technology company and they're building a technology platform that can sell anything.  It's a fulfillment business.  For example McDonalds corporation is actually not a fast food company, it's a real estate trust.  The secret to McDonald's success is every time they open a store, they own the land.  It's a real estate trust, and the fast food justifies owning the land.

Leo:  We actually learned that about movie theaters here in Petaluma, we had one movie theatre several years ago, and they were sitting on some land which they sold for a shopping mall. We're not in the movie business, see ya.  They didn't open another theatre, they just moved on.  That's not unusual.  Radio stations, a lot of people think terrestrial broadcast radio is about real estate.  They certainly aren't making much money in broadcasting. 

Greg:  Weirdly, there's good money in owning radio stations right now, because they have a right to a certain amount of frequency.  There are new stamps coming up that needs those radio frequencies to operate.  There's a consorting of rich people...They're buying up radio stations right away across America so they can sell them later on.

Leo:  It's another kind of real estate, isn't it? 

Greg:  You do like you do in London, where the land is on a hundred year lease.  In a hundred years the license goes back to you and you still own it. 

Mike:  The Chinese government owns many of the radio stations in the United States, including in Washington DC.  This is something that Reuters broke open a couple years ago.

Leo:  They're going to be able to cash in more, because Clear Channel, the biggest radio station in the US has so much debt that they're clearly in play over the next year.  They cannot pay back their debt.  In comes China. 

Mike:  But I don't think it's an investment.  I think it's pro Beijing propaganda type of things.

Leo:  These Washington DC stations?

Mike:  Oh yeah.  W, CRW, which is the Washington DC one, but they own many across the US, and around the world.  They have I think 33 stations in the US owned by the Chinese Government.  That's why I listen to podcasts.

Leo:  I heart Media, that's why I do podcasts.  I ostensibly have a career in radio, but I think it's better to work in pocdcasts these days.  I heart media, who I work for, the radio show I do is owned by the syndicating premier networks, has 20 billion in debt, and no way to pay it off, so there's a reckoning day coming very soon. 

Mike:  They just repainted the building where I work. 

Greg:  You don't want to look like you've got 20 billion. 

Leo:  Let's take a break.  We'll come back with more Greg Ferro from the Packet Pushers and his two shows on Youtube, which are also fascinating, I think.  I was watching a bit before the show.  He has one beer before you watch it, and one beer when he delivers it. 

Greg:  That's right.  Sometimes it might be more, but you'll never know. 

Roberto:  He didn't tell you how big the beer is. 

Leo:  It's good English beer, so it's OK.  Thank you for being here, Greg, we like that.  And thank you for coming back early from Prague.  Prague is a beautiful city. 

Greg:  I am definitely going to go back there real soon. 

Leo:  Czechs practically invented beer.  Germans didn't.  They make a fine Pilsner.  Also with us, Mike Elgan, from lots of places.  He's writing in computer world and all sorts of places, but don't forget at  One lucky couple is going to get to join Mike and Amira and the best baker in Spain in September. 

Mike:  It's going to be a week of spectacular foodie adventure.

Leo:  How many couples total? 

Mike:  Eight.

Leo:  So you've sold out seven and now you've got room for one more couple. 

Mike:  Six people and one more couple.  Six people we have now and we're going to have eight.  It's a small group. 

Leo:  Kevin and Nigel will be there. 

Mike:  They will as well.

Leo:  And Princess Squishyface.  She's the cutest baby you've ever seen. 

Mike:  By the time this week is over, we're going to really understand Spanish wine. 

Leo:  We can't do this one in Fez, but... maybe next year.  Also here from Engadget, formerly of TMZ the 30 mile zone.  I love saying it.  Roberto Baldwin.

Roberto:  It is.  I learned a lot about writing in a way that doesn't get you sued. 

Leo:  That's a useful skill. 

Roberto:  I learned a lot about sitting down with a lawyer.  They were like Robbie write this. 

Leo:  I would like everyone once in a while to... he wanted to do it.

Roberto:  We can't say this word about this word... what about this..?

Mike:  Because Harvey is a lawyer. 

Roberto:  I don't know how that works.  He went to law school.

Leo:  There's many a time I wish I had a counselor who whispered I'm sorry you can't say that.

Roberto:  I learned a lot about what I can and cannot say.  It's actually very helpful. 

Leo:  Very useful media.

Mike:  Especially when you can't tell us what it is.

Leo:  It doesn't come up much at Engadget.

Roberto:  There's not a lot of writing about whether or not someone's on cocaine. 

Leo:  Suspicious white powder all around his mouth.  Could have been sugar donuts.  He seemed excitable.

Greg:  Donuts are underrated, I think.

Leo:  Apparently there are people in our audience who feel the same way. Do they have donuts in Germany?  They do.  I was just checking.  Because I don't want to go there if they don't.  Our show to you today brought to you by Rocket Mortgage, Quicken Loans the best mortgage lender in the country.  Great company very techno savvy.  I can tell you it sounds like hyperbole, it sounds like the best stuff in the country, if you go to their website, if you go to and scroll down a little bit, you'll see all those JD power customer satisfactions.  Number one in customer satisfaction for the last seven years, and in 2017 they're going to add that little trophy there.  And number one for mortgage servicing for the last three years, so they are the best lender in the country, and because they're tech savvy, they decided they could make a better experience for us geeks.  The mortgage approval process is not... it's practically a 19th century process.  You go to a bank, you bring a box of paper work.  You even fax stuff.  It's primitive, and it takes a long time.  Last when we bought our house three years ago, Lisa and I were still faxing stuff.  Rocket Mortgage wasn't around then.  From now on, Goodbye paperwork, hello RocketMortgage,  And it's transparent.  You get the confidence you need when buying a home or re-financing.  You'll know the details, you can be confident you get into mortgage for you.  You can provide all the paperwork online with the touch of a button.  Because it's all computerized, they crunch those numbers fast, they analyze all those options, they're going to get you the best possible loan based on assets, income credit, just for you.  And they're going to do that not in months, weeks, or days, but in minutes right there.  You could be at an open house applying for a loan.  Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans.  Apply simply, understand fully, and then Mortgage confidently.  To get started, go to Rocket  Equal housing lender, licensed in all 50 states, and MLS consumer  We thank Quicken Loans Rocket Mortgage for their support.  They've been with us more than a year now.  Great support of This Week in Tech and all our shows.  I loved this Mic drop moment.  Tech Crunch interviewed a guy named Rodney Brooks founding direct. This guy has cred.  Founding director of MIT's computer science and artificial intelligence lab, he as co-funder of iRobot, the roomba company.  Connie Loyzus of Tech crunch was interviewing him, and I asked him about Elon Musk... Elon has been saying lately we got to do something, the AI is going to take over the world.  She said Elon Musk, you're writing a book on AI so I have to ask you Rodney, Elon Musk expressed this again this past weekend that AI is in Elon's words an existential threat to humans.  The guy has seen all the Terminator movies.  He knows.  Agree or disagree, Rodney Brooks says there are quite a few people out there who have said AI is an existential threat.  Stephen Hawking, astronomer Martin Reese, they all share a common thread in that they don't work in AI.  For those who work in AI, we know how hard it is to get anything to work through the product level.  I think people were on the ground with AI, realized that it's primitive.  Even things like Amazon's Echo or Siri, he says the reason people, including Elon make this mistake when you see somebody do something like play Chess or Go master, and we understand what's involved because we understand how humans think, but whe you see Deep Minds Alpha Go beat the Chinese Go champion, you think this machine is so smart, it could do anything.  He said I was with Deep Mind in London three weeks ago, and he said things could have gone wrong.  It can play Go. 

Roberto:  If you used any of the sort of bots, you remember messenger bots?  You know AI is still not sophisticated.

Leo:  As she said, Elon's point is we need to regulate it before it gets smart.  It's not smart yet, but it's going to get smart.  Rodney Brook says you're going to regulate now.  Well.  And this is very... I thought of you Greg Ferro when I read this logical reputation, if you're going to have a regulation, either it applies to something, and changes something in the world that exists, or it doesn't apply to anything.  If it doesn't apply to anything, what the hell is the regulation for?  Right?  So tell me.  What behavior you want to change, Elon?  There's no... you can't write a regulation today, because you don't have an example of what you want to prevent, and then this is the mic drop moment.  Rodney Brooks goes on, let's talk about regulation and self-driving Teslas.  That's an issue. 

Roberto:  And that's driven by AI.  Without AI, self-driving cars don't work. 

Leo:  I think Brook's point is you can't trust Tesla to drive yourself, then maybe you should be regulating that. 

Greg:  I wonder if Elon Musk is being misinterpreted here.  I hear him talking about the social impact and the impact of big data more as a form of AI.

Leo:  We've talked about that.  When you say Amazon is going to eat the world, Sears is out of business, that's a lot of jobs, that's a lot of people who aren't going to be working.

Greg: So if you think about artificial intelligence, let's bring some practicality around this.  They're talking about truck drivers being removed from the roads in 30 years, and I think it's something like 7% of jobs in the US are actually truck drivers.  So that's one.  You're talking about manufacturing jobs, there was an article a few weeks back about an entire iron manufacturing facility and it employs ten people, because it's fully automated using robots, and AI will continue to do that.  We're also seeing articles come out about AI, your point about chat bots is well taken, but keep in mind that chat bots don't involve real money, so nobody is doing real science. 

Leo:  All you do is use them once.  They're so annoying.

Roberto:  And then you stop using them.

Greg:  Look at the guy who did the website with the parking tickets and the speeding fines, he's using ML or AI like activities to put lawyers out of business.  So if it starts taking out the middle class, the professional middle class as well as the working class, you have something that is right for disruption in society, because you're going to have massive social disruption if AI replaces those people, and I think this is the point that Elon is trying to make. It's not that some machine is going to take over the world, although that's certainly possible.  You look at what Petchol did, Wannacry, I see those as cyber warfare.  I think Russia was detonating a piece of cyber technology in Romania, sorry, in Ukraine a bit like an atomic test, like back in the 1960's.  They lit of the atomic bomb to say hey I've got atomic bombs, sell your... blah blah.  I think AI could be used in combination with cyber warfare to have an enormous impact, and what he's trying to say to the lawmakers or to the Government is you need to wake up.  There's massive social change driven by technology, and probably simplifying it to AI, because your average senator is an idiot, the whole reason is pretty straightforward, and you need to be planning for these things.  You need to start legislating not to prevent AI, but to work out how you're going to run the country in 20 years' time, when 50% of your population doesn't have to work for a living.

Leo:  There's one bot I have been using called Trim.  This is a financial bot, you have to give it access to your finances, but you can show this.  I don't think there's anything bad in here.  It will tell you about transactions, but it will also show you about recurring transactions and gives you the chance to cancel the transactions, so...Which is kind of interesting.  But this isn't really a bot.  It's not AI. 

Mike:  The funny thing to me about fear of AIs is that it is potentially scary because of the power it gives to people.  I would trust the morality of an AI more than the morality of a person.

Leo:  At least it's predictable.

Mike:  We always think we'd do this in biology.  Cloning, and that stuff. What should the US do?  What should the UK do?  What should Germany do?  Which, what is North Korea going to do with AI?  You know what I mean?  People scare me more. 

Roberto:  Darpa last year at Defcon had the cyber challenge where they had AI machines battling each other.  Basically hacking each other. They were like we have to do this because other nation states are going to do this.  We're having hackers work on this now, but Darpa is working on AI hackers, because if they don't, you're going to fall behind and you're going to lose to Russia, North Korea, to whoever.  Random... nation state if you're talking about that much power.  But you have to have somebody who is researching and working on this because if you don't, someone else is. 

Leo:  Elon sent this picture to Rodney Brooks as a response, just a picture of him after Amber Hurt kissed him. 

Mike:  It's just a simulation. 

Leo:  By the way, would Harvey allow that?  I don't know.  I'm assuming, there's lipstick on the cheek, she's got red lipstick, it seems like the shades match.  Circumstantial.  There doesn't seem to be any donut powder available at all. 

Mike:  To me, I think the most culture changing impact of AI will simply be the augmentation of... we're going to interact with our computers through AI virtual assistant.

Leo:  I feel that's kind of what we do with Echo already.  Primitive, but it sure is nice. 

Mike:  But as it gets less primitive, it's going to be amazing.  When the AI can figure out what we mean no matter how we say it.  

Leo:  In no way is that threatening, is it?

Mike:  It's only threatening...

Roberto:  It's only threatening how you use it.  Amazon's not going to do something crazy, and then Jeff leaves the company and retires, and then random somebody comes in...

Leo:  That is absurd.  All that data sitting there is valuable. 

Mike:  The other way virtual assistants are going to affect culture, the new rock movie, Rock and Siri are staring in a new movie coming out, which is going to "drop" tomorrow... I don't know what drop means.

Leo:  he just announced an upcoming movie with Siri?  Really? 

Mike:  In the poster, there's all this crazy stuff happening with the Rock in the middle holding an iPhone.

Leo:  It's called the Rock X Siri dominate the day.  This is a joke.  It's Apple's doing.  This is just Apple marketing.  Watch the full film at  It's an ad.

Mike:  We're all going to watch it, Leo. 

Roberto:  If the movie is based on the Rock getting into trouble over and over again because Siri is so bad, I would watch that.  Because Siri is not good.

Leo:  I would like to see the Rock crush Siri.

Roberto:  He's just like, "Come on, Siri."

Leo:  Lisa and I have a game, we'll ask Siri stuff.  Yesterday, we were going to a concert in San Jose and I was looking for a place to eat so I said, as you're supposed to say, can I get restaurant near me?"  It says yes.  Here's the restaurants near me, shows me a list, flashes it briefly, and starts one by one reading the names of the restaurant and saying would you like me to contact them.  no, then the next one, No.  You can't... the information is there.  Now it's bothering me with this meaningless conversations.  I just want locations, I'm doing it for ratings.  you do it on Google with Google assistant, it works exactly as expected.

Mike:  I feel like it's gotten worse.  I remember when Siri was an App.

Leo:  Apple keeps saying every time Siri gets on stage, Siri is better than ever. 

Mike:  The funny thing is Apple is really good with AI in improving products.  Personally, I think, and this will be controversial, I think the most elegant consumer electronics product that ever existed is air pods.

Leo:  I agree.  I really like them. 

Mike:  Take it out, it stops.

Leo:  They're not perfect, but they're cool.

Mike:  That's AI behind the scenes knowing if it's in your ear or not, knowing... it's just... that's what Apple is really good at.

Leo:  Greg, what's your favorite AI?

Greg:  Gee.

Leo:  You can't use a lot of this stuff, right?  You don't have Echo in the UK, no you do have Echo now.

Greg:  We have Siri, I haven't bothered with an Echo, because if it's Amazon technology it will be second rate.  Anything like the Amazon Fire or my Kindle, my Kindle is a piece of junk.  I deeply regret buying that thing.  I tried using Siri and it doesn't work either.  If I didn't have 25 years of IT behind me, I wouldn't be able to make those...

Leo:  I often wonder how normal people live these days.

Roberto:  They buy an IT device and it doesn't work, and they get pissed and throw it out and never use it again. 

Mike:  By the way, what's the deal with Siri's British accent?  That is not an American accent? 

Leo: Do you use the British version of Siri?

Greg:  No, I use the Australian accent, because my voice is just enough like Australian that it doesn't work on British, and it's just enough British that it doesn't work on Australian.  So maybe that's what I'm doing wrong. 

Mike:  British accents is a combination of London neighborhoods. 

Leo:  Now I have to hear this.

Mike:  It's really unpolished, unlike the American and Australian ones.  It jumps around. 

Greg:  The male and female British voices are quite different too. 

Mike:  The female one is the one I heard that is so off.

Leo:  Is it under UK?  Is it under...  English, Ireland, UK. 

Greg:  You also need to be careful here with the term AI when most of what we're doing today is machine learning.  Machine learning is where you pass some statistical analysis. 

Mike:  Doesn't machine learning all under the umbrella of AI along with...

Greg:  AI is very different from machine learning.  Machine learning is you pass it through a certain set of mathematical equations. 

Leo:  It's a precursor to AI, but isn't AI by itself. 

Greg:  Eventually, to build AI, you have to be able to build neural networks, or networks that are with data associations can be made dynamically and quite fluidly.  We're not there yet.  There's no live applications around artificial intelligence.  Most of what we have today is ML.  Just be patient.  There's many years to go, because there's not enough AI mathematicians around to make those algorithms run yet, but most importantly is there is not enough data, so if you're a research scientist or you're a post grad or master student, you couldn't have all the theory about artificial intelligence, but until you've got a data sent to train the AI on, you've got nothing.

Mike:  Your point of view is in the minority.  The majority of people consider AI to be an umbrella term that includes lots of things, including machine learning.

Leo:  I think Greg's point is well taken, especially in this conversation about how smart is AI, because machine learning isn't smart at all.  It's just big data, and if you extract the information and separate the two, then we are in the early stages of AI.  It really is barely doing anything.  Let me just ask, this is the British Siri.  Should I use the male voice?

Mike:  The female voice is the one I heard that's completely out of whack. 

Leo:  Let me use the female voice then. 


Leo:  I kind of like that. 


Mike:  Ask a complicated question.

Leo:  Show me restaurants near me. 

Male Siri:  OK.  Here's what I found. 

Leo:  Now it's giving me the list. 

Mike:  It's because it's on camera.

Leo:  Yeah, you bastard, I hate your guts. 

Roberto: Sometimes I like to say stupid things that Siri tells me.  Sorry, Robby, I wasn't able to find any door locks this time.  I asked to play a song. 

Leo:  But it was by the Warlocks, so to be fair.  I think Siri often says some of the funniest things I've ever heard unintentionally, because she's so goofy.  Hey, there is a new movie coming to town, we were watching the trailer, I thought we'd play it again here in just a second.  Ready player one?  Everybody loved the Earnest Kline novel.  Spielberg is making the movie, I want to take a look at the trailer, and that can launch a conversation about virtual reality, what Apple is doing with Augmented reality.  Scoble has really gone off the deep end this week.  He says Siri is God.  That's his new thing, and he's crazy.  He thinks Apple is going to eat the world. 

Mike:  He and I got into it on Facebook.  He says that in September, Apple is going to kill virtual reality, and...

Leo:  Let's say augmented reality.  Even then, it's going to be Pokemon Go level.

Mike:  They're going to invent the category.  They're not going to destroy it, they're going to create it.

Leo:  Well, we'll find out in a moment when we return, but first, a word from dinner. Dinner is—I tell you what. I actually really owe a debt of gratitude to Blue Apron. I have rediscovered cooking with Blue Apron. I can't express this more vividly. This—so, it seems simple. It's the number one fresh ingredient recipe delivery service in the country, so you get a box once a week. We choose. We go online. We go to the menus. We choose the three meals we're going to get. You can get it for a couple or for a family of four and they have more kid friendly ingredients. But let's just see. So, Sweet & Spicy Beef sounds good. Crispy Chicken Tenders and Hot Honey. Salmon and Freekeh Salad. I don't even know what freekeh is. So, you pick the three. You get the box. Everything is fresh. Everything is perfect. They have really figured out how to do the processing, because you'll never get an old leaf or anything.

Mike: But you started to hit the nail on the head. The way you feel when you're cooking, you feel like you're a chef.

Leo: Exactly. So, you know, we always focus on the mechanics of this. You get the box. You get exactly the right thing and blah, blah, blah. But, it's like you have a sous chef that's done all the prep work. You have exactly what you need. And then you start cooking and you're going to be able to do this in half an hour, forty minutes and you're—the room starts to—you feel like a chef. The room starts to fill with these amazing aromas.

Mike: You get extremely arrogant.

Leo: Get out of here. No soup for you, I say. No, it is really—and by the way, we've learned how to make things that we make again and again. There's a salad now that we made again. Actually, it was like when we came over to dinner that time and Amira was making a kale salad. It was so good. And we've made it over and over again because we saw her make it. We learned. And it became part of our repertoire. And that's what happens with Blue Apron. These things become a part of your repertoire. They don't repeat. They only repeat recipes at a minimum of once a year. The ingredients are perfect. Every bit as good, if not better than you would get if you did the shopping yourself. Actually, they do a better job of picking the produce and the meats and everything. And by the way, the meat is phenomenal cuts. Fresh delivery, it's in a refrigerated box. On the menu, Seared Chicken and Creamy Pasta Salad with Summer Squash and Sweet Peppers. Creamy Shrimp Rolls with Quick Pickles and Sweet Potato Wedges. Oh, we had this the other day. Chili Butter Steaks. It's chili butter. They have a chili pepper sauce that's from Italy that you mix in with the butter, with Parmesan Potatoes and Spinach. It was a hit. A huge hit. I've wilted more spinach with Blue Apron than I ever had before and I've become a fan of the wilted spinach. They have partnerships with 150 local farms, fisheries and ranches across the US, so you're getting the best food. Their freshness guarantee promises everything arrives ready to cook or they'll make it right. They've sent me emails. This is a company that does customer service right. They've sent me emails saying, "You're going to get yellow tomatoes instead of red ones because the yellow were better. Just wanted to let you know." And it's that kind of thing. Look, you've got to try this. For getting a family excited about cooking, for cooking for your sweetheart, for date night, there's nothing better. Blue Apron. Check out this week's menu. And by the way, you're going to get three meals free with your first purchase and free shipping when you go to We actually cook two and give one to Lisa's parents, my in-laws.

Mike: It's more than they say it is.

Leo: Oh, easily. We feed a family of three with every meal. But, they love it. So, we pick one that's going to be—that they're going to love. And it's all ready to go and they just love it. It's a great gift. or do it for yourself. It's a gift for you. It's a better way to cook and I promise you—I think you know if you've been listening, if you listen to our shows, I've been talking about cooking a lot more lately. It's because of Blue Apron. Thank you, Blue Apron.

Leo: We've also been talking a lot more about VR and AR. That's because of Robert Scoble. Curse you, Robert Scoble. He is all about Apple going to be this new iPhone. It's going to be the most amazing. He's actually doing a better job than Apple with getting me excited about the new iPhones.

Mike: Yes. And I really am super excited about ARKit and what that's going to bring about. We've already seen some demos. It's fantastic.

Leo: Very impressive what people have been able to just cobble together very quickly. So, this is to me, this is what really gets you inspired. Comic-Con was this week. And Steven Spielberg came with a trailer for his new movie, the one based on Ernest Cline's novel that I know all of you've read because it was the geek novel of the year a couple of years ago.

Mike: Never read it.

Leo: Ready Player One.

Roberto: Horrible nerd.

Leo: I tell you what, just read the—

Roberto: Ok, so this is what I know. If you like nostalgia, read this book.

Leo: No, no, no, no, no. Read the first page. That's all. And then if you can put it down, put it down. You won't. You haven't read it either, Greg?

Greg: You have to read it from end to end. No, I loved the book as well. I thought that unlike a lot of books like that, that sort of lose pace in the middle, they managed to make it run all the way through. So, the writing was just outstanding.

Leo: So here is the trailer. And I have to say, I'm pretty excited about this from Ready Player One. And watch—Mike pointed this out to me. Watch how Steven Spielberg dramatizes the experience of VR, because that's a hard thing to do. In our day, they had to dramatize smoking marijuana. Or the acid trip and they would make the camera go woo, woo.

Roberto: They did a pretty good job on Lawnmower Man.

Leo: (Laughing) Actually, that was the VR movie of all time, wasn't it?

Roberto: That was the VR movie.

Leo: Well, compare this to Lawnmower Man. Watch.

Wade Watts [trailer]: I live here in Columbus, Ohio. In 2045, it's still ranked the fastest growing city on Earth, but it sure doesn't seem like that to me.

Leo: Columbus, Ohio.

Wade Watts [trailer]: They called our generation the missing millions. Missing not because we went anywhere, but there's nowhere left to go. Nowhere except the Oasis.

Leo: He's putting on the VR googles. In 2045, we're still going to have to wear those visors?

Roberto: They will be all sweaty and everyone's going to have acne around their face.

Leo: So, now he's in VR. People are flying around.

Mike: That's actually beautiful.

Leo: This is Spielberg's idea. So, there's 80's things. Like, that was Iron Giant. There are 80's icons and references as there were in the book. The best VR game though, is coming up. They're going to do this driving game where it shows the guys walking into, you know, a kind of weird, minimalist environment.

Mike: It's an organized, very organized team video game playing in VR.

Leo: And it shows their VR experience at this point. It looks like Fast and Furious.

Mike: And there are bots in VR.

Leo: Yea. And apparently there's Russian VR as well.

Roberto: We need more Prague Rock in VR. If anything that should be VR, it's Prague Rock.

Leo: (Laughing). It's Styx. Unfortunately, I think every movie now has to have all of this, car chase, crash, explosion stuff.

Greg: A lot of that turns into video game tie-ins.

Leo: Yea.

Greg: There are a lot of scenes in modern movies that get—

Leo: So, he rips off the visor. Wow. It's too much. Wow.

Roberto: I've been doing this all the time, and that time was too much.

Leo: Is this the VR game of the year? It's not until next year, so don't get too excited.

Mike: It's the perfect novel for a movie because you can have live action which is very interesting. You have CGI which is necessary based on the subject matter and it's just a fascinating story with lots of nostalgia, so, the public generally can, you know—the kids will love it and their parents will love it because of the nostalgia. It's just, it's the perfect—even when I was reading it, I'm like, "Oh, somebody's got to make this into a movie."

Leo: Every once in a while you'll read a novel that was clearly written with the idea of, "We're going to option this sucker."

Roberto: People love nostalgia. Maybe more now than ever.

Greg: The actors are going to have to be in front of a green screen. They're not going to have to go on site to do the videos.

Leo: They're not going to have to come to work. They'll digitize them and then say, "Thanks very much. We'll send you the royalties."

Greg: Yea, but I mean, already they're doing things like—I would imagine that almost all of that movie, if not all of it, was done in front of a green screen, and everything else was CGI, which makes them incredibly cheap to make.

Leo: Right.

Greg: Not only cheap to make, but very accurate. You know exactly how much money you're going to spend to make a movie. And this is—one of the impacts of technology is that in movies, we never used to know how much it would take. You know, you'd go out on site and—what is it? There's a story in The Matrix. They could only get the studios to give them $20-million to make the whole of The Matrix.

Leo: Right.

Greg: So, what they did was spent $20-million making the first 15-minutes and then went back to the studio and said, "Here's the first 15-minutes. We want the rest of the $200-million."

Leo: (Laughing). That's a good trick.

Greg: Because—so, I think we're seeing a transition here. If you can put, if you can turn video production or movie production into a factory production line, you get control of your costs and you know what things start to look like. And that's what we were seeing with Netflix and Amazon Video. There's a transition there where a lot of the CGI is you know, definitely able to be produced at a much lower cost than going out with a camera and taking shots of someone.

Leo: I wanted to show that trailer because—

Roberto: You know, that was the folly of the first, you know, the prequal, the Star Wars prequels. Like, we're just going to make everything CGI.

Leo: And it was soulless.

Roberto: Everything CGI is fine, but you have to have—you need to have good—you know, you have Steven Spielberg attached to this. You have good actors attached to it. Without that, without a story, without a good director, without good actors, you're going to end up with the prequals.

Mike: One of the strangest things about Rogue One was that one of the characters, presumably the actor died or something. But one of the characters was just CGI.

Leo: Two of them were.

Mike: Two of them, ok.

Leo: Grand Moff Tarkin. It was poorly done in CGI, but if you didn't know ahead of time, you might have missed it. But once you knew and looked at Tarkin—I think it was Tarkin, right? It was like, oh, that makes sense.

Mike: It was surreal.

Leo: And then Carrie Fisher's part was CGI, because she obviously was a little older.

Mike: Didn't get that far in the movie yet. But also—

Leo: Oh, sorry. Don't mean to ruin it.

Mike: Darn it. I was going to—

Leo: (Laughing).

Mike: But the other weird CGI thing was Tron. That was one of the things that ruined Tron was they showed the young actor, Jeff Bridges, and that just did not work.

Roberto: It was the uncanny valley. We still need people. They still look like, oh God, oh no.

Leo: So, the other reason I showed that trailer is I want to show the glossy, Hollywood vision of AR and VR compared to—this is an ARKit demo that was posted on YouTube. Everybody's very excited.

Mike: Not exactly ready for AR.

Leo: (Laughing) Everyone's very excited about this.

Mike: It's very cool. I mean, how cool is that?

Leo: And this is real, right? This is—you're actually going to be able to do this presumably when the new iPhone comes out. One of the interesting things, she's using an HTC Vive with ARKit and in fact—

Mike: That painting in 3D space is amazing. Whatever that thing is, character doing the drawing is not amazing.

Leo: It's a blob. It's a blob that's her. It's a blob that's her.

Roberto: It's not as creepy as Jeff Bridges.

Leo: That's, by the way, I'm sure why it looks like that, if they'd made it look like her, it would have been as creepy as hell.

Mike: So, I want to show a video. I think Anthony has it. This is an experiential marketing gimmick video made by somebody in I think Peru. And they're handing out in trapped people stuck in traffic some VR goggles.

Leo: It's Cardboard right? Google Cardboard basically.

Mike: Yea. And they gave them the app and all that kind of stuff. And this is a representation of what they see. This is how it's going to transform advertising.

Leo: Oh my God. She's driving down a normal highway but there's a giant hose. So, that's AR. There's a giant, inflatable flamingo.

Mike: The placement of virtual objects in read places.

Leo: And you're saying these will be marketing objects. This will be like Taco Bell.

Mike: This is a pretty glossy version of what ARKit is going to bring us like maybe next year. And we're going to see virtual stuff. It's not going to be that good, but it's going to be good. And things will be placed in space that will be mind-blowing.

Leo: And Apple, you know, to Scoble's credit, Apple will have a huge lead in this. I mean ARKit is clearly something that developers like and it's easy enough to use.

Mike: It will be like everything else. They'll dominate with their App Store and these are apps that we're going to be downloading. But, Apple's App Store didn't end all other app stores. It basically, you know, they helped create the market and then the Play Store is even bigger than the App Store. And there's a thriving market on Android and even other platforms. So, his point is it's going to kill everything else that's VR. That is not going to happen. They're going to push augmented reality directly into the mainstream very rapidly, which I think will be great for other companies doing AR. And I think that VR's going to be kind of like, kind of a back-burner thing. It's sort of like mobile games versus console game.s Console games are amazing, but a tiny minority of people actually play console games compared to how many people play mobile games.

Greg: VR's going to be the Google Glass. Not everybody wants to shove a thing on the front of their face and the same reason that people didn't want—

Mike: Well, it's only a matter of time before all of that stuff on your face is undetectable and I think Apple will end of the market at that point. But all this work that's being done in AR for looking through your phone and tablet will be applicable to the world of glasses. To me, this is the most exciting thing that people underappreciate, which is that all of this development work, I mean, it's a lot of work to create these virtual experiences and so on. All you need is glasses to project what's happening on the phone onto those glasses. And you can take your pick. You can look at it on the phone. You can look at it on the glasses. It's amazing.

Greg: We're light years away. We're years and years away from that. Transmitting, to do sufficient virtual reality you need about, I think it's about 30 or 40—sorry. I think it's sort of like 5 to 10 GB per second. And streaming that over a Bluetooth style connection, our personal area network isn't going to happen any time in the next 5 to 10.

Mike: Again, I don't even want to talk about virtual reality because that's going to be nothing compared to augmented reality. And there are going to be a million solutions for this. Already there's a $99-dollar set of glasses that are ridiculous. You're not going to wear them in public and all that kind of stuff. But what they do is they simply reflect virtual objects onto a curved piece of plastic that is part of the goggles. What are those called? But it's $99-dollars to have an augmented reality experience.

Greg: The question is whether they'll be rejected like Google Glass was. So, Google Glass was definitely seen as privacy intrusion. It was uncool. And I can remember being in bars in San Francisco and people would be walking around with Google Glasses. And they'd be being verbally abused.

Mike: Well, that was only in San Francisco. There was literally no other place on earth where that took place.

Roberto: Or owned Google Glass.

Leo: No one else was wearing Google Glass.

Roberto: No one else was wearing Google Glass. Columbus Ohio? Is there a lot Google Glass floating around? No, no, no. You would have abused them.

Mike: Greg, I think we actually had this argument last time we did this show together which is this idea that Google Glass tried and failed and now they've come out of nowhere with this new product, that's a false narrative put out by the tech press which felt—the journalists don't make enough money to spend $1,500-dollars. They felt excluded through price and so they went about bashing it.

Roberto: All the people I know who had Google Glass were journalists. We spend money.

Leo: I bought a pair. We had a pair.

Roberto: I worked at Wired at the time and like four people on staff spent their own money for Google Glass.

Leo: Yea, but they were ultimately—they were unimpressed.

Roberto: But they wore them and they had them and then they gave them to me. And I'm like, "This is not comfortable."

Mike: So, here's what actually happened.

Leo: You like it better when you spend $1,500 bucks for it, I want to point that out.

Mike: You have to like it. You at least have to tell your spouse you like it. But, anyway, here's what actually happened. Google came out with an extraordinary innovative beta program. They said, "Not only do we want you to try the hardware, but we also want you to pay a fortune for it and we want you to tell us how you're using it because we have no idea how you're supposed to use this thing." They did it for a while. The one thing that made the narrative weird is that at the very end they said, "You know, ok we're opening it to the public." The public said, "I don't think so." And then—

Roberto: What made it weird was the initial video showed actual augmented reality. The original Google Glass video showed actual augmented reality.

Leo: That was a mistake.

Roberto: And I spoke to augmented reality researchers and they were like, "That's not possible." And then it came out and it wasn't—

Mike: It was a screen in front of your face.

Roberto: Yea, it was a screen and you had to be like this.

Mike: But there actually was augmented reality. For example, the Magic Lands app which started out on the phone which translates signs into a new language right before your eyes using the same typeface, that was real augmented reality. But anyway, back to my point.

Leo: Somebody's saying something interesting though. Gray Raven in the chatroom. "Ten years ago, people staring at 6" phones would have looked really stupid."

Roberto: They still do.

Leo: I remember when I first experienced this. I was in Europe and saw people walking around looking at phones. I thought, that is crazy. But now, it's accepted. It's everywhere. It's universal. So much so that you don't notice it. Will we all get used to wearing some sort of augmented reality?

Mike: I don't think we'll have to.

Roberto: They have to look nice. They have to look nice and they have to work. And I think Google's folly was they created this—

Leo: They overpromised.

Roberto: They overpromised. They under delivered.

Mike: What did they promise?

Roberto: They promised real augmented reality. They showed a video and they were like, "This is Google Glass that's coming."

Mike: They had a gussied-up demo, exactly like every product that has ever existed. It was unrealistically—that video—

Roberto: That wasn't even slightly unrealistic. It was incredibly unrealistic compared to the actual product they gave out as beta.

Greg: I think Google's mistake was, as you said, overpromising, under delivering. But it was also a step to far at a social level. People wearing them down the street could take a photo at a time when there was no Instagram, there was no Snapchat. This is my point, is—

Mike: And when Snap Googles came around, that was fine.

Leo: This was the Google Glass video that launched it. And I have to say, Roberto does have a little bit of a point here.

Roberto: You're like, oh, Google Glass is coming. This is awesome.

Leo: Yea, he's going to put on his glasses and oh, look.

Mike: Nobody who wears flipflops can afford it either, by the way,

Roberto: Well, you could only afford flipflops after buying it.

Leo: So, this reminds me of Microsoft's HoloLens demos which always imply a full field of view, and you know, you're interacting with the world around you.

Mike: This is what we want.

Leo: This isn't even something Google Glass could have done. But I guess what you're saying is, once you understand that what you're seeing isn't in front of you but is in effect over your right eyebrow, it's not so far off.

Roberto: And you know, Epson had their industrial glasses basically.

Leo: That is the point that Steven Levy and Wired wrote a long article about how Google Glass is now widely used in manufacturers.

Roberto: Yea, they make airplanes with it.

Mike: All of this stuff that all of this stuff that we're talking about happened under Google X. It was a research project. And then at the end of it they said, "Ok, now we're going to productize it." And everybody said, "Oh, it failed." No, it was a research project. Then they productized it. Now the product is out and it's amazing and they know what's it for.

Leo: It's an object lesson in not doing this kind of overpromising years before you could actually deliver something like this.

Roberto: I mean I wore some glasses the other day for bike riding like a week or so ago and it wasn't exactly this but it was pretty close. I'm like, "Ok."

Mike: Yea, the heads-up display.

Roberto: Yea, the heads-up display, they had—and the company who built it actually builds the heads-up displays for jets, for people wearing those giant—so, ok. Now, ok, I can see how this is working. This is great. This makes sense.

Leo: I like the idea.

Roberto: And the niche sort of market where it's like it's for manufacturing, for industrial uses, that's where AR started and where it's going to be for a while. But now they're like, "Ok, well we're doing this for bicycles." And you can see there's sort of a little bit for motorcycles. There's sort of a little bit for here and there.

Mike: SCUBA divers.

Roberto: But I think augmented before VR. VR, I don't even want to talk about VR. AR is going to be huge but you still have to get over that initial we have to make something that people want to wear. And that's what it comes down to. Whoops.

Mike: Within 6y or 7 years, 8 years, when you go to get your glasses, they'll say, "Well, you want the smart ones or the dumb ones?" You know, when you pick your frames, you're like, "Ok, give me the smart ones." "Ok, here's a series of options." "Ok, I'll take those." "It's an extra $200-dollars." And then you'll just get little screens kind of like Google Glass but they won't be the big boom that comes out in front of your face. They'll be practically indistinguishable from ordinary glasses. There's a company, a startup called, what do they call it, Vue Glasses, V-U-E Glasses in San Francisco. They don't do screens. They don't have a camera but it's a little blinking lights and the most important part of all which I think is underrepresented, is the audio part of augmented reality. Bone conduction is the killer app for smart glasses I think because you want to be talking to your virtual assistant all day.

Leo: This is another technology that's never worked very well for me. Does it work for you? Can you actually—

Roberto: That's how Glass worked kind of.

Mike: It did use bone conduction. It only was on one side whereas Vue glasses are on both sides. But the point is, we're going to be wanting to—so, here's a problem nobody worries about. We want to talk to our virtual assistant all day, our future selves five years from now. What technology gives us all day, you know, battery life, all that kind of stuff, not you know, AirPods last two hours or something like that?

Leo: Your phone does though.

Mike: But that's not, you know, it's not on your face.

Leo: I think that's why Apple's doing everything on the phone, or it seems to apparently.

Greg: Let me as somebody who builds infrastructure as a profession, let me tell you that there's about as much chance of this happening as a pipe jet not burning in hell.

Leo: (Laughing) Of what happening?

Greg: Because it's just not—

Leo: What about 5G? Would that make it possible?

Greg: No, no, no, no. You're talking like 5G is yes in theory, 5G will give you 10GB per second, but it's going to be shared with everybody. And if you want to be able to save battery life, you have to shift a very low bandwidth. As soon as you're low bandwidth, no AR.

Leo: It's probably the case though. What was the increase in data use when the iPhone came out? It was 10 or 20-fold. It's probably the case that before the iPhone came out, AT&T's engineers said, "Well, there's no way we can support that." And sorry, but they did. They made it work but it took years.

Greg: If these glasses need 5G and 5G is at best 5-years away, maybe longer. It's a little hard to tell. And even if it rolls out, it's not going to roll out everywhere in just a few years. It's going to be a 5 to 20-year rollout. So, now you'll be in the situation, it will be back like when the iPhones first came out and you could use your iPhone on Edge everywhere in the country but 3G only in a couple of capital cities. And that's going to hold your adoption back of these sorts of things.

Mike: There's not one thing that is going to come out at some point in the future. Augmented reality in a rudimentary form is already here.

Leo: Yea, and it's already breaking. Did you—Pokémon Go Fest was Saturday in Grant Park in Chicago. And people were furious.

Mike: That's why I was avoiding Chicago.

Leo: People were furious. 20,000 Pokémon Go players gathered and the internet didn't work. None of—

Mike: The world's largest gathering of virigns.

Leo: People, when Niantic's president John Hankey took the stage—hey, I like Pokémon Go. Took the stage, he was greeted by an audience a few thousand deep, many of them chanting, "Fix your game. We can't play." This was from Tech Crunch. Some more aggressive attendees approached the stage to personally shout their discontent and Niantic says, "We're going to give you refunds in the form of $100-dollars in Pokecoins."

Greg: If there's a company that has no idea about infrastructure, Niantic is it. Niantic never worked out how to scale up their service. Their game was successful and they had outages.

Leo: That's true. Is this a surprise? Remember when Pokémon Go launched a year ago? What short memories do we have?

Greg: I mean these guys must be idiots. If I'm going to hold—seriously. You know when you have a conference with 30-50,000 people at it? The first thing that you do is you go and get the mobile phone companies to bring the mobile towers to your event.

Leo: Here's John Hanke going on stage. Oh, man that's got to hurt. You're right though. You're exactly right, Greg. If there was ever a company to expect this to happen.

Greg: These are technology companies. They should realize that if you put 30,000 people in a park, you're going to overload the base stations that surround the park.

Roberto: Music festivals, they travel with towers.

Leo: You know, when Rene Ritchie was at this, we'll actually talk to him on Tuesday and find out what it really was like, but he said, "You know, it said that in Grant Park you're lucky if you get one bar. I don't know how we're going to handle, how they're going to handle tens of thousands of—"

Mike: And they just didn't.

Leo: They didn't do anything (laughing). Well, I thought, I said at the time, "They'll probably have trucks coming out," just as you said, Greg. T-Mobile and Sprint and Verizon and AT&T will probably. I've seen them do it at South by Southwest. Bring out cell tower trucks.

Greg: They'll only come if you talk to them. You book them. You have to book them months in advance. You have to pay them. I've worked—we did a podcast with the people from Live Nation, you know, the people who run the—

Leo: The concerts, yea.

Greg: The festivals and I was talking to them about the infrastructure build-out. They spend the entire year—so, for the six months that the conferences run, they use the tech and the next big six months they spend rebuilding it and reworking the kit and the fiber optic cables and everything so that they can actually run a data network at these events. It's a serious—it's just—I've just got this vision of Niantic being like a bunch of kids going, "It's all in the cloud. Don't worry about it. We don't need to know anything about it. Cloud. Blah, blah, blah. AWS will take care of it." Boom. Done.

Leo: You want to make people mad, get them to come to Chicago with the promise of rare Pokémon. There's people there that have everything but, you know, a Unown or a Heracross and they went. And then, the worst thing happened, which is it pops up, that Pokémon on the screen. You're ready to catch it and the thing goes, shhhh (laughing) wah, wah, wah, wah. I mean that's how you make people really—as dumb as it sounds, that's how you make people really, really mad.

Roberto: It's like going to a music festival and there not being any music.

Leo: Hey, I've got to tell you though, things can happen. We were going to a Live Nation concert, Lisa and I, on Thursday. We had tickets to see Matchbox 20 and The Counting Crows. A fine (laughing) middle of the road—

Roberto: I'm going to be a good guest and not say anything.

Leo: A good middle of the road—hey, I'm 60 years old. The fact that I'm going to see a rock band of any kind is impressive, right?

Roberto: Well, neither of those bands rock.

Leo: Rock-ish. Rock-like. Let's talk.

Mike: I don't like being told what to do. I'm not going to put my hands in the air.

Leo: We're practically—

Roberto: Wave them just like you don't care. You're not the boss of me.

Leo: I do care.

Roberto: You're not my dad.

Leo: Well, you'll be glad to know, we're practically there. We're walking down the street and some lady drives by going, "The concert's been cancelled." And we went, "What?" It turns out the Shoreline Amphitheater which is down, literally next door to Google in Mountainview is built on landfill and it turns out the ramp that would allow them to offload their gear onto the stage had crumbled and they couldn't get on the stage. And they cancelled the concert entirely. And thank you, Live Nation. I think we—Lisa had to tweet at them before she could get a refund.

Roberto: Man, that's horrible.

Leo: But as you say, we missed nothing because that would have been—

Roberto: No, if you enjoy the music, I'm trying not to be a jerk anymore about music.

Leo: But wait a minute. You don't have a Matchbox 20 tribute band?

Roberto: I do not have a Matchbox 20 tribute band.

Leo: I'm shocked. You do who, Prince?

Roberto: We have—I had a Prince band. I had a Bowie band. I currently have a Devo band.

Leo: Oh, Devo. That's a band I would go see.

Roberto: A Devo band in need of a drummer which is tough because yea. And then I have just the general—

Leo: Why is it tough to get a drummer?

Roberto: Well, it's hard to find drummers who—ok, you have to have three things. A, they have to say they're a drummer. B, they actually need to be able to keep time which is very difficult. A lot of people can like da da da da, they can do that but they can't keep time. And then, own drums. So, you have to have all three and that's like the holy trinity and the keeping time part is extremely crucial for a Devo band because—

Leo: Yea, it's very mechanical.

Roberto: It is very—yes. And you know, you're dealing with like 7/8 time and 5/8 time and then 3/4 time all in the same song. So, you have to be able to have, you know—

Leo: I think you need a Matchbox 20 tribute band.

Roberto: No, I don't think I do. I have a general band. We just sort of cover everything. We do like LCD sound system and 2000. We did a 90s show.

Leo: (Laughing) I told him he should hire Dave Grohl, but he won't do it.

Roberto: He won't call me back.

Leo: I swear to God. Anyway.

Roberto: Yea, he knows his drums.

Leo: He probably has a drum kit.

Roberto: I'm sure he has like three.

Leo: Yea.

Mike: His daughter played the drums at a recent event. He brought her out. She's like 9-years-old. She whaled on the drums.

Roberto: Wow.

Leo: That's nice.

Roberto: How is it to have Dave Grohl as your dad, as your drum teacher? It's got to be amazing.

Leo: I think it's hard because what are you going to do? Become a drummer? She's not as good as Dave Grohl.

Roberto: There are drummers who are in multiple bands in other cities who get paid to show up for practice because finding a drummer is difficult.

Leo: So, I'm going to ignore the fact that you've now dissed my musical tastes and called me a nerd for liking Pokémon Go. I'm just going to ignore that.

Roberto: I didn't say that. That was him.

Leo: Oh, sorry.

Mike: That was me. I didn't call you a nerd.

Leo: Greg, is there anything you'd like to say right now before we move on?

Greg: No. I just think the whole—

Leo: You're not going to mock me for anything?

Greg: This idea of drummers and why don't you just use a drum machine for goodness sakes. Just use automation.

Roberto: No, no.

Leo: They're very—they keep the rhythm perfectly.

Greg: And secondly, if you're going to produce—if you're going to be in to weird music, expect to live a weird life.

Roberto: (Laughing).

Mike: He does.

Roberto: I do live a weird life.

Leo: He totally lives a weird life.

Roberto: No, no, I own drum machines. I have a couple drum machines it's just not the same as an actual drummer.

Leo: Let's just do—

Mike: This is why AI is not going to replace humans.

Greg: I would expect a drum machine would be a lot more practical right now.

Roberto: Because it's always quantizing stuff.

Greg: Who would want to be a drummer?

Roberto: And when it quantizes you lose the swing of the drum. Yea.

Mike: You can't. It's inflexible.

Roberto: Yea, and you can kind of like kind of cheat it, but—

Leo: I'm not very good at this. Let's do some more (laughing).

Roberto: Got it.

Mike: Leo, you're hired.

Roberto: You're hired.

Leo: I can do this. Let's add a little snare. Are we not men? We are Devo. I'm sure they use a drum machine.

Roberto: That's 7/8 to—no, they use a drummer.

Leo: Really?

Roberto: Yea. It's 7/8 time.

Leo: Hey let's talk about I am an Audible lover. Audible is of course the place everybody knows, the place to get your audio books. I just finished the Letterman biography which I totally enjoyed. And now I'm starting—I don't know if I'm going to recommend this, a book called Kristin Lavransdatter, which is from the Noble prize-winning Sigrid Undset. It is a famous Norwegian story (laughing) of thousands of pages from the middle ages, but she wrote it in the 20s and I was told if you're into Norway, you've got to read this book.

Mike: And who isn't in to Norway?

Leo: Who isn't in to Norway? Won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1928. Anyway, the point is, classics, modern—how about Ready Player One? Wait a minute. We're going to get you a copy of Ready Player One because this is a great—I think Will Wheaton does the audio book. This would be great for you, Robert.

Mike: How else will you complain the movie isn't as good as the book if you don't listen to the book?

Roberto: That's true. You make a good point.

Will Wheaton: One of these was my own channel, Parzival TV, broadcasting obscure, eclectic crap 24/7, 365.

Leo: Ernest Cline's latest is also there, Armada. There actually are two versions of Ready Player One. You can get it in German too, so, this is for people who want to study German, a really great way to learn here. I'll listen to a little bit of this.

Mike: How do you say the stacks in German?

David Nathan: (German speaking).

Leo: See, I think he's got a great voice. I would just listen to this one.

Roberto: What's David Nathan up to right now?

David Nathan: (German speaking).

Leo: Right? Right? Anyway, Audible does have multi-lingual stuff. You can also learn a language. If you wanted to learn German or French or a variety of languages, they've got the greatest language courses on here. It's all part of your Audible subscription, which makes it really amazing. Did you know that this month is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austin's death?

Mike: I did.

Leo: Did you really?

Mike: Well, there's a lot of stuff going on around it and my wife is a Jane Austin freak, enthusiast.

Leo: They have a ton of Jane Austin on here. I was just looking at Al Franken's newest, Giant of the Senate. Of course, he narrates that.

Al Franken: With my own two hands.

Leo: It's funny.

Al Franken: I'm sorry. That's not true. I got that from my official fan website. We really should change that. Let me start over.

Leo: (Laughing).

Mike: He says he comes from humble beginnings. He's the first person in his family to own a pasta maker.

Leo: If you want audiobooks from the best readers, the best books—Kevin Hart's got a new book. Oh, I've got to read that. Trevor Noah's Born a Crime is amazing. Here's what you do. You go to and the number 2 and we're going to sign you up for the gold plus one plan. You get two free books and a 30-day free trial of at and the number 2. It's a great way to get two books to try out and one credit per month after that. And that is often enough. But I have to say, picking the first two books is going to be the biggest challenge because there's so many great books. Oh, one of our chatters was telling me about this. Emily likes it. A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel. She says these Amor Towles books are really, really great. I have to—that's on my list. I listen to Audible like crazy. Let me see what else is on my library. Oh, I'm listening to David Sedaris' new one. He narrates that. It's his diaries, Theft by Finding. Before we travel we always get books. I read The Galapagos: A Natural History and Turn Right at Machu Picchu. I love to read these books before I go. This is a great discovery. I found this. If you love the John le Carre stuff, and I do, and I've read all the novels. I've seen all the movies but this is BBC full-cast dramatizations of the complete George Smiley books. And it is beautifully done. I'll play a little bit of this for you. It's very subtle.

Male Voice: The last nail was removed. George blinked and blushed and understood. He imagined, so he said, fellowships.

Leo: He's very British.

Mike: Why can't the British Siri talk like that?

Leo: I loved it. I loved it. If you—are you a fan of Stephen Fry and John Bird? Here's the complete BBC 4 Radio Comedy Series called Absolute Power. Do you know this, Greg? I love Stephen Fry.

Greg: No, I haven't. It's quite old.

John Bird: I think it's what our government relations. But one makes allowances. You are after all, a bank manager.

Leo: This is Yes, Prime Minister. It's dry but I love it. I love it. Here's what you do. You go to and the number 2. Get 2 books to start and then a book a month in the Audible Gold Plus One plan. Highly recommend it. and the number 2. Oh, this is new. A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age.

Leo: We are talking TWiT with three of the most intelligent panelists on this show and I always love it. We've got Greg Ferro from the Packet Pushers Network on. He's a network engineer and a brilliant fella. @etherealmind on the Twitter. Roberto Baldwin, always a pleasure too. He's funny. He's smart and he mocks my music taste. He of course is a regular at Engadget and from around the world, our Digital Nomad.

Mike: I'm back again.

Leo: from Mike Elgan, back home. Nice to have you. Cory Booker, the senator from New Jersey has called for some government oversight on Amazon, Google and tech giants. So, there is some sentiment. I saw this on Recode. They're doing an episode with Cory. He says, "The consolidation that's happening all over this country is not a positive trend." He said that the Republicans have been really slacking in terms of asserting consumer protections. And he says that a number of key federal agency leaders who oversee issues like antitrust are dangerous. He really wants to kind of start paying attention to this. I worry when I hear that. One the one hand, I kind of don't disagree that you know, you've got to keep an eye on these guys. I worry about Congress's ability to regulate this.

Mike: It's problematic because a thing that makes them potentially anti-competitive are secret algorithms that nobody can see. And it makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit to think about a government requiring them to reveal those. And it also makes me sick that they can get away with murder behind the scenes with these algorithms. You know, Facebook is another company that does this stuff. You don't know what they're doing.

Leo: Yea.

Mike: Are they racially profiling? Are they—

Leo: Yea, you'll never know.

Mike: And all you know is that companies like Amazon and Google succeed wildly. And in the case of the more European anti-trust obsession, but you know, Google has competitors. And those competitors don't rank—they both A, don't rank as well on Google searches as Google's stuff does and B, they're not as successful. Are they not as successful because they don't rank or do they—I mean, you don't know what's really going on, if they're really cheating or not. It's so—and you know, these algorithm based companies, they change their algorithms a thousand times a day.

Leo: Right.

Mike: And so it's like—

Roberto: There's no tangible evidence that they're doing this because it's gone.

Greg: And even Amazon's already playing around with a thing called dynamic pricing where they charge you according to your ability to pay.

Leo: That is so weird, isn't it?

Greg: Yea.

Mike: Well, they always monkeyed around with book prices and you know, who knows why or how they're doing it, what the criteria is. I mean it's crazy.

Greg: Well, there's been automatic book pricing for some time. But I think Ben Thompson over at Stratechery put it together in that the American government's going to struggle to regulate Amazon because the way that the government measures anti-competitive or monopolistic behavior is whether prices are cheaper or not. So, they would, the American system says, "If the price of the goods rise, then that's monopolistic behavior and we will then leap in and regulate it immediately. If the price that the customer pays lowers, then that's not monopolistic behavior." And it doesn't matter if Amazon was able to take over 100% of the market. Under the current legal framework, as long as the price is—you know, this is Google's advantage, by the way because Google has a monopoly. But it's selling something for free. So, therefore, it could never be a monopoly unless something changes.

Leo: This is why Google is prosecuted in the EU but not so much here in the United States.

Greg: Because in the EU they measure your exact behavior, not the outcome of the behavior.

Leo: I think it was Jeff Jarvis who told me the difference in anti-trust regulation is here they're designed to protect the consumer and in Europe they're designed to protect other companies, to protect competition.

Mike: Exactly.

Leo: Which I think is a little more subtle, probably a better way of doing it because price isn't the only way of measuring damage to consumer obviously.

Mike: And the bizarre thing about that in Europe is that, especially as far as Google is concerned, is that Google is a monopoly in Europe but it isn't elsewhere. European citizens voluntarily choose to use Google and it's super easy to use something else. You go to Russia, it's all Yandex. You go to the US, their market share, Google's market share is about 77%.

Leo: 68 or something. Yea, it's much lower.

Mike: Right. And so, it's really a kind of bizarre thing. Citizens who government in the UE were supposed to represent have chosen to give Google monopoly power. And so, I just think it's a bizarre—

Leo: That's the problem in general. We love Amazon. We love Google. We don't see the problem until it's too late, that they could pose. So, you just came back, Roberto. You just came back from Barcelona and—

Roberto: Yea, it's hot.

Leo: And the Audi event there. In fact, you've got a good article in Engadget here about self-driving boredom. You were looking at Audi's autonomous efforts.

Roberto: They have a—

Leo: Monotonous efforts.

Roberto:  Yea. It's the 25th hour is what they're calling it which is somebody in the marketing team thought, "Hey, I've got an idea. Let's 25th hour." Because they're giving, they're saying, you know—

Leo: We're going to give you an extra hour every day.

Roberto: We're going to give you an extra hour in a day. That's not how time works. It's just that you're not—but, you know, but they have to. Companies like Audi, companies like BMS—

Leo: It's clever.

Roberto: But other companies need to figure out, "How are we going to sell self-driving cars?" Because if the car drives for you, then you're not worried about horsepower. You're not worried about torque. You're not worried about steering. Now you're basically selling a home entertainment system. How do you sell that now?

Leo: They built this. This is a room where people sit and they've got screens that show the city going by them, and they're what? They're testing—they've got a big thing on his head with a lot of electrodes.

Roberto: They're testing the amount of—the information. Is it too much? Is it not enough? What keeps you intrigued? What keeps you involved?

Leo: And their fear is that people will become bored to tears?

Roberto: Well, if you get in a car and it's just like shooting ads at you, then you're going to tell your friends, "You know what? I bought this new Audi, this new autonomous Audi and it sucks because I'm getting ads from Whole Foods. I'm getting ads from Apple. It's too much."

Leo: So, they're thinking about doing that? Any ads would be kind of annoying.

Roberto: Yea, so any ads would be kind of annoying, but they're trying to figure out that secret sauce of giving you information. Like how much information do you want? Because some people want an ad. I've bought things from Instagram which seems ridiculous in my mind. I'm like ads are dumb. Ads are stupid. Ads pay my bills. But they're horrible. But I'm on Instagram and I'm all, "I really need those stickers. I really need those." And that's what they're trying to figure out. And in addition to the like how much information they'll tell you about your day or the news. Do you want a lot of news? Do you want a little news? And so, just trying to figure out—

Leo: So, they're not trying to make a better environment for people. They're seeing what they can get away with?

Mike: I think they've got it completely backwards. Audi wants to sell cars to consumers and then after they bought one of these self-driving cars, they're going to get ads in them trying to figure out, what kind of ads, how many. They've got it completely backwards. I think that we're going to get to a point where rides are free and you pay for it by watching ads.

Leo: Oh, that's different.

Mike: In virtual reality. It's going to be a great virtual reality platform. You have nothing else to do. You put on the googles, whatever it takes.

Roberto: You don't need the goggles because you have the glass around you.

Mike: Yea, yea, yea. That's the holodeck view.

Roberto: Because then I have to put stuff on my face. Again, the virtual reality. A nice, warm computer on my face does not feel like a good time.

Mike: It will be all of the above. But especially ads. I think it will start at influencer events. So, if there is a trade show, anybody with a badge will get free rides anywhere they want in the city and they'll get peppered with advertising related to the topic of the concert.

Leo: So, Roberto got put in this thing.

Roberto: So, I got put in it and it was actually—they were like, "If you get, you know, motion sickness, tell us." And it actually felt like you were just sitting stationary, but because all the screens are moving, it actually feels lie you were moving. Your brain sees movement so you feel like you're moving.

Leo: Did you get sick?

Roberto: No. I don't usually. You're basically inside a virtual reality bunker.

Leo: You said you started to reach for your phone (laughing).

Roberto: You do because you're like bored. And also—

Mike: You need a virtual phone inside the vehicle.

Roberto: And so, what it comes down to is people are going to have whatever's on their phone, that's what's going to be on the screen. Because that's what you want. You want what's on your phone there.

Leo: You'll be doing Facebook.

Roberto: And you'll get ads maybe. If you get ads you'll probably get Facebook ads. You'll probably get Instagram ads. You'll probably get ads that you're used to already. But Audi, these companies need to do this research because they have to figure out what people are going to want before they want it. There was nothing there about giving people ads. They were using those as a background.

Leo: This would be fun. Have windows, you can look out the windows as the world goes by and if you want to look at your phone, look at the phone.

Roberto: No, people don't want that. People don't look out the window anymore. I'm driving. There's people in the car. I'm like, "Look. A deer." And they're like, "What? What?" "You missed the deer." That's me.

Mike: You sound like my dad.

Leo: Why does Audi think you need something on the screen in front?

Roberto: It's not that Audi thinks, it's that we think it. Because you know why? When we finish this, you're going to pick up your phone and do this.

Mike: The horrible reality is that Audi is not going to survive this transition. We don't need Audis anymore. Self-driving cars are going to be generic.

Leo: So, Greg, you're saying the ads add value.

Greg: Yea, well there has to be a point of differentiation. If you're going to have any Uber car and it's a black something, something, something, or maybe it's something that Uber manufactures itself.

Leo: So, the way Audi differentiates itself is the pleasure of driving is one way car companies do it, right? You won't be doing that.

Roberto: Well there's going to be the niche market of drivers. Most people don't like driving.

Leo: We can't let people drive if it's autonomous because they'll screw it up.

Mike: It's too dangerous. It's too dangerous.

Greg: That's exactly right.

Leo: They'll screw it up. We can't let people drive. They'll have to go to special places.

Greg: Yep. Imagine what's going to happen to the niche cars.

Roberto: Well everybody's going to bully the self-driving cars because the self-driving car will get out of your way. If I'm driving, let's say this is—

Leo: That's true. Now we'll get a demonstration.

Roberto: Let's say this is—and here's the self-driving car. I know this self-driving car is going to stop if I cut it off.

Leo: Right. So, cut it off.

Mike: And that's the Apple self-driving car.

Roberto: This is the Apple self-driving car.

Leo: Somebody did that to me yesterday. I'm driving my Tesla and they were driving a truck with a horse trailer on it and they decided they didn't want to be in that lane, just pulled in front of me. They figured, "Oh, he'll stop."

Roberto: Right, the Tesla will stop.

Leo: I'm pretty sure that's what—because it was the weirdest behavior.

Roberto: Or they might not have seen you.

Leo: No, no, no. No, they pulled—and they almost hit me. And I really thought, "Oh, that's because they—"

Roberto: You know why? Because in that truck were the best self-driving vehicles. Horses.

Leo: (Laughing). Yea, what do you do? So, when somebody's riding a horse, what screens do you show him? Or her?

Greg: I think that what we're seeing here is that economically there's a massive gap opening up between who's going to manufacture electric cars. Who's going to manufacture self-driving cars and if you have self-driving cars, are they all going to be run by ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft and so on and so forth.

Leo: What do you need car ownership for at that point?

Roberto: That's so far in the future.

Greg: I don't own a car now, and I would welcome a ride sharing service that could just come and pick me up from my door so I don't have to call a taxi and wait for its arrival or go and catch the bus. I think that's a great thing. But if you're a car manufacture, and you're in a business where you're making $5-10-bilion dollars a year shipping cars, you want to be able to have a spectrum of choices. So, you have companies like Audi and Chrysler and Ford investing in ride hailing services and at the same time, they're putting out cars that consumers might want to buy directly. So, self-driving cars, but ones that consumers might want to pay a premium for. And I think they're going to try all the different possibilities in the market and we don't know what the—it's a bit like Google Glass is, right? Google Glass comes out. Is it going to be the success or a failure? We don't know. You know, I can point at things like the infrastructure isn't there.

Leo: We just have to try it, yea.

Greg: And so, they do all of them. Big companies aren't smart enough to do the one thing that's right. They do all the things and wait to see which one of those little treasures, little nuggets of happiness floats to the top and keeps them winning.

Leo: So, I think we already have an experience, anybody who lives in an urban area, of what it would be like not to own a car, because Uber is cheaper, faster and easier, isn't it? You know, we drove in to San Francisco, it was easier to park and just take Uber.

Mike: The problem with Uber is the driver. People feel uncomfortable.

Leo: Yea, I don't want a human in there.

Mike: That's why self-driving cars and Uber makes a lot of sense.

Roberto: The issue with self-driving cars still is that it's not removing that extra car on the road. Because people are still getting in. One person and one car and they're going from point A to point B.

Leo: There's more than 500 Ubers on the road in San Francisco. It hasn't reduced congestion. It's increased congestion.

Roberto: Exactly. And so, they're still—

Leo: Because they're always driving.

Roberto: Everyone's talking about self-driving cars. I'm like we still have to look at the infrastructure of public transportation, which is, you know what? You can get a lot of people on a bus. And if the bus is self-driving, that's great because the bus is—and this is what's going to, this is the first version of autonomy. It's going to be vehicles along a very narrow route. They're on a route. They're like slot cars basically. They're on this route and it's going to be probably Uber's, most likely and probably public transportation. But the like let's all keep on buying cars or we're just going to have a lot of cars, if you just replace the cars that people are driving with cars that no one is driving, we're still going to have congestion. Algorithms are great. We're going to be able to move a little bit quicker but (laughing) there certainly still need to be a reduction of vehicles on the road.

Leo: Right.

Greg: So, the way that's going to work is you're going to see in the capital cities like London and New York, with the congestion concerns, where unless you are registered or have a permit to drive in the center of those cities. The obvious thing that they're going to do is to say only self-driving cars from ride hailing services inside of that congestion zone and that will prove it out. And then you'll see—they're already talking here in London about turning parking garages into charging stations for the self-driving vehicles.

Roberto: But they're still giving up all that real estate to vehicles.

Greg: It's an eight to—no, you're wrong. There's an eight to one compression ratio. Once you shift to self-driving ride hailing services, for every 8 cars on the road today will be replaced by one self-driving car.

Roberto: You're talking about decades into the future.

Mike: Two decades. Probably more like three.

Roberto: If you're talking about everyone having it? We're probably fifteen years out just to get the crappy one.

Greg: In the congestion zones inside the cities we have the population problem. They have the health, too much diesel, too much whatever. It's probably going to happen within 5-years. There's a tipping point of—

Roberto: There won't be appropriate self-driving vehicles in 5 years to really—

Greg: You're not going to have self-driving vehicles in Ohio, right? It's going to be in the capital cities where there's high density.

Roberto: Sorry.

Greg: And there are more conflict issues than there are in somewhere else, right?

Leo: No, I agree. You'll see them in Singapore and Hong Kong and London.

Roberto: It makes more sense for it to be self-driving vehicles.

Leo: Although, you know what? We still see a ton of bicycles in Beijing. I think bicycles might be a better choice for a lot of these urban areas. Get some exercise. No pollution.

Roberto: Or the bus.

Mike: Or you could walk.

Roberto: Or take the subway.

Mike: Or take a Segway. Anyway, so, before we move on, you're talking about Audi. I really think Apple has the right idea for the future in manufacturing self-driving cars. They're working with an Austrian contract manufacturer called Magna Steyr and they've based their whole business off of Foxconn. And so, I think Apple's making a big bet that—

Leo: We won't make them. They'll have someone else make them.

Mike: It doesn't matter who makes them. They're designed in California, whatever. And then some contract manufacturer will make them. They'll be given the brand of whomever designed them and they'll churn them out like nothing. They'll cost very little and they'll be mostly consumer electronic experiences.

Roberto: But how would the cost of having a 3rd party build it be different from having, you know, Ford build it?

Mike: Talk about Ford, Audi, whatever. I mean to a certain extent car manufacturing has become contract manufacturer-like. The parts are all manufactured.

Leo: You're saying that it's going to be a commodity.

Mike: It's commoditized, right. It won't be in an Audi.

Leo: Who cares about an Audi.

Mike: Exactly.

Leo: The brand's not going to mean anything.

Mike: Look at what happened with Apple, with the iPhone. They came out with the iPhone. They massed produced it.

Leo: You can't tell me what the number one buggy manufacturer was in 1892.

Roberto: I use unlimited.

Leo: (Laughing). He's better than I thought. Better than I thought.

Greg: Everything about the electric car is accelerated economically. So, it all runs off a cliff. I was talking to somebody in the fuel, in the petrol industry. Petrol Stations? And they are predicting that if just 30% of sales of petrol, if petrol sales shrink by 30%, the entire distribution market for fuel collapses. Because it needs a certain density. It needs a certain number of fuel stations. And if 30% of the fuel stations go away because 30% less petrol is being sold, that whole distribution chain just falls apart and that market goes into freefall. And at that point it becomes more effective to have electric cars because fuel has to rise in price just because of the cost of distribution.

Leo: That's fuel in general, all kinds of fuel. We're starting to see a transition, you've got people worrying about climate change, it may turn out that we go to renewables faster than we thought, just by that cliff.

Mike: There's a singularity where solar is always cheaper than alternative sources. Why would you do anything else?

Roberto: The storage technology is what's really driving that. As soon as you're able to store that, with the power wall, with you know, the—Mercedes is making it as well, the storage. Once you store that energy and you use it anytime, and then suddenly you're like, oh, solar power is—you can't have an argument against solar power. And that's what Hawaii's moving to because they don't really have a choice because their pricing, your electric, your kilowatt per hour, rises and falls based on what the oil prices are. Because they're all using diesel.

Leo: Oh, that's interesting.

Mike: And the mother of all venture capitalists are strongly backing solar. The Pentagon of course. They go to these sunny places and they have to have these convoys who are going through Afghanistan and elsewhere, protecting these giant oil tankers because the tanks and the cars and all the stuff that you need for a presence like the Pentagon has, what the US Military has in Afghanistan, it's just you need trillions of gallons of gas. And the sun is beating down every day on everything and you know, it's free energy.

Leo: One of the things the chatroom's bringing up, these disruptions cause disruptions in tax revenue. How do locals, when you lose gasoline, you lose gas taxes. How do we—we just solve that by writing new laws or how sticky is that thick wicket? I said that for you, Greg, so.

Mike: You're probably the only one that know what that is.

Greg: There's a whole bunch of things that has to happen, but if you look at what they do here in the UK, they charge you road tax which is a—to own a car you have to pay a tax to put it on the road as well as your insurance, plus the government licensing fees plus so forth and so on. Most of the government revenue though for running the roads comes in the form of fuel, so the taxes on the fuel here are—

Leo: That's how it is in the US actually, yea.

Greg: So, you still need the roads. And building out that infrastructure's not cheap. So, what do you do? Tax electricity? That would be popular.

Leo: Yea, yea. It will be an interesting challenge but that's all, everything we talk about is a disruption and poses challenges for all the existing companies.

Greg: Well, what happens to all the garages and mechanics? Keep in mind that the electric car needs what, one fifth the servicing of the ordinary car?

Roberto: You don't have to change the oil, you don't have to worry about—

Leo: I bought a Tesla a year ago and am I supposed to bring it in?

Roberto: You don't even have to change the batteries as much.

Leo: It's never once been in. No.

Roberto: Not the batteries, the brakes because of regeneration.

Leo: Because of regeneration, yea.

Roberto: The brakes don't go out as often. So, you'll be changing the wheel and most of the batteries are rated at over 300,000 miles.

Mike: You're mostly going to be upgrading the processor.

Leo: Well, I get updates all the time, but hardware upgrades, yea, yea.

Roberto: Well I guess we've got to, I don't know, realize—

Leo: Let's talk a little break. We're almost done here. We've been talking for 2 hours. We might want to wrap this up, but first, let's—it's hard to stop when you're having fun like this but let's first take a look at some of the things that happened this week on TWiT.

Narrator: Previously, on TWiT.

Megan Morrone: It says 54-year-old man wearing a hat looking happy.

Leo: I took six years off my age because I was wearing the hat sideways.

Megan: Yes.

Narrator: Tech News Today.

Megan: Axios says Google, Apple and Amazon have spent record amounts in lobbying this year.

Lindsey Turrentine: I think that because there is so much uncertainty, I am guessing that these companies feel like they have to protect themselves by getting as much opinion out there and as many people working the system as possible.

Megan: Crone in the chatroom says, "Why lobby? Buy politicians direct from Amazon."

Lindsey: They have everything.

Narrator: All About Android.

Florence Ion: Did you guys hear? Yesterday was World Emoji Day. Very big deal. Also, we were reminded yesterday of a very sad fact. Once Android O comes to fruition, we'll be saying goodbye to those beautiful yellow blobs. Well, now we'll be getting these circular guys that look like everybody else's, so there goes our individualism. But I'm not bitter. I guess we'll be ok with it.

Narrator: TWiT. The happiest place on earth.

Florence: The sweat faced emoji is going to be completely changed with the new emoji in Android O. It's going to mean, sickly, or as I typically use it for being anxious or nervous which is pretty much every moment of my life.

Ron Richards: Especially when Jason's not here.

Florence: Especially when Jason's not here.

Leo: Florence. The great Florence Ion, a lot of fun this week on This Week in—I'm sorry, All About Android. Megan Morrone, we have a big week ahead. What's on the docket?

Megan: White and Black Hat hackers will descend on the hot Las Vegas this week for Black Hat. The conference started in 1997 which means it turns 20-years-old. And my advice for you is to watch out for pineapples, and I'm not talking about their prickly skin. If constantly protecting yourself from getting hacked isn't your jam, you might be more interested in the Wearable Technologies Conference which will happen this week in San Francisco. And finally, Amazon, Facebook, PayPal and AMD will all release earnings this week. Alphabet will release their quarterly earnings as well, and because of changes in regulation, we expect them to break out YouTube earnings separately from Google Search and advertising. That happens for the first time and that could be interesting. That is a look at a few of the things we'll be tracking in the coming week. Join Jason Howell and me on Tech News Today every weekday at 4:00 PM Pacific, 7:00 PM Eastern here on

Leo: I have a feeling the wearables conference won't be quite as big this year. I don't know. Is that a category anymore? Isn't it funny how these things kind of—

Roberto: I've never been a fan of wearables. You put them on and you think this is cool. But after two weeks I take it off and I put it over here and then—

Leo: It's on your dresser.

Roberto: And then it's over here for the next two years and I'm like, "Oh, this thing." I could never. I tried to get excited about wearable.

Leo: But it was a category people were excited about.

Roberto: Oh yea. Intel threw some money at it.

Leo: By the way, they just closed that division down. Basis is gone.

Mike: Is it me, or is that what Intel does? They have this huge initiative. They talk about it. You read a bunch of stuff and they're like, "Oh, we're closing it down." It's like, again?

Greg: Intel's technology really wasn't as good as anybody else's. Their mobile strategy hadn't supported the technology so they didn't shut it down. I'm pretty sure that Intel, like every other big company, goes and sticks its finger in someone else's pie and if it doesn't work, it pulls its finger back out again. Intel's strategy hasn't been very good. Its low power stuff is still struggling. Even their intelligence and image recognition chips are still not as good as somebody else's. So, it's hard to see how Intel comes back and participates in the mobile or the wearers market offering. And ultimately, it's business is selling silicon, right? So, that's what it does.

Leo: Well, thank God, the PC market is really on the go (Laughing). Yea, 10% down. Microsoft's making money but it's all in the cloud and actually Microsoft's quarterly results came out this week and for the 1st time ever they made more money on Office subscriptions than they did on selling Office software outright and that's definitely a Bellwether for the future of software. In fact, can you—who even remembers going to a software store and buying a box of software, taking it home? That seems so primitive now.

Mike: I did it but I don't remember.

Roberto: I remember buying Windows XP. My wife took a math class and she needed it.

Leo: Had to have XP.

Roberto: I had to have XP, so I bought Windows XP so we could boot camp it up.

Leo: The last time I tried to buy software, I tried to buy Microsoft Office about four or five years ago, and the sticker shock. I went into a Staples. It was like $700 bucks of something and I thought, "I'm not buying that. I'm just not buying. I can live without Office. I'm not buying it. I'll use the last year's Office." And that was the end of that and now I do subscribe for $8 bucks a month to Office 365 and it's a better deal. I subscribe to Photo Shop. It's the natural way to do it. Let's take a little break. We have a few more minutes with our great guests. Our panel today, Mike Elgan and don't forget if you're interested in spending some time with Mike and Amira in Barcelona.

Mike: In Barcelona, we're going to teach people how to live everywhere and eat everything.

Leo: Sounds wonderful. Roberto Baldwin here from Engadget. Is your band preforming anywhere soon or are you waiting for that drummer?

Roberto: We are waiting for a drummer for one band and the other band is gearing up for a big wedding.

Leo: Can't you have that drummer drum at the other band?

Roberto: I already asked him. I have two drummers in the main band. And I asked him. I said, "Hey, do either of you want to drum?"

Leo: You have two drummers? You have an excess of drummers.

Mike: Are you a drummer?

Roberto: Yea. But not good enough for that.

Leo: He's got to be the front man. He's the front man.

Roberto: No. But I'm just not good enough.

Leo: Did you see Kid Rock might be running for Congress?

Roberto: Yea, I saw that.

Mike: Finally, somebody responsible.

Leo: (Laughing) You don't have a Kid Rock Tribute Band, do you?

Roberto: No, no I don't. Furthest thing from a Kid Rock Tribute Band.

Leo: Senator Kid Rock.

Roberto: Well, initially when you went to Kid Rock Running, the URL had like Warner Brothers and Kid Rock.

Leo: It was just a PR thing.

Roberto: I mean, that's how our current president ended up in office. It was a PR thing.

Leo: Yea, sometimes you just can do it for PR and then, wow. You won.

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Leo: Kid Rock. Senator Rock. Are you going to call him Senator Rock?

Roberto: I'm not going to call him anything.

Leo: Or Senator Kid?

Mike: The other Rock.

Leo: The other Rock.

Roberto: Wouldn't he just go by his—

Leo: His real name is what, Richie?

Roberto: Richie.

Mike: Richie Rock?

Leo: Richie Rock. Richie something? Yea, Kid Rock for Senate. Let's see what it looks like right now. Are you scared (laughing)? Yea, at this point—Pimp of the Nation. At this point, it does look promotional. But as you say, you never know.

Mike: And also, kids, those of you beginning their musical careers out there, don't have your name be Kid because eventually you'll be in your 60s.

Roberto: Yea, Sonic Youth is not really. When they broke up, they were definitely not youths.

Leo: Sonic Youth.

Mike: So, quick thing, Leo, and I just want to throw this in there because I think it's such a cool thing. Before the show began, before we began recording, we were talking about command lines and that sort of thing. And I mentioned that my son uses a thing for the Mac OS that gives you a super powerful thing. It's called Alfred.

Leo: Oh, I love Alfred.

Mike: Alfred.

Leo: I know Alfred. I've known Alfred for a long time. Alfred's a good friend of mine. Yea, if you like the command line. What Alfred is, is kind of like LaunchBar was the original one and you can now do it with just built-in Apple stuff, Sherlock and so forth. But Alfred is really great if you use the command line because you can do those command line chores from your command space, your hot keys. No, I love Alfred. In fact, I'm a power pack owner of Alfred, so, yes. Thank you for that.

Greg: I use LaunchBar.

Leo: LaunchBar's still around?

Greg: Yea, LaunchBar. Yea, yea. LaunchBar is—

Leo: That's the original app that got Sherlocked. No?

Greg: I'm not too sure. I mean it's always—it's gone on to do some really amazing things and some of the automations that I can trigger with it.

Leo: Oh, yea, he still makes it. That's nice.

Greg: You might be thinking of Quicksilver, Leo.

Leo: No, I know about Quicksilver and I know that went away, but no, LaunchBar, I for some reason though it had just been superseded by, you know, objective domain. No, I love LaunchBar. Another good choice. Very similar to Alfred and Quicksilver.

Greg: Yea, six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Leo: Quicksilver went open source and you can still use Quicksilver. I don't know the state of development.

Greg: I've had problems with it.

Leo: Did you? Yea. I don't know how this turned into MacBreak Weekly, but it did somehow.

Greg: (Laughing) Leo, I've got one thing I'd like to raise.

Leo: Yes.

Greg: When I was at the ITF last week, there was a working group draft. This is part of the ITF is that they're responsible for the encryption algorithms and the SSL. So, that little lock that appears in your web browser and the encryption algorithms and the encryptions that go with that, there's a new draft coming out around TLS 1.3. Now, TLS 1.3 is about making sure that operators can't intercept your traffic as it crosses their networks and then sell your data for money.

Leo: Yes, love that.

Greg: And I dropped a note in here. I found a link. This is from Ad Age. It's a website back in 2015 talking about this being a $24-billion-dollar market for selling your private data as it crosses the network backbones. And so, the ITF has been putting together a working group on increasing encryption on the carriers and they wanted to get more people to jump in and join the conversation. Now, I'm not so sure how many tel-co nerds or carrier nerds or crypto nerds are out there, but if you are, it will be really great if you could go along and participate in the draft that's happening around this which is the effect of pervasive encryption on operators. I'll drop it into the chatroom.

Leo: Once we had Vince Cerf on Triangulation, one of the fathers of the internet. I once asked him, "If you were going to do it all over again, designing TCP/IP and the internet, what would you differently?" And he said, "Pervasive encryption." They didn't, the really didn't think that would be necessary and now, of course, it's obvious that it would be.

Greg: There's been some real argy-bargied going on here. Apparently, some of the big carriers—

Leo: Oh, they don't want this at all, right?

Greg: No, they are really opposed to it, very strongly opposed. And there's a lot of very unusual stuff happening here where the carriers are putting pressure on the companies that employ the people that are doing this draft in the ITF and so this is big company on big company saying, "We're your customer here. You really should get your person on the ITF to drop this because we are opposed to it."

Leo: It's interesting because you would think Google would be opposed to it. But I think that their engineering heritage—

Greg: Yea, Google's very—Google's not opposed because they capture it all in the browser.

Leo: They get it anyway (laughing).

Greg: Yea, they get it from Chrome directly.

Roberto: Yea, you signed in. You know.

Leo: (Laughing).

Greg: What they're trying to stop here is when you're—even when we use TLS 1.2 which is reasonably modern, there's still a lot of data leakage in the header. Like a lot of the HTP requests and the URL is not hidden.

Leo: So, that's interesting because I just assumed—well, of course, in the United States, the law that protects you from your internet service provider snooping on you was allowed to lapse. The regulation was overturned at the FCC by the new administration. And I just assumed that well, the good news is that my Google searches are at least no visible to my ISP but that's not always true.

Greg: No, well, some of it is and some of it isn't. So, it's not as simple to say—

Leo: Ok, that's good to know. Some of the metadata and so forth is—

Greg: Yea, there's a certain amount of the URL is still shown and the header is not fully encrypted, so, the next generation of TLS 1.3 will be able to make pervasive encryption.

Leo: This is actually kind of a nice example of how when government fails to protect your privacy, technology can step in and do that.

Greg: It is except it literally comes down to the shoulders of about 5 people.

Leo: Yea.

Greg: Who are working in a working group and are being—

Leo: Well, if they all die mysteriously in the next six weeks then we'll know.

Greg: Well, these people actually are being threatened to have their jobs taken away from them and stuff like this.

Leo: That's terrible.

Greg: Which is really not cool. And this is all volunteer work although some of it's funded by companies that make it possible for these people to volunteer and so forth.

Leo: Who are the big adversaries to this? People like Verizon, or?

Greg: Yes, Verizon, AT&T, various governments, they want to be able to monetize the data, like the Chinese government perhaps, the Russians don't want to see pervasive encryption.

Mike: If they vanish, I'd look at the Russians.

Greg: What about—there's also a lot of companies who specialize in tapping this data and collecting it and analyzing it. So, Cambridge Analytics for example, which recently was part of the foray into the government and so forth, you know, if we start taking away their data sources, they get a little bit poopy. So, you know, these fights still go on.

Leo: Yea. And what's also sad is that while the engineers at the ITF understand the stakes and the relevant details. I think end users aren't really aware of it.

Greg: Well, this is real—it's really something that happens in the back room.

Leo: Yea.

Greg: This happens and when it comes out, everybody's going to go, "Oh, isn't that what you always did?" And the answer is no. Your data is not safe.

Mike: And that's exactly why Vin Cerf wanted it built in the internet from the beginning because then it's not even a question. That's just how the internet would have worked.

Greg: Well, we couldn't do it 30-years ago. We just didn't have enough CPU to run the crypto.

Mike: The internet was built by a bunch of hippies who thought everybody would be nice.

Leo: I think it's more than that, actually (laughing).

Roberto: Everyone's going to be cool, right?

Leo: It will be cool.

Greg: No, it was far simpler. Like, we could barely make this work. How the hell could we add crypto to it. It really wasn't. They didn't think about encryption because they literally stumbled from problem to problem to problem right through the boot cycle and no, it wasn't anything as glorious as hippies striving for freedom. That was completely irrelevant.

Leo: Greg, always a pleasure having you on. Thank you for staying up a little late with us. You can now head out for the local and have another one of those pints that you seem to like so much (laughing). You'll find Greg at That's his great network with lots of really good podcasts. He's on the internet @etherealmind both as the website and as his Twitter handle and thank you, Greg. It's always a pleasure to have you on. I really appreciate it.

Greg: Thank you. What a privilege.

Leo: Roberto Baldwin. He came all the way from Prague just to—no, that was Greg.

Roberto: No, that wasn't me.

Leo: He came all the way from his Devo cover band just to be with us tonight.

Roberto: All the way from Akron, Ohio. That's how dedicated we are.

Leo: Is that where you're from, Akron?

Roberto: No, no, that's where Devo's from.

Leo: Oh, but Devo is.

Roberto: I'm from California.

Leo: You're a hippy.

Roberto: I'm a hippy. I was brought up as a hippy. I don't have a choice. It's in the water.

Leo: Thank you, Roberto. And catch his work at of course. How's it been, by the way, the new ownership and the—

Roberto: You know what?

Leo: Did that change anything? You're owned by Verizon now.

Roberto: We're owned by Verizon. You know what? I don't—

Leo: Can you write bad stuff about Verizon?

Roberto: Oh, I write bad stuff about Verizon all the time and you know, when Verizon bought AOL, there were a few sites that wrote, "Oh, how can we trust TechCrunch and Engadget?" Because you're not just—you know, when you write that sort of crap, you're not attacking a publication, you're attacking individual reporters. You're saying that these reporters don't have the journalistic integrity to see that Verizon is a crappy company. And it is. I work for a horrible company.

Leo: They just got busted gating bandwidth.

Roberto: So, I talk crap about Verizon as much as I possibly can.

Leo: Good.

Roberto: And if they fire me, whatever.

Leo: No, that's right. Your integrity's more valuable than your job.

Roberto: But for the most part, they've had zero input on anything we do. No one's ever said anything. No one's ever come—

Leo: TechCrunch and Engadget don't seem in any way, you know, kind of—

Roberto: Yea, no one's ever said anything to me, to anyone on the staff, so I think they know better, especially in the world of Twitter because—

Leo: Everybody would know.

Roberto: If you shut somebody up on a site, then they just jump on Twitter and now you have every tech reporter, every reporter in the world being like, "Look what you did."

Leo: Yep, yep.

Mike: Verizon, can you hear me now?

Leo: Can you hear me now? And Mike Elgan, where will we—Computer World of course. I follow you on Facebook and Google+. It seems like you're on Facebook a lot.

Mike: Occasionally. Mostly Google+ and Twitter these days, a little bit of Instagram and yea, Fast Company, Computer World. I just finished the second to the last chapter of the book, Gastro Nomad.

Leo: Oh, you're writing a book.

Mike: Yes. And that's going to be—

Leo: Oh, I can't wait to read it.

Mike: I can't wait for you to read it. It's a lot of fun to write and should be out soon.

Leo: This is a lifestyle. If we could just get internet, fast internet everywhere, I would just pack up the podcast gear and hit the road.

Mike: Imagine if you put the entire company into a self-driving car, you could go anywhere.

Roberto: And you could record your podcast with Audi's new podcast version of the A8.

Leo: Is there? The new A8, podcasters edition.

Roberto: In 15 years.

Leo: They'll sell a lot of those.

Roberto: You're going to buy cars that are versions. Oh, you're going to get the businessman version. You're going to get the social media butterfly version.

Leo: I do want that. I do want that (laughing).

Roberto: You're going to get the Kid Rock version.

Greg: That's actually—for what it's worth, Leo, that's what we do at The Packet Pushers. We go to the events like the ITF and record 8 to 10 podcasts with the people inside these organizations.

Leo: No, I know you do. And it's awesome. Yea. I hate that. That's not the road I'm talking about (laughing). I want to get on a boat, frankly. I want to be in a catamaran in the middle of the ocean and podcast. When is that going to happen, Greg? When are we going to have high-speed internet globally, worldwide?

Greg: Well, at the moment it's hard to see that that would ever happen. There's not enough spectrum and it's all about latency. You can't change the speed of light, so.

Leo: What about those project Lune and the balloons that Google was talking about? Aquila, the killer drone that Facebook was going to do. Any of that going to happen?

Greg: I don't think so. I think it's a little hard to tell at the moment. Like, it's possible that they are but I think that the software that coordinates where the balloons are and then the question is, where's your antenna pointing to? Is it here? Is it there?

Mike: Well, on a boat it's here and there.

Leo: It's going to say that on my tombstone. I was going to move but I was waiting for better internet.

Mike: You just need a big fiber optic cable on a big spool and just roll it out.

Leo: We're stuck in Petaluma.

Roberto: And then roll it back in as you go to shore.

Mike: There are worse places to be stuck, frankly.

Leo: (Laughing) No, it's not so bad. It's not so bad. Hey, thank you all for being here. We do TWiT every Sunday afternoon, 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Eastern time. That's 2200 UTC in the evening if you're in the UK. That's why I thanked Greg for staying up late. But I hope you will join us. If you join us live, don't forget to go to the chatroom. And pipe up in there at You can also join us live. We had some great visitors from Oakland, from Germany, from London, England, and Columbus, Ohio. Thank you for visiting. From all over the world people come to see us. All you have to do is email We'll put out a chair for you, make sure you're comfortable. Offer you snacks. If you can't be here in person, if you can't be here during the live stream, you can always download on demand versions of all of our shows, audio and video. The website is For this show I think it's Something like that. It's a longer URL. You'll find it. Just go to the front page and click shows. You can also subscribe, whatever podcast program you use, just look for TWiT and subscribe. That way you'll get every episode every week and you can start your week right with a little dose of tech talk. Thanks for being here. We'll see you next time! Another TWiT is in the can. Bye-bye. Yay.

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