This Week in Tech 626
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech. Amy Webb joins us, Futurist Amy Webb. Rob Reid is also here, Science fiction author. Just came out. And of course Iain Thomson, our old friend from The Register. We'll talk to you about that embarrassing Google memo. The iGeneration. Something wrong with kids today. We'll have an actual kid visiting the show. And lots more to talk about, including DJ I, and the United States Army. It's all coming up next, on TWiT.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode number 626, recorded Sunday, August 6, 2017.
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It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech, the show where we cover the week's tech news. One of the fun things about doing this show for me, is I get to bring in whoever I want to. It's always somebody, like... ah. I want to talk to Rob Reid. Can we get Rob Reid on? And lo and behold, he appears! I said your name 3 times.
Rob Reid: I was sitting in my living room in New York City, and a puff of smoke...
Leo: Rob, as you probably all know is a good friend of the network. He created multiple entrepreneur lists, including Rhapsody, then took his experience in the music Industry to write a book that was a really good book about Year Zero. About Aliens and pop music. It's a complicated story.
Rob: And they love American pop music, and it causes problems.
Leo: You told me in an email that you were worried about the sophomore jinx. Your fourth book. So Year Zero was a play on Year one, a book about your first year in Law School.
Rob: My first book was called Year One, it was about being a first year student at Harvard Business School, wrote it long ago. And then when I made the pivot to writing fiction, which is a giant step in literature, it's basically a reset button, just as a playful joke for myself, I had my working file call it Year Zero. It was a phrase that I genuinely used in the book, but the folks at Random House really liked it. I was like it's going to cause confusion with the old book, and they were like, don't worry, Rob. Nobody read that book.
Leo: Well his newest just came out August First. I was at the reading at the Book Smith that you did on Day one of Year one. The new book is called After Awn. It is truly a masterpiece. John Slomena has been saying finish it, Leo, so we can talk about it. I don't want you to get any spoilers. No spoilers here today, but it is really a great book about a near future Silicon Valley.
Rob: It takes place nine seconds from when you start reading it. It is a long book, so you have to read it rapidly, lest it fall into the past. It's set in present day San Francisco at an imaginary start up, a rather diabolical social media company. Everything that's in it, I researched pretty rigorously with long conversations with scientists and technologists so that the tech is very much grounded in what could just happen tomorrow or nine seconds from now.
Leo: I know you did a podcast with Tom Merritt, it was 8 or 9 episodes.
Rob: They're so... what we're doing is an 8 episode podcast. It may persist. I found that I'm having so much fun with it, I may just keep going with it. I interview so many fascinating people to write the book. I ended up learning about the main topics of the book which was synthetic biology, there's a great deal about super intelligence risk, and a lot of other stuff. I found myself wanting to inject these ten page digressions about how cool synthetic biology is at this moment, and that's bad storytelling. So my reward to myself was we're going to do a bunch of podcasts which are basically long form interviews with scientists, technologists, thinkers, founders, that go deep into the technology and the science connected to the book. Then also the geopolitical issues. There's a lot about terrorism, so I interviewed Sam Harris, at great length. Those premiered on Thursday, two days after the book. Tom Merritt is my host, which is fantastic because he is extremely seasoned and has all the experience of podcasting that I lack.
Leo: We're thrilled to have you so shortly after the release of the book. On Audible, but you can also get it on Kindle when you get it on Amazon. I have three copies and I didn't have any here. After On is the name of the book. Also joining us is Amy Webb. You may or may not remember Amy. Her appearance on Triangulation, talking about her book the signals are talking, in which she gives away the secrets of her business. She's a futurist, and she tells us the signals of what might be happening tomorrow. Amy, great to have you on the show.
Amy Webb: Thanks for having me.
Leo: Your book is doing great. I see you just got a 2017 business award.
Amy: It's won some awards, hit some best seller lists. It's doing well. Just went into its sixth printing. So people are reading it.
Leo: Awesome! And Iain Thomson who is not plugging a book.
Iain Thomson: I have no book to plug, I'm terribly sorry. I write a considerable amount each week.
Leo: He writes a lot at theregister.co.uk, and I saw your upset. Look, see all of that about Marcus Hutchins. This is a really interesting story. He came out for Defcon, he's a hacker. He's the guy who when Wannacry ransomeware was ravaging Europe a few months ago, he was the guy who noted in the source code that there was a domain name, a really long crazy domain name, and it wasn't registered, so he registered it and it turned out to be the kill switch, written by the North Korean authors of WannaCry. We think it was North Korea.
Iain: Opinion is divided.
Leo: Probably a state.
Iain: There are elements of state sponsored coding in there, certainly if you look at the way it was put together, its use of exploits, but a whole bunch of other stuff as well.
Leo: It was not like an amateur. And the kill switch makes sense if it's state sponsored. You want a way to stop its spread if it should get out, somewhere you didn't want it to, like North Korea. There was a kill switch, Marcus found it and set it up. Saved the world. Except it brought him to the attention of US federal authorities. Tell us what happened after Defcon.
Iain: I don't think he actually went to Defcon. He came out with a whole bunch of friends. There's been a lot of misdirection, he didn't come out on a thousands of dollars expenses paid for vacation. He stayed in an Air B and B with 8 friends, and it was a very expensive Air BnB, but it came out less than my hotel room in the Flamingo. I could tell you some stories about that hotel. He came out, he did the party circuit. He did walk British tourists in Las Vegas, which is you go to a Gun Range, the Grand Canyon, you go to a Gambling Hall.
Leo: It's not coincidental that his decision to vacation in Vegas was during Black Hat and Defcon, was it? He didn't go to the conference.
Iain: For that week, you have Blackhat, Defcon. It's the biggest collection of hackers in the US. He came for this, he had some parties, he had fun.
Leo: He was at the airport on the way home. Where is he from? Britain? They arrested him. That, by the way, is SOP. If you're at the airport, it's a lot easier to arrest somebody.
Iain: You've got a bunch of TSA people around who are so bored they don't have anythign else to do. You've got a lot of armed police around. It's a good way to catch someone if you're actually doing it.
Leo: But it does send a chilling effect to other security researchers coming to the United States that they might be arrested.
Rob: But they didn't bust him for WannaCry, right?
Leo: They busted him because he admitted to writing Kronos, the Trojan?
Iain: No. This is another thing. His attorney, as of Friday afternoon had barely spoken to the guy. We don't know exactly what he's told the authorities. He did write a blog post in 2014 putting together a piece of potential malware but crippling it so it couldn't possibly be used.
Rob: It was anti malware instruction, right?
Iain: You can't research malware unless you know how malware works.
Leo: This sounds like making a lot of excuses for the guy. The thing he created ended up being sold as malware, am I wrong?
Iain: Actually no. The thing he created was a Windows XP bootloader. It had nothing to do with Kronos.
Leo: He has been arrested for writing Kronos. Not for selling it, but his buddy ended up putting it on the market.
Iain: Buddy is perhaps a bit strong. His co-conspirator, to use the FBI's term. Who has not been named. It's either that he turned State's evidence, or they don't know exactly where to get their hands on him and they don't want to warn him.
Leo: He's kind of warned if you ask me. He knows his name, it doesn't matter if we know his name.
Iain: It all comes down to all the core documents. It comes down to his word against. Marcus's.
Leo: You've read the Fed's indictment.
Leo: By the way, he's being...
Amy: Wasn't there a question about... for a while didn't nobody know where he was? The US marshals had taken him, right? there was a big question where nobody could find him.
Iain: There were 18 hours where nobody, not his family or friends knew where he was. I was calling jails trying to find out if he was there. The FBI finally came through and said we're holding him at our field office, and they've been interrogating him there. I got to say, as a Brit who is coming to the US an awful lot, and the FBI came round and said we need to talk and sat you down in an office for 18 hours, I'm not sure what I would say.
Leo: Do you think he might have confessed to something? They had an indictment before they arrested him. The Feds, whether true or not, he has pled not guilty. The bail is not very high. It's $30,000. Has he made bail?
Iain: He went up into court at 3:00. He was given a 30 grand bail, they had to rush accross town to get to the bail office. They didn't make it in time, so he spent the weekend in jail. Then on Tuesday he has to fly to Wisconsin.
Leo: Are you upset? I don't pretend to know the facts. I just know he was arrested, there's an indictment. Presumably there's evidence that led to his arrest, which none of us know. Why are you upset about this?
Iain: I'm not upset so much, as I think it's being massively overblown, but also it's going to have a really serious chilling effect on security researchers coming to this country. After he got arrested, there are a whole bunch of people in the field...
Leo: Is he respected?
Iain: He's a white hat. He does pro bono work for other malware researchers.
Leo: He was given $10,000 for stopping WannaCry, which he donated to charity. That's a good mark in my book.
Iain: He was also given free pizza from his local pizzaria.
Rob: Which he did not donate to charity. He ate that.
Leo: He's considered an ethical hacker.
Amy: Here's what I think. Some of the problem is that we don't have clear case law on what constitutes a violation.
Leo: In the past, the feds have been very overly aggressive. Aaron Schwartz would be the big example. Somebody who was hounded into suicide. I think there is this distrust of federal prosecution of hacking crimes.
Iain: We're facing a difficult situation. We have this thing called the Wassenar agreement among 30 or 40 nations on what constitutes arms dealing. Under the current US state department rules, simply having a fuzzer could be software arms dealing if you export outside the US. So this tremendous disconnect between what the Feds see as hacking tools and what a lot of other people see as basic research tools.
Leo: do you think Feds don't understand what he wrote? They didn't understand the purpose of it and misinterpreted it as Malware?
Iain: Far be it from me to disparage the good FBI people in Wisconsin. Reasonable expectation that they might have overegged the pudding on this one. It comes just after Alpha bay. My first thought was they grabbed Alpha Bay, said spill your guts or you're going to prison for 30 years, he picked the first name out of a hat that he could come up with.
Leo: If that's the case, then I'm sure Marcus will be exonerated.
Iain: Considering the technical sophistication of most juries n this country...
Leo: It's clear if he is being prosecuted inappropriately and ends up getting punished inappropriately, that's exactly what the Feds don't want, because nobody in their right mind will help the US Government in trying to stop malware. That will be that. He stopped WannaCry, and as a result, he's facing 30 years in prison. That's not the right outcome, unless, and I think it's perfectly possible, that in addition to doing all this good stuff he happened to write a banking trojan that brought down some banks.
Iain: It is possible, however I think you're assuming long term rational thinking on behalf of the FBI.
Leo: You're assuming the opposite, however.
Iain: The FBI knows that they need good security researchers. But if you're a regional FBI person who is looking to make a name for themselves in the field, you go for what you think you can take down. Looking through the indictment, it is very thin. The state that he definitely wrote the Kronos malware. They better have really good evidence for that, because people are going to take it.
Leo: People defending him said that he never really made any money from it. He didn't sell it. But I think, and so I've heard some people say it's like prosecuting the person who made the gun for the crime committed by the gun. But if you're writing malware, I think that's a little different than making a gun.
Iain: Look at the guy who went down for the TJ Max hacking incident, that a programmer there happened to write something for Fuzzer not knowing it would be used in malware, he got two years in prison for that.
Leo: That's wrong. I'll grant you that.
Iain: All you've got to do with a Jury like this is convince 2/3 or 3/4 of people on the Jury. I heard a prosecutor say to me he worries about juries because it's made up of 12 people who couldn't work out how to get out of Jury service.
Leo: I tell people, family members who have been in panel members of juries. They serve. Because if you're ever on trial, you don't want it to be people who aren't smart enough to get off jury duty.
Iain: Exactly. It's your duty if you're asked to serve on a jury.
Leo: And if you're technically literate, maybe you want to get on this jury.
Iain: They don't want people who are technically literate.
Leo: One thing to say about this is the facts aren't well known. It doesn't seem like it's a strong indictment, but it was highly redacted. The other shoe hasn't dropped yet. But I think we will watch this with interest.
Iain: Absolutely. I feel for the guy. He's stuck in a country he doesn't know very well, and he can't leave it. His job's up for balance.
Rob: Once he makes bail, I guess he's stuck in Vegas...
Iain: He's stuck in Wisconsin.
Rob: I prefer Wisconsin to Vegas.
Iain: I was in Wisconsin for all three conferences and it was 105 degrees. Humanity is not meant to live under those temperatures.
Rob: But at least he's only being imprisoned in an FBI field office, which I imagine is better than...
Iain: He's now in a local jail.
Rob: I would take an FBI-- the worst thing that can happen to you is awful coffee.
Leo: The safe thing to say is there is a chilling effect on security research. We've seen this before. This may well be another case of it. Where if you...
Amy: It also sets a... I'm livid about this entire case. The real challenge is that it sets a precedent for law enforcement going after cases involving technology going forward, and the reality is most law enforcement agencies and offices don't have enough technical competency. Our laws are nowhere close to being able to keep up with the changes in technology, whether that's hacking or in AI or bioethics. Regardless of what it might be. This to me should be a national conversation, and it's not. Regardless of what happens to this guy, whether or not he serves time, there's going to be another case and another case and another case. That should have us all very concerned.
Iain: I was talking to researchers who were due to come out for Defcon. One guy who has got French Moroccan citizenship turned away. Applied with Moroccan passport, was told no. Applied with his French passport, told no. This is coming up again and again.
Amy: Was he on a list?
Iain: he wasn't given a reason. That's part of the problem. Now after the arrest, there was serious talk among the community. Are we going to come to Defcon again? Are we going to do Derbiecon? Are we actually going to share this information?
Leo: I have to say at this point you'd be nuts to come to the United States. If there is any reason at all to think... if you have a shadow on your record. If you're from Morocco, enough said. If you're from a primarily Muslim nation, if you've ever touched a computer. I think that makes a lot of sense. It's a shame for the United States. It's not that there aren't plenty of places people can go. There's Chaos computer club that has a conference in Germany. There's plenty of places you can go. They won't be coming here. I don't blame them.
Amy: We're not just missing out on tourism dollars. We're missing out on intellectual capital that we are going to need going forward. Need now more than ever. So fine, people jet in go to the conference and leave, but while they're here, there's physical face to face networking that happens. There's transfer of knowledge. Maybe they stay and do some work on behalf of us. This is a terrible precedent that's being set.
Leo: It's interesting. In effect really, this is terrorists winning. This is what happens when a nation gets very afraid. They start doing things like this, but it has the exact reverse outcome that you're looking for.
Iain: It's playing entirely to the terrorists' and criminals' game. I wish Americans weren't such pussies about this thing.
Leo: As a pussy, I'm glad ot say thank you.
Iain: You're one of the good guys, Leo, but you've got to get on with this. Terrorism happens. Playing their game means we lose.
Amy: It happens a lot more often in Europe than it does here.
Leo: Look at the rise in nationalism everywhere. Isn't that one of the side effects of this? Nativism. We can't let the other come into the country.
Iain: America was a country built on bringing people in.
Leo: This reminds me of a story. We talked about this on Security Now on Wednesday. Nice story about a Hungarian kid. A teenager. 18 years old. There's a brand new subway system in Budapest the BKK- Budapest public transportation authority. He found that on the website, you could buy any ticket at all and set your own price, because the form on the website was so poorly coded that you could go behind the scenes in the HTML and it would change the price, and it would accept it and you could buy a $400 ticket for a penny.
Rob: Maybe they got old Priceline code.
Leo: Name your price! He goes to the BKK and says you've got a problem on this website, he showed them the code, he didn't buy any tickets, he bought a ticket so he could show them the code. He didn't use it. They arrested him, threw him in jail, he bought a $35 ticket for 25 cents. He is now in jail. This wasn't even hacking. This was looking at the underlining HTML. He went straight to them. He didn't buy tickets for his friends. Instead of thanking him, they called the police, had him arrested for hacking.
Rob: So basically you can still get really cheap subway tickets in Budapest, right?
Leo: They didn't fix it.
Iain: This is exactly what we saw 20 years ago in the US. People would call up companies and say you've got this vulnerability, far too many cases, they then got legal hassles, they got the police knocking on the door.
Leo: Budapest transport said they've secured their system now. Other White hats have scrutinized this size. One Twitter user called it a goddamn train wreck. There are so many things wrong, but what it goes down to is a 100 million dollar contract with a Hungarian IT company that created this site. At this point, everybody is just covering their you-know-whats. But unfortunately, there's an 18 year old in Hungarian jail, which is somewhere you don't want to be.
Iain: Not quite Turkish bad, but still pretty bad.
Rob: Every time you say BKK, I feel like it's a burger king commercial.
Amy: He had it his way.
Leo: Amy Webb is here. She's the author of the Signals are talking, A Futurist. I have a good one for you, Amy. We're going to talk about the Google memo when we come back. You're going to explain to me as an old white mail what's wrong with that. We actually have a female Google engineer who happens to be here from Germany. She's visiting. She's not happy about it either. We'll find out what the ladies think of this memo. Will you represent? Rob Reid also here on the heels of his spectacular new book, which everyone has to read.
Rob: Or listen to, Leo.
Leo: I'm very briefly on it. Tom Merritt is on it. Better, John Hodman is on it, reading the phony Amazon reviews that you used to write as a hobby. You've incorporated into the novel. Is it the same reviews you wrote?
Rob: To get a little background, back when I was running Rhapsody, which was very stressful, part of me wanted desperately to be a fiction writer, and my personal therapy for late at night, I got online and this was before the playful Amazon review became a thing, I started writing these deranged Amazon reviews. I called myself Charles Henry Higginsworth the third, of Boston Massachusetts. This character that I invented for myself, he was 20 years older than me and living in Boston in this crumbling mansion, and they ran out of money. He'd start these reviews, get a third of the way in, do a 180 and start complaining about his life. Almost became a top thousand reviewer. Which would have been really cool.
Leo: But none of these reviews were legit, right?
Rob: They were engulfed by this Mr. Higginsworth character. All these reviews that I wrote in 2002 and were still on the web could plug nicely into the storytelling of this novel.
Leo: You were writing the novel even back then.
Rob: It's like boyhood. They are still out there. John Hodgman does read...
Leo: I'll just read the first sentence. This is the one you read when you were reading. This is a review of an actual book by the founder of Dunkin Donuts, called Time to Make the Donuts: the founder of Dunkin Donuts shares an American Story, and you're reviewer writes: "Like a charmed win, curling vital provisions onto a castaway's beach, fate landed a copy of this in a conference room in which I served a recent sentence at traffic school. As reading was a scorned pastime among my fellow inmates, I laid easy claim to the volume, a mental suck for a mind numbed by the day's prattle." You have some great people on the audio version of this.
Rob: Felicia Day. Patrick Rothfus.
Leo: Patrick Rothfus? Name of the Wind? Wow. He reads this pho spy novel. I'm telling you, this novel has replaced Tom Jones for me.
Leo: I've never written an Amazon review. Amy, have you written an Amazon review?
Amy: I have written an Amazon review. But I'm on the opposite ends of the bell curve. Like most people, I write when I'm extremely disappointed or happy.
Iain: I just got my last Yelp review up here and it begins I would sooner apply cheese grater to my scrotum than use this product again.
Leo: Iain Thomson from theregister.co.uk, we'll have more on our show in just a second. Our show to you today brought to you by stamps.com. The post office in your office! You don't need to go to the post office anymore, because you've got stamps.com, and everything you could do at the postal service, you can do at stamps.com. You can buy and print real US postage. You do not need special ink, you just need your computer, your printer, and stamps.com. I have to say if you do mailing of any kind in your business, this is a no brainer. You've got to do this. Especially if you sell things online, Ebay or Amazon. I get so many packages that look like they were made on Etsy. Like they were hand made with Twine and stamps going around the side, and they put too many stamps. You want to give more professional appearance to your mailing, try stamps.com. It comes with a USB scale, you always have exactly the right postage, you're never putting on extra stamps just in case. You can actually print stamps from stamps.com, but most people put the package on the scale and print a very nice label on the package. Your label will include your return address, your business logo, it will even populate the address from the website so you don't have to type anything in. If you're selling anything overseas it does all the customs forms automatically. If you're doing certified mail or some other fancy mail, it will fill out the forms for you. You will get discounts you can't get at the post office. Stamps.com. Create official US postage for any letter, any package, any class of mail. Rob if you're mailing out your books, it will say do you want to do media mail and it will save you big money. Stamps.com, it's easy to create your own account, no special equipment to lease, no long term commitments, and we've got a special offer that gives you a chance to try stamps.com and get some really nice stuff. Go to stamps.com, click the microphone in the upper right hand corner, use our offer code TWiT, and we've got $110 bonus offer that includes $55 in free postage, you can use over the first few months. Can't use all at once, but the first few months, it'll be good for your Christmas mailing list. You also get that great USB scale, you get a supply kit, also a free 30-day trial of stamps.com. I can't say free because you have to pay postage on the scale, it's about $5. It's a no-risk trial offer. How about that? Stamps.com. We've used it for years, and if you're doing mailing, you should do it too. Stamps.com. Don't forget the offer code TWiT. We're talking about the week's tech news. Rob brought his, last week we were talking about Apple phasing out the shuffle, and Nano. You brought your original Shuffle, right? That's the one you hang around your neck.
Rob: It was in the show. I hadn't realized, you covered it last week. I think it was in January of 2005.
Leo: It was the dopiest thing. Remember Steve Jobs said what we found is nobody wants to know what they're playing, they just want to play it.
Rob: My baby's first MP3 player could carry 30 minutes of very low resolution music. The Shuffle was an 8 hour one.
Leo: Then they made one the size of Wriggly's.
Rob: This is a main frame.
Leo: All right. Amy, we're going to put you on the spot. You have to represent all of womankind. Although, a number of men jumped in on this. Apparently there was a memo, placed by a Googler, as of yet unnamed. If his name is ever revealed, we'll find out about it He posted on a Google Memes site, as well as the Internal equivalent of Google Plus. The Internal content has been revealed by Gizmodo. I'm going to try to characterize this, so that people can react. The reactions been very very strong. Google had a diversity problem. The FTC has been trying to investigate them. Google said no. You can't have any documents. Google says we're satisfied that we're doing enough to hire more women and more minorities. It's apparent if you look at the numbers they're not. Women engineers represent one in five Googlers. African Americans and Hispanics even worse. I think its 1 or 2% African American engineers at Google. This memo says this is just another form of discrimination. All this diversity, attempt to... let me see if I can find the text. I don't want to read it.
Amy: I can summarize. So there are different sections of it, but the jist is that women don't make good coders. According to the person who wrote this because they're genetically and socially not suited. Women are extroverts, men are introverts...
Leo: Women like people, men like things. Larry Summers, then President of Harvard saying women aren't good mathematicians, it's just genetically the case.
Amy: Here's what I would say. My viewpoint on this is a little controversial. I would say we are not all the same. Women and men are not the same, but within women there is quite a bit of diversity, just like there's quite a bit of diversity within men. By this guy's definition, I would read like a 16 year old teenage boy, if we agree with how he delineates the genders in the memo. There's a couple things going on. One, he's making broad generalizations about women and about men, which any sociologist would tell you don't track. His generalizations... anybody who is a coder has taken math. He should have known better than to generalize to begin with.
Leo: He says the science backs me up. the sociology proves... but it doesn't.
Amy: Point two, this had to be a pretty low level engineer, because the way that he's describing some of the work would tell me he hasn't worked on any more advanced projects at Google. He's probably an entry level 23 year old kid. His work has been binary, he hasn't had to solve any real problems, and anybody who has had to think about the future or the past or solve any real problems understands that biodiversity is a good thing. Teams are requisite. To me, this was probably written by somebody in reaction to bad performance review or bad day at work. Or feeling left out of the club, or maybe he got rejected by a fellow coder who happened to be a woman. There's so much inexperience in this entire memo to me that it sounds like a petulant 20 year old who doesn't have a lot of experience and doesn't know what he's talking about anyway. I wasn't super angry or upset by the memo. What's been interesting is the reaction to that memo which to me feels a little inauthentic. It feels as though in the year... what was the PCU movie that came out?
Rob: Quite some time ago. '94 or '95.
Amy: I feel like we've hit that cycle again. Our responses are expected, and I feel like some of the responses that we've seen to this memo have been formulaic.
Leo: What about Google's response? Some people have been critical about Google management's response to this, which was we want to make a safe place at Google for all beliefs, including these beliefs. That was their official response. So it's interesting you say what you said, because before the show you mentioned you hadn't read Zunger's Medium piece about this.
Amy: I had.
Leo: You had. He said exactly the same thing. He's a well known Googler, very politically active. He said I can speak more freely about this. He said exactly the same thing. When you first start coding, you are dealing with a machine, but as you get more senior, you realize the job is not coding. The job is solving problems, and in particular, interacting with other people to solve those problems. It isn't... I think you're right that a lot of young coders starting off think what coding is all about is learning how to instruct the machine, and he says essentially engineering is about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy. Both your colleagues and customers, something the memo writer said are female traits. Solitary work is something that only happens in the most junior levels, and in fact, the traits which you would describe as female are the core traits that make someone successful in engineering. But the bigger issue, Amy is that the lack of diversity at Google and in Silicon Valley... does it hurt Google, does it hurt the product?
Amy: I would say yes. One of the things I am researching most intently is AI. That's been a big part of my life for the past couple of years, and you can see the strange and weird ways that AI is starting to break. Or break down. That's a result of having too few people with too narrow a worldview trying to solve problems together. So everybody that I know that works in tech likes to talk incessently about nature and they seem to not take some very basic cues from nature. Nature tells us that biodiversity is good for the ecosystem. It's always good to introduce complementary species and lifeforms to be together. What I find so interesting is study after study and evidence, and we don't seem to take advice when it comes to staffing offices where the stuff is being built. It's difficult. It's hard to have this conversation without using those broad generalizations.
Leo: I want you to school me. I want to be educated here. It is true that, of course every individual is a unique individual and many guys have more female traits, many women have more male traits, whatever. My wife is much butcher than I am. Are there gender differences?
Amy: I think it depends on who you ask. I think Dinesh Dsouza, who is a right wing conservative writer would tell you stereotypes are born out of fact, and that they exist for a reason. I think any sociologist who has had any real training would tell you it depends on what the data said. Gender is not just influenced biologically but by cultural norms and standards.
Leo: You have kids, right?
Amy: I have a kid.
Leo: We have a boy and a girl. I'm pretty convinced that we did not try to push them in any direction, but the boy liked playing with guns and balls, and the girl did not. This was out of the womb. This was early on. I don't think this was socialization. So there's a massive debate of nature versus nurture. It's hard to know what is nature and what is nurture. I think we do need diversity. Clearly we need diversity in Silicon Valley and everywhere. Every workplace is better if it's a diverse workplace. It's just better for everybody in the workplace. I know that. That's true. But part of the reason that's true is people bring different flavors to it, and I think it's not unreasonable to observe that women bring different flavors than men. Or is that a bad thing to look at?
Amy: Here's what I would say. Humans are not wired for change. Our limbic systems react poorly when the status quo is challenged. That puts us into fight or flight mode, and it causes us to make bad decisions, and more importantly it causes us to pine for the way things used to be. It's because of our limbic systems that a lot of people are not good at thinking about the future. However, if we look from a statistical standpoint, change is often better. It helps us approach and understand the future in a better way. What's happening right now is technology has reached a certain inflection point, we have enough people that are trained who can go into the field, we have enough compute power to be able to work on meaningful projects. Because of how things have always been, those roles are predominantly dominated by white males. And males from a few other white countries. So this is really about change and it happens through every field. If you look throughout time, it's happened in every field and every case, and once that chance happens and the work force has become more diversified, they tend to do better, all this data is showing that. I think what it comes down to, is we're dealing with the latest round of this, and we feel and sense it acutely. It's the field that us, the people on this show and listening to this show, it feels acute because we're atuned to it. It's the same story that's been written over and over again in law and in academia and all these other different fields and industries.
Leo: I remember talking to a man named Jonathan Hite. You probably know his stuff. He wrote a book called the Righteous mind about how people are divided by politics and religion. He's an interesting fellow with interesting points of view, somewhat echoed in this memo. This is such a complicated subject, I want to do this in a succinct way so we can move on. But I also, the memo says there is unconscious bias towards what we call the Left as opposed to the right. Things like mercy, compassion for the weak, disparities due to injustice. Open, idealistic. One of the things he says echoes what you said, Amy, the left's bias is towards change is good. The conservative bias would be respect for authority, humans are competitive, change is dangerous, more pragmatic. Google airs so far on the liberal side, that it misses some values that the conservative side could offer. For instance, he says it's a good thing to have a programmer who doesn't like change, who wants to maintain a product, and Google has a problem where nobody wants to maintain an existing product, they want to go to the next thing. He says a company too far to the left will constantly be changing, deprecating much loved services, over diversify its interests, and overly trust its employers and competitors. He says it could do with a little more conservative thinking. Jonathan Haight says neither side is right in this, but there are these very different ways of looking at the world. I don't think this memo is wrong in one sense. Most of Silicon Valley is so progressive focused that there isn't room for somebody who is more conservative.
Amy: Do any of the three of you happen to know anybody who worked at Google?
Leo: It depends if you mean engineers or in general?
Iain: 121 thousand?
Leo: It's a lot. It's six figures.
Amy: So statistically speaking, isn't it possible that just like any other group of people and bell curve, you've got a bunch of people in the middle, you've a bunch of people who are outliers. I think.. I worry about hive mind mentality circulating...
Leo: In any direction.
Amy: In any case. But also happening specifically to do with this memo. This memo goes wrong as far as I'm concerned because of the broad generalizations that it makes. I was a debate nerd all the way through high school and college. If I put my debating hat back on, there's no way I could argue, any argument that comes out of the assertions being made due to these broad strokes is a completely worthless argument. For us, Google is not specifically hiring people who are left of the political spectrum. There are a lot of people who work at that company. This is not in defense of Google. Google has some serious problems when it comes to diversity, but I think we ought to be careful and cautious when making these assertions that everybody at Google is left leaning and silicon Valley is left leaning.
Leo: We know it's not true. But I guess what he's saying, there's a bias.
Amy: There's a bunch of unconscious bias, but that unconscious bias is in a different place. You can see that. Go to Google image search and type in CEO. Who is the first woman CEO that shows up?
Leo: Let's scroll down....
Amy: There it is. Do you see CEO Barbie? For a long time, that was the first female that showed up. She's wearing a micro mini skirt.
Leo: The interesting question is why is that? Is this algorithmic?
Amy: This is unconscious bias. In our culture in America, when we say CEO, women and men left leaning and right leaning are trained to think of old white dude.
Leo: By the way, that's the response. People say we'll make a CEO barbie in a mini skirt, that'll fix it. My wife is the CEO of this company...
Amy: To be fair, overwhelmingly, women are not CEOs of companies. As a statistical sample size, we are smaller. So my point is, there is unconscious bias, there is a diversity problem at Google, and the person who wrote this memo was obviously very young, and feeling disparaged at work. But again, the conversation that we ought to be having is a different one. We should acknowledge that we're all pretty different. Even in our groups we're pretty different. If you want to spin this out, I mentioned AI earlier, the thing that keeps me up, humans, pretty soon, we will not have the luxury of discriminating against each other in these little taxonomies that we understand gender and race. I think within the next 30 years, we're going to have algorithms that are sectioning us off in a more huxlian way, and we're going to find ourselves in tribes that we don't understand, and being lumped together by machines on the backend, and that will have real world consequences, but that's all being built by people like the dude who wrote that memo. The foundations of it.
Leo: that's what Cathy O'Neil would also say. Weapons of math destruction. There's this unconscious bias being written into these algorithms now. A lot of it from math illiteracy. A lot of it from a lack of diversity and ignorance.
Iain: The one thing where I read this, it's like a twice a day. The fact that I'm writing this is going to get decried by some people. He's got a perfect right to write that. What he doesn't have is a right to be taken seriously and not criticized for accuracies or failings. There is a massive diversity problem in Silicon Valley and a racial diversity problem and a sexism problem. That's not to minimize the sexism side of it, but we've got to get this sorted out, both as an Industry and also as a society. You're right, Amy. The most diverse ecosystems are the ones which flourish the most. And we've already got to work towards tending those.
Leo: Your point is well taken. We're about to enter an era where the code written by these people is going to impact our lives in every possible way.
Amy: And to segment us. Honestly, I think my child, who is young will look back 30 years from now on this. The days, how quaint it was that we were writing memos about gender discrimination in our workplaces? We're going to wind up truly in a brave new world sense being segregated into different tribes for financial reasons and mental abilities. All different ways that we've never thought through before. And we're assigning that decision making ability to algorithms that are being written and tested by people who don't share the same world views as we do. That to me is a bigger problem. But I think it's interesting if we cycle back, we've hit a pitch with regards to gender and race conversations. People feeling much like the conversation has gone too far, which reminds me of where we were in the late 90's. I don't know why in this particular moment in time it's happened again.
Leo: We'll talk about your daughter. She's in the iGen, isn't she? I don't want to make this a sociology show. We'll talk about some other stuff too. At some point we have to talk about this amazing article by Gene M. Twengie. It's an excerpt from her upcoming book called the iGen, the generation that have grown up with iPhones.
Rob: I wonder if she trademarked that.
Leo: She has the website igen consultant.
Rob: It's fingernails on a blackboard to me. iGen. iGen, brought to you by Apple.
Leo: I tweeted this article, and someone said do we have to label every freaking generation? Baby boomer, Gen x, Gen Y, milennials. I think iGen is fair. Her book, which this Atlantic article is an excerpt from is coming out later this month. This will tell you everything. iGen why today's super connected kids are growing up less rebellious. She's a PHD. She studies generational differences. Less Rebellious, more tolerant, less happy, and completely unprepared for adulthood.
Iain: There's never been anybody who got poor by saying the next generation don't know what they're up against.
Leo: Turn down that rock and roll you kids, and cut your hair, Leo!
Iain: It's the same way when the personal computer came in in the late 70's, early 80's, oh these kids are just hammering away at a computer, and it's like it'll be the death of them. And now we've got an entire Industry built in Silicon Valley.
Leo: I do have to say, I don't want to get into this conversation. We're going to take a break. But I do have to say, there is something going on because we've gotten very good in designing software that addicts you, right? Very good at--
Rob: Oh, yea. Very deliberately designed that way.
Iain: And it's dangerous.
Rob: Understanding the dopamine responses in the brain and working on it.
Leo: That's what they're doing at Blizzard with World of Warcraft. They have all the data. This is what's changed. We have all the data. We know exactly how much time people spend in each raid, what raids they like, which raids they don't like and we can maximize the loot to make sure they spend more time online. And as a result, there are people that have died from playing World of Warcraft. There are people that have lost their families from playing World of Warcraft.
Rob: But did they die happy, Leo?
Leo: They died with a full bladder, that's all I can say.
Amy: In battle.
Leo: They died in battle.
Rob: That's what they died of.
Leo: In glory. But I mean, I know. I'm playing these stupid games. Yes, it's time for me to play quickly a little round of Field Runners. I play these games. They're very addictive. And I think there is something to be said for the fact that we have a generation who are at the mercy of this stuff, who sleep with their phones. You just walk downtown, nobody's looking at anybody. They're all looking at their phones. And I'm just as guilty as anybody, but the difference is, my brain was fully developed before this happened. What about the generation that's grown up in the last 10-years with the iPhone and the Android phones, those young, malleable brains? What about them? So, I think that that's a legitimate cause for concern. I'm not sure we need to name them the iGen or fear what's going to happen.
Rob: But when you start an article, I mean I know that journalists—
Leo: Ah, it's link bait.
Rob: They're not the ones who write the titles, but nonetheless, Have Smart Phones Destroyed a Generation?
Leo: Rock and roll destroyed my generation, and I'm proud of it.
Rob: Wrecked it. Wrecked it, Leo.
Iain: Rock and roll was supposed to bring down the end of society. With my generation, it was punk. You know, it's like then the games came in.
Leo: This is different than music. This is very addictive stuff. This is different even than the games we played 20-years ago.
Rob: True, but it is so much less addictive than the pretzels filled with peanut butter that you have in the pantry.
Leo: I know, I know. You should try them, Amy. They're fabulous.
Iain: Everyone says, "Nobody's looking up and around." If you look at photos, there's a marvelous photo on the British Commuting Train, on the train to London in the 1939. And everybody has a newspaper up over their face. No one's—
Leo: We don't like each other. Nobody wants to--
Rob: They're equally walled off.
Amy: There are actually some physiological changes that are happening that will affect us in the future. My husband's an eye doctor and so, he's noticed over the past couple of years, more and more people having all kinds of eye strain and issues and it's because humans were really not designed to see near for longer periods of time. We were designed to see far and our eyes, our bodies are not evolving as quickly as the technology that we're using with our bodies, and so, there are people having all kinds of eye related problems and strain and you know, all kinds of issues.
Iain: Arthritis is also a big issue. I mean, I was talking to a doctor.
Amy: That's probable, yea.
Iain: And they were saying that, he's seeing people with hand arthritis problems in their 30s that he would expect to see in their 50s and 60s, because they've spend their entire life texting on phones. Thumb problems in particular are becoming a major arthritic issue at the moment because—
Amy: Right, it all seems silly and funny and we all sort of snicker about it, except that there's data to prove out everything that we're talking about. And at some point, you know, when you have spent all this time staring down and you've now got these headaches that won't go away and you've got, you know, your shoulders hurt, which is not—it's not life threatening, but it becomes, you know, you realize that you are causing your body to change, right?
Rob: Yea, bottom line, we're designed to procreate and die at 30 though, so, we're going to run out the hardware one way or another, like everything is—man, don't get me started about my ankles. My ankles are like, "I thought I was supposed to be done at 30."
Leo: What are you doing, walking around at this advanced age? You're crazy. All right. We're going to take a break. We'll come back with more. And yes, we'll have some more tech, including Vic Gundotra throwing shade at his former employer.
Amy: Speaking of shade, I need it.
Leo: A little bit of shade. Like how I used the language of the kids today? There's Facebook. I think Mark Zuckerberg, I think we have conclusive evidence that Mark Zuckerberg is running for President. We'll tell you what that is.
Iain: I think he's going to get beaten like a red-headed stepchild if he does, but yea.
Leo: I don't care. I think it's going to be fascinating. And I don't know. We can talk about the Note 8. We can talk about Travis Kalanick attempting to get back in the driver's seat at Uber.
Rob: Yea, the comeback kid.
Leo: The comeback kid.
Rob: The comeback kid.
Leo: The Game of Thrones hack that—they call it the Game of Thrones hack. Really it was a hack of HBO. And a lot worse stuff than Game of Thrones.
Iain: Although apparently not their email system, but yea.
Rob: Yea, it was about 1% of the data that North Korea got out of Sony. So, putting things in perspective.
Leo: Serious stuff. It's all coming up.
Amy: Clearly none of you were watching Game of Thrones.
Leo: I am. I'm watching it religiously.
Iain: I'm a recent convert.
Leo: And no spoilers. I'm not going to watch the hacked pirate version of it. I want to watch it every Sunday night like you're supposed to, as you're supposed to, as God intended.
Iain: I was a late convert. I'd always considered Game of Thrones to be basically dragons with nudity.
Leo: That's exactly right.
Rob: And what did you find out it actually is?
Iain: Well, actually, Peter Dinklage really, really rocks on that show.
Leo: He's good, isn't he? And I think he's the hero, really of all of it.
Iain: And Charles Dance as his father is just superb.
Leo: Not to spoil anything, but Charles Dance came to a bad end.
Iain: I'm saying nothing. No spoilers her.
Amy: Stop it. You're spoiling everything, Leo.
Leo: (Laughing). Ok. I know, my wife used to—I've told this story before, but my wife never got into Game of Thrones. And I would sit and watch it religiously. And she's always come in at the worst possible time.
Rob: I was trying to get my wife into Breaking Bad and same thing. She'd come in at exactly the moment—
Leo: She'd come in and she's say, "This is softcore porn you're watching. This is not—I'm not going to watch that."
Iain: I could never get Breaking Bad because it was the whole premise of it. When you come from somewhere with a National Healthcare System, it's like why didn't he just—oh, this is America, right.
Leo: That's actually a very good point, right?
Iain: Yea, it's only—
Leo: For those who haven't watched it, the premise is that this guy is a high school science teacher who gets cancer and in order to pay for his cancer treatments, turns his skills to the dark side and breaks bad.
Rob: And makes crystal meth.
Leo: But really good crystal meth.
Rob: Really good. It's blue. Well branded.
Leo: Really good crystal.
Iain: Really good and crystal meth. Those phrases don't go together, but.
Rob: So we're told.
Iain: I know nothing.
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Leo: Ah, there's so many things we could talk about here. What do you want to talk about? Amy, is there something that you're looking at, going, "This is something important that happened this week?" I don't know where to go.
Amy: There's lots—yea, yea, there's a lot.
Leo: We did the two big ones.
Amy: You want to talk about Vic?
Leo: Vic? Vic Gundotra. So, Vic used to work at Microsoft, right? He was an executive there. Got a job at Google. And his first job there was interfacing with Apple, with Steve Jobs on the Google apps for the iPhone, in the early days of the iPhone. He tells great stories. Vic told great stories about how Steve would call him. On Sunday, he'd call him and Vid didn't answer because he was at church. He was at services. And later, called Steve back and Steve said, "Why didn't you call me back?" He said, "Well, I was at services." He says, "Oh. Well that's different." He says, what was it, "the color of the O on your Google App is wrong. You've got to change it." And things like that. Anyway, great stories. But, then Vic became completely enamored of social and said, "Google is missing out. There's so much data that Facebook and Twitter get from social. Social's got to be our bottom line." He lobbied Larry Page mercilessly, incessantly, for more than year I'm told and finally got Google + off the ground. That was Vic Gundotra's baby.
Iain: And wasn't that a success?
Leo: Yea, well, it wasn't a great baby. But it was a funny looking kid. But anyway, anyway, he then left after the kind of the failure of Google +. I think he left, not in disgrace, but you know, he said, "Well, alright. Fine. It didn't work out." He actually started an interesting startup called Cardia which I have. It's an EKG in a little device that goes to your phone and you can get a doctor to read it. If you've got A-fib, which I don't have, but Jeff Jarvis who was on TWiG does and he uses it and sends it to his doctor and it's a great way to diagnostic. It's one of the few FDA approved iPhone devices out there. So, he's doing great. But for some reason, he's decided he just wanted one last shot to Google. And he did it, and I think this is not an accident, on Facebook. He posted pictures of his daughters. Beautiful pictures taken with an iPhone. And announced, "The iPhone is so good, throw away your DSLRs." And especially in a comment he says later, "And you don't need an Android phone either. This is it. Right now. Throw away your Android Phone."
Iain: No, your DSLR, throw away that, really, in favor of an iPhone.
Iain: Yea, good luck with that, man.
Rob: Yea, that's a little bold. And until the iPhone issues—
Iain: A little bold? It's so full of—ok.
Rob: That's my British understatement. I'm trying to—
Leo: Well, the comments are great. Scoble says, "Yea, I gave away all my Canon Cameras." Of course, Scoble would say that.
Rob: I wish I had been there when Scoble game all that stuff away.
Leo: I know.
Rob: Because I'm a Canon guy. I mean, look, until the iPhone can shoot raw, I mean it has significantly better lenses, etcetera, it's a little extreme.
Leo: Somebody says, "Indeed, the era has arrived and Samsung S8 does an even better job than the iPhone." And Vic responds, "Well, here's the problem. It's Android."
Iain: Yea, but I'm sorry, the Lumia Range did better photos than any of these, then either Apple or Android, but it was Windows Phones and nobody used it. So, I mean, the Lumia Phones were fantastic for photos.
Leo: Yea, they were. What was it, a 40 megapixel—
Rob: Which felt just like showing off at that point.
Iain: Yea, it was a huge thing, but at the same time, if you want good photos, don't use your phone.
Leo: Well, it is the phone.
Amy: I've got to say, I've got an S8 and we took—that phone takes pretty stunning pictures.
Leo: I agree.
Amy: We also—it takes pretty stunning pictures, yea, full stop. It really does. Of all the phones that I've ever had, and I haven't used a "camera" camera in a while, but the—
Leo: Well, there you are. You're the example. You don't need a camera. You've got a phone.
Amy: I don't. I don't.
Rob: The best camera is the one you have with you and we always have our phones, so there is—it's an unambiguous great thing as these phones get better and better and better, the camera phone. And we always have that. But there's—until you can—you can't just swap lenses on the phone. There's things you simply can't do with light and so, people who want to do a wide range of things in photography, simply is always going to be on cameras. But I think it is magnificent how great these camera phones are getting. And their ubiquity does mean that all kinds of things are being captured that never would have been in the past.
Iain: I think this is a really big societal change. I mean we first saw with Rodney King back in the 90s and now we're seeing—
Leo: Rodney King?
Iain: Yea. Well, the whole Rodney King beating was caught—
Leo: Oh, on a camera phone. You're right. No, a video camera, sorry.
Iain: Somebody had a low-cost video camera. And they were like, "Ok, I've got this lying around the house. Oh, I'll video that. And now everybody's got a video camera on them all the time. You can Facebook Live this stuff.
Leo: Would we know as much as we do about police shootings of black people if it weren't for camera phones?
Rob: Presumably no.
Leo: Yea, I mean all of—
Iain: I mean, Amy, you must have covered this in—
Amy: I was going to say, I have a funny story. So, my first—so, I've had two careers. The first career was as a journalist. And I lived in Japan in the mid-90s. And when I moved back to the United States to go to journalism school at Columbia, my phone had a camera in it and it was one of the first of its kind ever. And the very first class—and I had paid my way through Columbia. So, like I'm sitting in my—I moved back to the United States. I'm sitting in class, first day. It was an ethics class. And the question was, "Should journalists be allowed to use digital cameras?"
Rob: Be allowed?
Amy: Right, that was the question. Now, to be fair, this was 2000, right, so it was a while ago.
Rob: It wasn't a stunt question, it was an earnest question.
Leo: Well, what was the premise? Why not?
Amy: This was not too long after the OJ Simpson dual cover had come out and Time and Newsweek had run different covers and one was clearly digitally altered to make him look more menacing.
Iain: Oh, yes.
Leo: Oh, I remember that.
Amy: So, the question was, should journalists be allowed to alter their photos? Should they be allowed to use digital cameras because you can alter the photos in that way? And I raised my hand and I said, "So, I get what kind of conversation we're having here. However, I've just come from a country where people have cameras in their phones, right?" And I pull out my phone which doesn't work in the US but I pulled it out. I was like, "Look. There's a camera in this phone. And this phone is also connected to the internet. So, theoretically, like I could publish this photo from my phone to your newspaper's website." And everybody looked at me like I was an alien and I got dressed down by the professor who said, "Mark my word. No news organization would ever, ever publish a photo taken, a grainy photo taken by a phone." And I said, "But you're missing the point. It's not the quality of the photo, it's the immediacy. It's the fact that I can publish visual content anywhere I'm at, at any time." And then I thought, "Great. I wasted thirty grand going to grad school."
Leo: Imagine the professor thirteen years later when the Chicago Sun Times fired every one of its photo journalists and told its reporters, "Now it's your job to take pictures with your phones." Thirteen years. That's all it took.
Amy: It comes back to change. So, we're used to thinking of quality photos and so to be—now, I don't think the iPhone 7 takes the world's greatest pictures. However, part of our sort of reaction I think has to do with the idea that we're in our heads, great quality photos only come from these kinds of cameras. And part of our reaction is I think is this aversion to change, right? So.
Leo: We have taken more pictures last year than in the entire history of human kind.
Iain: Yea. Not all of them are good, but (laughing).
Leo: Not all of them survived, but. I think it's a good thing. And I don't, I think Vic's point was more—I'm going to give him credit. Maybe that he doesn't deserve, but I think his point was more that computational photography is changing our notion of what a camera is, that the thing that makes an iPhone great is not its lens, it's not its capturing equipment, it's the massive computer in the iPhone that takes those images and makes something out of them that's so much better than it should be, than it has any right to be. And the Pixel too, it does exactly the same thing. Google's got a whole lot of artificial intelligence built into the software for the camera.
Iain: I do think it was slightly disingenuous though in—
Leo: It was a little shot. It was a little shot.
Iain: There was a definite two-fingers to you, Google in there. He was like, "You passed me over for senior management. Screw you guys. I'm out of here."
Rob: Screw you guys. I'm going home.
Leo: (Laughing) the good news is he's doing just fine on his own. He's got a great company.
Rob: I thought Facebook pulling the plug on Skynet was a really fun rumor while it lasted.
Leo: Tell me about that.
Iain: It was such yellow journalism.
Leo: Pulling the plug on Skynet?
Rob: Well, it was in the show notes. So, basically—but I watched the story as it unfolded. I guess that there was some kind of a chatbot thing going on inside of Facebook and the sensationalistic and not at all accurate, but really cool headline was that these two chatbots had established their own language that only they could understand and it was creepy stuff actually if you looked at the sentences that were going back and forth. And Facebook, somebody had this diving save where they grab the power cord and pulled it out of the wall.
Leo: No. I didn't read that part.
Rob: Right before Skynet woke up. No, this was kind of when the tabloids got hold of it. But the first Boy Genius Report article that I saw, the first article I saw was on Boy Genius Report. It was actually the day before my book come out which has something to do with this.
Leo: You have. You have a social network—can I say this?
Rob: Yea, yea, sure. Absolutely.
Leo: Called Flutter. Because it's very early on in the book—
Rob: Yea, you see it coming a mile away.
Leo: That does achieve sentience.
Rob: Yes, exactly.
Leo: But it turns out not to be exactly malicious (laughing).
Rob: Well, not deliberately so. So, anyway—
Leo: It's very funnily so.
Rob: Yea, yea. But so, there was a story that there was a freak out that Facebook had these bots.
Iain: I was going to say—
Leo: Let's do a dramatic reading. You want to be Alice or Bob?
Iain: Oh, you be Bob.
Rob: Alice has all the best lines.
Leo: This is—Bob and Alice are two AIs on the Facebook network. "I can. I everything else."
Iain: "Balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to."
Leo: "You I everything else."
Iain: "Balls have a ball to me to me to me to me to me to me to me."
Leo: And they walked off arm and arm into the sunset. To me to me to me to me.
Iain: Skynet it ain't.
Rob: That would be a frightening thing to see spontaneously coming up on the monitor.
Iain: You've never had a drunk text from my wife, have you?
Leo: Remember when somebody had a Google Home talking to an Amazon Echo and it was very similar to this.
Rob: It was very charming. I think that that was actually pretty well scripted as well. They understood each other a little too well. Yea, yea. But it was fun.
Leo: It was clearly scripted because there's no way that actually could have happened unless there were some skills taught to both of them.
Rob: Well, what you guys just read is the kind of conversation that's going to happen for at least, you know, the foreseeable future.
Leo: Well, I talked about this last week because Elon Musk is panicking about artificial intelligence and you know, an artificial intelligence researcher at MIT, one of their most famous robot scientist said, "That's only because Elon knows nothing about AI. And anybody who works in the field knows we're—this stuff is not even close to coming." Now, maybe that's disinformation being passed along by the AI community.
Amy: We're pretty far off from—we're far off from machines making autonomous, big autonomous decisions. However, the foundation is being laid right now. So, if you think about a house being built, right? If the first layer of that foundation is a little off, and then you build the next one and the next one, you wind up with a building—it's a building but it's a cockeyed sort of weird tilting building that probably wouldn't pass code some day in the future. So, you know, I actually think there's plenty to be worried about, but it has to do with how the corpus I being built, what's happening with the data and then what decisions we're asking the machines to make because at some point in order for the systems to advance, they have to write their own software, right? And again, this is a little farther off but it's within our lifetimes. And then at some point, you know, we lose some of that control and understanding. So, I do think that there's a lot for us to be worried about, but it's a lot more subtle, you know? But it's concerning, for sure.
Leo: Yea, but and this was the point the MIT scientist made, if you're going to make a law now, what are you going to regulate?
Amy: Yea, well, that's the problem, right? This is—so much of it come back to this and that is in order for our laws to be enforced and to be applicable, they have to be descriptive. But it's also hard to—because you can't have a law that's so over encompassing and broad because it will get struck down. It will get challenged. People won't know how to enforce it. On the other hand, if it's too specific it becomes outdated right away. So, one of the challenges every democracy on planet Earth is going to have going forward is how do you maintain some kind of rule in society and some kind of laws that make sense that are neither too restrictive nor too broad so they can govern us going forward? And that they can be—you know, it's hard.
Iain: But even then, that's only in one country. You know, there are a lot of AI researchers in a lot of countries around the world who are developing this stuff and there's no way one law is going to control them all. And yea, we're so far away from our singularity at the moment it's a joke. But even so, we've got to start thinking about AI in a serious way. And as you say, if the foundations are faulty, then the whole thing comes tumbling down.
Rob: Again, to Elon's credit, I think a lot of what he's talking about is thinking now about AI safety.
Leo: And he's doing that.
Rob: He funded $10-millom-dollars to the Future of Life Institute I think it's called.
Leo: And there's an AI institute that he did.
Rob: Yea, and so even if it's wildly improbably that something terrible will happen and unfortunately, it's probably not wildly improbable. Hopefully it's somewhat improbable. But the consequences are so devastating that it makes enormous sense to be thinking about it right now and to be working about it and laying the right foundations. And I think that's generally Elon's point. Although he did say something kind of chilling in that meeting in the governor's council which I think is what you're referring to, Leo. He's talking to the governors. He basically indicated, and it was sort of in passing, that he had seen something that we haven't. And it implied that he had seen something behind the curtains, whether it was at Google or somewhere else that had really kind of chilled him in recent days or weeks at that point.
Leo: Is it the two bots going, "You me you me you me you me I you."
Iain: No, you say that but at DEFCON this year there was a presentation from researchers who had taken Musk's open AI framework and had used it to develop malware which could get past security antivirus engines by doing slow iterations and evolution onto the software until finally after 100,000 repetitions, you got out with malware that could easily slip by a security engine. This stuff is coming but it's just whether or not we need to be hardwiring electric anti-shock guns to these computers' foreheads is another matter entirely.
Amy: In order to test—so, you have to have adversarial versions of the tools, right, in order to test and train them.
Iain: Yea, you need the black box.
Amy: That's right. So, one of the problems is, in order to prevent and protect, to prevent problems and protect us in the future, you have to train machines to recognize problems. But in order to train them to recognize problems, you have to teach them the problems, right? So, again, like this is why I don't think we need rules and regulations but we do need some kind of meaningful way to have conversations that translate to more than just news headlines and white papers. We have to have good conversations, and right now there are seven companies that really do control the fate of AI in our future. One of those companies is Tencent which is a big Chinese company which you know, last week had an AI chatbot start talking smack about the Communist Party.
Leo: Yea. Remember that? You had mentioned Tay earlier.
Rob: Yea, Microsoft Tay. I know that story very well.
Leo: Tencent did almost the same thing. They released a bot and it was taught to hate communism and then somebody asked, "How do you feel about the Communist Party?" It was kind of exactly the same thing.
Amy: Yea, which is a pretty big deal. But, you know, every one of these companies—several of these companies say that they have open source. You know, they've open sourced their tools, their software but these are still commercial. They are commercially focused. In the United States—so, this is where things get really weird and interesting and different. So, China is pretty far ahead in a lot ways in its AI research. And it is government funded, a lot of it. And the work is being done in academia and a lot of it is—so, there's a big government component and it's a national effort to push ahead. In the United States, it's commercial. Our government is very, very far behind state military, DOD, very far behind when it comes to AI. The majority of the funding that's going into it is commercially focused. And we don't—we have academic research centers that are working on this. But again, there's a commercial, there's a commercial focus rather than it being for, taking a much longer view and being done sort of as a big national effort. So, that's a problem going forward because we—
Leo: Really? You don't think the commercial effort could succeed over the government effort?
Amy: Well, the problem is—
Leo: I think of the Genome Project, where there was a government attempt to decode the genome and it was a private effort that ended up—
Rob: Yea, it ended up like coming from behind and called it a tie.
Iain: Hang on, hang on. He ended up coming from behind because he took all the government research and said, "Right. That's done. I'm just going to do the sexy part up front." Yea, this is a public-private "partnership."
Leo: (Laughing) Do you think that China has a lead just because it's a government funded effort?
Iain: Yea, it did make things go a little bit faster but for him to say, "Oh, I decoded the human genome." A lot of other work went into it.
Leo: You have an opinion on this matter. I can tell.
Iain: I'm sorry. Craig, he was so self-congratulatory about it.
Leo: And then he tried to patent it which was perhaps—
Iain: Yea, the hundreds of millions that the government put into this and he goes, "Actually, I got there first. I'm going to patent it and take all that money." And it is shameful.
Leo: Yea, I own the genome. So, Amy, do you think China has an advantage, though, because it's government funded?
Amy: Well, it depends on your perspective. So, I think that when it comes to—you know, the war of the future is going to be fought by software not by hardware, right? The hardware will carry out the software, but it's the software and the data that's going to be making, you know. And to be fair, like this is top of mine because I was in Japan the past couple of weeks and I was there when Korea sent its, North Korea sent its latest ICBM. Not that we were worried about it, but I was thinking a lot about it. And the United States just doesn't have, we don't have that same coordinated effort. And so, I'm a capitalist. So, I've got nothing against big companies pushing ahead and you know, for commercial purposes, pushing into AI. The problem that I've got is that as a nation, I just don't see us pushing in a coordinated way, ahead, taking a much longer view. And so. the AI that's going to get developed—and again, you know, the AI that—this is about decision making. We are asking—the premise of AI, if you really go back, all of the early systems were built on games. So, checkers, chess, Go, right? And now there's another game that we're training. From the beginning, we have trained these systems to beat us, right? And—
Leo: Well, what do you want them to do? Train them to lose?
Amy: My point is, at some point, we are asking these systems to make--
Iain: Sometimes the only way to win is not to play.
Amy: We're asking them to make decisions. And not that I have any more trust in our government than I do in Google, however, I like the idea of public money and public research being used on behalf of all of humanity going forward.
Leo: I think just culturally, China has an advantage because it thinks in a much longer time frame, a 100-year time frame.
Amy: That's right. That's right.
Iain: One of the things that worries me about commercial AI projects as well is there is such a lot of hype talked about it. Facebook has been banging on about its AI chatbots for over a year now and then when you actually talk to them about it, they're "Well, it's not really AI. There's a human behind it."
Leo: This is like Eliza. We have not made any progress since Eliza written in basic for an Apple II. That's exactly what these guys sound like.
Mike: Well, until the Tencent AI started denouncing the Communist Party, I mean that's kind of cool. That's very post-Eliza. Eliza couldn't denounce the Communist Party to save her life.
Leo: (Laughing) Oh, I think she could.
Amy: But when we think about AI, we anthropomorphize it, right? So, the real promise of AI isn't the human form that it takes, it's the automation of all the crap that we don't want to deal with or do, right? And that has tentacles into all different areas of our life. You know, Goldman's figure out a way to automate three quarters of its IPO process, right? There are all these different steps involved and they figured that out through machine learning. So, you know, I think this is one of those things where again, we don't realize the great opportunities that we created and the way that we maybe seeded our future with some things we don't like until it gets here and realize that we're sorted into different castes. And suddenly we don't have opportunities like we think we should have or you know, life—real life is very much an uncanny valley, right?
Iain: Do you see 21st century Luddites taking over on this front?
Amy: I don't know. I don't think so and that's because humans want to use as little energy as possible, right?
Leo: I know I do.
Amy: I know I do, too. Most people do. We're programmed that way. How realistic is it that you're going to go back to writing letters and sending letters? It's just not realistic. I think that there's a lot more to be concerned with, it's just not very interesting stuff. It's not as interesting or as exciting as autonomous weapons.
Leo: I also feel like it's very difficult to—I would agree with you. But I'm not sure it's easy to figure out what to think about or how to think about it. I don't know if—I guess we should spend time doing it. And Elon's funded many efforts to do that and I don't fault him for that.
Rob: And there's some really vigorous thinking that's going on in that domain.
Leo: Yea, you really wonder though how useful it's going to be.
Rob: Well, we hope it's very useful because the number of scenarios in which things could go spinning out of control, the list is long. And a lot of it, a lot of these scenarios as they kind of get war gamed are about a lot of people—about smart people doing the wrong things for the right reasons. And unless you think through second and third and fourth order of facts, terrible unintentional consequences could ensue as you start designing something that can improve itself and improve itself at a compounding, exponential rate that's much more like the pace of Moore's Law than the pace of evolution. And so I think that war gaming these things now and having very, very careful thought applied to it, it may not be the perfect machine or it may not be the perfect weapon. I can't think of what else we could do right now? So, I do think it's an important exercise. Nicholas Bostom's book is now a little bit old. It's been about three-years since it came out but it probably paints the most detailed sets of scenarios of what could go wrong. And I do think that that has been kind of the intellectual framework for a lot of the AI safety work that's going on right now. It's called superintelligence.
Leo: Yea, we interviewed Nick when that book came out, yea.
Rob: You did? Great. Very sharp guy.
Leo: We spent a lot of time on Triangulation talking to various factions in this and there's a lot of debate about it.
Leo: I don't think there's anything wrong with thinking about it. Is anything right with thinking about it?
Iain: I think we've got to lay the grounds for this because we're going to look at, just from a societal perspective, just from the technology that we have at the moment, you're looking at massive employment problems coming down the line in 5, 10, 15 years when we get computers to do things like driving or—
Leo: We're heading straight for that future. I understand that. I just don't know if there's much we can do about it. It's good to think about it.
Iain: Well, we work out the social systems now that we can deal with it.
Leo: Oh, you know what's going to happen. They're going to futz around. They're not going to do anything. It's like the climate crisis. We're just going to mess around, debate over it and then not going to do anything until it hits us over the head and then it will be too late.
Iain: Yea, but we've gone through this before with industrialization. We've gone through it --
Leo: Yea, we planned for that very well.
Iain: To a certain extent with literacy. Yea, and we didn't plan for either of them. But we've got 7 billion people on the planet right now. You know, and everything is interconnected to such an extent that if society does break down, you're looking at mega deaths.
Leo: I know.
Iain: So, we need to sort this out now.
Leo: I just don't feel to sanguine about our ability to plan for this future.
Amy: You're such a fatalist.
Leo: I am a fatalist. But sometimes I feel like certainly our government is in a different dimension, a different world from the world that we're living in. And anything that they plan to do about anything is irrelevant because they're almost—it's an impeded smash. They're operating at a different time scale than we are.
Rob: I know. Just go to the DMV (laughing).
Leo: Just go to the DMV. It's like snails.
Rob: It's a terrible branding event for government. Every time a citizen walks into the DMV it is just a catastrophic rending event.
Leo: If we can't get that right, how are we going to solve AI?
Amy: We don't have enough people who have any kind of science or technology background that can go into politics. We at some point years ago had an office called The Office of Technology Assessment staffed with—
Leo: Right. Perfect example.
Amy: Yea, it was staffed with people who were not political and it was a teaching exercise. Their job was to go and meet with members of Congress and help them get educated. Gingrich defunded that in the 90s. However, that office became the gold standard around the world. So, a bunch of other companies or countries have that office. We don't. And so now, in the absence of the OTA and you know, with so much change coming so quickly, all technology gets politicized. And very few people really understand what it is or how it works. So, the US does not have a national biology policy and yet we're standing on the precipice of CRISPR and editing embryos and we don't have a national AI policy. We don't have people who are elected who understand what AI is, even though they're talking about technological unemployment and displacement.
Leo: I think that's all true. And I'm not sure that that's the worst possible outcome. I think a worse outcome would be a government that thinks it knows what's going to happen.
Rob: Yea, look at the Stalinist model.
Leo: And has a plan for the future. I think that could be worse. In some ways I think it's better—maybe I'm a little more laissez-faire, that they just go ahead and worry about transgender bathrooms and let technology happen and we'll see what happens.
Rob: I'll say there are some really talented technologists, thank God, who are giving back and getting involved with public life. So, there is something—
Leo: Oh, we had Brianna Wu on the show. She's running for Congress in Massachusetts. I mean, she's certainly technologically literate.
Rob: Also, there is something called the United States Digital Service who I'm sure—
Leo: We had Matt Cutts on, on Wednesday.
Rob: I was going to mention Matt, precisely. Oh, you just had him on Wednesday?
Rob: I was just about to mention Matt Cutts.
Leo: He's the acting director. Former Google-er. And by the way, I asked him, "You still doing stuff?" He said, "Yea, even in the Trump Administration. Yea." "You've not been defunded?" "No."
Rob: Yea, yea. No, he reupped. He was wondering whether or not there was going to be a place for him after the administration changed but he is still there and he is doing incredible work. I think he's one of the first 50 people at Google. I know he was email@example.com which I thought was a really cool email address. So, you've got to be—have your first name at Google, you were there mighty early. So, there are some folks that are out there.
Amy: But there's a bunch who aren't. The OSTP is basically bled dry of people too.
Leo: Isn't that sad. That's so sad.
Amy: So, I don't—again, I don't want anybody to walk away with the idea that I think that the government should be in charge of everything. I don't think that at all. And I am not myself political. I'm not Democrat or Republican. I'm Independent. However, I want people who are making decisions on behalf of our collective future to be informed. I don't care what party they belong to, as long as they're using—they believe in science and data and they're not politicizing technology to the point where our laws don't make any sense anymore. And to that end—yea. It's our country. It's England. This is true of democracies all over the world. We're all facing the same problem right now.
Iain: In the case of the country of my birth, we've had Amber Rudd over here this week, chatting to Silicon Valley people. And she's got this fantastic idea. Oh, we're just going to have to mandate back doors and it's up to you guys in encryption. You'll figure it out. You're the whiz kids. And you're like, ok. This math, it doesn't really, there's not a lot of wiggle room there.
Leo: Although, Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia, said, "The laws of Australia supersede the laws of mathematics." (Laughing).
Rob: I hope he said that as a joke.
Iain: No, he was absolutely serious.
Rob: The laws of Australia supersede the laws of nature?
Iain: Supersedes the laws of mathematics. Now, if that's the case, why not just take a walk out that window and see how you do against the laws of gravity because these things are immutable. And until we find new ways of doing it, then you know.
Leo: Here's the story from The Telegraph. Malcolm Turnbull says- well, I'll get the quote here. And this is back down to encrypted messages once again.
Rob: Which was Amber Rudd's issue, right? That's what she was talking about.
Leo: When challenged on whether it was possible to fully crack down on encryption, saying the lays of Australia—well, quote, "Well the laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that. The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia." That is not strictly true.
Rob: They have done a very good job of evading the laws of gravity.
Leo: Of physics?
Rob: On the bottom side of the planet they are.
Leo: Let's take a break
Rob: So, maybe when you look at the globe.
Iain: Oh, God, the stupidity.
Leo: I have at great expense imported a member of the iGen. She is here. We're going to talk in just a second to Piper Reese. She is very famous. I'm going to put you on, Piper. I know, this is a surprise. But we want to talk about your generation and how screwed up it is, if you don't mind, ok?
Rob: Blame your phone.
Leo: She started on YouTube as a YouTuber when you were 7, right? 10 years ago. She's 17 now. She's up here interviewing to go to Stanford. And I thought, "Well, here's a perfect example of somebody who grew up in the iPhone era and let's find out if the iGen really is all that screwed up." Ok? Not yet. We're going to do a commercial break. We'll figure out how to mic Amber and she can find a place at the table or something like that. Just a brief, just a brief one, Piper. Not a long one. No, Amber Rudd is not here. I got confused for a second.
Iain: In some ways she probably can't even open the door. She's that clueless.
Leo: The laws of Australia supersede the laws of mathematics.
Rob: And gravity.
Leo: And gravity (laughing). Someone should just push him out of an airplane and see what happens. No, I shouldn't say that because that's probably against the laws of Australia.
Iain: That's going to get you arrested.
Rob: I hope you've seen the Sydney Opera House already. I wouldn't go there now.
Leo: No, no, I love you, Malcolm. You're great.
Iain: They'll peg you out in the outback and put drop bears on you until you die.
Leo: I love Australia. I do. And I love the laws of mathematics. So, somehow I have to make those work together.
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Leo: How can we get Piper—would you mind letting her? You can lean over my shoulder, share my mic. Do you mind, Piper?
Piper Reese: No, not at all.
Leo: So, did you see this article? Come on and have a seat here. Piper Reese is here. Piper's Picks on YouTube. Congratulations on your success on YouTube.
Piper: Thank you so much.
Leo: You've been doing this for 10 years?
Piper: Yea, since I was seven.
Leo: That's incredible. There she is as a 7-year-old. You've interviewed all the biggest names in Hollywood.
Leo: You're the iPhone generation, the YouTube generation. Did you read this article? Probably not. You guys don't read.
Piper: No, we don't. We only read BuzzFeed.
Leo: (laughing) Well, this is not BuzzFeed. This is The Atlantic. Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? So, here's the—and you tell me what you think. Obviously, you're not one of these people. But and no one's saying that everybody that grew up with the iPhone—the iPhone came out in 2007 when you were 7, right?
Leo: This is your whole life. Have you had an iPhone your whole life?
Piper: No, I haven't. I actually was not allowed to have a phone until 8th grade.
Leo: Oh my God, how did you live?
Piper: Yea, I mean I don't know. It was weird.
Leo: Do you Snapchat now?
Piper: Yes, I do. I have the Piper's Picks Snapchat that I do.
Leo: Yea, see it's a little different. You're creating content for your peers. Is this your dad?
Piper: Smart man. You didn't let her use an iPhone. So, here's the stats that are in this article. I just want to know what you think of it. A smartphone generation. So, after the iPhone came out, that's that bar right here, the amount of time teenagers spent, without their parents, just with their friends, plummeted. 8th graders are pink. 10th graders are green. 12th graders a little higher. But you see, it's falling dramatically, especially with the younger generation. Do you hang out with your friends?
Piper: I do. That's interesting to me.
Leo: Do you go to the mall with your friends?
Piper: Yea. I do go to the mall with my friends a lot. I think that specifically is really interesting to me because in my case it's just because I can't get out a lot. Like I don't have a car yet. So, in my case--
Leo: Ah, this is the other one. Percentage of 12th graders who drive.
Piper: That makes sense.
Leo: Do you have a driver's license?
Piper: I mean, no, not yet. I am about to try for my permit. So, when you said the DMV thing, that was interesting to me.
Leo: My daughter's here. She's 25. When she was 15-and-a-half, she said, "I'm going to the DMV. I'm getting my driver's license." She cried when she failed the test the first time. I'm sorry, but you really were excited about driving. My son, who's just a couple of years older, he didn't get his license until he was 18. He's 22. So, I think that this is true, right? This falling—
Piper: Yea, I mean that makes a lot of sense to me because I feel like we can talk to our friends over the phone or we can text our friends. So, the rush to drive isn't as much. And then also with phones, that is when Uber started and things like that. So, the question is do we really need to be able to drive when I can just be like, "Oh, I'll get an Uber here in 5 minutes."
Iain: But also, do you need to be physically present in order to get—
Leo: Get on the mic, here. Oh, that one's not on. Can you turn that on? We gave him a mic. Look at that. Isn't that nice. There it is. Go ahead.
Iain: I mean you don't need to be physically present with your friends anymore because you can chat with them online, or do you get the same thing out of chatting online with friends than you do with meeting physically?
Piper: I mean in a way, yes. Like my friends and I text a lot. I mean we use Facetime sometimes, stuff like that. But for me, personally, I like being with people.
Leo: Oh, you're so weird.
Piper: I'm sorry (laughing). I'm really busy now.
Leo: (Laughing) You're probably not a good—dating? Again, the line goes down.
Piper: The dating one's down. That's interesting.
Leo: Dating. But, Abby, you dated as a teenager, but Henry was always going out with a group of friends, right? And it was much more kind of a hookup scene than it was like a dating scene.
Piper: It's like that now too.
Leo: It is, isn't it? I'll skip the sex part. I don't want to embarrass you. More likely to feel lonely. Yea, I don't want to embarrass your dad. Percentage of 8th, 10th and 12th graders who agree with or mostly agree with the statement, "I often feel left out of things and a lot of time I feel lonely." Look at how that's gone straight up.
Piper: Yes, the Snapchat map totally made that so much worse because I know a lot of my friends are talking about like, "Oh, I can see when my friends are hanging out without me now." So, people are going to feel even more lonely or when people are posting with one friend on Instagram, then you say, "Oh, my friend hung out with that person and didn't invite me." A lot of that.
Leo: I have to say, this is true for adults, too. A lot of social media is depressing.
Leo: There's the FOMO, the fear of missing out.
Iain: Well, there's been psychological studies about this because when people post on social media—
Leo: They only post the good stuff.
Iain: They only post the good stuff. Exactly. They don't say, "Worker with a hangover or feeling like death. My girlfriend just had a massive argument with me." You know, you don't want to put that stuff online. But it's just like "Had a great day at work." You know?
Piper: Ok, yes, but a lot of teenagers have accounts that adults don't necessarily see so much, that are more of the private accounts that have stuff that is more depressing so they can vent and get it out, but people haven't seen it as much. So, that does exist.
Leo: Did you watch that 12 Reasons Why—
Piper: 13 Reasons Why. I started it then I wasn't allowed to watch it because of all the reviews on it which I understand. I get—
Leo: It's about a young girl who ends up committing suicide. It's about teenage suicide.
Piper: Yes. And I think that triggered a lot for a lot of people and it obviously has caused some really bad things. And I think with that, I don't think it was as much causing it. I think it was people relating to it and saying, "Oh, if she tried it maybe I should try it, too."
Leo: Do you get enough sleep?
Piper: No, not at all because I mean—
Leo: (Laughing) I don't know any teenager who get enough sleep, though. That's unfair.
Piper: You're supposed to get 9 to 10 hours. That's not going to happen.
Leo: Here's the graph though. Look at this. One of the theories is that teenagers take their phone to—do you take your phone to bed with you?
Piper: Always. I am on my phone until 4:00 am this summer.
Leo: We have to take our 14-year-old's phone away because he will stay up almost all night, talking to friends, chatting, playing games.
Piper: Yea, don't give my dad that idea.
Amy: Do you actually talk?
Leo: What do you do, Piper? Do you talk?
Amy: Ok, it depends on who I'm talking to. Or, I mean, even texting because it really depends on the person. I mean I prefer to be talking to someone on the phone if I have enough to talk about but it's been a really boring day and I have nothing to discuss, I'll text so I have more time to think of stuff. That's also probably part of it with dating is that's it's easier to text a guy than it is to call a guy. So, if you have that option, you have more time to think and you don't have to be nervous and on your feet, which is probably why dating's gone down.
Leo: Wow. You know, if you don't date in person, it's not going to go well in the future. You've got to, at some point—
Piper: It might take a while for people to realize that. It's just easier.
Leo: I think you probably not a great example. You're obviously very well spoken, outgoing and you have a YouTube channel and you obviously—there's a thing in Snapchat that I didn't know about where you go for a streak, like how many days you posted?
Rob: Snap Streaks.
Leo: Snap Streaks. Do you pay attention to that? Do your friends pay attention to that?
Piper: I mean I think my friends pay attention to it. I don't really do it because I'm not really going to do that on my Piper's Picks stuff. Just be like, "Oh, yea, I'm going to streak Piper's Picks stuff."
Leo: Because you post every day I bet.
Piper: I mean I think we post most days. We kind of switched over to Instagram Stories for the most part.
Leo: Oh, there's another problem.
Leo: We'll talk about that. All right. I thought if we're going to—how old are you in that? That's so cute. Is that you?
Piper: Yea, I mean that's actually not that old.
Rob: Looks like it's last year.
Piper: I changed my hair a lot this year so that one's really old.
Leo: That's what happens. You're growing up, Piper. Aww. Piper, thank you for joining us. Piperspicks.tv and we're going to talk after the show, right?
Piper: Yea. Thank you.
Leo: And how'd it go at Stanford? Did you have fun?
Piper: Yea, it was a really awesome campus.
Leo: That's very nice, yea.
Rob: It's the bomb.
Leo: It's the bomb. Thank you, Piper Reese.
Piper: Thank you.
Leo: Amy, did you want to ask Piper any questions as long as we've got her here? This is your future.
Amy: This is. Yea.
Leo: This happens in just a few years.
Amy: I know. I have a 7-year-old.
Leo: It's this far away.
Amy: No, I mostly just shock. It's all shock.
Leo: But wouldn't you be proud to be, to have Piper as a daughter? I mean, Piper's very impressive.
Piper: Thank you.
Leo: Smart, outgoing. There's nothing wrong with this generation, iGeneration at all. And that's I think maybe the larger point. Thank you, Piper. I appreciate it.
Piper: Thank you.
Leo: You may sit back down, Mr. Thomson. Thank you for letting us talk to Piper Reese.
Amy: I thought it was Gen Alpha. Didn't we like circle back?
Leo: Nope. Too late. I like iGen. I think that's a very good name.
Rob: It has been used a fair amount. Like there's going to be a brawl between iGen and Gen Z I have a feeling. And just because—
Amy: I feel like iGen is a name that was created by baby boomers.
Rob: Yea, it was created and also—
Leo: Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it's named after the iPhone and the premise is—
Amy: I feel like the generation should be—we should have the luxury of naming ourselves.
Leo: Well, you're not in it so you don't get to. Piper.
Amy: No, I'm Gen Y. I'm part of that like in between, nobody cared about us.
Leo: I just want to say, your generation sucks. I was a baby boomer, my friends. That was the greatest generation.
Rob: Isn't Millennials and Gen Y the same thing?
Amy: No, we're not Millennials.
Rob: Is there a difference between—sorry to be so ignorant.
Leo: Yes. Millennials came of age at the turn of the century. Gen Y's a little older than that. It goes Gen X—
Iain: Gen X is basically 1964 – 1980.
Leo: I was born in 56 was the very tail end of the baby boomers. I'm the me generation, baby.
Iain: I was right in the start of the Gen X's.
Leo: It's all about me.
Iain: It was a great book, don't get me wrong, but I'm not building my entire persona around it.
Rob: If you realize before it was a book, it was a band. It was Billy Idol's band before—
Amy: There's a band called Gen X?
Rob: It's called Generation X. It was Billy Idol's first band before he became—well, I guess he went by Billy Idol in those days as well, but he made a much bigger deal in his solo career. Their first band was called Generation X.
Iain: Speaking of Billy Idol, did you hear about his performance at the Sales Force Conference?
Rob: I did not. It's just the kind of place I would expect him to perform.
Amy: This year?
Iain: He performed at the Sales Force Conference and no word of a lie, he changed the White Wedding lyrics to "It's a nice day for CRM." And it's like that's it. Get out. It's like ok, how good your music was, it's just wrong.
Leo: Billy was never really edgy. It was all—
Rob: It was all an act.
Leo: He was the Gary Glitter of his generation.
Iain: Oh, please don't go there. Don't go there.
Rob: Your Gary Glitter jokes are—in Great Britain it's too soon. Yea, it's too soon for Gary Glitter jokes.
Leo: As long as we've dissed one generation, let's dis another generation, my daughter's generation. This is not The Onion. The Wall Street Journal, Millennials Unearth an Amazing Hack to Get Free TV: The Antenna. Is this legal (laughing). This is The Wall Street Journal. They interviewed Dan Sisco, who's 28 years old.
Iain: And an amazing dumb ass form the looks of it.
Leo: He said, "I was just kind of surprised that this technology exists." He's talking about an antenna. "It's been awesome. It doesn't log out and it doesn't skip."
Iain: I weep for our future generations. I weep.
Leo: I weep for The Wall Street Journal. This is just—
Iain: Oh, come on. It was a great article to write.
Amy: Great story. It was a great story.
Iain: I'm sorry, as a journalist, you couldn't look at something like that and just not write about it.
Leo: I just feel bad. We're pilin on Millennials. We've picked like some doofus, the worst example of his generation and say, "Look! They're discovering antennas."
Amy: I'll tell you where antennas are big, Japan. They've got—cars all have television monitors, like video monitors inside the cars.
Leo: Wait a minute. They have antennas for TV, they have rabbit ears on their cars?
Amy: No, they've got digital antennas on their cars and anybody who wants to can get live television while you're driving. It's in the car.
Rob: Which is great for driver safety. They always pull up those tips on how to avoid an accident right before you're about to get into one.
Iain: On the other hand, which is worse for driver safety? Having two kid going at it hammer and tongs with fists out in the back seat, or just stick them in front of the Google box and just letting them chill out in front of a—
Rob: Oh, definitely the latter. I'm worried about driver distraction the way it is.
Leo: They quote Scott Wills who is a person of my era, a wireless industry executive. He worked for years on the transition from analog to digital in motion over TV.
Rob: Which took forever.
Leo: It took forever and finally about what, 8 years ago, all the televisions, most of the television stations went digital which was a good thing all around I think. He wondered though. He thought that the Millennials might be a little confused by this. So, he asked his son, "Do you think there's broadcast anymore?" His son said, "Dad, you should know better than anyone. There's no broadcast TV. Broadcast TV's gone." He's 24. "I had no idea," he said of broadcast's continued existence. "I'm still not even familiar with the concept." (laughing) I'm telling you, I think this is just bad journalism where you find a couple of really stupid people in the generation. See what I did? The opposite. I found a smart representative of the iGen. Showed you there's nothing to fear. Hey, we had a great week on TWiT. Let me show you a little example of some of the fun we had. Roll the film.
Narrator: Previously on TWiT:
Leo: So, that's it for iPad Today. We didn't was why we're wearing hats but I— what?
Megan Morrone: It's iOS Today now.
Leo: That's it for iOS Today.
Megan: It is too early.
Leo: I'm Leo Laporte. That's Sarah Lane and we thank you all for—
Narrator: The New Screen Savers.
Male Voice: Horizons, you are go for departure.
Bryan Burnett: Mr. Delahanty, take us out.
Patrick Delahanty: What speed?
Bryan: Uh, regular speed.
Leo: This is the nerdiest thing ever.
Megan: What's the NSS Laporte?
Patrick: NSS Laporte onscreen.
Jason Howell: Raise shields!
Victor Bognot: Should I demand them to surrender?
Alex Gumpel: Should I divert power to the weapons, captain?
Bryan: Setting red alert! Fire everything we've got at them. Looks like we have impact. I think I broke the--
Jason: That's what happens when you take down NSS Laporte!
Narrator: This Week in Google.
Leo: I thought—I'm reading The Onion. But it wasn't The Onion, it was the Wall Street Journal. "Millennials Unearth an Amazing Hack to Get Free TV: The Antenna". "I was just kind of surprised that this technology exists," says Mr. Sisco, 28 years old. "It doesn't log out and it doesn't skip." We're doomed. I just want to give him a dial telephone and see what they do with it.
Narrator: TWiT. Now in color.
Alex Gumpel: Life support's down 41%.
Bryan: Keep firing, tactical.
Jason: I'm doing the best I can.
Megan: You could do a little bit better.
Jason: We're going to roast these pirates.
All Crew: Yea, yea! Yeah!
Leo: That is the nerdiest thing we have ever—what is the name of that game so we—it's—StarshipHorizons.com? Something like that.
Iain: Is it like a Star Trek rip off or something?
Leo: No, it's a, well, I mean—well, not every starship comes from Star Trek.
Iain: No, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy came out well before.
Leo: So, you're the bridge of a starship and each of you has to take a turn. You have one server, a local server running the name and then everybody logs in via browser so you can use a phone or an iPad. It's actually a pretty cool game. The whole show is The New Screen Savers from yesterday. You can watch the whole thing.
Leo: Our show today—in fact, everything you see today, brought to you by our internet service provider. I want to give Sonic a huge plug. Our gigabit, 10GB fiber line up and down comes from the best internet service provider in the country. Look at the deal you get. You can go to sonic.com/twit. There's the address form. You can fill it out. Look at the deal you get. One of my friends actually, was bemoaning. We went over the Comcast terabyte band and he asked, "How do I get out of it, the terabyte bandwidth cap? How do I get out of this?" And I said, "Well you have to get business class and you call business." And then they said, "It's two different divisions." The guys was—he said, "Should I go Sonic?" I said, "Yes." Look what you get. Look what you get. You get fiber for home. I won't tell you the price until the end although you can see it on the screen. You get 15 email accounts. You get a gigabyte of storage. You get personal web hosting. You get a domain name, a custom domain name. You get fax like service, phone service with unlimited local and long distance. You get a gigabit down and all of this, $40-dollars a month. And you can switch from your current carrier and you can port your phone number over so the phone service is just like your old phone service. But it's all, total, flat fee, $40-dollars a month. And here's the other thing. By standing up for privacy, Sonic will fight. Look at their EFF score card. Green checks across the board. They stand up for their customers. They fight government subpoenas. They have no bandwidth caps, zero bandwidth caps. Use all you want. They'll make more. And of course great, local customer support. Sonic.com/twit. Join the internet revolution. Get your first month of Sonic Internet and Phone Service free when you go to sonic.com/twit. Bundle it with Dish and you'll save $120 on your Sonic bill. And if you can't get it, I'm sorry. I feel bad for you. But if you can, there's no reason, no reason to stay with those other guys. Sonic.com/twit.
Leo: You know what I forgot to do, and I know Karsten knows I forgot to do this. I forgot to ask Jason Howell what's coming up this week. Jason?
Jason: This week on Tuesday, August 8th, Sharp is set to unveil the Aquos S2. It's a smartphone with a 5.5" display and a tri-bezel-less design. An 85% screen to body ratio. They're all doing that right now. It's also rumored to have an onscreen fingerprint sensor. Should be interesting. On Thursday, August 10th, Motorola will release its latest flagship phone the Moto Z2 Force with a shatterproof screen, dual rear facing cameras and a design that facilitates Motorola's modular extensions, the call Moto Mods including, by the way, a new 360-degree camera Moto Mod that will be released concurrently. Also on the 10th, Snap will release its 2nd earnings report to date and it's not expected to be all that great. Snapchat has seen an escalation of feature parity amongst its biggest competitors and that has been part of what has resulted in the value of Snap stock hitting its lowest points since its IPO at the beginning of the year. That's a look at a few of the things we'll be tracking in the coming week. Join Megan Morrone and me on Tech News Today, every weekday at 4:00 PM Pacific, 7:00 PM Eastern here on TWiT.tv.
Leo: Thank you, Jason Howell. You heard Piper say it, I think. Everybody's going to Instagram. They're leaving Snapchat behind.
Leo: Stampede. I don't get it. I try to do those Instagram, or look at those Instagram Stories. I don't understand who's doing that and why. I'm just old.
Rob: I spend all my time on Vine.
Leo: (Laughing). Vine at least, it has this thing. It was 6 seconds. It was fun. But Instagram Stories, I see people, people I know spending lots of time. And like iJustine. I'm watching iJustine. She's like doing something but obviously not paying attention to any of her friends or anything else because she's constantly making her—do you do that? I bet you do that, Piper. You're constantly making your story and then—I'd love to see the stats. Who's looking at those stories, really? Do you look at Instagram Stories?
Iain: I don't even have an Instagram account. I feel quite out of it.
Leo: How about you, Amy? Am I wrong?
Amy: No, I don't. I don't. But I use Snap.
Leo: You do?
Amy: I do.
Leo: Is that how you communicate with your seven-year-old?
Amy: Yep, that's exactly how.
Leo: (Laughing) We parents, we need something.
Iain: It's hard to believe though. There's a report that last year Google nearly paid $30-billion for Snap.
Leo: That was interesting. Now—
Amy: Snap has some really good patents that have to do with visual object recognition and so, Snap as it exists today I don't see lasting in perpetuity but some of the research that they've done in augmented reality and visual object recognition and there's some interesting things happening behind the scenes.
Leo: Wow. There's an opportunity for them.
Iain: It's a pity that so much of their stuff is being hijacked by Facebook and others. But that said, if I never see another one of those dog filters over somebody's faces, I would be a happy man. Because those are freaky as all hell.
Leo: It does show you though that any business that is relying on millennials and younger for their business model not being fickle, is doomed. Why would you invest in any company that—well, because they're hot with the kids right now. Yea, but that's like the lifespan of a mayfly. That could change at any second. And it's easy to steal their features.
Iain: We used to see that with social networks. I mean remember when Friendster came out in the 90s?
Leo: Yea, yea. Jonathan Abrams is a friend. He's been on our show many times.
Iain: And then it was My Space and then Facebook got critical mass and it's difficult to see another social network actually taking over from them now.
Leo: That's a good point. You could duplicate Facebook's functionality but there's no way you could steal it's—and what it is, is its network effect, the social graph.
Iain: The network effect. You've got to have that number of interconnected people.
Rob: And when you were talking about Snapchat failing to take $30-billion dollars from Google, I was thinking there was one even worse decision not to take Google's money which was Friendster. Because Jonathan, or Friendster's board were offered, I think it was $50 or $60-milllion dollars.
Leo: A lot of money in those days.
Rob: Pre-IPO Google stock, that's the thing. So, it's gone up. And what Friendster ultimately was worth I believe was zero. I mean they might have been sold or something like that. So, yes, it was pre-IPO Google stock which went up many dozens of fold. That was a bummer.
Iain: I know of a PR agency, that when Microsoft came to their country, Microsoft offered them stock in exchange, rather than fees. And they said, "No, no. We'll take the money, thanks."
Rob: And that was pre-IPO?
Iain: Yea. That was pre-IPO and you were just like, "Wow, you could have retired in 10 years down the line." But we all make these decisions.
Rob: We all do.
Iain: I advised a friend not to bother investing in Google when it went IPO because there would be another, better search engine along in a minute.
Rob: Yea, Google took advantage being the charm. And that actually worked in search engines.
Iain: Unfortunately, my friend and I don't talk much now, but (laughing).
Leo: DJI. I didn't know that DJI the makers of the DJI Phantom, call it probably the number one sub-$20 thousand-dollar drone. I didn't know that DGI stands for Dà-Jiāng Corporation. It's a Chinese company. Maybe the Department of Justice didn't know because they just issued a memo, the department of the Army saying, "Guys, don't use DJI drones anymore." They are the most widely used non-program of record commercial off-the-shelf UAS employed by the Army. But, as you see in this memo, in item 3, "Cease all use. Uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries and storage media from device and secure equipment for follow on direction." We'll be sending Robocop to destroy it.
Iain: Follow on direction. It's a sledgehammer.
Leo: So, DJI, by the way, says, "We're surprised and disappointed. They didn't contact us. We could have probably reassured them. Because we're made in China." Everything on this desk is made in China. I understand. I remember when the Department of Commerce said a couple of years ago, don't buy Huawei and ZTE phones because the Chinese Military's a part owner. Amy, you're an expert on China. Is this paranoia or is this sensible?
Amy: I wouldn't call myself a China expert.
Leo: I just called you one, so you get to be.
Amy: I did however fly my DJI Maverick this morning. So, I clearly wasn't obeying the rules.
Leo: Well, it's just the army. You're not in the army yet, so, it's ok.
Amy: Yea, I think it depends on where you are. Listen, I had the connected headset, so you have bird's eye view and I had a lovely time flying around the bay this morning.
Leo: Oh fun. Were you using the virtual reality?
Amy: Yea, it's pretty cool.
Leo: Too cool.
Amy: The Maverick has a gimbled camera and you can control the gimble by moving your head around, so it's pretty slick.
Leo: So, you feel like you're there, like you're a bird.
Amy: Yea, it's bird's eye view. It's pretty amazing. My husband—technically you can fly it and do that at the same time, but I'm not that dexterous, so I usually have somebody else fly if I want to look and vice versa. Listen, I don't know—if you think about the information that could be scraped, I don't know how much necessarily—yea, that's affordable. You can fly it into a tree.
Leo: I need that, by the way, because I have not yet successfully flown.
Amy: I have obliterated many drones.
Leo: Yea, me too. I keep thinking, "Oh, maybe it's because I have a cheap one." So, I buy a more expensive one. Fly it into a tree. And then, "Maybe that was too cheap so I'll by a more expensive one."
Rob: You need cheaper trees, Leo.
Leo: I've just given up on drones. I think that theory is that it could be mapping, like they've got GPS, they've got cameras, they've got—
Iain: They could be sending data back to China. But this strikes me as conspiracial all over again. It's just like, oh, they're not proper, American, home-grown. Let's ban them.
Leo: Good luck finding a drone that's not at least made in China.
Rob: I mean even 3D robotics, they're being made largely in China. They had some in Tijuana, too.
Leo: Sorry, Amy. Go ahead.
Amy: It's just there is no technology that any of us own that at some point hasn't had some interaction with China. So, you know. In terms of mapping, anywhere that you would want to, that the Chinese government may get excited about, you're going to have a hard time flying over anyways. Because it's restricted airspace and it's hard to get to. And to be honest, within 2 years, there are fleets of cube sats and micro sats that are being launched by companies that will be collecting real-time hourly maps and data all around planet Earth. So, to harness me to get a snapshot on this particular day at the place where I happen to by flying just seems like something that wouldn't be worth their while.
Iain: Also, if there is something to be worried about, shouldn't—instead of just banning it from US Military—
Leo: Tell us.
Iain: Yea, tell the people who are buying the things. It's like why shouldn't you be buying this?
Leo: Cyber criminals have decided that Hollywood is ripe for the plucking and the latest victim, HBO. HBO recently experienced a cyber incident.
Iain: We call pwnd.
Leo: Which resulted in a compromise of proprietary information. 1.5 terabytes of data according to the hackers, including, oh dear, upcoming episodes of Ballers.
Rob: And Room 104.
Leo: I know what Ballers is because it's on after Game of Thrones. What the hell is Room 104?
Rob: It's on after Room 103.
Leo: And some written material from next week's episode of Game of Thrones and more is promised soon.
Rob: It's a pretty small leak. The Sony hack was 100 terabytes. This is 1.5.
Leo: Yea, and you know, I think that after the Netflix hack, that I think criminals feel like, "Oh, we can probably get some money blackmailing these companies." You know, the value of Game of Thrones. You know, is it going to reduce the number of people who watch it if they knew what was going to happen? It's just going to piss people off.
Rob: It puts it back in the news.
Leo: They encourage it? It is the most pirated TV show.
Iain: I was going to say, the first couple of series, they were like, "Yea, we know it's one of the most pirated TV shows and we're fine with that." Because it gets more people actually going out and watching it.
Leo: Wow, that's enlightened.
Iain: It's like, ok. Well, fair enough. And it's worked. Everyone wants—ok, not everyone watches it, but a hell of a lot of people watch it. And piracy has helped build up that base of people who—maybe they pirated the first couple of episodes and then they signed on and watched the next four or five. That said, we're still waiting for the final book, so.
Leo: Speaking of the Iron Throne, Travis Kalanick has hired three dragons and is about to attack Uber's headquarters. Apparently, this is from The Information, big scoop for The Information. He was prospecting among former employees and others to see if he should stage a proxy fight to try to get back in as CEO of Uber. The Information says he's not currently pursuing a shareholder battle because he hasn't asked anybody to sign any documents. But I wouldn't be surprised. They have yet to find a replacement for this guy. And all the women they've asked have said, "Hell no."
Iain: I mean they approached Sheryl Sandberg and she was like, "Are you kidding?"
Leo: Well, why would she do that?
Leo: Even Marissa Mayer. Nobody wants that job. Meg Whitman.
Iain: Now, Meg Whitman could do it. She's got the—I mean, she's used to dealing with people and pushing through an agenda. She could do it but why would she want to?
Rob: She wouldn't. And she took herself—didn't she take herself out of the running during a board meeting when they were talking about her and she was like, "Sorry, guys."
Iain: Don't mean to stop my own rumor, but.
Rob: I want to kill this one dead right now.
Amy: I mean gender aside, I don't know who would-- at this point, I don't even know who would want to step in to take that job, right? I mean you're inheriting such a mess.
Leo: Isn't there a big upside though if you can turn it around? I mean that's a company—
Rob: It's already valued at $60-billion dollars. I mean, what's the run-up? Whatever it was. I mean there's rumors that SoftBank is buying out Benchmark for like a 30% discount off of that. I mean, there could be a fairly long period of time where it's value contracts before it rescales the great heights. And, you know, $70-billion-dollars, that was an advance public market price back in the day. But it's already been valued very richly. Jeffrey Immelt, right? You've done this whole—you've run GE. That would be a crazy job to take on.
Iain: Also, Uber isn't profitable. They're burning through a staggering amount of VC funds.
Leo: I don't think they have a lot of—even at that valuation, I don't think they have a lot of runway. I think it's a year or something.
Rob: It's more than a year but it's not a lot of years. It's like 2 years or something like that. I did the math a few months ago.
Leo: Can they go back again and say, "Give us more money?"
Rob: Sure, but it would be at a lower—if they did it tomorrow, it would be significantly lower valuation. But sure, they could get money. But they'd probably throttle back the marketing as a first step. I think a lot of the money goes.
Iain: If they really wanted to get a female CEO, they should get someone who's young, just below C grade, looking to make their mark and then let them go for it. Going to an established—
Leo: I think Piper Reese would be perfect. She takes Uber. We already know that.
Amy: Having a female CEO doesn't solve the problems that are epidemic at that company. So, you know, and honestly, he's going to try to stage a comeback. So, anybody in their right—I would be surprised if they get anybody who's going to be great, who would be willing to take that job right now.
Rob: Yea, he has a staggering amount of stock ownership. So, his ability to wreak havoc in the boardroom—and there is definitely a history of CEO's that have been pushed out, who re-engineered or engineered their return to the great detriment of the people who succeeded him. And you know that's going to, that at least will be attempted here. So, you're really signing up for a doozy of a brawl.
Leo: It's like sitting on the Iron Throne when you've got three dragons coming your way. I'm sorry. I've got Game of Thrones on my mind. We've got to get ready to go because back East it's going to happen in about half an hour. We want to give Amy Webb—
Amy: I've got to go pop my popcorn.
Leo: A chance. The popcorn. Get some butter. Amy, it's been great having you again. Come back anytime. You're so smart and the book is The Signals are Talking, Why Today's Fringe is Tomorrow's Mainstream. She's not so smart in the sense that she's actually telling people how she does her job, which is probably not a good idea. She has the formula for being a futurist of your very own self. Actually, every science fiction author should read this. This would be a valuable, valuable tool. And it really is an engaging book. Thank you so much for being here, Amy. I appreciate it.
Amy: Thank you. I love being here. Thanks.
Leo: Good. Always welcome. As are you, Mr. Iain Thomson. You're a good friend. Nothing for me to plug except go read The Register and I'm sure you'll be doing coverage, more coverage of Marcus' situation.
Iain: Yea, yea.
Leo: And we'll see what happens with Marcus Hutchins because—I like WannaCry-killer. Is that what you decided to call him, the WannaCry-killer?
Leo: You understand that that's the wrong connotation? It is true.
Iain: Well, it did also make a really unfortunate URL with just WannaCry-killer. Oh, no, hang on. We need to edit that.
Leo: (Laughing) I wanna cry. It's always a pleasure. Thank you for making your way up here.
Iain: It was great fun.
Leo: Come back soon.
Iain: And some great fellow guests.
Leo: And also, yea, congratulations to Rob Reid. The book just came out, After On. I'm not done with it but it is—you can't put it down. It is 547 pages of really, really good stuff. And really challenging. Very exciting, yea. Besides being great fiction, it's smart fiction and that's what Rob's going to be known for I think going forward. The Thomas Pynchon of Silicon Valley, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, Rob, for being here. Give my best to Morgan. So, you're living in New York for a while?
Rob: Yea, we've been in New York for over a year and we're enjoying life. We kind of jokingly call it our junior year abroad in Manhattan because it probably is temporary.
Leo: Are you going to come back to California, or where will you end up you think?
Rob: It's entirely possible.
Leo: If I were you, I'm just saying, Santorini. Beautiful place.
Rob: Santorini in Greece.
Leo: Yea, lovely town. You can have a house with a blue roof.
Iain: I was last there in 1988.
Leo: It's exactly the same.
Iain: Somehow I doubt that.
Leo: If I were you, you could live anywhere. You can be anywhere. Writers, that's the beauty of being a novelist. You can live anywhere in the world. Thank you all for being here. We do TWiT every Sunday afternoon, 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Eastern Time, 2200 UTC. If you want to join us in the studio, a great studio audience from all over the world. From Munich and Calgary, Canada, and Indianapolis. And you guys just snuck in here. I don't know where you're from but thank you all for being here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org We'll be glad to put a chair out for you. You can also watch the live stream from anywhere in the world. TWiT.tv/live. If you do that though, I invite you to be in our chatroom at IRC.twit.tv. Join the kids, the wise ass kids in the back of the class throwing spitballs and stuff. What would we do without them?
Iain: I always log on to the TWiT thing here. It's just fantastic.
Leo: I know. You're one of the few guests who actually joins the chat during the show.
Rob: Well, I've always watched it on the monitor and I saw him watching it on his screen, so I did as well. It's kind of fun. I threw in a couple of—
Leo: We sometimes warn guests not to look.
Rob: I've always looked there and it's never been there. Of course, now they're going to get me. CEO Barbie.
Leo: That's going to be the title of the show I guarantee it.
Rob: Oh, is it?
Leo: CEO Barbie.
Amy: I'm glad that's my contribution.
Leo: (Laughing) Good job, Amy. If you can't be here during the show's broadcast time, of course you can watch on demand. Everything we do, really, is about on demand. So, just go to twit.tv. Download a copy. Or my favorite thing, however you listen to podcasts, find TWiT and subscribe. That way every Monday you'll be ready as you go into work. You'll have a nice TWiT to listen to. And given the length of the show, you can listen to it all week long (laughing). Anything else I need to say? Thank you, Karsten Bondy and Tonya Hall for booking the show and putting the rundown together. Thank you John Slanina for making sure the microphones work. Thank you for being here. We'll see you next time! Another TWiT is in the can. Bye-bye. Good job.