This Week in Tech 628
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech! We have an all in-studio cast today. Joined by Katie Roof from Tech Crunch, Mike Elgan from Computer World, and I'm thrilled to have the acting administrator for the US digital services, Matt Cutts with us. We've got a lot to talk about. Android O is coming out tomorrow. The big eclipse is also tomorrow. The essential phone, the Galaxy Note, and Google, is it going to lose its trademark? It's all coming up next on TWiT.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode number 628, recorded Sunday, August 20, 2017.
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It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech, the show where we cover the week's tech news in obsessive compulsive detail. And today you're going to be so glad you're listening, because we have, all in studio, one of the best panels ever. I don't know whether I should start on the left or... I'm going to start on the left, because it's so weird we get Matt Cutts in studio. Matt is the acting administrator for the US digital services in Washington DC. Matt, we had you on TWiG before, back when you were one of the Google employees. You left Google and took a sabbatical. And you're still there! You're predecessor was a political appointee, so when Donald Trump was inaugurated, who was your predecessor?
Matt Cutts: Mikey Dickerson.
Leo: He had to resign, and you were standing there, and they said you do it?
Matt: They asked whether I would be willing to preserve the mission.
Leo: Nice. What is this mission?
Matt: To make sure that federal computing services work better. Healthcare.gov is the most famous example.
Leo: My anecdotal memory is remembering when they first put healthcare.gov up it crashed. Silicon Valley said, we could do better. This was a Government contractor. The site was not designed to succeed, Silicon Valley said we can do better, a bunch of people volunteered, and rewrote the code. That was the birth of the USDS.
Matt: After that, the President said if it can happen to a signature marquis product, it can happen to anything, so we need technologists and people who understand how tech works to be in the room and say this is not how a computer works.
Leo: Do people typically take a leave from their company and go to work for a period of time?
Matt: Yeah, I was at Google last year and went on a six month leave.
Leo: You moved to DC for the USDS. It's so great you're doing that. Thank you. The Veteran's Administration website, a lot of websites that are vital to people are working better because of the USDS.
Matt: It's not just websites. Doctors, students, soldiers who want to move across the country. People who need help because they're working with the Government.
Leo: I know the last time you were on, you said you were looking for volunteers.
Matt: We're looking for designers, engineers, product managers, we have a hundred million dollar projects that work much better with only 2 or 3.
Leo: Despite the turmoil going on at the top of the administration, we were talking before the break, the Government goes on, and it has to. Otherwise there would be real turmoil. You're still doing the job, you're still working hard. This is a big opportunity to take a little break. Your company will probably support you. Go help out and make a difference.
Matt: If people are looking for meaningful work, this is a fantastic bet.
Leo: We also welcome back Mike Elgan. This is his last visit for a while, because you're going to Barcelona.
Mike Elgan: One week from today, going back to Barcelona.
Leo: That's brave. Are you afraid of another terrorist attack?
Mike: Not at all. Barcelona has taken a lot of hits historically. This is a city that has been through hell over the centuries. This is nothing!
Leo: I remember anybody who has visited Barcelona has probably walked down Las Rumblas. That is the center of activity in Barcelona.
Mike: Barcelona has always been a radically multi-cultural port. That's why Madrid has suspected Barcelona of being an outsider, it's been filled with people from all over the world. It's still like that, it will always be like that. It's just a fantastic city, and I can't wait to get back there.
Leo: Everybody who was coming to your gastro nomad event in Barcelona is still coming.
Mike: That's right. Everybody is raring to go. If I can do one quick plug, if you're interested in the gastro nomad experience and want to find out more, we have a newsletter, so if you go to the site of the newsletter, just sign up for the newsletter.
Leo: You've now set a date for the Italian, it's Prosecco Experience. You're going to do one in Morocco and Mexico City. What a neat thing. Hey, I also want to welcome somebody who has been on the network but never on TWiT before. Katie Roof is here. It's great to have you, senior writer at Tech Crunch.
Katie Roof: Good to be with you.
Leo: You've heard her on the podcasts and seen her on the daily news show. What's the show you do?
Katie: It's called Equity. It's about Venture Capital and Business topics.
Leo: Perfect. Nice to have you, Katie. Thanks for joining us. Where should we start? I'll start with a couple light ones. Then we'll get to heavy stuff. I'm mad at Google. I was all set to enjoy the eclipse, then Google announced when the eclipse is over, they're going to announce Android O right after the end of the eclipse. I guess that was the plan. What's your best guess? Android O. Oreo?
Matt: I just note that Eclipse with a dark disc coming across it would work really well.
Leo: Some people say it's definitely Oreo because Google accidentally released a video that the name of the file had Oreo in it. I want to point out that Google is known... what does Android N stand for? I'm NOT gonna tell you! Which is complete misinformation. It ended up being Nuggat. I'm not wrong. Google is completely capable.
Matt: They're capable, but they often leak by mistake.
Leo: The other problem, there aren't a lot of desserts with O.
Mike: Orange stuff.
Leo: Orange sherbet?
Mike: Oreo cookie is so iconic...
Leo: But it's a brand name. Remember KitKat? I resented it, because every time we mention Android Kit Kat, because it's like an ad every time we mention it.
Mike: In the world of Candy bars, they're such old brands, it's not that competitive.
Leo: Wouldn't it be funny if it were Android Hydrox? The Fake Oreo? Wait a minute, Hydrox was first? There's a little skin in the game on this one. No one would name a cookie Hydrox. That's obviously from another century. That's like Max E.coli.
Katie: Would they have to pay Oreo to use their name?
Leo: Even though Nomad was employee number one... first hundred at Google. He probably knows a lot more than he's telling. I'm sure there's a meeting where people get together and discuss the name, or no?
Matt: I'm sure there's a team. Especially something like KitKat. You have to do coordination strategy.
Leo: You can't just call it Oreo without talking to Mondalay. That's who makes it. Mondelez International. Am I saying it right? Mondelez? Mondelez?
Katie: I think it's Mondelez? I'm not sure.
Leo: It's one of the world's largest snack companies. I know that. It's got a bar over it. God, you've got to go to the website. Innovating our cracker portfolio. Dirk Vendeput becomes CEO of Mondalese International. OK. Apparently they own Chips Ahoy, Trident, Toblerone, Tang, and Oreo. So what do you do? You go to Mondelez and say would you mind? I remember that KitKat, which is owned by two different companies, Cadbury in Europe and Hershey in the US, but I remember whoever it was saying no money exchanged hands. What? Being kind? The Cafeteria got an unlimited supply of KitKats?
Matt: There were some KitKats.
Mike: My favorite, Google IO had ice cream sandwiches.
Leo: Mondelez in June did have some issues, ransomeware? It has tech problems, unclear.
Mike: Here's the deal. Google said we'll help you with those tech problems... and you supply us with a lifetime supply of Oreos.
Leo: Mers announced this week that they got Petchio, which is a Wannacry variant. Cost them 300 million dollars of lost productivity. 300 million dollars because they didn't have a good backup. And of course, Merck the pharmaceutical company in NYC was shut down for some time. Anyway, Oreo will find out tomorrow after the eclipse. Which we will stream live.
Katie: I haven't gotten my eclipse glasses yet, so I guess I'll have something to do tomorrow.
Leo: We've got to give Katie... we have eclipse glasses. They are the ones Amazon sent refunds for. I'm kidding. They're the real deal. Safety tested, we'll get you some eclipse glasses, because I don't think you can buy eclipse glasses at this point.
Matt: I think they were on sale on Ebay for $250.
Leo: They're 20 cent, cardboard...
Katie: I was reading this story of a guy who lost a lot of his vision from the last eclipse, so he felt compelled to warn everybody.
Leo: That's right. 1962, this guy's vision has been damaged since 1962. So Katie, here you are. Take your pick. We have some Google eclipse glasses. This is the Eclipse mega movie. Did you know about this? Google in the UC Berkeley are doing something together. Eclipsemega.movie, they're asking anybody who is going to be in the totality region, that 70 mile wide band, it's like the Miss America sash going across the United States, if you're in the totality, you can contribute.
Matt: The great thing is you can't see anything through this.
Leo: This is important. If you do have eclipse glasses and you can see something through them, don't wear them, they will not protect you. You should not be able to see a thing, unless you look at a really, I don't think our studio lights are bright enough. You have to look at really bright lights to go out and check it. The sun should not be a bright disc, it should be a dim disc. Don't look directly at it.
Mike: The new Screensavers yesterday had the best tip ever for doing the eclipse. Don't take pictures of the sun, take pictures of everything around you. The light will never be like that again until the next eclipse.
Leo: Here's the Google mega movie promo video. See the problem is there's going to be a million pictures like that. So, unless you really know what you're doing, that's technically difficult. Tripod, a very long lens, Scott yesterday on the new Screensavers said a 16 milimeter lens.
Mike: 10,000 people will take better pictures of it than you will, so don't bother.
Leo: Plus you need a very expensive $150 filter, or you will damage your DSLR, or even your eyes, if you're looking through a DSLR. Don't look at pictures of the eclipse, they're damaging your eyes.
Matt: It's like The Ring.
Leo: That's right. You'll be the next to die if you look at eclipse pictures. This is kind of neat. So we'll watch for that. If you want to sign up if you are going to be going somewhere. By the way, if you're not there now, don't go. If you go to NASA's Eclipse site, eclipse 2017 nasa.gov, they have a traffic map. All of the places that you would go, don't go. It's jammed. We had somebody in the studio a couple days ago saying they were going to go to the painted hills in Oregon, and already it was too late. Go to the website for NASA, they will point you to the department of transportation federal highway administration where you will get tips. Do not take photographs while driving is one of the tips. This is my favorite one. Do not try to wear your opaque eclipse glasses while operating a vehicle.
Matt: Oh no.
Leo: It says turn your headlines on, do not rely on automatic headlights. They may not come on. Watch for pedestrians. People may be randomly parking and walking alongside the road in the hours around the eclipse to get the best view. That's right after the thing that says don't stop and walk around to see the eclipse on the road. Avoid travel during the eclipse. Actually, I have to drive to San Francisco during the eclipse. I'm bummed. I have a radio appearance I agreed to do.
Mike: Won't we see a partial eclipse pretty much everywhere in the US?
Leo: Yeah. In fact, NASA's map shows you. You can click on the map. Here in Northern California, it will be 70%. By the way, 71% means a little sliver of sun. You're not going to see a whole lot of sun. That's where it's dangerous, that's where you can blind yourself by looking too close, because it feels like it's dimmer, but apparently it's just as dangerous. You know, when I was a kid, I'm pretty sure I looked at the sun. I'm fine.
Katie: The last one was in 1979, I think I read. I wasn't born yet. I saw a funny clip earlier from ABC news where they talked about the eclipse in 1979, and they said the next one is happening in August 2017.
Leo: You know what, I'm going to play that clip. It's a great clip, actually it's kind of a touching clip. Let me show you a little bit of Frank Reynolds. It would be kind of fun if he came back, wouldn't it? Let me see if I can find this. Here it is.
Frank Reynolds: A total eclipse of the sun visible today over North America for the last time in this century.
Leo: And at the very end...
Frank: Bring you a complete report on the next eclipse 38 years from now.
Leo: Thank you, YouTube for stepping on the...
Frank: 38 years from now, may the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace. And ABC News of course, will bring you a complete report on that next eclipse 38 years from now.
Leo: 1979, Frank Reynolds on ABC. The next eclipse is not that far off. 7 years from now in North America.
Katie: I'll get my glasses by then.
Leo: You got some! Do you want the Google ones, or do you want the ones from Lunt Solar Systems? I'd go with the Google. These are also wrinkly. I read somewhere if your glasses are wrinkly or have pin pricks in them you shouldn't use them. I don't know why wrinkly would be a big deal. But those are not wrinkly. So we don't want to lose you.
Katie: I like having my vision.
Leo: Google Pixel Two. Should we talk about that? Do you know anything about that?
Matt: I wish.
Leo: You're a pixel user. I'm a pixel user. Mike, are you a Pixel user?
Mike: I'm an iPhone guy. I'd also like to talk about the essential phone after that.
Leo: My essential phone is on its way. This is going to be a crazy week. The essential phone, anybody who preordered it got an email last week, this is Andy Rubin's new company. Already a billion dollar unicorn, right Katie? Even though they have shipped nothing.
Katie: That's pretty impressive.
Leo: Actually, they are late. Andy Rubin was on the stage at the recode conference in June, he said it'll be by the end of next month.
Mike: I actually got one on Friday. I touched it.
Leo: When you touched it, did you like it?
Mike: I did. It's quite amazing. The lack of bezel is pretty stunning.
Leo: By the way, all phones will be bezel free going forward. I'm sure the Pixel will be as small a bezel as they can make it. I'm pretty sure the iPhone, will have not only a bezel, but it'll have no frame. It'll just be a floating piece of glass.
Mike: Comparing it to the iPhone 7 Plus, I would say the fit and finish is not quite as good as Apple's. It's very close The design is better than Apple's. It's more like the iPhone 4, because it's flat on the front, flat on the back. Then there's a real edge. I love that design.
Leo: If you exit the screen and the bezels, the big thumb at the top of the bottom of the iPhone 7 Plus, this is a pretty gorgeous phone. It's all metal. I got the jet black one, it's shiny. I never put it in a case, which is a mistake.
Mike: The roundness of it is a very Johnny Ives thing. He's very much into that 70's future thing.
Katie: I like the round edges. Yeah.
Leo: This is more square, the essential?
Mike: The edge is an edge. You can set it up on any edge.
Leo: It would stand up?
Mike: It would stand up. Like the iPhone 4, if you remember that. But the coolest thing is the modularity, it has the magnetic thing. They have a bunch of cameras there. Here's the funniest thing that is not getting enough reporting, the little camera that goes on the top has a fan in it. A tiny fan is like a mosquito, 360 camera...
Leo: I ordered the phone. I didn't realize that for 40 bucks more I could have gotten 360. Should I have?
Mike: Yeah. You blew it. I also went to playground global which is the incubator that Essential lives in. Playground global has a playground. It's not global, it's local. In Palo Alto.
Leo: There's a playground in South Park. That's the famous swings where Eve and Jack were sitting on the swings and Jack said we should call it Twitter.
Katie: They've since remodeled South Park. They have a brand new playground there, which I think is funny because it's all Venture firms there now. It's only a Venture firm. But I've seen some on the weekends.
Leo: If Jack Dorsey goes at it... They said this would come out next week. This essential phone, we've ordered one, we'll have it as soon as it comes. I made a deal with Jason Howell if it comes before All About Android he gets it, if it comes after, I get it. So we'll be all watching the FedEx truck with great interest.
Mike: My prediction is, because I saw the FedEx truck as well, they asked us not to take pictures of it. There's a prototype. This is the iPhone for Android, essentially. They've done a really great job for a 1.0 product, it's a little klunky on the software side, but they're rapidly updating it.
Leo: They said it's pretty pure Android. It will be Android O, or no?
Mike: That I don't know.
Leo: It's going to come after O.
Mike: As you know before he left, he founded both Sidekick and Android, but before he left, he ran the Google's robotics division which was famous for the big dog-like robot. He walked out of Google with it. Most people just take office supplies.
Leo: Did you ever go to Andy Rubin's house? Apparently it was heavily automated. Robots everywhere and the doors...
Mike: Have you been to his wife's restaurant? His wife has a restaurant in Los Altos called Time Traveler. It's an exquisite bakery. Brilliant place. Andy Rubin supposedly designed a lot of the security systems and that kind of stuff.
Leo: Voyager.com, apparently nobody else wanted it. Sysco doesn't want me going to Andy Rubin's site apparently. That's weird. Google said that must be the wrong site.
Katie: It only has three stars on Yelp, if we're looking at the right one here.
Leo: You know how Yelpers are.
Matt: I have a friend from Google who really likes that restaurant, for what it's worth.
Leo: So that's phone number one this week, but it's not the last phone that will come out this week. On Wednesday the Galaxy Note 8 from Samsung will be announced. They're going to have an event. We're going to cover that and the O stream. We'll be doing a lot of live coverage on TWiT. You can always tune in, TWiT.tv/live to watch our coverage live. I think that's going to be a great phone. It's hard to say that this will be the Android phone.
Mike: The difference is the Samsung will probably carve out the niches, the most powerful high end phone.
Leo: Plus the stylus.
Mike: But I do think that the essential phone will be considered more elegant. The design is just beautiful. It feels minimalist, and all this stuff. It's going to be the Android phone that most directly competes with the iPhone. That's my...
Katie: I'm not retroactively switching from my iPhone. I've been using the iPhone since it first came out. 2007.
Leo: You were 12 at the time. I'm triangulating. I'm moving in.
Katie: I've been a loyal iPhone user. I've been switching apps.
Leo: You're sitting at a table with three Android users. You're sitting at a table with three iPhone users. I go both ways. I count on both teams.
Matt: I do have a Government iPhone.
Leo: Really? The Government gave you an iPhone? Wow.
Mike: No wonder our taxes are so high.
Leo: In the same way that the essential is the elegant phone, the pixel two will be the undesigner phone. It's not attractive. It's functional, great camera, pure Android. The FCC filings for one of the new pixels is in, the HTC one, they're going to do that squeeze thing which HTC did with their U 11, that presumably when you squeeze the phone will activate the Google assist. I don't know. How do you feel? Like it? Don't like it?
Mike: I think it's discriminatory against people without phones. If you can't do this, then...
Leo: If you don't have opposable thumbs, how are you holding your phone? What would we have done without opposable thumbs.
Mike: It feels like a cheesy feature to me.
Matt: I'll take the opposite view. I can't wait to squeeze my phone. It's going to be great.
Mike: You're probably squeezing your phone already and nothing is happening.
Matt: I am.
Leo: We were talking on TWiG about gestures, and of course one of the things about gestures that's cool is it can extend the vocabulary that you interact with your device, but it's a tricky balance, because you want the gesture to be somewhat intuitive, because the pinch gesture, which Apple introduced but Carnegie Melon created it first, I'm using my surface, that seems pretty intuitive. You pinch it, and it zooms in. Google's phones have a shake gesture. If something crashes or you're not happy with it, you go I ought to, and it pops up with would you like to send a bug report? I love that. That's intuitive. Yet there are a lot of non-intuitive... Motorola. But we came to like it. So the squeeze, I don't know.
Mike: I think the problem is very often we don't have the phone in our hand. I think that the superior method is the airpod thing where you double tap on your airpod and Siri pops up and unfortunately Siri pops up.
Leo: Katie, you say you like the iPhone but you like Siri?
Katie: I don't like voice assistance in general. I'm against it.
Leo: You were stuck with Siri. I love talking to Echo. Do you have an Echo.
Katie: My parents love theirs though. But I'm not into that.
Mike: I have a theory in this world of appliances. The rumor is that Facebook is working on appliance like the Echo, they have at least two. One where the screen is going to be a rip off of the Amazon lineup to a certain extent, but my prediction is that it will have suggestions. If you used Facebook messenger right now, there's something called m suggestions. So you're sitting there having a conversation and it'll chime in and say why don't you go to this restaurant or why don't you listen to this song? Imagine that with a voice assistant. That means it would be listening to you all the time. It'll be super controversial, but I think that's where we're headed inevitably. There are only two products that do that right now. One is Google Assistant on Aloe. Or as we refer to it on TWiT, Google Silo. And Facebook M suggestions. Those are the only two places where they'll listen to conversations.
Leo: It's an interesting thing, of course, because it's also a great way to gather data. Gmail was brilliant because you get this great free mail client and the process of being Gmail is read all your mail. Wouldn't it be smart for Facebook to say "Hey sorry, but we have to listen all the time." The question is whether consumers are going to accept that, right?
Katie: I think there would be a backlash.
Mike: The larger perspective is that this will happen. Consumers will happily accept our assistants listening to us all the time because the benefits will be enormous. It'll happen in two years or it'll happen in five years or it'll happen in ten years, but it will happen. It's just how fast we get there. There's also a philosophical question about whether something is listening. If somebody isn't listening is anybody listening? Not really. It's data that is being referred to, and as long as it can't be hacked, people are going to accept this. Even you will accept this someday.
Katie: Maybe. We'll see.
Mike: A lot of you born after 1979--
Katie: Too much discussion about my age.
Leo: It's my fault. We're just a bunch of old men.
Matt: I have a startup idea for you if you want. Which is not just listening, but Amazon recently got a patent to scan the outside of your house with a drone so it can target relevant advertising towards you. You can go and look this up.
Leo: What did it try to sell you? Aluminum siding? Wow. It's public information, although Google got in a little trouble because in Germany they have to blur out...
Matt: But we haven't gotten to the startup idea yet, which is people's trash in theory is public, so if you really wanted to understand someone...
Leo: You know who is missing the boat? Waste management. By the way, there are only a handful of big companies that do mostly the garbage collection in this country. Right? Waste management is huge. All they need to do is put some cameras in the conveyer belt. Say we're sorting for recycling and in the process... wow. That is brilliant.
Matt: Time to order milk.
Leo: Is your garbage public domain?
Matt: The legal ruling has been once you put it out on the curb people are allowed to look through it. That's why you have to have shredders and all this stuff. You can have a deal with one company where it's like we will scan your trash for trash analytics but then we'll shred it so no one else is able to look through it.
Katie: I think private investigators dig through trash and also scary stuff like that, but these days, I don't print anything out, so there's no documents for me to hide.
Mike: Wasn't Silicon Valley built on dumpster diving? Isn't that the process that led Steve Wozniak to...
Leo: I've talked to many hackers who in the early days what they did was they were looking for telephone company manuals when they were originally doing the phone hacking. Blue boxes and the like, and that's how they figured out how to interact with the network. They would get old manuals and dumpster dive. I search for trash analytics, and I found that Google has a lot. Does someone have a patent, you said?
Matt: So Amazon got a patent for drones to scan customer's homes. Public domain. You can't patent that. Who will be first in trash analytics.
Leo: I gotta call Jason Calacanis. We gotta get to work on this. That's brilliant!
Matt: You see the packaging and what people buy, which is the highest segment value of what people are doing.
Mike: Jason should launch a newsletter immediately called Inside Trash.
Leo: I'm curious how normal people, I already gave up all sense of privacy. I don't mind. I kind of wallow in it. I don't care. I get better ads. It's not really an invasion of privacy. There's a lot of people who think of the moral hazard, maybe an insurance company will decide not to count the number of liquor bottles, but that's not happened. I think insurance companies don't really care, because they expect you to be honest on that questionaire, and they'll ask you do you smoke? Do you drink, do you eat Oreos? They hope you lie, because they can deny you payment because we know you smoked...
Mike: And people can swap your trash for trash that looks healthy.
Leo: Same people who sell pee for drug tests. I shall pee in trash. We shall pee, we shall trash. Whatever you want to protect your privacy. American waste management, Houston, Texas. They are publicly held in the New York stock exchange. I think, Katie, I want you to get right on this for your equity podcast. This is...
Katie: We don't talk about trash. We talk about tech stuff!
Leo: This is brilliant. They're already doing this in recycling centers. I know they have cameras over the streams. It would just be a little bit more analytics, and they would know. You could even say just from this street. You wouldn't have to say we'll send a blimp over that street.
Matt: We'll collect your trash for free, all we ask is the data we get from it.
Mike: They could have a fixture for the toilet. Yes, Oreos again.
Leo: If waste management doesn't do this, I'm starting. Actually I don't want to get involved in that.
Katie: Their stock is up 15%. Trash is a big business.
Leo: Essential phone, Pixel, I'm excited. LG is making the big one, HT is making the little one. Your nodding does not in any way indicate you know anything, you just read the same stories I have. I think LG just-this was an interesting thing. LG has announced a new V30 phone. A number of people played with it said if this is what the next pixel is like, this is going to be awesome. Bezel design, multiple camera modules, the V30 is imminent. It is how it works, a company like HTC is basing its version on the pixel on the U11.
Matt: I think it depends a little bit.
Leo: Google is telling them what they want and they're just going to manufacture...
Matt: Recently, yeah.
Leo: Anyway. This would be a bad day to buy a Smartphone. Wait a little bit, because Apple's got a few weeks before Apple's big announcement, and I'm very interested in what Apple is going to do. We'll watch with interest as all of this happens. Let's take a break, got a great in studio team. It's fun to have all three of you, Katie Roof is here from Tech crunch, she's a senior writer there and hosts the equity podcast. Katie Roof.
Katie: There's another Katie Roof.
Leo: How dare she.
Katie: I originally had the "Raise the Roof" handle.
Leo: That's even better.
Katie: I deleted Twitter, and I had to join it when I became a reporter.
Leo: How many of you have deleted and rejoined? Just you and me. You too?
Mike: Long ago.
Leo: I deleted it because there was going to be a copyright infusion...
Mike: Leo was once the number one user on Twitter.
Leo: I was. Do you want to know how many followers I had? 5,000. That's all it took. Then Kevin Rose and I were in a battle, he finally beat me with 5,001. Now there are other people with more. They're all bots. Nobody has more than 5,000 really. Mike Elgan is here. I'm so excited about Gastro nomad.net. I'm so glad you're here. Thank you for being here. We'll miss you. How long are you going to go?
Mike: Till November.
Leo: Not too long. You got a grandkid, You can't be gone long.
Mike: Actually she's going with us. She's going to be with us the whole time.
Leo: Lucky kid. She's not even a year old.
Mike: #globaltoddler, is what we're using.
Leo: I am so honored to have a member of the Federal Government here today. Really doing good work, Matt Cutts. So nice to have you.
Matt: We welcome more people who want to join.
Leo: We'll use this as an opportunity to get people to go to USDS.gov. Right? I think it's like USDS.gov/join, right? Clever. You guys know a little about SEO. You heard about these things. Matt for years did the webmaster videos for Google that were so good. You're missed there, love those. Our show to you today brought to you by PayPal Working capital. PayPal knows running a business is complicated, takes a lot of your time, requires a lot of money to start a business, doesn't it? PayPal Working Capital is giving you an opportunity to give your cash flow a boost with a 5,000 business loan. PayPal Working Capital makes your life as a business owner easier. They don't require a credit check, that saves time, and applying will not affect your credit score. They can provide one affordable fixed fee, versus periodic interest, that makes it a lot easier to plan. They offer flexible prepayments that are automatically deducted as a percentage of sales, that's cool, right? For a limited time, when you accept $50,000 in payments with PayPal you get pre-selected automatically for a $5000 business loan. No credit check or personal guarantee required. By the way, I found out we qualified. That was awesome. To participate, all you've got to do is sign up for a PayPal Business account, and start accepting payments within 60 days. We accept PayPal as a tip jar, so podcasters, this would be a great tip for you. Set it up as a tip jar, and when you process $50,000 in payments, which won't take that long, you can apply for your Paypal working capital within 240 days. If you're approved, $5000 automatically deposited into your PayPal account. Boost your cash flow with a $5000 business loan from PayPal working capital, it's easy to do, just set it up, and start accepting payments. Visit paypal.com/twit to learn more, additional terms and conditions apply to the 550 promotion. We thank PayPal. For years, Paypal made it possible for us to do what we do here. We're grateful to them.
Mike: It's empowering too, because if you get the new iPhone, you're going to need that loan.
Leo: $5000! The rumor is over $1000. I don't think this market is that price sensitive. I think that there are tens of millions of people who will gladly fork out... you're one of them Katie.
Katie: I am. I'm going to get it. I think.
Leo: First of all, it is your main computer, right? So paying a thousand dollars for a computer is not that outrageous. It's your main computer these days, it's one you use far more than any other.
Mike: It's funny you mention that. I recently invested a great deal in an iPad. This is a ten inch with five, 12 gigs. It's almost a 1200 dollar iPad. I got the Airpods, the keyboard, I got everything because this is now my main computer.
Leo: That's all you use.
Mike: I use my MacBook pro for specific things that haven't caught up to the iPad yet. But mostly I use this and I'm trying to get off the phone as well. I'm trying to get to the point where I don't need a phone.
Leo: If you could use that for the phone... I guess you could with Skype or Facetime.
Mike: When I'm abroad, I'm not using the phone network anyway, or I'm using a local SIM card.
Leo: do you use Line? tango?
Mike: All my family are on iPhones, so I use Facetime audio for regular calls with my family. If I want to make a call to somebody who doesn't have Facetime, I just use Hangouts.
Leo: How does that work if you're overseas? I thought Hangouts was only US and Canada.
Mike: It works great internationally. It works fine. It's great. It's free or cheap.
Leo: I actually bought a Phi Sim for my iPad. That gives you the data, it's the same price, it's part of your regular phone account.
Matt: You can pause your stuff, so if you're not going overseas for a while, that's fine. I'll just put it in the drawer for 3 months.
Leo: I actually thought that was a really good travel tip. Just order an extra SIM and put it in something. It's not for phone though, just for data.
Mike: But so far so good. I'm getting there. Within six months...
Leo: Are you using IOS 11? So you did the beta.
Mike: I think we'll get to the point where no phone, no laptop, 100% iPad. That'll be great. But wait, Mike, you might say. That's ridiculous. What about checking Facebook? I'm trying to, I think we've reached the point where we're too addicted, we're too distracted, our phones are problematic for us now. Using a cellphone the way we use them is like driving to the store that is one block away, it is easier, but you should walk.
Katie: I don't even do that. When I was living in New York, I would order stuff from my phone.
Leo: Who goes to the store?
Mike: Living in New York is not good for you, because everything is delivered.
Leo: You never have to step out of your apartment. And you may not want to.
Mike: IOS 11 is a whole new ball game for using an iPad as a real computer. Of course, I don't do real work.
Leo: I would agree with you. I do think that Apple has to kick developers into making the equivalent of desktop apps for IOS 11.
Mike: Yes they do. IOS 11 is going to change a lot of things in the Industry. First of all, it'll make AR a big part of our everyday lives. Lots of apps will have AR. It's going to change how people use their iPad, and that will be the trigger for companies to produce apps that are iPad apps. They'll be able to charge for them. The two of us, we'll pay anything.
Katie: Maybe not anything...
Leo: Price sensitive.
Katie: It's almost an elastic demand. But I don't know. I'm a loyal iPhone and Mac user.
Leo: You're using, I'm surprised, a MacBook air.
Katie: I like it small, because I don't want to carry around a heavy laptop.
Leo: You're mostly writing, so the screen resolution, the lowest screen resolution Apple still offers, but it's fine for writing. It's super light. I noticed though you have a physical object blocking your camera.
Katie: I'd rather not have that there. I can turn it on and turn it off.
Leo: I'm the opposite, I put more cameras everywhere. I'm never off camera. Wouldn't it be funny if I had a shudder on the camera on my laptop? That would be crazy. I'm not that sanguine about where Apple is going with its laptop strategy particularly with Macintosh strategy. It seems as if they've stopped making interesting Macintosh. They haven't even updated your beautiful air, it would be so nice if they put a retina screen on a MacBook air, but they don't bother. Instead, they put the stupid touch bar, I feel like they've given up. What they really hope is your vision of the future, which is that everybody will stop buying those darn Macintoshes and start buying more iPads. I'm sure the margin is better.
Mike: I think the next thing they're going to do is copy Microsoft and have a gigantic tablet like this one.
Leo: This is not nice.
Mike: Apple should have something like this.
Leo: They don't want to do Touch. The problem is they won't ever do it on Mac OS. The point is they want everybody to go to IOS. That's the future.
Mike: That's right. They're too slow and gradual, for my taste. But this is the beginning. I think they'll get there, but in the meantime, it's a great single computer, and it seems really expensive, but if you compare that with the combined costs of MacBook Pro on an iPhone, which is considered normal...
Leo: I'm struggling with this. I do what you're doing. Got a keyboard case, and I'm trying to put pro software on there so I can do some of the photo editing. I think we're getting close, and on the other end, I'm using Linux, and because I don't want to use Mac OS any more, and I don't want to be limited to my hardware choices, so I'm buying Windows PCs. You're nodding as if this is something you do.
Matt: Chrombook, Linux.
Leo: Chromebook is Linux, but very secure, robust, reliable. You must use a real computer at work, right?
Matt: We have real computers we're required to use.
Leo: Somebody called me the other day. She said I'm a web designer, she said I love coda two, panic software is really cool, is there anything like that on the Mac? We've come a long way where you're looking for software on the Mac that is as good for web designing.
Mike: There's a lot of that out there. Mobile version of the web is better in a lot of ways than the desktop version of the web. There are a lot of apps that only work through apps, there is no web service. There's lots of stuff like that out there. Things as simple as Snapseed, which is Google's best photo editing packages, unavailable on the desktop completely. I use the iPad version on my iPad, and it's still the best thing out there.
Leo: There's one more event coming up soon, Intel is going to announce its 8th generation processor. Coffee lake is about to come out.
Mike: As in Lake of coffee?
Leo: We're on KB lake right now, before that was sky lake, and next is Coffee lake.
Matt: Is there an ice lake in there somewhere?
Leo: They did leak out the next one.
Katie: Ice lake?
Leo: You're right. So the eighth generation is going to be a bigger jump than the seventh generation, the coffee lake is still 14 nanometers. The big jump is going to be the ten nanometers. The reason I'm bringing that up is Intel is not slowing down. It's acting as though desktop computing is here to stay. We're building ten billion dollar fabs, we're all in. Are they nuts? Isn't everything going to go arm?
Mike: Everything is going to go to the cloud, and the cloud is based on really powerful servers and things like that.
Leo: So that's Intel's future is servers.
Mike: I think the average consumer... phones are going to be with us for a long long time, but these phones are going to have to get super processor intensive, and I'm not sure what you're talking about with Intel, if that's going to affect...
Leo: They have never been able to do Mobile successfully.
Matt: It feels like Intel really missed the boat because they were concentrating on AMD, and they're like we're leaving you in the dust, but they completely missed all of the stuff with Qualcomm and a lot of the mobile stuff.
Mike: My prediction is augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, all the realities which will be mixed up together- they won't be separate things- is going to be the biggest thing in technology since the Internet itself came onto Windows browser in the '90's. It's going to change everything, it's going to change how we perceive the world. No processor is going to be fast enough for this stuff. We'll be pumping so much raw graphics compute power into our devices because we're always going to want more of this stuff. Again, this is going to start with AR kit shortly.
Leo: I'm surprised you're sold on AR. What is the application, you think? You said AR will be everywhere. What is the application? Besides Pokemon Go?
Mike: Pokemon Go is poor man's AR. It doesn't place it in a specific place in space. It's like a GPS. So the first thing to understand is for a while it's going to be on tablets and phones. That's where AR is going to live for a year or two.
Leo: There's a lot of speculation that this 10.5 inch iPad Pro was designed, over designed. It's clearly a lot faster. Big jump in speed, they've got lots of different cameras. It was over designed because they see this as the AR.
Mike: That's one of the reasons to choose an iPad instead of a Chromebook.
Leo: We'll look back and say those Chromebooks can't do AR?
Mike: The Microsoft ones do, by the way. They have a camera that points that way, but MacBooks don't. They only have a camera that points that way. You can't do augmented reality, not even on the table. So it's going to be a big big deal.
Leo: What's the application?
Mike: The application is glasses. Glasses are going to replace phones.
Leo: We're a long way from that.
Mike: We've 5, 6, 7 years. The iPhone itself is ten years old, Leo. 5 or 7 years is not that far into the future. It's coming up very soon, and the content and the...
Leo: this is a guy who wears Google glass. Remember this.
Mike: I still defend Google Glass.
Leo: I think there is a fashion barrier.
Katie: I wear glasses.
Leo: If they would do that you would buy them, but we're a long way from... Mike described looking like a regular...
Mike: Ten years from now you go to the optometrist and get your frames, and they'll say smart or not smart?
Matt: I like that you're an optimist about it. It's good that you are thinking about this will eventually happen.
Mike: I wrote a column a year ago called AR and the demon haunted world. Carl Sagan's book, one of the things I predicted is in the future you'll have your loved ones, you'll create a virtual version of your loved ones to be standing where they died or at their gravesite, and if you're wearing the glasses or have AR, they'll be standing there waving at you. Psychologically this apparition will be indistinguishable from ghosts. What's the difference? Basically. So now a Japanese company is doing that for 4.40 a month, they'll provide your loved one standing at their grave site talking to you through AR. But think of children. You want an electronic baby sitter, you'll give them a pair of glasses and Goofy and Mickey are going to be dancing all around them.
Leo: This is a nightmare. You're describing Blade Runner. This is not a good world.
Mike: Describe our world to people in 1979. They would say I'm going to kill myself.
Leo: Thank God I'll be dead by then. I have to say, Apple is doing the right thing because the AR kit, they're getting it out there. It's fairly easy if you do unity it's easy enough to incorporate AR. Here's another one. This is Ridgeline labs, creators of Rover the AR VR dog game. Do you have sound on me? I'm not hearing it. Maybe there's no sound. so this is your virtual pet, look I'm going to throw a virtual stick, Rover will go catch the virtual... Oh my god this is stupid. You know if you're going to make a virtual reality dog, make it run faster for crying out loud! It's taking forever. Is that satisfying? No.
Katie: Remember the Tamagachi pets? They've come a long way.
Leo: You're right. You're probably the age where you did Neopets as a kid. That's what my daughter did. I had a Tamagachi... But they were all the rage. But a real pet gives you a lot more than this gives you. By the way, look at this picture, something weird is going on with this dog. This doesn't look healthy.
Matt: I'm imagining haptic feedback for your dog where you have a little bit of fur that might do something...
Leo: Any who, you're right. But I'll be dead by then. I'm sure you're right. It's just going to—but Ghost in the Shell, where the whole city that they're in is like alive with things moving and it's just kind of—
Mike: It's dystopian.
Leo: Imagine if you came here from 100 years ago. It would seem like that.
Mike: It's like another dimension that's available to you at all times, so you can just throw on the glasses and you can see the 4th dimension. And you can populate it with all kinds of different things and I just think it's going to be super compelling. And you know, we're seamlessly moving from virtual to augmented reality and back. We've already seen apps in our kit that do that.
Leo: We're going to enter a long period of uncanny valley.
Leo: Where this stuff will seem creepier than it seems appealing. I think it could be decades. It could be 100-years before what the real promise of this is which is that that dog would be indistinguishable from a real dog. That your parents at the grave would be indistinguishable from your parents, that they would be almost reality. But before that happens, you're going to have this awful, uncanny valley where it's just creepy.
Mike: This is the challenge of the developers. The first use will be turn by turn directions. You'll see the arrows in space around the corner.
Leo: A heads-up display. I wouldn't mind that.
Mike: It's going to be—that's going to be a beautiful way to walk around a city that you're not familiar with. The second thing will be face recognition and oh, you met this person three years ago.
Leo: That I'm looking forward to.
Mike: That will be cool too. But the most interesting thing is, we don't know. When they launched the iPhone in 2007, could we have predicted all the stuff that you can do with smartphones? Nobody could have predicted that stuff, so, nobody can predict what will come about because of augmented reality. But we can assume that it's going to be amazing, surprising and useful. They'll be tons of choice. It will be on all the platforms. And it's going to be pretty great and I think we'll figure out the goofy glasses problem and once we do that it's going to go totally mainstream.
Leo: I actually need this because I have a handicap that is—I think others have called prosopagnosia, face blindness. If I'm not looking at your face, I can't remember your face. And so, I often meet people—it just happened the other day. I met you before, the other hour, a minute ago. But I kind of don't remember people's faces at all so, this kind of augmented reality—
Katie: I have that too. Sorry for anyone I've forgotten.
Leo: Well, we meet a lot of people, right? That's part of our job.
Katie: Exactly. I go to networking events every night.
Leo: But I can't even see the face of my kids. I mean I can't. Can you see your mom's face? If you close your eyes, you can see it?
Katie: Yea. Ok, maybe I don't have that.
Leo: In detail? You don't have what I have. I literally—
Katie: It's a good excuse.
Leo: Yea, it's a good excuse. I'm sorry, I have prosopagnosia. I can't, I don't remember you. I never will see you again, so goodbye.
Mike: Augmented reality could say, "This guy has—" whatever that is.
Leo: I know. That's Katie Roof. You worked with her on TWiT. What, are you crazy? Would be nice.
Mike: Tap here to talk to your psychologist.
Leo: That would be nice. This is your mother. This is your daughter.
Mike: She gave you life.
Leo: I didn't realize I had this. I just thought this was normal. And then, but I don't recognize people all the time and now I realize I actually have a clinical thing. I think I'm more auditory. I can hear people's voices and I can recognize audio like that. I know it's you immediately but if I just saw your face, I couldn't. I don't even know what you look like now, Matt. I'm not looking at you. I have no idea what you look like.
Mike: He has that Matt Cutt's look.
Leo: Matt Cutts, acting administrator for the USDS. So great to have you. US Digital Service. Big, big group in Washington D.C. making tech work better for the American people. God bless you for the job you do. Katie Roof, making people understand what the hell's going on in finance over there at TechCrunch. Her Equity Podcast, she's also Senior Writer. Do you cover a variety of stuff or mostly just finance?
Katie: Yes. Well, no. I cover a variety of things and sometimes I do videos about apps. I can really do anything. One thing about TechCrunch is we don't have narrow beats.
Katie: We're kind of allowed to do anything as long as it's tech related and hopefully also news. It has to be true as well, no fake news. But really, there's a lot of flexibility with what we report on compared to other organizations.
Leo: If I say Jeff Immelt, can you see his face?
Katie: Yea, but.
Leo: You may have an important job soon. Just a little bit. Also, Mike Elgan is here. He is traveling the world in search of great food.
Mike: That's right.
Leo: Gastronomad.net. And writing for Computer World!
Mike: Computer World, Fast Company.
Leo: And as you already can tell, if you're listening, one of the most astute and I think really sharp guys in this business who kind of under—you know, we talk about the events. You seem to understand more what it means. I think he's very good at doing that. Nice to have all of you here!
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Leo: We have a winner. The rose goes to Jeff Immelt, former Chairman of GE. We're talking about, maybe, actually, it's only rumor, but it comes from Kara Swisher at Recode. She knows everything. The next CEO of Uber.
Katie: Yea, and I had sources on this as well. I've been writing about this for TechCrunch. Kara definitely broke the news here. But yea, I mean it's not for sure decided on but—
Leo: The board likes him and that's a problem because the board doesn't like a lot of people.
Katie: The board has a lot of issues right now. I don't even know where to begin there, but yea. I think ultimately, I did hear from one source that he was a little disappointed because he didn't think that this would be the person they would have picked had they not been in this situation. But given the situation, he thought it would be a good choice going forward. Another source was really excited about Jeff, so, both of them felt that this wasn't totally decided but it looked like they were getting close at Uber.
Leo: So, he's not a woman. I think early on everybody was saying, "Well to solve the problems Uber has, you've got to make the next CEO a woman." Do you agree?
Katie: I mean, I kind of have mixed feeling there. Sure, I would have been excited to see a woman in that job but ultimately I think they should pick the best person for the job and I think they had had conversations—
Leo: The best person that wants the job (laughing).
Katie: That's the other problem is that they have a lot of complications here. I think some of the best woman for the job didn't want the job.
Leo: Had no interest in the job.
Katie: And there were reports that Meg Whitman and there were reports that Travis, the former CEO, he was telling people that he was Steve Job-ing it and that he might come back. I mean, I don't know.
Leo: But Uber was quick to squash that, by the way. They immediately said, "Oh, no, no, no. Travis Kalanick is not coming back."
Katie: Sure, but he's on the board.
Leo: There was a little bit kind of this manipulation going on with the shareholders and employees.
Katie: Right, totally. I mean he's on the board, so he's still does have some voting power and he still has his friends in the company who are very loyal to them and I think some CEOs, or actually many CEOs that would be qualified for this job wouldn't want it. They wouldn't want someone like that kind of watching over their shoulder. And I don't know if he's hoping they fail, but something is going on there. And so, Benchmark clearly didn't like it either. That's their early investor and so there is a lawsuit there.
Leo: Yea. So, it's interesting because when Satya Nadella became CEO of Microsoft, everybody said, "Oh, you don't want that. Ballmer and Gates are on the board." But he made it work, in fact, forced Ballmer out. But he made it work and he really transformed Microsoft. So, you could look at that and say, "Well, no, I think—" Somebody, so Immelt was the CEO of GE. Was he a good CEO?
Katie: Well, the stock didn't do well at all under his tenure there, but I mean, yea. He seems to be a well- respected business person.
Leo: What assets do you need?
Katie: It was a very large company that he was running.
Leo: Sure. He's—
Katie: $223-billion-dollar market cap so, it's like three Ubers. So, I mean, from that perspective, he's been running a giant company, but.
Leo: He stepped down. He ran it from 2001. He stepped down in June. He was there for 16 years.
Katie: Yea, it's a long time.
Leo: He got them through the financial crisis. Oh, gosh. We don't want to hear a video from you.
Katie: I hate auto-play.
Leo: Thank you for not doing that at TechCrunch. Thank you. I appreciate it very much.
Katie: But yea, so, I mean, I think that there's a lot of mixed sentiment about him. Obviously, he was there for a long time.
Leo: He succeeded Jack Welch who was a legend.
Katie: Sure, sure. And so, but yea, I mean what I did hear from one person involved at the company is that he didn't think that his background was the right background for a fast-growing technology company.
Leo: It's very different running a blue-chip—
Katie: Like conglomerate, yea.
Leo: Long-time conglomerate.
Mike: Uber's not even public, right?
Leo: No, GE was public.
Mike: No, no, Uber is not.
Leo: Oh, Uber.
Katie: Uber is not public.
Leo: It's a startup.
Katie: But they want to be. I mean they say—they've said all sorts of things under Travis, that they didn't want to be. Ultimately, it's paper money until there's an exit, so, unless someone wants to buy them for almost $70-billion I think they're going to have to eventually go public.
Leo: What do you need—who do they need? What do they need to put Uber back on the track? You've got lawsuits against Google's Waymo. You've got the shareholders lawsuit or the investor lawsuit from Benchmark. You've got what some say is a toxic bro culture. And yet, I have to say—
Matt: Some say? Many.
Leo: Many. Everybody. But I have to say, I still use Uber. I'm ashamed sometimes to admit it. I like Uber. So, you have a brand that's very successful. Of course, it loses money on every ride. It subsidizes the majority of the cost of that ride, so, it's not a big money maker. This is a tough job.
Mike: The real business of Uber is self-driving cars. So, the current drivers are simply there—
Leo: That's what the market needs. That's what the investors, that's the deck of corn is because—not because of the ride sharing. But because someday—that's a big—
Mike: The whole model—
Katie: Definitely cut on costs when that happens, but yea. Sad.
Leo: Yea, because the costs are drivers.
Katie: I think they did say at one point that they're never going to get rid of all of the drivers. But—
Leo: Wait until they die out. We're not going to replace any drivers who leave.
Mike: The thing to keep in mind, though, is this isn't about replacing the current world of livery drivers. This is about replacing the current world of automobiles. The future of self-driving cars is going to be an Uber-like model. It's going to be—
Leo: But, is it going to be Uber? Is it going to be Waymo? Is it going to be Apple? Is it going to be—let's not forget, Ford, General Motors. I mean, there's a lot of companies that are probably better positioned frankly than Uber to do this. Uber is a taxi company right now. Just because they have, you know, they've done R&D, they don't—certainly Google has a huge lead in autonomous vehicles, right?
Matt: Yep. I would say so.
Leo: I don't know why Uber is seen as being—
Mike: Well, because they brain drained Carnegie-Mellon and took some of the brightest minds in self-driving AI to come in and work on their company. So, this is one of the biggest challenges right now is that so many companies are doing self-driving cars that the number of people who specialize in the many different areas of technology are really hard to get. And, Uber's got a lot of them.
Leo: Here's the problem. Sure, but they don't have enough runway to do it. In other words, they're going to—at the burn rate they've got, which is billions of dollars a year, they don't have enough time to create a sustainable self-driving car ecosystem. They can't turn that corner. I don't think they have what it takes to turn that corner. They may have the people. They may have the PHDs, but it's a lot more than that to make that happen, including by the way, regulatory issues and Uber's has a mixed—
Katie: And legal issues with the lawsuit with Waymo, Google's self-driving car.
Leo: That's one problem. Levandowski, I think it's now kind of accepted, took Waymo's intellectual property. We don't know. That's the suit. It's an ongoing suit.
Mike: The move to self-driving cars is comparable to the move from horse and buggy to automobiles and during that transitionary period, there was all kinds of weird, political, crazy, legal liability. There was all kinds of stuff that now do not matter at all. And a company like Tesla can come along decades after the automobile giants had already established their core and is walking right in, is probably going to succeed. I don't think there's any reason to believe that Uber will or won't be dominant in the self-driving car industry.
Leo: Well, that's the problem.
Leo: (Laughing) If they were a lock, I'd say, "Well, their worth it." But they're not a lock. They're far from a lock. In fact, I think they're going to have real problems because they're going to run out of money and I don't know how many times can you to back to the well to these investors and say, "Hey, another $20-billion and I think we might have this." You can't.
Katie: Yea, they've already gotten money from Saudi Arabia and all over the world. So, they're going to have to keep looking for rich people. Now, I think eventually they're going to have to go public but it might be a down round IPO which is what we're seeing now when they go public. Their last market valuation, their market cap will be likely smaller. But, we'll see. I mean these days companies like Square did that and they eventually did well on the stock market. So, it's no longer considered the end of the world if you do a down round IPO as long as you build a great public company.
Leo: A down round is what, you are by the venture capitalists said to be worth $100-billion-dollars. Then you go out to the markets and they say, "No, no, you're worth $80-billon or $70."
Katie: Yea, yea, that's exactly. So, I mean, Uber was said to have last raised $68.5-billion-dollar valuation that's often rounded up to $70. It's really hard to justify that right now. I mean I personally thought it was always hard to justify that valuation, especially with all of this happening. So, if they went public today, I mean, there's almost no way that they would be valued at that. But maybe, if they wait a couple years, they'll grow into it. It really has to do with the public investors and how—
Leo: What's their runway now? Do we know what their burn rate is, how much time they have?
Kate: They have shared some of those numbers.
Leo: It's not long. It's like a couple of years, three years, something like that.
Kate: Well, yea, I'd have to take a look. They've shared some of their financial numbers but not all of them. I mean, I think there are people who will still continue to invest in Uber. Reports have said that SoftBank which has $100-billion-dollar find is interested in investing and so, they have money to keep Uber alive. So, I'm not worried about Uber going out of business. I don't even think that's close to a possibility, but whether it's going to achieve its private market valuation will be a big deal for the whole industry because a lot of LPs, the investors who get, where VCs get their money from are in multiple venture finds and if a lot of those venture finds were counting on Uber and it's not as good as an outcome as they thought it would be, then that's going to be a problem. I mean, particularly for the investors who got in later. The investors who got in early, they're going to have a wonderful outcome, really, no matter what. It's just a matter of how many billions they'll be worth.
Leo: Calacanis is going to be insufferable right after that.
Mike: Going to be insufferable?
Mike: I love you, Jason.
Leo: He's going to be filling in for me next month actually. We watch with interest. I just, I feel like there's no indicator that Uber is the magic one. There's so many potential—and if I were an LP at this point, I'd be hedging my bet with a lot of different companies instead of pouring more money into Uber, I'd be maybe seeing if I could get a little money in that Waymo thing, a little money in that Tesla thing, a little money in Ford or there are so many people out there. And I don't think there's any evidence you can turn, that there's something magical that the taxi business allows it to pivot into this self-driving car.
Mike: It seems to be that the experience of getting a ride in the self-driving world will be close to or identical to the experience of being in your living room.
Leo: Ok, that's a good point. Whatever Uber's doing right now will work either way.
Mike: I think that Apple, and this is a fairly controversial point, but I think that Apple is going to be a dominant player. It's going to be—and if you don't believe Apple's going to get into the car industry, then you'll have to tell me what trillion dollar industry they are going to get into.
Leo: They have to find one because they can't—right.
Mike: But the experience, you'll get into a car, and let's say you have a 55-minute drive to wherever it is you're going, that's going to be 55 minutes of virtual reality, set music, social interaction through HD video screens, all this stuff. That is what is—the transportation of your body from one place to another is going to be the least relevant part of this as far as the technology goes. It's going to be little boxes that just take you to wherever you're going and in the meantime, it's a multi-media consumption experience that's similar to the smartphone.
Leo: They're testing it right now. You're absolutely right. What are you going to do when you're not driving but you're sitting in this box for an hour or two every day?
Mike: You're going to be busy.
Leo: You're going to be busy. And it's going to be a huge revenue opportunity. So, I just think this is all farther off than we think. And I think one of the problems is that governments are going to be very concerned about the safety issues of self-driving cars and they're not going to just bend over and say, ‘Oh, yea, yea. Just go ahead. Put all those self-driving cars on the highway you want. We don't care."
Katie: Well, they're supposed to be safer in the long run. Part of the appeal is that they're going to cut down on accidents since most of them are caused by human error.
Leo: Yea, that's nice and logical.
Katie: Sure, sure.
Leo: But tell a person getting in the car where there's no controls, "Oh, no, you're safer. You're in a box hurtling down the highway, but you're safer."
Matt: So, I have to say, I've been in Google's self-driving cars when they were in highway mode and after about 10 minutes—
Leo: You get used to it?
Matt: Oh, yea. You're talking to your friend. You don't even notice that you're on the highway. So, I think that won't be the problem. I think the argument that they are safer will definitely carry a lot of weight.
Leo: Is it safer when you mix human drivers with autonomous vehicles.
Katie: That's the part they're worried about.
Matt: Yes, it is. I think it is.
Leo: Because humans are the problem, not the robots.
Matt: But I think it's going to—seeing how governments and how people adjust to that is going to be fascinating.
Mike: You know, you talk about—like, I write a lot about the risks of living abroad and living in different countries. And you know, people are worried about terrorism, they're worried about crime. Traffic accidents are vastly more dangerous than either of those things.
Leo: And that will be one thing that will propel this is that number goes up and it really becomes carnage on the freeways. People will be looking for a way out. And we're just going to get more distracted. We're not going to get less distracted. We're just going to be worse drivers. Every year we're going to get worse and it's gotten worse. For the first time in a long time, the highway death toll's gone up. And I think it's going to continue to go up. So, that will apply pressure. And I'm sure—look, I'm just thinking through stuff that all these investors that have already put billions into this company have already thought through and for some reason they've said, "Well, Uber's got it." Now, am I morally culpable for not getting rid of Uber? Should I be riding Lyft?
Mike: Yes. You should.
Leo: Am I a bad man because of that?
Mike: Yes, you are, Leo. You're a bad man.
Katie: So, I did. I did boycott Uber for a while.
Leo: Yea, for a while.
Katie: But after they got rid of a whole bunch of people, I brought it back. And the reason is, because at my apartment, Uber insists—I mean, Lyft insists on dropping me off at the correct side of the street which requires them to go all the way around multiple blocks, get in line for the freeway, before picking me up. And, so, it takes like 20 minutes longer to get picked up.
Leo: And Uber doesn't mind breaking the law.
Katie: Yea, exactly. So, like I was late for months out of principle and then I decided for now—
Leo: Let's play fast and loose with those traffic rules. Katie's got to get to work. Wow. I find it more convenient. I don't know why. I don't want to get in a Lyft for some reason.
Mike: They don't make you do a fist bump anymore.
Leo: Oh, thank God. And the pink mustache is gone too, right?
Mike: It's gone, yea.
Leo: That's my cousin, designed that by the way.
Katie: Really? Wait, I met the guy who designed the mustaches.
Leo: Ethan Eyler. He had a company, that before they were bought by Lyft, that did the pink mustaches. He's in charge of all of their stunts. Because Lyft does a lot of stunts, right, for holidays and stuff like that. I think that's—unless he's lying to me.
Katie: No, I think that's the person I met.
Leo: I invented it, you know. I invented that pink mustache.
Katie: Yea, I think I met him.
Leo: Eyler. E-Y-L-E-R. I think you did meet him. He's a nice, good looking, young fellow about your age. I don't know how I have a young cousin. But I do. Our show today—let's take a break. I want to take a break and I warned you, Katie, that this goes on and on and on. That we would be done before Game of Thrones. This is—tonight's the last night, right?
Mike: Winter is coming.
Leo: Holy cow. And then we have to wait a year, or what?
Mike: I don't know.
Leo: It's a long way. How long do we have to wait for the next—
Mike: Until the next leak.
Leo: (Laughing). You can—now, see, that I would watch. Reruns, yea. Though I think it's going to be a while because they haven't finished making the next episodes. So, I think we have another while to wait. Is next week the finale? Maybe I'm wrong. I don't know. I thought we were—next week. Ok, whatever.
Mike: Nobody knows.
Leo: Nobody knows. I know. If you missed—by the way, we had a great week on TWiT and I thought it would be nice to show you a little home video of what happened. Watch.
Narrator: Previously, on TWiT.
Scott Bourne: I want to go with a completely radical idea.
Leo: Oh, what's that?
Scott: Don't point your camera at the dang gone sun during the eclipse. Point it anywhere else.
Leo: What's much more interesting during the eclipse is how people are reacting to it, the reflections, the images you see...
Scott: All your friends are going to have those pictures of the sun with the little moon thing in it, and yea, that's cool. But you could have pictures of things nobody else has.
Leo: Do you remember the first time you spoke to Steve Jobs?
Walt Mossberg: Yes, he came back to Apple. It was a mess as you know. Jobs calls my house on Sunday night and he starts giving me his spiel. And then he started calling every Sunday night. The first call, my wife was like, "It's Steve Jobs on the phone!" By the third call it was like, "It's Steve Jobs on the phone."
Narrator: Know How.
Bryan Burnett: Today on Know How.
Patrick Delahanty: We'll use billion dollar satellites...
Bryan: ...to find cheap McDonald's toys.
Patrick: We might even find a Leo bobblehead in a cache.
Bryan: Who wouldn't want that?
Patrick: We're going to do an official TWiT geocache.
Patrick: And we're not going to list it on geocaching.com until after a viewer finds it.
Narrator: TWiT. Coming to you from 38 degrees, 14 minutes north, 122 degrees, 38 minutes west.
Leo: You know what's really depressing? No one found it.
Leo: Right? Nobody has found it yet.
Mike: And then your people forgot where it is.
Leo: I know exactly where it is. Within 12 hours somebody went and was there and was looking around. We have a video of him looking. He never—he didn't find it. So, a tip. Lift up the base of the light pole and there's a bobblehead under there. It's depressing. It's like nobody wants it. I wonder why. Anyway, that bobblehead's still there if you want to play out a little home version of our game. Next week, a big, big week. Jason Howell, what's coming up?
Jason Howell: This week, on Monday, August 21st, yes, that total solar eclipse you heard so much about will finally happen. So, I hope you ordered your eclipse glasses to protect your eyeballs.
Leo: You don't have to!
Jason: Almost as historic, maybe just a little bit less so, is Google's official release of the next version of Android, Android O or Oreo or Oatmeal Cookie or even Octopus. Google's getting really good at trolling people on this, so check for that news on Monday to find out what tasty treat will adorn new Android devices for the year to come. Finally, on Wednesday, August 23rd, Samsung holds one of its biggest events of the year, Unpacked, where it will unveil the Galaxy Note 8. That's right. It's been a full year since the Note 7 burst onto the scene. Note fans should rejoice. This one should not scar you for life. 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: We'll also have an essential phone for you. This is going to be a fun week. We're getting to that time in tech where it starts to get very interesting as all the products come out for the last quarter, the last calendar quarter of the year.
Leo: Our show today brought to you by Betterment, the largest, independent, online financial adviser. I want you to go to Betterment.com/twit and check this out. I know you know you need to be saving for your future. The kids' college education, the house you want to buy, the special vacation, or more importantly, your retirement. The question is, how do you do that? And Betterment is—I love their system. It's designed to help you improve your long-term returns, lower your taxes for retirement planning, building wealth and other financial goals. But they do it with technology. So, and you get to choose how you want this to be. You can have no human contact whatsoever. I know some of you would prefer that. Never talk to anybody. You can text message a certified financial planner. They can assign one to you. By the way, these are the guys who don't work on commission. They're paid to look out for your interests. So, they're giving you really good advice. They have a really great team of people. You can call them. You can visit them. You can choose the level of interaction you want. So, that is really great. 270,000 customers now, billions of dollars under investment. They are, of all of these services, absolutely the best. They've just added, and I really love it, this is—I'm not—SCC regulations mean00 by the way, fill that out because that's really cool. FCC regulations say that I cannot invest in this and do an ad for them which drives me freaking nuts. So, I'm not a customer. Hey, yes. Hi, Alex. That's not a real person, by the way. Alex is going to help you figure out—really simple. You can invest, they have just added this. They have a socially responsible investment portfolio or SRI. I really like that. In fact, I love the idea of saving for my retirement without harming the environment. They have really figured out how to do this. You can reduce your investment in companies that don't meet certain social, environmental, or government benchmarks. You can feel good about your investments. You'll always know what your net worth is. In fact, you can sync in all your other investments and savings so you completely know where you stand. You pay the .25% annual fee. That gives you unlimited messaging access to their licensed financial experts. This is kind of my preferred way. I still get the advice and information but I don't have to talk to somebody on the phone. And there's no selling. It's just information. If you do want phone access to their team, you'd upgrade and that's .4%. They're a fiduciary, so this is really important. And I think you understand when I say, it means they are working for you, not on commission. They are not trying to sell you products. They don't have funds of their own. They do not at Betterment. They care about keeping your money and your data secure. They use, of course, the best state-of-the-art data encryption. Two-factor authentication, of course and really smart people who can help you in the way that you feel most comfortable. Investing involves risk. I'm not going to kid you. But you want to do it right. It's really a great system. Get up to one year managed for free. For a limited time at Betterment.com/twit. There are some conditions but you can find out all about that at Betterment.com/twit. Lower costs, better investing, Betterment.com/twit. Rethink what your money can do. We're very happy to have them as a partner on This Week in Tech.
Leo: Mike Elgan is here. The last chance to see him before he heads back to Europe for his Gastro Nomad experience.
Mike: I continue to gain like 20 or 30 pounds.
Leo: This is what I don't understand about you. You eat all the food I want to eat. And look at him. I don't get it. Are you still doing the Spartan Diet?
Mike: Kind of. Sort of. Kind of sort of.
Leo: I'm doing a Spartan diet. I don't eat.
Mike: When I'm in the US that's pretty Spartan. But when I'm in the US I do. When we're abroad, forget it.
Leo: You've got Iberico. You've got paella. You're not going to—you've got Manchego cheese. You're not going to—no.
Matt: Road trip rules.
Matt: You're on a road trip, you can eat whatever you want.
Leo: I was at Disneyland the last two days. I hate the most disgusting food in great quantities. It was horrible.
Mike: Hot dogs? What did you do?
Leo: Oh, you know.
Mike: Goofy Dogs.
Leo: Goofy Dogs, Monte Cristo sandwiches, churros. Like, churros all the—there was one churro booth. They had a churro ice cream sandwich. And it said in really tiny print, "Some assembly required." And I didn't—I'm not kidding.
Katie: All right.
Leo: So, you buy it and they give you two churros in a circle and a thing of ice cream. And you're supposed to put it together. I had to go back to the hotel room. It was a mess. But I did go. I went on all the new rides. It was fun. We had a good time, yea. Also, here with us, it's great to have her for the first time on TWiT, Katie Roof. It's so nice to have you here in the studio. So far, are we doing ok?
Katie: Yea, it's great.
Leo: Ok. You're having fun?
Katie: I'm having fun.
Leo: Oh, my God, we're just beginning. We're getting started. I told you---
Mike: We forgot to record. We're going to do that over again.
Leo: You laugh. That happened in the early days of TWiT several times. In fact, at one point where I accidentally erased the same interview with the same guy twice.
Matt: Oh, no.
Leo: So, once, I called him back, "Can we do it again?" He did it again. I somehow fumble fingered and erased it a second time. I sent the guy this big basket of fruit.
Leo: Can we do it one more time? He was very generous and he did it.
Matt: Triple Triangulation.
Leo: That was on Floss, actually. It was Floss Weekly. It was terrible. I don't remember who it was but I feel terrible. Anyway, it's nice to have you.
Katie: Great to be here.
Leo: A Senior Writer for TechCrunch. You can see her, or hear her—do you do video on equity?
Katie: We might do some on Facebook live.
Leo: Don't. No. Do audio. I have only one regret and that's that we spent millions of dollars building a video—
Mike: You'd have to be insane.
Leo: You have to be insane to do this. There is no appreciable benefit. Well, it's fun for us. We enjoy it. But you listen to some of our shows. You listen. You don't watch. No one has time. Nobody got time for that.
Matt: Great while you're doing a run. I don't know about you, but I have a face made for podcast.
Leo: No, you're a good-looking guy and you too, look great. You lost a lot—you do those 30-day challenges, you lost a lot and now you're just—it's because you work for the government. You make no money and you don't have any food. You live in a—
Matt: I call it the USDS diet. We go to meetings all day and just skip lunch.
Leo: No time to eat. Do you still do the 30-day challenges?
Leo: What's your challenge this month?
Matt: Well, my 30-day challenge is not to wear a tie for 30 days. In the government it's hard. I've only broken it once and it was a meeting with the Secretary of Veteran's Affairs.
Leo: I would wear a tie then.
Matt: It's worth—to show respect.
Leo: Yea, how do you not wear a tie?
Matt: Well, August is vacation month, so everybody's gone. So, I'm wearing shorts in the office.
Leo: I like your challenges. See, that's a challenge I could do, not wear a tie. I could do that.
Kate: Easy here in Silicon Valley.
Matt: You can pull that off.
Leo: No one wears ties. Yea.
Mike: That would be a good challenge. When you're in Silicon Valley, wear a tie for a month.
Leo: I wear a tie to work, they say, "Are you interviewing? Are you looking for work? What's going on? Should we be worried?"
Mike: My first job in Silicon Valley, I worked for a startup and I showed up in a suit and tie. I was living in New York at the time. And he looked me up and down. He's like, "What are you wearing a suit for?" I was like, "Well, it's a job interview." He's like, "Listen. I've got one suit and it's a tuxedo for gathering awards. Never wear a suit in Silicon Valley." So, anyway.
Leo: This is a strange story. Supreme Court asked to nullify the Google trademark.
Matt: Oh, man.
Leo: Is the term "google" too generic and therefore unworthy of trademark protection. The US Supreme Court is going to hear this case.
Matt: Wish I could bet money on this guy losing.
Leo: A guy named Chris Gillespie, back in 2012, he registered 763 domain names as one does.
Mike: As you do.
Leo: As you do that combine Google with other words, including googledonaldtrump.com. This is depressing. This was in 2012. Google, well, they filed a cybersquatting complaint under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, of course the acronym for that, UDNDRP. Sounds like the Swedish Chef when you—UNDRP. Claimed trademark infringement. Google won and an arbitration panel ordered the forfeiture of the domains. So, Gillespie said, "No. Not so fast." He sued. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that Google's trademark should really be kept. You know, it's Google. Even this—this is what the court wrote. "Even if we assume that the public uses the verb ‘Google' in a generic and indiscriminate sense—" I would submit that before Google came along, you never said the word Google unless you were a mathematician talking about a million million. What is a googol? A billion billion?
Matt: It's like a one followed by a hundred zeros.
Leo: One with a hundred zeros, a google. And there's a googolplex which is a googol times googol. Google square?
Matt: To the google power. I forget. I've unloaded that part of the cache.
Leo: It's not spelled the same anyway. It's a different googol.
Mike: But this has happened a thousand times before. Band-Aids. Kleenex. I mean, it goes on and on.
Leo: So, the theory being if people just use it enough that it just genericizes.
Mike: It becomes a word.
Matt: But they also take into account whether the company tries to protect its trademark, which, by the way, Google has for years and years and years. And every three or four years there's some—Google's being a jerk because they send a letter to somebody that says, "Yo, you used it in a generic way. Please don't do that." There's a long track record of Google protecting this trademark.
Katie: I guess I've never heard someone say there were Yahooing something, no offense to my sister company. But—
Leo: Or Binging something.
Katie: Yea, no.
Leo: Briefly Microsoft did run ads trying to convince people—
Mike: Trump uses the word Bing a lot but he's like bing bang bong.
Leo: That's badabing, badaboom. That's a—all right. Is genericide a word?
Katie: It is apparently.
Mike: I like that word. That's a good word.
Leo: It's a form of abandonment. A mark will be deemed to be abandoned if its use has been discontinued for three years, in time not to resume such years. By the way, that's how we got The New Screen Savers trademark, is NBC failed to renew Screensavers. They called us and they said, "You can't use it." And I said, "Well, have you ever heard of the word genericide?" (laughing) When the mark becomes, like Kleenex, like Xerox, a generic name for—now, Xerox for a long time really bought that. Spam, it's interesting. Hormel for a long time fought. They eventually gave up. Does that mean they lost the trademark to Spam?
Matt: I think there's also areas where the trademark gets—
Leo: So, if you're talking about sliced and diced pork shoulder—
Leo: Lunchmeat, they own that. But when you're talking about email spam, they don't care about it. Genericide. It's amazing. So, brands essentially destroyed by their own success. The Supreme Court will rule whether Google has committed genericide. Gillespie has appealed through the US Supreme Court. Now, they haven't agreed to take Alphabet case. In all likelihood, it's not going to go anywhere.
Matt: This is like the guy who says he invented email.
Leo: Which I'm sure he did and I would not in any case, want to assume that he didn't or assert that in any way he did not invent email when he was 12-years-old and email had already been around for a decade or two. He's probably right.
Leo: It's alleged. Isn't that sad that we're all—because he sued Techdirt, Mike Masnick. The good news is Mike now has a quarter of a million dollar defense fund thanks to some big companies that stepped forward and said—this is the story of a guy who has for years asserted that he invented email, even though it's demonstrable that email existed before he invented it
Matt: It sure seems demonstrable to me.
Leo: I think he says he invented it independently as a high school kid. It's a strange story and unfortunately for him, he gets mocked a lot. Unfortunately for the people who mock him, he also sues a lot. And so, that case is ongoing.
Mike: There are always people who take advantage of things like that. But in general, I think that the whole world of litigiousness and American litigiousness in particular is probably generally a beneficial thing. Because it is—
Leo: Everybody gets their day in court. Everybody has the right to say—
Mike: If somebody in fact did invent something and they can take the biggest company to court and there's a chance that they could win a settlement.
Leo: Agreed. It's one of the strengths of the nation I think.
Mike: And we, one of the things that is unusual in the United States is that we've always been a very diverse society and this is a great strength and the majority of the Americans love our diversity. In a diverse society, you have to have different norms. For example, Americans smile a lot. When I travel around the world, I see people smiling. Americans. I can tell from across the street.
Leo: Really? They're not frowning, they're smiling.
Mike: That's right. And the reason for it, there's been a study about this recently, in a multicultural society where people come, different languages, stuff like that, smiling is the easiest thing that's universal that everybody understands. We've got in this habit culturally, centuries ago, to do that. Another one is litigiousness. We all have different values. We come from different places. We have different opinions. And so, a courtroom is the closest you have to an objective place to determine these things. And so, it's a good thing. Ridiculous lawsuits like this notwithstanding, it's going to happen.
Leo: I agree with you. You know, there's a lot of money lost to patent trolls. I think that's gotten better, thank goodness. But for years, I mean we're talking about billions of dollars lost to patent trolls and yet, I think it is so important that everybody have the right to go to the—to petition the court and say, "I've been wronged and I would like you to rule on that." I agree with you. I think that—and the rule of law and that notion is so important in the United States. I remember travelling in Egypt on the same trip. I was going down the Nile and there's a country where the rule of law has kind of lost ground. It's very corrupt. And there's a lot of baksheesh and you get a job because your brother-in-law worked. And what happens is people start to lose faith in that and then the whole thing kind of collapses. Once you lose faith in that shared myth of a government, of a common cause, it's very hard to hold a country together. And I knew, it was obvious that Egypt was going to go through some troubles and this was 2009 because, not merely because of that but because of a big population growth and other things. But that, when you lose the rule of law, you've lost something really important. People have to have some faith that no matter what they can get redress. It's not who you know, that there's a chance.
Matt: A respect that the institutions of the society work the way that you expect them to and that they're fair.
Leo: And I think that's why we're very—and we're going to talk about this in a second, but I think that's why in this country we're a little worried right now because it feels a little shakier, that maybe that rule of law—but I think that everybody who's listening, I really believe this strongly, that is—if you pick one strength of this country, it's not our military strength. It's this faith in the constitution and the rule of law and that you can go and you can get redress. So, I'm glad you brought that up because I think we often talk about, oh, sue happy and it's litigious and trial lawyers. But no, there are some negatives. I'm not saying it's perfect, but on the balance, it really is what makes this country, I think, a great country. We're very lucky.
Mike: In the world of patents, that's problematic in two ways. One is because the rules of the patent universe are completely messed up and everybody's talked a lot about that. The other one is that you can sue locally. So, everybody goes to this one town in Texas.
Leo: That's changing though.
Mike: Exactly. And so--
Leo: That's really good news. That was I think a circuit court that ruled that you can sue, in fact a company can sue in any jurisdiction, not in Tyler, Texas where—and by the way, that was a business for Tyler, Texas.
Mike: Yes. The PO Box industry was just amazing there.
Leo: One of the reasons I bring this up and we'll take a break but we'll come back because this is going to be the final topic of the day. There's a lot of other stories. We only got to a little bit but I do want to talk a little bit about the Daily Stormer, the Nazi website which was—first GoDaddy kicked them out. They said, "You can't register your domain here." They went to Google. Three hours later, Google says, "You can't go here." We have a sponsor—we had a sponsor, Cloudflare that got a lot of heat because they said, "We will continue to protect them as we do everybody, including ISIS, because we provide a DDoS service that is ecumenical. It doesn't, we don't—it's not about protecting, it's just about—and there's a big debate. And the EFF weighed in on Cloudflare's side which is interesting, and against Google and GoDaddy. And since we have such a great panel here, a smart group here, I kind of want to know what you all think about that. Because I think it's related. We have said free speech with very few exceptions. And yet, now we have big companies deciding who gets to speak. Is that right? Is that ok? We'll talk about it.
Katie: Yea, I mean—
Leo: Hold that thought.
Katie: (Laughing) After the break.
Leo: Hold that thought.
Mike: You don't get to speak. You don't have the right.
Leo: I control the microphone. No, no, I think it's a big topic and I want to give everybody a chance to kind of gather their thoughts. I'll do a commercial. We'll come back. This is probably the last topic of the day. We're running out of time but I really wanted to talk about this one.
Leo: Our show today brought to you by LegalZoom. We're talking about the rule of law. This is a great example. When we started TWiT 15—well, no, when was it? 2005. That's 12 years ago. I talked to Kevin Rose. He said, "Oh, you've got to do a LLC. Go to LegalZoom. You don't need a lawyer. They can do all—they do all the paperwork and they provide you all the paperwork." We did the trademarks that way. They helped me start my business. LegalZoom is not a law firm. They will provide you, they can help set you up with pre-negotiated flat rate legal advice in all 50 states. But what they really are is they're there to help you in your life, whether it's your business or your family. This is national Make a Will Month. August is Make a Will month. And I think a really great reminder to everybody, especially if you have kids. But even if you just have a pet, you know, you need, believe it or not, LegalZoom has the documents to care for your pet should something happen to you. Preparing for your family's future is the most important thing you're going to do this summer. It's time to think about it even if you have a will. May be time to update it. And they're going to make it very easy. They've created an estate planning kit that's absolutely free. There's no cost to you. Go to LegalZoom.com/prepare. LegalZoom.com/prepare. This is a great—I've got the kit. It's great. You're going to get lots of information. They give you LegalZoom discounts, too, of course. But that's great too. Everything you need. Stop procrastinating and start preparing for your family's future. It doesn't have to be just wills. It could be a living trust. Everything is in there. You're going to get estate plan checklists. You're going to get an e-book. Information to help you decide what's right for you. And again, and I love this, if you do have a question and you need to talk to a lawyer, you can do it not for $450-dollars an hour, but at a low flat rate to one of the attorneys in LegalZoom's network. They're not a law firm but they've got this kind of pre-negotiated deal with a network of attorneys in all 50 states. LegalZoom. They've been around for a long time. They sure helped me. They can help you too. LegalZoom.com/prepare. There's no obligation by the way. It's a completely free kit. It's just great resources and discounts to help you during National Make a Will Month. I like this a lot. LegalZoom.com/prepare. We thank LegalZoom for the help they gave us 12 years ago, a trademark. And I don't want to commit genericide. We're fighting that trademark. We actually—well, I can't talk about it. But we have pursued that trademark in various places. Cost a lot more than LegalZoom did. LegalZoom.com/prepare.
Leo: All right. So, did I describe this situation accurately?
Mike: If I may, Leo, I'd like to describe what the real issue is because there's a lot of people talking about lots of different things. So, companies like Google or Cloudflare and other companies—
Mike: Do censor whatever they do. For example, best example is child pornography. Everybody condemns it, right? So, this is not something that should be allowed to flourish on the public internet. ISIS is another case. Now, Cloudflare, you said, does support ISIS?
Leo: I've been told. I don't know and I haven't talked to Cloudflare about that.
Mike: Ok, it's alleged.
Leo: But they don't support—wait a minute. That's really important. They don't support it. And I think the important distinction is, Cloudflare provides DDoS service to all and sundry just like your electric company doesn't ask you, "Well, what's your politics?" before they sign you up for electricity. Or the phone company says, "Well, you can use this phone but you can't use it to describe Nazi activities." Those are utilities that traditional utilities are completely agnostic about the bits carried on there, right>
Mike: But they don't trade in content. That's the difference. Google—people communicate. There's content. There's sites. There are web pages involved that have content. And so, they're in different classes. The EFF is coming out against the Googles and the Facebooks and so on for shutting down Nazi groups outright, etcetera, etcetera. So, to me the question is—so, we understand intuitively that you can't provide, and we don't provide, access for ISIS or child pornographers to have groups on Facebook or to have—
Leo: That seems reasonable.
Mike: Right. I think most people agree with that.
Leo: That seems reasonable.
Mike: Right. And the reason is—
Leo: To the degree they're able. I mean when you've got a billion and a half or two billion customers.
Mike: And freedom of speech, it's not opinions about child pornography, it's that we feel that that actually creates a harm to real people, physical harm and ISIS is the same case. So, the question is, do Nazi and white supremacist sites lead to harm? Now, a lot of the speech that takes place on the Storm whatever they are, is innocuous. They're actually talking about policy, immigration policy> They have their opinion. And that kind of speech should be protected. But the question is when they say, "Let's go and light crosses. Let's go intimidate so-and-so. Let's shut down other people's free speech. Let's go kill people. Let's go do this, that and the other thing." That seems to me to cross into that territory of the speech is actually yelling "fire" in a theater. You're threatening harm to real people physically and that's the line.
Katie: So, I'm Jewish so this Nazi stuff is kind of personal and I've read all about the history of the Holocaust. I won't get into that, but I mean, it definitely, this kind of speech definitely led to a lot of violence clearly. And I think that the meaning of free speech has been distorted again and again. It's supposed to mean that you legally can say whatever you want to say. It doesn't mean people have to like what you say. It doesn't mean companies have to do business with you. But instead, it's been used in a way that—it's just not accurately portrayed. No company should have to allow a Nazi site unless I guess if they have a monopoly. I don't think these people should go to jail for saying their hateful thoughts because I do believe in free speech in America, but I don't think that they should—I don't think that Google should have to do business with them. I don't think Cloudflare should have to do business with them. I don't see why free speech has been equated to mean something just entirely different than what it's supposed to mean.
Mike: Should Cloudflare be—
Leo: Let me read. I actually am torn. But let me read what the EFF said. And I am a strong supporter of the EFF. And they are a strong supporter of free speech. Now, I should point out, the ACLU just recently said, "We are not going to defend Nazis if they bear arms or advocate violence." That's a change in the ACLU's policy by the way. This is what the EFF says. "We strongly believe that what GoDaddy, Google, and Cloudflare did here was dangerous. That's because even when the facts are the most vile, we must remain vigilant when platforms exercise these rights. Because Internet intermediaries, especially those with few competitors control so much online speech, the consequences of their decisions have far-reaching impacts on speech around the world. And at EFF we see the consequences first hand: every time a company throws a vile neo-Nazi site off the Net, thousands of less visible decisions are made by companies with little oversight or transparency." They worry that, "Precedents being set now can shift the justice of those removals." So, I do think Google and GoDaddy are in a different situation than Cloudflare, believe it or not. I think Cloudflare can very reasonably argue, and I supported them in this, although we decided to decline their advertising at the time. They can argue, "We're a utility like an electric company." I don't think the electric company should decide who can get electricity. Or the phone company shouldn't decide who should get phone service. And I feel like that's kind of more of what Cloudflare's doing. Google, on the other hand, and GoDaddy—I don't know. What do you think, Matt? You have to deal—you used to when you worked at Google, dealt with this all the time.
Matt: Yea. Well, and certainly from my time at Google, there's a bunch of folks who are not free speech absolutists but who think about the power of free speech and think about the power of the platform somewhere like Google. So, having worked on the first version of Safe Search for example, that's only dedicated to pornography. Family safe content. But you would see people come in and say, "Ok, that's great. But what about you know, the Anarchist's Cookbook?"
Leo: Where do you draw the line?
Matt: What about witchcraft or a Wiccan site? What about pro-anorexia sites? And you can just see the slippery slope down there. And so, it was easier to just say, "Ok. Safe Search will only be about this topic."
Leo: Is there one thing we can all agree on, or mostly agree on?
Matt: No one's going to agree 100%.
Leo: But look at Twitter. Twitter, the free speech wing of the free speech party, right? And look at how out of control it got.
Matt: So, I know that there are debates happening internally at Google where people say, "Ok, but where exactly does this line happen?" because if you locate your website on BlogSpot or WordPress, then you're not surprised if WordPress takes you down.
Leo: Because they're hosting the content.
Matt: They're hosting the content. But if you have your own domain name, it's really interesting to think about, "Can I be kicked off the internet?"
Leo: What is a registrar doing when they—they're not really saying, "We're hosting the content." They're not endorsing the content. They just allow you to register the name. I don't know if a domain registrar should be able to do that, and I think Cloudflare going even a step further. I don't—it's very difficult because at the same time, the Daily Stormer is reprehensible and the thing that got them in the most trouble, and I don't even want to repeat it, was truly beyond the pale in any right-minded society would reject it.
Mike: Right. So, my view is that the first amendment doesn't give anybody any rights at all. What it does is says the government cannot pass, that Congress cannot pass a law—
Leo: Any company can do it.
Mike: It doesn't mention companies. It doesn't mention citizens. It says Congress cannot pass a law that infringes free speech and if there's no law, then the executive branch cannot enforce such a law, etcetera. And so, the way to deal—so, yesterday was an amazing event that took place in Boston.
Mike: So, a small number of people were there to ostensibly promote free speech. And they were all sort of right types. And there was like 50, 75? I don't know how many. There were fewer than a hundred of them.
Leo: They fit in the bandstand.
Mike: They fit in the bandstand. And then 40,000 people marched to oppose neo-Nazi types and that sort of thing that happened in Charlottesville. Everybody was exercising free speech. It was a thing of beauty. But the point I'm getting to is that it takes a village to destroy the Nazi movement, right? And so, part of that village, I think, is Google and Facebook and these other companies. They are companies that are—you know, they're not privately owned. They're publicly owned but they're publicly owned by lots of individual people. And we as shareholders, as customers of these companies, I think have a duty to examine these things as we're doing on the show right now, and think, "Where's that line?" And I think the line is physical violence. This is the line that Twitter uses to determine who they boot off the site, if you threaten physical harm, then you're out. If you say all kinds of horrible, horrible, anti-sematic things, you're not out because that's speech. You haven't threatened anybody's physical life. So, I think that physical harm is really the line that most societies can accept as the line. A lead to physical harm.
Leo: All right, do we agree?
Katie: I just think that people should be, or companies should be able to do business with whoever they want to business with. I mean, generally it's best for business to do business with a lot of people if you're a consumer facing business. I don't see why there should be any sort of regulation or any sort of rule that requires them to do business with Nazis. They're not preventing free speech unless they actually have a monopoly because someone else can take their business, in theory.
Leo: And yet, Google and Facebook, not GoDaddy, Google and Facebook wield a lot of power.
Katie: A lot.
Leo: I mean not monopoly power admittedly, but—
Leo: So much so that there are some concerns that if they were to—especially in search results. If Google were to decide, "Well, we're just not going to show this stuff up," it wouldn't exist in effect. You wouldn't have to get the host to take it down. In fact, that's what the right to be forgotten is in Europe. You don't go to the host to say, "Take it down." You go to Google and say, "Can you delete that from your search results?" In effect, that deletes it from the internet. I admit it's not, but it does affect, right?
Make: At least a lot of the people at Google tend to have the philosophy or had the philosophy of the answer to bad speech is more speech, you know?
Leo: I believe that theoretically.
Matt: But it's changed when you're dealing with Nazis, that's—
Leo: I used to say that when the internet started. I said, "This is going to be great because we're going to expose everything to the light. And in the light, bad stuff will die and good stuff will survive and prosper." And what is the reality? What have we learned? In fact, we gave a megaphone to—I think these are small groups. I think these neo-Nazi groups are actually fairly small groups. But we gave them a megaphone that gave them an outsized voice. And it didn't have the effect that I thought it would which is we would all go, "See how dopey they are?" I remember, we've had clan marches my whole life and they usually were small, dopey groups that everybody would go, "Yea. The clan." But it doesn't feel that way anymore. Especially with the death of a young women. That's in Charlottesville. They somehow crossed a line and now—look, Spotify's removing hate bands from its library. Squarespace says it's removing sites from Squarespace. Increasingly, the internet is stepping forward saying, "You've crossed the line."
Mike: What is the connection between the driver of that car in Charlottesville and the speech that was taking place on the Weekly Stormer or whatever it is?
Leo: That's a good question.
Mike: It's probably a direct line. I'm surprised there wasn't a lot more violence.
Leo: In fact, the final straw that knocked them off Cloudflare and I think off other places, was in fact a really horrific article about the woman who was killed.
Leo: Afterwards. So, there was the line in that sense. They were absolute—so, we've seen now the effect of trolling, the effect of—I think to some degree, both, I hate to say it. This sounds like I'm very Trump-y in here, but both the Alt-Right and The Anti-Fa, the Anti-Fascist League, sometimes I feel like opposite coins of the same kind of 4Chan lulls group. They like to fight each other. There's an investment in both.
Mike: The difference is that the greatest generation is the greatest generation because they fought Nazis.
Leo: They killed Nazis. We stopped the Nazis.
Katie: Yes, exactly. From an ideological perspective, they are not equals by any means. Obviously, I don't condone any sort of violence but to put them on the same moral plane as Trump has been accused of, I think is really reprehensible, especially coming from the White House.
Leo: And he backed down I think as recent Tweets are celebrating the protest. It's very confusing.
Katie: I don't know.
Leo: It's very confusing. But anyway, leave Trump out of it. I feel like a line was crossed and there was a convulsive reaction by the internet.
Matt: It definitely galvanized a ton of folks.
Leo: Yea, and everybody said, "No. You went too far." We believe in free speech. See, I think free speech has been well served. We believe in free speech but the minute you cross the line, it's not ok.
Mike: Yea, and you know, nothing has—no cultural thing of any kind has no context. There's a big context in all this stuff. So, we talked about Alt-Right, white supremacy and neo-Nazi, ok? Let's look at those, Alt-Right, there are a lot of Alt-Right people who are just extremely conservative. Dick Cheney is probably Alt-Right, right? White supremacists? Ok, this is an objectionable set of ideas but probably you know, they are ideas. They're talking about policy. They're taking about, you know, they tend to take the victim approach saying, "Oh, we need to protect our own people," stuff like that. When you get into neo-Nazis, so there's a history with Nazis. When you have Nazi symbols and do Nazi salutes and have swastikas on your shirt and stuff like that, you're talking about supporting genocide.
Katie: Exactly. And that's why I think it's condoning violence.
Leo: I agree, but I think there are a number of these that are just kids who don't know any better and they've been playing too much Call of Duty, spend too much time in their basements.
Mike: So, we teach them better by kicking them off Google.
Leo: There are consequences.
Matt: Did you see the video of the kid who took his shirt off to hide because he got—
Leo: He got doxed.
Matt: No, no, he was at a protest and had his white shirt on signaling that he—and then somebody started chasing him and he took the shirt off very quickly and blended in the crowd.
Leo: There's a certain—I don't know.
Mike: Well, actually that event to me is a reason why you don't want to kick them off too much.
Leo: You want to know who they are.
Mike: Well, you want them to interact with other people. So, one of the things that I feel that happened is these a-holes have been talking to each other and nobody else for a few years.
Leo: In a vacuum.
Mike: And they went out into the real world with their world view and they just got trashed, especially in Boston yesterday. They just got their butts handed to them because the real world isn't like their little message boards.
Leo: Now, that's a good thing.
Mike: Exactly. So, you know, to a certain extent you don't want them on the dark web where no one can challenge them.
Leo: You know, that was kind of the idea was sunlight disinfects and that was one of the arguments. It's just that we've also seen horrific behavior in public and I don't—this is a tough one.
Mike: I'm heartened by the reaction, though. I really am.
Leo: I guess I am but I also understand why the EFF is disheartened because that could set a bad precedent.
Mike: Yea. I mean, that's—
Leo: This is tough. I think you're right. It has to be case by case. I think that's what Cloudflare's CEO said. "We're going to do this once and once only, to these assholes," the word he used. "But we're not going to do it again." Because I think Matthew Prince the CEO really believes that they should be a completely independent, blind service.
Matt: And it seems like he was saying, "We're going to do this once and then in the space that that creates, when things calm down a little bit, think about the policy. What are the implications and what's the general thought?"
Leo: I honor that. This is a very hard thing to do. I know Google struggles with this all the time. And it's a very hard thing to do. Anyway, I want to bring that up at the end. I think it was great that we had this conversation and I'm really thrilled that you are all here. Katie, thank you so much for joining us. Plug something. TechCrunch.com. Katie's got a lot of bylines. Equity.
Katie: Equity is our podcast.
Leo: Anything else? Your favorite TV show, your favorite color. Anything you want, ok?
Katie: My favorite color today is olive.
Leo: It's a good color. It's a good color.
Katie: TechCrunch green, how about that?
Leo: TechCrunch green. Mike Elgan, Elgan is on of course Twitter as @MikeElgan. He's on the Google +. He's everywhere. He's on Fast Company and he's on Computer World. But, gotta go to gastronomad.net to find out what he and Amira are up to because it's awesome.
Mike: That's right.
Leo: Awesome, awesome. Have a great time in Barcelona.
Mike: I certainly will. And don't worry, Leo. I know you're going to be missing out on a lot of really good food, but I'll eat your portions for you.
Leo: Damn. Will you, please?
Mike: So you don't have to.
Leo: Thank you.
Mike: You're welcome.
Leo: And I'll just be looking on Instagram (laughing) and drooling. Matt Cutts, thank you so much for what you do for the US Digital Service and all of us in the United States. Matt is the Acting Administrator for the USDS where they are changing the government's relationship with its people by making the tech work better and that is really, really important.
Matt: It's meaningful and inspirational. I was talking to some people from the team earlier this week and there is one part of the process where someone who is a veteran and doing the Disabilities Claims Appeal can get stuck in a queue that lasts nine to twelve months. And just by writing some code to do some checking, there's the possibility to shave that nine to twelve months for people who really need it, like you're over 85 years old or you have a life-threatening illness, where that really makes a difference between when you might be able to get through a difficult situation versus be homeless. So, if that's the sort of thing where you might be interested in somewhere that renews your spirit and has a really big impact, come check us out.
Leo: And what is a typical length of a tour of duty?
Matt: Well, I signed up for three months and then extended to six months and now it's been over year that I've been there but a lot of people will come for one year and then extend for another year.
Leo: Nice. Read all about it. Go to USDS.gov and if you'd like to help out, USDS.gov/join and you can help. The last time you were on, on This Week in Google, a number of people said, "You know what? I'm going to do it."
Matt: We got like seven or eight applications after I was on the podcast.
Matt: I'm like you know what? When I'm back in California, I should come say hello.
Leo: That's why your back. So, let's make it 20 this time. That would be great. It's such a big help. Do you have to go to DC to do it?
Matt: We do have- in fact, there are some folks who are helping Veteran's Affairs that are out on the West Coast but normally it's helpful if you come to DC because that's where you have the meetings with the secretaries and the cabinet folks and all those.
Leo: You might be able to do that. That's pretty cool.
Matt: It helps.
Leo: Yea. Thank you, Matt. It's really great to see you. Thank you, all of you. I want to thank all of you for visiting. We had a wonderful studio audience today. You were very patient with us. If you want to join us in the studio audience, bring a water bottle, some survival bars, K-rations and email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to put a chair out for you. You can also watch live on our livestream, TWiT.tv/live. If you do that, please join us in the chatroom at irc.TWiT.tv. Great bunch of people in there, kind of kibitzing along with the rest of the crew. Always valuable to us to keep an eye on what you think. If you can't watch live or be here live, you can always get on demand versions of everything we do at our website, TWiT.tv. You can download it there. My favorite thing to do, though, and I would ask you to do it if you can, is subscribe. We've noticed a lot of people don't subscribe anymore because it used to be you had to. You had to subscribe in iTunes. You'd hook up your iPod. You'd sync it and all of that. And nowadays, it's really easy to stream it so a lot of people will fire up an app and sometimes they'll be in their car and there's something on the dashboard and they'll fire up an app and listen to individual shows. And that makes sometimes our downloads very spikey.
Mike: You know what I do, Leo? I'm mainlining it. I subscribe to the all TWiT shows.
Leo: Thank you. Thank you.
Mike: And it's awesome.
Leo: But you have to listen to them all as well (laughing).
Mike: That is not possible.
Leo: I don't even know how we make this many. We would love it if you would subscribe. Just find your favorite pod catcher. A lot of people with iTunes but still Pocket Casts is number two I found out which is great. We're going down to the Podcast Movement which is the big trade show in Anaheim on Thursday and Friday and I hope to meet a lot of podcasters down there and a lot of podcast supporters. Look forward to it. If you're there, come say hi. And we'll see you next time, every Sunday for this show. Sunday. Why do I keep saying Thursday? Sunday afternoon 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Eastern, 2200 UTC for This Week in Tech. Thanks for being here and we'll see you next time! Another TWiT is in the can. Bye-bye.