This Week in Tech 630 Transcript
Leo Laporte: It's time for TWiT, This Week in Tech! We have an amazing panel here. Brianna Wu, Phil Libin, Larry Magid. We have so much to talk about, of course, Apple's September 12 event, whether the new iPhone was worth something North of a thousand dollars, the new CEO at Uber, and how to run for Congress without lying, it's all coming up next on TWiT.
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Leo: This is TWiT, This Week in Tech, episode 630, recorded Sunday September 3, 2017.
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It's time for TWiT: This Week in Tech, the show where we cover the week's tech news. I like to get together a diverse group, an interesting group of people. Tech journalists, entrepreneurs, candidates for Congress. Every week we talk about stuff. Brianna Wu is back. It's great to have her. She is both an entrepreneur, a founder of Giantspacecat, which is an online gaming company, but running for Congress in the Massachusetts, which district?
Brianna Wu: District 8, it's like an L from south station over.
Leo: Briannawu2018.com, she also told us she has 2022 too. Gotta run for re-election! That's one of the problems. As soon as you get into Congress, you're going to spend the rest of your time running to get in again.
Brianna: The philosophy I'm going to have is I'm going to go there and do the best job I can for the people I'm representing and go for broke. If I get re-elected, I will, but I'm not going to go there and play this game where you think three times about everything you do, if it's going to help you get re-elected, I just don't think you can do that with integrity.
Larry Magid: You're recording this, right, Leo?
Leo: Yes. That's the journalist, Larry Magid from CES news radio.
Brianna: I mean it. Yeah.
Leo: And with us, the entrepreneur, the founder, the guy who put together Evernote, Phil Libin. It's always great to see you. All-turtles is an AI studio for AI applications. You may not recognize Phil, because he used to look like Mitch Miller with a black goatee and a few extra pounds. You look like you've lost 20 years. You look great.
Phil Libin: Thank you. You look great too!
Leo: So. I lost a little weight, because I'm doing what you did, which is fasting. Intermittent fasting. I tell people I'm skipping meals.
Phil: All fasting is intermittent.
Leo: Unless you're dead! So it's official. I want to poll the panel. Apple sent out invitations this week uncharacteristically early. They usually wait until exactly a week before the event, but they announced at the end of August that they would have an event September 12, 10 AM. There's Jim Dower's post. Of course Jim at the loop was invited. There's his invite, if you read the invite it says let's meet at our place. That's the even bigger story. I don't want to go over this one, it's going to be the first event at the new Apple park in the new Steve Jobs theater. We were speculating whether they would be ready in time.
Larry: Amazing structure.
Leo: The Steve Jobs theatre is separate, but it's a circle of glass with the world's largest carbon fiber roof on top of it, but the event is almost like an evil genius lab underground, so you go in this big circle and then there's two escalators there and you go down into the Steve Jobs theater, you go down into a thousand seat theater.
Larry: Which is a smaller venue then they often use.
Leo: Bill Graham auditorium is a bit bigger, but remember they want to have room not only for the Press but for Apple employees.
Larry: Sure, because the Press typically don't applaud. I've been to almost every Apple event since 1984.
Leo: Do you sit on your hands during these things?
Larry: I don't applaud. No.
Leo: I would have to sit on my hands. In a way that's freedom. I'm guessing that at the original iPhone announcement ten years ago, which was held at the big... I would guess that I leapt to my feet when he announced that. It was pretty exciting.
Phil: Why wouldn't you applaud as press, though?
Larry: It's because you're taking a side. You're endorsing the person speaking as opposed to being objective. It's a tradition. Press Don't applaud. There are exceptions, sometimes you will applaud to be police. Like when Steve Jobs came on and he was sick, I applauded.
Leo: Everybody in the theatre rose to their feet.
Phil: There's certain times you would applaud, but you wouldn't applaud an announcement.
Leo: No. It's because you're objective, you should not applaud, you're there to take notes. We're not there to cheer.
Phil: But not applauding is not being objective either, because then you're...
Leo: You're not making any reaction at all. You're simply taking notes, getting the information. There's an interesting point there, because in fact you are attending an Apple event.
Phil: But when the camera pans across the audience and there's a bunch of people not applauding, no one is like that's the Press section, they're like, "those people don't like it."
Leo: I think Steve started this tradition in 1984 when they made a big to do about the release of the Macintosh, he was in his bowtie, he pulled the Mac out of the bag, it said, Hello, it's good to be out of this bag. Ever after, Apple made a lot of this. Prior to that, I don't think companies had... they would be at Comdex, Bill Gates would give a keynote, but this whole idea of a dog and pony circus started with Apple.
Larry: It started with Steve. I was at that event in 1984. The Next event, he had this amazing way.... here's what I will say. Almost every time I'd walk out of a Steve Jobs keynote, I'd walk out and say I've got to have that product. I can't wait to get my hands on that product. Often, I was disappointed. It was often not that great. It was very effective, when they would interview me immediately afterwards, typically what I would do at these things is a radio or television interview afterwards, I am always enthused because I just heard this amazing, enthusiastic speech. I have to work very hard at trying not to sound enthused because Steve had that ability to get people... that's not true anymore. Tim Cook is a great guy, but...
Leo: He's not a leap to your feet and cheer kind of guy. You like him.
Phil: I met Steve Jobs for five minutes once at one of the events, and he pretended to know who I was, and it was the greatest moment of my life. I know he didn't really know who I was.
Leo: I have a far worse Steve Jobs story, but I'll let Brianna, poor Brianna. We should mention that we three are in studio, and poor Brianna has to sit on Skype which is putting you at a disadvantage, and I apologize, so please don't hesitate to step all over us.
Brianna: I'm super excited about this one. I think the prototypes have come out for the eight. The prototypes look amazing. I'm skeptical about getting rid of the home button, the reason is this is terrible, I measure what normal people are going to think about new technology by watching my husband. He's a brilliant guy, he has a PHD in bacterial genetics, he's head of IP for a major biotech company, but he can't figure out tech at all. He cannot figure out tech at all, cannot update his iPhone, and I just, you read about some of the things in the beta for swiping up to get to the home screen, even the supposed feature with scanning your face to get a connect technology to unlock it, I'm really skeptical about how normal people are going to react to that. We're not going to have any problems, but you're getting rid of the major paradigm of the iPhone.
Leo: To be fair, most Android phones don't have home buttons. So it's not undoable, but it does feel a little bit like getting rid of the headphone jack. It's a little more courage.
Phil: Apple hates holes, Apple hates buttons. This has been clear for years. It's all moving in the same direction.
Leo: Steve insisted a mouse should only have one button despite every bit of evidence otherwise.
Larry: Steve also didn't like on/off switches too.
Leo: Right. But losing the home button also means you lose touch ID, the fingerprint sensor.
Larry: You could do what Google does is put some in the back.
Leo: They're not going to do that.
Brianna: I love it in my Nexus, it's great, it's very functional. What I worry about with the iPhone...
Larry: When I drive, I Velcro it to the dashboard, so I can't reach the back.
Brianna: If it's in the dark, they're going to change over the secure chip to work with a front facing camera, and I just worry about how awkward that's going to be. If you're in a meeting, you can do it under the table.
Leo: Here's my guess, and this is based on rumor, of course. We won't know anything for sure until the 12th. The rumor is the face recognition will work at any angle. It's my guess that Apple wouldn't do this unless the face recognition was so good that it basically knows you're there. It's under the table... if you can see the phone it can see you, and if the facial recognition is fast, it will unlock the minute it sees you, my guess is that's how this will work.
Larry: I turned it off on this laptop. It's so bad.
Leo: There's also a question of how long before somebody breaks or cracks it.
Larry: You mean with a photograph or something?
Leo: The Samsung Galaxy S8 face recognition was defeated by the Chaos computer club, they showed how you could take a picture of somebody and what they did was interesting, they projected the picture onto a curved piece of paper to give it the Z axis...
Larry: Why can't it look for a blink or some kind of movement?
Leo: But don't you think Apple would not abandon the touch ID, which by the way, it's not merely unlocking the phone, Apple pay relies on this security, this is a big deal, to the point where if you get a third party to fix your iPhone, and they immediately disable the touch ID, because they say you can't be sure it's still secure. So I don't think they replace this unless they have something that they feel confident is as fast if not faster, that it will recognize you.
Larry: What about if it's dark?
Leo: It will have infrared.
Phil: Theoretical possible that it could still do touch ID at some point for the screen.
Leo: The rumor was Apple was trying to get that to work, and never did get it to work. It's very difficult if you think about it.
Phil: It's theoretically possible, but I doubt they would release it.
Leo: Apple's bet is you will like face recognition so much it will be so good and so convenient that you will never again say where's the fingerprint reader and it will make every other phone including the 7S and 7S plus obsolete immediately.
Brianna: It also makes a lot of sense. I was really amazed with how much Press they got coming out of the state of the union. If Apple, which we're going to talk about later in the show, but they have some really fascinating AR kit demonstrations, things like virtual tape measures, which you can move around. So Apple's iPhone having infrared built into it to specifically sense depth, that makes a lot of sense with an AR kit, because that's the problem. You can see it in the demo, and the little Lego Batman mobile would stutter a little bit, because it couldn't quite detect the depth as fast as it was moving. It makes sense as a bigger move with Apple, I agree with you that I don't think they would bring it to the flagship product if it didn't work, it's one of those things where we need to see it to evaluate it before we believe in it.
Leo: Phil, you were saying fingerprint has been around a long time.
Phil: Been around since the '90's, and it always sucked until the iPhone 7 came out.
Leo: And then everybody followed.
Phil: Face recognition has been around since the 90's, and it always sucked. I had it on a think pad back when it was IBM and it was terrible. If Apple releases it, it's going to be the first time that it will be good. Then it will be good everywhere.
Leo: that was always the story about Apple. Do you think that's still true? If they do it, it will be great?
Phil: on a mainstream product. It doesn't mean they won't release other products that won't be great.
Leo: You don't still do that with your iPhone jack? I do. I am not convinced that was a good idea. Apple sold more iPhone 7s than any other iPhone in history... the headphones are $159, hard to get, you can lose them... it's not a substitute for a wired headphone.
Phil: The Airpods are going to seem like a bargain when you wind up paying $800 for a phone.
Leo: Can it be that expensive?
Phil: It wouldn't be a bad thing to give themselves the freedom to have a high priced item that's high priced because it's gold or ceramic or something, but actually a high priced component.
Leo: That's why they keep the iPhone 7, the 7S. That's what I've been saying Apple should do, price isn't even a consideration. We're going to make the best phone we can make and we'll charge you a price for it based on what it costs.
Phil: It's a Tesla strategy. It's the Tesla master plan.
Larry: It was the Mac strategy. The late Jeff Raskin wanted the Mac to be cheaper. I remember Jobs saying, Look. We have BMWs and Mercedes, and we got Pintos and Novas, he wanted to be in the BMW business.
Phil: This is different. Mercedes is a luxury brand. Tesla explicit world domination plan is make something expensive because that's how you get the freedom to put in the technology that you want, and then you relentlessly make new products using that technology to drive the price down and increase the experience. The Model 3 is probably a better car than the model S, and 1/3 of the price.
Larry: I went to my Tesla dealer the other day to ask when my model 3 was going to be ready. He didn't know. he tried to sell me a Model S. He was pushing it. First of all, why are you pushing it?
Phil: Why are you talking to a Tesla dealer? The whole point is you don't have to interact with humans.
Larry: He was in my neighborhood. He said if you lease it it would be cheaper to lease the Model S than the model 3. He did this whole hard sell.
Phil: I would ignore anything coming out of a car dealer person.
Larry: I would rather have a Model 3 than a Model S. I know that sounds weird, because the Model S will be higher luxury, but there's something cool about being one of the first people with a model 3.
Phil: The gold Apple watch was stupid luxury. If they come out with a new phone...
Leo: Ceramic Apple Watch. I wanted it because I wanted the ceramic, but you're right. It's $1200.
Phil: But if the iPhone 8 is $1000 not because of the fancy materials, that's the Model S, that's the first version that can try new technology.
Leo: I was going to ask you how much your husband would pay.
Brianna: My husband would pay nothing. He keeps the same phone until he drops it or breaks it or... Frank takes out the garbage, and I take care of our tech needs.
Leo: So how much would you pay?
Brianna: I'm going to get the best model. I have the six, seven plus. I use it as my main campaign device, and I spend so much time using my pinky finger, you end up getting hand cramps from using it that much. If it's a fraction of an ounce lighter, that's something that will increase usability for me. I was also interested in the jet black iPhone. It didn't bother me that it scratched a bit. I think that's the life of a phone. I love that material and the shine. I personally don't have a problem paying more for it, but it's hard to not have a bit of a cynical attitude about it, because Apple's best quarter hasn't been repeated since they released the iPhone in China and really had that explosion in sales. I think they've got to find a place where they get a lot of profitability.
Larry: Almost every product line, there's this marginal returns. So I'm a bicycle guy. I know, I haven't bought a bike lately. They're like ten grand for the really good bikes. The last time I bought a bike, you could buy a crappy bike for $200, a decent bike for $500, and then at about $1500 you could buy a great bike. My point is, what you get for that is marginally better than what you get for the one that's quite a bit less expensive. That's true with cars and every product line. But I can easily see why somebody like Brianna who is using that iPhone as her lifeline, when you think about what you're getting.
Leo: 30% more for it over a period of two years.
Larry: For something that you're using many hours a day.
Leo: Let's not forget. You spend a year on cellphone connectivity. Yet, it has something to do with size too. If you spend $2000 on a desktop computer, that doesn't feel outrageous, but you spend $2000 on something this small; that seems expensive. But it isn't when you think about it. I agree with you, Brianna. I got the jet black. I'm a sucker. I feel a little bit like a sucker.
Phil: The phone is the product that I use most.
Leo: It is your number one computer.
Phil: It is the thing I use more than anything else.
Leo: That's what we're seeing is realization among consumers that this is the most important product that you're going to buy. So it's worth $1200. Could it be $1500?
Phil: Here's a different way of thinking about it. What if it was $5000, but it was the kind of product where somebody who wanted to pay 5 grand would be like amazingly happy to have? Then they can work down that functionality into more accessible products. This idea that let's make something that lets us innovate that is at a price point where we can work on technology and the people who are happy to pay it pay it. I think that's great. The cell phone Industry has been in a rut with hardware, I think it would help the entire Industry if Apple were to take a pretty big jump, say this is $1,000. A lot of people will complain, that's fine. But actually make a product that people who can pay it will do it and have a product that people will benefit in subsequent years.
Larry: All of these Chinese Android makers are going to look at whatever it is and they're going to do their best to get something as close as possible in quality at a price that people can afford.
Phil: I think the world is much improved because Elon came out with a model S. The world is better because the model S came out.
Larry: If it weren't for Leo and other people spending a lot of money on model Ss and Xs, people wouldn't be making a car that I can afford.
Leo: Yeah. That was Elon's explicit strategy.
Phil: That's a thing to be proud of. That's a good strategy.
Leo: Remembering that there are many people for whom a $500 phone is too expensive, I talk to people all the time who say I want a $200 smartphone, and you can get a good...
Larry: Unsubsidized, you can buy a pretty decent Android, and they're going to work just fine.
Leo: So, this is already acknowledging that this is for a different kind of person. Somebody for whom they have enough money to do this, and for whom technology is so important i their lives that they want a significant amount of money for it.
Phil: These microphones are not the cheapest microphones you could have bought.
Leo: It would be foolish for me to choose a microphone based on price. Because we're going to use for years. It's a big part of the overall product. People buy Adobe Photoshop for $800. It's just bits. Because they use it...
Larry: There's also the prestige factor for some people having among the first to have the coolest iPhone.
Leo: What is the most Apple could... remembering by the way, this is a starting price that is a price they'll quote, but that will be for the 64 gig, or the lowest memory, 64, 256, and 512? Something like that? You can presume for $400 more than the starting price would be the top of the line.
Phil: I pay 3K on the top of the line MacBook. I got a loaded up MacBook. We call it the hot dog version. One with everything. I use my MacBook 3 or 4 times a week. I use my iPhone 30 times a day. I pay as much for a great iPhone as I would for a MacBook. If there was a product they would sell me, I would pay it. It would have to be worth it.
Brianna: I think a difference is your MacBook, I'm the exact same way. For my 2012 MacBook, I bought top of the line, $1200. Don't regret it at all. It's been a great video machine, 3D work on it, it's amazing. But the difference is, if that MacBook gets a little scratched up on the outside, it doesn't affect its use. I don't think I'm the only person that can't go more than a year tops without getting a scratch in my phone screen. I think that's a big difference. IF they charge that much more, I don't have a problem with it, I definitely this last time, I tried getting the version with the most storage possible, and I enjoyed that freedom, but the difference is if you use an iPhone day to day, they can't last more than a year before they get damaged.
Leo: You have to figure that in too.
Larry: I have a lot of Apple products. I've got an iPhone, a MacBook air. At the moment, I have with me my Android phone and my laptop because I really like them. They're very good. Try doing that with your MacBook.
Leo: For those of you listening, he just bent the screen all the way around.
Larry: My point is, Apple, two years ago, I wouldn't be caught dead with a Windows laptop because they were pretty crappy. There were no good ones. Now there are phenomenal ones.
Leo: But you know if Apple says $1200 starting price, there will be a howl of rage. They can do whatever they want, obviously. They can charge $2000. But remember what they said with the gold Apple watch.
Larry: You know what I loved about the gold Apple watch? As a radio guy, I could go on the radio and say can you imagine some people are going to spend $1700 on a piece of technology that will be obsolete in a year. It was so great to make fun of it.
Leo: You do have to ask yourself, what kind of company would make a product like that? Obviously a Swiss watch maker would.
Phil: The gold Apple watch was the weirdest misstep!
Larry: How many did they sell?
Phil: Probably a lot. But it's the only Apple product in recent memory...
Larry: If I saw somebody wearing one, my impression of them would have gone down. Not because they have an expensive watch-if they had a Rolex fine, that's a lifetime investment- but why would you invest $1800 in...
Phil: I know some people that wear the gold Apple watch, and I giggle.
Leo: You know what's different though? If you can buy an iPhone that did everything this new imaginary god phone could do for $20, as you can with a watch; that would be a big deal. You would say Apple is charging a premium because of the brand name, because of styling, but this is technologically... presumably technologically going to be advanced. It's hard to imagine what kind of advance you could do in this era of peak smartphone that would be that much better though, maybe it's a camera, augmented reality... is it going to be that much better? There will be plenty of people who buy an iPhone 7S.
Larry: That was very true with the last several iPhones. When I looked at the iPhone 7, this is nice.
Leo: It's incremental. Look at Samsung. They went from the S8 to the Note 8 with tiny differences. And $100 difference.
Brianna: I think what people really want to see from Apple is a battery that will charge faster. It's interesting what Anchor is doing with their battery products. I bought a host of them lately, and you can plug your iPhone into their official IQ3 that does charge much faster, they figured out the charging, they can't change batteries because you can't cram more electrons in there, but they can make it charge faster. I think that's the biggest pain point that everyone has right now. The screen is solid, it's fast enough, the camera is amazing. I love the depth for my iPhone 7 Plus, I think that's amazing. What I want to see them do is solve this battery charging thing. You can do it two ways. I've seen experimental materials at MIT that are both super conductive and capacitive. If you can make the battery charge instantly, you can get by with not having as large a reservoir. I think if you're really asking what the average consumer wants, I think that's it.
Leo: Apple doesn't make products for the average consumer though. However, I have to say the iPhone is the best battery life of any of the flagship phones out there.
Larry: The iPhones are. Especially the less expensive models, you see kids with them, you see average folks with iPhones at this point.
Leo: 75% of teenagers have iPhones. Now admittedly there are less expensive iPhones out there, but Apple really owns mind share, if nothing else. At least in the US.
Larry: Pixels are 600 some dollars...
Leo: Remember the holy hell that was raised when Google dared to charge going rates for its flagship phone? The Nexus used to be cheaper. Everything you've said so far, all of you, is logical. But there's something about price that's a hot button. Very visceral for people, very emotional. People will get angry about this price, I guarantee you.
Phil: I think what people need is something to get angry about.
Leo: That's a good point, that's human.
Phil: You gotta yell at Apple about something. Maybe it's getting rid of the headphone jack, maybe it's the price. But it's gotta be something.
Larry: As Leo and I have both experienced, people get emotional about their technology. I have gotten hate mail from people because they thought I didn't like their favorite operating system, whether it was Windows, Mac OS. The fact is, I actually don't really care. I'm critical and support all operating systems, but people think I'm Apples camp, and others think I'm in Window's camp. They send me hate mail.
Phil: I've gotten death threats.
Leo: Sigmund Freud coined a term for it. The narcissism of small differences. Precisely that communities with adjoining territories and close relationships will engage in constant feuds and mutual ridicule because to hyper sensitivity of details of differentiation. This is a human condition. It is always true. The bitterest battles are fought over the smallest differences.
Phil: I'm serious I've gotten death threats over minor changes in Evernote.
Leo: Yes. Death threats.
Phil: Hand written and delivered on paper to my house.
Larry: You want passionate customers, right? But not that passionate.
Leo: You hope they don't act on it, they're just thinking these things.
Phil: It's creepy.
Larry: Remember the bumper sticker thing that Windows 2000 is equal as Mac 94? People had bumper stickers.
Phil: I think there's two dimensions of what it means to make technology for the normal person. We've been focusing on price, but there's a much more important one which is usability. Apple has really been ahead of the curve on usability, on making stuff for the average person on usability. Compare any of the iPhones with any of the Android phones.
Leo: Maybe this is my brain, but I feel like the Android phones are infinitely... it's so trivial. This is where Apple used to be. I don't agree with you. In 1984, when they came out with Mac, partly because of Jeff Raskin, they had a very well defined philosophy of user interface that informed everything, and I told every developer this is how you do it, they published a book of it. I would completely disagree in the iPhone case. Every app has a different UI. Where are the settings in an app, it could be anywhere. Where's the back button? There is none. How often do you exit an app on an iPhone app by pressing the home button because you can't figure out how the hell to get back to the previous page. It's terrible user interface.
Larry: If you swipe up from the bottom on Android, all of your apps are alphabetical. You can put them on the screens wherever you want. But they're listed alphabetically.
Phil: I'm not saying that Apple's usability is perfect, I'm saying it's better than anyone else's.
Leo: I'm not sure that's still true.
Phil: I remember the first time I got a modern MacBook. I plugged some USB thing into it. Like a presentation... I had this experience where it didn't do anything. Then I actually used it and it worked. I had this shocking revelation that the Apple design philosophy was when you plug something into the USB port, it's supposed to just work. Who plugs something into a Windows computer as a USB Port, especially 8, 9 years ago when this happened. Even when it worked, it would be like, I detected that you plugged something into a USB Port. But that philosophy has carried through. Look at the air pods right now compared to any other wireless headset. It's just good usability.
Brianna: I think that's generally true. I had a really interesting experience, my company back before I was running for Congress, this is about a year ago, we were really sitting down and prototyping AR and VR apps. We were trying to make emotional sensing APIs. Really cool stuff, like figuring out what your voice intonations were, they were trying to signal to people where you looked, what that was trying to signal. Tons of interesting research out there. I had the experience, I had not built a Windows machine since the '90s, when I was in high school, and we did. We built it, we started working with Windows 10, I rocket on Relay, we are all Apple fans, I love Apple, I mostly use Apple.
Leo: That's Brianna's podcast with Christina Warren and Simone Derochefore. Does she say it the French way? It's a wonderful show.
Brianna: I think Christina really carries it for us. But my point is, I think if you're really in the Apple ecosystem, you don't notice when you start a new iPhone from scratch that now it has 20 modal dialogues.
Leo: You have to enter your password...
Brianna: A hundred times. Over and over. I think that it's better than anybody else, but I think it's closer than us Apple fans like to give them, in my opinion,.
Leo: I think they used to be. Absolutely premier. It did used to be the computer for the rest of us, it has not been the computer or the phone for the rest of us in some time.
Larry: There was a time in the '90's when there was no comparison between a Mac and a Windows.
Leo: Windows was horrible. What am I sitting on, what are you sitting on?
Larry: My desktop at home is a Mac, I like it fine.
Leo: You know what I use now? Because I got so frustrated with the lack of hardware on the Macintosh, and I've never been a fan of Windows and Windows X which is admittedly the best Windows in a long time, I just use Linnux everywhere, I buy a Windows machine and I put Linnux on it, and I'm happy. Linnux, people are going to think I'm insane if I say this, but I do thin Linnux is the easiest to use. So there, I said it. What that only proves, Phil, is you think whatever you used day and day out is the easiest to use. Ask Frank. Technology is not easy to use. Frank is out there emptying the trash. He says forget it.
Larry: It took me a week to get used to a new car. The auto pilot, and the blind spot monitoring technology, and I still haven't figured out the GPS on my car, I just use my phone, because I don't bother with a car's GPS.
Leo: Things have improved. We're going to take a break, this is a great panel, Brianna wu is here. Running for Congress, the Massachusetts 8th, BriannaWu2018.com, cofounder of Giant Spacekat, and now we know her secret superpower is that great podcast.
Larry: It's like the apprentice That helped Donald Trump.
Leo: After Reagan got elected, I went that's it. You have to be a movie star to get elected. That didn't pan out that way, and I was a little worried. Now you have to be a podcast star and you'll get elected, right Brianna?
Brianna: I think it's a really good skill to develop. Talking about things and explaining it clearly to people. I think it's a very relevant skill for anyone. I think the other big skills, we need engineers in Congress. I think we need people that will think about problems holistically, will not treat it like you're arguing for a side, and will look at all the options on the table. Anyone that's worked on a dub team knows that you have to think outside the box to ship a product. I think we need that mindset in Congress.
Leo: Also here, a guy who knows what he's talking about, from Evernote. Former chairman, CEO of Evernote, he now is CEO at All Turtles, which is all about creating amazing AI applications. Phil Libin, it's great to have you. Traditionally I try to get tech journalists on. But I have to say, I avoid the entrepreneurs and the CEOs--
Phil: Me too.
Leo: -- because most of them are meanly mouthed, especially when they're running a company. You're not going to go to a CEO and say tell us about your company and not get an ad, right? But you're great. Because of all your experience with product design, your insights are very much appreciated.
Phil: That's kind of you.
Leo: Also, Larry Magid, who like me is a wretch. We just report.
Larry: It's like saying those who can, do, those who can't teach, and those who can't teach teach teachers. I'm a former professor of education.
Leo: Used to be CBS radio news. Don't forget his site where he is CEO of Connect Safely.org, thats a non-profit.
Larry: That's a non-profit, we do Internet safety, privacy, and security.
Leo: I'm good at not making a profit myself.
Larry: We started out not to make a profit. We succeeded.
Leo: Our show to you today brought to you by Sonic, we are connected to the world via ten gigabit symmetric fiber. When I say that, geeks go wooh. The funny thing there's nothing in the place that goes faster than a gigabit. So I can get a gigabit, but I'll get ten total.
Larry: Do they run a cable for you?
Leo: No. They fiber into the premises. You can get Sonic in your house if you live in San Francisco. East Bay, North Bay. Sonic is the best Internet service provider, not because you're going to get ten gigabit, but wait until I tell you. Gigabit Internet that includes 15 email accounts. By the way, properly configured email accounts. A gigabyte of storage, you get a new domain name and personal web hosting, you get fax line service, you get home phone service you can port your phone to, unlimited local and long distance, you get all of that for $40 a month. I know most of you listening can't get this, so it's making you crazy. One of the reasons I love this and I love to talk about it, is it shows what these other guys are charging you for a service that's not as good is a rip off. It's possible to be a profitable company, to give you this kind of service, to stand up for you rights, that there are no bandwidth caps, they fight Government subpoenas and orders, they provide local support, private browsing, at a great price, and they make a profit. It is possible. I think this is really, if you go to EFF's ratings of Internet service providers, green checkboxes all the way across. Go to sonic.com and enter TWiT, enter your address, see if you can get it. If you can, get it. Get your first month free, and phone service, plus bundle it with Dish, you'll get $120 on your Sonic bill. sonic.com/twit. I know for most of you going there is going to be depressing. They are rolling it out, I interviewed Dane Jasper there. His license plate says Linux. He said we can make a profit. WE have to get 1 in 5 houses to subscribe.
Phil: When I moved into my new place, my neighbor had Sonic but my building didn't, so we gotta check again.
Leo: You know what, that'll be their ADSL product or their.... they do this fusion on DSL. Two lines.
Larry: This is weird.
Leo: check it out.
Larry: Still actually a pretty good price.
Leo: And no bandwidth caps, and they fight the federal request for information. I'm a big fan. Well. What can we talk about? By the way, we should mention it's September 12 and not just be three new iPhones. Apple will finally announce a 4K Apple TV in all likelihood with UHD. They're the last company. Roku, everybody makes 4K now. Google's Chromecast does 4K TiVo does 4K. My Android TV does 4K. Apple is one of the last remaining devices.
Phil: i pretty much switched over my TV stuff to my PS4 Prok K. It's good, it's pretty good. I use the view service.
Leo: You're a chord cutter. You don't have cable.
Phil: No. I still have Comcast for Internet, but I use View and all the apps on the PS 4, it's pretty good. I'll try the Apple TV when it comes out.
Leo: This is so typical of Apple. Apple invented 4K HDR, every time. That's all right. They are apparently going to announce a new series three Apple watch.
Phil: I saw Voodoo just started doing 4K.
Leo: I have to say, more importantly than resolution is HDR, high definition. That you'll see more of. If you're more than a few feet away from a 4K TV, it's not going to look that different, because you can't see the dots either way with HD or UHD. But you will definitely notice the broader dynamic range.
Larry: I remember at CES a few years ago, Sony was showing off when 4K was just coming out, they had a 4K set right next to a 1080 P set, my colleague and I couldn't tell the difference.
Brianna: I'm like you, I have my Playstation and I use it whenever I can. The problem is the controllers drain some quickly. I like my Apple TV because I'm a chord cutter. WE were talking about Apple's lessening of usability as a priority in the products they ship. I think Apple TV is a great example of Apple not thinking about the mass market.
Phil: I hate the remote. I hate the Apple TV remote.
Leo: It's just this grid of icons.
Larry: Brianna, how are you getting your television news?
Brianna: WE have it at campaign headquarters. I'm off the clock.
Larry: So you don't watch MSNBC or CNN at home.
Brianna: I don't. I admit, back in 2004...
Leo: I guess it depends what market you're in. I use YouTube TV, which I really like the interface of YouTube TV. This is the grid of stations, it does include MSNBC, Fox news, I don't think CNN is on here.
Larry: I need to have CNN, Fox, and MSNBC.
Leo: When you hover your mouse, it goes live. This is what a channel guide should do. They don't have an apple TV app or an app for any of those devices. It's a built in DVR. This is the really cool thing. If I go to the news section, all four of these are live, so is the sports. If I'm trying to figure out what I want to watch, if I'm watching live channels, they'll show it live. This is the best UI I've seen for TV. It also have a DVR built in, you can have multiple independent users on the same account, so I can record different shows than Phil. Phil does all those cartoon land stuff.
Phil: It's all Rick and Morty all the time.
Brianna: I want the Apple Watch. I think this is an interesting problem and I'm interested to see how Apple is going to solve it. The first one I think is a good product, but the only thing I use it for now is working out. It's a good workout gadget to give you heart rate and feedback information, but it's like the interface is a big rat's nest of apps. The apps suck.
Leo: Not fully the app's fault, limited capability.
Brianna: I used to wear my Apple watch when I would wear this week in tech. I think the fashion of it is not the best. The thing is the rumors are saying they're going to add an LTE radio to it, What I can't figure out is how terrible the battery life in it already is. It's horrible.
Phil: There's one rumor that I don't think is true for this year, but I hope they get to it at some point, which would be world changing if they manage to get the glucose monitor in. If they actually crack a glucose monitor that you can wear, that will change the world.
Leo: Tim Cook was talking about a college group in Texas, and said I'm wearing a glucose monitor right now. It didn't look like it was by Apple. It was a third party, not continuous penetration. This is what apparently is being promised, a non-invasive...
Phil: Glucose monitor will change the world as soon as someone has a non-invasive, it's...
Larry: You think people who are not diabetic will buy it?
Leo: Everybody in this country of people over 40 is pre diabetic.
Phil: It's key for mood, for mental concentration, for physical energy. This is the new giant revolution.
Leo: If you're faster one of the things you want to monitor is your glucose.
Phil: I used to monitor in real time, I don't anymore because it doesn't change for me. It's fine. For normal people, it's critical.
Phil: I can't stress enough how important it would be if someone released a mainstream, non-invasive...
Leo: I'm type two diabetic and I do prick my finger.
Phil: I was wearing the continuous one on my arm from Abbott.
Leo: You talked about that last time. Did that sandpaper your arm?
Phil: it was a needle.
Leo: It did prick you.
Phil: It was fine, but I think the difference between a product that requires you to stick yourself with a needle and a product that doesn't is huge.
Leo: It is a giant market.
Phil: It's much bigger than people think. There's 7 million people on this planet...
Leo: In other words, there's a very strong financial incentive.
Larry: I bicycle ride. If I had a way of knowing that it's time for a candy bar break... or whatever.
Leo: Some form of...It's always time for a candy bar. Are you nuts? You don't want to see the spikes.
Larry: There are times when you need instant energy.
Phil: Turns out I'm not actually a doctor.
Leo: Do you carry that stuff around, Brianna?
Brianna: I do. I run 7 miles a day.
Leo: What do they call that? I'm told by the advertising industry that it's called bonking.
Phil: There's a product called Bonku.
Leo: I don't exercise all together.
Larry: I carry peanut MnMs. They have real peanuts in them, so if you're biking and you need some energy, you're getting some protein.
Phil: So it doesn't have much to do with calories, it has more to do with your insulin resistance, which you're completely killing yourself by eating those things. Better not do.
Larry: So what do you eat when you're exercising really strenuously and you need some energy?
Phil: My own fat. The new science on it is pretty compelling. You don't need the carbs, you only need them for the first few weeks, and the key to it is real time glucose monitoring. The information that I got from wearing a glucose monitor for the first few months, life changing and staggering. I've lost 90 pounds, everything is infinitely better.
Leo: Give us some of the insights you learned. I know from my own finger prick the morning is the worst, they call it the dawn syndrome, because you ramp up your liver excretes.
Phil: There's so much stuff. There's a lot of variability, but it's pretty important. Not just for diabetes stuff, also just for mood. My mood is much better than it was.
Leo: I get hangry.
Larry: I had abdominal surgery a couple years ago, and I didn't eat much for weeks afterwards, and I felt euphoric much of the time. Does that last? Does it sustain itself?
Leo: The problem is not eating doesn't sustain itself. Eventually you have to eat. Your longest fast was 11 days, right?
Phil: I don't think I've done more than 8. It's just based on the calendar.
Larry: A total fast of just water, no juices?
Leo: It's easy to do after the first day. The first day is hard, your body goes I'm fine.
Larry: You're drinking black coffee on an empty stomach. How's your intestinal...
Leo: Dr. Fung says you can put a little heavy cream in it if you want.
Phil: But all that aside, when someone nails glucose monitoring in a device that's non-invasive, trillion dollars.
Larry: You think Apple may do that this year?
Leo: Can I point out, this has been the holy grail for a decade.
Phil: So is lots of other stuff.
Leo: I think Apple and other companies are well aware of the potential economic gains from making one of these. It's hard.
Phil: I would love to see it. I doubt it'll happen this year, but only because it would be so amazing, and if it was I'm skeptical.
Brianna: That's a big idea that makes sense for Apple. That's something I could see selling the Apple watch. The question is this year for this event, what can they do to get excitement in this product again, as far as it being an exercise device, I think they did as good a job as has been done in the smart watch sector.
Larry: I have an Android device that does an adequate job.
Brianna: What are they going to do? Pan personal access to get you into your building? I'm not sold that the security is there on that. We've seen some scary stories come out lately about Apple home compatible locks, and how vulnerable they can be. I want to see Apple knock a home run in this category, but it's hard to imagine the LTE radio in it is what we need.
Larry: When you get into Congress, are you going to be regulating these watches?
Leo: It strikes me...
Brianna: I think that's a good question. Leo, when you're talking about this, my first thing is I bet the medical devices are heavily regulated. I would imagine that would be a real blockade to Apple innovating in this project category.
Phil: If they could demonstrate that it worked...
Larry: I know with things like blood pressure, there are certain things you have to, to be able to have blood pressure in real time.
Leo: This is the article that I referred to before. How hard it is to do needle-less blood sugar monitoring, and there are companies that have tried and failed. There's a book called the pursuit of knowledge about uninvasive glucose.
Phil: It was hard to send up a rocket and bring it back down.
Leo: I agree. I agree. At some point.
Phil: And we did it. There's two major consumer hardware platforms that are maybe new that are going to each cause trillions of dollars of opportunity. It's when someone actually gets AR in form factor that's not much bigger than glasses.
Leo: Also, very hard to do. Yep.
Phil: That's going to be amazing and a non-invasive real-time glucose monitor. Those two things are world changing. And I really think both are going to happen in the next five years, maybe the next two.
Larry: Why wouldn't blood pressure be very important?
Phil: It's good to know, but—
Leo: That one's actually easier. In fact, your air buds, because they're in the ear, are capable of monitoring blood oxygen levels, heartrate as well as blood pressure. So, that is actually—I could see, I could imagine Apple is doing some sort of medical device for the ear.
Larry: Or on a watch. You actually could have a blood pressure thing on a watch which wouldn't be that hard.
Leo: Yea, maybe you could. We're not doctors, so.
Larry: But we play them on TV.
Leo: We are trying. We are trying. Is that it for Apple's—Apple TV, Apple Watch with LTE. I think, Phil, I've got to say, the reason Apple's doing that is merely because they want you to stream Apple Music on your watch. Seriously.
Larry: What a waste!
Leo: A lot of what Apple does is about boosting Apple Music. I mean, why is Apple spending a billion dollars on original content, original television content? Because it will boost Apple Music.
Larry: I went out of my way to figure out how to turn off streaming music on my watch. It was annoying. Every time I was playing music on my phone it was coming through my watch.
Leo: You've got to get AirPods. That's what you need. And that's another product Apple would love you to get. They are number one in Bluetooth headphones because of the persons who be.
Phil: Short of glucose monitoring, the thing that would make me wear an Apple Watch again, and I'm not wearing one now, would be a radically different screen and better performance so it was actually on all the time so I could use it as a watch.
Leo: Yea, it even fails at that basic.
Phil: Yea, it's not a good watch.
Leo: (Laughing) It's not a good watch.
Larry: How many things are we willing to charge every night? I mean we all charge our phones.
Leo: Oh, I don't mind.
Larry: It bugs me to have to think about.
Leo: In fact, it's easier because you just plug everything in, including my car, by the way. It all gets plugged in.
Larry: By the way, did you charge your car during the heat wave because I heard some people were saying not to charge your car?
Leo: I did not. Lesson on Li-ion batteries, they hate heat.
Larry: Oh, is that right?
Leo: In fact, a lot of what the Tesla is engaged in is keeping them cool. Yesterday when it was 170 degrees—107, not 170. But it was 107 degrees yesterday. I went out after the show and my car fans were all on max. The Tesla was trying desperately to keep those lithium ion batteries cool.
Larry: So, my Prius is getting lower. I have a Prius that's getting lower gas mileage. I usually get about 51.
Leo: It's bad for the chemistry.
Larry: Yesterday I was getting like 50. Is that why, because of the heat?
Leo: Bad for the chemistry.
Phil: My Uber driver was kind of nasty too, so.
Leo: Yea, they get so cranky. Did you have an Uber driver driving an electric car? Why don't they?
Brianna: Oh, gosh. I was driving a Porsche Cayman yesterday. What a bum. So, I'm a bad environmentalist. I'm terrible.
Leo: Oh, nice. No, I think you have to drive a Prius. I think that's the rule if you're in Congress.
Brianna: You know, I feel like I've earned this. I feel like—
Leo: Good for you. Good for you.
Phil: I haven't touched my car in like a year.
Leo: Isn't that a nice feeling?
Phil: Except I went to start it like a month ago and it didn't even—like, it didn't even pretend to respond.
Leo: It did nothing.
Phil: It didn't even—
Larry: It doesn't like you anymore.
Phil: There was no faint little light. There was no little whine. There was like nothing. It was like a statue of a car.
Larry: So, you do Uber everywhere you go, or?
Phil: I walk a lot. If I can't walk, I Uber.
Leo: Truthfully, Uber is probably cheaper than owning a car.
Phil: Oh, probably. I would not buy a new car. So, I own this car. At some point, I have to figure out how to get it removed from my garage.
Leo: A couple of more Apple stories and then we will move on. New boss in the Siri division which is, thank God, Eddy Cue who has been in charge of Siri. He's being replaced by Craig Federighi, he of the beautiful hairdo.
Phil: I like Eddy.
Leo: Eddy, oh, Eddy's also in charge of iTunes, another blight on the Apple escutcheon.
Larry: iTune's still around?
Leo: I feel like Eddy's probably a great guy. He's certainly kind of a fun guy. But I don't know how good he is like running a software division. Craig, who of course is in charge of—he's Software SVP in charge of iOS and Mac OS, seems like he'd be the right person to be running the Siri division as opposed to the guy who's trying to sell music and Hollywood for Apple, right?
Phil: I have a lot of respect for both of them.
Leo: You know them. I don't know either one of them. You know them, obviously, so. You think Eddy is a good technical guy?
Phil: I do.
Leo: Ok. All right. I take it back then. You speak from knowledge. I speak from ignorance. However, I personally, I for one am glad to see Craig taking over Siri. This—we only know this from Apple's executive page. But—
Brianna: I feel like that's a fair critique of Siri and I use it all the time on my phone.
Leo: Do you? I gave up long ago.
Brianna: I'm one of those people, I am the one use case of somebody that uses Siri every single day, dozens of times.
Phil: What do you do with it?
Brianna: I'm sorry?
Phil: What do you do with it?
Brianna: Scheduling appointments. Calling people. Bringing music up. Doing Google searches. Primarily the calendar but or even just asking how the Red Sox game is going. I'm sorry?
Larry: If you're making a phone call while you're driving, you have to use a hands-free, at least in California, by law, and should by safety.
Brianna: Yea, it's built into my Audi T right now, but I mean my point is, I think if you look at Siri and where it was when it came out, I really would have thought that it would be more evolved by this point. I don't think it's as intelligent as we need it to be. I think that it's still goofs up questions a lot more than it should to truly be usable. And you know, I was thinking about this the other day. I've never once used Siri on my Mac. And that was one of the really big features for this last release of Mac OS, so, you know, I do think that maybe it's time for some new leadership there. Because Siri's a good product but, yea, it's just not—
Larry: I don't use Siri on my Mac and I don't use Windows alone on my PC, mainly because these have good keyboards and I'm always sitting. I'm not driving or walking while I'm using them. But while I'm walking or driving or you know, or even trying to type on a tiny little screen, the more I can use my voice, the happier I am and none of these are really great. Ok, Google is ok. Siri's got a long way to go. But at some point, these are going to be great.
Phil: I think—yea, I'm annoyed every time I accidently pop up Siri on my Mac because I hit the Touch Bar. I hate that. I don't use it much on my phone because I don't drive mostly anymore. But I think I would if I drove. At home, I use Alexa for everything.
Leo: Me too.
Phil: And that works great. In fact, I can't--
Larry: By the way, you just said the word. Everybody that has an Echo—
Leo: We call that Echo.
Phil: That's right. I don't think the way I said it would have triggered it because it wasn't the start of the sentence. But I kind of want, I'm waiting, hopefully sometime this year, for everything in my house to be just based on Echo. TV, all of that stuff.
Leo: You may not be waiting long. Actually, I think Siri will be the topic of conversation on September 12th, because Apple will probably talk a little bit about its Home Pod, it's speaker which is Siri controlled. That will be out later this year. But I imagine Apple will talk a little bit about it.
Larry: By the way, this week Apple and—I'm sorry, Microsoft and Amazon announced their relationship.
Leo: Isn't that weird?
Larry: Which is—
Leo: Jeff Bezos said, "We are going to put Cortana in Echo."
Larry: Right. Or Echo in—they're going to work together.
Leo: Or they'll do—yea, they'll do it both ways.
Larry: Which is very smart.
Leo: And Bezos' thesis was, "We will all have many assistants." Just like you have many friends and just as I would say, if I'm going to ask Phil, if I wanted to know about glucose I'd ask Phil. And if I want to know about missing kids, I'd ask Larry. You would ask different questions to different assistants. That's not what I want, by the way.
Larry: Sometimes I say the wrong word, like I'm talking to my—
Leo: I don't want—it's too confusing. I want one assistant and it should know who to ask.
Larry: Well, but I want to have it respond to one word, whatever word that is because I have to—
Leo: I want to be able to tell you.
Larry: The other thing is, I have two Echoes.
Leo: Amanda. Alisha.
Larry: I have Echoes in—I can't get a word in edgewise with you.
Larry: Leo. Stop. That's what I tell—it works. I have an Echo in my kitchen, an Echo in my living room and there is no real wall between them.
Leo: They both respond.
Larry: So, I had—so, one of them responds to a different word. I'll say Amazon. Because everybody—and the other one responds to that other word that I won't say.
Leo: I had my Echo respond to computer for a while but I realized, I say that word a lot. So, it was triggering all the time.
Larry: Can you do that? I thought you only had the choices of the two.
Leo: No, Amazon, Computer, Echo and the A-word.
Larry: The A-word.
Leo: So, I want to take a break because I want to—actually, we kind of—there's a really big story out there about Google. Kashmir Hill wrote a scathing article and I want to know, get what your guys' take on this because this is quite an accusation that Kashmir Hill made. And it's on the heels of another accusation about Google, quashing ideas and stories it doesn't like.
Leo: But before we do that, let's talk a little bit about Stamps.com. You've got to start using your time more effectively. If you're going to the post office, if you're finding parking and getting in line to do simple things like buy stamps or charge up a postage meter or drop off packages, stop it. If you're doing mail, you need Stamps.com. It brings all the services of the U.S. Postal Service to your desk. And you'll never need to go to the post office again. You can buy and print U.S. postage for any letter, any package, any class of mail. You don't need a meter at all. Your computer and your printer, that's all you need. It will print right on envelopes. It will print your logo and your return address. It will automatically get the recipient's address from the website. If you're an eBay or Etsy or Amazon seller, you're going to love this. Plus, it just makes your mail look more professional and it saves you money because you never have to guess on the postage. We're going to get you a USB scale. Stamps.com will use that. It will recommend a way to say, it will say, "Is this media mail? You can save money." It will fill out all the forms if you have customs forms or express mail forms, it does that all. And it's easy. You can create your Stamps.com account in minutes. There's no equipment to lease. There's no long-term commitment. You get the scale. We're going to actually arrange for you to get more than that. We're going to get you $55-dollars in postage credits. Go to Stamps.com. Click the microphone in the upper right hand corner. And fill in TWiT as the offer code of this. It's $110-dollar offer. It includes a month free of Stamps.com but also that scale and supplies kit and $55-dollars in postage. If you are—yea, you actually should so this, Brianna, because you're going to be doing a lot of mailing soon.
Brianna: I have not sent a letter in years. And ever since I started running, you have to send out thank you letters to donors or if you meet with people, constituents. I'm constantly writing letters. I'm not joking. I'll do this as soon as I get off the show.
Leo: We have actually two accounts because we were fighting over the scale. Go to Stamps.com. Click the link up in the right hand corner that says podcasts or radio listeners. It's a microphone. And then use the offer code TWiT for a great deal. Stamps.com.
Larry: Does it make sense for people who don't send that many?
Larry: I send a few letters.
Leo: Well, there's a monthly subscription fee, so, you'd have to figure out. I mean, I come to work and print my stamps, right? So, then I have all the stamps. And you can print them on Avery stamp stuff that's got pre-stickied and all that.
Larry: So, it's not like the postage meters. Does it have the date on it or is it just like literally—
Leo: No. This is actually something the U.S. Government started a long time ago. It's called an indicia. And it's a QR code. And one of the reasons this is—the postal service loves this because all your mail is automatically machine sorted, right? Everything is—they've got a barcode under the address. It's all done automatically by machines so you don't have to have humans so it saves them money. And the indicia has your account information in it. So, yes. So, for instance, if you go to the Post Office, if you want—like, if I tried to mail a package that's more than a pound from a box, they'd send me—no, you can't because it could be a bomb or something. I don't know. But since 911, you have to bring it in and show your face. But not with Stamps.com because of the indicia, they know who you are.
Larry: So, they basically bill you based on—you don't pay for the postage you use?
Leo: That's a good question. I think you pay ahead. No, they don't bill you. You buy—
Larry: I mean, I had a Pitney-Bowes postage meter.
Leo: Yea, like that but without that crap.
Larry: Pitney moves at the speed of paper. That was their slogan.
Larry: For decades, right?
Leo: What a terrible slogan.
Larry: Well, it was a great slogan in the 70s.
Leo: At the speed of paper.
Larry: That was their slogan, yea.
Leo: What does that even mean?
Larry: I don't know.
Leo: That was their slogan?
Larry: It moved because everybody communicated on paper.
Leo: Made of paper.
Larry: That was their slogan. Look it up.
Leo: That's our title for the show, I think. Moving at the speed of paper! Stand back. But you have some time. You don't have to stand back right away. You have a minute or two before—all right. So, we talked I think it was last week we talked about the story. I think maybe hard to know the truth of it. The New York Times had a story about a foundation that Eric Schmitt had given a lot of money to, Google had given a lot of money to. The foundation created a report that criticized, that actually supported the EUs monopoly claims against Google. And some point, for reasons unknown, the foundation decided to sever its ties with the guy who created that report and his group. And now, this is the article. I criticized Google. It got me fired. Here's how corporate power works. Kashmir Hill, a little bit of a pylon, tells a story that frankly is even a little more scary in her Gizmodo article, Yes, Google uses Its Power to Quash Ideas it Doesn't Like. I Know Because it Happened to Me. So, this is kind of following on the heels of the New America Foundation's story. She wrote a story, she was working for Forbes. She said, "I was new at my job. I ran social media. So, because I was not only a reporter but ran social media, I got pulled into a meeting with the Google Sales People about Google Plus. This was when I was just starting out. The salespeople were trying to get Forbes to add a +1 button." You know, there's a Facebook like button and there's a +1 button, to their articles alongside the Facebook like and the Reddit share button. They said, "You have to do this. It's important to do because the Plus recommendations would be a factor in search results, a crucial source of traffic to publishers." So, she's wearing two hats. Maybe this is part of the problem. She said, "This sounded like a news story to me, that in fact Google was saying, ‘your search results will be better if you use our Plus 1 button,'"" which is a news story, right? So, she asked the Google people, "Did I hear correctly? If a publisher doesn't put a Plus 1 on a page, search results would suffer?" The salespeople in the meeting said yea. But they're salespeople. So, she did the right thing. She went to public relations. She said, "I'm, a reporter. Here's what I heard in a meeting. Did I understand correctly?" The press office confirmed it. They preferred to say, "The Plus button quote influences the ranking." But they did not deny what the salespeople told me, that if you don't feature the Plus one button, your stories will be harder to find on Google. So, she published a story. Stick Google Plus Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic Suffers." She got called on the carpet. Her boss said, "Wait a minute. That was a NDA meeting. You're not allowed to write about it."
Larry: Her boss at Forbes or her boss?
Leo: Google flipped out. This was in 2011. They didn't challenge the accuracy of the reporting, but they called and said, "You have to unpublish this story because the meeting was confidential and the information discussed there had been subject to a non-disclosure. She hadn't signed the meeting, a NDA. She hadn't been told the meeting was confidential and she, at the meeting said, "I'm a reporter." She said, "I was told," and this was the point you were asking. "I was told by my higher ups at Forbes that Google representatives called them saying that the article was problematic and had to come down. It might have consequences for Forbes." She said, "I thought it was an important story, but I didn't want to cause problems for Forbes." And I think, by the way, her boss is coming to her, is in effect putting pressure on her whether they said take it down or not. That's putting pressure. It's going to hurt us. "So, given that I've gone to the PR team and it was already out in the world, I felt it made more sense to keep the story up. But, after continued pressure from my bosses, I took the piece down." Kashmir Hill, who's very respected said, "A decision I will always regret." Forbes declined comment about this I presume currently when she contacted them. But the most disturbing part of the experience, what came next. That story disappeared from Google's search results. You couldn't find that story. If you searched for it today, you won't find it.
Larry: Well, did the story come down?
Leo: The story came down but more importantly, Google scrubbed the search results.
Larry: Well, why wouldn't they?
Leo: No, no, no, you should still have a reference to that, even if the story isn't there anymore, right?
Larry: Well, not a page that doesn't exist.
Brianna: The article goes on to say that it had been mirrored on other sites and it wasn't found there either.
Leo: And, she said it was unusual websites captured by Google's—and then so, she felt that that was evidence that they had—I don't know if it's probative or not but that was evidence that Google manipulated search results to eliminate references to a story they didn't like. To me, that's not so much the issue as Google saying, "Take that story down."
Larry: Well, and part of the question also, if she was in a meeting, it should have been clear one way or another if she was under a non-disclosure. I mean, by the way, I will disclose right now, Google supports my non-profit and I write for Forbes. So, I'm in a funny position on this one. But, and so I go into meetings all the time with Google under NDA but I have always made it very clear, "Am I under NDA?" And if I am, I am. If I'm not, I'm not.
Leo: It's always challenging. In fact, I refuse to sign NDAs or embargos of any kind because, partly because I have a leaky memory and I'm talking about it all the time. So, I prefer not to be encumbered by that. But if I want to a meeting unwittingly that there was an NDA on and then was then asked to not report it, that would be a problem.
Larry: If they didn't tell you it was an NDA, especially a sales meeting. I assume that anything in a sales meeting—
Leo: Well, that's also why I try not to go to sales meetings (laughing), right? You're right. Anything they say on a sales call is to the aim of selling something.
Phil: Breaking the NDA is not the big issue, here. You've got to unpack the issue. So, there's the issue of whether or not it's a good thing or not, or legal or not, if it's literally true that adding the +1 button, that not adding it would hurt search results. Those are the actual facts of the story, that's problematic. I'm not sure whether it is or not. Then there's this sort of general nonsense about NDAs which if you go to a meeting at almost any of these company's offices, you're signing NDAs just to get in the building. Like most of those sign-ins are NDAs.
Larry: As a journalist, that's meaningless.
Phil: It's totally meaningless. NDAs in general are bull****, but the story is, is it ok for Google, which is a private company, to say, "Hey, we're rolling out this product and using it is going to help your search results." And a second piece which is, is it ok for a reporter to write that in the negative. There's a third piece which is it ok for her to be pressured to remove it. These are all the topics. The NDA is the least interesting part of this to me.
Larry: Well, the only part that I find interesting is whether or not she—if this discrepancy, if she thought she was under NDA wasn't. But, you're right. The other issues are just as troubling.
Leo: She did get a communication. This was added to the article after the fact, from Google's Vice-President of Global Communications, Rob Shilkin, who said very clearly, "We had nothing to do with removing the article from the cache." That did not happen. And there's no evidence that that did happen. Just anecdotal reporting that it might have happened. And I thought he write a good article. He said, "From our perspective—" he wrote a note to Kashmir in which he said, "We've enjoyed working respectfully with you and are sad to hear that you've carried this since 2011," which I think is a good way to start. "From our perspective, this was a disagreement over whether a meeting was held under non-disclosure. We thought you had been told that. Had we known you hadn't been told that, we would of course have mentioned that because, like most of our client meetings to discuss new features, this is a non-disclosure. We don't want reporters to hear this. This is a client meeting."
Phil: Which makes sense.
Leo: "Your editor agreed. He told our PR rep the article's being removed because it involved reporting on a NDA meeting." He says, "As for the Google cache, it's easy for a website or owner to request the cache be cleared." It's very possible that the editor merely put in a request. It's automated, by the way on the webmaster tools. But he said, "We had nothing to do with removing it. Maybe your editor did." And so, this was actually a very conciliatory letter from Rob. I have to say, just like the previous story from the New York Times, there's no smoking gun. It's very much circumstantial that something might have happened.
Phil: So, the headline—
Brianna: I feel like she was very clear in her piece to say like, "Look, I can't definitively know this. This is what I can find from what I know." So, I think rather than get into what exactly the situation was, you know, like Leo, you run an independent media company. And I think that you'd probably have very strong feelings about there essentially being a duopoly on how news articles get spread in 2017. You have Facebook and you have Google results. And that is such a critical component of any media organization, getting these things out there. I think that's really worth thinking about. I also—you know, I know so many Google engineers. I know—the Google engineers I know are genuinely socially conscious. They are genuinely people who want to make the world better with the tools that they have. And I kind of, you know, my gut goes off a little bit with like insinuating that the work that they're doing is evil. Like Tim Cook even last week came out with a very thoughtful piece from a reporter that ran into him over breakfast. And Tim Cook was talking about how government being able to tackle fewer and fewer things from his perspective, like corporate leaders had more of a role to step up and help serve the public good.
Phil: I completely agree with that.
Brianna: I do think there are a lot of people at Google that genuinely think like that and want to do the right thing. But I do think it's very concerning when you essentially have two media companies having duopolies on how the news is spread. And for me, I think if I had to write companies down to good guys and bad guys, I think overall, Google would be probably my good guy category. I think they do a lot of really important work. But I do think this is something we should really think carefully about this as a society.
Larry: The power issue is concerning to me. As I mentioned before, Google is a supporter of my non-profit and I will tell you, they've been good. And I don't agree with them on everything. I criticize them publicly. I do worry about the amount of power that Google has. I worry about the amount of information they have, not so much that they're going to do evil with it right now, but the fact that this information is being warehoused, I worry about a future leader of our country, you know, our government whether it's ours or someone else's getting into that data whether legally or illegally and abusing it. But at the same time, Google has been very good about funding my non-profit and not getting all upset every time I say something critical. And the same thing with Facebook.
Leo: And it's really hard because like you—
Larry: And you take ads from some of these companies.
Leo: Well, we try not to take ads from a couple of them. Microsoft, Apple and Google.
Larry: You think you cover them too much or what?
Leo: Yea, it would be difficult. But at the same time we also have to—we take ads from a lot of companies we cover and we have to assert that there is a wall editorial on advertising. There has to be.
Larry: Have you ever gotten pressured?
Leo: No. Never. Let me think. No, I don't think so. People have complained. People have been mad at me but I don't care about that.
Phil: I think unambiguously, the world is better because Google exists in it.
Phil: It doesn't mean it's a perfect company. It doesn't mean that there's not examples of people in Google or even the company itself acting poorly, but to me, it's not even close to a difficult decision. Of course, the world is much better right now because Google is in it and because Apple is in it and because Facebook is in it, for all the flaws of the companies.
Leo: But wouldn't the world be a better place if Google just stuck to search and didn't have a content arm with YouTube and didn't have a shopping arm and didn't—in other words, I would love Google. I've always thought this, look. I agree. I have friends at Google. I am very impressed by Google ethics. I think they do believe don't be evil. But I think Google would be, we would be better off if Google didn't have its fingers in so many pies, if they were just a search engine and did everything they could to be the best search engine possible. We would still get the benefit, all that benefit that you're talking about, without these concerns.
Phil: What about Android?
Larry: Android is good and YouTube—
Leo: Android should be separate.
Larry: YouTube is awesome and I'm glad. I think the world is better off because we have YouTube.
Leo: But I don't think it should be owned by Google.
Larry: And second of all, that money that they make with search is helping to fund Waymo which is their automatic car, their driverless car company which is going to save lives.
Leo: Well, first of all, I don't get a vote in what Google owns and doesn't own. I am pointing out that some of the problems we run into with Google come from the fact that it does have so many fingers in so many pies. And as a result, the power, the awesome power of its search engine, there's a huge risk here it could be misused because of these other businesses. So, that's—and look. They're going to do what they're going to do which is maximize profit. That's what all American corporations do. And that means owning YouTube and starting Waymo.
Larry: I think the Android – my good friend Walt Mossberg, who many of you know. He used to right for the Wall Street Journal, is always making fun of me for using an Android phone because he basically thinks I'm giving away my privacy and somehow thinks because he owns an iPhone, he's not. And there may be some truth to that. Apple and Google have a different business model, but that does give me some cause of concern, the amount of information that one company has simply because I walk around with this thing. So, that's another reason why we need to be scared.
Leo: It's no accident that these two articles appeared this week. I think people are more and more aware of the fact that Google, because it has tendrils in everything we do and partly because it's so vastly useful, knows a whole lot about us, has a massive database and we're starting to understand what big data can mean.
Phil: The two articles did appear. And everyone's talking about them.
Leo: I know. That's good.
Phil: Right and this is the check. It's just not—
Leo: There needs to be a check I think.
Phil: Of the top 20 problems or dangers in the world, Google potentially suppressing search results which they probably didn't do, about—
Leo: No, but it's a symptom and I agree. I agree with you. It's not a massive moral risk. However, there is a massive moral risk because of this database, because of what Google knows. At some point that it could be really misused. This is the least of it, pressuring journalists not to run articles is the least of it. But the point is, the articles, especially this foundation study, are really about this monopoly and I think that there's probably some evidence, whether conscious or unconscious, Google would like to suppress the conversation about are you too powerful, right? I mean that's what's happening in the EU and it's got to be scary for them. Facebook has the same issue. Frankly, Amazon is going to have this issue any day now if it isn't already. It's got its fingers in every economic transaction we make practically.
Phil: The new monopoly is definitely data. So, access to data, access to API--
Leo: Right. Precisely.
Phil: The way to cure it is to democratize access. It's completely already lost game to try to limit, to try to limit the data. Like you're never going to be able to keep things secret. You're never going to be able to prevent everyone from finding out about stuff. The only thing you can do is to make sure that no company has a monopoly on it, that the data is as freely available as possible.
Leo: Does Google not have an effective monopoly?
Phil: No. I don't think so.
Brianna: Oh, I do. I do.
Phil: I think they definitely have some advantages. But I think that there are tons of startups, there are tons of companies that can do meaningful things, that could create good products, that could put pressure on Google and Facebook and all the other companies that have a lot of data to make that accessible. I think the next generation is anti-monopoly legislation. You know, when you get to Congress, like the next version of anti-monopoly, anti-trust legislation should have nothing to do with the ownership of companies. Companies in general are increasingly archaic. It has to do with access to data. So, we'll see anti-trust laws that guarantee data access. And we should.
Brianna: I would agree with that, but you know, Phil, you're talking about like a check on the power here. For me, you know, I'm on the show today and you're talking about Sonic as an ISP provider. And, Leo, hand to God, I'm sitting here going, "Can I talk about Verizon and how much money they give to members of Congress to basically buy certain policies on these committees?" So, if you want to talk about a check and a balance, it is factual. If you look at the 15 people on the House subcommittee, effectively sets technology policy in the United States. The big telecom companies give them a lot of money and that is just a mathematical fact. I think that weakens that check. So, I agree with you and I think that if Google—you know, we made a decision with AT&T when I was a teenager to allow other people access to that infrastructure. They paid for it. I think that—overall I think that was a good move. I can see doing something like that with Google to democratize this information. But my concern is right now you have some very powerful technology companies that have basically bought the legislation that they want. And I don't believe our current representation in Congress is able to provide a competent check on these business practices.
Leo: It's not just Google. I mean that's the problem in a nutshell.
Phil: That nutshell is because our government is so useless. Not because our companies are doing anything wrong. That's because Congress hasn't done a single useful thing in the past decade or two.
Leo: Well, I would disagree with that. But, I do think there are some serious concern that the power of money in Congress is corrupting.
Phil: And everything else. Just the general incompetence and low quality of the vast majority of the people in Congress.
Leo: Let's face it. All government has ever been, going back to 1776, is to preserve the interests of the elite and the landowners. I mean that's all it's ever been. Congress, government never represents the poorest people of the country. They try to and I think there's some altruists and I know Brianna will be one of them in Congress, that will think about that a little bit. But ultimately, regardless of the influence of money in politics, that's what government is about, is preserving—
Larry: It's almost unique in the amount of money politicians have to spend to get elected.
Leo: Oh, it's outrageous.
Larry: It's absolutely insane.
Leo: It's outrageous.
Larry: And also how long the campaigns go on.
Leo: I honestly think nothing would ever happen until we have a campaign finance report. Period
Larry: And even the fact—
Leo: Larry Lessig, that's when he ran. I was his campaign platform.
Brianna: If you have my job, yea. If you have my job then you're actually going out there raising money, it is so much worse than you can know until you've actually done this.
Leo: And ultimately, if somebody comes to you from a telecom and says, "Here's a $10,000-dollar check," look, I spend most of my time fending off public relations people, fending off companies that want to send us products, people—I mean, my job is to try to maintain as much as possible, objectivity about the companies I cover. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be a member of Congress and have this huge burden of campaign financing. And then—
Phil: No one's forcing you to do it, right? Like it's a crappy job with a bunch of low quality people.
Larry: I don't agree with you.
Leo: Are you telling Brianna that she's nuts to run for Congress?
Phil: I think you're taking a big step down going from podcaster and engineer to a member of Congress, yea.
Larry: I disagree. I disagree.
Leo: I'm glad there's somebody who wants to make a difference.
Brianna: Teachers have a calling. I think public service is a calling.
Brianna: I genuinely do. And you know, the way we got to this point, we're a do-nothing Congress, is because the worst people are the ones out there engaging in the system. So, I think you're right and it's something I ask myself every single day doing this is how the frack I can do this job and keep my integrity, and keep like the core of who I am. Because it's—I tell you, until you do this, until you spend an entire day on the phone fund raising, until you have like powerful business interest calling you, it's—
Phil: So, don't. Don't spend an entire day on the phone fund raising. Don't buy in to the nonsense.
Leo: Then you'll never get elected.
Brianna: You have to.
Phil: Says who?
Brianna: You have to raise money because you have to have a staff and it's very expensive to have a staff. But you're right. I'm not going to be able to raise as much money as my opponent.
Phil: Yea, I kind of think that there's really very little evidence that the amount of money that you raise is directly correlated to the success. I think there's—
Leo: I've seen a lot of very expensive elections lost.
Phil: I think this is just like—I don't know exactly why you need that much money, what you would spend it on. I think having a good message, using the current platform so that everyone here's it.
Leo: Yea, maybe there's an opportunity now thanks to the internet.
Phil: Thanks to these companies.
Leo: You can get the message directly to users. Voters I should say.
Phil: That's why I keep saying, the world is better off than it's ever been, largely because of these companies. The last thing I want to do is tie their level of innovation prudent to the world to the lowest common denominator which is our government.
Leo: No, I agree 100%.
Phil: Just because current Congress can't do anything, doesn't mean that we should get companies to stop actually changing the world.
Larry: I grew up in a time where politicians, lawyers and journalists were actually respected. And—
Leo: (Laughing) When was that?
Larry: I remember, well, my dad was a lawyer. I have tremendous respect for the profession. And by the way—
Leo: There's a lot more respect than there used to be. If I need a lawyer, I'll call your dad.
Larry: Well, he's dead.
Leo: That's about the kind of representation that I will be getting.
Larry: But, no, I mean so, I don't know if all of our members of Congress, or most of them, are low quality people or not or if they're just in a profession which is so burdened by the inability to get anything done that even the good quality ones are having a tough time.
Leo: Well, there's another story. Another larger story. It's not a tech story but gerrymandering is a huge problem in this country. I'm very curious what your experience is going to be when you do get elected. You have an experience now. Wait until you go into Congress and you're dealing with those members of Congress in gerrymander districts that are locked for them as long as they can beat the lowest common denominator in the primary. And that changes the equation 100% and I think that's one of the reasons we have such a terrible Congress is that Congress got to decide the electoral districts. They were the ones that got to—that's insane.
Phil: Well, it's the states that do that.
Leo: State legislatures and parties eventually.
Brianna: Yea, let's be honest. Both parties and both parties are guilty of this, like they keep us yelling at each other. Both parties have separated the country into their little fiefdoms and only if I'm remembering correctly, 5-10% of races are classified as competitive and given an election. That is a broken system. We are all in technology. We believe in competition. We believe in the best ideal winning. They break the game and I think you're dead on that we have to have campaign finance reform or nothing is going to substantially get better with our technology policy.
Phil: And yet, and yet, with all of this, the world's still better in most every measurable way than it's ever been and it's not because the government has done stuff. It's because of technology, because of the companies.
Larry: We also live in a funny time where the companies are more progressive than many people in government. The LGBT issue, even Walmart came out on the right side of that issue.
Leo: Well, that's why that Tim Cook interview is very interesting. I agree with you, Phil. I think it's—it's absolutely the case that the risk of overreacting to the kinds of pressures Google can offer, or the privacy invasions that Google can offer, is that we will eschew technology. We'll go backwards out of, Jeff Jarvis calls it techno-panic.
Phil: Yea, to a worse place.
Leo: To a worse place. I agree with you. This is a balance. We do want some controls on this stuff, but we don't want to do it to the point where people say, "Oh, don't use Android because it's not safe." My reaction is well, I don't want to step backwards in technology just because of some imagined harm that could be occurring. And I think that that's really always a risk as well, is people will over react and hold us back.
Phil: There's a general well-understood cognitive bias which is that you sound smarter when you're negative. You sound smarter when you criticize something. You sound smarter when you raise your arm. It's hard to actually be in favor of something, to be positive and sound as smart as someone who's criticizing.
Larry: And Donald Trump must be the smartest man in the world.
Leo: (Laughing). Actually, I think Dvorak figured that rule out very early. His strategy was whatever it is, I don't like it. I'm against it.
Phil: I think that's right.
Leo: You generally win with that, by the way, in technology because most stuff is going to be crap.
Phil: This is the biggest source for ultimately poor decisions is just the negativity bias.
Leo: I agree.
Phil: Because it's actually harder to be rigorously optimistic than to be finding small examples, taking them out of context or blowing things out of proportion and being negative about it. It feels good to sit around and whine about things.
Larry: I do think that part of Donald Trump's success during the campaign was the fact that he complained and belittled so many things that were happening, some of which probably needed belittling but a lot of it didn't need belittling. Somebody in the chatroom just asked, "What happened to the vast election fraud?" I mean, he belittled the entire electoral system. And yet, was able to game it.
Phil: There's an experience that I think almost all smart people have. I'm sure pretty much everyone here has had this at some point. You guys probably remember when you first had it. There's an experience that like, I think I remember I probably had it in college, where I call it the "There are no Adults Realization." At some point you realize, oh yea. You go from thinking, "Well, I'm just a kid and there's all these other magical beings called adults and they know what they're doing. They're kind of taking care of things." But then at some point you kind of say, "Wow. No one knows what they're doing. It's just people like us. There are no adults." That's what the world is going through right now.
Leo: I wish I could remember it word for word in which he basically said, at one point he realized that the world, everything in the world was made up by somebody not any smarter than he was. So, he could—there was nothing holding him back from doing whatever he wanted to do.
Phil: This is like a healthy realization. This is happening at a national level. It's just happening all over the world. The best thing to come out of the Trump presidency is going to be this realization that there are no adults. Obama is not around to magically do stuff for you. You have to do it yourself. That means for companies, for voters, for individuals, for politicians, regardless of what your political affiliation is, like this is the no-adults realization that the entire world is going through. And it's a little bit unsettling but I think ultimately it's a really positive thing.
Leo: Yea. We're looking for a daddy. And there is no daddy out there.
Larry: I'm just looking for somebody who doesn't lie to me. That's all.
Leo: Well, that's a good start.
Larry: Would you promise—
Leo: Can you name one politician that hasn't lied to you?
Larry: I don't know.
Leo: George Washington, right? Brianna Wu won't lie to you.
Larry: I mean, that is horrible.
Brianna: I don't think I ever lied to you, Larry.
Larry: But I'm not in your constituency. No, I'm serious. The idea that you can't trust what comes out of a political leader's mouth is just horrendous to me. And it's both parties. I'm not blaming it on one particular individual party.
Leo: I believe everything Kim Jong-un says. I believe it all. Everything he says is true.
Brianna: The thing is though, because it's so hard sometimes to have an adult conversation when you're running for Congress. I'll give you an example. Today, a story came out with Harvey, that Texas has $20-milion dollars in the bank and they are passing on funding any of their own reconstruction, which means states like Massachusetts and California and New York are going to pay to rebuild a state that is pretty well off. I feel like that is a little bit hypocritical. And I was trying to talk about that on Twitter and you just get chewed out if you try to have a nuanced, adult conversation. And you know, it's incredibly challenging because you want to be genuine to yourself and to your constituents but I feel like it's hard in this climate, that it's harder than it's ever been to have an honest discussion about problems. Because like as someone running for office, I can't have as honest discussion with the public sometimes as I can with say, my engineering team about memory constraints—
Leo: That's true. Engineers—for engineers, there's true and false. There's fact or fiction and if you're an engineer, you have to deal in truths, otherwise the bridge will fall down. There's just no middle ground. And yet, people, I think we can't really blame politicians for lying to us because we beg them to lie to us. We want them to lie to us. And if you're a politician, and I'll be very interested, Brianna, in what ends up happening, there is intense pressure I'm sure to misrepresent. Or at least to oversimply the challenges.
Brianna: Oversimplify, hugely. Hugely. Yes, absolutely.
Leo: We're going to take a break. You're watching This Week in Tech with a great panel, a very philosophical panel. I like it. Larry Magid from CBS News Radio and ConnectSafely.org. Phil Libin, founder of Evernote. He's now running an AI incubator. But, no. What's the word you used?
Leo: Studio. I like it. All Turtles. Should people who have an AI idea come to you and say, "I want to." What would you over them?
Phil: I really don't need more people right now.
Leo: Go away. You'd say, "Talk to Google." All-Turtles.com to find out what it's all about.
Larry: And by the way, when you google All Turtles, you, in addition to getting a link to his site, you see a bunch of pretty turtles on the top of the screen.
Phil: There's a lot of good. There's like a turtle sanctuary that someone runs.
Larry: Yea, great. I had no idea.
Leo: Are turtles the best animal ever?
Larry: Maybe. They're protectionists though.
Leo: Are you a turtle lover? Is that where—I know it comes from Turtles All the Way Down. I know that. But who doesn't love turtles?
Phil: I do like turtles.
Leo: There's something about them. They know when to pull their head in. Also with us, Brianna Wu. She is Spacekat Gal. She founded Giant Spacekat Game Studio and is running, as you probably gathered, running for Congress, BriannaWu2018.com
Phil: Somebody pointed out that pandas are the best animal. I think they're right.
Leo: Pandas are pretty good.
Phil: Pandas are the best, yea.
Leo: Can't knock the panda.
Phil: Yea, also hedgehogs.
Leo: They've got bad breath, though, because all the do is eat eucalyptus all day. It's very stinky. Actually, no. Is that the koala? Maybe that's the koala. Pandas eat bamboo. Bamboo. Have you ever held a koala?
Leo: Man, they're potent (laughing). I'm not kidding you. They're very aromatic maybe would be the right word for them. We had a great week this week on TWiT. We've created a special, enjoyable minute long video to celebrate it. Watch.
Narrator: Previously on TWiT.
Leo: Normally we'd be with Steve Gibson, but somebody else is sitting in for Steve.
Steve Gibson: I did not change my voice at all.
Leo: There's something a little different. We're going to call you Baby Face from now on.
Narrator: Tech News Today
Megan Morrone: So, Mikah, you recently wrote about your favorite Amazon Echo skills, or the best Amazon Echo skills.
Mikah Sargent: The Tide Stain Remover skill, I can ask how to get rid of that stain.
Megan: Alexa, open Tide.
Alexa: What type of stain would you like to remove?
Alexa: Oh, no. A blood stain. Let's clean that up!
Megan: Ok, so, do you think now I've been put on this list, like, "She's removing blood from something?"
Narrator: This Week in Google.
Stacey Higginbotham: ASMR, the internet subculture of sounds that feel good, is going mainstream.
Leo: If I talk like this, in a very soothing way. So glad that I get to work with you two this week in low Irish talking.
Narrator: TWiT. The happiest place on earth.
Jeff Jarvis: You know, I have an idea. Let's counter this with the shouting show. Let's shout everything we say.
Leo: There's a few shows based on that I think actually.
Leo: Our show today brought to you by WordPress.com. I've been a WordPress fanatic for years. I set up my first WordPress site on my own server, mind you, in the 2000s and ran it for a long time. I found that it was a lot of work to keep my WordPress site running. That's when I went to WordPress.com. Let them do the hosting. Let them do the updates. And man, I loved it. WordPress.com runs the same software. It's the same guys who gave you WordPress which runs 28% of all the websites in the world. In fact, WordPress, the WordPress.com VIP Program has some of the best publications in the World. Quartz is built on WordPress. It's really amazing what you can do with WordPress. And if you're a business and you don't have a website, do you really want Yelp to be the first thing people find when they Google your company's name? I don't think so. I think that's a bad idea. That's why you ought to make your own website. And I know why you didn't. It's because you don't want to be a webmaster. You don't want to get into all that. But this is easy. All you do, is you go to WordPress.com. Pick a template. Hundreds of designs to choose from, and start typing. You'll get built-in search engine optimization. You'll get social sharing. The WordPress.com community is vast. You'll get a lot of favorites and likes from there and a lot of publicity. Plus, of course, expert, friendly support available 7 days a week. They are the best. See why 28% of all the websites in the world run on WordPress, the web's most popular and most powerful site building platform. Go visit my site, LeoLaporte.com. I'm not a WordPress master or anything but I love that I just—
Larry: 100% of my sites run on WordPress. All of my sites are on WordPress.
Leo: It's so easy. And the thing is, it's been around for so long, it's such a standard. The desktop tools that are available, the support, the programmers and the coders and the designers that can work with WordPress, it's just a wonderful group of people. WordPress.com. Actually, we've got a deal for you. If you go to WordPress.com/TWiT you can get 15% off your brand-new website. That's a very good deal. 15% off. All you have to do is go to WordPress.com/TWiT. We are really happy to have WordPress as a sponsor. WordPress.com/TWiT.
Leo: Oh, there's so many stories today and you guys are so great, I feel like I should only give the heavy-duty challenging stories to you. So, let's talk about Uber's new CEO, shall we?
Leo: (Laughing) This was something—we were actually last week, if you watched TWiT, we knew the board was meeting. We knew the candidates were Jeff Immelt, former CEO of GE. Meg Whitman, former—actually, current CEO, right, of HP. Former CEO of eBay.
Larry: HP Enterprise I think.
Leo: HP Enterprise. And a third, according to Kara Swisher from an unnamed source. Well, guess who won. The third unnamed CEO who turns out to be, I think by all accounts, exactly the right person for the job. His name is Dara Khosrowshahi. He was at Expedia. And if you read Ben Thompsons really excellent analysis on Stratechery, what he did at Expedia, which is essentially turn the company around from the ground up. Not just slapping a coat of paint on it, but really redesigning its business model. Do you have any experience of Dara? Do you know Dara, Phil?
Phil: I do know Dara, yea. Not super well, but I have met him a few times.
Leo: What do you think?
Phil: I think he's great. I think he's a really good candidate. I'm hopeful that—I think Uber is one of the most important companies in the world and I'm hoping that this means that things turn around for them. I also know Travis, so in all fairness, yea. I know both of them.
Leo: Yea, and of course there's a lawsuit still going on and there's all—I mean it's still kind of a mess. Some people were blaming the board at Uber. Now, you've dealt with the board. Tell us first of all, a little bit about the responsibility of the board of directors for a company, not a public company, but a soon to be public company like Uber and certainly a unicorn like Uber. What is their job?
Phil: Their responsibility doesn't really change that much from private or public. It's to oversee the governance of the company and to make sure that—
Leo: You boss the boss.
Phil: You decide who the boss should be. I think that ultimately the only real job of the board is to figure out who's running the company. Everything else is sort of—
Leo: You advise the CEO?
Phil: That's sort of a secondary thing. So, I think the first thing is you decide who the CEO should be and then it's a secondary thing. You advise to the extent that's necessary.
Leo: But, you don't control—one of the things Khosrowshahi did apparently in his deck that he presented the board with, was said, "Don't call me. I'll call you." The sense I got was, "Don't tell me what to do. If I need your advice I'll ask."
Phil: Yea, I think that's good. I think that's good general CEO advice. You should keep your board busy. You should give them work to do. If you don't keep your board busy, they will try to figure out how to be helpful.
Leo: It's a tough floor because you've got some big institutional investors like—
Leo: Benchmark. You've got some kind of activist investors, right, who are kind of—Benchmark said, "Travis has got to go," for one thing, right?
Phil: Yea, I mean, I don't want to get in the middle of any of that. I know most of the people involved and you know, they're for the most part, all good people. It's a super complicated company. One thing you should point out, is the Uber situation right now is probably the most Game of Thrones like dynamic that there is.
Leo: There you go.
Phil: This is not what normal boards are like.
Leo: It's not typical.
Phil: No, not at all. But like Uber is a fundamentally important company.
Leo: So, you said a couple of things. So, why is Uber a fundamentally important company? It's just s ride-sharing company. It's a replacement for taxis. What makes it so important?
Phil: I think it ushered in to a large extent the gig economy which is probably the most important most economic force for the next couple of decades. I think it's more influential to change with the idea of car ownership to be than even Tesla. Basically, I think like the two most important companies in the world right now are Amazon and Uber in terms of their influence on the lives of billions of people.
Leo: Why now?
Phil: For good or for bad. And I think more on balance, good. But I'm an optimist.
Leo: So, all right. If it's that important and it's that's challenging, if it's a Game of Thrones board, what should Dara, what does Dara need to do as he moves into leadership there?
Phil: Just, you know, run the business. I'm not going to give Dara advice.
Leo: Focus on the business?
Phil: Yea, focus on the business. Focus—make sure that the ethics are real.
Leo: Should he replace the board? Is he going to bring in a new board?
Phil: Well, that's not usually up to the CEO. That's up to the shareholders and the board.
Leo: Right, but he could go to the shareholders and say—
Phil: He could. I think he should probably get that figured out before he accepts, just to ensure minimal—Uber needs to minimize drama for the next couple of years if at all possible.
Leo: Yea. Supposedly that was one—
Brianna: I have to give you a little bit of pushback on that. Like what Susan Fowler wrote about wasn't drama. And she really brought some extremely concerning allegations forward about that culture.
Brianna: And I just don't want us to roller skate past that. She is—women in tech have groups were women in tech talk honestly about what companies to go to and what companies to avoid. And from everything I personally have heard, Uber is a fundamentally—I'm trying to think of the right word. A fundamentally damaged place for women to go work. And I just, I feel like I need to say that. But you know, the gender issue aside, and the employment issue aside, to me, I think that Uber's longest-term challenge is the fact that riders only pay for a fraction of what a ride share actually costs. And the rest of it is venture capital. I'm very much for this model. I think it's much more convenient for consumers but I don't see how it's sustainable ten years from now. I don't know how you'd recoup these costs enough even if you go to an automatic, AI model for driving.
Phil: And I don't want to—when I say that I think that Uber's one of the most important companies in the world, I don't at all mean that it's a very good company. That's a different thing to say and there's been tremendous problems at Uber that I think are very serious. I know a lot of people there on every level and it is both a great place and in many ways a terrible place. And it's done terrible things.
Leo: It's not merely the sexism, it's also the God mode. Some of the illegalities. They're now being accused of bribing officials in other countries, violation of US law. I mean there's a lot of problems.
Phil: There's a lot of problems. It's a difficult culture. Dara really needs to as much as possible shine as much sunlight as possible onto it. Get it all into the open.
Leo: But that's what you mean by get rid of the drama which is—
Phil: Yea, I'm not trying to paper over it at all. There are fundamental issues that need to be tackled. But I think it's worth tackling. The question is, is Uber worth saving and I think it absolutely is. But it's a difficult job to do it.
Leo: So, if we just look at the—I mean if we backseat all those other issues which are not insignificant and enough to bring a better company to its knees, there is, it strikes me, a fundamental financial challenge which is Uber lost $3-billion dollars last year. It's on track to lose the same amount this year. That's a lot of money to lose. They, in order to become profitable, need to somehow make more money on the rides. One thought, and you mentioned it, of course, Brianna, is replace the drivers with automated vehicles. But that seems to me a long way off. How much runway does a company like Uber have and can it go back to its investors who have now valued it at $70-billion dollars and say, "Hey, we'd like to be worth a little more?" Can they get more money out of these guys?
Phil: Well, you don't have to be worth more to get more money.
Leo: Ok, but they need to get more money, right?
Phil: They need to get more money, yea.
Leo: They don't have enough—I don't know what their runway is, but it can't be more than a few years. We're more than a few years off from self-driving, you know, for driverless vehicles.
Phil: I don't think they're looking for necessarily for self-driving to be the only way to become self-sustainable.
Leo: What else can they do?
Phil: Hey, look. When Uber was getting started, I remember—I remember the early investor meetings. And I remember people, investors saying, "Well, yea. Ok, let's say they become the world's largest taxi company and they own 10% of the taxi market. What would it be worth?"
Leo: Not $70-billion most likely.
Phil: But I also remember Travis saying, "We're not going to own 10% of the taxi market. We're going to own 10,000% of the taxi market."
Leo: Ah, interesting. We're going to replace car ownership with—and we were just talking about that. It's cheaper to go by Uber than to have a car. On the other hand, that's because Uber subsidizes 59% of the ride.
Phil: So, the question is, how long are investors willing to subsidize it and that's based entirely on how good is their story for long-term fundamental profitability. And I don't know. I haven't seen the decks in years.
Larry: Well, the other question is, how much are consumers willing to pay to ride Uber. So, I take Uber to places where I would never have taken a taxi. It's like $125 bucks to take a taxi to my house to SFO. I wouldn't do it. I can take an Uber for $30-$40 bucks.
Phil: I would not be living in San Francisco if it wasn't for Uber.
Larry: But, what if you got charged—
Leo: Yea, you can say think you, Uber, for giving all of us a $3-billion-dollar subsidy.
Larry: Right, that's the problem.
Leo: That's not a business. Yea, we love them.
Larry: What if my trip to the airport became $75-dollars and now I'm going to be taking the Super Shuttle instead or have a friend drive me.
Phil: It's not a business. It is a business. It's infrastructure. It's in the same way that airports don't get paid often in the first two or three years and neither do highways and neither do high-speed rails and neither will Hyperloop One and neither will Space X. Uber and Lyft and others are making fundamental infrastructure and they payback period on those is long.
Larry: Wait, infrastructure as opposed to paying the drivers? I mean airports are huge, right, there's a lot of concrete that goes into airports and they're planned.
Phil: Yea, on-demand cars as a service is fundamental infrastructure.
Larry: But right now, under the current model, with drivers, Uber doesn't own the cars. The drivers own the cars.
Phil: The concept of ownership I think is also like companies increasing their—
Leo: So, what's the path of profit? It's a vastly increased market basically.
Phil: It's a big market.
Leo: You're going to make it up in volume.
Larry: Lose enough money on every sale and make it up in volume?
Phil: It's charging people slightly more than it costs to sell your product. The question is when.
Leo: Well, that's a lot more.
Larry: That's the question. And will people pay slightly more than it costs to sell the product?
Phil: And I'm not saying that Uber stock is a good buy at this point. I'm not saying that it's not. But I honestly don't know.
Leo: It has, according to The New York Times, $6.6-billion dollars in cash at the run-rate right now, that's a couple of years. Maybe 3 years. That's the runway. That's a pretty quick turn-around unless they get more cash and already, many investors are saying it's not worth what they're paying for it.
Larry: And how's Lyft doing? Does anybody have the data on Lyft?
Leo: Well, Lyft seems to be fumbling a massively great opportunity. I don't know why Lyft isn't jumping on this one all over the place, but, go ahead. I'm sorry, Brianna. I cut you off.
Brianna: No, no, no. I was just going to say I had a meeting today. You know, Boston has some of the worst public transportation systems in the United States. The T is a laughing stock.
Phil: And in San Francisco.
Brianna: And San Francisco which is doing the same thing that I'm about to say which is working with partners like Uber and Lyft to subsidize the fact that we can't build our own infrastructure there. So, maybe long-term, like the Department of Transportation pays X number of dollars to keep Amtrak running and the T running. Maybe the answer there is there's a public component going to these private companies. I think that's easily arguable. But you know, the fact is—I travel all over this country because I speak a lot. And what I hear, like if you want to know what an area is going through, you talk to the Uber drivers out there because they're the ones trying to make a living doing it. And what I hear from people is they're already not really making enough to make that job worth it. And I suspect that as they're trying to recoup these losses, it is going to come at the expense of their workforce. And that really concerns me.
Leo: But you would say, it sounds like, Phil, that it would be good for us if we could manage to make Uber survive. Uber's going to bring us something of real value if it can manage to survive.
Phil: I absolutely believe that. I think that—
Leo: We should be concerned about an Uber that's financially troubled.
Phil: Well, I don't have insight into the current economics or into the current business plan. I think there's some very smart people at Uber. I hope they can make it a sustainable business in the next few years. And I think they're taking a long-time frame to do it.
Leo: Brianna, I'm going to presume that you do not use Uber.
Brianna: Yea, I actually do because it's the best product.
Leo: You do. So, the Delete Uber Movement, I briefly deleted it (laughing). But like you, you know, you have more reason not to use it than I do, like you, it's like but yea, but this is the best solution.
Phil: I'd rather fix it than delete it.
Brianna: Yea, I would rather fix it and honestly I don't think that punishing the people that drive for that service is really helping anyone. So, I guess I get so much heat though, yea. It's a great service but everything I do—
Larry: Like Obamacare. We don't want to repeal it. We want to fix it.
Leo: All right, let's fix it like Obamacare. My mom recently—I've been trying to get my mom to use Uber. I set it up for her. She's 84. She doesn't drive.
Larry: It's hard for—how does she do it?
Leo: I set up the app and I put my credit card in it. I said, "It won't cost you anything." You know, she lives on the East Coast.
Larry: Does she have a smartphone?
Leo: She does. I gave her an iPhone. And she said, "I'm not going to use it. They're rapists." Which I think is a very common misconception about Uber is that it's dangerous. I said, "Mom, you take a cab. How is more dangerous than that?" She said, "Well, I hear things." And so, I finally convinced her. She loved it. And she took it to the doctor and she loved it. And I'm saying, "Just keep—it's safe. It's ok. Keep using it." She said, "They came in five minutes. He was very nice. He drove me right there."
Phil: When I have to take cabs now, when I'm travelling to places usually in the US where—there's some places where you still need to take cabs. Uber doesn't quite work. It's a shockingly worse experience, right? I almost forgot how much better of an experience Uber is.
Larry: I hate having to reach into my wallet at the end of a trip and deal with money. I mean I'm happy to pay through the app. But I hate the process of having to pay for it.
Leo: Well, to be fair, many cabs now will let you pay electronically.
Larry: If you have the right—the problem is—
Leo: You have to have their app.
Larry: When I got to Guadalajara, I wouldn't have had an app for whatever the cab company is there but I had an Uber app.
Leo: That's another, by the way, smart move on Uber's part. As they become global, they become the choice for people who are traveling because you know them. You trust them. You already have the app.
Larry: You don't even need to speak the language. Even if you can't speak to the driver, the fact that the driver knows where you're going through the app.
Leo: All right. I'm going to agree with you. Dara Khosrowshahi—how do you say his name?
Phil: I don't know.
Leo: Ok. Dara Khosrowshahi, I think that's my best guess. Dara, save Uber. We need Uber. The world is a better place.
Phil: He's going to have the iconic fist name. There's not that many other CEOs with the name Dara.
Leo: Dara will be Dara.
Phil: That's Dara.
Leo: He's like Elvis. We can call him Dara. I actually took pride in spending many hours practicing his name just so I'd get it right. Dara.
Larry: I got Bezos wrong. Took me a while to get that one right.
Leo: Ok, one more break. We're almost done. Great panel. Really fun today. Larry Magid. He's from CBS News Radio.
Larry: CBS News Radio.
Leo: News Radio.
Leo: ConnectSafely.org @larrymagid on Twitter. Phil Libin. You know him from Evernote, one of the great companies of all ties. He's now CEO of All Turtles at all-turtles.com. Do you have a Twitter handle? Do you use the Twitter?
Phil: I do. I'm @plibin.
Leo: Make sure you use that. And do you speak Russian anymore? Did you forget all your Russian?
Phil: I do speak Russian.
Leo: Do you have occasion to speak it or is it just in your head?
Phil: I speak Russian mostly to my parents.
Leo: Ok. Are they still in Russia or are they in the US?
Phil: No, they're in New York for the past 30 something years.
Leo: So, you have a child's grasp of the language.
Phil: Yea, I speak Russian. I was 8-years-old when we came to this country and so, I still speak Russian like a very polite, well-mannered 8-year-old boy.
Leo: (Laughing). Great way to speak a language. I love it. Brianna Wu's also here.
Brianna: That's how my husband speaks Chinese. The same way. It's like he's American but he barely remembers it.
Leo: Co-founder of Giant Spacekat. She's @SpaceKatGal on Twitter and don't forget, she's running for Congress in the Massachusetts state, BriannaWu2018.com.
Leo: Our show today brought to you by my mattress. And there's a new mattress. Casper time. You have a Casper? I heard an oh.
Casper: Yea, they sponsor Rocket.
Leo: Oh, we love Casper. You guys, Simone does such a good job with her funny voices and—(laughing) She is quite a character. Anyway, yes, that's right. You guys love your Caspers. The Casper team, I love it, is a bunch of engineering nerds and that's what's really cool about them. So, they took all the research. They built hundreds of prototypes, trying to find a perfect mattress. They're supposition was, and I kind of agree with this, what you want is something that gives so that your bony parts sink in but is firm so that your back doesn't hurt in the morning. It's an impossible dream, an impossible dream. A supple, pressure relieving mattress that gives you firm support. But they did it. I don't know how they did it. They did it with its breathable open cell layer it is—for a hot night like last night, man, I was so glad. It just breathes. It's cool.
Larry: You have the older one or the new one?
Leo: I have the old one but they're sending us, and I can't wait to try it. This is the new one. By the way, Fast Company's Most Innovative Brand of 2017. That means they don't sit on their laurels. They might sit on the bed, but they don't sit on their laurels. They introduced. The Casper Wave Mattress.
Phil: What are laurels?
Leo: I think it's the laurel leaves that the victors in—
Phil: Why would you sit on them?
Leo: Why would you sit on them? It would hurt because don't rest on your laurels.
Phil: Oh, right, right.
Leo: Don't rest on your laurels. You aren't literally sitting. You can rest on your Casper. In fact, it's the best rest you've ever had and the new Casper Wave Mattress, I haven't tried it. I'm getting one. It features a natural support system, a new top layer. But you get your choice. They still offer the Casper Classic I'm going to call it which is I don't know. It's pretty close to perfect. Now, one of the things you may say is, "Well, I'm not going to try this unless I—I'm not going to buy this unless I can try it." Well, you can because when you buy a Casper mattress, you have 100 nights to return it. That's 100-day trial period. So, if at any time in the first 100 nights you say, "Yea, it's nice but I don't like it." Call them. They will come get it. They literally come and get it, take it out of your house, give you every penny back. No risk to you. But I don't think this is going to happen. I think you're really—
Larry: What do you do with your old mattress?
Leo: Well, if you are at all unsure about your Casper, keep your old mattress in the garage or something because then you can just go back to it. I didn't. I said, "Take the old mattress."
Larry: But what do you do with your old mattress?
Leo: Goodwill comes and they take it.
Larry: They will come? Ok.
Leo: Oh, of course. Yea, you donate it. One of the things about when it comes, it does come in a very compact box. You open it up and it goes—and this is another thing. I have had other mattresses that smell for weeks. They smell like rubber for weeks. I don't know how they do it. I don't know, odor extraction technology because there's no odor at all. You sleep on it immediately and it's wonderful. If you want to know more, dive into the science behind a perfect mattress and get $50-dollars towards any mattress purchase by going to Casper.com/TWiT. Use the promo code TWiT. Terms and conditions apply. Casper.com/TWiT. Technology you can feel.
Phil: The real innovation I think, the product is great. The real innovation is mattresses as a business used to be really like predatory and slimy.
Phil: And they cleaned it up. And they were the first to see that like, wow, why does buying a mattress feel like you're constantly getting ripped off?
Leo: That's a really good point and not to mention the markup.
Larry: There was a podcast I heard about that apparently there's mattresses you can spend literally $98,000-dollars for and the test shows—
Larry: No, there are. And it turns out that there isn't a big difference.
Leo: You think you're getting a better mattress.
Phil: It was dishonest.
Leo: Well, it's an intense markup.
Phil: A lot of the time it's what Tesla did with buying cars.
Leo: Yea, eliminate the middle man.
Phil: This idea of like—I've been calling it beneficence. Like any business you run you should run beneficently which means you make every single decision based on solely what's in the best interest of the end-user or the customer. And when you look at it that way, there's so many industries that deserve to be completely destroyed.
Leo: The taxi industry was a good start, right?
Phil: The taxi industry is a good start. All the financial services.
Larry: Oh, yea.
Leo: Oh, yea.
Phil: Like all the financial services.
Leo: We've seen that happening, aren't we?
Phil: All of insurance, all of financial services.
Leo: Insurance. Insurance has yet to be disassociated.
Phil: Some are doing really well. There are a lot of companies.
Leo: Health Insurance like Oscar is doing it.
Phil: Oscar is one of our investments, a general catalyst and they're definitely there.
Leo: I like Oscar a lot.
Phil: There's some that are good. Lemonade is another one. This idea that you take industries that are fundamentally predatory because they made money—their business model was, they're going to take advantage of asymmetries of information to screw their customers and now—
Leo: What the internet is all about fundamentally is leveling the playing field for information.
Phil: This is what I'm saying about the world being fundamentally better.
Leo: Yep, I agree.
Phil: You get this information for asymmetries, you can destroy all the predatory businesses and replace them with ones that actually are beneficent.
Leo: That's interesting.
Phil: Casper just did that for mattresses which who knew that mattresses were just like weird, slimy, predatory businesses? But they were and now it's not just Casper. Now—
Leo: Oh, there's a dozen of these.
Phil: But some of them are from the big mattress brands.
Leo: Oh, that's interesting. Of course it is, right?
Phil: Everything needs to go this way. Florists need to.
Larry: Look at the low-cost failure companies. A lot of them are owned by the Verizon's and the Sprints and the AT&Ts. That's common.
Phil: There should be no business left.
Larry: How many jobs will we lose if we put all mattress stores out of business and should we care? Or will those jobs be replaced?
Phil: So, I think if you try to protect existing jobs, you wind up making all sorts of weird decisions. I think this is more of a generational issue.
Leo: You get clean coal.
Phil: Well, I think this is a generational issue and I think this is where both parties really screwed this up, this conversation up. It's really about generational range. I think the government—
Leo: This is an example of something though that if you're a politician, you do not want to say out loud to your constituency because it's a hard truth. It's true but it's a hard truth.
Larry: Hillary Clinton got in trouble for talking about this.
Leo: Is there a way to say it that doesn't sound scary?
Phil: Yes, there is. And it's not lying to the voters like Hillary did and it's not lying to the voters like Trump did. Because they knew both of them were lying to them, and given that both sides were lying to them, they preferred the lie that was less condescending which is you're going to get your jobs back. So, the 45-year-old coal workers are not going to get retrained installing solar panels which was a Democratic lie. It's not going to happen. They're also not getting their jobs back. That's not going to happen but those are the only two choices. They're just going to take the lie that feels less condescending to them. The truth is, it's really about their kids. Government has enough money to support. If you're 45 and you're a coal miner in the industry, we should just be able to support you in your current lifestyle until you would have retired. But none of your kids would be coal miners. That's the truth of it. This is a generational problem, not a problem within the lifetime of the middle-aged people currently employed. No one said that. But I think you could do that with charisma and truthfulness and get elected.
Leo: That's what I was saying. We're begging them to lie to us because we don't want to hear the truth.
Larry: As someone who's actually typically older than 45 and still works and loves working and has no intention of retiring even though I could afford to, it's not simply about losing money.
Phil: No, of course not.
Larry: It's about losing your sense of being who you are. A coal miner or a journalist, it doesn't matter.
Phil: The future of work is the future of meaning, like the hardest question right now is how do we give meaning at scale? There are some ideas about that, but that's a big one because it's not like universally basic income and all that stuff, it's solving the easy problem. That's just math. It's really, what is the future of meaning. But in terms of what you tell electors, what you tell voters, you tell them the truth. You tell them, "This is about your kids."
Leo: It would be such a bold thing for and I would love, I've always wanted to see this, a candidate just to do that and see what happens. Maybe you just die immediately. Brianna, I think you're going to do that.
Phil: You'd do great.
Leo: I think you might.
Phil: You would.
Brianna: I agree with everything you're saying. I do want to point out, you know, here on this show, Leo, you've got a Tesla. We've got two Tesla owners, somebody that doesn't even drive and somebody that's looking at buying a Porsche Cayenne. We come into this conversation—
Leo: Are we the one percenters (laughing)?
Larry: I am a Prius owner who may buy a Tesla.
Brianna: I just want to tell you, I talk to people literally every day that are out there, that are really struggling to get by. So, I agree with your points. I just want to acknowledge that it's a lot easier for us to talk about theoretically than it is to really be—like opening up a room in your house on the weekend to Airbnb so you can afford to pay your mortgage. I agree. Yea, we've got to look at universal basic income. But you're so right. Like at the base of it, humans need meaning in our lives. We want to work. And a future where more of us can be journalists, where more of us can be musicians, where more of us can make things, that's really, really exciting to me. I think you're really right that it's going to look different 20-years from now.
Phil: I think there's a sense of treating people with agency, which most politicians just haven't done and have no experience in doing. A friend of mine runs this company, his whole group, it's a series of heroin addicted and opiate addiction centers. They opened up like 50 of them. They've got this new process that makes it much more efficient and she was telling me this idea, her name is Joy Sun. She was telling me this idea a couple of years ago when she was just getting started. She's like, "Yea, I'm going to run these centers and they're meant to be sustainable. They're for profit. They're not connected to insurance and we've got this new way to treat opiate addiction which is really effective." And I said, "Who's going to pay you?" And she said, "Well, the heroin addicts are going to pay us." I was like, "Really? You're going to get money from heroin addicts? That seems like a bad idea." And she looked at me and she said, "They've got money for heroin. They've got money for heroin treatment."
Leo: Oh, interesting.
Phil: You're just assuming that these are all people that are losers that have no agency but that's not true. Some of them are, but there's many of them that actually have the motivation, they're not stupid, they have the motivation to actually change something and they've got the money to buy heroin, therefore they have the money to buy heroin treatment. And she just opened up 50 of these centers and it's like super effective. This idea that people need to be lied to because they're too, like they have no agency because of their children.
Larry: Yea, I wonder if it's more effective if they have skin in the game. If they're paying for the service instead of being free.
Phil: I think talking to the voters that have jobs and they're struggling, and just being honest with them, like I think that's literally never been tried.
Leo: I'd like to see somebody try it. I'm not convinced that you're right, that it would work because--
Phil: It would totally work.
Leo: I think a lot of—it's an interesting idea.
Larry: Let's run for office.
Leo: (Laughing) Maybe Phil should run for office.
Phil: I don't want to be President. And honestly, Congress is beneath me, so.
Leo: It's that attitude that's going to keep the good people out of government. You've got to dig in.
Phil: I'll just be more selective about which Congress people I buy.
Leo: (Laughing) Oh, Lord. I feel like there might be some truth in that. I'm not going to dig any deeper.
Phil: It's funny because it's true.
Leo: We could talk about you, Sara, but I think we should just wrap this up. Larry Magid, great to have you.
Larry: I love to be here, Leo. This was actually—I love all your TWiTs but this was one of the funniest I've ever done.
Leo: I thought so. I think sometimes you get a panel together and you get some topics that are juicy.
Larry: I want to hang out with you guys!
Leo: I know. That's really all TWiT ever was meant to be is just a hangout, a place where you'd be like the 4th person at the table, sitting here with us. Or 5th person at the table. Thank you, Larry for being here. We appreciate it. ConncetSafely.org if you want to know about protecting your kids and others online.
Larry: We're about to come out with next week, or LGBT verbal lingo which is a huge issue. So, we're finally—
Leo: How not to be bullied.
Larry: How not to be bullied and what to do if you are bullied or your kids are bullied or your students are bullied.
Leo: That's great. That will be available online?
Larry: Sometime next week, in the middle of the week. And it's all about, it's designed not just for parents and teachers, but also for LGBTs themselves, some of the strategies they can use. And obviously, I didn't write it. I brought in an expert who's himself a LGBT activist and author.
Leo: It's great that you're doing all of this, ConnectSafely.org. Fantastic.
Larry: Yea, it's great to be able to do that.
Leo: Phil Libin, it's a pleasure. Your insights and brilliance are without equal. I'm going to give you some laurels so you can sit on them tonight. Really, really a pleasure to have you. As always, Phil, we know from Evernote but he is now at All-Turtles.com, an AI studio, startup studio. And don't bother writing him. He's full up (laughing).
Phil: Thank you for inviting me back.
Leo: You're always welcome. It's great to have you.
Larry: How do you invite him if he doesn't answer his email?
Leo: Yea, well, he's got 109,000 emails in his inbox. Would you answer them with that many?
Phil: 109,000 unread.
Leo: Wow. Don't email him, that's for sure. But you can do one thing. You can vote for Brianna Wu if you're in Massachusetts 8th. When's the primaries? It's not soon, but.
Brianna: So, the guy I'm running against has really never, has so rarely had a primary challenger that the Democratic party will have to schedule it. But we assume it's—
Leo: They haven't scheduled it?
Phil: Who's the opponent?
Brianna: Oh, no. His name is Stephen Lynch, so he's kind of old-school, Massachusetts politician, so just think of that stereotype.
Leo: Good luck.
Brianna: Thank you very much.
Larry: How many months a year is your campaign? How long do you take to run for Congress?
Brianna: So, for me, when I started my gaming studio, it took me honestly about a year to figure out what I was doing. So, we announced this this year and it's just been like trying to figure out like how do you build an infrastructure? How do you hire a team? How do you go out there and make inroads with the local party? So, for me, it's just been non-stop since January.
Leo: I like this slogan. It's time for a bolder Democratic party. I agree with you on that.
Brianna: We do. We need some people that will fight.
Leo: @SpaceKatGirl on the Twitter and of course, BriannaWu2018.com. Hey, thank you all for being here. We had a great audience from all over the world, from the UK, from Mexico, from all over the world and it's so great to have you all here. If you'd like to be in our live studio audience, we welcome you. All you have to do is email email@example.com. We'll put a chair out for you. We have pretty good-sized space. We have enough room for about 20 or 30 people and I don't think we've ever run out of space but do email us just to make sure. You can also watch live online on TWiT.tv/live. We have YouTube Live, we have Twitch, we have YouStream. We also have many audio streams so you can listen live. In fact, if you have an Echo, people ask me a lot, "Can I listen on Echo?" Absolutely. If you want to listen to the audio, just say to your Echo, "Listen to TWiT Live," if you want to do the live stream. Listen to TWiT Live on Tune In. That's the key word, Tune In because it's Tune In Internet Radio that has at least that stream. But you can also say, "Listen to TWiT on Tune in," or "Listen to MacBreak Weekly on Tune In." and you'll hear the current podcast.
Phil: Are you going to do a video version for the Show?
Leo: In fact, it's already there. You can watch on the Show and that's via YouTube, so you would say if you have an Echo Show with a screen, "Watch TWiT Live on YouTube," or "Watch TWiT on YouTube," or "Watch This Week in Tech on YouTube," or "Watch MacBreak Weekly on YouTube," and it will popup. It's awesome. You can watch it. You can watch it live or you can watch the podcast. That's the point. We do this live every Sunday, 3:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 Eastern time, 2200 UTC. But many people can't be here and be able to chat at IRC.TWiT.tv, so we do make on demand versions of everything available on YouTube and wherever you get your podcasts. You can get audio or video. You can even download it from TWiT.tv, our website. My suggestion, my request in fact is if you've got a podcast, favorite podcast client, and app on your phone or whatever, Stitcher, Slacker, OverCast, PocketCast, iTunes, whatever it is you use, subscribe. Almost all of them will offer a way for you to subscribe which means you'll get every episode automatically and it helps us. It kind of smooths out the highs and lows so we can predict with some reliability how many people are going to be listening. So, if you would, subscribe. We'd appreciate it. That way you don't miss anything. Thanks for joining us and we'll see you next week! Another TWiT is in the can. Bye-bye. Happy Labor Day, everybody!