This Week in Tech 985 Transcript

Please be advised this transcript is AI-generated and may not be word for word. Time codes refer to the approximate times in the ad-supported version of the show.

00:00 - Leo Laporte (Host)
It's time for Twit this Week in Tech. We've got a great panel for you. Amanda Silberling is here from TechCrunch, louise Matsakis from all over the place. She's freelanced now and has a wonderful new newsletter called you May Also Like. And the legendary ad bot, king of Windows. He just bought a Microsoft Surface. He'll explain why he ordered the cheapest one, and you should too.

Microsoft takes out recall from its new windows co-pilot plus pcs. The us bans kaspersky antivirus and is considering a dji drone ban. Goes after adobe for hiding its termination fees and what game of thrones did to online media. That and a whole lot more coming up next on TWIT Podcasts you love, from people you trust. This is TWIT. This is TWIT this Week in Tech, episode 985, recorded Sunday, june 23rd 2024. Tiktok with wings. It's time for TWIT this Week in Tech, the show where we cover the week's tech news. And oh, I love this panel. I always say that every week, but you know what? Because we only book people I love. That's why Amanda Silberling is here from TechCrunch. She, of course, appears regularly on Tech News Weekly and writes about social and culture and all that stuff. Your timing is good. We have a lot to talk about this week, amanda, nice to see you.

01:41 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I'm excited to talk about it because I have been off work a lot this past month and so I'm still catching up on the news. So I'm thrilled to catch up on the news with you guys. Perfect, perfect.

01:53 - Leo Laporte (Host)
I love that. Ed Botts also here. Dear friend, longtime editor at was it Windows Magazine, I've always it was PC Computing. Pc Computing. That's right. Yes, he is now senior contributing editor at zdnet. I'd say still at zdnet, but no, it's a different zdnet now. It's all in caps now.

So exactly, exactly no, no more of this camel case stuff it's great to great to see you welcome and, uh, also louise mitsakis, who the last time we talked was at Semaphore. She is now freelance. Actually, I think we've had you on since you started the newsletter you may also like, which is on Beehive, and I really wanted to get you on because I saw your great piece on Platformer and I just thought you're doing great work.

02:41 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Well, thanks so much. Yeah, I'm excited to be here.

02:49 - Leo Laporte (Host)
I think the last time I was on was the day before I launched the newsletter, so I think that's technically right. Yeah, I, I do. I remember the name and I remember not misspelling beehive b-e-e-h-i-i-v. That's the. That's the main thing. Yeah, it's a tough name. We're gonna start, though, in ed's uh ballpark because, uh, microsoft, because Microsoft Recall is once again in the news. So this week, the new Copilot Plus PCs came out from Microsoft and Dell and Lenovo and HP and Asus and so forth, but they came out without Microsoft Recall, which was, at the announcement, the key feature of a Copilot Plus PC. What's the status, ed, of Recall now?

03:33 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Well, let's see, it starts with Cluster.

I can imagine the second half and goes for and yeah, you can guess the second half, no, it's. You know, microsoft does this every five years or so. They have a really good idea and they give it to a bunch of people who then proceed to completely botch the launch of it. You know they did it back in 2006 with Windows Genuine Advantage. You know the anti-piracy stuff there. They did it like 10 years ago with the telemetry stuff for Windows 10. And you know it should have been. I mean, so the recall feature is brilliant. Okay, it's a really great idea and it's something that they've been.

It's a concept they've been working on for years. They had a version of it called Timeline a few years ago. That was sort of a rudimentary version of it. But what they? They just didn't take into account.

The fact that you know you're capturing all this information in a way that is essentially indistinguishable from spyware, and the fact that you're turning it on yourself, um, doesn't change the fact that it is, you know, potentially a weak spot in the system. So, uh, you know they got a lot of criticism and uh, so they made some changes to it. So they announced a couple of weeks ago uh, and then they decided well, you know this marquee feature in the new Copilot Plus PCs. We're not actually going to roll it out with the new PCs as we planned. So it will be coming out in a few weeks with as a Windows Insider feature, and then they'll get feedback on that as a windows insider feature, and then they'll get feedback on that and and then you know they they're they say they're still committed to having it as a widely available feature for everyone who gets one of these new AI powered PCs. But it's it's going to be a much more problematic launch than they thought.

05:44 - Leo Laporte (Host)
So you say it's a marquee feature. What does it do that people are just clamoring for?

05:50 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Well, I mean, you know, think about.

So I was, I was planning a vacation right the other day and I was looking at all of these Airbnbs, right, and there was one of them that I was interested in.

I could not tell you which one it was and you know, if I went to Airbnb, maybe I could, you know, sort of scroll through all the things that I looked at and perhaps find it.

But what I could do with this? But what I could do with this, it's essentially keeping a snapshot every minute or so of your activities and so I could just say, hey, recall, find me the Airbnb that I was looking at that had the brown sofa with the, you know, with the Miro painting on the wall, and and it could, you know it should be able to do something like that it would say, oh yeah, that was Wednesday, 12 pm here. Do you want me to click that link for you and recall it? And you could say, you know, I was having a Slack chat with somebody and we were talking about, you know, a new feature that we're launching. You know, find that Slack chat for me. I mean, most of the most of the things that we're searching for, that we've done in the past are really hard to find, precisely because we don't think like a computer does.

07:21 - Leo Laporte (Host)
So it sounds like browser history on steroids and it's more, but it's more than your browser. Yeah, but it's more than your browser. Yeah.

07:27 - Ed Bott (Guest)
It's way more than your browser. It's literally everything that has crossed your screen, which is the good news and the bad news of it? Right, Right?

07:35 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, in fact, security researchers said you've just made the sweetest target for bad guys ever, because if they could get into your machine, uh, now they'd have access to everything that's on there. What did microsoft do things to prevent, for instance, you from exposing your financial information or your passwords or stuff like that? Or is it all in there so?

08:00 - Ed Bott (Guest)
there's no content filtering of any kind in there, but they accept that like things like the snipping tool or anything that's in a in private browsing session. You know porn mode, Right, Right, and any of those things are not captured and you can also go through when you set it up and you can say I don't want anything from these. If anything from any of these apps is on the screen, do not capture it.

08:31 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Of course nobody's going to do that. Everybody's going to just take the default setup and that's the real fear and that's the problem.

08:37 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Yeah, yeah, that's the problem with defaults. And when they and when they demoed the feature originally it was on your disk, which is encrypted by default. But if somebody had access to your signed in machine, then they also had access to that file because it would be decrypted. So one of the things they did was to say that it is now tied to Windows Hello, which requires biometric authentication. So anytime you try and open that, you have to authenticate yourself. So even if somebody you know if you walk away from your computer, somebody comes up to it, they won't be able to look through it because they have to have your biometrics to get in.

09:23 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, I mean it seemed like Microsoft made the changes they need to make to reassure security researchers, but they're still not releasing it. Was it continued pressure? Was it marketing issue? Was it perception, or did they really think there was something amiss? You know?

09:39 - Ed Bott (Guest)
they're being very closed-mouthed about it, and you know they're being very closed mouthed about it, and you know, one of the things that I think is, you know this is a new management team for the Windows and devices group and you know Panos Panay left last.

It's been less than a year since he's been gone and I think the new management team might be in over its head a little bit here. And I think what happened is they decided to bolt on a bunch of security features after the fact, and they didn't have time to test them, and I think they decided that it was bad enough to get the criticism that they did on a feature that hadn't even been released yet. If they had released it and then some of these security researchers discovered something, then you know it would be that would be, you know, order of magnitude worse. So I think they decided, you know, let's do what we usually do, which is to have a limited beta test with Windows Insiders on a particular hardware platform and roll it out when it's closer to ready and not just force it out.

10:59 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
The problem is of course, I was really Go ahead Lise. Sorry, leo. One thing I was really curious about also is like how this could potentially be used by employers. You know, when we saw the rise of remote work, you saw a lot of people who had Microsoft devices using mouse jigglers. You know, when they needed to go run an errand or something Didn't a big bank.

11:18 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Just fire a bunch of people because they were using mouse jigglers because we're using

11:24 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
mass jigglers. Yeah, and I guess I just you know there is third-party software that you can use that can show you. You know what your employees are doing and I think you can get analytics about like how much time.

11:34 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Microsoft has a product called Viva that, among other things, does that I mean.

11:40 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Yeah, so would this like turbo charge that, you know, in a way that would be, I don't know, really upsetting to employees and would that potentially make them put pressure on their employers to be like we don't want to use Microsoft devices because they come preloaded with this horrible spyware?

11:57 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Would you, louise, want something like this? I would think for a writer it'd be very useful. You put all your notes in a big pile and then be easy to query them using AI.

12:08 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
The thing that I find confusing about the use case for this is that everything that I do in my work for the most part is in my browser. I do find that the history on Chrome, the same way that Gmail is, is really bad in terms of search right, like as much as, like you would think a search company would be good at search across all their products. It's actually really hard to find old emails sometimes or to find things in your browser history, but I don't really do that much. That's like cross app in a way that it wouldn't be there. Like I would rather just have Google make their search function better than to have, you know so much data on, like everything that I'm doing on my desktop, cause for the most part, I'm just opening tabs and, like I think you would just see a lot of iMessages, which also has really bad search right.

So maybe if the search is better, but I also wonder how good the search is really going to be, given that all of these other products that have only one type of data are already pretty terrible to look through.

13:09 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Google does make a product specifically for journalists and researchers called Notebook LLM or LLM. The idea is that you keep all your notes in this pile. I mean, here's an example you interview somebody, you record the interview, you automatically transcribe it, you put that in Notebook LLM and now you can query that along with all the other interviews you did for research.

13:34 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Amanda, would you want something like that? I already kind of do that.

13:36 - Leo Laporte (Host)
A lot of journalists use Otter AI, which is really interesting because the actual transcription is not like the best.

13:42 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
on Otter, Like I've used other products that are better. But I'm just kind of like I've been using otter for so long that I'm okay if sometimes when I talk about tiktok it says like tiktok, like how you would describe a clock. But I also think there's something to be said for old-fashioned note-taking, where I kind of like to have control over the notes that I'm taking. And it kind of reminds me of when I was in school and there would be some people that would write down like every word on every slide and my thinking was always like well, if you write down something you already know, then when you go to study you're just inundated with so much information and I want to write down the stuff that I don't already know so that when I go back and study like it's there.

14:38 - Leo Laporte (Host)
But so you are a good student, if you're a bad student you're. I could tell you were a good student. I would underline every line in the book and then it's like well, you did nothing, you've accomplished nothing, you've just made the book yellow a good student synthesizes the information as it comes in.

14:54 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I guess, and I never was able to do, that I think just the way that my brain works, like I know, that I learn things better when I write it down, whether that's like on a computer or handwritten. And I find, especially since, like I feel like a lot of digital journalists these days are churning out articles at such a rate that sometimes I write an article and then months later I'm like I don't remember what that article was about and I do think you would need recall for that.

15:26 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Yeah, but to be fair, I don't think this feature wasn't for journalists. Yeah, it isn't for journalists, because journalists have a skill set and a tool set that already facilitates this kind of information gathering and retrieval. This is really more for people with more varied jobs, where you're in meetings a lot, you're processing a lot of information, you're processing a lot of email, customer notes, customer notes, product details and, for that matter, even in your personal life, where you're researching stuff but where you're not a trained researcher, the way most of us journalists are, and I think that's who will benefit from this. And it's like a lot of computer features. This and you know it's like a lot of computer features are for people who aren't journalists, and so when you read reviews of them written by journalists, they're going like well, why do you use it? Why?

16:36 - Leo Laporte (Host)
would you use a computer for more than just typing in notepad no-transcript? And this is a reasonable step. In fact, this wasn't even the only product that does this. I ordered a and it still hasn't come. I think it's coming in a couple of months. A pin that I this is the limitless pin that records everything that I, that all the audio in my life.

Right, and then it analyzes it. In fact, this is based on the first product from this company did exactly what recall does on your pc, and then they decided to make this additional tool that records audio uh as well. So it's a very it's, it's an I. It's not a new idea. It probably is a little different if it's in your operating system versus you, you know, explicitly installing a program to do that.

17:48 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
In the early 2000s there was a poet, kenny Goldsmith, who recorded like everything he said for a couple of weeks, like wearing a microphone and then manually transcribed it and then published the manual transcripts as like a conceptual poetry book that's a lazy poet, I think is the oh no, I mean I.

I wouldn't say I'm a fan of his, but I did have to study him in school but, I just think how funny it is that that would be so easy to do now, because your little pin would just transcribe it so you decided to to buy a, a, a copilot plus PC.

18:26 - Leo Laporte (Host)
The reviews are just starting to come out and many, uh many of the reviews, um say that the uh, you know a lot of this is about the Snapdragon elite. It's an arm processor, uh that that is very performant and the elite X is very good and the battery life is is everything that they promised, which is, you know, for a Qualcomm, that's a. That's an accomplishment and uh, in fact, does compete strongly with, with what clearly Microsoft and Qualcomm want to compete with, with, which is the Apple MacBooks, macbook air. You decided to get the you said the cheapest surface pro.

19:03 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Yeah, I got the, I got the bottom of the line, which I've never done that before?

19:08 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, usually you and I order everything like loaded right, everything possible.

19:13 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Or yeah, I mean I usually go like one notch down. Okay, that's smart.

You know, trying to be, you know, slightly sensible with it, but in this case I look at the entry-level machine and said, well, wait, it's starting with 16 gigabytes of RAM, plenty of RAM. It has a 256-gig SSD that is user upgradable and all of my stuff is in the cloud these days anyway. So 256 gigs is enough for, uh, you know, to be, to comfortably handle the data, uh, that I use. Um, I, you know there was a difference between the there was an OLED screen versus uh, this one, which is not, you know, it's a. It's still a nice screen, but not an OLED. Uh, but anyway, I got it on Tuesday, um, and I'm actually I'll be publishing something about it this week in CDNet, but I've actually kind of blown away.

20:14 - Leo Laporte (Host)
It's speed wise, battery wise. What is it that you like about it?

20:18 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Uh, yes, uh, to both. It has. It has, uh. It feels very much like uh in terms of responsiveness, like an M2 MacBook Air, which I also have. It feels no different from that. It can keep up with the Surface Pro 9 that I have that has a 12th Gen i7. Pro 9 that I have that has a, you know, a 12th gen i7.

And and, but the difference is it doesn't get hot at all. It doesn't, you know, there's no heat, there's no fans that come on, so it's, you know, deathly quiet and it's still too soon to tell exactly what the battery life is like. But I've been using it regularly and I went two days without charging it, wow, um and so, and so it was up to about 13 hours of actual real world use, uh, and then, and then I close it up and set it on my desk overnight and come in, you know, in the morning and it was 75% battery left when I set it down and I pick it up and it's 74%, uh, so you know it's. Yeah, I mean, it's just really impressive. There's, I will say there's, um.

There are some issues with uh app compatibility not very many, but the big one, probably the one that's going to bite a bunch of people is if you use Google Drive, the Google Drive sync app doesn't work. You can't install it, it won't run, and this is Google doing. What Google does, which is, you know, they ported Chrome to the ARM64 architecture, but they say they have no plans to port Google Drive.

22:16 - Leo Laporte (Host)
No, Microsoft has a, I hear, very robust compatibility layer that runs these Intel apps in emulation, but that doesn't work with the Google drive.

22:27 - Ed Bott (Guest)
The trouble is that it's using a uh, I believe the trouble is that it's using what's called a file system filter driver. So, uh, anything at the driver level has to be native, is going to be, it's going to be problematic. Apps themselves are fine. Uh, the the X 64 emulation is, uh, very much like it is on a Mac book. Uh, you know, it doesn't. You don't even know you. I had to go and look at a task manager to figure out is this a native app or is it running an X 64 emulation?

23:02 - Leo Laporte (Host)
So that minimum configuration you bought was $999. You got $100 off for military discount, but I presume that's what that illustration is.

23:13 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Yeah, yeah, actually there's a corporate. It says student and military discount, but Red Ventures has a corporate discount, but still a thousand bucks is amazing, it's astonishing. And then my credit card, american Express card, offered $175 credit for spending, you know, a grand with Microsoft, with Microsoft. And then and then there was a an enhanced trade-in value on my old Surface Pro X, the three-year-old, so they ended up paying you to take this Just about. I think I wound up spending, like you know, $279 for it.

24:01 - Leo Laporte (Host)
That is like a free computer, practically.

24:04 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Wow, have you used the AI?

24:06 - Leo Laporte (Host)
features Are those the co? You know you have a copilot key big deal. You always had copilot.

24:11 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Anyway, I don't have a copilot key on this one, though, cause I couldn't get the uh, I couldn't get the, the new flex. How can you?

24:19 - Leo Laporte (Host)
live without the copilot key.

24:22 - Ed Bott (Guest)
You know I'm I'm stumbling through. You can can see the. You can see the sorrow on my face are you familiar with the app group me?

24:33 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I do not know that one it's owned by microsoft, but it's like really random. It's just sort of like a group chat app that like I feel like 10 years ago it was really popular this is owned by microsoft? I'm yeah, because when you open it now like I use it for my softball team and when you open it, it has a co-pilot button and I'm like who is using? Co-pilot on group me everything does.

24:59 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, it's, microsoft owns it.

25:01 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
That's a hoops I've been using this app for like 10 years probably and I think it's been owned by microsoft that whole time. And I didn't know until a month ago when they changed the login screen to have the microsoft icon and then it was asking me if I wanted to use co-pilot, like in my group chat with my softball team where it's just like, hey, what time is the game this week?

25:23 - Leo Laporte (Host)
okay, cool I I'm thinking microsoft bought this when, like, they lost out on something else. Remember they tried to buy slack and couldn't get. Maybe they just said, well, okay, we'll take that one instead it's not a very good app.

25:39 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I don't know why my softball team uses it like. That's the only time I use group me and I really wish that we just used like a group text.

25:48 - Leo Laporte (Host)
But I'm not in charge well, sounds like qualcomm's got a winner, microsoft's got a winner. Uh, people want ai. Maybe microsoft was a little premature with recall. That's a bit of a black mark on their escutcheon, but not enough to keep people. I don't see a lot of people saying, oh, I'll never use microsoft now. So, uh, I think they actually. This is a win. I think this counts as a win for microsoft, even though a little bit of an own goal with a pre-announcing recall before it was completely ready they had to recall recall, recall.

I don, I don't recall. I recall what was that I don't recall. I do think that there is both interest and maybe some nervousness about AI. I don't know normal people, but if I did. Does anybody know any normies? Maybe your softball team? I feel like I know some normies. Do you know some normies?

26:45 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Yeah, I think it's just in too many places and it's being shoved everywhere. Like the big one I've heard people complain about recently is that it's now in search on Facebook products. Like, if you try and look something up on Instagram, it will. I don't even know how it happens, but it'll think that you're asking meta AI a question and you're just actually trying to do search, which is so funny because I think sort of like exemplifies the problem with AI search Cause. Then you'll be like sorry, I was looking for something on Instagram and then the AI will tell you oh, I can't help you with that, sorry, like good luck. And it's like well, I was on the search bar. Why are you here? You know, like I on the search bar. Why are you here? You know, like I, I don't have like a. I'm not asking for like fun facts for meta ai right now, but I think that's the the. The question that people have is like why is this being shoved in so many places that it's not really clear if it's useful?

27:37 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I think that also, normal people are a little skeptical of the ai boom because, like they were just told years ago that like you got to get in in crypto, you got to buy your NFTs, this is going to be the next big thing and then that kind of imploded which, like I know, some people are still into it and like doing fine. But I think that we've had two back-to-back like huge tech hype cycles and I think the more huge tech hype cycles we have that don't pan out. I mean also the metaverse like that was another one recently where it feels like there's a lot of hype around things that end up not being that good. And I think, at least with ai, like this tech is really powerful, like there are applications of it, we're seeing it grow so much in real time, but like we just got told that vr headsets were going to take over the world and now, like no one has one.

28:32 - Leo Laporte (Host)
So I think people are just sort of like overwhelmed by that there is one thing ai has in common with cryptocurrency, and that's its absurd energy usage. Recently, there was a study that said ai is about to use as much energy as the entire country of india, just for ai. Um, this is a projection from the international energy agency. Um, so, yeah, I mean, I the. The response from a lot of technology companies is uh well, we're going to build private nukes, or I mean, everybody's trying to make it clean. The biggest way to make it clean, I guess, would be to push it to people's on device AI, and that's what both Microsoft and Apple are trying to do, except that you still have to train the models and use a ton of energy doing so doing so.

29:31 - Ed Bott (Guest)
I think the other issue with AI that is confusing people is that it's nobody. When you say AI, what?

29:34 - Leo Laporte (Host)
exactly are you talking about?

29:35 - Ed Bott (Guest)
That's a good question Right, easily half a dozen technologies that it can describe. So you know, interactive chat is one thing. Finding being a developer and using AI to write code is something completely different, and both Microsoft and Google are doing it with mixed results. Is adding AI goop all over their search results and really all that it does is take the it sort of summarizes search and adds this sort of confident, cocky voice to it so that you have someone confidently giving you wrong information, you know.

And yet there's all sorts of AI-based things that are good, that work in the background, like there was a really fascinating story this week that I think ProPublica was doing, where they went and found people people in the South, black people in the South who had been given land after the end of the Civil War and then the land had been taken away from them and they used AI to go through this entire corpus of records that had recently been digitized from that period and they found of I think roughly 40 people and traced their ancestors and went and talked to them about the land that had been stolen from them that should have been theirs for generation after generation. That is a tremendously good use of AI and so much better than you know asking some chat bot to tell you a joke.

31:39 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, that's a perfect example, and we've seen a number of cases where people are using AI against large data sets to do really interesting journalism. Yeah, it's all different things and I don't think that the average person has any concept of what it really is. And, as somebody in our as Trust no One in our Discord says all I know about normal people is that they don't know anything about AI, so they just go along with whatever Microsoft or Apple puts on their computer or Google puts on their computer. I think that's probably true, right? No, the real fear I have is that it's an AI hype cycle and there'll be another AI winner because people will have been so oversold on this, something that really does have real utility. You just described a really excellent case, but that people will just throw up their hands and say all AI is just worthless. Louise, I'm sorry, go ahead.

32:36 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Oh no, I wasn't going to say anything, but I definitely agree with you and I think that we just haven't found like the single use case right now and I worry that, especially with search, people are going to get disillusioned because I think right now it's not very useful. I hate that AI search summary is and I think that there's just very few use cases where that makes a lot of sense and I worry that we are training people to think that a robot will give you the perfect answer and no one's going to click on the little icon in the bottom of where the source is. And for a lot of stuff like the source or the context of that matters a lot, right, but Google, you know, is incentivized. Just to give you a quick answer.

33:20 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, so maybe it was you, amanda, that we're trying to get a word in edgewise. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off.

33:23 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
No, it's okay, no-transcript. And that happened to Micah with his proposal photo.

33:45 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yes, they thought it was AI, but what was it it was. He edited it with an AI tool, or?

33:51 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I don't. I don't know, but, like one of the consensus is that what like we came to was that maybe it's that if a photographer is like editing their photo, which is like very normal photographers edit their photos, and then if, like, some sort of AI tool within Adobe was used without people's consent and it's like stealing people's art. But then there's also things like when you're doing like the remove background from this thing on, like Canva, like that's AI based, right, and there's a lot of ways in which AI has already been baked into the tech that we use all the time. That people haven't realized is AI, and I think that sort of points to how, like, we don't really know what AI is as a culture, where it's not just like talking to a chat bot. It's like you used a specific lasso tool on Photoshop.

35:02 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Here's an example of photographer Eric Perret, who does beautiful work, went to a lot of effort to make real shots. I mean, these are not faked in any way but because they were so beautiful, instagram labeled them made with AI, which really upset him. He said this light painting has been automatically flagged as AI, but Instagram it's been posted in my stories and there was no option to disable this. I tried with three images and got the same result. But this is these are not modified in any way. These are actually. They just look like they're AI.

But here's my problem with this kind of labeling is you know I remember when I was a kid? Is you know I remember when I was a kid we went to see a coal-fired power plant, an Argancet electric power plant in Providence, rhode Island, and I lived near enough so that I knew that it belched black soot once a week that would end up on my windowsill. I mean, I knew this thing was a nightmare of pollution. But when we toured it, this is probably in eighth grade or ninth grade and it's signs everywhere that said you know, think of the environment, be eco-friendly and stuff. And my teacher, who was smart I was really glad he said this said.

They do that to numb you to the whole message of ecology. This was back when Earth Day started. It was was ecology to numb you so much that you see it everywhere, you don't think about it at all. If we put ai on everything, nothing is ai and then it just then. It just becomes background noise. It numbs us to what's going on. Maybe that's instagram's intent, who knows? I wouldn't put anything past meta, let's take. I want to take a little break. We will get off the ai subject, although it it's endlessly fascinating.

36:48 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Everything is AI.

36:49 - Leo Laporte (Host)
It's all AI. Yeah, we'll probably end up coming back to it. It's hard to stay away from it, although I do want to ask you about the surgeon general's warning that social media platforms need a health warning, like cigarettes. I do want to talk about that in just a little bit. You're watching this Week in Tech. Amanda Silberling is here from TechCrunch. Great to have you, amanda, and your pink base. Do you play that, or? It just hangs there.

37:14 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
No, I play it. I mean, I don't play it while I am on shows you could.

37:19 - Leo Laporte (Host)
I wouldn't stop you. It'd be nice to have a hot slap bass lick like like seinfeld in between. Yes, for commercials, stuff like that.

37:29 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I'm just saying if you decided to, it would be okay with me, I'll have to write a hot bass lick for next time on the show. Okay, will you.

37:35 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Ed bod is also here now in the research triangle in the rdu. It's good to see you, ed senior contributing editor from zd net, and louise mitsakis, who is a freelance journalist. You see her all over the place, but you may also want to in fact I know you will want to subscribe to her newsletter. You may also like. It's at youmayalsolikebeehivecom. I think if you just search for you may also like and beehive, you'll probably find it.

38:02 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
What do you cover? Yeah, it's in my.

38:03 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Twitter bio too. Oh and beehive, you'll probably find it. What do you cover? Yeah, it's in my Twitter bio too. Oh, there you go Twitter bio. Wow, I haven't heard that in a while. Isn't it an ex-bio? Is it an ex-bio? It's twittercom, in my opinion, is the real differentiator. What is you may also like about?

38:17 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Yeah, so it's a newsletter about e-commerce and the internet and where things come from, which often means China. So it's about Timu Shein, amazon, how that order ended up on your doorstep in 12 hours and why.

38:31 - Leo Laporte (Host)
We talked a lot about your article about Shein and Timu on the show a few weeks ago. In fact, I wish I'd had you on oh cool, I'll go back at that episode. That'd be great. Yeah, I think that you're. You're a. It's a fascinating subject. It's taken the world by storm, isn't it?

38:50 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Oh yeah, totally. I feel like more and more I hear from people who are like my mom is obsessed with Timu, like what should I do about that? I'm like, well, I don't know Are they getting See?

39:00 - Leo Laporte (Host)
I feel like if you go to Timu you just go to look at the silly stuff on the front page. It's like walking through Chinatown or something.

39:13 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
It's just crazy stuff, you know yeah.

39:17 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Do you want to hear a good use case that I heard the other day, that I think is sort of, I think, indicative of what's going on.

39:22 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
I can't imagine buying anything here, but go ahead, yeah, yeah. So I had a friend who was like I, you know, I'm reorganizing a closet, and she went to the container store and she was like, oh man, like this stuff is really expensive, like I don't know if I want to spend you know three $400 on these, you know baskets and whatnot. And then she texted me and was like, oh yeah, I bought all the stuff on Timu for a fraction of the price. I think that's what it is. It's like those widgets maybe that I think Amazon is also really good at and that's why Timu poses a threat is like, yeah, you're probably not going to get like a shirt you want to wear or you know a pair of shoes I feel like those are areas where you know American brands are really good still. But it's like you know a plastic organization basket, right, a spatula like things like that.

40:00 - Leo Laporte (Host)
If I were going out to look for shoe repair glue, the first place I'd go is to a buck 79 from timu.

40:09 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
But now am I gonna be walking around with broken shoes for a while, because doesn't it take a long time to arrive they've gotten a lot faster, which is also interesting, and now they'll also refund you, or I think you can get some sort of like rebate if it doesn't come in the time frame that they tell you that.

40:26 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yes, it says get five dollar credit for late delivery. Yeah, because that was the whole thing with what was the? What was the wish? Wish, but no. What was the other Alibaba?

40:37 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
AliExpress AliExpress.

40:39 - Leo Laporte (Host)
You order something and then, six months later, long after you forgot ordering it, you get stuck at the port Shoe repair glue yeah right.

40:48 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Can I, should I confess to my Timu purchase?

40:51 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, what's yours?

40:53 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
So I bought liquid core dice on Timu which they are very fancy D&D dice which you do not need, but they get sold for like 70 dollars and I got them on timu for like 15 dollars. Did they have a nice weight? Do they feel okay?

41:13 - Leo Laporte (Host)
yeah, I mean, they're pretty good what's the point of a liquid core? Does it give it some more?

41:18 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
like in this, like inside, like the glitter moves around, oh I get it. Oh, it's pretty, I guess I I felt less bad about that because a lot of the quote-unquote small businesses that do dice are actually just like buying them reselling team move dice yeah, yeah because you see the same dice across like multiple websites people know that on amazon, they know that, they, you know.

41:42 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Okay, now do an image search for that same thing and you'll find it on team move. But oh yeah, I do that on wayfair my concern is it's made by slave labor in in yeah is it yeah I mean well, I mean we should know more.

41:57 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Why is it so cheap? I mean, this is part of the question. So they they put a lot of pressure on the supplier. So it's not necessarily that the labor conditions are. They honestly don't really have control over the labor conditions, right, because these are individual factories or individual suppliers. So there's not necessarily any difference in terms of, like you know, the types of suppliers on the Chinese suppliers, on Amazon and on Timu.

But it's more about they put a lot of pressure on the suppliers to lower their prices or to, you know, offer deals, but they also are really intense about cutting off suppliers who are not meeting quality assurance standards. So that's part of what it is. And also it's like you don't have that American company that needs a cut right because they're importing these dice or whatever product you're talking about. So there's a lot of reasons there, but I don't think it's necessarily about the labor per se. I'm not saying that the labor is good or that you know they're working under standards that Americans wouldn't be horrified by, but I don't think that's the main reason that the price is different.

43:04 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Okay, see, I've spent too much time on tiktok looking at how things are made, and it's always so awful. It's always so down market barefoot people playing with broken glass. I mean just, it's always scary. This is actually how you make liquid core dice. It it's not hard. So I think this is a homemade liquid core dice.

43:26 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I should make my dice. You shouldn't be buying it, but then you don't know if they're balanced right.

43:31 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Oh yeah, see, and you know that if you buy it for $8 from Teemu, of course it's got to be balanced right.

43:40 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Read the reviews.

43:42 - Leo Laporte (Host)
All right, I meant to take a break but I got sucked into timo, as always. As always, I might say I love our team adventures, timo's fantastic pick. Some more great stuff you got on, timo, we'll. We'll do that later in the show. That's link bait. Our show today, brought to you by net suite. That's not link bait.

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45:52 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
There it is I mean, it's a great advertisement for the newsletter that we were just talking about, the concept and got sucked into a conversation exactly what is this?

46:00 - Leo Laporte (Host)
um? Is this image at the top of your Twitter page? Is that a bunch of Commodore computers at a tea party? Whoops, yeah.

46:11 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
I don't actually remember where that came from, because it's been there for so long. I feel like it's vintage. I think it's from like the 80s or something. I should reverse image, search it and see where I got it. But I put it there a really long time ago.

46:24 - Leo Laporte (Host)
I see it says ML, so this is an early machine language. Right there's Logo, which was also an early AI tool. This is an AI image. I don't know if you realize that, konal, these are AI computers from the 70s talking to one another. This was the vision of ai 50 years ago, so it's perfect. Just right for you who did the great cartoon of you, by the way?

46:50 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
that's also awesome uh, her name is rachel lesser and she is a wonderful artist and she also did the logo for you may also like, so I'm gonna work, I'm gonna have to hire her.

47:00 - Leo Laporte (Host)
That's fantastic, I want one yeah, see that's see, ai cannot, no and never, never compete with you know, and that really cut down on the harassment.

47:07 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
The reason that I started doing that is because when there wasn't an actual woman, uh, for some reason that made people yell at me less, and so the cartoon has been helpful for that reason.

47:20 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Yeah yeah, something that like trolls do when they're making fun of you is they'll just like post a picture of your profile picture and I'm like well, yeah, I like that picture of me, that's why it's my profile picture.

I don't know what you're trying to communicate here trolls, I can't, yeah, all I can say more abstract, you know, and so like people focus more on the work than like I've also noticed that like it has no idea, like it has no bearing on what you look like, like you could look like anything and they'll still do it. And that's also kind of helped, like it's nothing to do with what you look like, it's just that you're a woman. Oh for sure.

47:57 - Leo Laporte (Host)
But I'll tell you the secret and it's always good to remember this of all of this is it's more about them than you. It has nothing to do with you. Oh yeah, it's about them. They're making a statement about themselves. They're making a statement about their own values, their own whatever.

48:11 - Ed Bott (Guest)
And their own insecurity their own insecurity.

48:14 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Exactly For sure. I know it's hard it must be so hard to be a woman on the internet. But just remember these jerks are talking about themselves, not about you. This is all just some sort of weird reflection of their own inner turmoil.

48:27 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I'm going to write a book called it Must Be Hard to View Women on the Internet. Oh my God, oh my.

48:33 - Leo Laporte (Host)
God, we had Taylor Lorenz on talking about her book, which is wonderful. Oh yeah, it's great. Yeah, but I just she's. Every woman I know, including my, my wife, has just been harassed mercilessly. Not that I haven't, but it's not the same, it's a different. It's a different thing when you're it is taylor's not the same?

48:52 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
like it just rolls off her and it's really impressive yeah go ahead.

48:58 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Yeah, you could also uh call that book. Uh, it's not me, it's you.

49:04 - Leo Laporte (Host)
It's true, you may also hate. All right, that's a new newsletter I might write that newsletter. We'll do that. We can refer to each other. That'd be a good feature, you will also.

You know, as I get older, I am the old man shouting at clouds. It is really I should have a newsletter like you will also hate this. For instance, the biden administration has now banned sales of the kaspersky antivirus. This used to be john c dvorak's go-to recommendation for an antivirus. Uh, and if, and it's, it's quick too, by the way, if you're using kaspersky um, you're gonna a. Let me see if I can find the timeline 100 days, 100 days. Thank you, ed. Yep, september 29th. That gives you 100 days to find an alternative. New US business for Kaspersky will be blocked 30 days after the restrictions are announced. Sales of white-labeled products that integrate Kaspersky into software sold under a different brand name will also be barred. A commerce department will also entity list two russian and one uk-based units of kaspersky for allegedly cooperating with russian military intelligence to support m support Moscow's cyber intelligence goals.

There was, you know, back when there was this big leak of NSA spy tools some years ago. The story was that an NSA contractor not even an employee of the NSA had brought these tools home that he had Kaspersky running on his machine at home. Kaspersky saw these tools and said whoa, that's malicious, which it was, by the way. Kaspersky was right and quarantined them. But what happens when Kaspersky and most antivirus software quarantines a new virus it hasn't seen before? It sends it to the home office for analysis. So it sent these NSA spy tools to Moscow. Now how it got from Kaspersky to the GRU is unknown, but the guy who started Kaspersky has connections with the Russian military intelligence, so there's always been this kind of smoking gun. Ed, let me ask you you're probably more up on this Do you think Kaspersky really is a danger to US business?

51:34 - Ed Bott (Guest)
There's no way for us to know that Right, but I certainly I would not trust any code coming out of Russia these days, especially not something that burrows as deeply into a computer or a mobile device as an antivirus program does. I wouldn't and couldn't trust it, because it's pretty clear that the Russian government will co-opt private industry for its own purposes. They've done it in, you know, in raw materials, in shipping, in, you know, in everything else, and so why not in something like this that can be used as spy tools? I know that the United States government about two years ago maybe banned the use of any Kaspersky product on government networks, and that's not. I don't think that was something that was done lightly. I suspect they have signals that suggest that there was smoke and probably you know pictures of flames and maybe actual fire.

52:55 - Leo Laporte (Host)
I think for a long time people like Dvorak and others in our business were favorable towards Kaspersky because they liked Eugene Kaspersky. He was a very likable chief executive.

53:08 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Well, and also that was it was like the late nineties, right, yeah, and you know late nineties and early in early 2000s, and there were a lot of really good, really good talented software developers working in and shipping products from Russia. Back then I remember a product that I used and was really enthusiastic about, that was developed in Russia. That was eventually killed by Microsoft Outlook. Uh, but you know it was, it was great. And there's also a program that I used probably 15 years ago. It was a file synchronization program. That was also, you know, really great stuff. There, you know, there were some super skilled. It's the same skillset that makes, uh, the you know skill set that makes the you know Russians great chess grandmasters, right, you know that same educational network, the same sort of cultural background that they have, you know, predisposes them to having good programmers. But you know, in the modern age, I I mean you just can't, I, I can't imagine trusting anything coming out of of vladimir putin's russia that has code is going to run on my computer. No, thanks.

54:36 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Kaspersky himself graduated from I don't know anything about this, but the name is suspicious the technical faculty of the kgb higher school in 1987, and then worked for the Ministry of Defense, so he definitely has connections with the Russian government. Kaspersky says it believes the US decision was based on quote the present geopolitical climate and theoretical concerns, rather than on a comprehensive evaluation of the integrity of Kaspersky's products and services. Kaspersky said its activities did not threaten US national security and it's going to pursue legal options. Now this is what TikTok has done TikTok's in court. They would say that though, wouldn't they?

55:18 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Yes, they would.

55:20 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Is this the same thing as TikTok.

55:25 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Oh no.

55:26 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Yeah, I think it's different, but I do think that the more and more that the US government says trust us, and this is based on principle, this is based on a real risk, this is based on real evidence that we've seen but we can't show you because it's classified, I do think that that's a dangerous path. The US government would be more willing. The problem is that this is not, you know, the kind of thing that you say under a rule based order. But I wish there was just more willingness to say like hey, this is an adversary, we're funding the war in Ukraine, so we want to get this company out of the US. Right, they can have access to the US market if they're going to behave this way in Ukraine, right. I just think that that has more legitimacy than this sort of like theoretical argument that they're posing.

And I don't know what the antivirus market looks like. You know, I don't know that market as well as I know the social media market when it comes to TikTok. But I just don't know, like are there American players that are now going to be at a huge advantage because of this? Is there going to be an American player that are now going to be at a huge advantage because of this. Is there going to be an American player that's going to come in and swoop in in the market? I don't know, but I worry about this logic of, like you know, sort of yelling about national security concerns not really having a specific scenario that they can point to and then just saying, trust me, I guess.

56:54 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Times have changed we also. Part of this is we don't. We used to maybe trust the United States government more than we do now. We only now marginally trust them, marginally more than the Russian government. So when the, when, the it's not completely impossible that this is purely a political move, not a security move, but we just don't know.

57:14 - Ed Bott (Guest)
I also would say it's more comparable to the situation with Huawei than it is to TikTok, and nobody, by the way, disputed that Huawei ban.

57:26 - Leo Laporte (Host)
That was kind of widely accepted as, yeah, we probably shouldn't be using this in our network.

57:30 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Yeah, and Huawei was hardware that goes into networks and with and of course, with embedded software right the hardware, and kaspersky is software that I do remember, however, how upset huawei was.

57:43 - Leo Laporte (Host)
this was a few years ago at ces. They had a whole line of new phones. They were about to announce very nice looking phones I remember Really nice phones. Remember seeing them at CES? Yep, yep. And pretty much that day the government said the government talked to Verizon, I think they talked to Verizon and AT&T and said you know, we're going to ban this Huawei stuff. You should not carry these in the store. And Huawei at CES had to say yeah, we're withdrawing these phones from the US market because if you're not in the carrier stores, you're never going to sell a single phone. So I felt bad about that. You remember those were nice phones, I wanted those phones.

58:25 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Yeah, I mean, they have a really nice new phone now, right, yeah, we can't get it, yeah. And I guess the other concern too is that I don't know if the US now has enough power to crush these companies when they push them out of the US market, right Like. I think Huawei is a perfect example of that in that, no, they've thrived now in China, right.

Yeah, I mean, they're doing really well with this latest phone is selling spectacularly. They are selling network equipment in other parts of the world spectacularly. They are selling network equipment in other parts of the world. I think sort of the days of like we don't like this company and we're going to endlessly pressure all of our allies everywhere in the world to also shut this company out.

I don't think that that strategy works anymore and it doesn't have the power to work anymore. So if you want to ban a company or ban a product or whatever it is, uh, the case has got to be pretty clear or just be straightforward about that. The case is like this is an adversary, right, like I think that increasingly, especially with the TikTok ban, I think voters are going to demand more information. I don't think there's that many voters who care that much about anti virus software, but it's sort of the bigger, the bigger question, especially when they see things they can't have. Right, like you know, you said the Huawei phones, but look at the Chinese electric vehicles, for example. I do think that there's a subset of Americans who would want those products and that they're going to have to explain. The government is going to have to explain to voters like why you shouldn't have them.

59:46 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Your camera just went out, or is it us?

59:49 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Oh, no, can you still hear me?

59:50 - Leo Laporte (Host)

59:51 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Oh no, it's gone dark, no memory card I cannot play. All right, still hear me, yeah oh no, it's gone dark.

59:57 - Leo Laporte (Host)
No, memory card cannot play. All right, I should be able to fix that. Give me one second. We won't. We won't say anything important while you're gone. That louise mitsakis, what do you think?

Um, the dji drone ban is another reason why people don't trust the american government lawmakers. This is from 404 Media, which does such great work. Lawmakers are trying to ban a Chinese company on surveillance grounds, but 404 says it isn't about the DJI drones and security. It's about trying to prop up a US drone market because nobody buys the US. I have a DJI drone, we all do the bill countering CCP Drones Act. Maybe that's a little hint about what's going on.

The United States House of Representatives jammed I'm reading from the 404 story by Jason Kobler Keebler, who's been on the show before. Last week the US House of Representatives jammed a functional ban on DJI drones in the countering CCP drones act into a military funding bill that it passed. Of course, this is the trick that they use with TikTok. If you put this in a larger must pass bill, there's no line item veto for the president, so it's all going to go through. The bill would put DJI drones made in China onto an FCC covered list alongside other banned Chinese tech companies like Huawei, meaning the new drones would not be approved to use the US communications infrastructure. Dji is salty about this because they said we put these features in because of US regulations and government pressure. The US, for instance, wanted us to be able to geofence our drones out of airports. For that we had to put in the GPS and the telecommunications capabilities. We added these for drone hobbyists. There are, according to Jason I think he's right really no American-made alternatives that can replace DJI in the market.

01:02:01 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Elise Stefanik, one of the sponsors of the bill, says DJI poses the national security threat of TikTok, but with wings, just like wowiktok with wings uh, I mean the comparison does make sense because I think with both of these past two stories, we're seeing the recurring theme that, like, the consumers aren't being told why this is happening. And I get that with national security issues, there's a reason why maybe telling people publicly is not the best strategy, but this isn't how you develop trust with voters and I don't know. I think that it's an interesting trend that we're seeing here.

01:02:51 - Ed Bott (Guest)
I'll go on. There is a difference With the 404 story. There is a difference here.

01:02:55 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Well, hold on a second. The Department of Justice and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, CISA warnings on DJI do not provide any actual evidence of spying or insecurities. Their warning largely boils down to the fact that drones are controlled by smartphones and other internet connected devices, which provides a path for drone data egress and storage, and that sometimes people fly these drones over sensitive areas like military installations. So what's the difference, Ed?

01:03:24 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Well, I think the biggest difference is that, in the case of TikTok and in the case of the DJI drones, both of these are coming out of Congress and they're coming out of uh and and.

01:03:36 - Leo Laporte (Host)
so so the Kaspersky came from the department of commerce, from the administration.

01:03:42 - Ed Bott (Guest)
That was a you know which, which was. You know it was basically a regulatory action as opposed to a campaign issue, because both the, because the whole TikTok thing is, you know, it's just uh, I mean, it's straight out of 1984. It's we have always been at war with the CCP, uh and uh, and and you just and and it becomes, you know, it becomes a uh, a question of, of proving your bona fides by having an anti-Chinese communist bill and then if your opponent doesn't, you know, depending on how they vote on it, then you get to use it as a campaign issue in the House elections this fall, and they're coming out of the house of representatives. So it it strikes me that the that both the tick tock uh bill and this bill have just, they really smell like a campaign stunts more than actual technical uh issues.

01:04:50 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah. I think that's right. And Kaspersky, as you said, burrows deep within your operating system, so it has much more, much deeper access into what's going on than TikTok does, or DJI drone does, for that matter.

01:05:07 - Ed Bott (Guest)
But you know it's all, and this is probably a good segue to the next topic that I'm pretty sure you're going to bring up. But this is all about protecting the kids from dangerous Chinese algorithms and having the Chinese brainwashing your children and stealing their information.

01:05:28 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, Protecting the children is has always been a catchphrase for scoundrels. Let's consider the women and the children. Let's protect them. We will get to that story in just a bit. I want to take a little break for it. This is not intentionally timed, but I want to talk about a Chinese-made security camera. But I do want to point out that I carry in my pocket you probably do as well a phone with a camera and a microphone and GPS made in China. If you have security cameras in your home, chances are nine out of 10, it's made in China. Everything we use, this laptop, is made in China.

01:06:09 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
So Well, I think that's a good point, right, it's like we can't. I think a DJI drone is a perfect example of sort of like the middle of the road, smaller electronic that China has mastered the supply chain for manufacturing. Right, Like we're not going to make DJI drones in the US, like that's just not. Then are we just going to continue to ban these devices one by one once they become a perceived security issue, or are we going to make sure that there's always an American brand in the middle, right, when the American brand is? You know the face of that product, or maybe they're designing.

01:06:48 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, let's put meta in between everything, because they would never spy on us in between everything, because they would never spy on us, right?

01:06:58 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
that that's the question is just like. Is it the issue that dji is both a chinese manufacturer and a chinese brand? I, I think that's often what you're seeing in these cases because, like you're right, right, all of the drones are made in china, so what's the difference here?

01:07:08 - Leo Laporte (Host)
there's it's actually an interesting story the reason we get such and I remember this, you probably do remember it also and us oldsters going to Comdex and CES. And you know, once the iPhone started being made in China, the manufacturing capabilities of these companies, particularly in Shenzhen, went up and up and up, at first in order to supply Apple, but eventually those skills translated to other products, and I can remember drones first emerging and then getting better and better and better and better. It was all these Shenzhen China companies that were learning how to make these microelectronics, and it's essentially components that they designed for smartphones accelerometers, gps. You know all of these capabilities came from in hand. You know the abilities they had learned to make smartphones, so it's not really a surprise. Uh, we, we, we, we, we put it there, we, we made it happen anyway. One of those companies I'm gonna take a break and, uh, come back in just a second but one of those companies you know well, I I'm sure is Anker A-N-K-E-R, great manufacturer of batteries. I always buy Anker power bricks and power supplies and batteries. I have so much Anker stuff in my office. They also have a home security brand, eufy, that I love.

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Now here's a story you were looking forward to Ed Bott. You've come locked and loaded Opinion piece in the New York Times this week from the Surgeon General of the United States of America, vivek Murthy, saying I'm calling for a warning label on social media platforms, just like we have on cigarettes. Oh God, I can go, I'm going to yell at the clouds. This is a terrible idea. Mike Masnick wrote an excellent piece.

I have to say I'll give him a lot of credit for this. That showed up. It wasn't on his tech dirt, it was I don't know. See, I don't have a link there, but I will find it. Give him a lot of credit for this that showed up. Um, it wasn't on his tech dirt, it was now. See, I don't have a link there, but I will find it saying the surgeon general is wrong. Social media does not mean warning labels, of course. Murdy says social media is the cause of the problem with uh, you know, this mental health crisis that we're having with young people now. First of all, I guess we should ask is there a mental health crisis with young people? Problem number one are we solving an actual problem?

01:12:04 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I know, jonathan height says there is. I think there is, but I don't think that the solutions being proposed in the government are going to fix anything.

01:12:16 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Right. Mike points out that in 1982, everett Koop remember C Everett Koop, us Surgeon General, said video games could be hazardous to children, said kids are becoming addicted to them, causing problems for their body and soul Like this one. It's not based on any science or evidence, but it kicked off, mike says, decades of moral panic and fear-mongering over the supposed risks of video games in children, culminating in a Supreme Court rejecting a California law to require labeling of video games and restrict kids' access to them, saying it was unconstitutional. Since then, studies have completely and we know from our own experience debunked the claim that video games make kids more violent. We have a whole generation now of people who grew up on video games who are not more violent.

01:13:10 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Multiple multiple generations. Multiple generations multiple generations.

01:13:15 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, yeah, so is what is. What is Surgeon General Murthy going on about? What's what's his idea here?

01:13:25 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
I have a lot of thoughts about this and I've been thinking about it. I wrote a story for the Atlantic recently, looking at, you know, some of the laws that are being proposed in states to clamp down on social media. You know, some of which would, like you know, prevent kids from looking at these apps from certain hours of the day, or, you know, force the platforms to ensure that kids don't have, you know, addictive algorithms or whatever it is. I think that what's happening here is you're seeing the conflation of two things, one of which is not true and one of which I think is obviously true. One is that social media, or smartphones, or whatever it is that this device is causing mental illness. Right, Like that's the claim that's being made. Is that, like, by giving teens, especially teen girls, smartphones, instagram, you know, however you want to frame it, that is making them depressed, anxious, suicidal, et cetera?

I think that you know, direct causation has not been shown and is clearly not true, the same way that video games makes, you know, young boys more violent, we know is not true.

The second thing, though, is that smartphones can be really distracting and can make it really hard for kids to sleep, and sometimes they do see information or content on their phones that makes them feel bad about themselves, right Like? That's obviously true and I totally support, you know, some of the critics of Meta and other social media companies that are pushing to get phones out of schools. That, to me, makes perfect sense. If you are playing a violent video game in class, you're going to have a hard time paying attention to your math teacher, right? That doesn't mean that the video game is causing you know some more disturbing issue, or that the smartphone is causing you know some really extreme thing. But yeah, of course, having a distraction machine in the pocket of every kid is going to make them do worse in school, and if they have a limitless access to this device, that's going to make it maybe make it harder for them to sleep, et cetera. So I think we have to separate those two ideas if we want to get anywhere, and I keep seeing them get conflated.

01:15:26 - Leo Laporte (Host)
So the surgeon general I think part of the problem here is is not really using science.

He's using the feeling that we have and maybe we all have that feeling that people are staring at their phones too much, that people aren't talking as much. But Cynthia Ogiers and others who have really studied this say there's very little evidence for this and the real risk of blaming social media is you can go, oh, job done, we fixed the problem, mental health is going to be fine going forward, when in fact, there's lots of evidence that the mental health, if there is a mental health epidemic among people, comes not from social media but from a variety of causes. I mean, look, we just came out of a three-year pandemic in which they really couldn't go to school. The number of school psychologists has dwindled. I think there's one for every 1,118 kids in the United States. There are a lot of reasons kids might be afeard of the future, including climate change. There's good reason to have mental health issues. But if we go, hey, job done, then we're going to let all of those conditions continue, thinking that we fixed the problem and I think we have Go ahead.

01:17:17 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I think, across all of these various legislations that have been proposed about kids online, banning access for minors to porn sites, for example, it's like well, if you have to verify that someone is a kid, then you have to verify that they're an adult, and then you end up in a situation where everyone has to give their government ID to like, go on websites, and I don't think that is a great answer.

But then, even with the issue of just kids on social media generally, rather than kids accessing content that they shouldn't be accessing, like Governor Newsom in California wants to ban kids from having smartphones in school, which I don't have a problem with, that, like I think if you're in school, then you're in school, like, listen to your teacher. But if there is a ban on kids having smartphones in school, that just comes down to the teachers having to be in charge of enforcing that, and I don't think that's really an effective way of actually making change. And I think that we're seeing so much legislative movement with this because it is like one of the few things that has bipartisan support, and so there's sort of the anxiety of like let's make sure that it looks like we're doing something, but then, like, I don't know if we actually would have anything different if there were a law passed that prevented smartphones from being used during school hours.

01:18:37 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Let me show you the numbers for the for mortality, the underlying cases of death for kids and teens in the United States in 2022. Number one firearms, motor vehicle traffic, accidents, poisoning, cancer and suffocation. I don't see social media on this list, and what I really don't see is any move to protect children from firearm violence in the United States. No, instead, the surgeon general wants to put a warning label on social media. Job done, all fixed, we can move on to other issues fixed, we can move on to other issues.

01:19:16 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Well, I think also, Amanda makes a really great point about, like, enforcing the no phones in schools, or, you know, how do we actually do something about this issue, which I think you know? It's fair to say that kids are distracted in school, that you know. Perhaps there are things we can do to better protect kids online. But who's giving them those smartphones and telling them you can bring them to school, right? Who are they talking to while they're at school? Their parents, right? And like, who is also looking at their phones too much and spending too much time on Instagram? Their parents. So I worry about you know. It's easy, I think, sometimes for parents to say, oh, you know, my teenage daughter would be happier if she didn't spend all that time on Instagram. But then, you know, if you say, OK, well, you know, then you can't track my location anymore because I'm not going to bring my phone with me when I go to school. A lot of parents then say, well, no, absolutely not.

01:19:59 - Leo Laporte (Host)
You know, I want to be able to keep because of gun violence at schools. Well, that, yes, ironically, I think.

Yeah, I understand why parents, you know like also, you know this is going to be a good test, because the Los Angeles Unified School District has just approved a cell phone ban and the governor of California is calling for the same statewide. I will be very interested to see if this survives a court challenge. I, you know, I think one of the things we do is we fixate on stuff that's like we can easily fix. That isn't necessarily the root cause of it all. For instance, yeah, maybe my kids are spending more time on social media because we don't let them go outside to play anymore and the only way they can stay in touch with their cohort is on social media, is on Snapchat. Maybe that's the issue.

It's very easy to say, well, let's just ban cell phones first of all. I I really doubt that the courts will allow that, but if they do, uh, because I think it's a parental issue, not a school issue but if they do, let's see if kids get better. Because, honestly, you know, I I've told this story before, but I used to work with a school that had a one-to-one laptop program. Every kid came in freshman year in high school and had a laptop and it was a problem in the school because kids were on their laptops. The teachers just got used to it as soon as the class begins, they say close your laptop. I want your laptop closed. I don't see any reason why teachers couldn't collect cell phones at the beginning of the class or say put your cell phones away and if you if I see it I'm going to take it. We've done that for years.

01:21:41 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Ever get, ever get caught in class passing notes or chewing gum or that problem is that, like a lot of teachers feel like they don't have as much authority, and that's a problem.

Parents don't support them in that, right Like.

I think a lot of times what's happening in these schools is that the teachers will say, yeah, put your phone away or you know, you're going to get detention if I see your phone now.

And then the parents and the administrators are not supportive of that punishment. Right, like, even just keeping the phones, you know, in their pockets during class, I think has become really difficult, not only because the phones are so alluring to look at, but also because parents complain about how much time kids spend on their phones. But I don't think you actually have buy-in necessarily from many parents about, you know, supporting the teacher, siding with the teacher about putting it away, right, I think that's part of the issue is, like, are we going to empower teachers, we're going to power administrators to actually enforce this type of stuff in an environment where the status quo is we're going to pass every kid, no matter how bad their grades are. You know the kid is always right. I worry that this is sort of, you know, a symptom of a wider problem in our education system, rather than something that's uniquely about the phones but that's not as politically easy to talk about right.

01:22:58 - Leo Laporte (Host)
I think it's a symptom of a age-old tendency for people my age to think whatever it is you young people are doing is wrong and you should cut your hair and stop listening to that rock and roll music so loud. Right, ed bot, it's the kids that's the problem. Pull up your pants.

01:23:16 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I also think louise touched on this earlier, but something that I think gets underreported in these conversations is that there are cases in which social media can be really helpful for young kids to like, support their mental health and maybe, if they aren't connecting with people at their school or if they're being like um like bullied for their sexuality or their race or something like that, that there are communities online where kids do find belonging and meaning.

01:23:47 - Leo Laporte (Host)
LBGTQA plus.

01:23:48 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Yeah, huge. There was research from the Trevor Project last year that showed that rates of suicide went down in young queer people of color if they felt that they had a community on social media that understood them Right. And of course, there's still the same risks on social media, like you need to know that the people you're talking to are like who they say they are. You need to be protecting yourself from all the sorts of scams that happen on social media. But I also think that sometimes we forget that there is good on social media as much as there is bad.

01:24:28 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Well, social media, like all of the Internet, it reflects humankind and we have good days and bad days. And, uh, you can't have a just a sunny internet and sunny social media. This is life. In fact, I would say you might be making a mistake, uh, keeping kids from using these tools, because they're going to grow up and need to use these tools and understand how to use them, and understand how to use them responsibly and safely. And the way to do that is to teach them, not to take them away.

01:24:59 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
But I like my rock and roll and I'm going to grow my hair long, whether you like it or not, so I think, one solution I'm not pulling my pants up, no I think one solution that we don't necessarily talk about enough and there is some of this right on Apple devices or on Android devices but more controls for parents on the device level or on the app store level.

Of course, there's always going to be ways for kids to get around these things if they want, but I think part of the issue right now is that it's really difficult to find the parental controls and like how you should set them in all of these different apps, and I think if it was easier for parents to, you know, hit one button that's just like 30 minutes of social media a day or whatever, or like this is not going to the whole thing is going to go dark from you know your bedtime until you wake up, and we have it so that parents can do that really easily.

I think that that would also, you know, potentially solve a lot of these issues, cause I think right now, parents are super overwhelmed and they don't know how to set these controls and there's too many of them Right, and I think that, honestly, I looked the other day, I was trying to find some of these controls on Instagram and they're incredibly hard to find right, like I was having trouble. I'm a technology reporter and I was having trouble just locating them, let alone like setting them correctly or setting them in a way that I would be able to feel comfortable giving them to a small kid the US Surgeon General.

01:26:35 - Leo Laporte (Host)
As a father of a six and seven year old who've already asked about social media, I worry about how my wife and I will know when to let them have accounts. How will we monitor their activity, giving the increasingly sophisticated techniques for concealing it? How will we know if our children are being exposed to harmful content or dangerous people? Well, do your job, parents. Don't expect the government to provide you with some solution to you paying attention. For him to say that is annoying. You know your kids best.

Yes, right, like you know your kids best, it's the parents' job. Yeah.

01:27:04 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Yeah, this idea that, like you know, parents and kids are entirely victims and that, like, the problem is all the social media companies. I'm not here to defend social media companies. I definitely did bad stuff on social media when I was a teenager.

You, did oh for sure, but I think it was my parents' job to be aware of that. And also, yeah, like you know, there were times that I was just like talking to my classmates about homework and there were times that I was looking at stuff that like enriched my life and made me a better person, and there were times I was, like you know, doing bad things. But I think, as a parent, you have to see that and you have to, you know, tailor it to your individual kid. It's the same way with TV, right? It's the same thing with video games.

01:27:40 - Leo Laporte (Host)
My parents used to say you can only watch half an hour of TV a night, which really pissed me off.

01:27:48 - Ed Bott (Guest)
You had to choose one sitcom, one sitcom.

01:27:52 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I would choose Jeopardy oh yeah, Jeopardy for sure.

01:27:55 - Leo Laporte (Host)
But yeah, this was a long time ago.

01:28:00 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Ed go ahead. The issue with social media in a lot of cases is that the people who are involved in the debate over the problem don't really seem to be interested in solving the problem. They seem, you know, we're back to the same issue where it's a culture war cudgel that's used A lot of, you know, and in a lot of cases the kids are the victims here. You know, you've both raised really great points about the communities that are available to kids who feel alone or isolated or misunderstood or bullied. But there are groups of parents out there who are bigger bullies than any of them, the ones who are, who are bigger bullies than any of them, the ones who are, you know, the anti, anti trans activists who are, you know, who are insisting that before a kid what's good for kids, and that's where their starting point is. You're going to have a really hard time getting to a resolution that's going to help kids.

01:29:25 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Yeah, yeah, and there's been a lot of criticism over the Kids Online Safety Act for the same reasons where, like, they've made a lot of edits to it in the last few months but, um, I'm not sure if it's still in the bill but the state attorneys general were able to determine what was content that would be deemed harmful toward children, and so, like, we have state attorney generals who think that if a kid is looking up like what does it mean to be trans? That that's harmful to children, but, like, if you have a trans child who has no access to any resource, that trans kids exist, then how isolating must it feel to not even be able to turn to the internet to validate what you're feeling?

01:30:14 - Leo Laporte (Host)
In fact, I think that this opinion piece by Vivek Murthy is really kind of a covert way of saying we need COSA, which we definitely don't need. We do not need COSA and this would be a terrible thing. There actually was briefly proposed by the European Union a similar law. They called it chat control. Fortunately, they withdrawn the vote, but it was a draft law from Belgium which proposed monitoring all chat messages and other forms of digital communication among citizens, uh, including client side scanning for end to end encrypted services, meaning all messages would be checked, looking for grooming, uh, child sexual abuse material and so forth.

Now, look, I understand CSAM and child sexual abuse is a horrific, horrific thing and we should stop it. But doing this, it goes so far beyond what we'd need to do to stop it. It basically would give the government access to everything going on on your device. Fortunately, it was withdrawn, but I'm not convinced that this is permanent. So many people have criticized it, from Meredith Whitaker, the CEO of Signal, to the outgoing member of the European Parliament from the Pirate Party, corsair not for it and even Edward Snowden. But COSA has not quite so bad, but it has, for instance, uh and I think this is going to happen, uh, in California very soon, a minimum age requirement that would require age verification for all users of social media you and me, as well as children, which is a privacy nightmare.

01:32:11 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
It's just not possible, like we don't have the technical infrastructure to know the name and age of everybody who uses the internet, and we don't have that for a reason right we don't have that because that we've considered that, you know, a violation of the first amendment.

We've considered that something that goes against american values. And just to give you a comparison, you know, for the last I don't know 20 years, china has tried, been trying to build a system where you know, for the last I don't know 20 years, china has been trying to build a system where you know they know every person who's using this social media service or has this cell phone number. You know they can connect that to a government ID and a real person, right, and so they've tried to put in place these regulations where you know, for example I think it's kids under I think it's 16 or 18 can only game for three hours a week. Right, and there were so many ways, even under a regime like that, where kids were able to get around those rules. And so now they're left in a place where the gaming companies now sometimes because there were a lot of incidents basically, where kids were using their grandparents login so now to play like the equivalent of candy crush there's often a facial recognition test to make sure that it's actually grandma playing candy crush and not their grand kid.

It's like, do we want to move towards a world or country where grandma needs to pass a facial recognition test to play a little game on her phone, because that's where this is going right. It's like you can think theoretically about OK, like having age verification what that would look like. But we already have a really good example, a huge country showing us that trying to enforce something like this is a nightmare. They've been doing it for two decades and it's still not foolproof. And it's only gotten more and more labor intensive for tech companies to try and enforce. And it's a privacy nightmare, obviously, but I just don't think it's possible.

01:33:55 - Leo Laporte (Host)
All right, let's take a little break. I'm getting just more and more angry about this. I need to take a deep breath and think about other things, but we'll be right back with this Week in Tech and our wonderful panel. Louise Mitsakis is here. She is the author of you May Also Like a wonderful newsletter at beehive, and you can read her stuff everywhere, including platformer, most recently with your story on platform was about she in and timu right yeah, it was just sort of like an explainer about like, how did they get so big?

01:34:27 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
uh, what's their strategy? That kind of thing yeah really interesting.

01:34:31 - Leo Laporte (Host)
they didn't uh, they didn't go after the major markets in the US, as I remember from the story. They went after middle America, which I thought was really fascinating?

01:34:41 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Yeah, for sure. I think it's really interesting and I think that's why a lot of VCs and a lot of like sort of the classic tech people didn't notice Timo's rise and Shane's rise, because we're so used to like yeah, we're so used to like the VC funded startup that, like, all they want is their friends to use it Right, and so they're offering all these discounts to like millennials and big cities, right, and so they totally had a different strategy and I think that that caught people off guard. Yeah.

01:35:06 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Great to have you, Louise. Ed bought my old friend, my dear friend from PC computing. I remember going as calm, calm decks and seeing EdBot back in the day. That's how long it's been.

01:35:20 - Ed Bott (Guest)
We had more hair and it was a different color.

01:35:22 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yes, and the world was a different place. Senior Contributing Editor at ZDNet. But I have to say I think us older guys bring a context that's really important to all of us, because we've seen all of this happen kind of again and again, and again and it's good to remember that. It's great to have you, ed, nice to see you. Congratulations on the move, too. That's great. Also here, amanda Silberling, who makes a regular appearance now every month on Tech News Weekly with Micah Sargent. She's a senior culture writer for TechCrunch and 10 out of 10, according to Room Raider, that's my Leo's.

Room Raider review. I like it. Thank you. Our show today brought to you by Thinkst Canary. What a cool and important device this is.

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Uh, let's see adobe's in a little bit of trouble. The uh federal trade commission and the us department of justice suing adobe, I think. Essentially dark patterns, hiding termination fees, making it difficult to cancel subscriptions, making it hard to understand what you're subscribing to. This was a complaint filed Monday. Doj wrote Adobe has harmed consumers by enrolling them in its default, most lucrative subscription plan without clearly disclosing important plan terms. I think that's about right. There's not much to say about this. Adobe says it plans to refute the claims in court. Adobe's general counsel says subscription services are convenient, flexible and cost-effective, to allow users to choose the plan that best fits their needs, timeline and budget. And it makes us so much money. No, I added that part.

01:40:01 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Well, I think what was interesting about this and the timing at least is that there was sort of like that I sort of hate to use this term, but maybe it fits here that fake news story about how Adobe was using all of your work, you know, including, like you know, proprietary projects that you're working on to train its Gen I tools, and I think Gen AI tools what I was trying to say there, and I think you're sort of seeing this like trend where sort of confusing terms of service changes.

People then assume that what's happening is that their data is being taken and used to train new AI services or whatever it is. I don't remember exactly how that ended up playing out. Maybe one of you guys knows what was actually going on there, but then I think that this happened and people were like oh see, I was vindicated. There is something like wrong with Adobe, but it's not exactly the same thing, and I wonder if all of this stuff is making companies think a little bit harder about using the most opaque, confusing language possible for their terms of service updates and also, yeah, how they manage their subscriptions.

01:41:07 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Yeah, the same thing happened with Slack, where people noticed that in the terms of service, which had been online for months, that there was a line that implied that they could train its AI using your conversations at work and that you could only opt out of it, like you just automatically were opted in without knowing, and Slack said that wasn't the case and that they weren't actually like using the like tech crunch slack data to train their ai.

But these confusing terms of service uh, they they don't always like make it clear that your data is not being used to train ai, and I think consumers are very rightfully nervous about being trained, especially artists, who are the kind of people that are often using Adobe products. There is this app, cara, that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. That got like hundreds of thousands of hundreds of thousands of downloads within a few days because of the story you're talking about, where people were concerned about whether or not Adobe was training their products on the art people were doing but I think it also got a lot of attention because we found out deviant art was in fact doing that, and that was a place a lot of these artists went uh yeah, and I don't blame artists for being skittish, because, like, there are artists who literally can type their name into mid journey or whatever and it churns out art that looks like their art and that's really scary.

And I don't blame them for, like, being skittish at even the slightest implication that something might be using their data, because that's their whole livelihood and it is scary to think that this is happening without their consent or knowledge. But in particular, with this story about hiding, uh termination, I mean, yeah, if you've used adobe products before you know yeah, everybody knows it's still there, by the way, it's still the same problem.

01:43:11 - Leo Laporte (Host)
I, you know, I don't know what the resolution of the Adobe terms of service thing was. It seems to me that it was the same kind of furor that's happened time and time again because, yeah, because the way these terms of services are written. So cloud services especially, they reserve the right to make copies of your work. Well, they have to. That's part of the cloud service feature. They reserve the right to make copies of your work. Well, they have to. That's part of the cloud. They have to Service feature.

01:43:36 - Ed Bott (Guest)
They reserve the you know, and they reserve the right to redistribute them and transmit them, because you're going to ask them to do that when you share them with other people, and if it's not in the terms of service, then they can't do it.

01:43:48 - Leo Laporte (Host)
So they weren't. They weren't asserting any right that they don't need for legitimate purposes. But I do blame Adobe a little bit, because we've seen this again and again, where people read that and go what With every social network, everything you know, all the cloud services? And so Adobe maybe could have been clearer. They did eventually come out with a much clearer statement of what their intent was and they said you know, no, no, this is just, we have to do this because this is how a cloud service works. At the same time, I think this is the same problem I think Microsoft had with recall, because the level of trust is so low. Exactly, it's you know. People just go well, no, I really use you. Swear, a pinky swear, you're not going to copy my data. I don't believe you.

01:44:33 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
It's also, I think, the growing awareness that this data is valuable, like we were always told that, no, you're not.

You know it's an unfair bargain that you are making with social media platforms, and you know there was a whole wave of like should people be paid for their data, et cetera. But in the last like six months, you're actually seeing these companies sell the data for AI, right, like Reddit, stack Overflow, and so I think that's part of it, too, is that people are seeing these deals being made and they're saying like, oh well, it makes sense, you want your own data set too, because you want to sell it to whoever you want to make this valuable product. And I think there's also, at the same time, the narrative of, like OpenAI, google, they're running out of data, right, they need more data. They're data hungry. So I think in that environment, it makes sense that consumers are saying, oh okay, well, you know, not surprised that it looks like you're taking my data, even if you know in reality, it's a more innocuous terms of service issue. That is, you know, just sounds scary because it's in legalese.

01:45:27 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Well, and as Joe says in our discord, our club twit member Joe, who is an artist, a Photoshop artist. He says terms of service are binding. Intent is not. So if you agree to the terms of service, thinking well, adobe says they don't intend to use it in any other way, and then they do. You're kind of stuck, I mean. So there's a trust issue, but there's also the issue of especially in this very heated up environment of AI. There's also the issue of maybe they'll change their mind. And now you've already agreed to it, so I can understand.

01:46:00 - Ed Bott (Guest)
But in this case isn't the issue. I mean, I think the issue in the current example is more straightforward than that. It appears that you're paying $20 a month for a subscription. It appears that you're paying $20 a month for a subscription. You're paying $20 for a one-month subscription to Acrobat, but what you're really paying is $240, billed $20 at a time, and if you want to cancel that subscription it's going to cost you an arm and a leg most of the rest of your annual subscription to do that. So you know if, if, if I tell you it's $20 and it's really $240, I have probably not earned your trust.

01:46:46 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, in fact I you know. After the story came out, I went onto the Adobe website and they were still doing it. They were still saying, well, it's $20 a month billed, you know, annually it's $240. And then they said, and fine print, termination fees may apply. But they never said what the termination fees were and I don't know what they are. Are they the full year Maybe? And I don't know what they are. Are they the full?

01:47:13 - Ed Bott (Guest)
year Maybe. I think you have to dig in. You have to dig in pretty deep to them. I don't think it's the full year. I remember actually doing this one time. I got like three months from the end of an Adobe subscription and I called them and they said I want to cancel this. And they said, OK, well, what if we gave you three months free and then gave you the next six months for half price? I said, okay, I'll do that. And then at the end of the nine months or whatever it was, I canceled for good. This time, yeah.

Yeah, I mean it's not transparent in the least.

01:47:49 - Leo Laporte (Host)
And it isn't just Adobe, just Adobe. I think there's some residual resentment from people who said we're paying one fee for a lifetime license and perpetual license and then suddenly the subscription comes in. I think people resent the subscription thing if they've been able to pay a perpetual license in the past, and I certainly think that was a big problem with Adobe's Creative Cloud is people just didn't like the direction that they went.

01:48:17 - Ed Bott (Guest)
On the other hand, I understand, but it's been 12 years. Has it really been that long? Wow, they've been doing this for 12 years and I think the last perpetual license program probably ended five years ago. Maybe Grudges?

01:48:32 - Leo Laporte (Host)
last a long time. Ended five years ago. Maybe Grudges last a long time, apparently. Yeah.

01:48:37 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
And it's been annoying for 12 years.

01:48:39 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah Well, anyway, I think it's ultimately a communications issue. I think that that got misunderstood. We'll see, though, what happens in court. I think Adobe might have a little difficulty there.

01:48:53 - Ed Bott (Guest)
I have to say Thank goodness Adobe isn't in the communications business.

01:48:56 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, right, because they would really have a problem if they were. The EU is a little angry at Apple. They said that Apple's proposal in response to the Digital Markets Act for alternative app stores, the additional fees they were going to charge None of that was in the spirit of the loss of the EU's investigating. We'll investigate. We had this story last week. Apple, and it seems as if Apple has responded.

Apple has announced that all those cool features we announced at WWDC will not be available in the EU because of regulatory concerns. They're worried that interoperability requirements from the Digital Marketing Act will, quote, downgrade the security of their products and services. Apple announced Friday it will block the release of Apple Intelligence, iphone mirroring and share play screen sharing from all users in the EU, saying we're concerned that the interoperability requirements of the DMA could force us to compromise the integrity of our products in ways that risk user privacy and security. It sure feels like maybe this is a little bit of a tit for tat to the EU and, in fact, bloomberg. Let me see who's running this. Is it Mark Gurman? Mark Gurman, it's Mark Gurman. Yeah, with Samuel Stolten Says it's kind of hard. It's not clear how the features would violate the DMA, but withholding the technology threatens to irk consumers in the region, who might potentially put pressure on regulators. Oh, maybe that's the play here.

01:50:42 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
It will be interesting, though, because it'll be a good test of whether these new AI features actually matter and whether they're making a difference right If European consumers don't notice yeah, maybe that suggests.

Yeah, that suggests to me that maybe you know that this is not what consumers want, or is really not the moneymaker, right? Because I think a lot of the consumers that would be well-placed to have these sorts of complaints are going to be people who work at, like, multinational companies where, like their colleagues in the US or in other parts of the world, are using these tools and they can't, and so that's interfering with their job in some way. Right, we're like making them less competitive, and if they don't notice, that'll suggest like, ok, well, these are not make or break things, right.

01:51:24 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Wouldn't that be funny if Apple didn't offer the features in the US and nobody said anything? No big, I don't know, that's not. That would be the opposite effect I think that Apple is hoping for. Oh well, we'll watch with interest, we'll see what happens. Uh, let's take a look a little quick break here. I want to get you out of out of Dodge before, uh, before dinner time those in the on the East coast, before bedtime.

Our show today is brought to you by Wix Studio. Okay, they only gave me 60 seconds to tell you about Wix Studio, the web platform for agencies and enterprises. So, without further ado, here are a few things you can do from start to finish in a minute or less on Studio Adapt your designs for every device with responsive AI. Expand Wix Studio's pre-made solutions with back-end and front-end APIs. Generate code and troubleshoot bugs with a built-in AI code assistant. Switch up the styling of hundreds of web pages I'm talking fonts, layouts, colors all with a single click. Add no, no code animations and gradient backgrounds right there in the editor. Start a design library. Package your code and UI and reusable full stack apps. Oh, and one more big one Deliver everything your client needs in one smooth handover. That's nice Time's up, but the list keeps going.

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Are you Okay? Yeah, well, then you and I can celebrate. The California Public Utilities Commission, which in many respects has not done the best ever, has in this case done the right thing. At&t applied a few months ago to eliminate its carrier of last resort obligation. At&t is a COLR that requires it to provide landline telephone service to any potential customer and service territory. At&t has decided they don't want to upgrade their copper facilities, they want to shut down the landline network. They, of course, couldn't do this without the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission. This week they rejected that In in fact dismissed at&t's application with prejudice on thursday. That means they cannot appeal it.

Our vote to dismiss at&t's application made clear that we will protect customer access to basic telephone service. Our rules were designed to provide that assurance and at&t's application did not follow our rules. Now I can. I'm actually curious what you all think, because I could see why AT&T would say hey, does anybody use a landline anymore? That's not the future. In order to support that, they have to have huge facilities with switching networks and they have to keep copper in the ground. They make more money and they would love to get rid of the copper and replace it with fiber? Who's on the right here, at&t or the California Public Utilities Commission saying no, there's no one else to pick up the ball on this. Do we still need landline phones, louise?

01:55:05 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Long live the landlines. I think it's great. I think that if we let AT&T do this, we'd probably find that there is a lot of places where these phones are, whether it's small businesses, whether it's older people, and that is their main form of connection and they haven't thought about it in forever. And yeah, I also think like giving people the option is nice. I think there are a lot of situations where a landline is sort of the best option and not having it be a smartphone that you can move to another room or that you know sort of has to stay in place and that landline is there, I think is important and I think we should, you know, maintain this technology. We don't know when it might be important to have to.

I know it's expensive and I think like it would be interesting to see maybe like data on like how many of these phones are left and are like are they concentrated in specific places? I don't know. I always think maybe I'm just naive and it shouldn't be this, but I feel like often, when you call like a mechanic or like the local diner or like a restaurant that you know that's been there forever, when I'm like imagining the person at their end, I'm still imagining them picking up a landline that's like on the wall somewhere and I'm sure that's not the case anymore but where it is like let's let it continue to be the case.

01:56:20 - Leo Laporte (Host)
At&t's contention was there's VoIP, there are mobile, wireless services. People don't need landlines anymore. But a public testimony in front of the CPUC from users said that these voice alternatives like VoIP and mobile were unreliable, certainly in an emergency, an earthquake or other natural disasters. Landlines are often the form of communication of last resort. Uh, landlines are often the form of communication of last resort. Uh. At&t says well, fine, now we're going to the state legislature. Uh, we're focused on legislation introduced in California. Um, cause, it's easier to get the legislature to do what you want, I guess, than the CPUC. It, incidentally, does not mean that they have have to keep copper. It does say specifically we don't care what the technology is, uh, we just need a uh carrier of last resort. Uh, all over, it doesn't have to be pots, specifically, you could put in fiber.

01:57:28 - Ed Bott (Guest)
I'm not sure how that would work yeah, and as I understand that a lot of people who are subscribing to what is tariff wise, the landline service, are in fact getting VoIP service right, you know, but, but they have a phone that, they have a phone that plugs into the wall. But to your original point, leo, that, uh, they don't have to have that big switching network there, the switching network has been replaced with a digital switch. Uh, you know so, but there are still. There are still people using them.

01:58:00 - Leo Laporte (Host)
every town in california we have one, uh downtown in petaluma has a windowless building that's occupied by the local carrier, in our case at&T in there, as giant or giant physical switches used to switch the copper network. They'd love to get rid of those CEOs, I'm sure.

01:58:24 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Hi, this is Benito, real quick.

01:58:26 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Someone in the chat also pointed out that you don't lose the phone company, you don't lose phone access when power goes out.

01:58:32 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, so this was one thing about copper was, when the power goes out, the central office keeps the phone system working, so a copper line works. Even when your cell phone, after a disaster, and other forms of communication no longer work, your copper landline works. I don't know how you would do that with fiber, to be honest, but maybe there is a way to do. That's a good point. Yeah, the cpuc is very clear. We're not. We're not specifying technology, we're just saying you have to. You have to stay the the carrier of last resort, particularly in rural areas. Um att says it's about a hundred thousand customers in uh, california a good story.

01:59:14 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Maybe we'd be interviewing some of those people like who is it? Maybe it's not who I'm imagining, but, right, who still has got their landline?

01:59:19 - Leo Laporte (Host)
and wants to keep it. I mean, nobody in your generation has landlines, do they?

01:59:26 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
No, I mean my generation doesn't have cable.

01:59:29 - Leo Laporte (Host)
You don't even have cable, you just have internet and a cell phone is all anybody needs, right yeah?

01:59:35 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
so no, I haven't seen a landline in a while. But honestly, like just even talking about this, I like would love to pick up a phone right now, like a ringing phone in a room. Would that be nice?

01:59:46 - Ed Bott (Guest)
we give you a rotary dial phone also.

01:59:49 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Let's, let's get that whole experience we were watching watching last time my wife and I were watching that Truman Capote and the Swans thing and Babe Paley you know this is the 70s has a phone. It looks like a French Renaissance telephony device. It's all broke and stuff. And Lisa says, yeah, I had one of those. I said what? You're not old enough? She said no, I always wanted a princess phone. My parents wouldn't buy me that, but they got me that, she said when I was like 11, I had a phone that looked like that. Okay, she should have kept it. She could still hook up to AT&T. Well, that's the beauty of it, right? You can still hook it up For a long time. I know our home alarm system required a copper line, but I don't think that's true anymore.

02:00:37 - Ed Bott (Guest)
I think that was a long time ago. They're using cellular lines mostly for alarm systems now, yeah, and they're powered by a battery, so in those cases also, they don't go down if there's a power outage. Right, because you don't want someone to be able to just come in and cut the power to the neighborhood and then rob all the houses.

02:00:55 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Right, don't give them any ideas. Mr Bot, are you ready to pay $5 extra for your Amazon Echo? No Well, that was very definitive. What if I told you that its new name was Remarkable Alexa?

02:01:20 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Now, how much would you pay?

02:01:20 - Leo Laporte (Host)
I just every time there's a name like this, I just think about how many people are in a room at amazon hq going like incredible, remarkable, amazing so this is the story from reuters and they, by the way, well sourced eight current and eight current former employees, eight not usually it's two, right eight, according to eight people with knowledge who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss confidential product project. Do you have like, do you guys have like a button that you just push that one button that just says that automatically oh my god, I should shortcut amazon, I should just have one.

02:02:03 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
That's like. Amazon declined to comment.

02:02:06 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah there's another one. Yeah, at at press time. Amazon is planning a major revamp of its decade old money losing the service. I think didn't they say it was like cost it cost them like 10 billion. Amazon is planning a major revamp of its decade-old money-losing service. I think didn't they say it cost them like $10 billion over the life of Alexa? They lost so much money because they thought people would use it to buy stuff and instead we just use it to set kitchen timers. They're not making any money.

02:02:31 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
It's literally just a kitchen timer.

02:02:33 - Leo Laporte (Host)
It's a talking kitchen timer. Uh, and and turn the lights on and off do you do that? See, that's for that's if you're an advanced user, that's very fancy. Well, you got a new house.

02:02:43 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
We do yeah my parents have like five of them and they're only used as light switches and kitchen timers, and sometimes they tell you the weather, and sometimes my dad asks it how tall celebrities are, and I guess that's a thing, your dad does yeah, for some reason there there's like a running joke where he wants to know how tall celebrities are is that dustin hoffman?

02:03:07 - Leo Laporte (Host)
he doesn't look that tall. How tall is he?

02:03:10 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
uh, leo, just just to get the details. Would this be an additional charge if you have crime?

02:03:16 - Leo Laporte (Host)
yes, so here's the here's, I know god. So this is the story. They're planning a revamp to include a conversational generative ai with two tiers of service. Reuters says they've considered a monthly fee of around five dollars to access the superior version. Now they're not clear. Is the superior version the smart one or the dumb one? I don't know? Known internally as banyan, a reference to these sprawling ficus trees?

The project would represent the first major overhaul of ls since it was introduced in 2014, along with the echo line of speakers. They've dubbed the new voice assistant I wasn't making it up Remarkable Alexa. The sources include eight. I already said that Amazon has pushed workers toward a deadline of August, so get ready, it's coming. Andy Jassy, the CEO, has taken a personal interest in seeing the Echo line reinvigorated, so it's going to have generative AI. See, I don't want to chat it a confidentially wrong chatty not worth five dollars or more a month. And yeah, if you are, I mean the service which provides spoken answers to user queries like how tall is dustin hoffman, can serve as a hub. No, it doesn't say that part which can serve as a hub to control home appliances was a pet project of jeff bezos. He had envisioned a talking computer like in Star Trek, so an AI, basically an AI-enhanced Echo.

02:05:00 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Some of the employees who worked on the project, say Banyan represents a quote desperate attempt to revitalize the service, which has never turned a profit. I just we still don't know whether voice is actually the format that people want to interact with, these things. Right, like it seems like from the rise of chat, gpt, the answer is no, that they would rather have a window where they type the question. Right, and I think, in an era where everyone has their smartphone in their hand, I just like the kitchen timer is so interesting because it makes perfect sense. But it's also one of those situations where it's really annoying to pick up your phone, right, like, I think, like, when you think about those moments, like how many of them are there really? Like, maybe it's like turn on music when a baby's crying and you're like trying to hold the baby Right, or like you know, you're painting your nails and you, you know, randomly want to know how tall Dustin Hoffman is or whatever it is.

But I think those situations where you can't just you know quickly open your phone and get the same information or turn the lights on or whatever it is, there's really not that many of them and that's why I'm skeptical about voice, whereas voice is disruptive also, right, like maybe you don't want you know your partner or your roommates to know that you're wondering about how tall Dustin Hoffman is, but if you want to talk to the, you have to do that Right. And, like I, that would probably make my dog bark, you know. There's just so many reasons why I'm not convinced that voice is the future and I, I, you know. Good luck, Amazon. Maybe, maybe this, maybe, you know, powering it with with these generative AI tools will be the thing that changes that. But I think the last decade has shown that people just don't really want to talk out loud to the robots that much.

02:06:32 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Amanda, though your dad could easily type in how tall is Dustin Hoffman, but he prefers to ask right, he likes voice yes, but I argue with him about this all the time because he'll be like so, how tall is Dustin Hoffman? And then he's like I'm sorry, I didn't hear that.

02:06:52 - Ed Bott (Guest)
And then he's like yelling at Alexa.

02:06:54 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
And then by the time he gets an answer, he could have just typed it in his phone.

02:06:58 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Right, but it's fun to talk. For us old timers, the idea of talking to a computer is fun, I think but I also don't see my dad paying for not five or even ten dollars. They've also considered ten dollar a month. And this, yes, this is not. This is not prime.

02:07:15 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Prime doesn't get you a discount ed go ahead well, what's funny this is, this is, um, the ai problem all over again. Because so we use, we use the Google home, google assistant here, and most of the time it gets it right. But my wife is really frustrated regularly because you have to, you have to issue commands in a very specific syntax and if you get it wrong commands in a very specific syntax, and if you get it wrong then you'll get a result that's different than you expected, or you'll get no result, or you'll get I'm sorry, dave, you know I can't do that Um, and and so it's so. So what they're, what they're doing? And this was the problem with Siri, right?

Uh, siri has been the butt of jokes for years because Siri, you know, siri has been the butt of jokes for years because Siri, you know, was supposed to be this magical Apple thing and and and mostly it doesn't answer, you know, it doesn't understand what the question is and it doesn't answer them correctly.

So supposedly, apple says well, when we add AI, then then Siri will be able to understand you, and when we add AI, google Assistant will be able to divine what your meaning is. And I'm not sure that that's gonna solve the problem, you know, because there's as often as not. Even if you're talking to a human being there and you ask them to do something, they might hear you wrong, they might misunderstand. They bring you a spatula instead of a. They bring you the vinyl spatula instead of the metal spatula. No, I wanted the other one. You know it's, getting it right with humans is difficult enough. Getting it right with robots is a problem that I don't think AI can solve, but they're just going to keep trying and keep charging us more and more while they experiment with this.

02:09:13 - Leo Laporte (Host)
I think I sort of agree with you, Louise. So there's some things voice is good for, like how tall is Dustin Hoffman. Or set a kitchen spaghetti timer for 10 minutes. He's five, five, five and a. Or set a kitchen spaghetti timer for 10 minutes he's five, five, five and a half.

02:09:26 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Yeah, he's.

02:09:27 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, he's tiny, oh well google says he's a little shorter than amazon does, so we'll have to fight that one out. But they're also proposing a paid version that could compose emails sending an order dinner for delivery from uber eats. See to me that's a. That really is a recipe for disaster. Nobody wants to talk in email. If we're going to be talking, it should be short in the reuters article.

02:09:54 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
One of the examples that they use is that you can ask it for shopping advice, like which gloves and hat to purchase? No, but like I would want to know what the gloves and hat look like. And then also when you're making a purchase, it's like if it says this costs nine ninety five, like I would be afraid. What if it's nine hundred ninety five dollars? You don't know that.

02:10:17 - Leo Laporte (Host)
But Amazon's always done that, remember, and in fact I stupidly bought it, the look camera where you would have it in in your in in your dressing you had a good outfit out, you would have. You would go and you would say, take a picture and of your outfit and then would say, yeah, no, that doesn't look good.

02:10:36 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Right, your shirt looks bad.

02:10:38 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, keep track of all your. I don't know why I bought it. I mean, my outfits are not exactly outfits.

02:10:58 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
I mean, this is also the proposal of things like the Humane AI pin and rabbit, where they're like isn't it going to be so cool when you can simplify your Uber Eats order? And I'm like, no well, I want to scroll through the menu and then agonize over what one of two things to get, and then, whichever one I order, whatever I get is I'm going to be like, oh no, why didn't I get the pad thai?

02:11:09 - Leo Laporte (Host)
The last thing you're going to do is order food with it, because if it makes a mistake, that's a problem.

02:11:28 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Well, also, like I want to know, like, is the Uber Eats price like more expensive than on the restaurant's website? Right, maybe, if we could like quickly ask stuff like that. But it's just like the generative AI has to be so good at like figuring out those questions, especially to consumers who have spent so long like learning how to ask those questions to a traditional search engine and to do it in text. Right, I think it's really difficult.

I also think, if they start charging a subscription for this, one question that I think is immediately going to come up is, like who is actually providing the information? Who's going out and collecting how tall these celebrities are, right, and like, isn't that company going to say hey, you're using our content, right, like, I also worry about that too, about them being like well, now you're basically putting a right. Like I also worry about that too, about them being like well, now you're basically putting a paywall up on this content that, like, we're not benefiting from at all. I don't know if it pulls from the internet in that way, but I think that, depending on what sorts of features you had, that would also start to become an issue about licensing content.

02:12:22 - Leo Laporte (Host)
I can only imagine what a would make of a request to order BBM BAP for two. I don't, I just don't, I don't think it would get that right. I don't, I just don't know what it would make of it. Huh, and I'll tell you, there is more swearing in our house at these devices than anything else. My, my wife, constantly F you, siri, just F. You just get so mad at it, just gets. She gets mad at it because it's, you know, it's, it's. It's the worst thing to have something that promises something and is dopey.

02:13:02 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Yeah, I just feel like whenever I visit my parents, I just don't know how to turn any light on or off, because they're all. Some of them are google homes, some of them are alexis. So I'm just like, uh, google, living room on, and then you have to remember that you have to say, hey, google, and then I just am like I I can't be trusted to operate any light switch in this whole house. I'm so sorry no, I've, I've.

02:13:27 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Who who hasn't attempted to automate a home and been frustrated to no end by it? It's just it's. It's a bad thing. And I hear my wife same thing, because I set it up with hugh so I could. You can either ask, and I, by the way and there's something wrong with me I have Amazon Echo and Google Voice and Siri all in every room, all three of them. So I hear her say Google, turn off the lights, turn off the lights, turn off the lights, siri, turn off the. And then just it escalates. Are you going to do this with your new house, ed? Are you going to do this with your new house, ed? Are you going to automate all the things?

02:14:09 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Everything is already automated. How's it working? We've got it done. There's only two light switch systems. There's Hue for the standalone table lamps and a switches for the for the switches in the wall. So those have smart dimmers and stuff, Cause I think the real, the real benefit of them to me is not, um, turning lights on and off, but it's taking a single bulb and making it more or less infinitely dimmable so you can get the lighting right when you want it Right.

02:14:49 - Leo Laporte (Host)
So we say I want 12% gray and things like that. I mean can you do that?

02:14:54 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Yeah, and we've set up, we've set up scenes. I haven't done it yet for this house, but in our last house we did where we can say you know, okay, you know who I'm not going to say its name here, but you know, okay, you know who it's time to watch TV and at that point these lights go off, these ones come down to 20%. You don't feel a little silly saying that, oh no, oh no, it works great, it's fabulous. And we have friends who have done the same thing and they've come up with like code phrases yeah, for their house.

02:15:27 - Leo Laporte (Host)
That's the way you have to do it, so they're unique and and clear, so that you don't have to repeat them right, exactly, and so that's what we've done.

02:15:38 - Ed Bott (Guest)
But we have, uh, I mean, the garage door is smart, the uh, you know the lock, the door locks are smart. The washer and dryer let us know when they're done with their cycle Sent little pings to the phone. No kidding, yeah, we're just bristling with smart technology.

02:15:59 - Leo Laporte (Host)
And your wife says this is fine, she loves it. Okay, do you set it up?

02:16:03 - Ed Bott (Guest)
or does she? I've set it up, or does she? Uh, I said I've set it up. She occasionally does so. She's comfortable. She counts on me, she's not. We have a, we have a, you know we have a division of labor.

02:16:14 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, that's fair. That's fair. Yeah, yeah, okay, I guess I should try again.

02:16:22 - Ed Bott (Guest)
I've only tried this multiple times and it's always been I will tell you, though, the secret is don't just pick one, or at most two, providers for things and then do everything through. Just pick your system. So we got rid of our echoes completely, you know, maybe that's my problem. Precisely the reason you say so should you.

02:16:46 - Leo Laporte (Host)
So what do you? What do you use home assistant? What do you use as the central home assistant?

02:16:50 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Yeah, home assistant. Yeah, google assistant. Google home and assistant are the um. Yeah, that's the organizing principle and there's like eight apps that are tied into it, and it was. It took me about two days, off and on, to get everything set up, but now it just mostly, mostly, works yeah, nox harrington is saying in our discord you have to plan in advance.

02:17:18 - Leo Laporte (Host)
So that's my problem is, it's all piecemeal, like well, I have two lights there, I have a hello doorbell there, I have an amazon echo there. It's all.

02:17:26 - Ed Bott (Guest)
It's all peace, and that's what our and that's what our last house yeah, that's what our last house was, and it was all stuff that was bought on sale, right it's settled down.

02:17:35 - Leo Laporte (Host)
So maybe this is the thing I should just. I should just leave. I should get a new house, just throw out the old one and start over.

02:17:43 - Ed Bott (Guest)
That's's the way there you go, it will be cheaper in the long run. Leo, totally.

02:17:53 - Leo Laporte (Host)
All right, I have a few more stories I want to cover, including the wonderful story by Kevin Wynn in the Verge about how Game of Thrones changed journalism, and you know it was. When I read it it was like, oh, that's what happened. So, and since you're all in the field, I thought I'd run it by you see if it makes sense. But first a word from ExpressVPN. The right VPN can make it possible to watch content all over the world. You know Netflix in Europe, netflix in the UK, things like that. There's so many things a VPN can do for you.

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So Kevin Wynn worked at GQ in 2017 when Game of Thrones took over the world. He says I was asked to be the third host of a weekly Game of Thrones recap show that streamed on Facebook Live. There's a story he said I hardly knew anything about Game of Thrones. I was allergic to the lore. I hadn't read any of the books. I ended up being the grump on the show.

Pivot to video is a phrase now associated with any boneheaded move in media, but there was a time before it was a joke. The spring of 2016,. Facebook Live. You know. People said why aren't you streaming on facebook live? And I said I don't have anything to do with them.

But, as you probably know, every publication in the world jumped on it. Conde nass, the parent company that owns gq, handed down instructions. Kevin writes to participate and at least at the magazine level, there was some acknowledgement. The whole thing was silly, but a year later we were still playing ball. Game of Thrones was one of those things people couldn't get enough of, and pretty much everybody did Game of Thrones recaps because they were easy and they drove a hell of a lot of traffic. He publishes on his Verge article a partial list of publications that wrote Game of Thrones recaps you ready ABC News, the Atlantic, the AV Club, baltimore Sun, boing Boing, the Boston Globe, collider Complex, den of Geek E Online, elite Daily, entertainment Weekly Fansite, gq, grantland, the Guardian, the Hollywood Reporter, the Huffington Post. This is every week the Hollywood Reporter, the Huffington Post. This is every week. A Game of Thrones recap. Ign, indiewire, los Angeles Times, the Mary Sue, mtv, the New York Post, the New York Times, npr, people Ranker, rolling Stone, the Ringer Screen Rant, screen Crush Slant, the Standard, the Sydney Morning.

02:23:51 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Herald, the Telegraph Time, the Times, picayune, TV, tropes, uproxx, usa Today, vanity Fair, the Verge, the Vulture, wall Street Journal, washington Post, the Week and Wired Used to work for Wired. Did you ever have to do Game of Thrones? That's amazing.

I don't know if this is going to be a controversial thing to say, but I have never seen an episode of Game of Thrones Bravo, I haven't either. What I just I don't even really get it. I don't like fantasy though like fantasy is not really my cup of tea. But yeah, I definitely remember this and I think that this is maybe the best example. But there was lot of these brands to lose.

What made the brand, the brand, right, like that's the issue is, if you're chasing after the big thing, it's one thing. I think to find this can also be an issue, but it's one thing to find like the angle on a story Right. Like maybe the Wired story about Game of Thrones is about you know the technology they use to make the sets, or you know the type of animation software that was used to edit it, or whatever it is. But if it's just a recap, like that to me is such a like you know TV guide, TV websites, you know forte, but the fact that everyone did it. I think just spoke to this moment in the media where, where people were so desperate for traffic that, like, whatever the easy and big thing to do was, everyone did it. I think he's totally right and I definitely have ptsd from uh, reading this and you go from this era of media we love the atlantic, the atlantic which is kind of a legendary long time journalistic entity.

02:25:18 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Uh, he quotes jared keller, who was writing for the Atlantic as an associate editor. He says the Atlantic was very forward-thinking, more so than many of its contemporaries. They did a lot of Game of Thrones stuff. If there was a down week and all the percentages fell in terms of week-over-week traffic, I'd get questions like where did the traffic go? Keller says I'm 22, and I don't know where the hell the traffic went. I had to tell everyone to relax and try to create content that's more conducive towards getting picked up on these social networks.

But it didn't take long for keller to see the steady stream of page views coming for stories about game of thrones. Then beginning its second season and he says it just took over, the atlantic did what every other website was doing publish episode recaps. I confess to every Sunday night, after watching the Game of Thrones and being completely baffled by what happened, going to the Atlantic, going to all these publications, reading recaps, hoping they'll explain it. Keller said they're making bullets. I'm just the gun, hoping they'll explain it. Keller said they're making bullets. I'm just the gun.

Uh, he never liked the job, was not happy doing it. It's a. It's a really a great piece about a time when journalism was really struggling, uh, and perhaps chased something that, in the long run, didn't serve it well, because, of course, game of Thrones ended, and so did a lot of that traffic, and then Facebook streaming ended, and then so did a lot of that traffic, and then Facebook announced we're going to downsize, we're going to deprecate news, and there went more traffic. We're going to deprecate news, and there went more traffic. And here we are in the 2024. And a lot of publications are suffering.

02:27:11 - Ed Bott (Guest)
There was a similar story either this week or last week where someone said you know, elon Musk tweeted a thing. That's the story.

02:27:27 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, okay, that's the one. Okay, no, no, no, no, not this story, but that's the whole story. And in the headline, elon Musk tweeted a thing Guaranteed traffic Guaranteed.

02:27:35 - Ed Bott (Guest)
And so someone wrote that story this week and did exactly the same thing, where he said here are the 27 publications that all wrote three or four paragraphs basically on Elon Musk tweeting something stupid, and then he went in and described each one of the angles that they took.

02:27:58 - Leo Laporte (Host)
This is Jason Keebler writing on 404 Media. Jason's fantastic uh dozens of human journalists are writing the same blog to appease a search algorithm that wants to automate their jobs out of existence.

02:28:12 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Yeah, yeah, I mean that is the state of the industry where, like, we're sort of in this push and pull situation where we need to get traffic to prove to the corporate overlords that we are worth keeping on the payroll, but then, in order to get the traffic, like really good investigative journalism sometimes will generate a lot of traffic. But you never know and it's hard to predict and you can work on like a really important story that like drives, like change in the government, but like actually like 10 000 people read it, which is low for something that ideally, if you're doing an investigative report, you would spend a really really long time on. But like, every time I write about porn hub which I write about it because it is like a really fascinating business that sort of is a harbinger of what is coming in the tech industry and whatnot. Like I know I'm gonna get a ton of traffic anytime I have pornhub in the headline and I'm often writing about like the government suing the company that owns it and I'm like writing really dry stuff about like like lawsuits and whatnot.

But it gets traffic and I think that trust in the media erodes and the quality of the media erodes when writers are incentivized to be writing for traffic rather than for the quality of their work. Bingo. But like, at the same time, I don't blame the people that were writing all these Game of Thrones recaps, because even in 2016 and even now, it's like journalists are kind of in this state of being like, well, I don't know if I'm going to have a job in a year, so I might as well try as hard as possible to make the people that pay me happy. And you make them happy by getting traffic, which gets you more ad revenue. You make them happy by getting traffic, which gets you more ad revenue, although now ad revenue is down and the Google algorithm is changing and no one knows how to do SEO anymore and everything's great.

02:30:13 - Leo Laporte (Host)
By the way, I want to paraphrase the godfather You'd probably do just as well if you took the porn and left the hub. That's a deep cut. I'm sorry about that. Uh, the tweet he's talking about I fell for this too was elon saying oh, if apple puts open ai in the iphone, we're gonna ban iphones at, uh, the front door of all my companies. Everybody picked this up. We did it too, even though we knew it was nonsense and the would forget about it three seconds after he wrote it.

Here's the problem. I mean, I did it because this is what people are. It's fascinating. People want to hear this. You talk about the things people want to talk about. We don't have link bait here, because it doesn't make any difference. If I talk about it in the show, it doesn't mean more people will listen to the show, but if I talk about it in the show, it doesn't mean more people will listen to the show. But I do stuff people are interested in and I'll defend that. But here's the problem. It's also the reason okay, I'm going to get a little political here, so don't throw anything at me but I think you could point to this as the reason. Donald Trump got elected in 2016, and he still gets more television coverage than anybody. He's great for clicks, he's great for views, he generates traffic, whether you love him or hate him, but all of that extra attention raises his profile.

02:31:39 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
Yeah, no, you're totally right.

And even like internally at TechCrunch, we sort of had to reckon with what is our strategy around covering Elon Musk, because in like 2022, when he was saying he was going to buy Twitter and then, like, bought a 9% stake in it and then later bought the whole thing, and then there was all the lawsuits, and then it was like, at that point it seemed like everything Elon Musk tweeted was news, because he was tweeting stuff like I am going to buy this major social platform, which that is news.

And then over time we realized we kind of got in the habit of being like, oh, anything Elon Musk says that's like a feature update, whereas, like, if the CEO, like if Mark Zuckerberg tweeted, tweeted like here are some new features coming to facebook, we would probably cover that. But you can't trust when elon musk says here are new features coming to twitter or x whatever, because he doesn't follow through on, like most of the things he says, and so we sort of have stopped covering elon musk said x, unless if it's like a legitimate thing that we have evidence that it is happening, because, like, what's the point?

02:32:50 - Leo Laporte (Host)
alfred harmsworth, the first viscount norcliff, and a british newspaper magnet, said when dog, when a dog bites a man, that is not news because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that's news. No one. You never read a story about a plane that didn't crash. I mean, this is the business we're in. You cover the things people are interested in.

02:33:19 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
I think, though, it's like what's your value at right? Like that's the question, I think, in 2024, it's less like are people interested? We should definitely report on things that people are interested in, but, like, if 30 websites are doing the recap of you know a show and trying to get the top of the search results, or whatever, why are people going to give you money? Why do advertisers want to go with you? Why are people going to subscribe if you are just adding the exact same recap? Maybe it's because your writer is really funny, maybe they, you know, have an inside perspective on Game of Thrones because they know the actors, or whatever it is. I think the question is less like ignoring stuff. I don't think it's journalist's job to ignore things that are interesting, even if they don't seem that important, because there's a reason people are interested, right. But the question is like what are you actually adding and why are you the right person?

02:34:09 - Leo Laporte (Host)
to tell that story, and that's why it's okay that I mentioned the Elon Musk tweet, because I could then say how absurd it was that Apple this didn't mean that OpenAI had access to the Tesla network or the X network.

02:34:23 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Right, right, that's a tech story, right, yeah, so there is a story but at the same time I know that it's also a sexy story.

02:34:30 - Leo Laporte (Host)
But you know, you don't hear a lot of pornhub stories on twit, I confess. So you know, I have some, I have some standards right.

02:34:39 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
I just think the problem with the game of thrones thing is that it's like every brand right it's like all these tech websites.

02:34:43 - Leo Laporte (Host)
It was the same stuff.

02:34:44 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Thrones thing is that. It's like every brand right, it's like all these tech websites. It was the same stuff. Yeah, exactly.

02:34:46 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
It's like they're not adding anything unique. And then I think that you're telling your subscribers and your readers like you can get the same thing elsewhere, so like don't worry about us, right, you don't need to pay attention.

02:34:57 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Kevin compares it to Kevin Wynn in the Verge, compares it to the rush to answer the question what time is the Super Bowl? Because you know you're going to get a lot of queries and it's going to generate a lot of traffic. So you say, hey, just in case the Super Bowl is at 315, you know, because that's going to generate traffic.

02:35:15 - Ed Bott (Guest)
And I think maybe what it all comes down to is that once upon a time in our lifetime, news was a scarce commodity. It had to be printed and distributed magazines, newspapers, whatever and so if you could do something better than somebody else and get it into their hands quickly enough, then you had an advantage. There is literally no scarcity on the web now. The question is you know, can I get there five seconds faster than somebody else? And you know, if a story hits the zeitgeist, you know within an hour there'll be 300 stories on it.

And what's happened is that, to Louise's point, not only is there not anyone trying to add value anymore. In fact, the financial incentives are the exact opposite of that. Instead of adding value, you just need to add volume. So instead of writing two valuable stories a day, you are expected to write 20 stories a day that all hit hot button items and hopefully one or two of them will go viral. And so all of the financial incentives because there is no scarcity have now flipped and there's almost no room left for value to be added, which is, to me, the saddest thing?

02:36:47 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, in the long run, that destroys it. It just destroys journalism. There's no, and it's why AI is a threat. Right, because AI can add no value at scale. It's really good at that and not adding value. So, boy, and it's's not good for, by the way, for our society. I mean, it's just a problem all around there. It is Final story. I did want to mention this. It's not really a tech story, but I know probably a lot of you grew up as as I, watching Julia Child cook and then watching Bob and Norm rebuild houses with this old house, and then watched Crockett's Victory Garden. They were all created by the same fella. He discovered Julia Child in 1963, put her on WGBH in Boston In 1976, he thought up this old house while remodeling his own home and then, some years later, in 1975, he teamed up with Jim Crockett to create Crockett's Victory Garden.

Russell Morash a name you probably don't know, but you know his shows. He passed away this week. Know, but you know his, you know his shows. Uh, he passed away, uh, this week. Uh, the founder and father of some of the best how-to television, uh, ever. Russell morash, some great uh programming. Not king, not game of thrones, of course great, but you know good stuff this old house is great.

Yeah, this old house is not full house. This old house, do you?

02:38:24 - Ed Bott (Guest)
know this old house yeah okay, yeah, yeah, let us raise a glass, yeah what is it they said on battlestar galactica?

02:38:34 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
uh, something, something, make it so you're full of these deep cut references today I know, I'm always full of it. That's my job, okay, I just want to say hey, no, there's some good ones okay, but I'm like you know, we got the, we got the godfather, we got battles.

02:38:51 - Ed Bott (Guest)
Battle star galactica you know, I got some deep cuts, deep cuts, I'm saying so, say we all, so, say we all so say we all yeah that's it.

02:39:01 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Thank you, louise mitsaka. So great to see you. Don't forget Louise's newsletter. You should. Is it a subscription deal? Is it a profit deal?

02:39:10 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
I know it's free right now.

02:39:11 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Well there you go Now you really now, you really got to get it. You may also like beehivecom, a newsletter about tech, e-commerce and China, and it is on my beat check because you have such great stories and I love reading you wherever you are, including on the platform. Thank you for being here, louise.

02:39:32 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Thanks, Leo. I'm so excited to be here. I really appreciate it.

02:39:34 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Also hello and goodbye to Amanda Silberling from TechCrunch, senior culture editor. Love your stuff and you're especially welcome on our tech news weekly with micah. I love it every week, every month when you're on. That's great thank you for being here yeah, and I hope your team wins, lady. What's?

02:39:54 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
the name of your softball team the hamantaschen is that because you?

02:40:00 - Leo Laporte (Host)
all it's very good three corner hats Actually so not to lengthen the episode.

02:40:06 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
but one of my softball teammates as a joke ordered a glove on Teemu, and I'm too competitive for that. I was like you cannot use that in the game, I will not allow it. So that's another anomaly for Louise, I guess, in her research.

02:40:22 - Leo Laporte (Host)
There you go.

02:40:23 - Louise Matsakis (Guest)
Thank you so much. I really appreciate the hot tip.

02:40:25 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Do you have hamantaschen at every uh, at every game? Cause, that would be, I would be. I want to be on that team.

02:40:31 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
We don't, but we should. It's also funny because it's only like four of us are.

02:40:35 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Jewish. Oh, that's hysterical. It is a triangular, uh, Jewish triangular pastry associated with Purim, and it usually has prunes in it, right yeah?

02:40:46 - Amanda Silberling (Guest)
just various like fruity fillings.

02:40:48 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Yeah, love them, they're so delicious. Oh, poppy seed hamantashen, I love those. I don't know why I was thinking of that. Anyway, thank you for being here it's great to see you, amanda and thanks to my dear old friend Ed Bott. I think John C Dvorak introduced us many, many, many years ago, 30 years ago now. Many years ago, yeah, yeah, and always been a fan ever since. Ed writes for ZDNet, where he's a senior contributing editor, and he's a proud new papa of a Surface Pro for under $1,000.

02:41:21 - Ed Bott (Guest)
And you've been talking to me through it today.

02:41:26 - Leo Laporte (Host)
Oh, you're kidding, You're using it. That camera looks great.

02:41:29 - Ed Bott (Guest)
That's a great looking camera. It's an amazing camera. It has all kinds of AI features that I worked with your engineer to turn off.

02:41:37 - Leo Laporte (Host)
I heard Bert telling you to turn off the follow feature where like as you move it follows you around.

Turn all that stuff back on. I want to see it now. I'm sorry we didn't have it. You can get up. You can leave, the camera follows you in the bathroom. It's great, ed Bott always a pleasure. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you, leo.

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We're kind of reinventing, which is really, you know, designed to kind of emulate old media, you know, tv or radio station. We're really trying to rethink what we do with Twit to make it more modern, and I think you will see those changes coming in the near future. It also makes it more economical and gives you more access to it After the fact, on-demand versions of the show, audio and video. We love the video. Don't worry, we're not getting rid of video Available at the website twittv. There's a YouTube channel dedicated to this Week in Tech and, of course, you can subscribe on your favorite podcast client and that way you'll get it automatically as soon as it's done, just in time for your Monday morning commute. Thank you to John Slonina, our studio manager, burke McQuinn, the guy who keeps people's cameras centered, and our technical producer and producer-at-large, the man who books the shows and organizes the news, benito Gonzalez. Thanks to all of you for watching. We'll see you next time. Another twit is in the can Bye-bye,

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