This Week in Tech Episode 895 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.

Leo Laporte (00:00:00):
It's time for Detroit. This week in tech we have two of my favorite people on two geniuses, Corey Dro and Alex Cantor Witz Pro. Big tech against Big Tech. It's gonna be a great conversation. We'll talk about Google Killing yet another service. Mark Zuckerberg fighting in the Octagon. Elon Musks Robot <laugh> and the plan Peter Teal's plan to buy into Britain's national health service. That and a whole lot more coming up. Plus the big scam in podcast advertising. It's ahead on TWiT podcasts you love

TWiT Intro (00:00:43):
From people you trust. This is TWiT.

Leo Laporte (00:00:52):
This is TWiT this week in Tech. Episode 895 recorded Sunday, October 2nd, 2022 Eastern Blocks.

Leo Laporte (00:01:03):
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Alex Kantrowitz (00:02:44):
Alio. Great to see you.

Leo Laporte (00:02:45):
Are you plugging the Vancouver hockey team? This

Alex Kantrowitz (00:02:49):
Is the Grizzlies. So this is throwback. So for listeners, I'm wearing this throwback Vancouver Grizzly's sweatshirt. It's pretty cool. It's by Mitchell and Nest, which is I think my favorite clothing brand. Nice. And I'm not a fashion guy, but I did see that the grizzlies wore the throwback jerseys, Memphis Grizzlies, co grizzlies. And I

Leo Laporte (00:03:05):
Said, Are you from Canada?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:03:06):
I gotta get that gear. No, the closest I've been to Canada is Washington State. And the closes I've been to Vancouver is Washington State and on the West coast. I do have some family in Toronto, shoutout Toronto. But no, I'm a New Yorker. Let's go Mets.

Leo Laporte (00:03:23):
So there's nothing weirder than a New Yorker wearing a Vancouver grizzly shirt. But we'll go.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:03:28):
I have one promise to make to you today, and that is I'm here to bring the weird, let's

Leo Laporte (00:03:32):
Go also here. I'm thrilled to have him, Corey, Dr. O. You know Corey very well. I'm sure he's got a new book. In fact we did a triangulation Corey and Rebecca Giin, his co-author and I on Thursday. You might want to check that out on the TWiT triangulation feed or the TWiT event feed. Really fascinating conversation. Great to see you. Corey. You are a Canadian authentic.

Cory Doctorow (00:03:57):
We walk among you. We are like serial killers. We look just like everyone else.

Leo Laporte (00:04:02):
He seems so normal. How could we have known?

Cory Doctorow (00:04:05):
Although I became an American citizen about 10 weeks ago.

Leo Laporte (00:04:08):
I know, I heard. I remember that. Congratulations. Thank you. Are you having regrets yet?

Cory Doctorow (00:04:13):
No. Opposite. Actually, the worst things got the more glad I am that I have more rights. Oh. That I would otherwise not be entitled to as someone who is merely a permanent resident.

Leo Laporte (00:04:24):
Now your wife is American? Yes.

Cory Doctorow (00:04:26):
No, she's British. She's British, but she's also American now. So she is Anglo-American. My daughter and I are Anglo Canadian Americans, but I'm through my father entitled to Polish, Aer Bajai Belarusian and Russian citizenship. Great. So I might get some of those. Most of them are countries I don't intend to ever,

Leo Laporte (00:04:46):
I'm sure I'd wanna go. But

Cory Doctorow (00:04:49):
Yeah, every now and again you wanna go someplace that was like Aly Nation during the Cold War and you got the right passport for

Leo Laporte (00:04:56):
It. Yeah. It's nice to have James Bond, a whole stack of passports, you know, can go to in your go bag just in case. That's right. Just in case. That's

Cory Doctorow (00:05:05):
What I'm down for. I mean, even if it takes the rest of my life to get them. And hypothetically also, I could get an Israeli passport. So aid in total. Wow. I just like to

Leo Laporte (00:05:14):
Have a big you

Cory Doctorow (00:05:15):
Stack with the rubber band around it.

Leo Laporte (00:05:17):
Exactly. Have it in the safe with $10,000 in cash and then just leave it open every once in a while in case anybody is wandering by maybe a side arm and you're set, you're ready to go.

Cory Doctorow (00:05:29):
Someone in the irc, San Mateo says, Putin might conscript me. Although I'm a 51 year old man with two artificial hips and cataracts. I don't, Doesn't matter.

Leo Laporte (00:05:37):
Doesn't matter if you're in court. That's really scraping the bottom of barrel. Take it. He'll take you. How's your hips by the way? They're getting better. Yeah, good. Little by little. Last time you showed us your 3D model of your hip bone.

Cory Doctorow (00:05:50):
Yeah, now I should have brought them in. I made a brass cane topper cast from my hip hip bone. Yes. And then the bone itself is in a shadow box but they're all, they're both out in our bar in the backyard.

Leo Laporte (00:06:03):
Rightly so. I

Cory Doctorow (00:06:04):

Leo Laporte (00:06:04):
With it leaves them there. It's good. <laugh>. Oh, Google. Google. They're at it again. Stadia, three years old. Google has announced they are shutting it down. They're streaming gaming service. I guess really the only question is whoever thought Stadia would survive, the good news is they are giving you your money back. Why did Google Alex even think it could get into gaming <laugh>? What was the process there?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:06:39):
Well, I think that what we're seeing now is this demarcation between old Google and new Google and old Google said, let's experiment with everything. We can throw money behind it because why not? And that's how you end up having a thing. Like Stadia get funded in the way that it got funded and become a big Prague of Google strategic vision is because they were gonna make every experimental project part of that vision and eventually some of it would stick. And that would be the potential next big reinvention for Google.

Leo Laporte (00:07:09):
Did Google get financial responsibility? Did they start grow up or?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:07:17):
Well, that's what I think. That's exactly what I think we're seeing right now. And the canceling of Stadia is maybe just the beginning. We had soon Cha CEO of Google and Alphabet at code a few weeks ago saying Google needed to get 20% more patient. Yeah. And I think that rather than look at this as Google's bet on gaming, I think we can really see this as a signal for where this company is going and maybe where all of Big Tech is going, which is that those experimental projects that used to get the money, because again, why not? They're not gonna get the money anymore. And I think this is gonna do two things. One, it's gonna add bring needed focus to a lot of these companies, but two is gonna open the door for companies who would've otherwise been in these experimental areas and gotten wiped out by big tech to start competing with big tech in a way that they haven't been before. So I think this is, again, so just a very dynamic, interesting time for Big tech and Stadia is one example of what we're seeing in terms of the change that's just gonna accelerate, I think over the next few months.

Leo Laporte (00:08:13):
Do you think, Corey, it's maybe also trepidation about government regulation that maybe Google's saying we should pull some of the tentacles back in? I mean, I

Cory Doctorow (00:08:23):
Don't think that so I think that merger scrutiny is a lot easier to imagine the state imposing than merger review and unwinding. Unwinding mergers is really hard. It's very expensive and it takes a long time. I think it's probably unnecessary corrective. And I do have a one weird trick that we can talk about later for how I think we could do a lot of it very quickly, but merger scrutiny is far more likely. And since they didn't buy Stadia, I don't think they would be worried about that. But I do wanna say that it's underappreciated the extent to which Google bought its way to glory instead of inventing its way to glory. This is a company that's had one and a half internal successes. They made a great search engine and a pretty good Hotmail clone. All of the other things that they've built internally, crashed and burned and all of the successes that they have are things they bought from someone else. And this is just the latest example, right? Google video, YouTube succeeded. Google couldn't build a mobile os, but Android came along and people will say that Google Photos is an internal success and it's true, but it's an internal success because it comes bundled on Android, which Google bought from someone else and

Leo Laporte (00:09:34):
They bought Picas, which is a lot of the back end as well. I'm looking though. Google's purchased starting in 2001 when they bought Deja News. I forgot about that

Cory Doctorow (00:09:45):
News. Yeah,

Leo Laporte (00:09:46):
Remember Deja and

Cory Doctorow (00:09:47):
Blogger of course was their third

Leo Laporte (00:09:49):
Big acquisition. They bought Ad Sense, they didn't make that up. Yeah,

Cory Doctorow (00:09:53):
Their whole ad tech stack, their server management, their mobile platform, their video platform customer service, HR software, all of it, their docs platform all came from other companies. Yeah.

Leo Laporte (00:10:04):
Calendar. What about Chrome? I mean, what about the

Cory Doctorow (00:10:06):
Browser? Chrome, you're right, Chrome is, Chrome is a browser. They did build internally. You're right. That's an omission. Thank you. And the browser, I take it back, led that project is of course the CEO today, Sunar was right in charge of two and a half successful products. You're absolutely right, <laugh>. But still, I mean that's an increase in, and I don't to <laugh> don't mean to be flip here, I it's, but it's also true of lots of other companies that they're buying their way to glory. And the reason I bring that up, because you asked me about antitrust, is that historically companies were prohibited from both merging with major competitors and also buying nascent competitors that they might neutralize on their way to becoming a threat. And the modern antitrust that was practiced for the 40 years of kind of Reaganomics that seems to be coming to a close was extraordinarily tolerant of acquisitions as a growth strategy. But as I say, I think that's coming to a close in the uk, the competition of markets authority is challenging. Even small acquisitions like Facebook buying Jiffy, which I refuse to call Giffy <laugh>.

Leo Laporte (00:11:08):

Cory Doctorow (00:11:10):
I think you're gonna see more of this, and I think it's necessary corrective, I mean the extent to which VC's have become effectively corporate recruiters who basically say, All right, we're gonna put a little money into a startup whose purpose is to basically produce a postgraduate portfolio piece that we're gonna pretend as a product just to prove that they can work together as a team and then a tech company will buy them, throw away the product and just put them to work. And the VC's equity will just be like a finder's fee. It's a grotesque and wasteful way to conduct business to say nothing of get innovative products into the market.

Leo Laporte (00:11:51):
I'm just looking the list of acquisitions, Google has made the many great companies that I've loved when they were around that have basically disappeared. Picasso's a good example. Jaiku is a good example. You can go on and on and on. They've basically been a graveyard feed burner Grand Central, which became I mean, feed burner's still in there and so is Google Voice as grand central. Although part of the problem with Google killing stuff is it makes people nervous about adopting Google services because there's always this risk that Google's gonna lose interest. So Alex, you're saying this is kind of a salubrious adjustment of their financial maturity, but it's also risky, isn't it?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:12:41):
I do think it's risky. Yeah. I think I made this point in big technology a couple weeks ago talking about how, you know, might end up seeing stuff that Wall Street likes a lot in the short term things like greater pro profitability. They might even make some offensive moves to try to take out some competitors. But in the long term I think focusing on profitability, especially when it comes to big tech companies that are 10, 20, 30, 40 years old leaves them vulnerable to outside challenges in a way that they weren't before.

Leo Laporte (00:13:11):
Google is at least try to make people whole who bought into Stadia, they're gonna refund your fancy controller and any games you bought, which is actually a big deal because you had to buy the games to play them on Stadia, but they're not gonna refund your subscription fees. And there are some people who are a little miffed about Google pulling the plug, a YouTuber named its Color tv, who says he had devoted 5,907 hours to building up a character in Red Dead Redemption too. A character which will be lost. That's 246 days lost in January when Google pulls the plug. Because there's currently no way to transfer that character to your own copy of Red Depth Redemption.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:14:00):
I'm sorry about it. For folks who think that it's a good idea to invest in products in other people's platforms without thinking that there's a risk that the platform might pull the rug, it's, it's absurd at this point. Every single thing that people build on one of these big tech platforms, you have to understand that if for some reason they decide that they don't want to support it anymore, it's done and this,

Leo Laporte (00:14:25):
But you don't have a, do you have choice is the problem, right? I mean, where do you go if you're not gonna build on, at this point, you can't build on any, you're gonna, it's YouTube or TikTok, my son is 2.1 million followers on TikTok is starting to build a career as a TikTok creator. But it's not like you could do that on your own blog anymore, right?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:14:48):
Yeah, of course it's different. And even if you congratulations to him, yeah, he's doing great, but that you do it, you do understanding that it might just be a moment in time. And I think we all have to be okay with that when we're on these other platforms. Yeah, because there's no other way around it. They are also, by the way, say TikTok is providing that opportunity for your son to create that business. It's a great opportunity. Without it, it wouldn't be there. So it goes both ways. But all this stuff really needs to be viewed as potentially temporary situations because that could always flip over time. And often it does.

Cory Doctorow (00:15:21):
I agree with your cautionary note there. I do think that when we say there's no other way, you're right that there is no other way right now, but it's not like there's no conceivable other way. When RSS was designed in and its core was this idea of blocking lock in and Orphaning and so on. Yeah, so there's an XML directive you can put with RSS that says this feed is permanently moved to a different address. So if you and your hosting company part, you just send that directive out, the next time a podcast catcher pulls down that XML file, it goes, Oh, I'm just gonna relocate my bookmark for this to a different server. And you can just take your audience with you. I understand why YouTube hasn't built that, but I don't understand why we should shouldn't want them to build it. If we're going to get a better deal for creators from YouTube, one of the ways that we'll do that is by YouTube having a legitimate fear that if they give creators a bad deal, that those creators will go elsewhere.

Cory Doctorow (00:16:20):
It's a separate issue to the one about this Red Dead redemption character. But again, at least within a single game, it's easy to see how those stats could be moved over. I mean, this is just a small database entry, but I think that firms don't doing this because their app store to be a sole portal into payments and other sources of value. And if they do create that interoperability that they, there's that possibility that customers will jump ship if they're taking a 30% or a 15% rake or whatever it is stadium was taking at a Red Dead redemptions publishers, the inability to port a character is a feature and not a bug. That's not a technical challenge. They YouTube could disclose to Red Dead, Red Dead Redemption, all of that material and give the publishers the technical means to move that character over small file. That's all. But they just choose not to. Right.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:17:20):
Don't you think that if you spend the money creating this stuff, you should be able to make the rules. Let me give an example. Brick and mortar's store. If you have a restaurant and you shouldn't just be required to store all the person's food preferences so that they can then go to another restaurant and basically mimic exactly what you've been giving them without having that restaurant having to work for it, That should be something that starts from the ground up. But

Cory Doctorow (00:17:48):
The user should be to,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:17:49):

Leo Laporte (00:17:49):
Don't fully, Yeah. Mean honestly, I know what my preferences are so I can bring them with me, but if somehow the restaurant was able to lock up my preferences, that wouldn't be a good situation would it? I don't think. Of

Alex Kantrowitz (00:18:00):
Course. Yeah. Listen, I think that if you spend the effort, you run the business, you're spending the time working.

Leo Laporte (00:18:05):
Yeah. I'll never go to that restaurant then if they're gonna steal my preferences and keep 'em to themselves. Look,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:18:11):
Not go to, let's say you go to pizza restaurant number one, right? <affirmative> and you,

Leo Laporte (00:18:17):
And they name a pie for me, the Leo pie, which is I'm

Alex Kantrowitz (00:18:21):
Saying grapes,

Leo Laporte (00:18:22):
Tomatoes, Pete pepperoni, and that's all. And then I can't take that to another restaurant because it's

Alex Kantrowitz (00:18:28):
You. No, That other restaurant, Other restaurant should be able to make that. But there shouldn't be a requirement to go to this restaurant and say, Please send the

Leo Laporte (00:18:37):
Recipe, download Leos

Alex Kantrowitz (00:18:38):
Recipe, and then give it to the competitor, that competitor chef to figure out on their own.

Leo Laporte (00:18:42):
But RSS is a good example because I mean this whole network is dependent on rss. That's what our podcasting works. But didn't the platforms come along and say, Yeah, we're gonna kill rss creating some sort of spurious allegation that RSS isn't working or it's not right or it's not good. They did the same thing with Xmpp. They don't want interoperability, so they actively kill it, don't they? And

Cory Doctorow (00:19:08):
Let me be clear, I'm not saying necessarily that I want YouTube to be forced to do this, but in the absence of meaningful competition, YouTube is neither being disciplined by firms nor by regulators. And that means that they can, their corporate preferences carry an enormous amount of weight. And that furthermore, the lack of competition, which arises in part out of this anti-competitive vertical integration that I was just talking about, where Google just buys the companies that might later compete with it, means that it has enormous power over policy. So while I support absolutely YouTube's fair use claims, I was a staunch supporter of YouTube when Viacom was suing them for a billion dollars. I think that it's not YouTube's job to make sure Viacom's business model is intact or to respect their business model. I think what sauce for the goose's sauce for the gander, and if you were to try and make a tool that allowed a YouTube broadcaster to take their audience with them to arrival platform, which is I think analogizes to the kinds of things that people did that YouTube did when they made a tool that allowed people to take the video they liked and put it on YouTube and only have to respond to take down and so on.

Cory Doctorow (00:20:20):
YouTube would reduce you to radioactive rubble. They'd say you violated their terms of service. They'd say you violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. They'd say you violated the DMCA and they would put you out of business for doing unto them what they did onto others. I'm just saying that they should face the same competitive pressure that gave rise to something as innovative as and great as YouTube so that the next innovative great thing can come along.

Leo Laporte (00:20:48):
That seems fair. You wouldn't be against that, right Alex? I mean you don't have to. Yeah, well I mean is there a bill in the Senate to promote interoperability?

Cory Doctorow (00:21:01):
Is that, Yeah, the Access Act, it wouldn't touch this, but the Access Act is about exposing APIs for social media in a few of other kinds of platforms, app stores as well. And then eu, there's the Digital Markets Act. They embody the punchline of that Irish joke if you wanted to get there. I wouldn't start from here <laugh>, right?

Leo Laporte (00:21:20):
You have

Cory Doctorow (00:21:22):
This situation where these firms are very dominant and where they do act as gatekeepers, where they're like, they're Matt, Matt Mullenweg's post about why Tumblr doesn't have porn anymore and why it never will was pretty instructive here. It was like we submit updates to Apple three times a month and at any time they might just arbitrarily decide that the filters we had last month are no longer good enough and then we just go out of business and he's like, I don't know how TWiTtter gets away with it. I don't know how Reddit gets away with it, but we don't. And couldn't. Apple has chosen to make exceptions for some firms and not others. We only have a hundred million users instead of however, or we only have 1,000,010 million users instead of a hundred million users. So maybe that's why. But it just puts Apple in the position of picking winners and losers in the marketplace.

Cory Doctorow (00:22:11):
And I don't think the answer is to say, Apple, you must carry all apps no matter whether you feel they're good or bad. But I think that it's customers should be allowed to choose a different app store. It is after all their phone, it belongs to them. As you say, if you add the value to it, eg by opening your wallet and buying it, then it should be yours to use as you feel like. And the fact that Apple doesn't have to face meaningful competition from other app stores for the hardware it's sold means that it can act in this very high handed and opaque way. And it gets to structure the entire mobile market or half of it, the other half being structured by Google, but no one elected them. And mostly what they use to attain that structuring is not technology but the law. It's the fact that if you were to try to unlock an Apple phone and sell a dongle that Jill broke your phone and let you choose another app store, Apple would sue you. So they're happy to have this state regulator step in and prevent people from offering more choice to people who own vices, who wanna use their property in different ways, but they abor regulation when someone steps in and tells them how to use their property, I would actually prefer to just withdraw the legal protections from Apple, not impose new obligations on them.

Leo Laporte (00:23:29):
You say the Access Act should be modified to allow a private lawsuit,

Cory Doctorow (00:23:35):

Leo Laporte (00:23:35):
Is what Texas has done with their gun laws and their abortion laws. Actually no. California did it with a gun laws Texas

Cory Doctorow (00:23:42):
Did. Yeah, with the gun laws. Yeah. It's pretty different cause it's disinterested third parties. No, this is just like there are some statutes that only a public prosecutor can invoke and some that the public can invoke. So imagine if you went to the muffler shop and they wrecked your car and the only way you could sue them is if you could get your local attorney general to sue them. Right? That's what it's like when there's no private right of action. So private right of action is if you individually were harmed by someone who violated a statute, you can hire a lawyer to sue them. Statutes that don't have a private right of action require a public prosecutor to bring action. And sometimes that's appropriate. But I think with both privacy and with the access act a private right of action makes sense.

Leo Laporte (00:24:23):
Yeah. I think the fear is that it would jam the courts with a bunch of frivolous action as well. Although I don't see that in Texas, I don't see it in California. So

Cory Doctorow (00:24:33):
Maybe, and you can just have something like a slap act where you can have early motions to dismiss. You can also have fee recovery, which discourages that kind of thing. If it's loser pays, people aren't gonna bring spurious lawsuits cuz the other side will be like, great, I'm just gonna hire a lawyer on contingency to rack up giant billings for your frivolous lawsuit and at the end I'll take it outta your hide. It's

Leo Laporte (00:24:55):
Kind of telling though, we'd have to rewrite our torch system in order for this to work

Cory Doctorow (00:24:59):

Leo Laporte (00:24:59):
Well it's

Cory Doctorow (00:25:01):
Mostly a legal protection and not a technical one. As a technical matter, jail break has been of varying degrees of difficulty at different times in Apple's devices history. But as a legal matter, the difficulty has stayed constant. You know have Checkmate, which is a jail break against all of the secure enclaves for eight years worth of iPhone MO models that cannot be remediated cuz the secure enclave's not field updateable. Cuz that's the whole point. If you can modify the secure enclave, then it's not secure. And so hypothetically someone could develop a jail break based, third party app store that leveraged Checkmate for anyone who bought an iPhone over the first eight years of its exist or year four through 12 of its existence. But they can't because Apple would come after you under the dmca.

Leo Laporte (00:25:55):
Is that so Matt Mullenweg In fact, I wish I'd asked him this cause he was on our show a couple of weeks ago about the porn thing. There was a kind of movement on Tumblr people saying, Oh, Tumblr's bringing porn back. Look at this, look at this, look at this. And Matt had to write a blog post saying, No, no, it's not coming back. It's never coming back. Is it fair for Apple or for Matt to blame Apple for this? Alex?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:26:19):
I mean look, I'm not familiar with the controversy here. I know that Tumblr used to be filled with porn. I guess

Leo Laporte (00:26:24):
It's not. Yeah, Verizon killed it. Matt said basically that's the old Tumblr back in 2006. You could do that, but nowadays, because Apple would just knock us out of the app store and that's 40% of our signups and 85% of our page view from mobile we'd be out of business. Yeah,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:26:44):
I think that look at a certain point, you gotta let the companies that are running these products make their own decisions. Apple has a reason for not wanting to have. Yeah,

Leo Laporte (00:26:53):
But his point is they let TWiTtter and Reddit both. Mm-hmm <affirmative> have considerable amount of adult content. Well

Alex Kantrowitz (00:26:58):
I do think that they were gonna wanna be consistent in the application of the rules that he says

Leo Laporte (00:27:03):
They're too big for Apple to block. So they decided to make an example out of Tumblr if that's the case, which I think is right. I mean I think Matt knows better than anybody, and I like Matt and I trust him. That's a really good example of Apple misusing its market power.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:27:17):
Well I think the one way that Apple could really do a better job is make sure that it gets some of the scams out of the app store. I don't know if Apple's making the best use, if it's time being the morality piece on apps like Tumblr and if it's going to be better, be consistent. But there's so many scam apps in the app store. These are well documented. They exist in the US and outside, largely outside. And if the company's trying to make us think that that 30% fee is worth it work on getting those scams outta the app store first and then we can go the level down and talk about decency on the apps.

Leo Laporte (00:27:52):
And thanks to Costa Faria who exposes this, he's made this his job ever since Apple blocked his very useful tool for writing text on an Apple watch, allowing others through, he's made it his life work <laugh> to find scams on the app store. Apparently he had a deal with, he made a deal with Apple over his app being blocked. So he's had to stop talking about that, but,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:28:25):
Well that's terrible.

Leo Laporte (00:28:26):
By the way,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:28:27):
Can I ask you a question? So I think that there's been a very interesting arc to these conversations that we've had about big tech. The first one was a recogni recognition of the fact that these apps have, and companies have just become too big. And it all happened so fast. Facebook went from like 500 million users to a billion to a couple billion users. Like in a blink of an eye. Amazon went from being a percentage of online retail to being online retail effectively in a moment's notice Apple from a 1 trillion couple hundred billion company to a $3 trillion company in a moment's notice. So then everyone's like, okay, these companies are the biggest companies in the world and they're squeezing out competition, which is definitely true. We need to regulate them. And then we had this flood of ideas and bills that have come and tried to reign them in.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:29:15):
I just wonder if they're going too far. Some of them seem like they make a lot of sense to me. The idea that a platform cannot privilege its own products by using the data that it gets from companies that have to go through them. That makes sense. But the whole idea of cutting off acquisitions most m and a fails. So the idea that m and a is the only thing that's made these companies successful doesn't really make sense to me. The idea of data portability, I understand the tenants of data portability, but people are on Facebook, people are on TWiTtter for the network. It's not like you can just take your data and go somewhere else and be okay. And all this is happening in the context of a market that's punishing these companies ruthlessly. I mean Facebook's down 57% this year in the stock market and getting knee capped by tac. So I would just wonder if how far we've gone too far on let's regulate the fair competition back in the market without remembering that we have a market economy and letting the market do its work as it seems to be doing this year.

Cory Doctorow (00:30:17):
I mean, I agree. I think that it's important to distinguish between the dynamics that drive growth and the dynamics that maintain growth. So growth I think is driven it's well understood by network effects. You know, joined Facebook cuz you wanted to talk to the people who were there. They joined Facebook cuz they wanted to talk to you. You made an app for the app store cuz you wanted to sell it to Apple customers. Apple customers bought iPhones because they wanted to use your app. And so there's this virtuous cycle that drives growth. But intrinsically technology has really low switching costs because computers are universal. The only computer we know how to make is the computer that can run all the software we know how to write. It's the touring machine, the V Noian machine. And so historically, when you had firms that had chokepoints in the market the way Microsoft did in the early two thousands when it wouldn't maintain the Mac office product and it became harder and harder for CIOs to justify having Mac in the office.

Cory Doctorow (00:31:12):
I was a CIO back then. We started putting Windows machines on designers desks so that they could access Word files and Excel files and PowerPoint files without corrupting them. Eventually we just put bigger graphics cards in them, threw away their max and bought them Adobe suite for Windows. And the way Apple resolved that was not by asking the law to regulate Microsoft, nor was it by telling people that they like Max better. And so they should just hang in there. They reverse engineered Microsoft products. They made pages keynote and numbers, which are reverse, which reverse engineered the file formats of Excel, PowerPoint and Word. And they made them feature compatible and they kept a team on that so that every time Apple or Microsoft updated their file formats, Apple updated their file formats and parallel so that they could maintain compatibility. That's a thing that has been ended.

Cory Doctorow (00:32:05):
The mechanisms under which we used to do that have now been made illegal under ous interference with contract under non-disclosure and non-compete under the computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Section 12, one of the digital millennium copyright right act and so on. We've created this P number of laws that boil down to felony contempt of business model. And what that's done is it's made it possible for firms that have attained dominance through network effects, but would historically have faced the risk of losing that dominance also through network effects. Because the corollary of a service that gets more valuable every time joins someone joins is a Corolla is a service that gets less valuable every time someone leaves. And so you're prone to these bank runs on your users as we sort see happening with Facebook now it's meta where people are leaving Facebook and advertisers are leaving and then people are leaving, the advertisers leaving.

Cory Doctorow (00:32:53):
So restoring that interoperability, the right to interoperate when Facebook extended membership to EDU addresses all of the users that had hoped to court were already on MySpace. And rather than telling them, you know, should pick a day when all of you quit MySpace and come to Facebook or you should maintain two separate clients, it gave them a bot and you could load that bot with your login and password for MySpace and it would go and scrape your waiting messages and put them in your Facebook inbox and then it would let you reply to them and push them into your MySpace outbox. And if you tried to do that to Facebook today, or if you tried to reverse engineer Apple's app store and produce a feature compatible app store today the way Apple did to Microsoft, they would destroy you. And so you're right, there's a market dynamic that drove these, this growth, but it's not a market dynamic that maintained the growth. The thing that maintained the growth was the capture of regulation to prevent new firms from doing to these firms what they did when they were new firms.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:33:52):
Well I also wonder sorry Leo, you can tell you could reign me in, but No,

Leo Laporte (00:33:57):
No, no, this is good. And then I'm gonna bring up some other congressional legislation and event that is probably misguided. But go ahead.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:34:05):
If this is the case, then how do you explain, And by the way, just for the, I'm trying to learn here. So how do you explain the notion that Figma, which effectively does what Adobe does, but does it on the browser just sold to Adobe for 20 billion in what was absolutely a defensive move because Adobe knew that Figma was gonna kick its butt if it let it continue to grow. And another thing,

Leo Laporte (00:34:31):
But by the way, I surprised, but the consensus seems to be that that's gonna be allowed to go through when to me, Corey, this is exactly what you're talking about.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:34:40):
But fig's ability to succeed is effectively also pretty impressive, right? And then there's the other, with this acquisition, Adobe is gonna become Figma effectively. The other thing that I wonder about is what happens when we have these conversations in the context that nothing's gonna change. But what happens when we move platforms and we go to augmented reality, for instance, the people who are building the operating systems and the hardware for augmented reality right now, we don't know who's gonna win that. And that can, again, just like we moved from desktop to mobile and even downloaded to the cloud that could also throw things.

Leo Laporte (00:35:23):
Well this is an opportunity with me, with the Metaverse to say, let's do this differently. Cuz otherwise you're gonna have a metas gonna have maybe, and you're gonna have to choose one or the other one will win because

Cory Doctorow (00:35:38):
Second life Metaverse, second

Alex Kantrowitz (00:35:40):
Life still second life. And don't laugh at me, but I think that the Metaverse is gonna be largely enterprise and there's this Facebook advertisement that I think I'm gonna write about soon that's all about enterprises use of enterprise uses of the, I really believe that the Metaverse is gonna be enterprise not social. And if it's me, well

Leo Laporte (00:36:00):
I think Z is hoping it will be more than just enterprise.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:36:03):
Well, exactly. But you look at their advertising and they're starting to,

Leo Laporte (00:36:06):
Well they want it all. And Microsoft clearly made that decision. They said, yeah, the HoloLens isn't gonna be a

Alex Kantrowitz (00:36:12):
Consumer problem. Exactly. But let's throw another competitor in. And again, this is where I'm hoping no one laughs, but magic Leap, their second generation device is not bad really, and it's geared entirely towards enterprises. Yeah,

Leo Laporte (00:36:26):

Cory Doctorow (00:36:26):
Think capital overhang though, I mean they

Alex Kantrowitz (00:36:28):
Have a lot of money, they own D overseas, but when you go some

Leo Laporte (00:36:30):
Shifts, little

Alex Kantrowitz (00:36:31):
Things always openings for competitors. Yeah, sorry.

Cory Doctorow (00:36:34):
I mean I think that starting for the end of working backwards, I think you're a good case to be made that the metaverse, if it ever succeeds, won't be for entertainment if for no other reason than walking around with a brick on your face is an invitation for someone to come up and kick you in the ass. So I could see why it would only be used by people who are sitting comfortably here. But

Leo Laporte (00:36:55):
What about augmented reality where you're

Cory Doctorow (00:36:57):
Maybe, but I don't wanna get too caught up in there. I think that the Figma story is really interesting that what you see is exactly what I'm describing. Where there are elements of PSD that were not which is the Photoshop document for file format that were not within this containment vessel. And so Figma was able to make feature compatible Photoshop replacement that could read and write your Photoshop files. That was key, right? Because people have a lot invested in their photo existing Photoshop files. They can't just abandon them. They need to be able to open them and read them. PSD was reverse engineered and that's why you can read it in the gimp and that's why you can read it in other programs and so on. But their response was to use their access to the capital markets to snuff out a competitor before it could grow to become a significant and meaningful business all on its own.

Cory Doctorow (00:37:50):
And so that we're left with this kind of totology, which is that if the capital markets will give you enough money to buy a company, you must be the best person to run it. And the way that we can tell you're the best person to run it is you have enough money to buy it. But going back to the Google graveyard, it's pretty clear that there are lots of people who in the capital markets will entrust with the money to buy a nascent competitor who either treat that as a predatory acquisition and snuff it out or who are just not qualified to run it. We were making jokes about the flicker URL at the beginning of the show before we went on the air flicker was the first service that had mobile photos, right? Years before Instagram Yahoo bought it and then it became a play thing that was DED over among the various al princelings of the Yahoo Empire and it suffered and fell into neglect. And now it's belongs to SMU mug who are gradually digging out more than decades of technology debt. But it was catastrophic to be acquired.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:38:55):
But don't you think that if a company gets acquired and then ruined, that opens up the door for another company to come and compete? So for instance, Figma is not the, Adobe isn't killing the cloud developer design. No, there's a lot of competition. The idea,

Cory Doctorow (00:39:13):
Which is an open source

Alex Kantrowitz (00:39:14):
Version we talk about just

Cory Doctorow (00:39:15):
Raised like 20 million. Yeah,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:39:16):
So exactly. So this is my point. So if Adobe kills Figma, can't pen pot come in and start to compete, of course there is always the risk when you do m and a that you're gonna end up killing innovation. But it's not the end of the story. The story continues. If you mess something up, you canal, you are gonna open it up to competition. And if there is a need in the market for this thing to be built, it will be built

Cory Doctorow (00:39:40):
Well. But you get things like so there's a great eff fluorescence of RSS readers at one point and Google decided to launch its own reader and that created what venture capitalists called the kill zone around rss. Readers wanted to back them because there was something that was priced at, was cross subsidized from another business at a price that was so low free that there was no way to compete with it. And as a consequence, we saw a decade of neglect, which would've been fine if Google had not then killed reader, but readers never recovered, right? We, that was the end of rss, effectively. Now this kind of rump, I was actually just in New York doing a book event that mm-hmm <affirmative> Neo like Patel, who's the editor in chief of the Verge was hosting. And the Verges nude redesign is amazing. And one of the cool things about it is it has a feed of articles that people in the Verges newsroom think are cool that's there on the front door of the verges new redesign. That's a great redesign. And I said, Where can I get an RSS for that? And he was like, we discussed it and thought nobody would wanna see rss. That's exactly what they're doing is an RSS feed.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:40:49):
Can I tell a funny story though? So Sure. I think there's a lot of the idea of a kill zone is real and legit, and I think there's a lot of truth to what you said. Okay, maybe I'm wrong here, but I do think that we ended the tech world ended up building a replacement for rss and that was TWiTtter. And that the person who built Google Reader ended up going and working with TWiTtter for a while and he ended up, unfortunately, Bill and he regrets this building the retweet button, which I think is a source of, and he thinks is a source of a lot of the negative effects of social media. So it's a mixed bag, but it also, the market did come in and say, here is another way that you can get your stories via a feed. And that was TWiTtter. Reddit also,

Leo Laporte (00:41:38):
I, by the way, I think NE's answer to you Corey is disingenuous. I don't think that has, how much does it cost to do an RSS feed? It's nothing <affirmative>. You can do

Cory Doctorow (00:41:50):
An rs. I think he was telling the truth. I think it was just basically they built a lot of features. It's, they're not an engineering organization. They had to prioritize

Leo Laporte (00:42:00):
Concept knows he knows better than that

Cory Doctorow (00:42:02):
And that's their own cm.

Leo Laporte (00:42:03):

Cory Doctorow (00:42:04):
Remember the Verge launch, but to be a reference customer for its own cms, right? And so I have no idea if we were talking about Drupal, I'd say yeah, for sure. You just type in the obscure

Leo Laporte (00:42:16):

Cory Doctorow (00:42:17):
Says make this thing be an RSS feed now. Right?

Leo Laporte (00:42:21):

Alex Kantrowitz (00:42:21):
By the way, I

Cory Doctorow (00:42:23):
Yeah, sorry, go ahead. No, go ahead.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:42:25):
When Google killed reader, there were so many clones that came out. The market did try to end up building a replacement. I remember, I, I'll be honest, I wasn't really into RSS readers and then Google killed reader and I saw the outpouring of all this anguish and said, Oh, I gotta try that. And so I downloaded or set up an account on something called the Old Reader and <affirmative> I that

Leo Laporte (00:42:49):
I still use rss, I use And by the way, I gotta point out, Zumi discovered an RSS feed at the Verge. So it's not that feed on the column there on the right, but it's the all posts feed from the Verge. So, all right. They're still doing rss. Maybe Neil, I didn't know that <laugh>, but

Cory Doctorow (00:43:08):
No, no. They've got RSS for the main feed. For

Leo Laporte (00:43:10):
The main feed. Not for that side feed. Yeah, for

Cory Doctorow (00:43:12):
The not for that side part. Yeah, that sidebar is amazing. It's just not convenient for me to keep a browser tab open some my screen

Leo Laporte (00:43:19):

Cory Doctorow (00:43:22):
But I don't think he was BSing me. I think they just sat down and did a triage and they were like, Nobody uses RSS anymore. Why would we bother? And I tried to convince them that RSS is like what the people who read the news to talk about the news and amplify the news.

Leo Laporte (00:43:36):
That's all I use.

Cory Doctorow (00:43:37):
And so it's like, it's a small but proud people like

Leo Laporte (00:43:43):
Canadian, influential. I think influential like

Cory Doctorow (00:43:46):

Leo Laporte (00:43:47):
Like Canadians,

Cory Doctorow (00:43:48):
He seemed like

Leo Laporte (00:43:49):
Such a nice guy who would've known we're version of this gonna, I have to take a break. Hold on Alex, cuz I, we, Okay. Otherwise we'll be here a little eight or nine or 10. And on your time, that's like three in the morning. So <laugh>, Alex Kreitz is here. The big tech, big technology podcast, technology I didn't think of it this way to intend it this way, but you're not here to defend big tech, so don't feel like you have to <laugh> especially when you've got Corey, Dr. O on the author of the latest Choke point Capitalism, which is absolutely an indictment of not just big tech but big business in general. You point out in the book, and I think it's by the way, a great read, highly recommended that it's not just tech, it's it's publishing. It's the record in business, it's the live concert business.

Leo Laporte (00:44:38):
Every business there is out there. In fact, we've got a story we'll talk about in a little bit about the podcasting business as well. <laugh> is becoming a big tech, not, I'm not a part of that, unfortunately. We'll have more in just a bit. Our show today brought to you by nuva Nu Reva's, great audio simplifies. Today's IT Pro. Yeah, kind of in a tough spot. Now we're doing this hybrid thing, right? Hybrid working and learning means you have to equip and support more spaces with audio and video conferencing systems because you've got people in the office, you've got people elsewhere, they are all working together. And your IT department still gotta do network security, which is a big issue these days. And of course you're shifting to cloud-based solutions. You got infrastructure issues, product shortages and delays. Add that on top. It's put so much strain in it's resources, people time, expertise, and budgets.

Leo Laporte (00:45:33):
So here's a product customers will love that requires minimal effort from IT to deploy and manage at scale with a bonus of requiring zero end user training. But it solves a big problem in hybrid work when it comes to audio conferencing and larger spaces. It's very common to be faced with complex and expensive multicomponent systems. You gotta bring in people to design 'em and install 'em, and then they've gotta continue to maintain 'em and update 'em and manage 'em. Ne Reva is the opposite. Great audio simplifies. It's changed by offering solutions that deliver a high level of simplicity with Neva, you put in what is looks like a sound bar that gives you full room mic pickup. If you've got a really big room, put in a couple. If you've got a regular size room put in one. It's a sound bar, it's got speakers, it's got microphones, and it uses NA Reva's patented microphone missed technology to in effect fill the space with microphones.

Leo Laporte (00:46:33):
And so easy to install. You could do it. You don't even have to call the IT department. Install a new Reva system in less than 30 minutes, maybe an hour if you've got a giant room. It's simple. You don't have to configure it, you don't have to tweak it. You could. It's so much less expensive and so much easier than those traditional systems. We could take your RI offline for days. In fact, you could start right now. Get a Neva system, install it, be ready for your very next meeting with Neva. You can monitor, manage, update, and adjust all the systems. And no matter how many rooms with a powerful cloud based platform, Neva console, it doesn't even have to walk down the hall. Ne reva's, very scalable. They could bring their simplicity to large organizations too. Neva Systems, N U R E V A, they cost a fraction of traditional systems, give you a better result, solves this problem of people in the office and people elsewhere trying to mate and work together.

Leo Laporte (00:47:29):
Great audio is so important to that. Check it out., N U R e eva is a solution. I don't think people, I mean guess if you've been watching our shows about it, but I wish it were better known because I still see conference rooms so poorly equipped for audio. This could do so much better. NI Thank you Narva for supporting this weekend tech and thank you listeners and viewers for supporting us by going to that special address. So I know you saw it here, ne <laugh>, did Mark Zuckerberg fight in the UFC show? I don't <laugh>.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:48:15):
He should have

Leo Laporte (00:48:16):
<laugh>. So I don't Saturday. I don't know what happened. I mean, I'm hoping somebody subscribed to this <laugh> UFC closed its fight card at the apex the facility owns in Vegas to the press and the public, They wouldn't say initially who did it, but an MMA insider area. <inaudible> said a very good close, close to the event had told him it's something to do with Mark Zuckerberg. Speculation is Mark's written out the event, maybe just so they could watch, Maybe they could record it for the Metaverse. Maybe Mark's gonna get into the octagon. I don't know. Wouldn't put it past him.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:48:54):
Well, the event already happened.

Leo Laporte (00:48:55):
Yeah, so I'm asking what happened.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:48:57):
It was just Mark Zucker seemed like it was Mark Zuckerberg in his group, in his cronies watching

Leo Laporte (00:49:02):
Smoking those meats,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:49:04):
<laugh>. And there was this amazing reaction, J of his wife, Priscilla just kind of losing her mind as the fight goes on. But I think the MO telling thing is that there were all the UFC fighters who were talking about how awful it was that the entire fight could be bought out by one person. And I think that that's spot on. And I don't know what Mark Zuckerberg,

Leo Laporte (00:49:25):
Well you got enough money, could we, Can't

Alex Kantrowitz (00:49:27):
You buy? Yeah, of course. But just the A optics be the itself I find fairly wrong and sports is a game for the people. I can't really see any justification for wanting to buy the entire seating and then leave the public out of it. If you want to go watch a fight, go watch a fight. But don't buy. Has anyone else ever done?

Leo Laporte (00:49:51):
I've never seen How much do you think it cost to buy and get terrible to gun <laugh>?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:49:55):
I don't know. You, I guess you probably do it for million dollars. They make most of their money on the cable

Leo Laporte (00:50:02):
Streams. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Cory Doctorow (00:50:04):
I It's like getting Kanye to play or your corporate event or your kids' butt MITs or Senera or something. It's just such an oligarch <laugh>. It really

Alex Kantrowitz (00:50:15):
Is. Yeah,

Leo Laporte (00:50:16):
It's awesome. Although

Cory Doctorow (00:50:17):
I was told that when the Salton Brunai visited Disneyland, he had 13 tour guides and the vice president of operations with a retina of over a hundred people on a flying wedge ahead of them. And they just went from ride to ride wedge clearing parts of Disneyland as they went, which is hilarious. It's

Leo Laporte (00:50:35):
A military

Cory Doctorow (00:50:36):
Ride to 10 grand a day.

Leo Laporte (00:50:38):
<laugh> it. You know what? It'd be worth it not to have to get in line. That's all I'm saying. Absolutely.

Cory Doctorow (00:50:44):
Yeah. That's best deal at Disneyland. You

Leo Laporte (00:50:46):
See, every once in a while you see videos on Insta and TikTok of celebrities getting ushered to the front of the line. You know, just have to, it's good business. I did how David Beckham waited the full what was it, 16 hours he waited for the Queen. God bless him. Yeah, God bless him. 10 hours. Yeah. I think a number of celebrities actually got in line for that. That's respectful. I like that. That is respectful. Yeah.

Cory Doctorow (00:51:13):
Will William Gibson once told me that he feels like he has just the right amount of fame.

Leo Laporte (00:51:19):
What is the right amount of fame? People

Cory Doctorow (00:51:21):
Enjoy his work and they tell him so he can earn a living from it. But he, it's not, he can't eat dinner in a restaurant. Once Ette was visiting London and we went out for lunch and got interrupted three times, no fun.

Leo Laporte (00:51:36):

Cory Doctorow (00:51:36):
Penn is a moderately famous person, but we are eating at a restaurant in London. It's not like Pen. Pen and Tell are really well known in the UK and never the last, He couldn't get through a 40 minute meal without being interrupted three times. So I feel like there's probably, it's definitely a threshold where the fame gets pretty toxic.

Leo Laporte (00:51:55):
Steve Martin once told me that he knew it was over for him as a real person when he attempted to ride the subway. This was many, many years ago, to go see a show in Brooklyn or the Queens or somewhere. And he said, I can never, He said, I'll, I can't ride, I can't do any. And I've been to dinner with him. He rents, basically, you take over a private room, you don't eat in public and you're still harassed by the chef <laugh>, the made tea. How do you talk about this relationship you have with Steve? Oh, it's well known. I've told people about this before. He used to listen to my radio show. I don't think he does anymore. And he DMed me about 10 years ago saying, You don't have to respond to this, but I really like your radio show. I said, Yeah, I'm not gonna respond Steve Martin, who cares?

Leo Laporte (00:52:39):
No, I responded and kind of struck up a friendship. That's awesome. Friendship. And it, He's the only person who's that famous that I've ever spent time with and it really, he can eat. I bet now he can't. Now that murders in the building's big. I bet you it's actually gotten worse for him. Again, <affirmative>. But he very famously stopped doing stadium comedy because he said, it's not a show anymore. <affirmative> like the zoo, It's, he talks about it in born standing up in his book. I think he really didn't like that level of fame. But once you get there, can't no turning back. Here's Mark, by the way, practicing. And apparently this is his sparring partner made his debut in the Octagon, and maybe that's why he bought it up.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:53:29):
Well, he could just buy a ticket to it.

Leo Laporte (00:53:31):
You could just buy one ticket, I guess over

Alex Kantrowitz (00:53:32):
Did this

Leo Laporte (00:53:33):
<laugh>. But Neil, can

Alex Kantrowitz (00:53:34):
I just say, Sorry, go ahead.

Leo Laporte (00:53:36):
If you're Mark Zuckerberg, you don't wanna be harassed the whole fight. Maybe you need that flying wedge of cronies

Alex Kantrowitz (00:53:42):
And I think that he should just, You want to go watch sports, go suck it up and go watch it in person with the people. I

Cory Doctorow (00:53:50):
Mean, it's not like they don't have booths, right? They have sky booths, sex,

Leo Laporte (00:53:56):
Whatever, private booths. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Cory Doctorow (00:53:58):
I mean, champagne

Leo Laporte (00:53:59):
Room, it doesn't solve problem. Right?

Cory Doctorow (00:54:02):
This is the, a famously solved problem of sports stadiums, having VIPs who want to sit in a fancy booth

Leo Laporte (00:54:11):
Where a mustache of a hat, just a little disguise. You can

Cory Doctorow (00:54:15):
Rent out the

Leo Laporte (00:54:16):
Private room. Yeah, that

Cory Doctorow (00:54:18):
Exists. I don't if exists at this UFC thing, but

Alex Kantrowitz (00:54:23):
I mean, who says yes, That's a good idea to,

Leo Laporte (00:54:26):

Alex Kantrowitz (00:54:27):
You're getting bad advice if you think that's a good idea

Leo Laporte (00:54:29):
To do this. Maybe not a good idea for Mark. But remember this is also the guy who on the 4th of July last year, posted a picture of him wearing sunscreen, holding the American flag on a motorized foil, Leo

Alex Kantrowitz (00:54:42):
That I have less of a problem with. You wanna go make Anita of yourself in the ocean. By all means, people do it every day.

Leo Laporte (00:54:49):
I remember when he posted this that we had somebody on and said, How if you're Mark Zuckerberg, you have a Fay lengths of PR professionals guiding you, protecting your image at all times. How did that <laugh> get fast?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:55:04):
I'm saying, yeah, no one goes, Hey, you might look a little out of touch if you end up buying out the whole UFC game. And I love the fact that all the UFC fighters called BS on it because deservedly so <laugh> now that, okay, no problem with that. If you want to go hold a flag making any idiot outta yourself in the ocean, there's a big ocean, but there's only limited seats in the ufc.

Leo Laporte (00:55:28):
People were offended by this though. I do remember they were very offended. I'm not sure why, but

Alex Kantrowitz (00:55:33):
People are offended. You. People are offended by everything. So yeah,

Leo Laporte (00:55:37):
That's true. It's not dignified. It's not dignified. Maybe that's all that's wrong with that <laugh>

Alex Kantrowitz (00:55:48):
Look. Is it something I would do? No.

Leo Laporte (00:55:51):
Whatever he taking, he's a robot sports

Alex Kantrowitz (00:55:55):
Event on that one.

Leo Laporte (00:55:56):
What's fun? We are now thanks to the ongoing action between TWiTtter and Elon Musk in the Delaware court of Chancery privy to the fascinating texts going back and forth between Elon and other wealthy individuals during his attempt to purchase TWiTtter. And I, I think it was the Atlantics take on it that it just shows you these guys are as stupid as you might even imagine. They Elon Musks texts shatter the myth of the text tech genius. This is Charlie Wark writing The world's richest man has some embarrassing friends a number of whom have been on this show, including Jason Calak, Canis <laugh>, who volunteered to run TWiTtter for Elon. And then at one point said, Let me ask, I'll ask around. I remember he did this. He asked around and said, Anybody wanna invest? Put some money into Musk's acquisition? I can help Marshall. Wright's few and Musk's phone appeared as excitable as the angel investor, Jason Callick Anis, who peppered his friend with flattery and random ideas for this service in the span of 30 minutes, Kak suggested a five point plan for TWiTtter that would introduce a membership to your creator. Revenue splits algorithmic transparency and changes to the company's operation after pledging his loyalty. You have my sword. He texted Musk Kah can pushed new ideas for weeks. For weeks. Imagine we asked Justin Beaver, not beaver, beaver, to come back and let him DM his fans. He could sell a million in merchandiser tickets instantly would be insane.

Leo Laporte (00:57:54):
Finally, Musk says, Since message back Morgan Stanley and Jared think you are using our friendship not in a good way. This makes it seem like I'm desperate. Please stop <laugh>. To which poor Jason only ever wanna support you. Elon love you, man. And he said he'd jump on a grande for him. Yeah.

Cory Doctorow (00:58:20):
So I wrote about this today. I just put the link in the ia, I wrote about this today for my column on medium. And I think that the way to understand how this works is that it, it's to be an innovator is not to have a unique genius to have good timing. That if you scroll down a little there, Leo, you'll see these two diagrams I have about what it takes to invent the helicopter <laugh>. So for 500 years, people invented helicopters. They were like, Oh, I've seen a screw press and I've seen a maple key. I've invented the helicopter <laugh>. But it wasn't until someone else had invented private

Leo Laporte (00:59:00):

Cory Doctorow (00:59:00):
Internal combustion that you could get a helicopter. And Kevin Kelly calls us the adjacent possible. And this is why when it's railroading time, you get railroads and why six people invented the radio within a year each other and so on, and

Leo Laporte (00:59:15):
Idea whose time has come. That's what that means, right? Yeah. Yeah.

Cory Doctorow (00:59:18):
And so these guys, they had a good idea. They were not unique in having that good idea but what they did have was access to the capital markets after edging out other people, after getting a little bit of advantage that they could use to buy other people's good ideas, to suppress good ideas before they could take hold independently by buying rivals or by using predatory pricing, all of that other stuff. And so what you end up with is people who are just sort of mediocre donkeys, no better than you or me. I'm not claiming to be better than any of these people, but they're, they're not better than me either. And no one should put me in charge of the lives of a hundred million TWiTtter users or 3 billion Facebook users. And I think we often focus too much on whether these people have the right stuff for that job and not enough on whether that job should exist.

Leo Laporte (01:00:09):
We have, and I've talked about this before, there's this great man hypothesis and because Elon is a billionaire or Mark Cuban's a billionaire we ascribe to them, they become the Alexander the greats. They become the great man when in fact, maybe they didn't earn that sober K. Maybe they're just the right person at the right time. That's what you're saying, I

Cory Doctorow (01:00:32):
Guess. Well, it's the providential doctrine. If you are rich, you must be great. And if you are not rich, you aren't great. And the way to tell whether someone is great as whether they're rich.

Leo Laporte (01:00:41):
I think we've come to a time when we've stopped worshiping billionaires or we're starting to stop worshiping billionaires. I hope you

Cory Doctorow (01:00:47):
Say that. I wrote something unflattering about P here yesterday and it turns out that PIR is the latest meme stock and there's a whole bunch of weird Peter Te

Leo Laporte (01:00:57):
You must be a short seller, man.

Cory Doctorow (01:00:58):
They're in my mentions. Yeah. Who is paying you to write this? Oh my god. And so on and so on. Palantir should absolutely run the nhs. Actually, I did a thread, I'm gonna post a link in there. I did a thread

Leo Laporte (01:01:10):
Pallet here. Should run the National Health Service of

Cory Doctorow (01:01:13):
Britain. Yeah. So the thing is PIR is so Palantir won, they didn't win. Paer got a no bid 26 million pound contract to do work for the nhs and they're trying to leverage it to this big 360 odd million, three 20 million pound contract for the nhs. And they're pretty clear that no one is gonna green like that because they're P here. And so their new strategy is they're buying all the companies that have NHS contracts. So this is one of, this

Leo Laporte (01:01:43):
Is kind of maybe a little Amazon's planned by one medical and well that's really interesting. So for people who don't know, I'm sure most people know Palantir is basically a surveil surveillance system, much like the Palantir in the Lord of the Rings an eye of soran that collects data and then sells it to who? Governments law enforcement, Are they a data broker? Is that mean mean? Is it that too? Down market? They're

Cory Doctorow (01:02:12):
An analytics platform. I mean they do a lot of turnkey human rights abuses as a service. So if you wanna figure out how to do algorithmic racism with refugees, you know, can buy their service and feed it into them and their phenology robot will tell you that all the bad refugees are brown. It strikes me

Leo Laporte (01:02:36):
That letting a company like that own or not own, obviously nobody can own the nhs, but participate in any way with a service that has the health records of millions of Britains seems like a bad idea. It's

Cory Doctorow (01:02:50):
Terrible. Not least because there's actually a really good, Sorry, go ahead. No, you go ahead <laugh>. I was just gonna say, there's an amazing proposal in the offing, Ben Gold Acre who's an evidence-based medicine specialist and has done a bunch of important interventions at the kind of national level in the British healthcare system, like the register of all trials and stuff that have absolutely revolutionized evidence-based medicine in the UK did this thing called the Gold Acre report. And it's how you would build a research platform that allow you to extract insights from the collected health records of NHS service users without violating their privacy. And he is like, first you build an open platform that anyone can audit, anyone can use, and anyone can implement. And then you host that platform and close it off from everyone else with the NHS data in it. And you tell researchers,

Leo Laporte (01:03:40):
Oh my

Cory Doctorow (01:03:40):
God, send me a query and I will run it on the platform and send you back the data. But you can't ever see that data. It's owned by the public. Managed by the public. No, no, no, it's really good. No, no, no. This is a really good idea. This is a good, an auditable evidence. It's private public service. It just reminds me

Leo Laporte (01:03:59):
Of imdb where you get everybody to create this great database,

Cory Doctorow (01:04:02):
But it's owned by the public, so the NHS would own it

Leo Laporte (01:04:04):
All right? Tier doesn't own it. NHS owns it.

Cory Doctorow (01:04:07):
Okay. And they wouldn't get, if Arthur Anderson built it for them or someone, Pricewaterhouse Cooper built it for them, they would have to make it open. They'd have to put the code on GitHub. Anyone can see this code, anyone can audit this code. But the service itself, the only person people with a login for it would be the people who ran research for the nhs. This is

Leo Laporte (01:04:24):
The only way you could keep it anonymous in

Cory Doctorow (01:04:27):
Effect, but also productive. So if you're a private researcher at a university or pharma company anywhere else and you're like, I wanna know what happens when these two interventions are paired, what does the data tell us? You gotta give someone this drug when they're doing this PT physiotherapy, it's huge value something else. Huge value. So you can then get back useful data, right? Useful conclusions, but you never handle the data. So the gold report's really good and it's the opposite of the ER approach, which is like we will, you give us your data, we'll apply our magic proprietary stuff that no one is allowed to know about and then we'll tell you what's in your data, we'll tell you what to the lap D, where to go and do stop in Frisks, which is by an incredible coincidence that none of us could have predicted neighborhoods where a lot of brown people

Leo Laporte (01:05:20):
Live. Is this what Amazon's doing Alex? Is this why Amazon's acquiring one medical and others?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:05:28):
I mean, I just wanna make a comment. Er I think that we need to understand that this is a consulting company, not a data company. And they're more in line with a Deloitte than they are in line with any cloud services provider.

Leo Laporte (01:05:42):
It's the analytics that they sell.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:05:45):
Well, they sell the consulting, they talk about the analytics, they're sort of addressed up consulting company. And my hot take is that we're gonna end up seeing that they might be a meme stock today, but we will see the company end up in overtime being worth what they should be worth, which is a lot less. And I think their worth is largely inflated through to the government connections that they have. Actually in the Elon text, there was something really interesting about Joe Lonsdale making who was the volunteer co-founder hanging out with a hundred Republican congressmen. And we all know about Peter Teal. So those political connections help a lot. But over time, I think we're gonna see them for what they are, which is that we shouldn't dress them up in this, putting their special sauce on the analytics. That's interesting. The end of the day, that's

Leo Laporte (01:06:33):
Actually, Oh,

Cory Doctorow (01:06:34):
Yeahm not saying it's good. I'm not saying that it's useful insights, but I'm saying that I think that there are people who will sell you confirmation biases of service, right? Yeah, that's right. I have a thing I wanted, I need some policy based evidence, please. So I know what I wanna do. Please produce the insights that will let me prove to my board or to other people or the market or whatever. What I wanna

Leo Laporte (01:06:56):
Do is good. Yeah, yeah. Well that's interesting. I hadn't really thought about, I was giving Palantir all of this superpower to sea and into our lives and maybe it's like Cambridge Analytica.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:07:08):
That's exactly the analog that I would make. Yeah. And I also think, yeah, anyway, I, I'll leave it there.

Leo Laporte (01:07:14):
Why are they buying up well taken? Why are they buying up these suppliers to the NHS then? What's their goal?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:07:23):
P here? They're

Cory Doctorow (01:07:24):
Public. Yeah, they're a leader. They just wanna suck up a bunch of public private partnership

Leo Laporte (01:07:29):
Money. Oh, okay. <laugh>. Cause

Alex Kantrowitz (01:07:33):

Leo Laporte (01:07:33):
Again, that's why Willie Su robbed banks, right? Cuz that's where the private public of money is. If

Alex Kantrowitz (01:07:38):
You don't have the software that's gonna take you there, you need the partnerships cuz you're a consulting company.

Leo Laporte (01:07:44):
That's, Boy thank you for that. I've misin really kind of given them a lot more credit than they deserve all this time.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:07:52):
I just want to shout out the people in the chat saying, I'm here to defend big tech. Look, let's look at it reasonably right? And the more reasonable our conversation, the more progress we're gonna make. I

Leo Laporte (01:08:03):
Think what I really admire actually about Corey's book is that it isn't paint a target on big text back. It paints a target on companies that have gotten too big

Cory Doctorow (01:08:14):
Basically with predatory techno predatory methods. Yes. Is that fair? Yeah. I would say that what it does is it identifies the source of the pain that artists are feeling, right? Yeah. So we spent 40 years giving artists longer duration of copyright easier and forced copyright, stiffer penalties for copyright and increased scope of copyright. The entertainment industry has grown, it's gotten bigger. The share of income accruing to the workers who produce the materials that produce those profits has shrunk over the same time. And the reason is that these firms have between them created checkpoints where if you wanna reach your audience, you have to negotiate with them. And typically if there's another firm you can negotiate, it's another firm that has nearly identical or actually identical terms and they've all conversed on a set of negotiating terms that say whatever copyright you've been given, you have to hand over to us.

Cory Doctorow (01:09:13):
And so giving creators more copyright won't help. In the same way that giving your bullied kid more lunch money won't help. Not even if the bullies are running a national campaign saying, won't someone think of America's hungry children? Give them more lunch money. They're just gonna take whatever lunch money you give them. And the, that's the first half of the book is just showing how these monotheistic, It's when there's a small number of buyers who can control their sellers with this monos dynamic works and how it enables tactics that range from simply unethical to just illegal, but no one can take them on even though they are illegal. We document multiple hundreds of millions of dollars in wage theft from audible creators by Amazon. But the second half of the book are interventions that aren't just more copyright that actually do widen up these choke points.

Cory Doctorow (01:10:03):
And we talked about one on triangulation that I really like, which is that if you audit your royalty statements, which generally you're contractually allowed to do, if you audit your royalty statements in order to get the money that you find is owed to you, the firm will generally say either you have to sue us or if you want a voluntary settlement, you have to submit to non-disclosure. And so we cite research from a firm that specializes in auditing recording industry contracts. They've done tens of thousands in all about one instance over decades. Every accounting error they located was in favor of the label, not the artist. This is an amazing coincidence, as I always say, it's this the most incredible localized probability storm you can imagine. There's no other possible explanation for wild this counting errors, but would just favor the company making the royalty statement.

Cory Doctorow (01:10:53):
But if you go and you find missing money and we have a source that found a six figure error in their favor when they audited their royalty statement you have to agree not to tell anyone else who's being ripped off in the same way where they should go and look for the money that's being stolen from them. And there's an actual fix for this, which is relatively straightforward because the industry is so concentrated. All of its contracts are consummated in New York, California. And because of Amazon, Washington State contract being a matter of state regulation, you could introduce laws at the state level that say, as a matter of public policy, non-disclosure is not enforceable when it relates to material emissions or errors in royalty statements that negatively affect people who are owed royalties and then at the stroke of a pen, every artist in the world, because all of their contracts are governed by Washington, New York or California law, every creator in the world would suddenly have money following on the more money than all of the copyright extensions the last 40 years have ever provided. And we just fill the back half of the book with this. We've got 12 or 14 of these interventions that actually, rather than just giving artists the rep to feel aggrieved that their copyright is being violated, we'll let them buy groceries and put braces on their kids' teeth.

Leo Laporte (01:12:08):
Yeah, I, it's nice cuz you focus on artists. Obviously it affects everybody from Amazon warehouse workers to burger flippers. But artists and I put myself in this category, be creators wanna create and they take advantage of that fact, right? <laugh> say, fine, go ahead. You keep creating, we'll take care of the rest. Thanks. Let's take a little break wanna talk more? We've got this new journalism competition and preservation act, which thanks to Ted Cruz is moving forward. Lots more to talk about, including Elon Musks robot. We didn't even get to that yet. But first a word from our sponsor, Cory Doctor is here, Alex Cantor Witz from a big tech, big technology podcast. Our show today brought to you by eight Sleep. If I am well rested tonight, you can thank my eight Sleep Pod Pro cover to now. They've got an even better eight sleep pod cover.

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Leo Laporte (01:15:52):
Trust me, trust me, you'll sleep better and everybody needs a better night's sleep. Thank you ate sleep for your support. Keep me up at night. The idea of having a humanoid robot walking around through my house. Fortunately it probably isn't gonna be Elon Musks, <laugh> robot <laugh>. Elon and Tesla have an AI event every year. Last year you may remember Musk talked about his humanoid robot and brought out a dancer in a costume to show it off. Let me see if I can find a video of Optimist is what he's calling it. I think because he's a fan of the Transformers. I don't know. Certainly made progress over the leotard. Yeah, person <laugh>. Yeah, definitely better than the leotard person. It barely could walk by itself. Here it comes. I'll turn off the sound cuz it's just too annoying. Elon wants to put these in his factories, but I think he also feel, he says it could be transformative for civilization. He's still a little bit behind Boston Dynamics. Not exactly doing back flips or opening doors for people, but that's the dancer from last year. <laugh> not doing that. It is not doing that. El Elon also took,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:17:17):
Yeah, I would take the dancer to

Leo Laporte (01:17:18):
Take that dancer. This is Elon's video of the robot. Very shakily delivering. Oh, maybe you can water your plants. Oh. Oh, that's good. I thought,

Cory Doctorow (01:17:31):
What's her name? Chelsea Steiner at the Mary Sue had a good summation here. All Musk promises, this one is vague, impressive, and riddled with issues. It's also wildly unrealistic to imagine that the robot will be capable enough to replace the labor forces. We know it. Here's when optimist can do half the moves of this superstar.

Leo Laporte (01:17:49):
Here's the Boston Dynamics robot doing back flips, dancing. Even this though, they're carefully curated videos cuz half the time it falls over. Yeah, I don't, but who wants this anyway, Elon's factory already is loaded with robots, but they're the traditional giant German and Japanese robots that can pick up a car, turn it around and put it back on the line and so forth. But

Cory Doctorow (01:18:13):
Can they, they automate the racism of his fact?

Leo Laporte (01:18:16):
No. No. That's only a human can really, Right

Cory Doctorow (01:18:19):
Now, their wage bill for doing the racism is very high. And they're gonna need to automate that somehow. They're gonna have to bring in Tay

Leo Laporte (01:18:27):
Facebook's bot and let Tay do it. Yeah, maybe

Alex Kantrowitz (01:18:31):
Those Microsoft's, But here's another, Yeah, here's another unpopular takes since I guess that's my role on the show today. I think we should be hesitant before we discount this type of thing. And it might not be the Musk bot, which by all accounts is not a very impressive machine. But we are seeing real interesting advances in robotics right now, humanoid style robotics. And we've seen with AI these things, we see these breakthroughs of research. We get lots of duds and then all of a sudden we type in a sentence and the robot is drawing a picture for us or we talk to it and we have a Google engineered fill engineer fooled that it's sent in. And I think that the interesting report that no one's paying attention to, everyone pays attention to what must does. But an interesting report that no one's paying attention to along this line is that Amazon has been trained, has been training robots to pick items out of boxes and then end up owing them.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:19:27):
So most of Amazon's workforce in the warehouses are people that pick stuff outta boxes and then put them into shelves, pick them from the shelves and put them into crates to be shipped off. And they're making real progress there. And so I think this idea of Elon's robot is easy to laugh at, but the advances that we're seeing in this type of robotics are very, very real. And the fact that Musk is talking about disappearing in the warehouse. So that doesn't come outta nowhere. And there is definitely some progress here. And I'm not laughing. I think that this is some serious technology to be reckoned with. Maybe not coming from Elon Musk, but here today for sure,

Cory Doctorow (01:20:06):
There's a term out of AI research, which is a center, which is when you have human AI collaboration, like a chess robot and a chess player playing together to do things that neither of them could do on their own. But there's also this sort of out of labor economics, there's this term, the reverse center, which is when the body is the inconvenient meat puppet for the ai and Amazon are kind of the masters of that. I'm gonna paste a link into the chat of a thing I wrote about reverse centers and Amazon. So that would be things like their drivers being subjected to superhuman conditions or superhuman constraints by the uhis that are monitoring them in the cars or packers being driven to do unrealistic working tempos in their warehouses. And Amazon leads the country in warehouse injuries. And the more automated on Amazon warehouse is, the more injuries people incur. I I'll stipulate that automation is a thing and robots are cool and that Amazon has every motive in the world to try to make good robots. But I also wanna sound the note of caution that a lot of what Amazon has booked to a shareholders as profits in automation have really been ways to get people to work in at an unsafe tempo in ways that put themselves at risk. And in the case of their drivers, put other people at risk, other users of the

Leo Laporte (01:21:36):
Road at risk. I know a kid who works at Whole Foods owned by Amazon and it's a very different experience sometimes some hours he's working for Whole Foods, some hours he's working for Amazon. And as the minute he's on the clock for Amazon, there are very clear, almost unachievable metrics for his performance and they're made very clear. And it is a very different experience. You nailed it. You are at the mercy of the machine and I need

Cory Doctorow (01:22:07):
A state that I'm not celebrating this stuff, but when we

Leo Laporte (01:22:09):
Look at the most, No, don't downplay it though. I think you're right Alex. Alex, don't downplay it. I think we've seen this very, very

Cory Doctorow (01:22:14):
Powerful technology.

Leo Laporte (01:22:15):
I agree. We've seen this with the explosion thanks to Stable Fusion and Dolly too. And mid journey. I mean just explosion in AI art. Do you think though, initially my initial reaction was this is like a Cambrian explosion, suddenly this is taken off and we've reached the hockey stick with AI in some interesting way. And now more and more I'm thinking it's a parlor trick that the AI is just, it's not really AI almost, it's just combining images together in an interesting way. What's your take on it, Alex? I have you tried Dolly before? Yeah, no, it's very impressive and stable diffusion and mid journey. Yeah, they're very stable. Fusion. There seems to be the fastest moving because it's open source, people can run it on their own servers and there are a lot of people who've adopted it. I follow the stables diffusion Reddit subreddit and it's pretty amazing what they're doing. And yet the, I'm not convinced, I don't know. Is it ai? Is it true ai?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:23:20):
Of course. Yeah. Again, and the images are gonna be as creative as the prompts that you're gonna give them, right? I don't think we've had anything like this to in our history before. And there's so many interesting applications. Here's one I think that, so anyone who's worked with a marketing department knows that it's always a struggle to communicate to the creative department what you need them to create or what you'd like them to create. Because words are imprecise and art pictures worth a thousand words. So you can't just be like, I need a picture of this. And they'll know exactly what you're doing. Actually, that graphic designer to product manager or marketing manager is one of the most difficult pieces of communication I think in the business world. And I've been there and it's tough and there are ways you get around it, make this more prominent or we're trying to get this message across. We have a creative brief now. I think what this stuff is, the images can make a version of the image with something like Dolly and then pass it to the professionals and then are be able to,

Leo Laporte (01:24:17):
Or vice versa. Both these systems seem to really work well with a sketch for years of example of using old cartoons as in IT images says Fred Flintstone turned into, this is, So start with if you give these a starting point, it is kind of, here's inspector budget. I mean, I

Alex Kantrowitz (01:24:35):
Don't know. I continue to be blown away every time I do one of these searches. And I mean, Leo, it sort of shows you how much advances we've made. I mean, how serious of advance of advance we've made. If you're sitting there and typing in a sentence prompt on your browser and the next thing a machine will draw it for you and you're like me, think about how far we've come, if that's your reaction, this stuff becomes unremarkable once it works because we expect it. And I think that's the place we are today with these programs. Look at

Leo Laporte (01:25:10):
This progression from what is essentially a stick figure as a, this is yfu and stable diffusion combined together as it creates a more and more realistic little human help there. So it is a human partnership. I guess that makes us, The

Cory Doctorow (01:25:26):
Funniest thing I saw on Reddit last week, I just paced the URL for it into the chat, was a Drake meme whose title is what makes you a human And the pushing things away is to love and care about others. And the Yes that's right is the selecting all images with bikes

Leo Laporte (01:25:42):
<laugh>. Oh, isn't that interesting? Oh yeah, that's good. And you're talking about capcha. Yeah. Yeah.

Cory Doctorow (01:25:50):
So I, I agree that this is a very powerful technology. It's super interesting to work with. I've also been where you are trying to find art to use as reference to give to an illustrator. Being able to describe art is really great. I mean, Google image search was a huge phase change for that. Well, right. And I was an imagineer for a while, and in the imaginary archive there's a room, or I don't even know if it's still there, but there's a room with bankers boxes filled with magazine clippings of illustrations organized by the interesting. And if you had to draw a water fountain, they just had a box of clipped out illustrations of water fountains and you would ring down to archives and they would send up a box of reference for you. So this is definitely something that is making the lives of illustrators easier, making it easier for people who aren't illustrators to talk to people who are and say, that's what I mean when I say water fountain. This picture here is the kind of water fountain. I mean, not this picture over here. And certainly Dolly and all the other ones help there as well. But I will say that I don't see a path from statistical inference and deep learning networks to gai. I think that to say that if we do an statistical inference, we get gais is like saying if we breed these horses carefully enough, we'll have a locomotive. Right? Right. There's

Leo Laporte (01:27:21):
Arguing general artificial intelligence as human style AI intelligence. Scott. But is there anybody actually arguing that?

Cory Doctorow (01:27:27):
Corey? Oh yeah, tons. Oh yeah. That's the whole argument. The whole argument that <affirmative> well, the whole Nick Bostrom, Elon Musk Skynet is coming out of our ai. I have looked at open AI and what it can do, and now I'm afraid for the human race basically saying we are gonna selectively breed this horse long enough that eventually we're gonna have a locomotive and then it's gonna kill us all. And it is such obvious nonsense to me that I'm quite baffled by it. So what

Leo Laporte (01:27:58):
Is the discontinuity? So it's obviously horses and locomotives clear. So this is about human cognition. Is there something about human cognition that is unreachable

Cory Doctorow (01:28:09):
In this? No, no, no. It's just not a human cognition is not statistical inference. We don't

Leo Laporte (01:28:15):
Know exactly. It's a method entirely.

Cory Doctorow (01:28:17):
It's not, I mean, statistical inference might be a component of it. It probably is. But the idea that in increasing innovation in the realm of statistical inference eventually produces human cognition is just, it's wrong. And there's this corollary, which is the automation unemployment corollary that the looming automation unemployment crisis, which again, I think is just like doesn't, right? Foundations are wrong. So when you look at the stories about automation, unemployment, you see things like, oh, the most popular job in America is truck driver. And driving trucks is something that we can do with ML because we can give them a dedicated lane on the highway and set them to following each other and basically invent a shitty train <laugh>. But

Cory Doctorow (01:29:12):
The thing is that the Bureau of Labor statistics category for truck driver incorporates anyone who operates a heavy goods vehicle. So it's not the most, 16 wheeler driver is not the most popular job in America. It is a relatively small and unimportant part of our overall economy. Not that those people are unimportant, but that if all of the truck drivers were unemployed tomorrow, the change in the unemployment figures would not be very large. Meanwhile, we're just not getting anywhere with the self-driving cars. The, there's so much smoke and mirrors and self-driving cars. The only ones that seem to perform at all are the ones that actually just have a human remotely driving the car, overseeing the car. And if those people's attention wanders, which it will inevitably then those cars become murder bots. And it raises an important point, which is that we already have a lot of human intelligence.

Cory Doctorow (01:30:04):
We have 8 billion humans. We don't have enough non-human intelligence. The capacity to be vigilant for things that happens very rarely is not a capacity that humans mostly have. A few people may have it, but it's not a widespread trait in our population, which is why the TSA is really good at spotting water bottles and really bad at spotting guns <laugh>, because they never see a gun, but they see water bottles all day long. You cannot leave neurons trained to do a pattern recognition for a pattern that you never encounter because those neurons will be retrained to make you better at the pattern recognition that you do all day. And so they just forget, you can train them to spot guns on an x-ray, but then they'll forget, not because they're lazy or whatever, but because they never see guns on an x-ray, they see water bottles all day long.

Leo Laporte (01:30:55):
That's interesting. So you're not require a notion of a human soul or some sort of magical capability that cognition. Yeah. Human look.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:31:04):

Leo Laporte (01:31:05):
It is the

Alex Kantrowitz (01:31:06):
Conversations that, I think there are conversations that really occur on the fringes about this stuff leading to general intelligence. And I think that the mainstream conversation about this stuff looks at it rationally and says there's a lot of stuff that we can do. Humans and artificial intelligence combined. And I think so during

Cory Doctorow (01:31:24):
The lockdown, Sorry, go ahead. I beg pardon?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:31:27):
Go ahead.

Cory Doctorow (01:31:29):
No, no, no. You finish. I'm sorry. I thought you were done.

Leo Laporte (01:31:31):
Yeah, I apologize cuz the latency in the Skype is killing us as usual. Not Skype, Zoom. Go ahead Corey.

Cory Doctorow (01:31:40):
I was just gonna say during the lockdown though, World Economic Forum asked me to give them a talk on technological unemployment and when I sent them the text of the talk, they withdrew the invitation. So I turned it into a column <laugh> and it just put it in the URL there. But you weren't saying what

Leo Laporte (01:31:55):
They wanted you to say,

Cory Doctorow (01:31:56):
Cory, but basically I said, I don't think we're gonna have AI driven unemployment because even if we automate some stuff like we're gonna have to relocate every city 20 kilometers inland over the next 300 years, that's full employment for everyone. No matter how many robots we build, there's just more work than we can imagine. And they didn't like that at all.

Leo Laporte (01:32:17):
Really interesting. Yeah. Didn't fit their model model.

Cory Doctorow (01:32:22):
But they really believe, and that's why I raise it, they really believe in technological unemployment generally, eye breakthroughs on the immediate horizon aren't fringe beliefs in the halls of power or in the halls of business or even in finance. They are accepted as gospel.

Leo Laporte (01:32:41):
There are a few things generally,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:32:42):
I dunno,

Leo Laporte (01:32:43):
There are a few things generally, Hold on a second. General AI fusion, quantum computing. It seems prudent to perhaps consider their eventual invention even if they're not necessarily around the corner. Go ahead, Alex.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:33:02):
I mean, it's just not what I hear mean. Maybe you

Leo Laporte (01:33:05):
Think it's gonna happen.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:33:06):
No, I do. Will it happen eventually? Who knows? But I just don't agree with Corey about this being an accepted thing at least not in the conversations I hear. Maybe

Leo Laporte (01:33:18):
You're saying that people don't believe general AI is

Alex Kantrowitz (01:33:21):
Just around the corner. I don't think so. No. I think look at the response to what happened with this Google engineer who said that the chat bot was

Leo Laporte (01:33:27):
Well Google it sent

Alex Kantrowitz (01:33:28):
In, Google fired him. Anyone who with any standing in the research. C.

Leo Laporte (01:33:32):
Yeah, they all said that's

Alex Kantrowitz (01:33:33):
What called him idiot. Yeah. And I don't know, I mean, Corey, maybe the influencer class likes to talk about this at their conferences but this idea that AGI is right around the corner, just to me, I've never heard that from credible folks in the industry. Sure.

Cory Doctorow (01:33:51):
Well, I mean, science fiction writers certainly think it's nonsense, right? It is a recurring theme at science fiction conventions. Why are all these CEOs out there saying, But this is on the horizon. But they

Alex Kantrowitz (01:34:03):
Are saying, Well, I think the CEOs aren't saying it. I think the CEOs are saying that it's very powerful technology, but I don't think they're saying we're gonna be hand in hand with artificial general intelligence. And that's what we're working toward. I mean, investing in and can believe it.

Cory Doctorow (01:34:19):
That's a hypothesis of the center for existential risk who are have attracted billions of dollar, hundreds of millions of dollars in capital. I mean, well,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:34:28):
Aren't you already saying that we shouldn't equate money with smarts? No,

Cory Doctorow (01:34:31):
It's true. It's true. Right. So what I'm saying is that it may be a small number of very rich people who believe this, but there are some very rich people who believe it and a bunch of weird stands for them who also believe

Alex Kantrowitz (01:34:42):
It. I just think if you speak with people, credible folks in the industry, folks who are actually doing the research Mike Nick Bostrom. Sure. I mean like the guy, he's a philosopher. He doesn't work in machine learning. And you speak with researchers, you speak with the tech companies, they might use marketing terms to talk about the power of their artificial intelligence soon to our pacha calling it as powerful as fire. That sounds like marketing to me but I never hear him or anybody at Google talking about us reaching artificial general intelligence outside of one guy who actually has an interesting story to tell. And I did have him on my podcast. We had an interesting conversation. That being said he's the extreme exception and not the rule.

Leo Laporte (01:35:27):
So that's good. I have to This is the Oh yeah, here it is. Greg Lomo, right?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:35:34):
Blake? Yeah,

Leo Laporte (01:35:35):
Yeah. Blake Lemo. Yeah, yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Nice.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:35:39):
Yeah, I spoke to

Leo Laporte (01:35:40):
Her about him. I think the picture kind of says it all. If that's not stable diffusion. Yeah, I think <laugh> it. I think

Alex Kantrowitz (01:35:48):
Blake is an interesting Charact character. He's not dumb by any means obviously, but he's also a priest. He's spiritual in ways that I think are pretty relevant to the story. And he had some pretty neat interactions with Lambda. He drew the conclusion and he was, I think, predisposed to believe that there was gonna be a general intelligence that is gonna speak to him through bot. He's talked about it before he came out saying he believes Lambda is this intelligent, He

Leo Laporte (01:36:15):
May also believe it fairies. I mean, it's not, what

Alex Kantrowitz (01:36:18):
I told him is that I think that he's wrong and he'll be in the history books. So I think that's like didn't

Leo Laporte (01:36:24):
Be a Yeah, he's a mystic. Yeah, he calls himself a mystic,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:36:27):
Right? Yeah. Look, I encourage people who are on this who want to hear, So I had Blake on this big technology podcast. We spoke for an hour and a half about his interactions with Dolly. I kind of thought it was pretty interesting to hear.

Leo Laporte (01:36:38):
I will listen to perspective

Alex Kantrowitz (01:36:40):
Talking about how the bot hired a lawyer. This again goes to my comment before about how far we've come, that if the technology can now fool Google an engineer into thinking it's sentient, then it's probably pretty interesting technology that we should be focusing on, what it can do, the dangers of it, et cetera, et cetera. And I do think that often these conversations about is it sent in or not take our eye off the ball on that front. And then I also had Gary Marcus on who also, Well, anyway, I had Gary Marcus on who's he called it something like foolishness on stilts or something like that. Nonsense on

Leo Laporte (01:37:16):

Alex Kantrowitz (01:37:17):
<laugh>. And we talked through all the other counter arguments to Blake. But yeah, look, I think the one thing that we can say is we're in a very interesting moment in technology where research is moving forward and the practical uses of the stuff that is being development is being developed moving forward. Is

Leo Laporte (01:37:34):
It pointless speculate about general AI though? I mean is this so far off that? Why should we think about it or Yeah, should we be thinking about it now?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:37:44):
I mean, is it fun? We have to admit that humans have a capac high capacity and interest and fun. And it's fun to speculate about just the say, think about how much energy goes into people trying to game out sports games before they happen. Is Mark Zuckerberg gonna be in the ring? We like this. But I don't think that it's, there's practical and then there's just enjoyable. We all love to have our minds wander. This is why this is such a big part of science fiction to think about where it could go. But this idea that it's coming, it's here and we better get ready to make our robot friends pretty quickly. That seems outlandish

Leo Laporte (01:38:21):
To you. Yeah. Simulation hypothesis is really just a fun thing to think about, but kind of and pointless to spend any real energy on.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:38:29):
I had a very interesting conversation with Bostrom for my book and I, this was a Black Mirror chapter that I wrote and I was like, All right, Nick, go ahead and tell about all the terrible things that are gonna happen. He's like, Listen, I've kind of been like, have this bad brand, cuz I did think about it, but maybe it's actually gonna be good when it comes here. So

Cory Doctorow (01:38:49):
General AI or the

Leo Laporte (01:38:51):
Simulation is a, This is a new one,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:38:54):
Leo. Yeah. Let's talk about, Oh, the simulation. Is there any difference from a simulation in what we're living here? These are fun to

Cory Doctorow (01:39:03):
Talk about. I think debating that

Leo Laporte (01:39:03):
Since Augustine. Yeah. I don't think there's exactly, there's nothing new about all

Alex Kantrowitz (01:39:07):
Right. But it does, The cool thing about this is that it does help reframe the discussion or give us a new angle to think about it. But I think right now what it is is fun. It's fun.

Cory Doctorow (01:39:17):
So there was a wonderful book, this hear from James Bridle. You may know him from some of his weird stunts. He's the guy who built a self-driving car and then surrounded it in a circle of salt that it thought was a road marking that couldn't cross. He's also the guy who did the research that found that YouTube kids was full of all these weird semi-automated

Leo Laporte (01:39:38):
Super environ. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Cory Doctorow (01:39:40):
So he wrote this book called Ways of Being that's about extending a view of personhood to the inanimate, to regular software, to machine learning and so on. That makes quite an interesting case for it. I just pasted a link to my review of the book into the chat there. He is a fascinating guy and he makes a great case for the idea that the fact that something isn't an isn't intelligent does not mean that we shouldn't think of it as a person

Leo Laporte (01:40:11):

Cory Doctorow (01:40:12):
Ecosystems and rocks and stuff.

Leo Laporte (01:40:16):
You don't need a Gaia hypothesis to treat the earth

Cory Doctorow (01:40:19):
With. There's his car in the Salt circle. <laugh>,

Leo Laporte (01:40:23):
What happened? Did just sit there,

Cory Doctorow (01:40:25):
<laugh> it, it couldn't move <laugh>. And he wrote about how it made him feel bad that he'd invented, He heard his feelings and well, it hurt his feelings was his point. And that the acknowledging that it feels bad to design a thing, to do something and then frustrate it is a step towards a kind of wider empathy is I really like him. Do

Leo Laporte (01:40:53):
You think he apologizes to Amazon's echo if he swears at it?

Cory Doctorow (01:40:57):
<laugh> do. There's a lot of people who think you should, who think echo

Leo Laporte (01:41:01):

Cory Doctorow (01:41:01):
You should your voice assistant. Go ahead,

Leo Laporte (01:41:03):
Swear at echo. It'll, It'll chastise you for mistreating it. <laugh>. Yeah. That's creepy to me. I think that's a bridge too far. But my wife and I have an argument. She says, You shouldn't teach people to be or require people to be polite to inanimate objects that's kind of imbuing it with more power than it deserves. It's an inanimate object

Cory Doctorow (01:41:30):
That there's a vegan slash vegetarian argument that says that whatever you treat with the least respect is the floor at the UN that your respect for everyone else won't drop below. So whatever it is you respect least in the world, however much respect you afford that, that's how little respect you will treat anyone else with. You'll never treat them with less respect than that. And so if you raise the floor for how much respect you afford to the thing you respect least, then you end up raising the amount of respect you bring to everything else in the world. I

Leo Laporte (01:42:04):
Like that. I like that. I think that's good. Do you follow that?

Cory Doctorow (01:42:10):
Probably not very well. <laugh>.

Leo Laporte (01:42:11):
Do you ever swear at Echo

Cory Doctorow (01:42:13):
<laugh>? we don't have any voice assistance in my house.

Leo Laporte (01:42:16):
So that's how little respect you have for them. Yeah. I

Cory Doctorow (01:42:20):
Have enough respect for them not to have

Leo Laporte (01:42:22):
One. <laugh>, let's take a little break. Having fun. I have to say with Alex Cantor Witz big technology podcast. You could see why you wanna listen to this. Boy, you have some great people on. That's fantastic.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:42:34):
Thanks Leo. Yeah, we having a nicer run these

Leo Laporte (01:42:36):
Days. And his book, of course Always day one, which is more than about Amazon, apparently

Alex Kantrowitz (01:42:43):
Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft chapter, each Z speaks with me for, It was fun

Leo Laporte (01:42:48):
Tech Titans plan to stay on top forever. Forever.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:42:56):
It is a fun subtitle.

Leo Laporte (01:42:57):
Yeah, I love it. Did you come up with that or your publisher?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:43:00):
We had a bit of a back and forth about it. They came up with it. I'm like, I love that we use it. And they said no. I was like, No

Leo Laporte (01:43:07):
On. They said, they said

Alex Kantrowitz (01:43:09):
No. They said we don't think we should use it. And I was like, It's yours. Back and forth. And eventually it stuck. We used it and it's fun. I think people read into it what they want. I love it.

Leo Laporte (01:43:20):
My first book, I wanted to call it How to Get the Dog Hair Out of the Disc Drive. The publisher renamed it 101 Computer Answers You Need to Know which turned out to be Strategic Mistake because shortly thereafter, Kim Commando came out with a book called 1000 in One Computer. Answers You Need to Know. Oh my God, really? And I think you can guess which one sold better, right? <laugh>.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:43:43):
It should have been hundred and one Dalian Hairs in

Leo Laporte (01:43:46):
Describe. There you go. I think How to Get the Dog Hair Outta the Describe was a pretty good title, but alright, good. Yeah, yeah. Show today. Brought to you by podium. Text messaging works. If you wanna reach Elon Musk <laugh>, text him. Well, it turns out businesses can use text messaging to stay in touch with their customers. And this has came at a very welcome time. It's been a tough couple of years for small businesses supply chain issues. But one of the things I think we learned from Covid is that staying in touch with customers via text is kind of the way they prefer to communicate. Your food is ready, come pick it up. Your groceries are ready, come pick it up. A lot of us don't want to use the phone to call a business, whether plumber, landscaper, we don't wanna play phone tag.

Leo Laporte (01:44:41):
Maybe we'd lo prefer to leave a quick message. But if you're running a business, you can take advantage of that. If the only way to reach you is with a phone number, people are actually gonna turn their back. You're gonna walk away from you. But if that phone number can be texted, or you could have on your website a widget that says, Send me a text. Or you can use text messaging to reach out to customers. For instance, every time I leave my dentist, now I get a text message saying, Rate us on Yelp or Google Business. There's an ice cream shop in town that uses podium every three or four weeks. It says, Oh, we haven't seen you in a while. Here's a coupon for ice cream. No <laugh>, but it really works. Gets me in the door Podium gives businesses the tools to compete with a convenience offered by bigger businesses like Amazon.

Leo Laporte (01:45:28):
So this is really a boon for the small business from healthcare providers like my dentist to plumbers. Over a hundred thousand businesses are texting with customers, using podium. Customers love the convenience, but business, you will love the results. One car dealer sold a $50,000 truck at four text messages. In fact, that's really, that's the only way I want to interact these days with my dealership. In fact, I just got a text cuz I'm bringing the car in tomorrow to confirm. A jeweler sold a $5,000 rig, coordinated curbside pickups did it all in text. A dentist who had gotten really behind on his collections decided to use text messages. 70% of the outstanding collections came in two weeks. But it's just easier for people. It's not that they didn't want to pay 'em. It was convenient, it was easy, it was fast. With podiums all in one inbox, you can do more than just chat.

Leo Laporte (01:46:20):
You can get online reviews, just send a link that works so much better. Collect payments right through podium from anywhere you could send marketing campaigns that actually get a response. It's just a quick text in. Your staff will love it too, because all the communications now from your customers come into one inbox makes it easy for you to keep track of what's going on with any given customer. I want you to try podium. It's really cool. See how podium can grow your business. There's a great demo video at and a pretty good deal too. P O D I U podium. Let's grow Let's grow. Let's go. Let's grow the ultimate text messaging platform. Thank you podium. You actually, Alex had a good piece about the judge in the court of chancery that Elon Musk is going to be facing. This is coming up October 17th, and you did a profile of Kathleen McCormick. Who is she? And is this good for Elon or bad?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:47:31):
She's a fascinating character and I would say it's largely bad for Elon that she's gonna be there. So just to give a little context as to who she is, she grew up in Delaware. She was the daughter of two public school teachers. Her dad coached football. Her mom eventually rose to become an administrator. Both duties they did, in addition to the teaching she is the first person from her town Smyrna, which is a middle class town in Delaware to go to Harvard and think she's gonna go back into education, gets involved in a legal nonprofit, starts to see how the law could be used for good. Goes to Notre Dame cuz I think because her dad was a massive Notre Dame fan. <laugh> and gets a law degree there, working on human civil rights. Actually takes a job at a nonprofit and goes to argue in front of the court and private practice and eventually becomes a vice chancellor.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:48:31):
And then from there, she becomes the first female chancellor of the court in 229 years in its entire history. And she has this very interesting ruling as Vice chancellor, where these two private equity companies, one sells this kick decorating company to the other, and then Covid hits. And then they're like, Well listen, no one's gonna wanna decorate cakes anymore. The buyer said that and they said, Okay, we're not gonna buy this company anymore. And the seller sued them and it lands in front of Vice Chancellor McCormick. And she basically says, Look, you signed a deal and I'm the judge and most important for me is deal certainty. And that's what our job is here, is to make sure that when you agree to a deal, the deal goes through and she forced that cake deal, cake decorat deal through. That's,

Leo Laporte (01:49:21):
That's gotta be scary for Elon. Although absolutely, I don't think Deco Pack went for 44 billion.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:49:29):
No, it was 550 million. So it was a much smaller scale. Well,

Leo Laporte (01:49:33):
That's actually SURPRI 550, a half a billion for a cake decorating company.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:49:38):
That's a pretty legit cake dec decorating company. Wow. Yeah, the world, their tagline is hilarious. It's like we decorate the world's best cakes or something like that. I mean, that's

Leo Laporte (01:49:47):
Pretty good. Half a billion in decade. Wow.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:49:50):
Not bad. So yeah, no, this one is much bigger. 44 billion. And I just don't think the size of the deal is gonna come. Everything I know about her doesn't need me to believe that the size of the deal or the court's ability to enforce is gonna come into the ruling match she's gonna give. Now the question is, what happened with this whistle blower testimony, which I think can throw wrench and in TWiTtter's ability to force it to close. But Elon did sign the deal saying that he was gonna buy it. And if you look at the past precedent of this judge will lead you to believe that she, she'll make it go through all things being equal. So, very interesting person.

Leo Laporte (01:50:29):
It might be a scary proposition. I'm not sure I want, Elon must to own TWiTtter, to be honest with you. Well,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:50:35):
Neither does Elon. Yeah,

Leo Laporte (01:50:36):
<laugh>, I feel like he should do something to make TWiTtter whole. I mean this whole, mm-hmm. <affirmative> drama has cost TWiTtter staff a lot of upset, probably a lot of money. Elon was pretty flippant in the whole thing. So I feel like he desert, he needs to be somehow chased. But boy, I'm not sure I want him to be forced to

Alex Kantrowitz (01:50:58):
Buy, of course, TWiTtter. But that won't come into consideration. No,

Leo Laporte (01:51:01):
She, That's not a consideration. It's just a contractual matter's.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:51:05):
Makes it interesting. And then, then you get into, okay, so maybe they said, Well, how much will Elon need to pay TWiTtter to make it whole? Has to be 20 billion. Something in that range. Because you look at Facebook, which is maybe an analog, which is whose stock has gone down, I don't know, 57, 60% this year. And without Musk, TWiTtter's stock would probably fall by that same amount. And now they're gonna really struggle to operate. Their CEO has very little credibility inside the company and everyone's leaving. So what's it gonna take? It might end up having to, it might end up being, and I've always thought, Okay, very little chance this deal actually goes through. Now. I'm like, well, maybe there is a

Leo Laporte (01:51:47):
Chance. Well, the market's agree with you cause the stock price has been slowly ratcheting up, not 54, 20 as Elon promised to pay, but it's been going up. And it

Alex Kantrowitz (01:51:58):
Might be a bargain. I mean this isn't investment advice, but it might

Leo Laporte (01:52:01):
Bargain if they got right now, they got many billions of dollars in cash. Who knows? They might find a way forward.

Cory Doctorow (01:52:09):
So the question I don't know the answer to, but maybe you guys do, given how leveraged and how great the profit to valuation or earnings to valuation ratios are and how much room there is for those stocks to move if Elon has to flog 20 billion worth of his Tesla stock, does that trigger a cascade of effects that could endanger all of his businesses, some of his businesses?

Leo Laporte (01:52:39):
And would the judge consider that?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:52:42):
I don't think the judge would consider that, but yeah, I would say that, remember Tesla is a story stock. So what happens in Elon's business genius if that takes a hit, that myth Look, he's a great business man. He's built some amazing companies, no doubt about that. But if he makes a very stupid mistake and this might end up proving to be one that could really cause an impact to his other businesses,

Leo Laporte (01:53:06):
Elon had, I think Larry, despite being the richest man in the world, Elon, most of the 44 billion came from Elon's loans against Elon's Tesla stock. And from <affirmative>, people like Larry Ellison who threw in a billion, just cuz

Alex Kantrowitz (01:53:20):
You, it's gonna be tough for him. Were buds 2 billion from Ellison. It's gonna be

Leo Laporte (01:53:24):
Oh be too. So can the judge convinces him those people to follow through? Or does the entire burden fall on Elon? I think

Cory Doctorow (01:53:34):
That's gotta be a separate court action. Yeah, right. You've gotta say, Does Larry Ellison sending a DM to Elon going law 1 billion or two. You tell me

Leo Laporte (01:53:45):
Literally, by the way, that

Alex Kantrowitz (01:53:47):
Word forward. Yeah, yeah.

Leo Laporte (01:53:49):
<laugh>. Unbelievable.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:53:51):
Yeah. This thing thing will definitely extend beyond October because, well, they'll go to appeals and then of course there's the money question. But I don't know. It's definitely been fun and wild to follow.

Leo Laporte (01:54:03):
Wow. But

Alex Kantrowitz (01:54:04):
It could do some serious damage to lot, no doubt about it. Good

Leo Laporte (01:54:06):
Piece in

Alex Kantrowitz (01:54:07):
The he's, he's very rich, but 44 billion is nothing to sneeze at.

Leo Laporte (01:54:12):
No, and I think you're right. I think that having to sell that much stock, Tesla stock or a significant portion of Tesla, 20 billion Tesla stock would tank the stock. And that's a really interesting,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:54:26):
And Tesla shareholders hate this already. Oh yeah. And it's not exactly like he's in the middle of a bull market where the market will just pick it right back up. Right. Market's unforgiving right now. Yeah.

Leo Laporte (01:54:37):
Better work on that humanoid robot pretty darn hard. Elon.

Cory Doctorow (01:54:41):
Oh well the market opportunities for a humanoid robot that can't do much are really,

Leo Laporte (01:54:49):
Amazon's already selling the astro <laugh>. I mean,

Cory Doctorow (01:54:54):
You can combine that with the flame throwers and the next thing

Leo Laporte (01:54:58):
And putting holes in the ground for your Teslas to drive away

Cory Doctorow (01:55:03):
And somehow defeating geometry with the power of your mind so that we can add more cars to the roads without creating more congestion.

Leo Laporte (01:55:12):

Alex Kantrowitz (01:55:13):
You gotta make the robot by TWiTtter. That's the only solution

Leo Laporte (01:55:16):
There you look. Do you remember

Cory Doctorow (01:55:17):
That there was that mesothelioma blog that it would just take stories from Google News about mesothelioma and then put them on a blog spot blog with a sense, and then use the revenue from that to buy Google stock. And the idea was that if you ran it long enough, you would eventually own Google

Leo Laporte (01:55:34):
<laugh>. Like a paperclip ai. Yeah. Eventually you'll own the universe. Stop. I stop at Google take. I wanna say Matt Howey from Metafilter Built sounds like a Matt Howey joint. Absolutely. Absolutely. And how did it, do it run or was it a thought experiment? It made a bunch of money. No, for a while, mesothelioma was the top ad sensee word on Google. Every one of those clicks was worth on. I know 20 bucks or something. That's the asbestos lung disease that you see late night TV ads for all the time. Yeah. What do you think about the journalism competition and pre preservation act? Amy Klobuchar bill, which was initially blocked by Ted Cruz Cruz last week, changed his mind and allowed it through, and it has advanced outta committee with a 15 to seven vote. The seven were Republicans voting against it, but there were enough Republicans voting for it that it went through. Ted Cruz says, I think this amendment protects against this antitrust liability being used as a shield for censorship. Big tech hates this bill. That to me is a strong positive for supporting it. There are a number of problems with this bill, including this thing called the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Leo Laporte (01:56:58):
I'm not sure if it'll ever get to a vote on the Senate floor, but it is at a committee. Should I be worried Alex? Cuz I could see a lot of problems with this thing.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:57:08):
I don't think you should be worried. I think this bill, I like where this bill comes from, which is that publishers don't have the ability to negotiate with platforms in a collective way. And the platforms have this disproportionate influence over that.

Leo Laporte (01:57:21):
So Corey's been talking about that. That's in the book that you're enjoined by law not to collude <affirmative>. So they have no way to negotiate. So this gives them essentially a safe harbor so that they can get together and negotiate with Google and Facebook.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:57:40):
Yeah. Now here's my, I'm gonna go out on a limb here also <laugh>. I don't know what's in the water this week, but hey, let's

Leo Laporte (01:57:47):
Go for it. Do it, man. Do it.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:57:48):
I think that publishers trying to make their livelihood over negotiating with Facebook and Google are playing losing game. Yes, I agree. I don't think you can depend on a platform for your, I mean, yeah, I don't think you can depend on a platform with algorithms in a newsfeed for your distribution. I don't think you should wonder about a platform like Google that's sending you traffic how much they should pay you for displaying the link. I think that's a net benefit to publishers and my bi, I own a small media company and we don't depend it at all on Facebook traffic or Google traffic. And I think it's better that way because we make the decisions for the reader, not for the platforms. And so ultimately I think that having this right to negotiate is good but do I think that it's like an earth shattering thing? No. Especially given that Facebook has made a real effort to reduce news links in the newsfeed where they used to be a big portion of what was going on Facebook. Now they're going getting close to non-existent. And I think that's largely good. I don't think we should get our news through Facebook. I think we should find other ways to

Leo Laporte (01:58:51):
Do it. There is the argument, this is based on the Australian bill, which was promoted by Rupert Murdoch wanted to get a little more link money out of the big giants. And there is the argument that it's somewhat worked in Australia despite Facebook's retaliatory attempt. For a while Facebook said, Well, no more news links for you. There's also the concern though, that it doesn't apply to anybody who employs more than 1500 people. And there's some concern that in order to make this work private equity will go around buying newsrooms and cut it down to 1,499 people so they can part, you

Alex Kantrowitz (01:59:34):
Still have wild imaginations, <laugh>. I mean, it's not gonna be the main part of a company's business. The idea that private equity will go and trim, I mean private equity trim for its own reasons, but not to take advantage of the protections under this bill.

Cory Doctorow (01:59:47):

Leo Laporte (01:59:47):
You've pointed out that journalism has definitely suffered, Actually you have a whole chapter talking about Craigslist versus Google links and which is the most damaging to news?

Cory Doctorow (02:00:04):
Yeah, I mean I think that the problem with this solution is that it misunderstands what it is technology did to news. So it's definitely true that Craigslist made a more efficient way of doing classified advertising. The newspapers had, but there's a reason that Craigslist was better for classified advertising. It wasn't just a different cost basis. It's that in the run up to the Craigslist era, the web, I don't know if he's 1.5 web, 1.5, something like that. In the run up to that, there was a series of media rollups right after the telecommunications act in the Clinton years that allowed radio stations and TV stations and newspapers in a single market to all come under a common ownership and also for there to be more cross market ownership. And you saw lots and lots of regional, local newspapers coming under a single owner large corporate owners as opposed to the historic basis for news, which was outside of the big cities.

Cory Doctorow (02:01:05):
The historic basis for news was you had a Patricia family who owned the newspaper who mostly ran it as a business to allow appliance manufacturer or appliance retailers and grocers to reach people who are interested in the sports scores. And in between some of that money was peeled off to send a college kid to the town meeting to write down what people were saying and whatever controversy there was. And those papers were mostly rolled up into these big corporate national organizations. And one of the ways that the new owners tried to justify those rollups was in part by trimming they trimmed a lot of the regional sales force. And so the local shoe leather sales force who knew how to sell classified ads to local merchants were replaced by centralized call rooms where you would just call Chicago or New York or whatever, or somewhere in the Midwest when you wanted to place an ad in the newspaper down the road.

Cory Doctorow (02:02:01):
Another way that they realized new efficiencies was by selling off buildings, physical plant and outsourcing core functions, which exposed them to a bunch of shocks like rent shocks and other shocks, interest rate shocks and so on, where suddenly when things got bad, it got worse because when things got bad, suddenly their rent might go up or the cost of leasing their presses might go up and then they would be really exposed. And so you had this industry that had already weathered so many technological shocks, the newspapers survived the telegraph radio, the television cable satellite, and suddenly they were uniquely vulnerable to Craig Newmark, who is a lovely guy and very smart, and who did something really cool but was not, I think intrinsically more disruptive to their business than cable television. And the reason was that they had made themselves vulnerable. So that's one of the things that's hurt the newspapers is this combination of consolidated ownership and changes in the technology.

Cory Doctorow (02:03:03):
But the other thing that's really hurt them and that is not addressed in this bill at all is fraud in the ad markets. So the ad duopoly, Facebook and Google have now, there's a pretty strong evidentiary basis to say that they steal from publishers. The Operation Jedi Blue or Project Jedi Blue, which was disclosed in the Texas Ag case against Facebook shows that the senior management team of Facebook and Google sat down and illegally colluded to rig the ad market so that publishers would get less and advertisers would pay more. You add to that other forms of fraud, like the pivot to video, which was based on lies about how many people were watching videos which cost the newsrooms of the country and around the world billions in aggregate and made them even more vulnerable. And you have this thing where you have tech platforms that are stealing money from news organizations and we're acting like the problem is that they're stealing content from news organizations and allowing your users to talk about the news or providing links to the news so people can talk about it, is not stealing the news if it's a secret, it's not the news.

Cory Doctorow (02:04:09):
The thing that it makes it the news is that we talk about it, but stealing your ad money is an actual problem that we can put our fingers on and that we can actually put our hands around and we could say, All right, we're gonna have transparency rights, we're gonna follow the model of surveys oxley, and create individual criminal liability for executives who knowingly sign or produce false reports on financials. Things that actually address themselves to the problem instead of trying to take something off to one side, which is creating a stream of payments based on the bizarre idea that you should pay to link to the news or let your users talk about the news instead of unrolling the fraud, which is a thing that would benefit all kinds of creators, including newsrooms, but also individuals and so on.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:04:53):
Agreed. And in the meantime, I would say publishers should not do business with these companies. Do whatever you can to stay away from them and be immune to their ability. And there's ways to,

Cory Doctorow (02:05:05):
But they own the stack. They own very hard not to do business with them.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:05:10):
I disagree with you, I disagree. I think that there's independent ad tech that you can use out there. There's also subscriptions and I think podcasts are also another revenue source that you don't need to go through them.

Leo Laporte (02:05:22):
Here's another great story about fraud in the ad world and it has to do with podcasts. And this is story that's gonna get me fired from my employer. The the fabulous iHeart Media Corporation, according to Bloomberg podcasters have been buying ads in mobile games that when you click on the ad, downloads the podcast, every time a player taps on one of these fleeting in-game ads and you get some virtual loop for doing it, a podcast episode in the background begins downloading, which means the podcast company can claim the gamer as a listener and add a download to its overall tally. You might think, Well, how big a deal can that be? Obviously those person people are not listening. They don't even know in many cases that they downloaded the podcast. It goes out into the <inaudible> explained to me, it goes into the ether. It doesn't, the bit bucket doesn't even get saved under your phone. One game referenced in this paper, this study came from a company called Deep C S e, EEE Bloomberg's writing about it. One company a popular mobile app from CBO is called Subway Surfers. If you played it, downloaded 3 billion times since it came out 10 years ago. Over a period of two weeks in August, Bloomberg found multiple publishers using the game to rack up podcast downloads including <laugh>. Sad to say iHeart Media, which is my employer for the radio show iHeart Media apparently was one of the number one users of this.

Leo Laporte (02:07:17):
And they sheed out more than 10 million, gained 6 million unique listeners a month, and they've been doing it since 2018. I always, it's funny because we don't lie about our numbers. In fact, if anything we're conservative about our numbers. And I always was puzzled when I see numbers from some of these big podcast companies like, Really, you get 40 million downloads a month? Really is well now we know don't this, And this is just one more example of the click fraud that you were talking about, Corey. Yeah,

Cory Doctorow (02:07:56):
I mean apps, because they're so opaque are a natural environment for this stuff. You know, do have to get through the app store heuristics and analytics. But if you can smuggle something through the platforms by design, don't let users closely monitor how the apps themselves are working. It's, Apple famously sued a company that made a VM that you could run iOS apps in that would allow you to do really deep forensics on it. They don't want you to think of this as software that you can stick your own controls on. I saw you had in our rundown for today, something a little later on about the OG app, which as I understand it is a very similar kind of thing in terms of allowing users to gain more control in that it kind of acts as an overlay to your social media and then loads the feed that the social media company wants to send you but throws away the ads. And this is Apple chucked it outta the app store. And this is the point to be able to exercise control so that when your interest diverge from the app store's interest, their interest comes first and that produces this space in which all this mischief can take place. Because as soon as you design computers to treat their owners as adversaries, right? Adversaries the manufacturer, then you make design decisions that necessarily increase their opacity.

Leo Laporte (02:09:23):
Well, there's a lot. One of the reasons OG app exists is cause there's a lot of dissatisfaction with what Meta has decided to do with Instagram, which is essentially take it from a very lovely site where you could share photos with your friends and family and turn it into TikTok because that's the flavor of the month. The OG app eliminated ads. That was probably part of the problem from ME'S point of view, but also eliminated everything, all the algorithmic recommendations turned it. Frankly, I loved it. It turned my Instagram back into my Instagram. It used to be it immediately caused problems. If one of the first things Instagram did after I installed the OG app, I recommended on Macro, very weekly on Tuesday it's gone today, by the way, one of the reasons I recommend I recommended it and liked it was because it gave me my traditional Instagram. But as soon as I went back to Instagram, Instagram said, Well there's been a security event in your Instagram app. Please you have to reauthenticate, we gotta make sure you are you okay fine. But that happened every time I use the OG app. And then of course they somehow somebody got Apple to pull it from the app store. So it's gone. I don't

Cory Doctorow (02:10:32):
Know if, I think it's still on the Android. I mean Apple is a good proxy for defending your interest when they're coterminal with apple's interests. And they do have enormous resources and very skilled personnel who do that. But when your interests diverge from theirs and this is not unique to Apple, this is true of all the big firms. Facebook has an incredible security team that defends you from all kinds of threat actors. The one threat actor that they won't defend you from is Facebook and Apple is the same. So if you're a Chinese iOS user and Apple has decided that access to Chinese consumers and Chinese manufacturing is more important than the integrity of Chinese users, you have no recourse when they remove all the working VPNs from the app store and add a back door to their cloud servers for the Chinese state to use.

Cory Doctorow (02:11:23):
Because by design you can't modify and intervene. One of the things that I think we need to understand is that the outer periphery of how badly a firm can treat you has historically, and I think is still determined by what you can do. If you're dissatisfied, you can just leave and there's someone in the chat saying, If you don't like Apple, you should just leave. Well, leaving Apple causes a switching cost. There's the technological cost of adjusting to something new. There's throwing away the media that is specific to your Apple device. Other intangible problems like losing the ability to do Rich. IM Sessions with your fellow Apple users. You remember Tim Cook recently said, If you wanna share videos and pictures with your mom you should just buy or an iPhone. So the corollary of that is if you switch away from iOS, then you can say goodbye to doing that kind of messaging with your mom.

Cory Doctorow (02:12:19):
So all of those switching costs have to be weighed against the benefit that you get from going somewhere else. And the firms understand this very intimately. Again, in the Texas Ag case against Facebook, one of the documents that was released are very frank memos between product design teams who are saying, we are going to design, for example, Facebook photos such that it is very good to use, not because we think that is something people will value, but because we think it will lure people into adding their family photos to Facebook. And once they do, they will endure the high switching cost of leaving behind their cherished family photos if they quit Facebook and go to Google Plus, which was the rival they were worried about at the time. And so firms very deliberately add very high switching costs to their products. And one of the things that these interoperable technologies do, like OG app and VMs and all these other things that people build that are part of the long history of how technology companies, including Apple and Facebook have confronted their own competitive challenges, is they allow users to have an intermediate state between leaving the firm together, leaving the service all together and enduring those high switching costs and enduring whatever ration of crap the firm wants to shovel down their neck.

Cory Doctorow (02:13:40):
A ad blockers are a great example. Popup blockers are really good example. Popups were once everywhere. The browsers added them by default. They were doing adversarial interoperability with the publishers whose content was being loaded in the browser. Publishers stopped displaying popups cuz advertisers stopped asking for them cuz users block them. That is one of the mechanisms by which we make technology better, is by giving users control over their technological destiny so that firms own behavior is limited because when they act badly, the users just take a corrective.

Leo Laporte (02:14:13):
You called I remember Ad Blockers the largest consumer boycott in history.

Cory Doctorow (02:14:18):
That's Doc sos. Yeah, that's

Leo Laporte (02:14:21):
Quitting doc. Oh good. Right. Yeah. Give me credit host of our Flo Weekly show. I wanna take a break. We're gonna talk about Google doing what it can to make ad blockers no longer work at all. Alex, before I take the break, anything you wanna add to the last few minutes of conversation?

Alex Kantrowitz (02:14:42):
Thanks for the opening. I would say that if we're thinking about everybody just on the podcast ad I thought the podcast scam is really interesting.

Leo Laporte (02:14:51):
Isn't that wild? Oh, makes me

Alex Kantrowitz (02:14:53):
Mad. Makes bad news. Makes

Leo Laporte (02:14:53):
Me so bad because yeah, it hurts us. It really hurts us badly. Absolutely. People just assume we're doing the same thing or

Alex Kantrowitz (02:15:01):
Yeah, the bad news is, the bad news is obviously when you try to build a podcast in authentic real way, you and I are doing you know, gotta build a brick by brick. It's tough to build them. And so yeah, it does screw us. The good news, if you wanna look at a silver lining, is that podcast add work. Yes. They're very valuable. Yes. In its business rules. Yes. So that's the positive note I'll give us on. I

Leo Laporte (02:15:24):
Agree with you. It's a good, yeah, thank you to

Alex Kantrowitz (02:15:28):
It's totally add supported. Yeah.

Leo Laporte (02:15:30):
So I don't know what your experience has been, but lately it's been tougher and tougher because companies, mostly it's agencies, not individual companies, but they want ad tech and they'll raise the specter of, well I can get all this information from Spotify or iHeart or they'll say to us, Well look, iHeart's CPMs, their cost for thousand listeners so much lower. Yeah. Cuz 8 million of those are fake <laugh>, Right? It becomes hard to compete with that kind of fraud co-opting of the market. And I think honestly, independent podcasting like you and I do is really gonna be facing an uphill battle over the next few years.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:16:12):
But on the other hand, I think that we renew more easily because people see the stuff works and they know it's not fraud and they're more inclined to spend again. Yeah. So that's good. I

Leo Laporte (02:16:22):
Believe So

Alex Kantrowitz (02:16:23):
Ultimately, if you're running a business, what you wanna do, you wanna deliver for customers, create loyalty and produce a good product. And I think that you can do that in a upstanding way in this industry and it's worth the heck of a lot to advertisers, which is why you see people wanting to mimic it. So they should stop. But the headline for me is, it's great news about podcast ads. Yeah.

Leo Laporte (02:16:45):
I wanna get the word out to advertisers because if they get, Oh, it's cheap to buy iHeart, but then what they don't get is return because they're fake numbers. Unfortunately, sometimes the reaction is, Well I guess podcasting doesn't work, let's put our ad dollars back in NFL football.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:17:05):
But clearly there's enough interest in podcasting that I hope people are going to these great links in order to fulfill it. So I think I still believe that podcasting is the more than radio, more than television, More than print. I think it's the most intimate form of media. You're there with a person in my case for an hour a week in your case for many hours a week, and you're there with them on their watch.

Leo Laporte (02:17:30):
People getting tired of me. I could tell you right now, <laugh>.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:17:32):
No, no, no, no. But you're there with them on your, I don't think so every time with you, man. I hear

Leo Laporte (02:17:38):

Alex Kantrowitz (02:17:38):
I would thinking

Leo Laporte (02:17:39):
About to be kind of fun is I was talking about this with Micah, I haven't told my wife yet, but be kind of interesting to just make it more like a radio station where you just have hosts come on for two or three hours and you just, you're always on like 24 7 always

Alex Kantrowitz (02:17:56):
On. I think that,

Leo Laporte (02:17:57):
Wouldn't that be interesting? Kind of a live continuous live stream.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:18:01):
That was my first, I started out my first real media gig was working a sport show at NAS Community College Radio before I was in college actually. I was in high school and I wrote to these guys and it was a blast. It's amazing. Yeah. So I recommend it. Yeah,

Leo Laporte (02:18:18):
That's just a thought have, That's one of the reasons we've got our fabulous club. I want to give it a little bit of a plug because it makes a big difference to our bottom line. In fact, right now it's about 25% of our total revenue and that helps a lot as ads start to get harder and harder to sell. If I think if there is a long term future for us it's through something like Club TWiTt. Now here's what you get seven bucks a month, which I think is a pretty affordable dollar figure. You get all ad free versions of our shows, all the shows add free. You also get access to the Club TWiT Discord, which a lot of people are saying that's really the benefit we like. Not everybody who joins a club ends up in the Discord, but a lot of us use it and love it.

Leo Laporte (02:19:02):
It's a place to discuss not only the shows, but everything geeks like books and comics and ham radio and hardware and Linux and music. That Discord is a lot of fun. Here's our TikTok Corner. I guess they're talking about TikTok in there. And of course here's the TWiTt discussion going on right now. And we have animated gifts, which makes it very much more fun. Also, it's a great place to put links into other shows. This interview I did with you, Corey on Triangulation was not ad supported, it was club supported. That's the only way we could do it because it's a ad hoc show that we bring in people when we want to talk to 'em. And so no advertiser's gonna buy a show where they don't know when it's on. But the Club banks is possible. That's why we also do hands on Mac in the club with Micah and Hands On Windows with Paul Rotten.

Leo Laporte (02:19:52):
Our Untitled Linux shows in there. The club has really given us a chance to do a lot more interesting stuff. We launched our new space show in there this weekend space, which has since gone public. Also, the TWiT plus feed, that's where those other shows show up. Seven bucks a month if you're interested. It really helps us. There's a yearly membership too. If you don't wanna be nickled and dimed every month you can even get corporate memberships. If you wanna have everybody in your company, listen, that would be good. You can also buy individual shows for $2 and 99 cents a month all at And we thank you for your support. We do have great advertisers, thank goodness because it's expensive to do what we do, including policy genius. Policy genius is well genius. We pay hundreds of dollars a year for insurance, for fire insurance for our house, or you know, have to for your car. Some of us even buy insurance for our phones. The fumble fingered among us. But how many of you are taking steps to protect your family?

Leo Laporte (02:20:58):
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Leo Laporte (02:21:56):
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Leo Laporte (02:22:45):
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Leo Laporte (02:23:56):
Oh gosh, there's so many stories and so little time. Let me see before we go to talk about that story, I wanted to ask you about the Amazon hardware event. Alex, before we go to the A 17 chip price increase before all of that, let's run a quick promo for some of the things that happened this week on TWiT. I think you might recognize some of the, It's only the people in the C-suites and the stockholders that are really getting rich on this and the people are waking up and we gotta get there. Get before the Guillo teens go up because

Leo Laporte (02:26:07):
I hear the beep, I hear the beeping. The good news is the hurricane dodged Tampa and Steven is just fine just in case. And now our friends in Fort Myers. Maybe that's another story, but our thoughts going out to all of you. Of course. I hope you did survive and do well in the hurricane if you didn't. I'm sorry. Did you watch any of the or breed any of the coverage of Amazon's big event this week, Alex and what were your thoughts?

Alex Kantrowitz (02:26:38):
I was most intrigued by that sleep monitor that they have. I don't know about you, but I think you said earlier in the show, maybe for the eight sleep A that we could all use a better night's sleep. Yeah,

Leo Laporte (02:26:48):
The halo they call it, right? Cause it, yeah, the halo And it doesn't have a camera as far as I could tell.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:26:53):
Yeah. Now it doesn't have a camera. And I'm always interested in trying to use any way I can to sleep better and learn a little bit more about how I sleep and the things that are on your wrist. I don't sleep well with anything on my wrist, so I guess I'm out on those. But something like this is interesting. However, I just don't trust Amazon with this type of thing. So maybe someone can take a Google the reverse route and copy this from big tech and so I could use it.

Leo Laporte (02:27:22):
Actually Google with their Nest hub will also do that. Cause that one has a camera. It also listens for that's snores and stuff like

Alex Kantrowitz (02:27:29):
That. That's out for me. Yeah. So I don't know. I like the idea, I use this idea if we can use technology to improve our wellness and improve our health.

Leo Laporte (02:27:38):
It's interesting, this is

Alex Kantrowitz (02:27:40):
Part of about Amazon do it,

Leo Laporte (02:27:41):
Amazon's halo series. Cuz they have this Halo band too, which is a fitness tracker <affirmative>. And then now this is the halo view, which doesn't see it has more of a watch. Right. Doesn't see. And then the halo rise, which doesn't have a camera

Alex Kantrowitz (02:27:58):
That doesn't see, Yeah,

Leo Laporte (02:27:59):
It doesn't see. Yeah. And

Alex Kantrowitz (02:28:00):
It cool wakes you up with some light in the morning. That's what

Leo Laporte (02:28:03):

Alex Kantrowitz (02:28:03):
Not gonna buy it, but a lot of people are gonna buy this thing for sure.

Leo Laporte (02:28:06):
Yeah. Amazon also announced that they're gonna let your Amazon Echo act as an euro beacon. Amazon owns the mesh networking company and in a very interesting synergy, when you buy one of the new fifth generation Amazon Echoes, it can be used to extend your wifi using I have to say all of these things look like Amazon thinly veiled attempts at Amazon to get more sensors into your home. Corey, are

Alex Kantrowitz (02:28:37):
They also,

Leo Laporte (02:28:38):
You had any thoughts on that?

Cory Doctorow (02:28:40):
Yeah, I mean I think that is exactly what this is as is the robot

Leo Laporte (02:28:46):
Astro and

Cory Doctorow (02:28:47):
Acquisition. Yeah, I mean I think that for me this drives home the problem or the poverty of just own two business with them. Cuz I own some euros. In fact, I own many Euros. I bought them before they were an Amazon company. So if the answer to, if you don't like Amazon, don't do business with them. If that's the answer, then what do I do? When Amazon buys the company, what do you do when Google buys Fitbit? What do you do when Facebook buys your beloved daily visit? Jiffy you, you're stuck, right? And so it's not like I can add my own firmware. It's not like I can untether it. In fact, the firmware updates for the Euros that I own have become increasingly Amazon linked. Every time I get one, I get a bunch of notices about how this is becoming less and less functional without Alexa.

Cory Doctorow (02:29:41):
They build that as a becoming more and more functional with Alexa. But obviously these are the opposite signs of the same coin. And it tells you the problem with acquisition driven growth in a market where we choose winners based on what people buy. Because companies who have access to the capital markets can just buy the companies that are successful. If everything in your grocery store is made by Proctor and Gambler or Unilever, and if there is a local artisanal oatmeal cookie place that takes off, one of them will buy it. And when they do their press release, they will say, we hear a Proctor and Gamble understand that our customers value choice and that's why we bought the company you chose to buy things from instead of us.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:30:30):
I think that this is pointing to an interesting battle slightly different lens, but interesting battle between Amazon and Apple. And I think that Apple is largely given up in the battle for ambient computing. Remember it sort of rolled back home pod sir, still is garbage. Meanwhile, Amazon's gonna be everywhere in your home. That's a whole new computing layer. And I think as this stuff gets more and more embedded in our lives, the fact that we're walking around the sensors, the fact that, you know, have echoes in your house, they're also mesh networks. You can speak to it, it will enhance your wifi by the way to hear what Corey thinks about this. But now they're gonna acquire Roomba or try to at least. So now that they're va, you're their vacuum. Although

Leo Laporte (02:31:14):
The latest news is that the ftc

Alex Kantrowitz (02:31:16):
Right? Elizabeth Warren doesn't like that I You're just the ftc. Yeah, yeah. But anyway, I think that it's interesting and I wonder what will happen as Apple sees that Amazon runaway with this screenless computing in your home. And whether it then pushes Apple to try to basically do what it's done in every other level, which is say we're gonna do this, but we're gonna do a privacy focused. And whether that will work. And it's an interesting battle that I'm looking at with this. I think Apple and Amazon just inch closer and closer together the farther we get towards them pushing beyond the markets that they own. And I think that's gonna be a really interesting battle. But anyway, why we tee up Corey on the Roomba question

Leo Laporte (02:32:01):
<laugh>? Well, that's what nobody has

Cory Doctorow (02:32:03):
To say about the iRobot acquisition. I mean I think it's the same thing. Amazon would like to know about the inside of your home and it's geometry and they'd like to know that so that they can leverage it for parochial advantage to make you use that or to make it so that the only company that you can use that geometry with is Amazon. It is to your benefit if you own a mobile robot, and this is the kind of thing that you're interested in to get accurate maps of your home from that robot. But it's not to your benefit to have that robot only allow you to take the data that was generated by the robot that you bought, that you charged with your electricity going around your home that you own or rent. But that data not being yours to use to your maximal advantage that data's use is being constrained to uses that are good for the shareholders of the company that made the robot. In fact, not even the shareholders of the company made the robot, the shareholders of the company that bought the company that made the robot. I don't understand why we as the owners of that robot should feel like it's our duty to make sure that those shareholders are happy.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:33:09):
I'm on team Corey here, <laugh>, let's have Kumbaya moment here towards the end. But I bought the Roomba on Prime day, so go figure. Amazon got me to buy it. Well

Leo Laporte (02:33:18):
I think this is really the lesson. All of this is that we are willing captors captains.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:33:24):
Yeah, exactly. Right. Yeah, I think that's a great lesson.

Leo Laporte (02:33:27):
Yeah. You point out in your book, Corey, that only 1% of people who have Amazon Prime ever shop for better deals outside of Amazon. It's just, yeah, once you pay for prime, you're there for life. Go ahead Alex.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:33:41):
I'm just gonna just do a quick ode to the Roomba that

Leo Laporte (02:33:44):
Does it work nice for you? You like it?

Alex Kantrowitz (02:33:46):
I love it. I'm a Roomba. I run a couple times a week and my floors are real clean. So

Leo Laporte (02:33:51):
<laugh> can

Cory Doctorow (02:33:54):
I ask you, as a practical matter, how does that work? Cuz I have never owned a Roomba that didn't immediately get hopelessly lost in a crack in the pavement or like a cable or something. They just

Alex Kantrowitz (02:34:06):
Yeah, yeah.

Leo Laporte (02:34:07):
You probably have a very square build house with No, it's just, it's

Cory Doctorow (02:34:12):
No wires. No wires. Wires.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:34:14):
No pets. No. It does eat my wires. I have to be a little careful about it. But my house is, yeah, pretty boxy. I mean, it's an apartment, so it's pretty small. We had

Leo Laporte (02:34:23):
A Roomba that would get

Alex Kantrowitz (02:34:24):
Stuck optimal for the Roomba. We had

Leo Laporte (02:34:26):
Stairs, a little et share kind of side table thing that had just enough clearance on the floor for the Roomba to think it could get under it, but not quite enough clearance for it to continue. So it gets stuck.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:34:39):
Oh yeah. It's amazing. Every night, Roomba, the Roomba is the only thing in my house that's more stubborn than me. It's pretty amazing. And

Leo Laporte (02:34:44):
It would go bang, bang, <laugh> bang trying to get in there.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:34:49):

Leo Laporte (02:34:49):
Three in the morning, every three, every day, every night. Three in the morning I'm up picking up the little Roomba, bringing it back to its home.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:34:57):
<laugh>. Yeah. Well there's these moments where the room budget just goes for it and keeps going for it and then eventually it wins and it's over. It's quite a celebratory moment for me. I'm like, you did it. You did it <laugh>.

Cory Doctorow (02:35:08):
A great machine learning kind of teachable moment cautionary tale where an engineer used an ml, a algorithm to get his Roomba to minimize forward crashes with its forward bumper so that it wouldn't bang into the walls and it just started going in reverse.

Leo Laporte (02:35:29):
<laugh> <laugh>,

Alex Kantrowitz (02:35:30):
It's given up entirely on it. <laugh> a smart Roomba, by the way. I'm just nominating Roomba Holics for the show title. I like

Leo Laporte (02:35:38):

Alex Kantrowitz (02:35:38):
Hos. Yeah. Makes it happen.

Leo Laporte (02:35:40):
Yeah. Surround your Roomba with a little bit of salt and see what happens. Yeah. Talking about browser extensions and browser ad blockers. Google had announced the evil technology and manifest V three, which allowed for something called the Web Content api was going to be eliminated from Chrome and hence Chromium. Its open source parent and hence probably from many open source projects based on chromium which means that ad blockers like my favorite Gore Hills U Block origin would no longer work. They require this manifest V two and access to the web content via the api. Google has some good reasons to dump it. It can, it can really hit performance if all, if every single extension starts asking for the content it can also be a privacy problem. But I think people install the Honey Chrome extension, really want it know that Honey's watching every move they make B lot of criticism.

Leo Laporte (02:36:46):
Google has said, we're gonna delay this till 2024. This has been, by the way, kind of a standard for Google. They'll announce some big change to something or other, everybody will complain. And then Google says, Oh, well nevermind. We're gonna do topics we're not gonna do do that other thing. So I hope that this is delayed forever, but it's just one more reason you should not use Chrome or chromium based browsers. Vivaldi says our ad blocker will continue to work, will continue to support v2. I think Brave has its own ad blocker in there, but I use Firefox for that reason. I think it's good to have a competitor to Google. And finally as you know, McDonald's has left Russia which has given rise, I think, to a number of stores that look just like McDonald's called Tasty. And that's it. And now Russia's former Lego stores, <laugh> Lego is also left the country have be rebranded as World of Cubes. But as Robish points out in Boy Boeing the Lego patent has expired. So it making a Lego clone is not hard to do. Unclear whether they should

Alex Kantrowitz (02:38:01):
Stick with world of

Leo Laporte (02:38:02):
Cubes. World of cubes is pretty good. Better. Yeah. Although Rob says he should have called it Eastern Block. I mean, really? Come on, <laugh>. Oh, Rob Ski says a national treasure. Is it Za? I'll say it right from now on. I say Bequia, I don't know what he says. I'll say sza. Yeah, well that's the correct Italian pronunciation. Yeah. He suggests also, it'd be nice if there were some locally themed replacement product lines such as sets for barriers, execution in the Lu Bianca buildings basement and so forth. <laugh>. Oh my God. Okay. We can laugh as we watch the world burn. That's that's pretty much the story there. I hope we don't have a nuclear war World War II or any of that. And if with any luck don't, you can listen to the fantastic big technology podcast as created by the wonderful Alex Cantor Witz boy, you get some great people. Baron is on the most recent one. Google's senior Vice president of search. Really good stuff.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:39:11):
Yeah. I'm about to drop an episode with Francis Hogan, the Facebook

Leo Laporte (02:39:16):
Whistleblower. Awesome,

Alex Kantrowitz (02:39:17):
Awesome. So that's coming by the time this is live, that will be live. And then later this week I have Tom Allison, who many people don't know, but he runs Facebook the app, so Wow. So it'll be some fun conversations coming up and lots of AI stuff on the way as well. So if people like that conversation we had about sentience and stuff like that, trying to bring all views in. It's gonna be fun. It's really

Leo Laporte (02:39:41):
Kevin, Kevin Kelly in August. So this is the second time we've dropped his name.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:39:45):
And Kevin Kelly's episode was just his life advice. We didn't really talk about technology at all. It was just his life advice.

Leo Laporte (02:39:50):
That's his new That's amazing book or something like that.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:39:52):
He has a book coming out about it and he has these lists of a hundred things for my hundred, well, seven 70th birthday or something like that.

Leo Laporte (02:39:59):
Right, right, right.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:40:01):
I just loved it so much. I was like, Kevin, when don't you come on, I'm gonna ask you about these things. Good. So I was a blast.

Leo Laporte (02:40:05):
Oh, I'll listen to that one for sure. I love Kevin also, of course, the big technology newsletter at Big Technology. Do sub

Alex Kantrowitz (02:40:16):
There's Dolly images right there up top.

Leo Laporte (02:40:18):
Oh, are you using this week, Dolly, for your illustrations?

Alex Kantrowitz (02:40:22):
I am. I was using, I'm, I'm not a big business, so I don't have money for illustrators, but I was using Unsplash before the free stock photos, and I think this is my first week trying to dial image out. And I like, It's dope. I

Leo Laporte (02:40:36):
It's dope, man.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:40:37):

Leo Laporte (02:40:38):
Dope. And don't forget always day one, how the tech titans plan to stay on top. Alex is excellent book. Speaking of books, Cory, Dr. Rose Cho, Choke Point Capitalism is now available. I'm ashamed to say I read it on Kindle Unlimited, but I understand that you pulled the plug on that

Cory Doctorow (02:40:57):

Leo Laporte (02:40:58):
Best thing to do, buy it ch from a choke point or Corey's really fantastic pluralistic blog, which I love or

Cory Doctorow (02:41:10):
Anywhere else books are sold, just to be clear.

Leo Laporte (02:41:12):
Okay. You don't mind? Yes. You don't mind if it's somewhere else. Okay. Yeah. Anywhere finer books are sold. And don't forget Pluralistic Done <laugh>. Corey has yet to use Dolly for his illustrations.

Cory Doctorow (02:41:24):
<laugh>. Oh no, I use them in bits and pieces. Oh, do you?

Leo Laporte (02:41:28):

Cory Doctorow (02:41:29):
Yeah. And that illustration for today's medium column with the Ted Talk stage, I couldn't find a good image of a TED Talk stage. So I said empty Ted talk stage. And I got that and then everything else came from it. And my thread about P here in the nhs haunted NHS hospital was my prompt to Dolly and then everything else. That

Leo Laporte (02:41:54):
Was really creepy. That one is really, really creepy. And Ted, did you ask for a donkey in the TED talk or did

Cory Doctorow (02:42:02):
It just No, no, no. I shoot that. So the TED stage is Dolly, the genes are from public domain source <laugh>. The torso is Steve Jobs's torso.

Leo Laporte (02:42:15):
I thought it might be. Yeah, that looks like to turtleneck.

Cory Doctorow (02:42:20):
Yeah. And the donkey and the clown shoes are both creative commons images and they're all credit

Alex Kantrowitz (02:42:26):
Is what you mean by centar, right? Human with ai. Yeah.

Leo Laporte (02:42:30):
The chicken of Ted talk. Do you and shoot, is that the official terminology

Cory Doctorow (02:42:36):
For That's the verb for, Yeah. You can tell by the pixels. That's when you go in and mod an image with Photoshop. You have sh it. But in my case, I GED it

Leo Laporte (02:42:45):
<laugh> because you are the open source guy. Always a pleasure to have you on board. Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you. Yeah, it was

Cory Doctorow (02:42:53):
A, And I like that you ended this with your own controversial take that world. Wari is bad. It's gonna be

Leo Laporte (02:42:59):
A bad thing for children and other living creatures. I see. Where

Cory Doctorow (02:43:04):
Is, Yeah. Unhealthy for children and other

Leo Laporte (02:43:06):
Living. Yeah. You remember that poster? You old hippy you. Yeah. I

Cory Doctorow (02:43:09):
Had one in my bedroom growing up

Leo Laporte (02:43:10):
My, I figured you did have a little flower drawing. Yeah. Yeah. <laugh>. Hey, thank you both of you. Really a pleasure. I knew that with the two of you. I didn't need anybody else. What a great show. Alex Cantz. Corey, Dr. O, Thanks for being here. Thanks to all of you. I think you're probably glad you were here for this as well. We do TWiT every Sunday afternoon, 2:00 PM Pacific, 5:00 PM Eastern, 2100 utc. You could tune in, watch it if you're watching live, our IRC is open. Both Alex and Corey, were in the irc actively participating. That's fantastic. They're even putting in plugs for where you could buy the book. Corey. They love you. And also if you're a member of Club TWiTt, you can do it in the Discord after the fact shows are available at the website, ads supported Also on YouTube, there's a dedicated YouTube channel for all of our shows. And of course the best way to get it, in my opinion, be to find a podcast player and subscribe. And that way you get it automatically every Sunday night, just in time for your Monday morning commute from the bedroom to the living room, <laugh>.

Leo Laporte (02:44:24):
Hey. Oh, it's a sad old world. It's a sad old world these days, I'll tell you. Thank you everybody for joining us. I got to see you next time. Another TWiT is in the can

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