This Week in Tech Episode 911 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 TWIT, This Week In Tech. Great panel for you. All the way from Finland, Patrick Beja joins, Brianna Wu, and Senator Shoshana Weissmann. We have lots to talk about, what's going on at Twitter with a third party clients. The Supreme Court considers Section 230. A TikTok ban layoffs in big tech, and an anniversary for the most influential computer in my career. It's all coming up next on TWIT.

TWiT Intro (00:00:32):
Podcasts you love.

TWIT intro 2 (00:00:33):
From people, you trust. This is TWIT.

Leo Laporte (00:00:43):
This is TWIT. This Week In Tech, episode 9/11 for Sunday, January 22nd 2023. You took two, right? This episode of This Week In Tech is brought to you by Shopify. Shopify makes it simple to sell to anyone from anywhere. This is possibility powered by Shopify. Sign up for $1 per month trial period. Take your business to the next level today, visit, all lowercase. And buy Express VPN, stop handing over your personal data to the big tech monopoly that mines your activity and sells your information. Protect yourself with the only VPN I trust to keep me safe online, visit to get three extra months free on a one-year package.

Thanks for listening to this show. As an ad supported network, we are always looking for new partners with products and services that will benefit our qualified audience. Are you ready to grow your business? Reach out to advertise at and launch your campaign now. It's time for TWIT, This Week In Tech. A show that we cover the weeks tech news. Oh, I am so excited about this panel. I say that every week, but I really mean it this week. Brianna Wu is back. Ladies and gentlemen, from Rebellion PAC, former candidate for Congress in Massachusetts, game developer, Porsche Rehabilitator, speed runner. Did I get it all?

Brianna Wu (00:02:21):
I was literally buying a Porsche part for my vintage 9/11 while you were introducing the show. So, yes, that is absolutely accurate.

Leo Laporte (00:02:29):
And, I saw you wanted to buy some old, non-running... it was an auction for a $20 car?

Brianna Wu (00:02:38):
Yes. No, no, no, no. It's a Lotus Elise. So...

Leo Laporte (00:02:41):
Oh, that's right.

Brianna Wu (00:02:42):
I've always wanted a Lotus Elise. I don't know if you know this car, but...

Leo Laporte (00:02:46):
I do.

Brianna Wu (00:02:47):
When they brought it to the United States, they put Toyota engines in it. So, it's actually...

Leo Laporte (00:02:51):
And later, it was the model for the Roadster. The Tesla Roadster.

Brianna Wu (00:02:54):

Leo Laporte (00:02:54):

Brianna Wu (00:02:55):
Yeah. Great car, it's super light. When you're in it, there's literally nothing but you and a pedal and a shifter. There's nothing in the interior, but it's just magical to drive. And there's one I'm looking at auction for, because the car market is so soft right now. If I can get a good deal on it, I think I'm going to go buy it.

Leo Laporte (00:03:14):
Well, you said it was $35, but it's not. I presume not running.

Brianna Wu (00:03:19):
No, no, no. So, it's an auction that keeps going up. So...

Leo Laporte (00:03:24):
Oh, it was like Twitter furniture. I get it. Okay.

Brianna Wu (00:03:26):

Leo Laporte (00:03:27):

Brianna Wu (00:03:27):
Exactly. So, if I can get it around 40,000, I'm going to jump on it, because I can make money fixing that up and selling it here in New England.

Leo Laporte (00:03:35):
I was so excited because I thought I could buy one of those soundproof conference room booths from the Twitter auction, because then I could put that in my living room and we could do shows in there. But, it went...

Brianna Wu (00:03:48):
That's a great idea.

Leo Laporte (00:03:49):
Oh, yeah. But, it ended up... It was like those get smart cone of silence, you go in this room and it's dead silent. Anyway, it went for 10,000. I couldn't...

Brianna Wu (00:03:57):
Oh my goodness.

Leo Laporte (00:03:58):
Let's go to Finland quickly and say hello to Patrick Beja, of [foreign language 00:04:04]. Hey.

Patrick Beja (00:04:05):
So nice to be here.

Leo Laporte (00:04:06):
You are out of hibernation. You have two small children, they're now old enough for you to do a show.

Patrick Beja (00:04:13):
I guess, almost. I'm eliciting the help of my wonderful wife who will let me sleep tomorrow because it's in the middle of the night here.

Leo Laporte (00:04:24):
Oh God, I forgot.

Patrick Beja (00:04:25):
But... Yeah. My daughter is almost two.

Leo Laporte (00:04:27):

Patrick Beja (00:04:28):

Leo Laporte (00:04:28):
Congratulations. Dad.

Patrick Beja (00:04:30):
It's happening. It's happening, Leo. Soon life can start again.

Leo Laporte (00:04:34):
Yeah. And I was telling you, I have a 30-year-old, and she's just as much work as ever. I don't have to change her diapers though, that's the good news. Welcome, Patrick. It's great to see you. There is a common theme, if you look at all three people's backgrounds. You'll see the common theme in a moment. Let's welcome Senator Shoshana. Shoshana Weissmann, Head of Digital Media at She is being attacked by a giant hotdog.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:04:59):
We're friends. It's okay.

Leo Laporte (00:05:02):
You give full consent.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:05:04):
Oh, yeah. Yeah, it's fine. It's cat and mouse, it's kind of cute. You know?

Leo Laporte (00:05:09):
So, you have a giant hotdog behind you, used to be SpongeBob. I guess you've moved out from your home under the sea?

Shoshana Weissmann (00:05:16):
Yeah. I live above ground now. It's a little bit easier on the lungs. You know?

Leo Laporte (00:05:20):
Yeah. Sloth committee chair. And by the way, professional hiker. Your pictures from Chile, a mountaineer I guess is what you'd call it, were gorgeous. Really beautiful stuff.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:05:33):
Oh, thank you. I can't take any credit, everything there was so beautiful. I was just overwhelmed by it and I really miss it.

Leo Laporte (00:05:42):
Really nice. And then, Patrick has over his left shoulder... right shoulder. He's got Mario over his left shoulder. Yeah. And, of course, we have the queen of speed running Mario, Brianna Wu, right? What is your current speed running record?

Brianna Wu (00:05:59):
Oh my goodness. So, actually, one of my dreams is not to be in the Super Bowl, it's to be in the speed running equivalent of the Super Bowl, which is called Games Done Quick. And, I got my Princess Peach speed run time down enough that I am actually going to be in GDQ, which is a huge honor. I know it sounds so stupid to normal people, but this is... I'm trying to think of an equivalence, it's like an Academy Award. It's like winning the World Series. And, I'm going to be in that next month. I'm so psyched about this.

Leo Laporte (00:06:34):
Is it a head-to-head speed running? Like, you...

Brianna Wu (00:06:36):
No. So, you have to show off live, and try to break a world record...

Leo Laporte (00:06:41):
It's a time...

Brianna Wu (00:06:41):

Leo Laporte (00:06:42):
And it's for charity, which is awesome.

Brianna Wu (00:06:44):

Leo Laporte (00:06:44):

Brianna Wu (00:06:45):
But, you've got to understand, you've got to sit there and speed run a game with no mistakes, where the difference in a successful run in a failed run, it's literally one 30th of a second in parts of it, and not screw up and die. So, the attention is very high.

Leo Laporte (00:07:04):
Oh, I can't...

Brianna Wu (00:07:04):
I've got to get... but this right.

Leo Laporte (00:07:05):
I don't know why you do that to yourself. But, okay.

Brianna Wu (00:07:07):
I'm a sadomasochist.

Leo Laporte (00:07:10):
Is the event you're going to be in the Frost Fatales?

Brianna Wu (00:07:13):
That is it.

Leo Laporte (00:07:14):
It's an all woman speed running event, Frost Fatales, end of next month, through March 4th.

Brianna Wu (00:07:22):
I cannot wait.

Leo Laporte (00:07:22):
And this will be for Malala, which is great. Supporting the I love that. Oh, I'll be watching. Will that make it more tense or less tense?

Brianna Wu (00:07:33):
No, I could use all the good wishes I can get for this. So, please do. Please do.

Leo Laporte (00:07:40):
Go Brianna,, go. So our office...

Brianna Wu (00:07:40):
If you control me in the chant with people.

Leo Laporte (00:07:43):
I will. I'll say, 'I knew Brianna before she was a speed runner.' So, you're still on Twitter, Brianna. I know you're pretty active still.

Brianna Wu (00:07:52):
I am.

Leo Laporte (00:07:52):
Shoshana, I know you're still pretty active on Twitter. Patrick, are you still on the tweeter butter?

Patrick Beja (00:07:59):
I am. I wish there was an alternative, and please no one say Mastodon. I mean, yes, I'm on Mastodon as well. It's really great, but I don't think... I was going to say unless he messes up colossally, which he already has.

Leo Laporte (00:08:17):
It's kind of amazing how Elon has found ways to continue to mess up. I thought it was going to be calm for a while. And then last week, a week ago, Thursday, he pulled the plug on third party apps. He killed the API without telling anybody and without even admitting to it. And then, a few days later... Well, The Information had a story saying, 'We have the Slack messages. It was intentional.' Then a few days later they said, 'Yeah. Yeah, because these guys, Twitterrific, and Tweetbot, and Tusk, they were breaking the rules. To which, Craig Hokenberry and Paul Haddad said, 'We've been doing this for 15 years. What rules?' To which...

Patrick Beja (00:09:02):
It's even worse.

Leo Laporte (00:09:04):
Twitter's response last Thursday was to make up some rules, stick them in, and say those rules.

Patrick Beja (00:09:10):
They didn't even specify any rules.

Leo Laporte (00:09:13):

Patrick Beja (00:09:14):
They were like, first, after... I don't know, four days or a week, they said, 'Yeah. We made some changes, so some clients might not work.' And then a week after that, they updated the... Not the ULA, but the...

Leo Laporte (00:09:29):
API rules.

Patrick Beja (00:09:31):
The app. The developer.

Leo Laporte (00:09:32):

Patrick Beja (00:09:32):
The API rules, saying, 'Yeah, we are upholding some long-standing...' Oh, sorry, it was the other way around. 'We're upholding some long-standing rules. So, there you go.' Without specifying anything. Anything. Imagine being a developer whose life it is to... job it is to develop your app for 10 years and all of a sudden it doesn't work, and for days no one says anything. And even when they end up saying something, they don't say anything. I've had my issues with Twitter and Elon Musk and the way he's been running it, giving Nazis back their voice was not great, for example. But, I think this is even worse if that's possible. It got me so infuriated.

Leo Laporte (00:10:26):
Is it really? I mean, all he's doing is saying, we want you to use our client because that's where our advertising is. And so, is it really worse?

Patrick Beja (00:10:39):
I think that's fine. Blocking the third party apps is not the problem. It's the way of doing it that is so disrespectful.

Leo Laporte (00:10:46):
Well, and some of these apps...

Patrick Beja (00:10:47):
He could have said...

Leo Laporte (00:10:49):
We have been around since the beginning, Sean Heber. We had Craig Hockenberry of the Icon Factory on Tech News Weekly. Great interview. You can see that on Ask The Tech Guys, or on the Tech News Weekly. But, Sean Heber wrote the end of an era blog post for Icon Factory, and pointed out Twitterrific has been part of Twitter since 2007. They invented the blue bird that Twitter then started using. They invented the word tweet. They won many Apple Design Awards. This was the icon factory's bread and butter. Paul Haddad of Tweetbot wrote a very sad post, here's the graveyard. And by the way, notice the elephant, that's because they're writing a Mastodon client called Ivory to replace that. But all of these small companies have said, 'Please, we've pulled them from the App Store, do not ask for a refund. We can't afford it.' They could put these companies out of business.

Patrick Beja (00:11:46):
Yeah. I do just want to... If I could just say, I do just want to say, I don't think this is as bad as Elon letting...

Leo Laporte (00:11:54):
Stop putting Nazis on.

Patrick Beja (00:11:54):
Nazis, and...

Leo Laporte (00:11:54):

Patrick Beja (00:11:54):
And anti-vaxxers.

Leo Laporte (00:11:54):
I'm being facetious, of course.

Patrick Beja (00:11:58):
Well, in all of that back on there, I think we need to put that in perspective here. I want to be honest and say, Leo, there's not many things I am more sympathetic to Elon on. These apps have always been in kind of, uncomfortable water with Twitter because of the reason you just outlined. Twitter's there ultimately to sell ads. It screws up their ability to bring very specific products out to the widest audience possible. They have this API, and they do have a long working relationship. But, Twitter, long before Elon Musk bought Twitter, has been really encouraging people to use this app every single way they can. A lot of the newer features like Twitter spaces, you can't access that from a browser. You need it from a smartphone to do that, and it's a great feature. So, it's not to say I agree with the way Elon has done this. I don't, I think it's terrible. I think he's a terrible human being. I'm on record saying that. But, I think it's fair to say that these developers should have known, this writing has been on the wall for quite a while.

Leo Laporte (00:13:10):
It's actually not the first time it happened. Remember, Bill Gross was starting to buy up all the third party apps, and Jack Dorsey cut off a lot of third party access, ended up buying TweetDeck to keep it out of his hands. Although, Dorsey, as I seem to remember has said that was a big mistake to cut off third party apps because as much as they ride upon Twitter, they also contribute to Twitter and they add to the...

Patrick Beja (00:13:35):

Leo Laporte (00:13:36):
Twitter user base. Shoshana, you probably just use the website, I would guess? Like most people.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:13:41):
It's a big mix. It's a lot of TweetDeck. I use it in all different kinds of ways. But, I know that just people like different interfaces and stuff, so I think it is kind of shortsighted to... I mean, his behavior, the way he went about it is bad. I think we all kind of agree there that that's just not how you treat other people in business, especially after he's been throwing other people under the bus and just creating all these waves for no reason in certain cases. But, yeah. I plug lots of apps into other apps using Zapier and using...

Leo Laporte (00:14:11):
Me too.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:14:11):

Leo Laporte (00:14:11):
Yep. Yeah.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:14:12):
I love those. They're so good. And I've had some wild ones, like 50-step automations. Just, sometimes you want to use apps differently and you want to find better ways to connect them or make them work for you. And, when people are getting fed up with your app, generally, through other decisions, whether or not even that it's legitimate for them to be upset about it, you don't keep making waves. It's one thing if he wanted them to come to the table and be like, 'Listen, we have issues here. We need to work through this. Let's try to make this work.' But just pulling the plug for no reason, while other people are upset about the way he's behaving and the way he's running things. I just don't think it's smart business sense, which is... I think everyone thinks just every random rich guy is going to be able to do amazing things if he touches any kind of company, but people of different skills and maybe this just isn't his skillset, which is okay.

But, for his own sake and all the money he's spent on it, you would think he would just be like, 'Oh, maybe I don't want to lose $44 billion. Let me take a step back and figure that out.' But, it's just kind of wild to me that he hasn't done that and he just keeps making waves and going after people he's worked with or who were at the company, and firing people, and all of this. It's just kind of a big mess for no reason that doesn't benefit him in any way that I can see.

Leo Laporte (00:15:32):
It's funny, Brianna, I would say I didn't agree with you except I kind of do agree with you in this regard. I mean, it is a privately held... I mean, really privately held company. One guy owns a whole thing. He can do anything he wants with it. I'm a fan of... Sorry, Patrick. Mastodon and open platforms. The Fediverse and open platforms, for that very reason, that no one owns it and it's kind of... There's an API and it's governed by its users and if somebody decides to do something bad, they can be routed around. And, Twitter's not that. It's a centralized proprietary system.

So, on the one hand, I agree with you, he's doing what's best for the business in this one respect, at least short term, because he's preserving the ad base. Although apparently 40% of the ad revenues disappeared out the window in the last couple of months. There was a very good long piece by Zoe Schiffer, Casey Newton and Alex Heath. Of course, they're the Platformer Substack, but I guess the Verge has rights to it. Very good kind of summary of the whole sordid story that came out a couple of days ago called, Extremely hardcore.

Next to it, by the way, they have... This is a little mean. A little mean. They have a Elon Networth-O-Meter, and as you scroll through the story in the events, starting from the very beginning when Elon in April acquired 9.2% stake in Twitter. His Networth-O-Meter thermometer goes down and down and down. There's also some great illustrations. The production on this is great. But, it is the first place I've seen every step of the way what happened. Also, a lot of contributions from people who were on staff who were later fired or quit, who give us an inside look at what was going on. I love the illustrations. This is everybody trying to print out their 30 days worth of code contributions. Apparently they hadn't printed anything in so long...

Patrick Beja (00:17:36):
I want to be clear on this, Leo.

Leo Laporte (00:17:36):
Hold on a sec. Apparently they hadn't printed anything in so long that none of the printers worked, and so they were busily trying to figure out how to get the printers to work. Eventually a group of executive assistants said, 'We'll print the code, just send us a PDF, because those printers of course worked.' And then, a new missive went out saying, 'Oh, forget it, just come be ready to show your code on the screen.' And it says, 'If you've already printed it, please shred in the bins on San Francisco 10. Thank you.' So, we saw... There was a lot of detail in this. Go ahead, Brianna. I know you...

Brianna Wu (00:18:13):
No. No.

Leo Laporte (00:18:13):
You want to qualify what you said.

Brianna Wu (00:18:15):
I want to be very clear with people, because I don't want to get clipped or taken out context. I'm not saying what Elon did is right, or I'm defending this at all. I'm saying it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. If you look at, this is the guy that brought banking services online in the 90s, in a way that allowed anyone to access any bank account and withdraw money with no safeguards whatsoever. He just threw it together in a very haphazard way. If you look at the way Tesla was brought to market, there are a thousand stories of that Starship nearly crashing and exploding. You look at the way you treated the people that designed the Model Y doors, that failed originally. I think it was very, very poor treatment of a third party there.

Leo Laporte (00:18:56):
I had a Model X with Falcon wing doors, that after the rain when you opened the door, a flood would come down, a sheet of water...

Brianna Wu (00:19:03):

Leo Laporte (00:19:04):
Would come down from the inside part of the door on anybody sitting in the seat, because they never thought of putting... I don't know, rain gutters on them.

Brianna Wu (00:19:12):
There was a huge lawsuit about this with, basically, the ownership of who engineered it. My point is here, is not them defending what he did, is that it should not be a surprise to the developers or anyone else that Elon would do this. He's not your friend. He's not some genius billionaire. He's out to make money. He has a political agenda here and he doesn't care who's going to get hurt along the way, whether it's employees or his partners.

Leo Laporte (00:19:39):
I mean, that's the tension. Is one, on the one hand, he owns it. If he wants to drive it to the ground and lose $44 billion, he still has $132 billion. He can lose it and not go hungry. It's his right to do that. On the one hand. On the other hand, Twitter did have a... and maybe still has this great import for us as a society, for the globe. To give a voice to people who were voiceless, whether it was the Arab Spring, or Occupy Wall Street, or Black Twitter, and many people got their news from it. Many people built communities around it. I hear from a lot of people who said, yeah I... like, Brianna. I probably know Brianna because of Twitter, probably many of you because of Twitter first. Certainly, Shoshana, because of Twitter. So, it's a public thing that we've all lost. And yet... and this is to me, the whole problem with proprietary. Somebody could buy it, somebody with enough money could buy it and destroy it. That's his right.

Patrick Beja (00:20:39):
Yeah. About the proprietary thing. Mastodon it on is great. I have an account, follow me, I love it. I think it is absolutely necessary. I just don't think it is going to replace Twitter any time soon.

Leo Laporte (00:20:57):
It's a different experience. I'd agree. Yes.

Patrick Beja (00:21:00):
Well, it is, and Twitter is still here. Twitter is going to stay here for a long time. I think. And this is what I was trying to say, because it provides the service it provides. It's the incumbent advantage. Even with everything that's happened, we're still on it. We're still using it. You're kind of implying that it's in the past, Leo, for all the things that we did and how we met up with each other through Twitter. It's still here. A lot more is going to have to go wrong, which a lot has already gone wrong, before people actually stop using it. It is the incumbent advantage, which is enormous for Elon Musk.

Leo Laporte (00:21:46):
That's the thing I find interesting. I don't use it, it is in the past for me. It's in the complete rear view mirror for me. I don't use it anymore, same thing with Facebook. It's in the rear view mirror. So, maybe that's why I am in that mindset already. But, you're absolutely right. I've asked this for the last month of every panelist, they're all still, like you, very active on Twitter. They're still using it. And to me, I almost want to say, 'Don't you feel like that's supporting Elon in a way?'

Patrick Beja (00:22:15):
Of course. But, we live in a society. We can't live outside of it.

Leo Laporte (00:22:21):
I vote with my legs, I vote with my eyeballs, I vote with my money. I don't want to support it.

Patrick Beja (00:22:24):
No. Maybe you can, but there are a lot of people who can't.

Leo Laporte (00:22:27):
I had a blue check and I paid for it. Well, I didn't pay for the blue check, but I had Twitter blue. But, I stopped immediately as soon as Elon took over. He would've stopped me anyway, apparently he disconnected everybody.

Brianna Wu (00:22:36):
I can say...

Patrick Beja (00:22:39):
It's an important means of communication for a lot of people that have integrated it into the business.

Leo Laporte (00:22:43):
And, this is the thing, you're thinking of it as a public wheel, as a public square, and it should transcend Elon.

Patrick Beja (00:22:50):
Oh, I don't think it should transcend anything, I'm just a realist. That's how it is. And I agree with Brianna, he can do whatever the hell he wants with this platform. I think he should be a little bit more discerning and respectful of the [inaudible 00:23:04] that have been working with the platform for a long time. It's ethics and morals, but he has the right to do anything he wants with it. But, I think the platform is unavoidable if you are in a certain type of business.

Leo Laporte (00:23:21):
It's funny because I tell our marketing team and our execs, 'Get off Twitter. I don't think we should support it.' TWIT should not have anything to do with Twitter. I've thought that for a long time, and they said the same thing. 'No. We have to be, that's where the audience is.' Brianna, do you worry about supporting? You're actually giving Elon comfort, aid to the enemy.

Brianna Wu (00:23:45):
There is an article in Forbes that came out, literally about five days ago. It's literally just my public tweets going after Elon that have gone viral. I see myself as conducting good old school information warfare against him.

Leo Laporte (00:24:00):
It's a good platform to attack him.

Brianna Wu (00:24:01):
Yeah. A hundred percent.

Leo Laporte (00:24:03):
Has he banned you, or has he blocked you, or has he done anything in response?

Brianna Wu (00:24:06):
Amazingly, he hasn't. We've gotten in a fight or two, but a lot of people attribute that, 'Hey, should I step down?' tweet to something I said to him. So, yeah. I'm there to remind him publicly. Yeah.

Leo Laporte (00:24:17):
By the way, he had a poll, lost the poll and did nothing.

Brianna Wu (00:24:21):
Yeah. Exactly. I'm there to undermine him. I'm going to tell you candidly, I'm looking at a book deal right now to write a book, basically, just going after him. That's why I'm there. I'm there to fight dirty. I'm from Mississippi. I got no problem [inaudible 00:24:38]

Leo Laporte (00:24:38):
Let me give you little ammunition from this article.

Brianna Wu (00:24:41):

Leo Laporte (00:24:41):
By Casey and Zoe. On October 26th, an engineer mother of two, let's call her Alicia. They had a more than two dozen, I think, Twitter employees sourcing in this... Former Twitter employees sourcing this article. Sat in a glass conference room in San Francisco trying to explain the details of Twitter's tech stack to Elon. This was two days before he actually bought the company, but Musk was sitting two seats away with his elbows propped on the table, looked sleepy. When he did talk, he was to ask questions about cost. How much does Twitter spend on data centers? Why was everything so expensive?

Oh. Alicia was already tired of Musk's antics, for a month he'd gone back and forth about buying the company.' You remember that? 'He decided to back out of the deal, blah, blah, blah. So, here they were trying to show Musk what he was about to buy, and all he wanted to talk about was money. Fine. She thought, if Musk wants to know about money, I'll tell him. She launched into a technical explanation of the company's data center efficiency, curious to see if he'd following along. And here's the anecdote. Instead, he interrupted. "I was writing C programs in the 90s." He said, dismissively, "I understand how computers work."

So, you know what? I was writing C programs in the 90s too, but I don't think I'd understand Twitter's text stack. I can tell you right now. He was dismissive even worse in this article. His friend David Sacks, but also how Elon treated Sacks. Sacks was a venture capitalist, a fellow South African. He'd worked with Musk at PayPal. He started Yammer, sold that to Microsoft. So, successful. During this conversation with Alicia, Sacks walks in and Musk says, "David, this meeting's too technical for you." Waving his hand to dismiss Sacks, wordlessly, Sacks turned and walked out. Leaving the engineers Slack jawed. Musk's imperiousness in the middle of a session, he appears to be botching, was something to behold.

Patrick Beja (00:26:47):
There's no question he's... and, how much can we curse here?

Leo Laporte (00:26:52):
You could say he's an a-hole.

Patrick Beja (00:26:54):
There's no... Right. There's no question about that. And I have to say, a little bit irritated when people take pleasure in continuing to point it out.

Leo Laporte (00:27:06):

Patrick Beja (00:27:06):
Because we know that.

Leo Laporte (00:27:08):
No new news. You're right. You're right.

Patrick Beja (00:27:11):
He is a complete... He's full of himself. He doesn't... But, since we're going there, please, I have this image that keeps coming back to my head of other a-holes, like for example, Steve Jobs.

Leo Laporte (00:27:28):
Steve Jobs. Thomas Edison, Henry Ford.

Patrick Beja (00:27:31):
For example.

Leo Laporte (00:27:31):
All notorious.

Patrick Beja (00:27:34):
There you go. If I'm going to play a little bit of devil's advocate here, which is a thing I do much to my own chagrin. Isn't there a possible... I mean, SpaceX and Tesla have done things. Is there any chance that we're focusing on a-holiness of Elon Musk?

Leo Laporte (00:27:53):
Well, it makes for good copy, so that's why. But, you're right. You're right. I guess then that leads to the question with Twitter. Anybody want to make a prediction? A year from today. Elon, by the way, has a very...

Patrick Beja (00:28:11):
Well, he certainly doesn't seem to be having any strokes of genius on Twitter.

Leo Laporte (00:28:18):
He's got a big interest payment coming up...

Patrick Beja (00:28:19):
He's making terrible decisions, one after another.

Leo Laporte (00:28:19):
I think he's got a big interest payment coming up this month. I mean, it's not like...

Patrick Beja (00:28:22):
Yeah. The end of January.

Leo Laporte (00:28:24):

Shoshana Weissmann (00:28:25):
Maybe, because I'm just such an optimist, I do think it'll make it. And I kind of do like the point too, of how there's lots of a-holes who do cool things too. I think it's... I go back to...

Leo Laporte (00:28:36):
It's almost prerequisite, isn't it?

Shoshana Weissmann (00:28:40):
Yeah. I go to Jonathan Haidt's work a lot, because I'm definitely...

Leo Laporte (00:28:43):
Love him.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:28:44):
Guilty of being... Oh, he's great. I love him.

Leo Laporte (00:28:45):

Shoshana Weissmann (00:28:46):
And, I'm very guilty of being a black and white thinker. I'm like, 'Oh, I have to write this person off.' Or, 'Oh, this person is great and there's no flaws.' I've gotten over that over time in part because of his work, and I think that it's possible Elon fits into the dynamic where he has some very, very, very toxic things, but can also do some very incredible things. And one of my favorite examples from his book, which seems kind of obvious, I guess, is Bill Clinton. That he would make such a silly and awful, but kind of... There was no reason he had to do what he did with an intern, to an intern, really. But, there was no real reason for that.

And he was so brilliant in certain other ways that it's hard to contrast, but different parts of people's minds work very differently and different parts of their lives work very differently. So it could just be that sometimes people can be awful in one regard, but brilliant in others. And, I'm hoping the brilliance comes through and he delegates more with Twitter and lets it flourish because I think it's something that can be really great. But, if he doesn't, it'll fail. And I guess, maybe this is the thing that'll kind of determine how we end up seeing him, what he's willing to make of it, what he's willing to turn it into, and if he's willing to get out of his own way. That'll kind of put him in perspective, I think, for a lot of people.

Leo Laporte (00:30:04):
The book, by the way, Johnathan...

Brianna Wu (00:30:06):
I got to do a little pushback on all of this.

Leo Laporte (00:30:08):
Hold on just a second. I just want to...

Brianna Wu (00:30:09):
Okay, sure.

Leo Laporte (00:30:09):
Because we mentioned Jonathan Haidt, and I want to...

Brianna Wu (00:30:11):

Leo Laporte (00:30:12):
Give him the full plug. The book is, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion. That's not his latest, but I did interview him on triangulation when that came out. His newest is, The Coddling Of The American Mind.

Brianna Wu (00:30:23):
Oh my goodness.

Leo Laporte (00:30:24):
He's an interesting thinker and often has some very astute stuff. Go ahead. I'm sorry, Brianna. I just want to give him the...

Brianna Wu (00:30:30):
No, no, no. It's well said. I just want to say, look, you can have differences of opinions. I mean, I ran for Congress, I work with people I don't agree with stuff on all the time. It is just the nature of my job. I would pause it to you, Elon Musk is a unique threat that is uniquely terrible. Steve Jobs was a jerk. Steve Jobs didn't have literally lines of women that worked at his companies suing him over sexual misconduct, and then mocking those women publicly.

Leo Laporte (00:31:03):

Brianna Wu (00:31:03):
Steve Jobs did not have lawsuits, of things so racist on the Tesla assembly lines. I'm not even going to repeat on this show, Steve Jobs did not give anti-vaxxers a huge megaphone and specifically bring them back to a platform to broadcast those ideas and legitimize them to over 200 million people. Steve Jobs did not bring back someone who literally tried to incite an insurrection against the United States and gave him a huge megaphone. There is a pattern of egregious, toxic, extremely damaging conduct to our democracy. And I would suggest to all of you, this is not just boys being boys or someone that's a flawed figure. This is someone that is a uniquely toxic person to our discourse, and we need to be realistic and factual.

Brianna Wu (00:32:03):
... discourse and we need to be realistic and factual about that.

Leo Laporte (00:32:04):
Yeah, I agree with you, and that's why I left Twitter and I encouraged everybody-

Patrick Beja (00:32:07):
I don't think anyone is disputing that.

Leo Laporte (00:32:08):
... to leave Twitter because you're supporting this by just making Twitter a valuable place to be. And the best thing anybody could do is to abandon it. Abandon ship. I obviously am not leading a charge here. I did the same thing with Facebook years ago, and I said, "Come on everybody, let's dump Facebook! Hello? Anybody?" So, go ahead, Patrick.

Patrick Beja (00:32:32):
No, I don't think anyone is disputing. Like my joke earlier about him letting Nazis back on the platform was a very serious stab about the real issue with the guy, but [inaudible 00:32:49].

Leo Laporte (00:32:48):
And we still talk about him incessantly. I wish we didn't have to.

Patrick Beja (00:32:52):
Yeah, it's frustrating, but it's the importance of the thing he bought. And-

Leo Laporte (00:32:55):
But I thought he was calming down and we haven't done much Elon stuff in the last couple of weeks and then he did this thing to the third party apps.

Patrick Beja (00:33:01):
... We could stop for this episode. We have our-

Leo Laporte (00:33:03):
We're going to stop right now.

Patrick Beja (00:33:04):
... Elon Ratio.

Leo Laporte (00:33:05):
We're going to stop right now. We've exceeded our Elon quota for the week. Just to point out that the first installment of interest payments will be due at the end of the month. It's going to be about one-and-a-half billion a year. So what is that? At least a hundred million at the end of the month. He can afford it. He could write a check. He could sell a jet, but I don't... I think he could keep this going for a long time. He's got a lot of money. If he were willing to lose money, he's got a lot of money. And now he's got a lot more because he's sold the Twitter @ planter for more than $10,000. And the giant blue Twitter sign, how much did that go for? A 100,000, right?

Shoshana Weissmann (00:33:46):
Yeah. I have it in my apartment now.

Leo Laporte (00:33:48):
I was going to say, Shoshana.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:33:49):
It takes up more space than you would think.

Leo Laporte (00:33:52):
Good job in snagging that while you could.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:33:53):
I saved up for it. I won't be able to hike for a couple years.

Leo Laporte (00:33:59):
Someone, who bought it you think? I think it's one of the goons they call the people who are backing him up. People like Jason. I bet Jason Gallic has the big Twitter sign in his house, in his Hillsborough estate. We're going to take a little break and continue with a lot more. It's so good to have you. No more Elon. We're going with the Patrick Beja complete and utter... He's hit. We've hit the quota. The ban is on.

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All right, big story. Actually, we probably should have led with this. The Supreme Court is going to hear, I think, a very interesting case. I wish I had been trained as a lawyer. I know one of the things you do as a lawyer in your training is you learn how to state the facts of a case in a coherent, succinct way, and then you can talk about the merits of it and the pros and cons. I'm going to do my best, but it won't be very good. I'm just warning you ahead of time.

The case is Gonzalez versus Google. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear it. I'm not sure, I don't, the arguments haven't happened yet, but we're starting to see briefs from all the big tech companies come in. At the root of the case is a family, the Gonzalez family in France, whose daughter was killed in 2015 in a Paris bistro. You probably remember this. 2015 ISIS terrorist attack, Noami Gonzalez.

The reason they're suing Google in this is because ISIS allegedly relied on YouTube to recruit before the attack. So the family has sued to hold Google liable for aiding and abetting terrorists. Their contention is that the Google recommendation algorithm radicalized young people and turned them into terrorists with these ISIS videos.

Google says, of course, "Well, we take those videos down the minute we find them." But they're not denying the algorithm. They are saying, "We are protected under Section 230." And really, that's why this is a very important case. Section 230 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, DMCA, written by Ron Widen, to protect the internet. It's very simple. It really is. It's two rights. One, the right to not be liable as a company. For instance, I'll give you the immediate example to me. We have an IRC chat room, we have a Discord chat, we have forums at We have a Mastodon, I would be liable and I could be sued by anybody for stuff posted there, except that Section 230 makes me immune to prosecution and immediately causes the suit to be dropped. The judges will say, "Nope, you're protected."

That's part one. Part two of my rights. It also gives me the right to moderate, and this is very important. Without the protection, there's the risk of taking down, let's say Donald Trump's account, or as I do often, taking down hate speech in our Mastodon instance, would also open me to liability. That person could sue me for taking that down, and maybe I'd win in court, but I'd have to defend it in court. Section 230 means I don't have to defend it. So Section 230 is very important to the internet. We've talked about it a lot.

The part of the problem I think here is that it is being associated with the big tech giants, Google, and Meta, Twitter. Everybody is signing onto a amicus brief, friends of the court briefs, why the Supreme Court should not do this. I love this one. The Supreme Court just yesterday, I think allowed, or maybe it was Friday, Reddit mods to anonymously comment on this in Reddit's amicus. The reason being Reddit mods use algorithms all the time to moderate their individual subreddits, but many of them are anonymous. And so normally in an amicus brief, you sign it and Reddit went to the Supreme Court saying, "Can we have anonymous, because our moderators want to stay anonymous for a good reason in many cases, can we allow their comments?" And the Supreme Court said, "Yes. Yes. " Sophia Cope of the EFF said, "We're happy the Supreme Court recognized the First Amendment rights of Reddit moderators to speak to the court about their concerns." So, actually I should mention that R Street, which is the lobbying organization that Shoshana... Are you an employee or a contractor for them? I should get that straight.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:42:40):
Oh, employee. And we're technically a think tank.

Leo Laporte (00:42:41):
Think tank.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:42:42):
Because sometimes we just put out ideas. Sometimes we're like, "Hey, please do this." Or, "Hey, please don't do this." It varies on the day.

Leo Laporte (00:42:48):
So it's more you... And in fact, this comes from Jonathan Cannon, your policy counsel. So this is more an amicus brief of why Section 230 should be protected.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:43:02):

Leo Laporte (00:43:02):
But you take a kind of an interesting point of view. So petitioners claim that a test has been used by the lower courts to resolve 230's cases to say that YouTube's recommendation algorithms are not protected. And I have to say, I'm not sure about this, boy, I know I need Section 230 because we would not have a chat room, or a forums, or a Mastodon if Section 230 didn't exist, because it would put me out of business. I'd have to defend frivolous lawsuits right and left. So I'm in favor of 230, but I kind of understand the family's point of view that Google did more than just... Google's out recommendation in effect, taking an editorial position on this stuff should, I think, maybe should make them liable. And so that's why this initial test, it's a traditional editorial function test. Now Cannon, your counsel said, both theories are wrong. "Petitional's traditional editorial functions test is unsupported by the text of 230." That's true, 230 is very clean and simple. It's almost like a constitutional amendment. It's very good. "And is also," he says, "not consistent with lower court decisions that purportedly make use of it. The conventional three-pronged Barnes test, which lower courts typically use to determine whether Section 230 applies is a much better fit." So he's kind of lobbying for this Barnes test. I should probably read up on this. He doesn't describe what the Barnes test, but he does say, "Google's algorithmic recommendations satisfy all three prongs, and thus are entitled to Section 230."

"YouTube's labeling of relevant videos with the words up next does not void 230 protection, just as a newspaper guiding reasons to the remainder of a front page story would not void that paper's legal protections." I don't know if up next is exactly the same as continued on page 25, Cannon says so. "Nor does YouTube lose Section 230 protection for arranging its site in a way that is navigable and relevant for users." That makes sense. "A newspaper does not waive otherwise applicable legal protections for publishing an article when it puts it on the front page. YouTube does not lose protections for hosting a video when its algorithm makes that video up next." Feel a little funny about that one. And he says, "Even if recommendations were distinct pieces of content rather than necessary byproducts of organizing content, these recommendations will be generated by user inputs subject to neutral algorithmic rules and not speech developed by YouTube."

I would contend those are not neutral rules, that the rules are in fact to optimize for profit by optimizing for engagement. And I don't think that is neutral. Finally, he says, "A ruling for petitioners would lead to dire consequences for online speech." This I agree with, "thwarting the purpose of Section 230." So R Street is in favor of keeping 230 intact, as are, of course, all the big tech companies. So I think this is a fascinating subject. I've done a terrible job. I would get a C minus in law school, but that's my statement of the case, of the facts of the case and my thoughts about it. Patrick, you-

Shoshana Weissmann (00:46:35):
Yeah, well-

Leo Laporte (00:46:36):
... Go ahead. Shoshana, you should start.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:46:37):
... Oh, sure.

Leo Laporte (00:46:38):
This is your brief.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:46:38):
Sure. So I actually didn't know we were going to talk Section 230 today, but I'm still wearing my 230 necklace because I'm obsessive.

Leo Laporte (00:46:45):

Shoshana Weissmann (00:46:46):
And I really like the law. And especially for someone so free market as I, I don't often like laws, but I do think it was very well written. Also-

Leo Laporte (00:46:53):
In a way it preserves the free market, right? It means-

Shoshana Weissmann (00:46:56):
... Exactly.

Leo Laporte (00:46:57):
... that the free market of ideas can exist.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:47:01):
Right, exactly. And also, you had one error that I'm going to call you out on.

Leo Laporte (00:47:05):
Oh, please do. Yes.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:47:06):
You said that it was part of the DMCA and it was part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

Leo Laporte (00:47:11):
I'm sorry, CDA. I apologize.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:47:12):
You're fine. There's a million acronyms.

Leo Laporte (00:47:17):
Yes, the CDA. No, that's exactly right.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:47:17):
And I just thought it's funny.

Leo Laporte (00:47:17):
That's exactly right. Yeah, yeah.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:47:18):
But we've done work on the DMCA too, which is why I'm like, "Oh, I know what that is." But I think with algorithms there's a bunch of different things to consider for how Section 230 applies. And one thing that I really love that you're talking about is that it applies to all sizes of things, that it's not just the bigger tech companies.

But Facebook in the past, or Meta technically, has actually lobbied to kind of sideline 230 in certain cases. So some of the larger tech companies disagree on how 230 should work, where it should apply. For me, I'm genuinely forward for the smaller platforms, because we see the way Twitter is going, like we were talking about before, I want competitors, and I want to make sure that there's an incumbent advantage. But 230 makes it so that there's a little bit less of that, because without 230, these smaller platforms, like Mastodon doesn't have a huge team of lawyers. Twitter does, sort of.

Leo Laporte (00:48:08):
Nor does Leo. And I don't know if Mastodon would be liable if something bad were posted on Leo's instance. I think I would be liable, probably Mastodon as well. So.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:48:16):
That's part of it, the layers of right of liability there.

Leo Laporte (00:48:19):

Shoshana Weissmann (00:48:19):
And with algorithms in particular, algorithms are a speech. So you can be liable for your own speech, like Twitter's liable for its own writing and its own content, just not for user content. But as far as how it impacts an event here, like how an algorithm impacts an event. It wasn't, the inputs weren't optimizing for the worst of the worst content. It wasn't trying to do that. And also part of it, I guess, is that people on their own will find the content they want to find. Awful stuff and conspiracy theories spread them on the internet long before algorithms were in use.

And because of that, I think sometimes people tend to demonize algorithms more than they deserve. Not to say that there's not problems with them, or that there's not ways to improve them, or make them safer and make them better, but I think sometimes people forget that the demon in the algorithm is a person it's optimizing for, which it could just be a regular user. But in this case, I just don't think the other side has a really strong case that these items were connected, that it was the specific terrorists, that it was terrorists broadly who were radicalized by YouTube.

Leo Laporte (00:49:33):
And the court may end up saying, "Well, you don't have standing. These aren't people who were involved, blah, blah, blah." But it does raise a very interesting issue. And I guess my issue is that an algorithm to optimize profitability through creating, engaging, more engaging, or showing more engaging content tends to move towards extremes. I mean, we've seen that. And I worry that that is problematic, right? And I would hate to...

What I don't want to do is lose 230 protections. I also understand that algorithms are used in a variety of ways. These Reddit moderators say, "Look, we use algorithms all the time, not in that way, but we use them all the time to protect the subreddits. We don't want to have that tool taken away from us." I understand that, but there does, I feel like Google's a little liable for surfacing content that is more profitable, because it's more engaging, and hence more extreme.

Patrick Beja (00:50:40):
Well, it does surface, but I think one key element, oh, I'm bumping into my desk, sorry. One key element is how good a job are they doing at policing this and removing the objectionable content? And I don't know how well they were doing that in 2015 and the few years before, but I really think from what I know of the platform that nowadays they're doing a pretty decent job. Partly motivated by rules in the EU that states, you have to remove something within 24 hours of you being notified.

And I think that there... You're never going to have any form of media or platform, because we're talking about the internet, where user generated content can appear that is going to be completely clean. That is just impossible. Anyone saying otherwise is, I think, wrong. And if Google is doing an earnest job at policing the platform, maybe we could argue that maybe they're not in certain instances. But I think for things that are related to terrorism and child pornography, they're probably doing their darnedest to ensure that [inaudible 00:52:05].

Leo Laporte (00:52:04):
They say, and I think they're right, they try to take those videos down as soon as they find them, they take them down, down.

Patrick Beja (00:52:09):

Leo Laporte (00:52:10):
I mean, they're doing everything-

Patrick Beja (00:52:11):

Leo Laporte (00:52:11):
... they can. So I'm not faulting them for that. But I do feel like, and again, the word, algorithm, is probably a bad choice because algorithms can mean a lot of things. It just means a computer program. But I do feel like there's a danger to algorithms, to programs that surface content because it's more engaging, hence more profitable. I mean, that seems to me to be a little different from what people are doing on Reddit. What Mastodon's doing with the trending topics. That seems different, but maybe it's not under the law different enough that we can allow it.

Patrick Beja (00:52:43):
The problem is that algorithms optimizing for engagement is kind of an emergent property of you trying to offer good user experience to your users. What those algorithms do is show stuff that people like to watch.

Leo Laporte (00:53:02):

Patrick Beja (00:53:02):
So again, it becomes an issue of, I think, so that's part of it. But the other question, if you'll allow me to give another angle to this, let's say, let's study for a second what happens if you do remove 230. Because the web today is largely a user-generated content-powered web. And if you remove Section 230, I think you're right. In an instant, those businesses are threatened, very much threatened. [inaudible 00:53:40].

Leo Laporte (00:53:39):
It's a bunch of Coca-Cola ads and stuff. I mean, it's just not...

Patrick Beja (00:53:43):
Well, not just Coca-Cola ads, user-generated web I'm not sure can survive. So what you end up with-

Leo Laporte (00:53:49):
Right. No, it goes away.

Patrick Beja (00:53:50):
... is institutional media, and no small guy or gal. You only have big companies that can afford to produce content and to have websites. And that is, I think, the biggest... Because again, we don't like Nazis, and I think there are a lot of issues currently with them abusing the Section 230 essentially-ness of the web to be able to be there and proliferate. I still don't think we should remove user-generated content, which I don't think, it's so big, Section 230, I don't think it's unreasonable to say if the Supreme Court rules a certain way, the user-generated web is threatened. And that's a very concerning prospect for me, because you're left with big companies, and that's it. You don't have anything else on the internet.

Shoshana Weissmann (00:54:52):
That's what a lot of my concern revolves around as well, just because good ideas come up all over, and Facebook's not doing so great and people have had issues with it. I will say there's this one really great article, and I think it was in the Wall Street Journal on how Facebook, after January 6th, after the attack on the capitol, they tried to minimize political content and tried to make it just other content, whether it's fashion, or whether it's just other friend stuff.

And people hated it. They wanted more political content after saying they didn't want it. But it's kind of interesting to say, "Well, okay, well we want this. Well, not really, not like that." And I think there's a lot of complexity here that even if they're not optimizing for profit in certain ways, it's still, the users don't always like it. And it's not just about the profit side, but it's about the things the users like.

And then on the algorithm side too, I know we've been talking about it here, but just, you need algorithms as a tool for moderation. I think it was Casey Newton too who had made this point that mental illness and real trauma can stem from moderators who are looking at just the worst of the worst content. And it takes real pressure off of them when you're able to use code and use stuff like that to be able to help in the moderation process.

And I think it's important that when we demonize things as part of this, that it's something that's bad across the board. It's not just bad if Google does it, but it's bad if AllTrails does it. And I tend to go from the biggest example to the littlest ones, because I've seen scams posted on AllTrails, and them using algorithms to maximize profit, I still don't think should mean that they're viable for scams that people are posting.

Leo Laporte (00:56:33):
No, that's absolutely right. In fact, AllTrails using algorithms to pick the best trails in an area to hike is exactly what it should be doing, right?

Shoshana Weissmann (00:56:43):

Leo Laporte (00:56:44):
There's no problem with that. So what if it increases profit? I have to say that what you said, Patrick, is important because the New York Times yesterday had a piece, not an opinion piece, but an article, Supreme Court Poised to Reconsider Key Tenants of Online Speech. And focused on big companies. This is their lead, "For years, giant social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have operated under true crucial tenants." And they talk about Section 230." Now the Supreme Court is poised to reconsider those rules." Misses the point, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok will all survive that, but my little sites will not. And all the sites like AllTrails will not. It's not about the big tech giants here. And it's a mistake. And I think that's a politicization of it, because there is a kind of political agenda against big tech and that's the politicization of what is something that's really not political. Go ahead, Brianna. I'm sure you, I bet you're a 230 absolutist. I would guess.

Brianna Wu (00:57:51):
No. How can I put this? I have been around politics enough to know when you are on a failing side of an issue being framed. And I've got to say, when it comes to tech companies being more responsible with their algorithms, they've won. I listened to this whole discussion. This is a framing that you're just going to lose if the way they've stacked the deck is it's like, look, you either believe in Section 230, or you believe that Google should continue to do very little and not enough about this. We barely talk about red pill tube, which is a huge phenomena. If you have young children out there that are boys, you need to be aware of what they're looking at on YouTube. There is a very frightening subgenre of outright misogynists out there, it's not just Andrew Tate, I look at it every single day.

That algorithm is dangerous. The radical reactionary part of the politics that are anti-vaxx and pro violence and anti-democracy, that is dangerous. And I have the opinion that Facebook, and Twitter, and YouTube, and all these companies have completely failed in their civic responsibility to provide a functional public square. And their lawyers have come into an argument that is absolutely reasonable that their daughter, y'all, their daughter was killed by a terrorist group and they have a very clear chain of evidence of how this rabbit hole on YouTube aided in the radicalization.

That is a problem worth solving. And at some point, some adults are going to have to have a more nuanced conversation that, look, you either want to throw Section 230 in the airlock, because it is, correctly, going to hurt people like you, Leo, but we've still got to do something about this problem. Our democracy is on its last legs, y'all. These algorithms are designed to make us angry at each other and screaming at each other all day about the stupidest stuff that does not matter, and our country is not going to survive. We've got to address this at some point.

Leo Laporte (01:00:17):
We're seeing the consequences of that. This was actually, my thinking initially was, "Yeah, 230 is important and we got to do something." So I came from that point of view, but one of the problems I'm having, as I talk to a lot of people about this, is it's very hard to draw a bright red line about around which algorithms are okay in which aren't. And that's, I don't think, something the courts or the legislatures are going to be able to do. It's too nebulous of a concept. So maybe I'm starting to come around to the Section 230 absolutist, just because we can't say, "Well, that algorithm is radicalizing, but that one's not."

Patrick Beja (01:01:01):
Well, it's even more than that. It's not even about, I don't think, the algorithm, it comes back to another fundamental question about moderating the internet. Who decides what should be moderated? Obviously, Brianna has some very strong opinions about that, that I think for the most part, if not for everything, I probably would agree with Brianna on what should be moderated. The problem is, again, who do you put in charge? Are we going to say, "Okay, Brianna goes to YouTube and decides this is what video should be deleted." And what if she makes a mistake or what if YouTube makes a mistakes and deletes something that shouldn't be? And it who decides this? And I guarantee you, again, coming at it from the European point of view, what YouTube would love is for the legal system to tell them what should be deleted, and they will gladly delete everything that the legal system tells them to, of course [inaudible 01:02:12].

Leo Laporte (01:02:12):
Far more than I would like, including many of our shows, but okay, go ahead.

Patrick Beja (01:02:17):
Well, I think your shows are being deleted because YouTube wants to please their advertisers through content ID and stuff like that.

Leo Laporte (01:02:24):
Yeah. Or large content creators over small content creators. Yeah.

Patrick Beja (01:02:29):
Exactly. But if we found a way for a governmental or judicial authority to decide, and have enough manpower to review stuff that should be deleted, that's what we're edging towards in France or in EU, YouTube would be very happy to do it. The uncertainty is very bad for their business, for their image. And the problem is, there's no solution to this. There's so much content that you can't review everything and decide individually what should or shouldn't be. So red pill tube, which is a big problem, if they had legal, like a document saying, you should delete that, they would. I'm certain.

Leo Laporte (01:03:18):
Well, and part of it is that easy. There's so much contents put up so fast. They say, "We delete all the ISIS videos the minute we find them," but clearly they can't get all of them because there's so much being put up there. It's almost [inaudible 01:03:31].

Shoshana Weissmann (01:03:30):
I also have a, so it's funny, this actually relates something to, sorry, this relates to something I'm doing on Tuesday. I'm having a webinar through R Street where we talk about government content moderation, just the logistics of it. Kind of like when maybe a senator is like, "Hey, that person was being mean to me," and that being on the totally illegitimate side, all the way up to court orders that they can't reveal, that government has said, "Please keep this content up, or please take this content down." That there's a whole...

Shoshana Weissmann (01:04:03):
Please keep this content up or please take this content down, that there's a whole spectrum here of very legitimate, very illegitimate, and some of it's concerning from government, not just American governments, but governments all over the world, and I think a lot of times, we trust our own to be like, all right, generally, if we set some guards for them, they'll do it right, they'll police content right. But in other countries, it definitely won't be the same. When, I forget which country, but it was one in the Middle East where it was the audio only app, Clubhouse, and they were saying, "Hey, Clubhouse, we might want your user info because you're not recording things. We want to know who's talking against us as the government."

Leo Laporte (01:04:42):
Oh, yeah.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:04:43):
So there's that whole spectrum there.

Leo Laporte (01:04:45):
Yeah. You can tell that. That's a really interesting question because it's [inaudible 01:04:49] theory, right?

Shoshana Weissmann (01:04:50):
Exactly. So there's that whole spectrum, and I think there's stuff to think through there, because even when the government flags content, it might be something dangerous and it might still be totally legitimate or it might not, no matter what part of the process it goes through.

Leo Laporte (01:05:03):
Well, look what happened with Modi's government in India. And Twitter by the way, cooperated. Modi did not like a BBC documentary about him. In India, they're blocking the YouTube videos and Twitter posts, and they've asked Twitter to take them down, and apparently Twitter has agreed, has done it. These are, by this documentary, as far as I can tell, is not libelous. It's telling the truth about Modi. He just doesn't want anybody in India to see it. There's a perfect example of government intervention gone wrong.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:05:35):
There's also-

Leo Laporte (01:05:35):
If I may, yeah.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:05:36):

Leo Laporte (01:05:36):
Sorry, go ahead, Shoshana.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:05:38):
Oh yeah, just super quick. One other thing I just wanted to add too, is that there's also different theories from the law enforcement side of whether, let's say there's, if there's something illegal going on and there's certain law enforcement, and it can be agency by agency, but they think it's worth it to keep this content up so we can continue to watch it out in the open and find the people who are being drawn into it, versus what if we take this down and it's better off that way and others who are concerned, okay, what if you put it in the dark, then can we not understand what's going on there, is that worse? So not to say that there's certain things that don't seem obvious, but sometimes I even question myself, when I'm thinking, man, I wish that was down. I'm a little bit more glad it's in the open where people can see it and do something about it if it turns into something. That's all I-

Brianna Wu (01:06:25):

Leo Laporte (01:06:26):
I originally thought that when the internet began that, oh, this is great because all of this hate that's under a rock will be exposed to sunlight and it'll go away, and instead it just multiplied. It didn't quite work out that way. Go ahead, Brianna.

Brianna Wu (01:06:41):
I hear what all of y'all are saying. I really do. I genuinely hear you, and I agree with you that when it comes to section 230, I think we are all in complete agreement that we want this to stay largely how it is. This is my question to you, and I genuinely want an answer from any of y'all here. I hear what you don't like. I hear that loud and clear. What do you propose we do about this problem?

Leo Laporte (01:07:09):
I agree.

Brianna Wu (01:07:10):
Is it just acceptable losses to you? Because tech doesn't have a good answer for this. What I hear constantly is, "Well, if we do this, it's going to cause this. This is a problem. We don't want to do this." That's fine. What is your solution? Because we cannot keep ignoring this as a society. Leah, you asked earlier why we aren't quitting Twitter. I can give you an academic answer about that. The reality is, it's a wildly addicting product, and as far as why people didn't like Facebook lessening political content after 9/11, after the January 6th insurrection, it's because we like being angry. It's wildly addicting, just being angry at each other.

Leo Laporte (01:07:52):
Yeah. It's just asking why do people still use heroin? Don't they know how bad it is for them?

Brianna Wu (01:07:55):
Why are you still smoking? A hundred percent. What do y'all want to do about this problem of radicalization? Or is it just an angrier, more dysfunctional country, just an acceptable loss to continue on this path?

Patrick Beja (01:08:11):
I can try to answer that.

Brianna Wu (01:08:13):

Patrick Beja (01:08:13):
And I'll turn back to Leo and Shoshana and say, one thing we can try and we should do, is trust our damned government, which is something that Americans seem completely incapable of doing, which is a kind of, I don't know, malady of the mind, because you've been-

Leo Laporte (01:08:36):
Are you surprised observing from Finland? Are you surprised that we don't trust our government?

Patrick Beja (01:08:43):
I think that the situation you're-

Leo Laporte (01:08:44):
We have a politicized Supreme Court, a hundred percent polarized Congress. We're banning African American studies in Florida. What do you mean trust our government?

Patrick Beja (01:08:59):
I will amend what I said. When I said, trust your government, I wasn't talking about you. I meant in general, people should trust the government. Maybe the United States is the exception.

Leo Laporte (01:09:08):
We need a better government. Yeah, we might need a better government.

Patrick Beja (01:09:10):
No, but what I mean is, I think that part of the situation you're at, this is completely, I don't know what I'm talking about, but I think part of the situation you're in, the reason is that you initially don't trust anyone, so it doesn't matter. So we'll vote for whoever, and that's how you end up with Trump in the White House.

Leo Laporte (01:09:32):
No, that's right. That's right. It's more of a statement than it is electing somebody to run the place, yes.

Patrick Beja (01:09:37):
I really think, yes, that part of the platform of the people who led your country to January 6th is sowing so much chaos-

Leo Laporte (01:09:49):
Anarchy, yeah.

Patrick Beja (01:09:49):
... and distrust in the government that nothing matters, so they end up benefiting. Because if you don't trust anyone, then the ones who don't have a plan, or not who don't have a plan, who are ultimately the chaotic people, end up having a chance to be elected and then they thrive on that. But in general, if you look at what we're doing in the EU, we are shaping the way, which, by the way, giving the example of India and China is something that I do as well. It's like, well, if you want the companies to obey the government, then what happens when the government says something bad?

Well, yes, it is a problem, but it doesn't mean, as Brianna was suggesting, essentially, we still need to do something and in the EU, we're really, and I'm surprised that we're achieving that result, we're really getting to a place where the big tech has to do what we, as the will of the people expressed through the government, they have to do what we ask them to. They have to, or they abandon a market of 450 million people, which they don't want to do. So they're accepting things that they were saying, "Oh my God, can't you imagine what it will do to our business?" And, "Oh, we can do this." No, they're doing it, because the government said, "You either do or you're out."

Leo Laporte (01:11:24):
It does feel like a little bit of an experiment. I'm glad to watch the experiment. It's a mixed bag a little bit. And yes, they have the absolute regulatory authority to put a business on the ropes-

Patrick Beja (01:11:39):
It started changing.

Brianna Wu (01:11:40):
I hear what you're saying. I genuinely hear what you're saying there. There's no future in the United States where we just trust our government and start [inaudible 01:11:49] regulation here.

Leo Laporte (01:11:50):
It's our national character, yeah.

Brianna Wu (01:11:50):
It's just not who we are. There's no future.

Leo Laporte (01:11:52):
Okay, so what's your solution, Brianna.

Brianna Wu (01:11:53):
Hold on, just let me finish, please. There's no future where Americans just stop owning guns either. What I think we need to do is exactly why I ran for Congress. I think that we should take a much stronger role. I think that the people that serve on the Space Science and Technology subcommittee, yeah, they put Gonzalez on that committee, the one I ran for Congress wanting to serve on because it's so important because it regulates all of this stuff. We've got to take a more active role in regulation, and I think that should be the hottest place for people to serve.

It seems this, I don't want to say ghetto, but a shameful thing to do. So I think in lieu of stronger regulation there for a congressional place, I think we need state houses to step up and do their job there. California could do immensely good work there if they were to step up and require things because their economy is so great, the same way they have with automotive standards. Beyond that, I think YouTube and Facebook should be holding themselves to far higher standards, and we as technologically literate people should be expecting more from them rather than defending them on everything and expecting less. We are getting the social media platforms we are asking for, and I just, I think that there's a real tendency to shrug her shoulders and just ignore the body count.

Patrick Beja (01:13:22):

Leo Laporte (01:13:23):
Let me get Shoshana. Let me get Shoshana in, because I think she might have something to say about all this.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:13:29):
Sure. A couple of things. First, it makes sense that Gonzalez would serve on the committee because he's had decades of experience in science. He was the chief scientist at NASA for years, so he just has this really long resume, and I just think it's silly to criticize him for being on that. But second, that committee tends, or the subcommittee tends to not do so much on that side of technology policy. It's definitely more energy and commerce, or at least in the house that tends to do the legislation. I'm not exactly sure why, because sometimes the committees don't always align in ways you would think. There have been a couple... Sorry, science-based and technology tends to do more cybersecurity while energy and commerce, for whatever reason, they tend to do the tech legislation. But also, I don't want legislation just to do legislation. I want it to be right, which is why I take it seriously when legislation, going after algorithms, says, "You're only allowed to have time and time ordered," or some basic thing like that, and anything else will follow under this new regulation.

The proposals have been really, really basic. It's not really technologically literate, so if there were larger issues that they wanted to tackle, the legislation out there did a really bad job of going after it. But I think that there's other ways to go about it, 'cause I genuinely don't think 230 is the problem. One thing that I really like is funding NCMEC more, and also making sure that platforms can maintain child exploitation materials longer in order to match it and use hashes that go find more of it. I think in certain cases, they're limited by the, I forget exactly the number of days they're allowed to keep it for. It's obviously something that we wouldn't want anyone to have in any case, but if it allows them to find more of it and work further with NCMEC in order to find more of it, I think that's a really good way of-

Leo Laporte (01:15:26):
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Just-

Shoshana Weissmann (01:15:29):
Thank you. I will never remember what it all stands for. I just know that they do really good work.

Leo Laporte (01:15:33):
I just, for people who are saying, "What's that," yeah.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:15:36):
Oh yeah, yeah. And also a federal privacy law, I think is a good way to go about things. I do worry a lot about the states doing things on their own, because I have nuanced issues with California's laws, but also with Florida and Texas, they just made these super blatantly unconstitutional laws saying, "Oh, you can't have bias in moderation," and it's super anti First Amendment. Not to say that the same stuff couldn't happen on the federal level.

Leo Laporte (01:16:02):
By the wat, Supreme Court is also considering those two laws, so. In fact-

Shoshana Weissmann (01:16:05):
Yeah, that'll be, I won't sleep a lot. That'll be so much [inaudible 01:16:11].

Leo Laporte (01:16:12):
I think Friday, our oral argument's on Friday for the Texas and Florida laws, and then next month for the section 230 thing.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:16:21):
I actually didn't realize they were coming up so fast.

Leo Laporte (01:16:24):
Yeah. Somebody in the chat room says, "Come on, let's get real. The Supreme Court's going to overturn 230. It's obvious."

Shoshana Weissmann (01:16:33):
No, no.

Leo Laporte (01:16:33):
I certainly hope not. I certainly hope not.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:16:35):

Leo Laporte (01:16:36):
And I understand Brianna, especially coming from politics, your real politic point of view, which is you've got to find a way. You can't be purist about this. You've got to find a way to protect section 230, but at the same time, we may need to make progress with polarisation.

Brianna Wu (01:16:53):
I'm saying that it's very easy to shrug your shoulders at the radicalization that's happening on YouTube. I've seen this firsthand. I don't want to go through it again on the show today. But it's a real problem. It really affects people's lives, and I got to tell you-

Leo Laporte (01:17:09):
How about TikTok? How do you feel about TikTok?

Brianna Wu (01:17:12):
I think it's a much more wholesome place to spend time than YouTube.

Leo Laporte (01:17:17):
I agree with you, and nevertheless, what is it now, up to 20 or 30 states have banned TikTok, and now Alabama has banned TikTok. So Auburn has banned TikTok from its Wi- Fi network, and I think a lot of this is a politicized story from the Washington Post, "As states ban TikTok on government devices, evidence of harm is thin."

Brianna Wu (01:17:48):
I agree with this, I hate to say. Scott Galloway had some commentary on this that I really thought was fair, and I think that you have to assume that China does not have these same firewalls between their companies and their government, and I think you've got to assume that those companies are going to be giving all of that data freely over to the PRC, basically. So I think that there are reasonable national security concerns you can have about another country shaping what an entire generation of young people, what they see, how they feel about things. I think that's also an algorithmic bias that you should be considering. So I'm glad to see, I don't know, censoring it is the idea. I think there's an adult discussion to be had there.

Leo Laporte (01:18:40):

Patrick Beja (01:18:40):
I think the-

Shoshana Weissmann (01:18:40):
For us-

Leo Laporte (01:18:43):
Go ahead, Shoshana, and then.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:18:44):
I'm sorry. You go ahead.

Leo Laporte (01:18:45):
You're all right. You want to seed your time to the honorable podcaster from the state of Finland. Go ahead, sir.

Patrick Beja (01:18:53):
Yeah, I think a really difficult thing with TikTok is that no one is saying, or, well, the real issue isn't that harm is happening now. The issue is, it is a potential for harm in the future influenced by the Communist Party in China, and we don't know that it's happening. We don't know that it necessarily could happen, but we'll never be sure. And what Brianna is saying is completely right. A whole generation of humans is living on TikTok now, and it started with dances and that kind of thing. There's a lot of content about everything on TikTok and it's incredibly creative. I spend some time on TikTok, it's amazing.

But it is also potentially maybe influenced by the Communist party, and there was a story, I don't know if you saw it, but there was a story about heating on TikTok, which was controlled by people at the company and people at ByteDance in China, heating is essentially pushing a video to get more views, so you put it on the For You page, and it substantially increases the amount of views it gets because it's presented to more people. The idea that the whole generation, not only could, I know you talk about this often, Leo, you're like, "Why does it matter if they have this and that information about me?" On TikTok, they know what you like, they know what you watch, they know what you enjoy, and it's just as bad as Cambridge Analytica, I think.

Leo Laporte (01:20:46):
And just as impotent, by the way, as Cambridge Analytica.

Patrick Beja (01:20:49):
Sure. But if we're concerned by-

Leo Laporte (01:20:50):
A lot of evidence that Cambridge Analytica achieved nothing and was overselling its capabilities. I don't think TikTok, yeah, TikTok knows from it's algorithm what I want to watch, which is apparently women in bikinis, but it doesn't know who I am, and I don't know if it's an invasion of privacy. It's big interest is in giving me more of what I spend time looking at.

Patrick Beja (01:21:13):
No, but yeah, now, but what if, and it's maybe a huge, how do you say it? It's a huge red herring, but what if the Chinese government has plugs into TikTok, right?

Leo Laporte (01:21:30):
Oh, I'm sure they do.

Patrick Beja (01:21:32):
It's the same as Huawei. We don't know if they have ways of changing the software on those [inaudible 01:21:39] routers.

Leo Laporte (01:21:39):
But is that sufficient reason to ban them now?

Brianna Wu (01:21:42):
No. No, it's clearly not.

Patrick Beja (01:21:44):
I don't think so.

Leo Laporte (01:21:45):
That's a theoretical. Of course, there's all sorts of theoretical hazards.

Brianna Wu (01:21:50):
So something-

Leo Laporte (01:21:51):
Children, children could suddenly all eat Tide pods, but those are all theoretical, and I don't think you can ban something based on a theory.

Brianna Wu (01:22:00):
I don't, Shoshana, I would suspect you and I are going to agree on this. Look, I'm a progressive. I'm on the left. I'm also someone who's an engineer. I'm deeply pragmatist. I'm interested in building things. There's a generational disconnect that I've noticed with younger leftists that America is always in the wrong for everything. We are an evil imperialist power. Our cops are all POS's that want to do nothing other than to slaughter people of color in the streets. Communism is the best answer, and capitalism is the answer to every single problem that the United States faces. That is a, swear to God, honest assessment of the mindset of a lot of younger people. And it's not to say I don't agree with many of those issues.

Leo Laporte (01:22:51):
That's not true? I thought that was all true.

Brianna Wu (01:22:54):
I think there's some more nuanced discussion to be had, and I think that TikTok, I think if you look at political TikTok, there's certainly a section that could amp that up and show that to a generation of people over and over and over and over. Other countries-

Leo Laporte (01:23:12):
And just like YouTube could do, and-

Brianna Wu (01:23:13):
... does with white supremacy, a hundred percent. It's the exact same threat. So my only argument here is that we don't ban it.

Leo Laporte (01:23:21):
How do we solve that? How do we solve?

Brianna Wu (01:23:22):
We've got to take it more seriously.

Leo Laporte (01:23:23):
Regularly, I agree. It's a serious problem, so we got to solve it. You're doing something interesting in Finland. We should mention Patrick is French, but he lives in Finland. The New York Times had an article how Finland is teaching a generation to spot misinformation. Is it possible to do something with the consumers instead of regulating the providers?

Patrick Beja (01:23:47):
Well, I think both need to happen, and we tend to talk a lot about the very, very necessary part, which is making sure the providers do their job. And by the way, the difference between YouTube and TikTok, the concern here with TikTok is what if ByteDance controlled by China has their shortcut to get into TikTok? That's a very different discussion from however imperialistic the US is and however much it controls YouTube. But setting that aside, yes, platforms should do a better job and we should push them through political action to do a better job.

But also I think it's important to educate the populace and that starts in school. Finland has a high media literacy rate, including social media and internet in general, and it comes from a very serious and real danger, which is, I think the world has been made aware of much more clearly in the past year, which is the neighbor to the east. And so the whole country has always been aware and always been very active in fighting propaganda and fake news as it is financed by Russia and that shows as well-

Leo Laporte (01:25:16):
Oh, that's a real threat in Finland, isn't it? Your neighbor to the-

Patrick Beja (01:25:19):

Leo Laporte (01:25:20):
To the East, yeah.

Patrick Beja (01:25:22):
Yes, absolutely. That motivates a huge amount, as it does for all neighboring countries of Russia, but it motivates a huge amount of even the Finnish identity, who the Finnish are. But so part of the importance of making sure you're not essentially overrun and conquered is making sure that people understand what fake news and propaganda is, and it does start in school. This is the media literacy index, which ranks a number of countries in Europe, in Europe primarily, but not only Europe, and Finland does rank highest in that index because you have a lot of teachers that are taking it, well, not upon themselves, it's part of the curriculum, but in junior high, you start discussing social media and how it can be used and what news mean, and not just social media, like actual news, how it means, where it comes from, who's publishing it, why one might share that kind of opinion.

And it works. It's just, it's an important part of how you become a literate citizen, and it's something that everyone should be paying attention to. There's a lot to say there, but I do want to mention an interesting aspect of that study. In Europe, there are four big groups. The northern country mostly are well ranked. They're in the first cluster. Then you have a second cluster, which is essentially France, Spain, Germany, et cetera. Third cluster, which is less well ranked, Italy, Hungary, a couple of those, and then you have a couple of other clusters which are even worse ranks. I have a question for you. Finland is the highest ranked. It has 76 points. Usually they're around 70 for the northern countries. France is at 58, 50 points, and that's still in the good second cluster, so pretty good. People have a pretty good handle on what things mean and how to spot fake news essentially. I wonder if you could guess-

Leo Laporte (01:27:52):
Do you know what the US?

Patrick Beja (01:27:55):
Where the US, yes, exactly.

Leo Laporte (01:27:56):
All right.

Patrick Beja (01:27:57):
They have a few countries outside out of Europe. Would you guess where the US ranks?

Leo Laporte (01:28:02):
That's an interesting question. It's tempting to say we're terrible. I feel like we're not so bad. I feel like we'd be in the fifties, close to France. We better be as good as France.

Brianna Wu (01:28:17):
I'm going to guess in the forties maybe.

Leo Laporte (01:28:20):
Okay. Shoshana?

Shoshana Weissmann (01:28:21):
I know it's weird that I'm being the pessimist here, but I was going to guess thirties.

Leo Laporte (01:28:25):
I think Shoshana might be right.

Patrick Beja (01:28:29):
Okay. I think that's why something that my friend Tamarit always says, "You need data and you need studies," because our opinions and biases can be-

Leo Laporte (01:28:39):
Yeah, we're terrible at guessing, yeah.

Patrick Beja (01:28:41):
The US actually ranks, I don't know how you know, but it is a very official study. It's a very serious thing, but I don't know how well it measures things, but the US ranks two points above France. It's 60 and France is 58.

Leo Laporte (01:28:54):
I knew we were better than France. I knew it.

Patrick Beja (01:29:00):
And I'm guilty as well. I was surprised that France was in the second cluster at 58, better, I would've said, we have so much disinformation about vaccines and even the war in Ukraine.

Leo Laporte (01:29:11):
That's what makes us good. That's what makes us good. We have lots of practice.

Patrick Beja (01:29:14):
I guess.

Leo Laporte (01:29:18):
And I think this is one thing that people misunderstand about the United States. It's not a majority that is polarized, that is crazed, that is [inaudible 01:29:29] or whatever. This is a small minority. It's a loud minority, but it's not a big majority. Even though Trump got 70 million votes in the last election, I think the true believers are far, or half that at best. So I'm not surprised. I actually really, and then by the way, two points is probably well within the margin of error, so let's say we tied France, just to be fair, we'll tie France. I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised Finland's better at it because as you say, there's a more immediate threat.

Patrick Beja (01:30:05):
It is a incredibly unifying life threat.

Leo Laporte (01:30:10):
Well, and Nordic nations are somewhat more homogeneous, aren't they, too? That's another issue.

Patrick Beja (01:30:15):
There is, well, one thing I will say is that the middle class is much larger in, at least Finland. I don't know so much about [inaudible 01:30:23] Sweden.

Leo Laporte (01:30:22):
We used to have a good middle class here, it's dwindling.

Patrick Beja (01:30:26):
That feels like it's something that is an issue and that, in many ways, it is. And well, it's not only amazingly great things, Finland is very much anti immigration. Everyone's, well, not everyone, but there are a lot of people where they came from, meaning they're translucent and white and that they have blonde hair and they're from Finland. You don't see a lot of immigrants.

Leo Laporte (01:30:54):
A lot of translucent.

Patrick Beja (01:30:56):
Which again, I was saying it's coming from issues with Russia. If you open the borders, it's difficult to say, anyway, that's a different story. But-

Leo Laporte (01:31:05):
So it's a very different world, and so it's hard to grade it.

Patrick Beja (01:31:08):
School is important to educate people about stuff.

Leo Laporte (01:31:10):
Yeah. Yeah. It's hard to grade it. I want to take a little bit of a break. We have lots more to talk about, including big layoffs in big tech, and you had a story of how Apple has avoided those layoffs, interesting. But also I think it's interesting to see where the layoffs are happening, especially in AR and VR. We'll talk about, we had Connie Guglielmo, the editor in chief of CNET on last week, talked a little bit about the AI powered articles at CNET.

It's turning out to be a little bit more of a scandal than we thought. We'll talk about that, and it is a very big birthday for one of the most important computers of all time. That more coming up in just a little bit with our wonderful panel. Shoshana, it's so nice to have you. Shoshana Weissmann from R Street. She is Senator Weissmann. I'm sorry, Senator Shoshana on the Twitter. One letter, S-H-O-S-H-A-N-A, Sho-sha-na. Very easy. But there are two S's and two N's and Weissmann, so that's confusing. But that's why Senator Shoshana, and congratulations on your continued work with the sloths community.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:32:19):
Thank you. I've been very thankful to serve for as long as I have.

Leo Laporte (01:32:21):
Yes, sloths need friends in the world. I think we can all agree on that. Also, Patrick, just go to her web, go to her Twitter, you'll see what I'm talking about. Patrick Bejan, not, so many podcasts in so many languages. His command of English is amazing. He's a French native Francophone, but you also, I presume, speaks Swedish Finnish by now, right? Which is not an easy language.

Patrick Beja (01:32:51):
Yeah. No, I speak Swedish. My wife is part of the Swedish speaking minority of this bilingual country, so. Much easier to learn Swedish. I'm very thankful for that.

Leo Laporte (01:33:00):
Yeah, Finnish is a little tricky. And a little Japanese, which would help you with the Finnish, I would think, but maybe not. I don't know. What do I know? [foreign language 01:33:13]. Super laser punch. I love saying that, and all the rest. Great to have you, Patrick. And of course-

Patrick Beja (01:33:21):
Thank you.

Leo Laporte (01:33:21):
The wonderful Brianna Wu, speed runner. I'm wishing you all the luck in the-

Patrick Beja (01:33:26):
Thank you very much.

Leo Laporte (01:33:27):
... in the contest next month. That's very, very exciting. Do you know what days you'll be competing? What days we should watch?

Brianna Wu (01:33:35):
Yo, it's on my schedule. I think it's that Tuesday. I need to, I've been so focused on just making sure I can get through that 11 minutes without screwing it up.

Leo Laporte (01:33:45):
So you're practicing-

Brianna Wu (01:33:47):
So that's my focus.

Leo Laporte (01:33:47):
Do you do it every day now?

Brianna Wu (01:33:47):
A hundred percent.

Leo Laporte (01:33:47):
The Princess Peach speed run.

Brianna Wu (01:33:49):
Every day. Princess Peach Speed run. This is such an embarrassing thing to be obsessed with, but it's my skill, so I'm going to go with it.

Leo Laporte (01:33:59):

Patrick Beja (01:33:59):
Which game is it though?

Brianna Wu (01:34:01):
Super Mario Two.

Patrick Beja (01:34:02):
Okay, two.

Leo Laporte (01:34:04):
We're all good at something. And in your case it's a little weird, but that's good.

Brianna Wu (01:34:10):
A little bit.

Leo Laporte (01:34:11):
That's good. Our show today. Yeah, I was just showing, this is old. This is from 2005, these Super Princess Peach scores, but so is this an old, this is not a DS game, clearly.

Brianna Wu (01:34:27):
That's a different game. That's the DS version. This is an interesting one where Mario gets kidnapped and Princess Peach has to go save him.

Leo Laporte (01:34:35):
Oh, no wonder you like it.

Brianna Wu (01:34:37):
So I'm working on that one.

Leo Laporte (01:34:41):
No wonder. Now I understand. And you can watch a YouTube of this, right?

Brianna Wu (01:34:45):
A hundred percent.

Leo Laporte (01:34:46):
Where is that?

Brianna Wu (01:34:48):
Let's see. You can, I think the easiest way is to go speed, look at the records for Super Mario Advance, and I'm right there. Or the Super Mario All Stars. I hold records on all those categories.

Leo Laporte (01:35:01):
She's amazing. Thank you very much all three of you. It's wonderful to have you. And boy, are you thoughtful and smart. I love that. I really appreciate that. Our show today, brought to you by Express VPN. There is a way, frankly, to protect yourself against overreaching governments, intrusive ISP's, and big tech companies that want to sell your information. It's a good VPN. Is it a little weird? It is to me, that the same company that controls half of online retail is also passively eavesdropping on your private conversations at home. You know who I'm talking about, right, hello? What about the idea that a single company controls 90% of internet searches and runs your email service and maybe tracks everything you do on your smartphone? This is a bigger problem than you might imagine, because instead of one signal, they get signals from a variety of sources, which allows them to build an amazing [inaudible 01:36:03], all about you-

Leo Laporte (01:36:04):
Allows them to build an amazing dossier all about you. Big tech is more powerful nowadays than most countries and they profit by exploiting your personal data. Time to put a layer of protection between your online activity and those tech juggernauts and all the other people who want to spy on you. The data brokers who are buying your information from your internet service provider and your cellphone carrier. Protect yourself with a good VPN. And when it comes to VPNs, there's only one I use, there's only one I trust, ExpressVPN, and that's because I've really looked into this.

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Express VPN isn't a free VPN, but I would submit that's okay, that's good. You want to support them because it's expensive to run those servers. It's expensive to rotate the IP addresses, so you always have a fresh IP address. It's expensive to have that custom server software, but it's less than seven bucks a month. I think that's a fair price to pay for the best VPN service.

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One of the best things is, is it's easy to use. Download the app on your phone, your computer, tap one button, that big button, you're protected. Stop handing over personal information to those spy companies that mine your activity and sell your information. The big tech monopoly. Protect yourself with the VPN I trust to keep me safe online, ExpressVPN. Go to Sign up for a one-year package. That's the best deal. You'll get an extra three months. 15 months for the price of 12. Brings it down well under seven bucks a month. It's a great deal. Thank you ExpressVPN for the job you do and for supporting all of our shows, and thank you for supporting the show by using that address, I have been asked, Patrick, to have you pronounce sauna. Is there a special way Fins say sauna?

Patrick Beja (01:39:39):
Well, I think it would be sauna.

Leo Laporte (01:39:44):
Sauna. Is that the Swedish way or the Finnish way?

Patrick Beja (01:39:48):
It's kind of similar.

Leo Laporte (01:39:50):
Same. Okay.

Patrick Beja (01:39:50):
Maybe some Finns will want to murder me if I say that, but yeah, it feels kind of similar. Okay. Sauna.

Leo Laporte (01:39:56):
Sauna. There's nothing wrong with that.

Patrick Beja (01:39:57):
It's not that different.

Leo Laporte (01:39:57):
That's fine.

Patrick Beja (01:39:58):

Leo Laporte (01:39:58):
Sauna. Do you have a sauna at home?

Patrick Beja (01:40:03):
I do not.

Leo Laporte (01:40:04):
What kind of-

Patrick Beja (01:40:04):
And that is a great shame for the family.

Leo Laporte (01:40:06):
Yes. What kind of Finnish family are you? Oh, it's those Swedes again.

Patrick Beja (01:40:12):
We live in a very old house. Well, very old, I mean it's 100 years old and there is a sauna by the water over there.

Leo Laporte (01:40:20):
Oh, all right.

Patrick Beja (01:40:21):
Which you can see.

Leo Laporte (01:40:22):
So, you can go to it.

Patrick Beja (01:40:24):
The house was abandoned for a long time. Not abandoned, but not really used, and the sauna stopped working. When we moved in, it was like it hadn't been used in 30 or 40 years almost.

Leo Laporte (01:40:35):

Patrick Beja (01:40:36):
Regularly. So, the sauna was not our first priority to fix. And also I don't really like it, so.

Leo Laporte (01:40:42):
You don't like sitting in a hot box and sweating.

Patrick Beja (01:40:45):
[inaudible 01:40:45]. No.

Leo Laporte (01:40:45):
Oh, okay.

Brianna Wu (01:40:48):
That's exactly how we say it in Mississippi. Sauna.

Leo Laporte (01:40:50):

Brianna Wu (01:40:51):
Going to go over to the sauna, y'all.

Leo Laporte (01:40:52):
Y'all going to sit in a sauna and then do the cold plunge? No. Got some hickory sticks to whip you with? No. Not going to do it.

Brianna Wu (01:41:08):
I'll give you some notes later, Leo.

Leo Laporte (01:41:08):
Okay. Thank you very much.

Brianna Wu (01:41:08):
Close. Close. Close.

Leo Laporte (01:41:09):
One of my goals in life, maybe when I have more time, is to learn the various Southern regional [inaudible 01:41:15] because Mississippi's one, Carolina is another one. Texas is a third. Florida's another one there. You're nodding, Shoshana. Are you from the South?

Shoshana Weissmann (01:41:24):
Oh no, but I started to pick up on the little dialects.

Leo Laporte (01:41:27):

Shoshana Weissmann (01:41:27):
So, people can never figure out where I'm from until I say water, and then they're like, "Oh, okay, I know where you're from."

Leo Laporte (01:41:31):
Oh, mid-Atlantic. Mid-Atlantic. She has the water. Water. Microsoft, Apple ... Actually, Apple, no layoffs at Apple. Microsoft, Amazon, Google. Google's cutting 12,000 jobs. Microsoft, 11,000. Amazon, I think 15,000. Big layoffs. Most of these are in the face of massive hiring over the pandemic, in some cases doubling the size of these companies. So, I mean look, I feel for you if you got laid off, it's horrible. In fact, I'm seeing a lot of Googlers who ... I saw one guy tweet that he's been there for 20 years and boom, you're done. That's horrible. But it is kind of understandable if you doubled your team in three years, that you might want to trim it down as times get a little bit tougher. What I find interesting is where the layoffs are happening. So, Microsoft laid off the entire team behind virtual mixed reality and HoloLens, according to Windows Central. That's very telling. Microsoft with HoloLens had a lead in mixed reality. Alex Kipman, who led the team and left in disgrace, is gone and it seems that with him, the spirit and the spunk have departed from the HoloLens team. By the way, Congress has now told the army, "You can't buy any more of those. You can't them." There was somebody in the army, I can't remember his name, who loved HoloLens and was really pushing it. Congress has now said, "Yeah, no, that's not going to happen."

Brianna Wu (01:43:19):
Is it crazy that all of them dumped all this money into this technology and no one was able to bring a successful product to market? I mean, Oculus, HoloLens?

Leo Laporte (01:43:30):
Magic Leap.

Brianna Wu (01:43:31):
Magic Lens.

Leo Laporte (01:43:32):
Magic Leap.

Brianna Wu (01:43:33):
Magic Leap, yeah. I mean, it's not for a lack of putting money into it. Facebook dumped tons of money into their team.

Leo Laporte (01:43:38):
Meta's put $10 billion a year into it.

Brianna Wu (01:43:41):
Why is it so hard to bring this to market? I don't know.

Leo Laporte (01:43:46):
Is it hard or that nobody really wants it, really?

Brianna Wu (01:43:49):
I think that it is a technology looking for a problem to solve, and they have not found that problem yet.

Leo Laporte (01:43:57):
Yes. Yes.

Brianna Wu (01:43:57):
But there's got to be something. There's got to be something. Oh, crazy.

Patrick Beja (01:44:04):
I think there's also an issue if we're talking about AR, I think that the technology wasn't ready. It's very clunky. VR and AR try to solve very different problems and AR could be a really interesting application of the general area of technology, but the headsets were very clunky, and still are.

Where it becomes useful is when you can actually use it and it's wireless, wireless enough, let's say. We're not there yet from the technology standpoint, which is of course, what makes what Apple might do at some point really interesting, because maybe they're waiting for the technology to be there. Although, they have apparently canceled their super lightweight AR only headset, which was planned for, what was it, 2025? So, maybe even they think it's not going to go anywhere.

Leo Laporte (01:45:06):
"Apple," according to Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, "delays AR glasses. Plans cheaper mixed reality headset." The thing that would worry me if I were Apple, I'd be looking at Microsoft and Meta, who are the leaders in this, and the struggles that they're having and start to wonder, "Am I putting too much money into this AR space?"

Brianna Wu (01:45:28):
Yeah, I agree.

Patrick Beja (01:45:30):
I actually thought 2023 was going to be the make or break year for VR, specifically, AR is a slightly different story, but Meta, it doesn't seem as breaking through and the bigger bad sign, I think, is what PlayStation is doing with PSVR 2, which is prohibitively expensive. I don't think you price a product at 600 bucks if you want to make it into a viable ... It's an add-on to the PlayStation 5, which is already 500. It's more expensive than the console itself. So, if you want to get both, it's prohibitive.

And the lineup is, I mean it's not horrible, but they didn't put a lot of work into exclusives which would sell the platform. So, I think they're going to be making money on selling the device, but they're not looking to have a strong installed base, which will be a significant market for them in the future. That's how I'm reading the [inaudible 01:46:32] here. The product is great, but I don't know that it is the breakthrough VR product that I was hoping would be needed to make VR break into ... Between Facebook or Oculus. And this would be, okay, now VR is here. And looking at both of those, I'm like, "Well, it's kind of like it has been for a while." It's a little bit better, but I don't think it's going to break through.

Leo Laporte (01:46:59):
The only area this has succeeded in is gaming. I mean, I could see why PlayStation might think that that's their best bet. Microsoft and Meta of late, both have focused on productivity, which seems nuts to me. Why would anybody want to go put on a helmet and get into a Teams meeting? Is beyond me.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:47:18):
Yeah, I remember that. And the lack of legs, and then they put the fake legs on to pretend they had legs. That's not a great place to be. But something Brianna said, I think really hit me where it's just like it, it's in search of a problem. It's a solution in search of a problem, and I'm sure that it'll be useful down the line, but I've kind of taken-

Leo Laporte (01:47:38):
I'm not. I'm not sure it'll be useful down the line.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:47:39):

Leo Laporte (01:47:41):
I think it's a gimmick. Nobody wants it. It makes a certain percentage, around 11% of people, sick to their stomachs. That's not a good look for a consumer product. I just-

Shoshana Weissmann (01:47:52):
I don't know. You don't want to be sick? I don't know.

Leo Laporte (01:47:56):
All it takes is one person in a family to say, "I'm getting [inaudible 01:47:59]." And that's it. Throw it out. I'm not going to do it. Then there's of course, the more speculative, and I mean I guess you could push this, use of it as augmented reality, where if only Apple could invent a way to make it look like regular spectacles and you put it on and you don't look like a complete dork, and you just can see what's going on, but you're getting a heads-up display on the world around you.

I could see that maybe and it wouldn't make you nauseous, I don't think. And it'd be useful. Wouldn't be specifically for productivity. Trying to do this to a menu, I'm bopping my finger in this weird gesture that you use. It's terrible. It's a terrible experience. Sliding windows around Tom Cruise notwithstanding, it's because it doesn't work well enough.

Patrick Beja (01:48:48):
It's what you said-

Leo Laporte (01:48:49):
It doesn't work well enough.

Patrick Beja (01:48:50):
Because I think the science fiction Ready Player One version of VR still has promise, but we're definitely not there yet. Essentially-

Leo Laporte (01:49:03):
Well, I think it has promise, but you'd have to have a special treadmill that lets you run in various directions.

Patrick Beja (01:49:11):
No, not going that far. Not going that far.

Leo Laporte (01:49:12):
That's the Ready Player One look.

Patrick Beja (01:49:13):
Yes. No, of course.

Leo Laporte (01:49:14):
I think, until you can jack a cable into the back of your head like in Neuromancer, I don't know. By the way, this is another one of Elon's exciting technologies, Neuralink. I'm not going to be the first in line to get my brain modified by Elon Musk.

Brianna Wu (01:49:33):
Oh God. That's a whole thing. I've been studying Neuralink a lot lately and all the problems it has. No, but I think the threat to Apple actually bringing this to market is a lot bigger than I think people are considering. Look at what's happened to Meta, right? Mark Zuckerberg comes forward, puts this big future vision forward for the company, where it's basically betting on this technology. It doesn't seem to have come to fruition and it's destroyed the stock price and cost people their jobs. I think it's not an exaggeration to say it's limiting Facebook's ability to attract engineers to their team and it's really put the future of Facebook into question.

The storyline for many of us with Apple for a long time has been, "Look, this new AR thing is coming. It's going to be like the iPhone all over again. They're going to hit it out of the park and this is going to be the next 20 years of computing, just like the desktop was 20 years of computing and the mobile phone was 20 years of computing." Everyone is failing at this though. And gamers, we are the people that are going to adopt this first. I've played some PlayStation VR games. I've got every single headset that exists, because I've done VR development. It's not a place I spend time when I game, generally.

Leo Laporte (01:50:50):

Brianna Wu (01:50:51):
It's just not, and it's never going to be. So, I think the stakes for Apple in bringing forward a product to market that's just another pleasant distraction, I think there are very real concerns about what that can do to their stock price and their ability to attract talent.

Leo Laporte (01:51:06):
Our son, Michael, who is 19 and loves VR, currently is playing that, I guess it's a Madden game, where you can be the quarterback in a team. And I see him standing in front of the TV with his headset on, going like this a lot. He's throwing a lot of passes, but he likes it. It keeps him somewhat engaged. We got the Oculus Pro, the $1,600 Meta, because I wanted to say, "Well, what's the best out there?" And if that's the best we can do, it's not particularly compelling.

Brianna Wu (01:51:36):
[inaudible 01:51:37] at all?

Patrick Beja (01:51:37):
There's a lot of people who like VR.

Leo Laporte (01:51:39):
There are a lot of people. I don't think it's enough to make a market.

Patrick Beja (01:51:43):
No, no, it's not.

Leo Laporte (01:51:45):
That's the problem.

Patrick Beja (01:51:45):
Well, it is a market. It's just not a big market and certainly not an Apple sized market, but I think it would be foolish for any of us to dismiss Apple out of hand. They have succeeded where many companies have failed repeatedly in the years before they brought their thing to market. So, we'll never know before they actually put it out. They have failed at a couple of things, but I think personally, AR is-

Leo Laporte (01:52:16):
They're bringing back the giant home pod. I thought that was hysterical. Here's a $300 single speaker, 300 bucks, that's 600 bucks if you want to do a speaker pair, that has Siri in it. That they discontinued two years ago saying, "Nobody wants to pay 300 bucks for this." And they just brought it back last week.

Patrick Beja (01:52:34):
And in Euros it's more expensive than the first one was.

Leo Laporte (01:52:37):
Yeah. I mean, I don't understand that one, anyway. You put in an article, which I think was an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal, talking about how Apple is not doing layoffs. And what I think is most telling is the number of hires that happened between September 2019 and September of last year. Facebook grew 94%, almost doubled in size. Google, 57%. Microsoft, 53%. Massive hiring. Meanwhile, Apple only grew 20%, and by itself that would explain why it's not having to fire people.

The article also says not having gourmet free lunches, which is by the way, the first thing Elon killed at Twitter, he sold all the kitchen gear. So, Apple is maybe being more fiscally prudent, but we had heard rumors that they were transferring people from Mac and iOS divisions over to the AR division, trying to get that business off the ground. I guess it makes sense if you're Apple, you've got a single product that's I think a little more than half of your entire revenue, the iPhone, and that's not going to last forever. It's getting saturated. It's really important for you to figure out what's next, right?

Brianna Wu (01:54:03):

Shoshana Weissmann (01:54:05):
Yeah. I think it's a smart thing to do. You see companies just rise and die and I think that they're actively trying not to do that, is really smart. Related, also, I'm not sure if you guys knew, but they have $100 thermometer. I was buying a new one.

Leo Laporte (01:54:20):
Apple does?

Shoshana Weissmann (01:54:21):
Yeah. I have an Apple gift card. My friend told me they had a thermometer and I'm like, this is five times the price of a normal thermometer. What does it do?

Leo Laporte (01:54:29):
No, but it's got an Apple logo on it.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:54:32):
I'm trying to understand, is this a special thermometer? Can I do anything that I can't do with it? Does it connect to my iPhone?

Leo Laporte (01:54:42):
To be fair, it is made by Withings, not Apple. They sell it.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:54:44):
Oh, okay. Oh, I thought it was Apple.

Leo Laporte (01:54:47):
It's a temporal thermometer. It lets you take the temperature of your current time state, or something. I don't know. Of where you are, which dimension. No, this is one of those things you put to your forehead and it gives you color coded fever indicators.

Brianna Wu (01:55:01):
That's awesome.

Leo Laporte (01:55:03):
I just look at these and I go, "That's going to break. That's going to break."

Shoshana Weissmann (01:55:06):
Yeah. I'm going to lose it immediately.

Leo Laporte (01:55:07):
I'm going to lose it.

Brianna Wu (01:55:09):
The blood pressure one they sold was pretty good. Frank uses it all the time.

Leo Laporte (01:55:13):
I actually have a lot of Withings. I have a Withings scale, Withings blood pressure cuff, Withings other stuff. I can't remember what it is. Withings showed at CES, a little egg you put in your toilet to test your pee, so they're really expanding, I think, into exciting, new ... Apple is not selling that.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:55:32):
I have some questions about that egg just super quick.

Leo Laporte (01:55:36):
Yeah. Sure.

Shoshana Weissmann (01:55:36):
Do you have to use the same one? Is it a set of eggs? And, do you flush that egg?

Leo Laporte (01:55:41):
No. First of all, don't flush it. I think it's attached. I asked the same questions. I don't blame you, Shoshana. It can distinguish different people's pee and it-

Brianna Wu (01:55:52):
Oh my God.

Leo Laporte (01:55:53):
... can distinguish between pee and toilet water, so you don't have to worry about that. And it can do a lot of different things like vitamin deficiencies. I imagine the biggest market for this will be companies that want to pee test their employees at all times, but maybe there'll be a home market. Certainly, the quantified itself is a very big business.

Patrick Beja (01:56:16):
Seems like it could be medically useful.

Leo Laporte (01:56:19):
Yes, I think you're right. Yeah.

Patrick Beja (01:56:21):
But there's probably a reason why Apple is looking into AR and VR and not that area, size of market might be one. But no, I think it's smart that Apple is looking into ... I mean, obviously it's smart. They have disrupted many markets and they understand-

Leo Laporte (01:56:43):
They need another one. Yeah.

Patrick Beja (01:56:44):
... that they're not above being disrupted themselves. I think what Facebook is doing is smart. The way they're going about it is not very smart, staking the whole company on this and being so public. Doing research at least somewhat secret, or mentioning, "Okay, we're looking into this." But that's the way Apple and most companies usually do it, and Microsoft was trying it out. They didn't say all of a sudden, "Well, goodbye everything else we were doing. We're now the HoloLens company." Anyway.

Brianna Wu (01:57:21):
I mean, let's be very, very clear on this. If Apple never brings this to market, we are all going to have won something very, very important. There are a host of Apple technologies that they've developed and released at every single state of the union. They're tremendously, tremendously helpful. 10 years ago, Apple did not even have a real 3D building API in Xcode, something that was a professional tool game developers could use. That exists today. It's good. There's all kinds of spatial recognition stuff that the developers can use, so the unified development stack that Apple has is much better off today for all this R&D Apple has poured into this project, and that's a win.

I just think if you asked me today, you put a gun to my head and said, "Brianna, what do you think is the next 20 years of computing? What technology are you going to bet on?" It's not AR/VR, I'm going to bet on ChatGPT.

Leo Laporte (01:58:20):
Yeah. [inaudible 01:58:20]. Yeah.

Brianna Wu (01:58:20):
And that kind of AI. That's stuff I could see using every single day. My husband, he has four Hugo Awards for science fiction. He was working on a new writing project. And Frank's problem is, it's so hard for him to write that first draft, so he entered it into ChatGPT, had it generate something. It was terrible, it was generic, but it was a place for him to go through and then start writing. It was an outline for him to then start shaping into something that was actually very good. That is a useful tool that you could build into Word or pages, there are a million applications.

Leo Laporte (01:59:01):
Microsoft apparently is doing that.

Brianna Wu (01:59:03):

Leo Laporte (01:59:03):
They were a big investor in OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT, and the rumors are, going to put $10 billion into it and are going to incorporate it into Office, but that's just one of many ... It's really interesting how quickly people are coming up with ways to use this. One of many, many uses, including in search, document summaries, language translation, computer programming. It's a very interesting time. And that's a good example of how it's so hard to predict what's going to change the world and if Meta had put $10 billion a year into that, they might have a lot more to show for it, right? But you just sometimes, you pick the wrong horse.

Patrick Beja (01:59:49):
I think when we look back, 2022 is the year that we will have talked about Elon Musk way too much, but really the important part of that year tech-wise is certainly generative AI.

Leo Laporte (02:00:04):

Patrick Beja (02:00:05):
And we started talking about it with, it was LaMDA, interestingly with that engineer that thought it had become conscious. So, it's a Google product.

Leo Laporte (02:00:14):
Right. Yeah. Lemoine. Yeah. Yeah. And they got scooped by-

Patrick Beja (02:00:17):
And then you had-

Leo Laporte (02:00:17):
Is it DALL-E?

Patrick Beja (02:00:20):
DALL-E 2 that arrived, and then Midjourney, so it was images first and now ChatGPT. It's funny because it has been bubbling. It's one of those things, AI in general, which is a big umbrella word, but it's almost like cold fusion. Not cold fusion, sorry, fusion in general, which is like, it's always five years away or 10 years away and it's like better batteries, or, "You've been saying that for 20 years, we don't believe you."

Leo Laporte (02:00:50):
Someday. Someday.

Patrick Beja (02:00:51):
And AI has been in development-

Leo Laporte (02:00:52):

Patrick Beja (02:00:53):
Yeah. It's been in development for at least 15 years with GN and those kinds of networks, and now all of a sudden in 2022, it started working, not just as proof of concept or on tiny images, thumbnail images.

Leo Laporte (02:01:12):
We're working. No, it's amazing.

Patrick Beja (02:01:13):
It started really working, and it's absolutely going to change everything and we're only at GPT-3 or 3.5.

Leo Laporte (02:01:21):

Patrick Beja (02:01:21):
Imagine GPT-20.

Leo Laporte (02:01:23):

Patrick Beja (02:01:23):
It's all of a sudden, even if there are issues, huge issues with it, with accuracy and copyright and a lot of problems that have to be figured out, it will be incredibly useful for so many things. And it made Siri obsolete and Google Assistant obsolete in three weeks. You're like, "Okay, I want this to be my virtual assistant, not the dumb one that doesn't know what I'm asking for." It's definitely the next 20 years.

Leo Laporte (02:01:57):
I got to ask you as a comic guy, one of the big departments that got axed at Amazon, is ComiXology. That's not good.

Patrick Beja (02:02:09):
Well, I mean ComiXology has been transformed since the purchase by Amazon. I guess, many people would tell you, I think it's doing okay. It's a viewer now more than anything else. You can't really purchase anything on ComiXology. I think ComiXology was already toast, kind of, for most people who liked it.

Leo Laporte (02:02:36):
Is there another choice?

Patrick Beja (02:02:39):
But you don't have a lot of alternatives.

Leo Laporte (02:02:39):

Patrick Beja (02:02:39):
Not really. You can go to Marvel directly or DC, which I guess ComiXology licensed their app tech to them, because it was really the same app with a skin. I don't know if Amazon put a stop to that, but no, there isn't really an alternative. It's ComiXology or nothing. They have the whole market.

Leo Laporte (02:02:58):
I guess with Marvel having its own platform, that's got to have eaten a little bit away from a ComiXology future. Maybe ComiXology as Amazon envisioned it, was pretty much done. It's just a viewer of comic books and it's just-

Patrick Beja (02:03:14):
Yeah. They sell everything on Amazon itself, but if you want to buy stuff, because everything Marvel is available on ComiXology, so if you're going to buy it, I don't think you want to buy it on Marvel's platform. You want to buy it on ComiXology, because then you also have on the same platform, DC and a lot of manga as well, which for many people is very important. I bought a bunch of manga on ComiXology, it worked really well, through Amazon directly. So, you don't want to go to Marvel because you're restricting yourself to buying the stuff on a platform that doesn't have everything.

Leo Laporte (02:03:48):
Right. We talked to Connie Guglielmo, editor-in-chief, last week. She was on the panel about these AI written articles. 75 of them written in mostly CNET's family finance articles. She said, "It's the articles that no reporter wants to write." And CNET has said that AI generated it and then humans reviewed it.

The Verge has been a little bit more critical of all this. I thought, "Well, that's reasonable." And there is a technology which people have been critical of, and I don't think for any good reason where financial numbers are inserted into financial articles automatically, that's no big deal. But Mia Sato and James Vincent writing at The Verge, say that something maybe a little bit more malign is going on because remember CNET, which was bought by CBS for some billions of dollars, and let's see, then they sold it to Red Ventures, an equity capital firm, for a quarter of what they paid for it. And as often happens when these equity capital firms come along, they start to focus on profits. They're usually purchases that are driven heavily by debt and they need money, and it looks like maybe some of this automated content generation is related to the old SEO farm. The content farms.

This was big, I don't know, 10 years ago when people noticed, well, see, you go to Google and you search for belt buckles. If you have an article about belt buckles, which no one in the world wants to write, you're going to get those hits and then you can have affiliate links on there, selling belt buckles, and make a lot of money. I remember when Google ended up clobbering these content forms, but maybe the way to do it is to buy an established brand like CNET and start creating a lot of stories using AI, quickly, cheaply generated stories, to do this. And this is-

Brianna Wu (02:06:09):
Don't you think there's kind of a long-term cost to that though, Leo? Like, if I'm on your network-

Leo Laporte (02:06:12):
Well, it debases the brand.

Brianna Wu (02:06:15):
That's it. Yeah.

Leo Laporte (02:06:16):
But remember, that's the problem with these equity capital companies, they don't care.

Brianna Wu (02:06:21):
Right. It seems like it's something that could work in the short-term. Like if I click on a podcast on your network, I know every single time the host is going to be very knowledgeable. I know there's going to be a certain journalistic standard. I know there's going to be a certain level of decorum and journalistic standards to it. Right? You could switch over tomorrow to having ChatGPT. [inaudible 02:06:47].

Leo Laporte (02:06:46):
Yeah, we'd make a lot of money for a year until everybody figured it out, and then we'd have nothing.

Brianna Wu (02:06:49):
Right. 100%. And then you would just go away.

Leo Laporte (02:06:51):
But that's what equity capital companies do.

Brianna Wu (02:06:52):

Leo Laporte (02:06:54):
They squeeze the value out of a company till the company is a husk of itself and then they throw it away. That would be very sad if that's what happens to CNET. This is from The Verge article. "Red Venture's," the current owner's, "business model is straightforward and explicit. It publishes content designed to rank highly in Google search for, 'high intent queries' and then monetizes that traffic with lucrative affiliate links.

In addition to CNET, Red Ventures bought The Points Guy, Bankrate, and, all of which monetize through credit card affiliate fees. In fact, the CNET AI stories at the center of the controversy are exactly this strategy. 'Can you buy a gift card with a credit card?' Is one. 'What is Zelle, and how does it work?' Is another."

Now, it's funny, Lindsey Turrentine, who was a regular on this show, until she became a higher up in the hierarchy, and Connie Guglielmo who has been on the show many times, I have huge respect for many of my friends who work at CNET, but I don't know these Red Venture guys and I'm really starting to think that this is really what's going on at CNET.

Leo Laporte (02:08:03):
... guys and I'm really starting to think that this is really what's going on at CNET and a lot of the... CNET is now directing questions to Lance Davis, vice president of content at Red Ventures, and it's my guess that this is who's driving this SEO farming and that might in fact be the end game for CNET and that would be very sad.

Brianna Wu (02:08:26):
Yeah, I mean those articles that no one wants to write, that's what you train junior reporters on, right?

Leo Laporte (02:08:33):
Right, right.

Brianna Wu (02:08:34):
That's how they become good reporters so I-

Leo Laporte (02:08:37):
Using, I don't have a problem with AI writing stories, but if-

Brianna Wu (02:08:41):

Leo Laporte (02:08:41):
... the entire goal of the site is to generate affiliate links and via SEO, you nailed it. It's over for that site-

Brianna Wu (02:08:52):

Leo Laporte (02:08:52):
... and I hope that's not the case at CNET right now.

Shoshana Weissmann (02:08:56):
One funny thing, a couple of weeks ago as ChatGPT was getting better, I saw it integrated with Zapier, so I messaged my team. I'm like, "Oh my gosh, guys. We can automate some stuff." And I was saying, "Why don't we try and disclose it, but why don't we try one of these AI sites and have it write some of our press releases or some content that's not scholar written on our site." And I freaked out my colleagues so much. She's not very tech savvy, which is fine. She's a normal human being, but she's like, "Shan, you're freaking me out. I don't want AI taking my job. This is too fast. I like this job."

But it was so funny to watch everyone's reactions, but then also think through maybe there's some stuff that we could use to expand. Maybe we try it on newsletters and stuff, so it's sad to see people use it for bad, but of course people will always with tech. But it's kind of interesting. I'm curious what good it can do if it can take pressure off of reporters who have to write seven stories and maybe they get a first draft from it and then they go and put in their style and edit it, something really good, but maybe parts of it are done for them. Not that we should have reporters have to write 10 stories a day. That's not sustainable either, but maybe they get something out of it. Maybe it makes some of the models-

Leo Laporte (02:10:14):
Sure. And look at how-

Shoshana Weissmann (02:10:15):
[inaudible 02:10:16].

Leo Laporte (02:10:15):
Look at how your husband's using it, Brianna. Frank's using it as just a-

Brianna Wu (02:10:18):

Leo Laporte (02:10:19):
... a starting point. So no, I'm not against the AI and in fact to CNET's credit, they say no. They've paused using AI written stories entirely, so maybe there's something.

Brianna Wu (02:10:29):
Well, I think it's been-

Leo Laporte (02:10:29):
What are-

Brianna Wu (02:10:30):
Oh, go ahead.

Patrick Beja (02:10:32):
I just wanted to say what I'm... I don't know that I'm concerned about it, but what I'm thinking about is what happens to the, I guess we're circling back to the user generated content version of the web, which is the one we live it now. What happens to it when content generation costs 100th? I don't want to say it's going to be free, but 100th of what it is now. If you want to generate an article about belt buckles, you can generate an article about every single piece of clothing or apparel in the world in all languages with three clicks, or not three clicks, but in three days. And you can turn them into videos to put on YouTube and on TikTok and images on Instagram, and content becomes essentially a non-issue to create.

I don't know, especially in a world where money on the web happens through display ads and ads in general. I don't know what that does to our current version of the internet. It might not change it much. I think it does have a huge impact. I don't know that it will be good or bad. But generating content that much more easily, it's almost for free, kind of freaks me out a little bit because that's not step one. It's not even step two. It's maybe step five in 5 or 10 years, maybe I think less than that. But it changes the nature of our user experience on the web.

Leo Laporte (02:12:26):
One thing I can guarantee-

Patrick Beja (02:12:27):
I'm a bit concerned about that.

Leo Laporte (02:12:28):
This is a story we'll be talking a lot about in the next few years. I mean AI-

Patrick Beja (02:12:32):
Oh yeah, absolutely.

Leo Laporte (02:12:32):
Everywhere, everywhere. I want to take a little break and then we have some final stories coming up in just a little bit. Our show today brought to you by viewers like you, our wonderful Club TWiT members. I just want to put in a plug for Club TWiT. It is a great place to hang, but it's also a great way to support the TWiT Network Club. TWiT is $7 a month or you can get a yearly $84 a year package. There's also corporate memberships. Gives you ad-free versions of all of our shows, gives you the TWiT Plus feed, which includes shows we don't put out anywhere else, like Hands-On Macintosh with Micah, Paul Thurrott, Hands-On Windows, The Untitled Linux Show, the Giz Fizz and more.

Plus you get the fantastic Discord, which is a community of like-minded geeks that is so much fun. You've been in there... While we're doing the show, Brianna has been in there talking about restoring pinball machines, which is great. I hang out talking about coding in there. We have sections in the Discord to talk about pretty much anything geeks are interested in, including books and booze and all sorts of things. We also have, thanks to our community manager, Ant Pruitt does a great job, a lot of AMAs and fireside chats, Huyen Tue Dao is coming up, host of All About Android. That'll be February 9th.

We're going to do a very special triangulation episode. We'll start it in the club so club members can ask questions of Daniel Suarez. His new book comes out this month, actually early next month. It's going to be called Critical Mass, a sequel to Delta-v. I cannot wait. I got my advanced copy. Daniel will be our guest on February 10th. It'll end up being a triangulation, but club members will get early access to that. We also have Sam Abuelsamid, our car guy, coming up March 2nd, but that's just a sample. If you're not a member of the club, it supports us. It keeps the lights on, keeps our staff employed, helps us make new content. Please go to and join the fun. I think it's worth it.

Hey everybody, Leo Laporte here. I am the founder and one of the hosts at the TWiT Podcast Network. I want to talk to you a little bit about what we do here at TWiT because I think it's unique and I think for anybody who is bringing a product or a service to a tech audience, you need to know about what we do here at TWiT.

We've built an amazing audience of engaged, intelligent, affluent listeners who listen to us and trust us when we recommend a product. Our mission statement at TWiT is to build a highly engaged community of tech enthusiasts, well already you should be. Your ears should be perking up at that because highly engaged is good for you. Tech enthusiasts, if that's who you're looking for, this is the place. We do it by offering them the knowledge they need to understand and use technology in today's world. And I hear from our audience all the time, part of that knowledge comes from our advertisers. We are very careful. We pick advertisers with great products, great services with integrity and introduce them to our audience with authenticity and genuine enthusiasm, and that makes our host-read ads different from anything else you can buy. We are literally bringing you to the attention of our audience and giving you a big fat endorsement.

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Leo Laporte (02:21:12):
I can just see the Twitter comments. Ant Pruitt put the lens on wrong. That's how you do it. That's the magic. If you haven't caught up on all of our shows this week, it was a good week to catch up on. And of course, Dick De Bartolo made his first appearance on Ask the Tech Guys tour. We're getting the band back together. This is the 40th anniversary of a computer that changed my life. It didn't exactly sell very well, but it kind of changed the world. The Lisa, the Lisa came out January 19th, 1983, one year before the Macintosh, and I remember pressing my nose against the computer store window looking at the Lisa, looking at the price tag.

It wasn't as expensive as a 007 pinball machine, but it was $10,000. And I just thought, "Oh, I wish I could get that." Apple surprised us all by releasing a much, well, yeah, much less expensive I guess. It was $2,500 McIntosh with a very similar operating system the very next year. But here's the really interesting news. The Computer History Museum, in conjunction with the 40th anniversary, has posted the source code to the Lisa software, including system and applications software. How do you like your Pascal, Brianna?

Brianna Wu (02:22:41):
I know Pascal. That was the computers in Mississippi where I learned computer science were so old that Turbo Pascal was my first language in 1994-

Leo Laporte (02:22:50):
Yeah, yeah.

Brianna Wu (02:22:52):
... so I can do that.

Leo Laporte (02:22:53):
Yeah. I originally wrote a lot of Mac software in Pascal for the first Macintosh's, so you can download a zip file, which I just have done. I wish they'd put it on GitHub, but okay. I've just downloaded 20 megabytes of Lisa source code. That's all. That's all. You couldn't get anything done in 20 mega, but you could have a text editor in 20 megabytes these days. But here are all the files. I think for somebody like you, Brianna, this is, and somebody like me, this is heaven. This is-

Brianna Wu (02:23:31):
I love it.

Leo Laporte (02:23:32):
This is-

Brianna Wu (02:23:32):
Do you ever look on eBay at the old Lisas and try to get one?

Leo Laporte (02:23:35):

Brianna Wu (02:23:37):
Because I have been looking for years for one. They're still, I was just looking, $5,700 for an-

Leo Laporte (02:23:43):

Brianna Wu (02:23:44):
... enabling-

Leo Laporte (02:23:44):
You're kidding.

Brianna Wu (02:23:45):
... version of one. They are so-

Leo Laporte (02:23:46):
So they're not-

Brianna Wu (02:23:47):
... valuable. Yeah.

Leo Laporte (02:23:47):
They're not each cheaper.

Brianna Wu (02:23:49):

Leo Laporte (02:23:49):
Oh my gosh. That's a little disappointing. All right. Should we look at some source code? What do you want to look at, drivers? I want to find Bill Atkinson's QuickDraw, early QuickDraw code or something like that. It's-

Shoshana Weissmann (02:24:04):
My colleagues make fun of me for being a nerd, but man, this is top level.

Leo Laporte (02:24:12):
This is very nerdy. This is very nerdy. Here's the assembly language. This was-

Brianna Wu (02:24:16):
Oh my God.

Leo Laporte (02:24:16):
Was it a 68000? I think it was. Looks like it's well commented, which is nice.

Brianna Wu (02:24:21):
Yeah, this is-

Leo Laporte (02:24:22):
That'll make it a little easier to discern. Anyway I-

Brianna Wu (02:24:26):
What would you run this on today?

Leo Laporte (02:24:29):
I'm sure you could have an emulator.

Brianna Wu (02:24:32):

Leo Laporte (02:24:33):
Actually might be harder to find a Pascal compiler that could compile it to be honest with you.

Brianna Wu (02:24:38):
I think I've got my old Turbo Pascal four discs somewhere.

Leo Laporte (02:24:44):
I don't know if this... I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. You got to compile. I don't know. That's a good question. It looks like it has a lot of 68000 Assembler, so that's going to be a potential issue. Anyway, happy birthday, Lisa.

Brianna Wu (02:24:55):
Somewhere there's a school in Mississippi I've got to go get a computer from. They're still using it.

Leo Laporte (02:24:59):
There you go. There you go. T-Mobile announced a hacker once again has broken into their private records, which aren't so private and stole 37 million customer records, name, address, and account number. They say, although I'm starting to not believe companies anymore, credit card data was not released. And they'll probably offer you a year's worth of LifeLock or something in response. But credit cards, password, social security number is not accessed, but be aware that they've got your phone number, they've got your email. This is not the first time it's happened at T-Mobile. In 2021, a hacker stole personal information, including social security numbers and driver's license information of 13 million active and 40 million perspective T-mobile customers. They settled a class action related to that breach for half a billion dollars and promised it would never happen again. Oh Lord. It's just-

Shoshana Weissmann (02:26:03):
One of the things R Street does want to do on the federal level is a privacy law. We feel like that that might help here. Also, making sure reporting requirements can come together for government agencies too for when they're hacked. When I see stuff like that, I'm like, "Oh, maybe we do something here."

Leo Laporte (02:26:20):
And the final story. AmazonSmile is frowning no more. Smile was a charitable version of Amazon. If you went to, you could designate a small amount of percentage of your purchases to the charity of your choice. Over a million charities participated. Amazon has not said how much money was given out, but I imagine over the 10 years of the program, it was quite a bit. Why would Amazon discontinue such a great program? They said after almost a decade, the program has not grown to create the impact we had hoped originally. With so many eligible organizations, more than a million globally, our ability to have an impact was often spread too thin. They didn't announce any replacement, and I have to point you to a Reddit post from a guy who used to work at Amazon corporate who says, "Let me tell you how the entire program AmazonSmile got created." The problem was that a large number of customers would start their shopping at I bet you still do this. Search for a product, click the link, and then buy it on Amazon. When that type of search happens, Amazon pays Google an affiliate fee. Internally, Amazon thought, "If we could just force users to go to Amazon, maybe even offer a small but lesser amount than we pay to Google for charity, we could keep the difference." Smile required you start your shopping on How many of us did this? I did it. It helps kill customers going to Google, saves money over paying Google, and it makes us look good. That's why for the program to work, you have to start shopping at

Literally everything the company does says this former executive is about profits and extended customer lifetime value. Everything, even the charity programs, are just designed to save Amazon money. To which another Reddit user said, "Yeah. I was a founding member of the Smile program, part of the charity support team working with nonprofits to help them receive the funds. Left in 2016, 3 years after fully flushing out the program. You are completely correct. The intent of the program was to be cost neutral. The amount Amazon donated to charities was about equal to the cost it saved by not having to pay Google. The tax write off wasn't the real reason. Goodwill is just marketing fodder." He says he left because, "I wanted to work for charities." And he's not working for a nonprofit, so that's another reason to be cynical. Anytime-

Shoshana Weissmann (02:29:19):
I kind of love it.

Leo Laporte (02:29:19):

Shoshana Weissmann (02:29:21):
It kind of makes me happy. I'm like, "That's really, really smart." Man, you kind of wonder what happened to the person who came up with the idea.

Leo Laporte (02:29:27):
Yeah. Hope you got a big promotion and a nice bunch of stock. Folks, I think this is a good time to say thank you to our wonderful panel and say goodbye. Smile, by the way, raised $400 million according to Amazon for charities, so that sounds like an impact. Yeah, I'm just saying. Sounds like it was accomplishing something. It's kind of weird that they stopped. Shoshana, Senator Shoshana, thank you so much for being here. Head of digital media at, follower on the Twitter @SenatorShoshana. Anything you want to plug?

Shoshana Weissmann (02:30:08):
Just, and thank you for having me. You're always so kind. I always love the other panelists you bring on. I learn so much and I just appreciate you having me.

Leo Laporte (02:30:16):
Well, you're so great. Of course. And I hope that the Sloths survive this attack on, I don't know what. What is the Sloth Committee up to at the Sloth Institute?

Shoshana Weissmann (02:30:33):
I mean, we're investigating January 6th because what do you think it was really about? It was the sloths. It was all the sloths all the time.

Leo Laporte (02:30:39):
It was all the slots.

Shoshana Weissmann (02:30:40):
It was all about the sloths.

Leo Laporte (02:30:41):
It was all the slots.

Shoshana Weissmann (02:30:41):
So I'm here trying to solve it.

Leo Laporte (02:30:44):
And I do recommend Shoshana, is quite a hiker. Mountaineer, I guess would be the proper term, and there are lots of wonderful pictures of her recent visit to Chile and others. All right. Where are you going next?

Shoshana Weissmann (02:31:00):
Oh. Hopefully if it happens, the California Super Bloom. I'm so excited.

Leo Laporte (02:31:05):
The Super Bloom. Is that an algae thing?

Patrick Beja (02:31:07):

Shoshana Weissmann (02:31:09):
It has to have the right weather conditions and in the Carrizo area, I think it is. It's just hills and hills of wildflowers. I love wildflowers. I probably won't be hiking as much as I will just be obsessing over the flowers, so I'm really excited.

Leo Laporte (02:31:25):
You'll be sneezing. You'll be... So because we had-

Shoshana Weissmann (02:31:26):
Oh, yeah.

Leo Laporte (02:31:26):
So you said such a wet winter so far, we probably will have a Super Bloom this year. We haven't had one in a while because we've been in a serious drought and you'll see all those beautiful wildflowers. It only happens every decade or so, so oh, I want to see pictures. That's great. That's great.

Shoshana Weissmann (02:31:43):
Thank you.

Leo Laporte (02:31:44):
Yeah, have a wonderful trip. That's wonderful. And you like, tell me, because I downloaded, I think maybe because of you, that trails program. You think that's a good program for non-mountaineers like me?

Shoshana Weissmann (02:31:58):
Oh yeah. It's so great-

Leo Laporte (02:31:58):
All terrains.

Shoshana Weissmann (02:31:58):
... because you get information on the safety, on anything you need to know. There was one time I was hiking in northern Utah and the reviewer before me had said, "Hey, some bears chased us, just FYI." So I was a little more mentally prepared for bears to chase me, and then when there's grizzlies, he's like, "He'll tell you about it." It was so-

Leo Laporte (02:32:18):
How do you mentally prepare for bears to chase?

Shoshana Weissmann (02:32:21):
You just know. You just kind of are like, "Okay, I just got to look out. Be more careful here."

Leo Laporte (02:32:26):
Okay. All you have to do is run faster than your friend. You know that, right? You don't have to be quicker-

Shoshana Weissmann (02:32:32):
Oh yeah, yeah.

Leo Laporte (02:32:32):
Yeah, yeah.

Shoshana Weissmann (02:32:32):
And also people flip out over black bears. You should take them seriously, but they're not grizzly bears. They're not. They're probably not going to kill you.

Leo Laporte (02:32:41):

Shoshana Weissmann (02:32:41):
Grizzly bears are different and then you worry. But you just act [inaudible 02:32:46] and you carry some bear spray and you're good.

Leo Laporte (02:32:48):
I just read an article about cave bears and how our Neanderthal ancestors, there are marks on the bones that tell archeologists that they were making bearskin clothes to survive the cold winters in the...

Shoshana Weissmann (02:33:06):
We can take them.

Leo Laporte (02:33:07):
Yeah, yeah. So there. There you go. Shoshana, you're great. Thank you so much for you being here and your giant hotdog. I am-

Shoshana Weissmann (02:33:15):
Thank you.

Leo Laporte (02:33:17):
I'm very grateful to the giant hotdog. Patrick stayed up until God knows what is it now? 3:00 in the morning.

Patrick Beja (02:33:25):
3:00 in the morning.

Leo Laporte (02:33:26):

Patrick Beja (02:33:29):
And I was glad to do it because not so much you Leo, but Shoshana and Brianna were great as always.

Leo Laporte (02:33:35):
Aren't they great? Yeah, yeah. They really are. I feel blessed by people like you and Shoshana and Brianna that we can get on our shows. I don't understand why they come on, but I'm glad you do and stay up until 3:00 in the morning. I am very grateful. Thank you. Of course is the place to go to find out about all of the wonderful shows both in English and in French that Patrick does. Are you going to do a Swedish podcast?

Patrick Beja (02:34:05):
I don't think so. I don't. As I mentioned, I have two small children, so maybe one day. But you know what?

Leo Laporte (02:34:11):
I know the feeling.I know the feeling. I've done too much. I must stop.

Patrick Beja (02:34:17):
But I will mention, I will plug my Mastodon again. Just to make it again very clear that I hope that becomes a viable alternative to the other.

Leo Laporte (02:34:33):
I am now following you, Patrick, and of course we have our-

Patrick Beja (02:34:37):
Oh, I have to follow you. Why do I...

Leo Laporte (02:34:39):
No, you don't have to, but that's okay. I am a big fan of our Mastodon. As you know, we have our own Mastodon on Insta. It's

Patrick Beja (02:34:48):

Leo Laporte (02:34:48):
And it's wonderful. Oh, you have a toot in French. Wait, I don't know what a toot do. It's I guess a toot suite. So thank you. Thank you for being here, Patrick. I appreciate it. Brianna Wu.

Patrick Beja (02:35:01):
Thank you.

Brianna Wu (02:35:02):
I have some breaking news, Leo. A study just came out, Shoshana discussed what you were talking about. 6% of Americans think they could destroy a grizzly bear in a hand-to-hand fight. Only 2% of British people think that, so that's that good old American confidence that works out so well for us all the time.

Leo Laporte (02:35:25):
You know what I love is this comes from New Zealand where I think this article is intended to laugh at Americans. I don't know. I'm just thinking perhaps 6% of Americans think not just any bear, they could tackle a grizzly bear.

Brianna Wu (02:35:41):

Leo Laporte (02:35:41):
Can I just recommend the excellent Leonardo DiCaprio film, The Revenant? Watch it before you-

Patrick Beja (02:35:47):
Oh my God.

Leo Laporte (02:35:48):
Watch it before you attempt to wrestle a grizzly bear. I'm just saying. Okay?

Brianna Wu (02:35:53):
Oh my gosh.

Patrick Beja (02:35:53):
I mean, he makes, maybe it's a spoiler, but-

Leo Laporte (02:35:54):
He survives.

Patrick Beja (02:35:54):
He makes it so you know...

Leo Laporte (02:35:56):
He survives. Yeah.

Patrick Beja (02:35:57):
You never know.

Leo Laporte (02:35:58):
You'll never know.

Brianna Wu (02:35:59):
There we go. I have something to a plug if I can before we jump off.

Leo Laporte (02:36:02):
Please. Please, please, please.

Brianna Wu (02:36:03):
So this is not about me. I can plug my pack, I can plug my work. I don't need that today. My dear sweet husband, Frank Wu. You all know him. You love him.

Leo Laporte (02:36:12):
Love him.

Brianna Wu (02:36:12):
He's always, he's crazy amazing.

Leo Laporte (02:36:12):

Brianna Wu (02:36:16):
So he's been working extremely hard on his science fiction writing career, and he is up for an An Lab Award, which is one of the most prestigious awards for Analog Magazine, which is one of the oldest institutions in all of science fiction. So I'm asking you if you have a chance, go to You can... It's the very first blog post. You can read his story and if you think it's up to the quality that Analog deserves, he would be honored to have your vote. These kinds of awards literally make or break careers. They lead to book deals, and Frank worked so hard at this. So I'm at if you enjoy anything I've ever done on TWiT, please go read my husband's work and consider supporting him.

Leo Laporte (02:37:07):
And yes, especially since he puts it online.

Brianna Wu (02:37:10):
He does.

Leo Laporte (02:37:10):
I think that's fantastic. And God, I loved Analog when I was a kid. I read it religiously. It was one of the original pulps, one of the greats in science fiction.

Brianna Wu (02:37:20):
It's hard science fiction. So the thing Analog does is it hires writers with a science background. Frank has a PhD in bacterial genetics-

Leo Laporte (02:37:29):

Brianna Wu (02:37:29):
... which is why he helped develop the COVID vaccine, and he brings that knowledge to his science fiction. In this case, it's a novella so...

Leo Laporte (02:37:38):
I will absolutely read it and vote. I will vote often.

Brianna Wu (02:37:44):
Thank you. Just vote once. That'll be great.

Leo Laporte (02:37:47):
Okay, well, yeah whatever. However much they let me. if you want to participate in Brianna's good political work, and of course follow her on Twitter @BriannaWu. I suppose you don't have a toot to talk about or anything like that. You're not a tooter.

Brianna Wu (02:38:03):
I don't have a what to talk about?

Leo Laporte (02:38:04):
You're not a tooter. You're not... I'm asking about it. No.

Brianna Wu (02:38:04):
I don't even know what that is.

Leo Laporte (02:38:11):
No, I do not. No, absolutely not. Okay, that's all I need to know. Hey, thank you so much, Brianna, Patrick, Shoshana. Thanks to all of you for joining us. We do TWiT every Sunday afternoon, 2:00 p.m. Pacific, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, 2200 UTC. I say that so you can watch live if you want, get the first edition. The first draft of TWiT Livestreams audio and video are available at If you're watching live chat live in our IRC, open to all or in if you're a member of Club TWiT in our club TWiT Discord. We'd love to have you in either place.

After the fact, you can get the show at our website, When you're at the website, you will see links to other podcast clients. You can subscribe there. In fact, that's the best way to get it so you get it as soon as it's available of a Sunday evening for your Monday morning commute. There's also a dedicated YouTube channel. Any way you consume it is good for us. We appreciate it. Thank you for watching. Thank you for listening, and join us next week. Another TWiT is in the can. Thank you everybody.


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