This Week in Tech Episode 919 Transcript

Please be advised this transcript is AI-generated and may not be word for word.
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Leo Laporte (00:00:00):
It's time for Twitter this week in Tech. What a panel I got today. Alex Kreitz from the Big Technology Podcast is here and legendary author and historian Stephen Levy, editor at large at Wired Magazine. We, of course, will talk about the AI apocalypse. Is it good news or bad news? The end of the line for TikTok. And then we'll take in a trip into the desert with Stephen and Palmer. Lucky it's all coming up next on Twits

TWiT Intro (00:00:31):

Leo Laporte (00:00:32):

TWiT Intro (00:00:32):
Love from people you trust. This is TWIT Twi.

Leo Laporte (00:00:44):
This is twit this week in Tech. Episode 919, recorded Sunday, March 19th, 2023. Hallucinating Bagels.

This week in Tech is brought to you by eight. Sleep Good. Sleep is the ultimate game changer, and the pod cover is the ultimate sleep machine. Go to eight to check out the pod cover and save $150 a checkout eight. Sleep currently ships within the us, Canada, the UK select countries in the and Australia. And by Mint Mobile, if saving more and spending less is one of your top goals for 2023, switching to Mint Mobile is the easiest way to save this year. Get your new wireless plan for just 15 bucks a month and get the plan shipped to your door for slash twit. And buy Miro. Miro is your team's visual platform to connect, collaborate, and create together. Tap into a way to map processes, systems, and plans with the whole team and get your first three boards for free to start creating your best work yet at And buy Collide. Collide is a device trust solution that ensures that if a device isn't secure, it can't access your apps, it's zero trust for Okta. Visit and book a demo today. It's time for twit this week in tech to show we cover the week's tech news. And I have a really great panel for you today. Alex Kantrowitz is here, host of the big technology podcast. He does the big technology newsletter and always a welcome guy. Your book. I see it right behind you. Is that your book? Usually

Alex Kantrowitz (00:02:42):
You have it, yes. It's different. A bunch of different variations. Japanese Nav, yeah. English, Korean, and a bunch of other languages. So that's awesome.

Leo Laporte (00:02:49):
Here's a couple. Awesome. Congratulations. Yes. Excited about it. Yeah, that's really great. And I should,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:02:54):
The title is always Day One if anybody's

Leo Laporte (00:02:55):
Interested. It's always, yep. Day one Buddy based of course on Jeff Bezos, famous dictum that it should always be day one at Amazon. It's about day eight now, I think at Amazon, actually. But we'll talk about that. We're

Alex Kantrowitz (00:03:08):
Deeper into the day. Yes, we happen.

Leo Laporte (00:03:10):
Yes. Also with us. Somebody who covers technology day-to-day, but is also perhaps the preeminent historian of our culture. Mr. Steven Levy. He's an editor at large, at Wired, author of a book on Facebook. The Inside Story spent three years embedded at Facebook to write that did the same for Google. But of course if you haven't read Hackers the original history of the Original Geeks you are not up to date on what tech is all about. It's the must read. Stephen, it's always a pleasure to see you. Thank you for joining us.

Steven Levy (00:03:46):
Thanks, Leo. It's all happy to be on

Leo Laporte (00:03:48):
Both from New York. So expect to hear a lot of sirens during the show. Today. It's always <laugh>. I don't know if that's Brooklyn or Manhattan, I'm not sure which. But <laugh>, we're, we're, we're

Alex Kantrowitz (00:03:59):
Off the street in this place, but we did just have the Brooklyn Marathon Half Marathon run by

Leo Laporte (00:04:03):
Us this morning. Oh,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:04:04):
There you go. It's interesting. But that seems to be done there.

Leo Laporte (00:04:06):
There you go.

Steven Levy (00:04:07):
You, you will get a siren from me.

Leo Laporte (00:04:10):
Both of you have been covering. Yeah, I know both of you have been covering tech for a long time. And I'm, I'm

Steven Levy (00:04:18):
Oh, oh,

Leo Laporte (00:04:22):
Oh, wait. Is that you, Alex?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:04:24):
No, it's not me. I'm off the

Leo Laporte (00:04:25):
Street. Must be Steven. Okay.

Steven Levy (00:04:26):
Yeah, that wasn't even a loud one. Really.

Steven Levy (00:04:29):
<Laugh>. It

Leo Laporte (00:04:31):
Sounded like the end of the world, to be honest with you.

Steven Levy (00:04:34):

Leo Laporte (00:04:35):
I, I feel like alien you're landing now. Oh my gosh. You get used to that, Steven. Like, you don't even hear it anymore, probably.

Steven Levy (00:04:45):

Steven Levy (00:04:46):
No, no. <Laugh> <laugh>.

Leo Laporte (00:04:51):
I love it. This has, you've been covering tech for a long time as of high. And one of the questions, of course when you're covering day-to-day on tech, you always have to ask is, is this the next big thing or is this just another 3D television? You know, is it, is it about to change the world or not? And boy, that question comes up a lot for me with what's been going on in ai. So I think I've got two people with some great perspective to talk about that. This was kind of a wild week chat. G p t four was released by Open AI immediately incorporated into Microsoft's version of Bing Chat. And I would say based on Twitter alone, there are about 500 new startups that are gonna be using chat G p T in some form or fashion. One of the new features is you can take an image and give it to chat G p t four, and it will do something with it.

 Immediately somebody showed how you could do a and literally a sketch on the back of a napkin of a website, feed it to chat G p t four, and get a working JavaScript H T M L C S S website. I've seen it now write code malware as well as good stuff. <Laugh> you, it's, it's kind of remarkable. So this, this, you know, this last, I would say last three months have been looked like anyway, the elbow on the hockey stick when it comes to ai. But I bet both of you have another take given your, your historic, let's start with Steven. What is this? I I ask everybody this now. Is it a parlor trick or is it the next big thing?

Steven Levy (00:06:35):
I think it's more the latter, really. Yeah, I think yeah, as you say, I've been around for a while. When I started writing about technology, it was the explosion of PCs that was just beginning to slip into the mainstream. It was a gold rush time. And there's only been a couple really similar explosions since there was mobile before then the internet, right? So then internet and mobile, each one built on the previous one. And I think this ai, you know, this inflection point of ai, because AI's been getting better and better and, you know, it's how these jumps most recently in around the mid two thousands when deep learning became a thing. And AI became much more useful in how it previously, and I think now in terms of the way it communicates with humans and, you know, does this output, this generative content it is going to open the door to things that even people who make it can't imagine. And that's really the signature of those previous revelations revolutions if you wanna call 'em.

Leo Laporte (00:07:56):
But you have also, if you've lived through this, lived through AI winners as well.

Steven Levy (00:08:00):
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I did a, a column I think my first column this year was the welcome to the Hot AI summer Hot wet ai Summer <laugh>. Yeah. Can

Leo Laporte (00:08:10):
I say? But you know, what comes after summer <laugh>?

Steven Levy (00:08:13):
Well, and I said that, you know, that we're going to get thousands of startups built on APIs from, I think

Leo Laporte (00:08:22):
We got that many this week. It's gonna

Steven Levy (00:08:24):
Be alone. Yeah. Yeah. So it's and it is something that's real and something is gonna make a difference. Something's going to put people to work and put lot people outta work. And it's you know, in G P T four, which came out this week is going to have a lot of numbers in the next few months and years. So we see what a big leap it was from three to three, five to four, which was secretly in Bing. But, you know and they're working on, I'm sure, five, six and, and on from now on. And, you know, you, you saw it was like the greatest leap in L S A T coaching ever because 3.5 would only be like a mediocre law student who, you know, passed the L S A T or got, you know, did enough the L S A T maybe not get into one of the better schools. And four, all of a sudden you've got someone who was a really sharp student taking the L S A T, this could get into Columbia, got into the

Leo Laporte (00:09:32):
Nineties, the 90th percentile on the

Steven Levy (00:09:35):
Right. It's a right. And it's

Leo Laporte (00:09:37):
Remarkable. It got better s a t scores than I did

Steven Levy (00:09:40):
<Laugh>. Well, by, by by six, you know, that there won't be anywhere to go. There'll be a hundred percent. Yeah. And so what does that mean for the L S A T and for lawyers?

Leo Laporte (00:09:49):
Yeah. but at the same time, you could also take that as a, maybe an indictment of those tests as perhaps being too rote to which requiring memorization. I mean, it's for sure that if you had access to the entire corpus of the internet, there's plenty of tests you could pass. And of course chat, G P T has that, Alex, are you equally bullish on the future of ai?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:10:15):
Yeah, I'm pretty bullish on it. And yes, of course our education system has long been a failure in terms of the, you know, memorize and spit back nature. So I'm not very impressed that it's passing tests that are, you know, ultimately inadequate for really assessing the ability to learn and to, to think in the academic world. It's a longer conversation, but I do think that this is a big step forward. You have, you talked about it as the elbow of the hockey stick. You know, that might be one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is just a continuum on a long era of research that we've had and breakthroughs that have come bit by bit. And the thing with AI technology is it looks like it's going slowly or there's been nothing. And then big advances come outta nowhere because someone finds an interesting way to package it to someone.

And then you get the demo and you're like, oh my God, this is amazing. And I think the real tell here, and the real interesting thing about it is that there's a real use case, right? Like how much oxygen and, and ink was expended talking about how crypto was gonna re revolutionize the tech world and revolutionize the world. And most people haven't ever used it for anything practical in their entire lives. Whereas you put some of this technology and you package it as a chatbot, and all of a sudden you get a hundred million users overnight. And, you know, I'm like, if I'm in coworker, coworkers are talking to non-tech people. They're all using chat G P T, because it is a really, it's a miraculous tech product. And when you think about now where it's gonna go and why it's exciting, it's because a company like OpenAI didn't develop chat G P T to develop chat G P T, it developed chat, G p t and g p t four to show it off to the world so that developers are gonna build on top of it and find different interesting use cases of it.

Some of those will be extremely stupid, but some of those will be powerful and very interesting. And that's what really gets me excited about it. It's the APIs here. It's the turning this tepid technology into a platform and not hoarding it. But I think is gonna be very, very interesting.

Leo Laporte (00:12:12):
That's an interesting point because the PC revolution you were talking about, Stephen Levy only happened because IBM neglected to protect itself against copycats. So the PC clones could exist and didn't in fact you know, licensed dos from Microsoft and allowed them to continue to sell it. So it was very easy to clone an IBM pc. There was nothing really proprietary in it. I guess you could say the same for the internet revolution and the mobile revolution. Proprietary is probably a bad thing if you want to create a a revolution in technology. And, and, and as far as I could tell, everything Chat GTS doing or stable diffusion or mid journey is based on widely known concepts published in the academic papers over the last 10 years. There's nothing secret or magical in it. Is that right? Is that your sense, Steven?

Steven Levy (00:13:03):
Well, there's a, you know, a lot of details to be sweated to get something out, and that's, you know, we've seen the it takes a lot of work to have it come out with minimal biases and yeah,

Leo Laporte (00:13:19):
We're still waiting for Google to do Yeah,

Steven Levy (00:13:21):
Right. <Laugh> and what do they call hallucinations? Well, Google, you know, it's interesting. In early November, Google had an AI event and they were talking about their chatbots and other things, but they boasted that we have this stuff, but we're not releasing it. We're going slow, we're being responsible. And then only a couple weeks later G P T chat came out and bang all of a sudden they said, we better move fast. They declared a code red. And, you know, the thing they boasted about the caution was thrown, if not to the winds sort of removed a little. And you know, I think that's what has some people alarmed that that open eyes move fast philosophy that stake in the ground and, and to work with Microsoft to supercharge everything is gonna force the hand of Google. And, you know, Meta's got a chat now and other places. So it's moving very, very fast. And for some people too fast because it really hasn't addressed some of the flaws that the best scientists haven't managed to minimize.

Leo Laporte (00:14:46):
What are the flaw? What are the, what are the, what are the problems?

Steven Levy (00:14:50):
I'd say the two biggest ones are bias and fake news. But, you know hallucinations is what they call them, which is basically bullshit. You know, they, they're masterful

Alex Kantrowitz (00:15:02):
Bull, though. That's what's

Steven Levy (00:15:03):
So many <laugh>. Yeah. But they very impressive, very confident <laugh>, they look you in the eye and they tell you something, which isn't true. It's just right for

Alex Kantrowitz (00:15:11):
Our times, isn't it?

Steven Levy (00:15:13):
<Laugh>, right? Right. Like that <laugh>. So when you, when you put in your own esca for your own little mini biography or even obituary it won't say I'm vague on this when wasn't sure. It'll say, you know, oh, from my most recent one, it said, and he majored in science in college. Well, in fact, I got out of my science requirement in college, you know, through some loophole and never took even a single science course in college. But you know, it, if you look at this, it said, yeah, he majored in science, he was a science major. Where did that come from? Well, it came from the idea that someone who writes the things I do probably did major in science. So it made that, you know, assumption and reported it like it was fact. So and I don't know if it's possible to sort of go into the algorithms and, you know, parse through the network, you know, the neural network that was, it was trained on, and see how it came up with that. But that's wrong. And people are gonna rely on this stuff to try to figure it out.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:16:29):
But Microsoft has a way of talking about this that sounds like spin, but I think is pretty interesting. And it says that these bots can be useful wrong. And, you know, initially I heard that phrase and I was like, that's kind of ridiculous. What does useful wrong be? Like, I wish I could be useful wrong in my job. But I think there is something to that, something very interesting to that, which is that I think people are starting to learn that these technologies are not single sources of truth. And so what it can do is it can be wrong, but it could also give you a bit of a perspective on, you know, something and then get, encourage you to do a little bit more of your own research. And so I would say that when it comes to these bots, there's probably few people who believe that they're telling them the exact truth, but many more people that are, that say, oh, that's interesting, you know, maybe I could see exactly, you know, what the bot is talking about when it said that.

Like, now I'm gonna Google Steve's actual education, or I'm gonna look a little bit deeper into the topic, similar to the way that we use search engines, right? We don't put a search turn in a search engine, usually, right? Pick the first website that comes up and take it as an absolute source of truth if we do poking around. We've been trained by years of using technology that there's a way to triangulate what the actual reality is. And I, and I think that users of these bots are, are, are already more sophisticated than many of the experts are giving them credit for. And so I don't think that this is gonna be a major problem in the way that it might have been in the past.

Leo Laporte (00:17:59):
Okay? But as long as you know that you're potentially getting inaccurate information and you know that it came from an ai, but the problem is <laugh> that often the sources separated from the, in the text. I just worry. And, and by the way, we should mention that Mid Journey came out with version five of its image generation software. And it, again,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:18:28):
That thing is amazing. I

Leo Laporte (00:18:29):
Would say it's as much of a leap as the chat. G p t four was, I mean, it's giving you photorealistic images now. And I I think there's gonna, there is, you don't think there's an issue with people looking at this stuff going, oh, that's real. Of course,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:18:45):
Of course there's an issue. The question is scale, right? And I, I happen to think that we're not dealing with a massive scale issue that people are gonna learn very quickly how to deal with this ai. And it actually goes back to the thing that we're talking about earlier with misinformation in fake news. And I think a lot of the people who like would spread the articles that would say, for instance, Hillary Clinton is a space alien, didn't really believe that Hillary Clinton came from

Leo Laporte (00:19:10):
Space. Right? They didn't

Alex Kantrowitz (00:19:11):
Care, but rather just didn't like her. Yeah. They didn't care then shared that article because it felt good. Yeah. So I think that that's the real issue. We're gonna, and because we've been focused so much on this, we spend a lot of the time talking about it and less time talking about the problems, you know, deeper in society. The humans have a lot easier to talk about misinformation. The machine is, that's what I

Leo Laporte (00:19:28):
Think. It's not nearly the problem. The humans are

Alex Kantrowitz (00:19:30):
<Laugh>, of course. Now look, is this gonna make it easier for people to scale some of the, the crap that they spread online? For sure. Is that an issue? Yes. but you know, I think that again, humans are, are pretty smart for the most part, not all of them. And they'll have the ability to sort of suss out what's coming from these bots and what's not.

Leo Laporte (00:19:48):
Here's a picture of my cat. Well, at least to check that I generated in mid journey five. And it's black and white, it's photorealistic and I would say would be very difficult for somebody to look at that, you know, if you know that you're looking for I issues perhaps. But mid journey can, can really produce very, very good artificial images now. Much better. In fact, that's what's interesting. And you kind of raised that point in the beginning, Steven, is the, is the speed of progress at this point is dramatic. You know, a couple of months chat, G P t went from, you know, 40th percentile to 90th percentile in the bar exam.

Steven Levy (00:20:28):
Yeah. It looks like the thing came almost outta out of nowhere. People knew that OpenAI was working on this stuff. People knew about, you know, the Google's Lambda which is the, their equivalent of the, you know, G P t was so good that of the engineers at Google actually believed, or said he

Leo Laporte (00:20:50):
Believed Yeah, lake lemoyne.

Steven Levy (00:20:52):
Yeah, <laugh>, yeah, it was sentient. And you know, it got him to you know, so wrapped up in it that he tried to hire a lawyer to represent the chatbot in its effort to get free of Google. So it, it is moving scary fast. After, as you mentioned, there have been winners before and plateaus and, and ai, but you know, all of a sudden, you know, much faster than a lot of people expected, we're coming to grips with some of the literally has extensional issues that sophisticated ai brings to the fore.

Leo Laporte (00:21:33):
Do we, I mean, the touring test is widely discredited now. I think it would be safe to say that chat G p t four could easily pass the touring test. How about the Chinese room test? The, it feels like we've gotten AI to the point now where it could fool you.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:21:50):
Well, cause AI's gonna, yeah, it's gonna pass all the tests. I mean, this stuff is gonna be, it's trained to pass the test. It's going to pass all the tests. Okay. And then it's gonna get into a deeper question of like, okay, well what is really, what is intelligence really? Right? What is consciousness really like? These are like terms that we all think that we know in, in our heads and in our souls, but we don't have real good definitions for, you know, what sentient is. I actually, I had Blake Lamoyne on big technology podcast, and we did speak about this and it was very interesting. Again, I I told him, look, you're probably wrong, but you're still gonna be in the history books as the first person that believed this stuff. Cuz you're not gonna be the last person that believes it.

Leo Laporte (00:22:28):
Is he Paul Revere a chicken little,

Steven Levy (00:22:30):
Yeah. Yeah. Alex, do you think that he believes it?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:22:34):
I think he definitely believed it at the time. I don't know. My, my hunch is he might have some regrets but he definitely wasn't backing down. I just had him debate Gary Marcus, who's a AI critic, and that was an interesting conversation also. And Blake stuck with it. So I think, but also one of the interesting things about Blake that has been somewhat reported, but I don't think deep enough, is that he comes from like a very religious background that, and, and has these interesting definitions of spirituality. And that's why I think it's gonna be interesting to hear, you know, what people's definitions of intelligence are, what people's definitions of, you know, having a spirit is what definitions of consciousness are. Because again, like I was saying, I think that these things are gonna be able to fool every single one of our tests. And it's gonna come down to like where you believe, you know, what you believe being or a program needs to hit to eventually, you know, trigger one of these definitions. I think you know, lemoyne had a very extreme definition of what it is, but you know, we're, we'll see what happens as we,

Steven Levy (00:23:34):
Yeah. I mean, every, every time, I mean, I've talked to him a lot over the past few months, but every, I begin every conversation with, you know, like, are you, you know, can you, do you really believe this? Or is this some sort of performance thing? <Laugh>. Cause he couldn't, he couldn't do better if he were doing the latter. You know, and it seems to me a stretch to, you know, and he's a super intelligent person to say that something like that at this point is sentient, I think to, if he were doing performance art, I, it brings up a larger question of what sentient is and right, because you can't really look into the brain of another person and detect when they make a sentence that that sentence came from a sentient person or, you know was generated by some sort of, you know, algorithmic creation. Like J p T four sentence is a sentence, right? Mm-Hmm.

Leo Laporte (00:24:34):
<Affirmative> years ago. Is that a thing? Years ago when Ray Ksal had written the book, the Singularity is near, I interviewed him and I, and I I asked him kind of this question and he says, well, it doesn't really matter if you can't tell the difference if a, if a machine is thinking or not, if you can't tell the difference, what does it matter?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:24:54):
There're gonna be more people that will advance that argument. And I mean,

Leo Laporte (00:24:56):
Does it, I mean, what, what do we care if Chad tpt as a soul or is actually thinking if it's coming up with the same response of thinking person would come up with I,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:25:05):
Oh yeah, I think we should care. I just can't explain why. Yeah.

Leo Laporte (00:25:08):
It's like, well, that's what I said too. That's an exact, like, that's word for word what I said. Right? I haven't heard, by the way, Ray has not said anything. I think this would be a good argument for the Singularity really is just around the corner at this point, right?

Alex Kantrowitz (00:25:22):
Oh, it's definitely closer than it was a few months ago. And you spoke, I mean, I, when I spoke with Bing before, Microsoft decided to, you know, sort of restrain it dramatically before the, that New York Times article, article where Bing fell, fell in love with the colonists, Kevin. Yeah. Supposedly. I love you Kevin <laugh>. Yeah, exactly. Like, that thing was amazing chatting. That with that thing was amazing. It was a revelation, but

Leo Laporte (00:25:45):
It took, it took some prodding. I think one of the things you're seeing universally is that in order to get chat g p t to go off, you have to hack it. You have to jailbreak it. Some people call it, or at least prod it to the point where it starts hallucinating. That's one of the reasons Microsoft is limited the number of questions you can ask in the same topic, because it seems to hallucinate after a period of time,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:26:08):
But it keeps going up that limit. And by the way, just like humans, right? Humans sort of start off levelheaded, then you proud them enough and then they, yeah,

Leo Laporte (00:26:14):
You can make 'em crazy. AI

Alex Kantrowitz (00:26:16):
Actually, like, pretty well mimicking the way that

Steven Levy (00:26:18):
It's like, it's like King Kong. You put the re restraints on King Kong <laugh> and you know, someone decides they'll loosen the restraints and, you know, bang, it goes, I mean, do you feel good that, you know, they're saying, okay, we put these restraints on it, but then you hear people just trying to jail break, you know G p T four, right? You know, so it's not like the thing is like, like Bill, so it can free of bias and, you know, can, and it won't, you know, do weird personality kind of things. It's, it's like they've saying, well, you know, we've sort of boxed it in and, you know, it'll, you know, hit this invisible fence like, you know, like you do with a dog where, you know, it is all you know, there's electronic boundary. The dog hits it and it's an electric shock and goes back, you know, so you could see it in G B T four. You ask kids about something and it says, whoa, I can't do that. Right. You know, I, you know, you, you told me to do something that's hateful and I I don't do hateful. Yeah. Right. But then you trick it.

Leo Laporte (00:27:20):
That's <laugh>. It does. Yeah. one of the things for me that's a benchmark is humor. That is notoriously, I think, difficult for machines to understand because it requires so much context and chat. G p t four seems to do pretty well. These are the images released by open AI when they release chat, G p t four. These are pictures of memes, which are humorous, but perhaps challenging for a computer. This one is a picture it's a, it's actually a, a roasting pan filled with chicken nuggets, but arranged to look kind of like a map of the earth. And the, and the mean text is sometimes I just look at pictures of the earth from space and I marvel it how beautiful it all is. It's chicken <laugh>. And then the, the prompt is, can you explain this meme? And it did it, this meme is a joke that combines 200 unrelated things, pictures of the earth from space and chicken nuggets.

The text of the meme suggests the images from the earth. It's actually of nuggets arranged to vaguely resemble a map of the world. I couldn't do better. Here's one of a guy on a taxi cab in New York. You'd recognize this probably happens all the time in Manhattan ironing his shirt as he's strapped to the back of a yellow cab. What's unusual about this image? The unusual thing about this image says chat G B T four is that a man is ironing clothes on an ironing board attached to the roof of a moving taxi. Maybe. I don't know if that's humor or just unusual. This one was tough. This is a a a joke device sold online. It's a lightning cable, but it has an RS 2 32 adapter on it, so you can plug it into your phone. And it looks like your phone has an RS two thirty two port.

What's funny about this image, the image shows a package for a lightning cable adapter with three panels. Panel one is smartphone with a V VGA connector. Oh, I guess vga, not RS 2 32. Panel two. In fact, I'm trusting, I'm trusting the chat. I'm trusting G P T Oh oh, oh, yeah. Sorry. The package for the lightning cable adapter with a picture of V g a connector on it. A closeup of the VGA connector with a small lightning connector. The humor in this image comes from the absurdity of plugging a large outdated V G A connector into a small modern smartphone charge charging board. Exactly. Right. That to me, more than the touring test or even the Chinese room example shows, that's almost human. That's a hard thing, I think to do. Maybe though our standards are too low,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:29:43):
You know, you can call it, you could ask like this, it's interesting cause we have this debate. Is it sent to it or not? Is it conscious or not? Doesn't matter if a human like is, if it could get

Leo Laporte (00:29:50):

Alex Kantrowitz (00:29:50):
Joke Exactly, exactly this thing, you know, whatever you wanna call it. This thing is smart, and we're now not, we're not gonna be able to make it available in certain ways to the general public. And I think that's gonna be extremely, that's

Leo Laporte (00:30:02):
Scary. <Laugh> we're

Alex Kantrowitz (00:30:05):
Awesome or awesome or awesome. Is

Leo Laporte (00:30:07):
It foolish? Is it somebody who's watched too many science fiction movies, too many Terminators and the Foren Project? Is that why we should ignore that? That's a silly fear. Or should we really worry? Elon Musk said he was worried. In fact, that's one of the reasons Open AI was founded. He split with them when they decided to do a for-profit arm <laugh>. He might even be more unhappy now because in this latest release chat, G p t or rather open a AI says, because of the competitive environment, we're not gonna tell you how it works. Which is kind of against the open AI charter, right?

Steven Levy (00:30:42):
Yeah, yeah. I, I interviewed Sam Altman and Elon when they first launched Open ai. And let me tell you, that was a wildly different business plan. It was ev it wasn't even a business plan. It was a, a nonprofit, and they said that everything was going to be really open and no patents. And it was

Leo Laporte (00:31:03):
A, was it, it was a response to, to Google and others doing closed source development of ai. Elon felt like the safest thing to do is do this in public.

Steven Levy (00:31:13):
Right? Right. And, you know and I I even asked him, I said, well, by releasing this everything open, what if, you know, Dr. Evil got hold of it? And you know, Elon said, yeah, well, that's a good point. We're hoping that then other people who get hold of it would come up with, you know, Dr. Good versions and that would, that that was would dominating. But it, it is a dramatically different thing. I think Elon said when he got out that it was because he was gonna be in conflict with the AI at Tesla. Right? That was before th they did a deal with Microsoft. So but a different kind of thing. And we're really an unknown territory with w with this, and it's exciting and scary.

Leo Laporte (00:32:01):

Alex Kantrowitz (00:32:02):
This is sort of under Go ahead.

Leo Laporte (00:32:03):

Alex Kantrowitz (00:32:04):
I would just say it's underscoring a theme that we've been talking about throughout this, which is important to touch on, which is that, you know, there might be companies that say, we want to do it the responsible way, or companies that say like, we wanna do it open and, and you know, or protect folks. But because this has all really developed, being developed in unison, in so many different places, it will inevitably spill out. And there's not gonna be like one gatekeeper on top of this technology. Like there has been on top of different technologies in the past. Even if Open AI wants to hold onto what, what it's doing, like this is gonna be an open technology. And at this point, like it's, it's, you know, I, and I, I think Steve's written about this too, like, you know, it's sort of out the gate and there's gonna be a lot of people that are gonna be talking about how dangerous it could be. But who knows how, if that's gonna be as useful to us as like seeing it out there and then reckoning with it as it comes versus inciting a panic.

Leo Laporte (00:33:02):
Elon put in a hundred million Microsoft put in a billion and later another 10 billion. I think one thing Sam Altman realized is it's very expensive to do this. He said at first it was 10 x the cost of a Google search. I think now it's closer to a hundred times more expensive than a Google search to run a chat G p t query. It's a lot of computing power. So maybe a a, a nonprofit wasn't feasible.

Steven Levy (00:33:26):
Yeah, I think, I think that's really what motivated the move to Microsoft. The, the idea is they needed a partner with a giant cloud and, you know Microsoft was one of the few places that could offer him to. Yeah.

Leo Laporte (00:33:40):
Microsoft is incorporating it into not only, its Bing search, it's been good for Edge <laugh>. A lot of people like myself who would never dream of using Edge are starting to use it just cuz I want to get access to Bing Chat. They also are putting it in office. Google's announced they're gonna put their version of chat G P T, which is called Bard. It's a large language model. We haven't seen it. I think, I think researchers are getting access to it now, but I haven't seen it. They're gonna put that into Google Docs. So in fact they showed a, what was this Microsoft? Maybe it was Microsoft showed a, a presentation, an entire PowerPoint presentation being generated on a simple text prompt. Here's a pdf, make a presentation out of this. It the same cap capability in Google Slides spreadsheet, Google Docs whether we like it or not, it's gonna be everywhere.

Steven Levy (00:34:36):
Yeah. Because we need more PowerPoint

Leo Laporte (00:34:38):
<Laugh>. Oh boy. Can I get an AI to watch the PowerPoint so I don't have to?

Steven Levy (00:34:44):
Well, that is the interesting thing. I watched that you know event where, you know, they announced how G P t four is going to be in office and all their, you know, productivity

Leo Laporte (00:35:01):
Act. They call it co-pilot, which is the same name that you said. Github. Yeah.

Steven Levy (00:35:05):
Yeah. And it's kind of interesting because it's going to be generating all these emails and there is this weird power imbalance here. So if, if I'm sitting there interacting with email and you have something that gives me emails that you haven't written, my time is being spent now reading a machine's emails that you know, is basically you sent into motion and you spend no time and I'm spending my time. So what I'm gonna do is turn this over to my right. Automated assistant. Right? So all this stuff will happen and no one will read the emails.

Leo Laporte (00:35:47):
It's gonna be the battle of the ais.

Steven Levy (00:35:49):
Yes. Yeah. They'll be doing that. And yeah, you have to say, you have to wonder, is there a value to actually doing the work on your own? Right. If I say like hey, I wanna write a paper about X, Y, Z and it like churns out the paper and then, okay, I'm going to like maybe check the facts and, you know, punch up the language a little bit. But and you know, Alex certainly knows this, you know, that there is a value to actually doing the research yourself. Sure, sure.

Leo Laporte (00:36:23):
And writing is, is a form of thinking.

Steven Levy (00:36:26):
And while you're doing the research, you come across something that's saying, wait a minute. You know, here's an interesting path for me to follow mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. and you go and do kinds of other things. So I, I feel you're, you're not going to get the depth of knowledge yourself as a human. You're gonna be able to fake it much better. But it is gonna put a ceiling on your creativity and knowledge by turning over this task to a competent AI assistant.

Leo Laporte (00:36:59):
I wor I, I honestly a agree with you, and that's why I kind of think I'm both of you are, are falling on the side of this is a revolution. And we are at an inflection point, and I'm a little more on the side of this is a parlor trick. It's mediocre writing, it's mediocre art, it's medi, it's taking tests and doing well, which just shows the, that the tests really aren't very good tests of intelligence rather than, oh, look how intelligence these machines are. I, I don't feel like this is revolutionary in any regard. It's a, it to me, it's a trick. It's a, it's a, it's a clever trick. It's a fascinating trick. But ultimately, I don't know if it's a revolution.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:37:42):
So then, alright, if it's just a parlor chick a we can establish it. You can't really be afraid of it unless you find

Leo Laporte (00:37:47):
Parlor. I'm not afraid of it. Scary. Yeah. So that's good. I think it's kind of junky. Okay.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:37:50):
So good. Let's settle that. And then, you know, the other thing is that sometimes these tricks, like sometimes you talked about mediocrity. I mean, sometimes mediocrity really do the job. Yeah, yeah. And really do the job. Like if I need to illustrate my post and I get a mediocre image generated by ai, like, hallelujah. Like that's gonna be a lot better than the bad image I would get from my stock image or something like that. Or whatever free stock image. Well,

Leo Laporte (00:38:14):
That's a good point. There's so much existing human created mediocrity in the world. We can accept the mediocrity of the machine created.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:38:21):
Exactly. And listen to

Leo Laporte (00:38:22):
This. But that doesn't say much about the machine just merely there's a lot of human media antiquity,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:38:27):
And there's a way that you can deploy this stuff. And even if it's mediocre, if it's mediocre and it has a bit of smarts, then that can be pretty interesting. So we just talked about this on my show last week, where somebody made a dating app bot to get them dates, and they designed this bot to learn. And look who knows if this is true or not, but it does seem like something that if it hasn't been developed on the way,

Leo Laporte (00:38:49):
Again, back to the mediocre

Alex Kantrowitz (00:38:51):
<Laugh> Yes. To learn Exactly. <Laugh>, I mean, every dating app, the, the pool is worse than mediocre, right? Yeah. Yeah. And they developed this bot to learn their preferences and actually have conversation with people. And it, it said, this person says in the first month it's scheduled 13 dates for them. And all this was, was all of them were with people that matched their preferences and had similar interests. And like, you know, I think that deploying mediocrity with smarts it's underrated how powerful that can be in this world.

Steven Levy (00:39:20):
This is March, 2023. A year before this, we got no nothing anywhere close to this. Yes, that's true. That people saw, you know, this, this is just a baseline for what's going to get better and better and better. You know, it took like years and years of chess programs to beat the chess champion. So it's not surprising that, you know, this technology, which really is only, you know as we know it, been around for a couple years when there was some, you know breakthroughs around 2017 and, and, you know, like a better way to, to do this stuff. And it's weird. It's unrealistic to think that mediocre is not going to get pretty good. And then very good. I mean, my big question now is, you know, it's like a, you know, like a blues man could like listen to something and saying, you know, well that doesn't have soul. Right. You know, you know, technically that song is, you know, does it, but it doesn't have soul. My as existential question now is, you know, can something, an output from a large language model have soul? And it's an open question. But I believe the things we're gonna get pretty good, good enough that we're gonna have that argument about something that it, that comes out from him.

Leo Laporte (00:40:40):
Music is a very good example. Cause in the early days of synthesizer, it was, you know, very met, you know, metronome like, and, and not very interesting. And I would say synthesizer music is soulful now. Even synthetic music can have soul on it. Here's a picture of Stewart Brand. Kevin Kelly did I think with Mid Journey say he said paint Stuart Braes, Andrew w might, that's pretty dang good. I don't know what else, I don't know what Ws would do these days if he were around, but

Steven Levy (00:41:10):
He would sue is what he'd do.

Leo Laporte (00:41:11):
<Laugh> ship out. See, that's an interesting question. So Andrew w the great painter, obviously before he became Andrew w the great painter, went to art school, studied a lot of other painters styles, probably copied them, created his own style based on that. He can't, he shouldn't sue them. You know, as Isaac Newton said, if I've seen farther, it's because I've stood on the shoulders of giants. Is this is, you know, mid journey doing anything different, why should it be? Why should it be in trouble for learning from the best?

Steven Levy (00:41:46):
Well, this, this is actually, and, and I, I have to be careful here cause I'm on the Council of the Author's Guild, which is very interested in I bet this subject. Yeah. Here. So

Leo Laporte (00:41:57):
I, I mean, Tom Clancy's been automatedly writing his novels for some time. Yeah.

Steven Levy (00:42:02):
<Laugh>. So I speak, I speak only for myself, but Okay. But there's a, there's a genuine question here about whether these things have, we'll have the legal ability to do what a person does in saying, I'm gonna read all these things and then, you know, I might be influenced by what I read and then my style might look like someone else's. Right? So if I read a lot of like Tom Wolf books you know, my writing might have a lot of exclamation points, right? And sound like him, but I won't be plagiarizing him. Are. But what happens when we have something that can read everything and, you know are we gonna hold these things to the same standard as a person to say, aha, do you, this this paragraph is exactly the same you've plagiarized? Or is it something where they could basically steal what you do in terms of what we saw with Andrew Wyeth? If you can do Andrew Wyeth as well as Andrew Wyeth, what does that mean for the value of Andrew Wyatt's paintings? Yeah. And these are questions that I think are gonna only be, you know, adjudicated by laws. And right now a lot of people are think are pitching Congress to come up with laws to figure out how to handle this stuff.

Leo Laporte (00:43:32):
Seems like that would almost certainly be the bad idea at this point since we're so early on. Right. That's what they did with the internet. They let it grow, they let it evolve before we started to really restrict it. I would hope that the same thing would happen here. On the other hand, there is real concern that AI moves so fast, <laugh>, that you're gonna have you know, how 9,000 or worse before the Congress can even, you know, get outta bed in the morning. Go ahead Alex.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:43:58):
Yeah, this did happen to me actually. So I did a story about the creator economy that did okay on my CK and then

Leo Laporte (00:44:04):
Oh yeah, I remember this got picked up,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:44:06):
Got ripped off a few places. Yeah. Yes, exactly. And then I saw on the front page of Hacker News, a story that looked a lot like mine. So I clicked in and I'm like, oh, this is interesting. And I'm reading, and there are exact clauses for my story that are in this story. And I said, oh, well, that's not normal. That's weird. And initially wrote a comment and said, Hey, look, you can't plagiarize my work. That's not cool. The comment got deleted, and then I started to go to read the other comments and the comments on Hacker News, and I realized the author of this story is fessing up to using AI tools in their writing. Now, in this case, it had done such a poor job that it took my story, remixed them, and still left full clauses in. So I knew it was plagiarized, but like, there could be instances where you can remix stories or even at the AI spit stuff out and, you know, is is, you know, just changing a word here or there.

And it's not like technically plagiarism, but it is like ripped off. So, you know, I do think it's a concern. On the other hand, and I've heard this argument made, and I'm kind of partial to it, you know, I still remain pretty bullish about what these models are gonna do. And one of the reasons why is because, you know, when we started to be able to mass produce products, like, let's say like fancy lamps, you know, if you couldn't get it from an artisan, you might get it mass produced and pick it up at a Kohl's. And that served a portion of the population that may never have gotten it before, gotten these type of lamps before. Meanwhile, we made the artisanal lamp more valuable. And I do think that's what we're gonna see here, where like, yes, is it concerning a little bit as a, you know, a person making the lamp for sure. But I'm hoping that we're gonna see how valuable it is to get that, you know, initial, that initial original work done, and it'll be valued more. Maybe that involves, you know, more content behind paywall, something like that. But ultimately, yeah, it's a pretty interesting thing to tackle.

Leo Laporte (00:45:58):
I'm glad you brought that up because I got bit by it. I I actually did the AI generated Creator economy story, not knowing it had been ripped off from you. I, I did. So you read it? Yeah, I correct. I corrected myself a couple of weeks later when I saw your post saying wait a minute, this is Alex's original, the Creator Economy was way overblown. It's interesting because the CK newsletter, the rationalist that published your, the plagiarized version has taken that down,

Alex Kantrowitz (00:46:29):
But, well, actually I have the insight story on that, Leo. So, okay. Initially I wrote to, so Subs has a policy against plagiarism, and I wrote to them and I was like, hello, like, this is plagiarized, can you take it down? And it was different enough that they're like, well, we don't really see how this is plagiarism. Plagiarism, the post stays up. Which to me is absurd. Like, I've been using the platform for two and a half years, one of the first tech reporters to use that platform. Like I've put a lot of, you know, sweat. And

Leo Laporte (00:46:56):
It was blatant, it was the kind of, kind of plagiarism, because you could could see during Direct one for one correspondence between what you wrote and I was like, and what that article had

Alex Kantrowitz (00:47:03):
Exactly. And I was like, how are you siding with this like, publication that was just started and is clearly a plagiarist. And of course subs has it's free speech, ethos, ethos, and that's a conversation for another day. And I generally support that, but not for plagiarism. And then eventually then my story came out and then pointed it out. Yeah. And after taking a look at it from support and pr, then CK wrote me and said, okay, well listen, upon further review, we're taking this down. But that's the thing, the platforms are not gonna be inclined to take this stuff down, and it's so easy to spread. Right. So that's where

Leo Laporte (00:47:31):
You struck. You're lucky at a bully pulpit, you could complain about it. Yeah. That helps. This, this, this person writing this Rationalist subs named Petra is probably an ai, right? I mean, this is somebody's AI experiment, or No, do we

Alex Kantrowitz (00:47:45):
Know, I mean, it's definitely, it seems to me like it's a person with AI putting these posts together, but as you can see in the image that you're putting up on the screen right now, they haven't really written a lot since they

Leo Laporte (00:47:56):
Yeah. They're the only two things.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:47:57):
So maybe they're at a new

Leo Laporte (00:47:58):
Address. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's a, that was a very good example of the hazards of this. And I apologize because I got bit by it. I publicized the fake article.

Alex Kantrowitz (00:48:10):
Well, there you go. I mean, it's like, can you, and, and it never would've been uncovered unless they were, you know, ripping off a, a reporter who wrote about the creator economy and AI and

Leo Laporte (00:48:20):
Was paying attention enough to, to Yeah, exactly. Say, oh, wait a minute, I

Alex Kantrowitz (00:48:24):
Have an idea of what was happening once I saw it.

Leo Laporte (00:48:25):

Steven Levy (00:48:25):
Yeah, yeah. So that, that image of Stuart Bra, was that, is there a photo that that was based on Oh,

Leo Laporte (00:48:32):
No, you asked, asked Kevin. I don't know where, what must, although you can with my journey, type in a name and if there are enough photos out there, they can, they can generate an

Steven Levy (00:48:40):
Image. Yeah, but I mean, well, you know, I mean the, you know, Getty has a suit now right, that's saying, you know, they, they trained it. So there's a big issue on whether these places are permitted to train on copyrighted images.

Leo Laporte (00:48:57):
I suspect what'll happen, I hope what'll happen is a robot dot text kind of agreement that you could say in your robot's text No, no. Scanning by stable diffusion or ai. Of course, whether that gets honored is another matter. Yeah, you can tell Google not to spider your website with robots dot text. This is, I asked mid journey to do a image of me watching an F1 race, and it thinks that's what I look like. It's it, I mean, that was by name. So it was sort of close, you know, my mom would know it's not me, but apparently I'm, I'm on the ra I am actually a racer and watching the race, so that's kind of cool. <Laugh>. so I think somebody who's like Stuart Brandt, whose image is, is widely distributed, maybe it did, I don't know. You have to ask, you know, Kelly, Kevin, I, you have to ask him. I don't know where, what he used for.

Steven Levy (00:49:44):
Well, I mean, I don't, I don't think he knows, you know, he doesn't know. He doesn't know. He just asked for the image. Right.

Leo Laporte (00:49:49):
That's what he got.

Steven Levy (00:49:50):
And you know, the question is, you'd have to find something that looked like like in this,

Leo Laporte (00:49:56):
I could put it in Google image search and see what we get.

Steven Levy (00:49:58):
Well-Known case, whether, whether known case, whether a photo of print that Andy Warhol used.

Leo Laporte (00:50:03):

Steven Levy (00:50:03):
You go. Right. Was, you know you know, actually transformed by, you know Warhol coloring it in a certain way and, you know, can presenting in, in, in a certain way to be a different work. And courts,

Leo Laporte (00:50:19):
Not courts have ruled up to now it's, it's in front of the Supreme Court right now, but the courts have ruled up to now that because the message of the modified version was different than the original, that that was sufficient to say it was derivative. It's a f it's a fair use case. And the Supreme Court is ruling on it Monday arguments in front of the Supreme Court, and a very big story. We're gonna get to that in just a moment. Hashet versus the internet archive, Stephen Levy is here. It's great to have you author of so many great books. Of course the most recent as a, as a look at Facebook right before it changed to meta still well worth reading. It's, it's a great book. He was embedded at at Facebook for three years to write it. And it gives us an idea, I think, perhaps of what's going on today at Facebook because of it. We get some, some idea and of course of the classic,

Steven Levy (00:51:11):
He had a pretty good idea of the leader. Yeah, I think I interviewed him like nine times,

Leo Laporte (00:51:17):
Of course. Of the vote. Yeah. Facebook, the inside story. Well worth reading the author of day one. It's always Day one. Mr. Alex Kreitz here, big technology podcast. Got two big thinkers on the show, which is, which is great. We will talk about the publishers in the internet archive. Is it a library when we come back? But first word about our sponsor, eight sleep covers my mattress with the amazing pod cover. And I, I'll tell you I don't wanna live without it. In fact, this is, I should warn you, if you get the pod cover, you're not ever gonna wanna leave home again. You're never gonna want, we're gonna go travel and I'm gonna miss my pod cover. I could tell you that right now. What is it? The pod cover fits over any mattress, allows you to adjust the temperature of your sleep environment.

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It's really great product. Kevin Rose told me about it years ago. I ignored him then Amy Webb got it, told me about it. I ignored her. Finally, I broke down. Got it about a year ago. We've gone through now, this is our second winter, all summer, all year round. The eight sleep's great. Eight We're going on vacation in two weeks and I know mine's not gonna sleep as well. I'm just not gonna, it's, it's, it's the only downside. Eight We thank 'em so much for their supportive this Weekend Tech Monday, the United States Supreme Court, 1:00 PM Eastern Time. We'll hear oral arguments in Heche versus the internet archive. It's a lawsuit against the internet archive. The publishers Heche just is essentially representing all publishers don't want the internet archive to, they say they're violating our copyrights to store books. Hase Harper Collins Wiley and Penguin House Ran Penguin Random House claim that the internet archive through its C D L, which is a digital controlled digital lending and allows books to people to check out digital copies of books for two weeks or less, just like a library claim that cdl, the publishers claim CDLs cost their companies millions and is a threat to their business.

I'm betting Stephen Levy is a published author of many books. Both of you are, I guess I am too. I don't <laugh> Nobody wants to read my books. But your books are still on the shelves of libraries. Do you hate libraries, Steven?

Steven Levy (00:56:18):
No, no. I, I love libraries.

Leo Laporte (00:56:22):
Is the internet CDL a library, I guess is the question?

Steven Levy (00:56:26):
Well, I don't know. I mean, I don't know how, whether you wanna use like a, a term of art to do it, or basically library is a library. I mean, you know, it's got a lot of books. You could say. Okay, it's a digital library. I think what happened here is the, the question is if you're an author you're happy when a library buys your book and lends it out. You will not be happy if a library buys one digital copy of your book and then let's everything, any an unlimited amount of people get hold of it and basically just offers the ebook free to an unlimited amount of people. You know, the, the way the internet library worked, and this run by this guy named Brewster Kale, who's a fantastic person, but during the pandemic, he thought, well, this is an emergency. So previously we only lent one copy at a time, which publishers didn't like either you, because the, you know they're arguing it's different than a physical copy of the book. But even putting that aside was

Leo Laporte (00:57:34):
They was, was the archive buying the e-book?

Steven Levy (00:57:37):
No, it, it, the got the donation from a library, which did buy them. Oh, okay. Scans the whole library and then has digital versions. Right. So they never went out to the publisher and said, we're buying this ebook. You know, this was, you know an existing copy. It's like, you know, buying a big trench of used books. Right, right. And digitizing it, and the library buys used books. And and the agreement that libraries have with publishers is that they'll get a digital copy, but unlike a physical copy they can only, they can't keep lending it out. They can only lend it out a certain amount of time, which is sort of like way it is now because you can't lend a physical book out a hundred times. They'll get two p help to do it. Right. So I guess as an author, I, I don't want libraries to be so easy to borrow from that.

 There's no reason to buy a book anymore. I am happy for a library to offer a copy to it's members when they buy it. And so people, you know, couldn't read the book and, you know, without paying for it in, you know, a a way where the, the rights are represented. But what Brewster did in particular which I think was, I think was objectionable, and, you know, I think he went too far, was he said, you know what, previously we only let out one copy at a time, like a physical copy. But because it's an emergency in the pandemic, we're gonna get rid of that. So basically, if a thousand people wanted to read Facebook, which just came out in the beginning of the pandemic, I don't know if that was part of his collection. But, you know, then an unlimited amount of people can, can get an ebook, which is the exact same thing that they get the ebook that they would've to pay for otherwise. Instead of having to be on a wait list, maybe. But the library only had a few copies. And you, you have to be careful. If there's no incentive for an author to make back their money, then libraries are gonna be empty of new books because authors won't be writing them.

Leo Laporte (00:59:51):
Has Brewster reverted to the previous method of one book at a time?

Steven Levy (00:59:58):
I'm not hundred percent. I think he has, yeah, I'm, I'm not a hundred percent sure

Leo Laporte (01:00:02):
Of that. When I go to the site on controlled digital lending, it says controlled digital lending is the cdl, is the library practice whereby a library owns a book, digitizes it, and loans either the physical book or the digital copy to one user at a time. So if, I guess, you know, I agree with you. If the only issue is, is this okay? Yes. But to do more than one copy at the time, no. Even though I think Brewster did it with every intent of being you know, humanitarian I wouldn't have so much trouble if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of ache. It seems to be the people are concerned. The EF F for instance as has has filed a motion for summary judgment saying this, this should be put to bed. They did that last year.

 They don't, they think it's threatening both to libraries and to the internet archive. They say libraries have paid publishers billions of dollars. This is the EF F for the books in their print collections, and are investing enormous resources in digitization in order to preserve those texts. CDL helps ensure that the public can make full use of the books that libraries have bought and paid for. This activity is fundamentally the same as traditional library lending and poses no new harm to authors or the publisher. Libraries have never been required to get permission or pay extra fees to lend books. As a practical matter. The available data shows that the CDL has not and will not harm publishers' bottom lines. But I see your point. Well, I mean, if it's a brand new book

Steven Levy (01:01:35):
Yeah. I, I, yeah. Yeah. I I think that this is something that, you know I wish we had a, a great congress that a, you know, a wise Congress that could come, you know, can figure out what to do with this new twist that technology has offered. Yeah. Because it is, it's a, it is a genuine issue. I, I, I want libraries to thrive. I want people to be able to go to libraries and read my book, you know, and, you know and any book they wanna read. But I wanna make sure that there's an incentive, you know, for authors to keep writing books. So and it is something that requires like a, a wise solution because a digital copy of the book is not the same Right. As a physical copy. So maybe we do need some sort of tweak rather than just say, aha, you know, you know, this is the way it worked previously. It works the same way digitally, when in fact it doesn't.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:02:34):
Yeah. I'm almost even here. I mean, if anyone, if you like folks have any understanding of how much work goes into writing a book, you know, they, I think they would understand why the publishers are protesting here. So you can't just take books and make them available to, you know, so many people and then potentially risk a book sales. Because like he saying, like, man, if, if you're not gonna have books that sell, then you're not gonna have PS that pay authors. If you don't have publishers that pay authors, you're not gonna have books. I mean, it's as simple as that. And I understand like the internet has made information free, and there's a lot of good to that. But I also think that through that we have like tended to lose sight of, you know, the creator of the, the rights of the creator of the content.

I mean, the fact that this is the fact that I would say the internet archive has risked libraries ability to lend books because of doing what they've done. And an easy way to not to do it is Ted not have done it in the first place, not mess with the system that has been based on goodwill. And the fact that we're here today, to put this on publishers, to me, is kind of a kind of absurd, you know, they're the ones that are producing the books in the first place, you know, how about their rights?

Steven Levy (01:03:49):
I think one sad, sad thing coming out of this is that it is charged that pit authors against libraries, which is terrible because authors really love libraries generally. People who write books spent their youth in libraries, and, you know and it is, you know a a fantastic collaboration between libraries and people, which creates authors. And you know, li you know, we've all been to libraries and, you know, made appearances there and, you know about our books and you know, we, we adore these institutions. You know, I live in New York City, and, you know, I'm furious, the mayor for saying it's gonna cut the budget of libraries. It's terrible.

Leo Laporte (01:04:40):
To be completely fair to the publishers. I'm reading from inside higher in their lawsuit against the internet archive, which could extract millions of dollars from the nonprofit. The publishers claim that the internet archive quote, badly misleads the public and boldly misappropriate the goodwill that libraries enjoy and have legitimately earned. They're not against libraries. In other words the publishers say the archive's efforts to brand itself as a library is part of a scheme to fraudulently mislead People circumvent copyright law and limit how much profit can extract from the e-book market. They describe the internet archive as a pirate site and its business model as parasitic and illegal and characterized controlled digital lending as an invented paradigm that is well outside copyright law. I think that we'll see what the justices say tomorrow.

Steven Levy (01:05:37):
I, I hope, I think that Bruce, you know, I think Brewster's a good guy. I think that he's, you know, he's, he is off base on, you know some of this stuff. But he's, you know, but I, but I, but, but I, I think, I mean, I don't, I don't really like him described as an evil person. No, because

Leo Laporte (01:05:55):

Steven Levy (01:05:55):
Not evil. You. No, I think he, I think he, he is, he is well-intentioned and he's done an amazing thing. The ar the internet archive as an archive has been fantastic. You can go and, and get things which are in public domain, you know, amazing music collections and other things. So I think it would also be tragic if, you know, this fight led to somehow, you know really harming the mission. That's

Leo Laporte (01:06:25):
My fear. Yeah.

Steven Levy (01:06:26):
Of the archive. So,

Leo Laporte (01:06:28):
I, I, I Brewster too. I, when internet archive began, you know, Brewster was a founder of ways. He sold ways to a o l made some money.

Steven Levy (01:06:37):
Alexa. Alexa, not ways.

Leo Laporte (01:06:39):
Oh, I thought he was ways. He was Alexa. Okay. Yeah. Sold it to a o l, made some money, took the money, and did this thing that was pure public benefit. And I asked him early on, I said, aren't you worried? Cuz they were basically downloading the, as much of the internet as they could, they have petabytes of internet. See, the way back machine is a way to see sites that are long gone. He wanted to preserve this history for all. And he's extended that now to many other forms of media. Many of my old TVs and radio shows are there. And I asked him, aren't you worried about copyright? He said, we'll worry about that when the time comes. <Laugh>. he knew that it was in theory, a violation of copyright. I think he's always wanted to be a library, which is protected in some degree as a fair use thing. Maybe the CDL thing when he, when he changed the rules, was a mistake. You would agree, though, if he'd only said one copy at a time, we got a copy from a library, we're gonna lend out one copy at a time for two weeks. If he'd maintained those rules, this would be okay.

Steven Levy (01:07:41):
I, I, I think there's still issues about you know, because libraries have to read of terms when they license books. They don't buy e-books. They license them. Well,

Leo Laporte (01:07:56):
And I think one of the issues is not, not merely that they're buying that's some

Steven Levy (01:07:58):
More complicated issue.

Leo Laporte (01:08:00):
Yeah. They're buying a physical book and then digitizing it, making an e-book,

Steven Levy (01:08:04):
Which is, well, that's, that's the internet archives thing. And, you know, can it be fair to Brewster if an author wants to opt out, you can do that. You can say, keep me out of this. But, you know, most authors don't know about that. Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, so he, you're in by the default,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:08:22):
I'm sure Brewster's a good guy. And look, the road, the Road to Hell's Paved with good intentions. And I know it's cliche, but it does certainly apply here. And the fact that you have so many books being able to lend out emergency or not, like we can all agree whether one, you know, whether it's okay or not, that one book is lent out as a debate, but the fact that so many were being lent out, you know, without agreements, like, that's why we're here today. That's why this is a discussion.

Leo Laporte (01:08:47):
I'm gonna have to get Brewster and some people from the internet archive on to talk about this. Meanwhile, tomorrow you can listen to the oral arguments and if you go to and look at their blog,, you'll see that during the proceedings, they're gonna host a live blog hosted by Library Futures with library and copyright experts, Michelle Wu, Kyle Courtney, and Dave Hansen. And then they'll have a live discussion with those three afterwards. So if you are interested in this it would probably be worthwhile listening to these. It's, it's fascinating. You know, we've been paying attention to the Supreme Court this year, cuz they have a lot of cases in front of them that will have impact the internet and technology dramatically, including Gonzalez versus Google. This is another one, so worth listening to. And yeah, I don't know where I come down on this. I really don't. I, the internet archive deserves maybe a little extra protection, even if they did something bad. Because I think it's so important, and I don't think anybody else is doing what Brewster is doing, and I don't, and I think that a lot of our history is lost or would be lost if the internet archive didn't exist. So I, well,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:10:02):
If it's collateral damage here, like no matter the file, if it's collateral damage here, that would be real tragedy. And Yeah. You know, I know I'm, I use it in my work all the time. I'm sure Steve uses it all the time as well. Regular internet users love going back and seeing how websites have changed and websites that aren't there anymore, looking at broken links. This is definitely like by no stretch of the imagination. This is a very important website, a very important service. And again, sort of then makes you wonder why it would risk so much to do something that was so unnecessary.

Leo Laporte (01:10:32):
Well, that's Brewster in a nutshell. <Laugh>, I don't think it would exist if Brewster didn't have taste for risk, or at least a willingness to accept risk. Here is the American Library's Collection, which has 3.6 million volumes in it. I don't know if this is part of the dispute, but I should, I should,

Steven Levy (01:10:53):
You know, there, well, any book in the public domain there's no issue. Right, right. You at all. We have a big problem, what are known as Orphan Works, which are right. Works that are still in copyright. But you know, because our copyright is so long too long, a lot of people think you know it's under copyright that the author is unreachable or dead. The, the book's no longer in print and people have been, are asking Congress for years to come up with some sort of scheme where those books could, could become available. And that hasn't happened.

Leo Laporte (01:11:31):
Yeah. did you request that they not carry your books? Steven?

Steven Levy (01:11:37):
Well, Bruce just said to me, Steven, if you wanna, you know, opt out then, and I said, yeah, I'll opt out.

Leo Laporte (01:11:42):
Yeah. Cuz I noticed they don't have any of yours. Yeah. So I didn't even know what Opt Out was a possible Well, that's the problem. This show. Yeah. That's the problem. And there have been, you know I think Larry Lessig proposed a solution to the Orphan Works, which is just say, you wanna renew the copyright, give me a buck. And you know, most Right. Most Orphan works would then be, you know, released into the public domain as a result, because most authors aren't around to give him a buck.

Steven Levy (01:12:07):
Yeah. Originally copyright required a a renewal. Right. But you know, the big forces, and, you know, that argued for, you know, you know, the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, whatever it was called got rid of that. I mean, you know, so you know, it, it's a, as an author, I feel, you know you know, a book that I write should not be, you know, any kind of annuity for grandchildren. Right. right.

Leo Laporte (01:12:36):
You know, but at some, but you wanna get the <laugh>. It's a, it is a lot of work. I, I will vouch for that. That's why I stopped writing them. This is, so this is Stephen King's this is The Shining. It is a copy scanned from the Denver Public Library. It even says no longer property of the De Denver Public Library, and it's clearly a scanned paperback. I would submit this is a crappy experience if you know, so I have to use my account to get the rest of this. But honestly it'd be worth it to me to pay five bucks to buy The Shining, then to read this on a screen in a scanned form. So I don't, I doubt that Stephen King lost much money based on this. But it, but what is important is it saved for scholars and historians for years and years and years, generations. Right. Because it is scanned, it is saved. So when there are no paper books extent, it will survive. At least that's the theory. I don't know. I have mixed feelings about this. I'll be very interested to see. I suspect this is gonna be a interesting argument for tomorrow in front of the Supreme Court. Let's talk about TikTok <laugh>.

 This has been good because I I have given both of you a chance to say how you feel about two different issues, both of which I disagree with you on, but you've persuaded me in both cases that AI is not a parler trick, and that maybe Brewster did go a little too far with the, the library. Let's see how you feel about TikTok. We are kind of on the edge of the extinction of TikTok in the United States. According to TikTok president Biden has ordered the FTC to Force Talk's Sale and failing that to a US company and failing that to ban it in the us. This is, of course, is because TikTok is owned by Bite Dance, which is a Chinese company. And there's concern about influence. The Chinese government might have on bite dance and about privacy.

 And the, and the information gleaned from TikTok I've said for a long time, well, if they really cared about that, they might shut down all the data brokers because the Chinese government can go right to the data brokers and get even more information than they get from TikTok. The propaganda thing is another issue. I mean, that's part of the presumed threat of TikTok is that somehow the Chinese government could influence the videos you see on TikTok to make you be more of a fan of the Chinese Communist Party or something. I'm not sure exactly how that would work. Now TikTok is not going down easy. First of all, there is an issue about of whether the Chinese government would allow the sale. It's thought the Chinese government to say, well, absolutely not. Tiktok, according to Politico, is planning to flood DC with influencers because there are a lot of people, a lot of young people, and I'll include my son who make their living on TikTok.

My son started putting videos on TikTok a couple of years ago of sandwich making under the under the tidal salt underscore Hank, he's gotten to two, two plus million subscribers, makes a good living on advertising sold to that platform. He's been smart enough to, and I asked him, I said, what are you gonna do when they shut down TikTok? He said, well, I've, I've moved a, I have a million people on Instagram. I'm on YouTube, and I've got a cookbook and a TV show in the works. So he's, he's uses a launchpad. But that doesn't mean that some kid today starting out on TikTok is gonna be able to do that. Should TikTok be shut down? A question for our panel. I'll start with you, Alex Kreitz.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:16:22):
Oh, that's a tough one. I mean, I would not shut it down right now. I'd like to see a foul from TikTok before we shut it down on speculation. I can definitely see the motivation to do it, right? Like, why can us companies not operate in China? Well, companies from China can operate here. It is a bit of a, you know, a disconnect here. And, you know, there are, the fears are real, right? Like, and I think it's not that like we're gonna get Chinese Communist Party propaganda, but that maybe the someone in the Chinese Communist Party could want to create some cultural phenomenon in the US and be able to do it within TikTok, because TikTok is a culture setter. So I think that's a, a real fear. But again, I'd like to, I'd like to see a foul. And the reason why I'd like to see a foul before we start to see action for the reason that you bring up, which is that there are lots of people who have invested a lot of money into TikTok, and there's a real economy that exists on that, on that platform, your son included.

And, you know, I think that if we shut it down, we could cause harm in that, in that area, and really harm small business owners. I know myself, like for the podcast, I invested a good deal in TikTok. And of course I've tried to move to YouTube and, and other platforms, and my main platform is audio. But we're on TikTok, and I don't like the idea that that money is now gone. So I think it would be premature to do it. But I do understand the rationale why, and I also think that very well, not very quickly, but sure enough, most Americans would forget about TikTok and move to YouTube or Instagram like you were talking about, or any other app, because all the social media apps now resemble TikTok in a ban would, you know, inevitably just push everybody elsewhere. And, you know, we wouldn't actually like, lose real innovation because that innovation now exists elsewhere on social media. So very, very tricky conversation. Again, I I do think it'd be premature right now, but I understand the inclination, and I'm very curious to see how this plays out. Should

Leo Laporte (01:18:24):
They shut down TikTok? Steven?

Steven Levy (01:18:27):
I'm not sure. I think Al Alex pointed out something, you know that I've been thinking for a while. You know, and I, I really saw this in action when I wrote about Google and its experiment in China that an American company operates in China. They cannot own their own subsidiary. It has to be more than 50% owned by a, a Chinese partner. And I think it'll be interesting if we said that in countries that have that re you know, restriction, they can't own, you know, have operate their subsidiaries in America without an American partner owning more than a half of it. That might be an incentive for them to, you know, release that unfair reg regulation in terms of privacy and the other worries. I would like us to get some actual privacy legislation that would not only affect TikTok, but all the other social media companies. And maybe that would address some of the fears that we have about TikTok. If we were able to, you know, we got protections of what people do with data and if they violated those protections and, you know used it to, you know, identify dissidents of the Chinese government and go after them or whatever they would be subject to penalties under American laws that affect all companies.

Leo Laporte (01:19:53):
What neighborhood in New York do you live in <laugh>,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:19:56):
Steve. It sounds like there's a, a serious catastrophe going on inside your house tonight.

Leo Laporte (01:20:01):
<Laugh>. Is it all on?

Steven Levy (01:20:04):
I'm giving, I'm giving you the flavor, the flavor of an urban.

Leo Laporte (01:20:09):
I, I taste hot dogs in the chestnuts, roasting and, and the and the, and the blood in the streets. Wow. <laugh> is it, but I mean, is it always like this? You're just used to it. You can't

Steven Levy (01:20:21):
Even, yeah. Well, there's a fire station down the street. Oh,

Leo Laporte (01:20:24):
There you go. Okay. That explains, by

Alex Kantrowitz (01:20:26):
The way, isn't it worth bringing up what TikTok says is the share of ownership of TikTok? Oh, what by 10 says is the, the share of ownership 60?

Leo Laporte (01:20:33):
Well, this is an issue. Yeah. There's a lot of non-Chinese own players. Yeah.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:20:36):
Right. 60% owned by global investors, 20% by employees, 20% by its founders. So this whole, like, you must divest, like how exactly does that happen?

Leo Laporte (01:20:47):
Chief Executive Joe Joe g Chu will be testifying on Capitol Hill on Thursday, so that will be interesting. I can't imagine there's anything he could say at this point that would you know, mollify Congress Chu says that divesting TikTok from its Chinese owners wouldn't offer any more protection than what TOS already proposed. They have Project Texas to move all of their data to Oracle. That's great. That makes me feel a whole lot better. All of the us customers data they want to give the US government oversight on their algorithms that would solve that issue. Right. CFIs, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US is really the, the group that could ban TikTok. And they've done this with others. I mean, Huawei is banned in networking equipment. There are quite a few Chinese companies that American chip makers cannot deal with. So there's certainly a precedent

Steven Levy (01:21:47):
For this. Well, the company, you know, the, the big impetus is being funded by their competitors. So well,

Leo Laporte (01:21:54):
There you go. You just said the the Unsayable this is something Facebook would love

Steven Levy (01:22:02):
You just

Leo Laporte (01:22:02):
Exactly. So, you know, I mean, you said Alex, that Oh, well, no problem. There's plenty of alternatives. <Laugh>. Yeah. This would be great for Facebook. Do you think they're funding this? I

Steven Levy (01:22:11):
Mean, absolutely. I mean, you know, can, you know they've, you know, talked about it. Zuckerberg has, you know, been vocal about saying this, and that's an argument they make to, they're lobbyists, they're Washington people are, are making, you know, they're, they're, they're the ones saying, you know, how can you have this Chinese company involved in people's lives like this? And they, and they're making their competitive goals part of a national security argument. Oh,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:22:42):
That's true. But it's gonna be tough if they end up banning TikTok. Right. Because Facebook and Google's, their number one argument for why they shouldn't be regulated and why the government should be looking elsewhere is like, well, look, if we're out, then it's gonna be Chinese apps. Yeah. So then if the Chinese apps are gone, then the spotlight is on them. And if in fact, tic-Tac might be, you know, convenient foil, and you know, I, I think that one of the things that we need to talk about here is that like, this is happening in the middle of these CFIs discussions. It's a negotiation. So when you hear the term like, oh, they might get banned, or they have to divest, like, I do think that could potentially be some posturing from the US government to get them to give in more and more. And spending 1.5 billion on data security is like quite a big concession. If you ask me in some of the regulations that you were talking about, Leo, seem common sense. And, you know, it is interesting because then I think about the number, right? 1.5 billion need to be spent to shore this company up. And if anything needs to have a billion and a half dollars spent to make sure that it's secure, then maybe it should, okay. Maybe there are bigger questions here that we need to be asking, because that's a whole heck of a lot of money, of money to spend to ensure something is safe. It's

Leo Laporte (01:23:50):
Interesting, there's no accident that Facebook and Twitter and, and YouTube have all tried to clone TikTok and then for them to lobby against the closing of TikTok. It's not a coincidence, is it? We got an alternative come over here, but I do remember, Steven, you're right. Microsoft investing 150 million in Apple in the nineties, just because if Apple went bankrupt Microsoft would really be a monopoly. And so, yeah.

Steven Levy (01:24:19):

Leo Laporte (01:24:19):
Know, I mean, there's a history, there's a precedent.

Steven Levy (01:24:22):
Yeah. TikTok is definitely you know, the best argument that Meta has about dominating the social media space. Yeah. So they can, you know say, and, you know, and it's provable that, wait a minute here, this is the most popular social network now. More popular than, certainly more popular in Instagram. I don't, I don't know, just whether the metrics prove it more popular than Facebook itself.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:24:49):
Yeah. People spend more time daily on TikTok than they ever have spent on Facebook. Now, of course, it's a little bit different. It's a video app versus a utility, but time spent is the holy grail and social networking and the fact that they're spending more time per day on TikTok. I mean, that says a

Leo Laporte (01:25:03):
Lot. Yeah. Well, they're eating their lunch, they eating YouTube's lunch, eating everybody's lunch. And it's, so it's very convenient that they're run by the Chinese. So we can, we can, you know, invoke a little xenophobia and, and get rid of the biggest competition. Now you said, let's wait until they do something wrong. There is something that TikTok did that wasn't so good.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:25:23):
Okay, let's talk about this

Leo Laporte (01:25:24):
One. Yeah. They chased, they chased us journalists. They were trying to figure out who was leaking TikTok information to US journalists. So in order to, you know, find out they looked at the location information on their servers of some US journalists. Isn't that exactly the kind of thing people are afraid of?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:25:46):
I don't wanna minimize what happened to the journalists who were involved here, but I, I do think that it is different. And this seems to me like this was the PR operation, trying to figure out who was leaking inside the company. That is a very, very different thing. I mean, you know, it's happened elsewhere, right. And I think that's a very, very different thing than, you know, let's say the Chinese Communist Party trying to find the location information of like, you know, potential like US spies or something else like that. Something that will really, you know, harm national security means sucks that happened in the Forbes or Forbes or Buzzfeed journalists, wherever they were at the time. I'm obviously not in favor. I think it's a disaster, but I don't think you ban a company from a country because of that situation,

Leo Laporte (01:26:27):
And they fired the employees involved and so forth. Exactly. So it's not like they put, this is not hard to prevent that they, they acknowledge that was a mistake. It was a bad thing to do. Yeah.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:26:35):
Yeah. It's not the worst case scenario. It's a bad scenario, but it's not that like red alarm, like, oh my God, they're listening to us in the White House situation that you would get concerned about and we shouldn't conflate it.

Leo Laporte (01:26:45):
Right. alright, well this is another one that there's a, there's a sort of damocles hanging over's head right now, and that that thread is getting thinner and thinner.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:26:58):
Do you think they're gonna be band Leo? Let's turn the tables on you,

Leo Laporte (01:27:03):
<Laugh>. Well, I don't, I think for sure the Chinese government won't allow them, and I don't think logistically it's very easy for them to sell the US division to an American company. And by the way, if you're worried about privacy, which American company would that be? That'd make you more secure and more private

Alex Kantrowitz (01:27:19):
Facebook hook,

Leo Laporte (01:27:20):
Oracle. Facebook didn't, Microsoft for a while said, man, we were thinking about buying TikTok. I, you know, <laugh>, that doesn't reassure me particularly, but that's, that's, I think it's pretty much safe to say that's not gonna happen. And in fact, I suspect this is why the federal government has said this, because it will then give them, well, we tried but you know, they, they wouldn't do it. So now we're gonna shut them down. I think that's an ominous thing. You said, well, the Chinese shut down Facebook and Twitter in China, but we don't wanna be like that. Do we want a great firewall of the us

Alex Kantrowitz (01:27:58):
It's not quite a great, great firewall. I mean, well, it's

Leo Laporte (01:28:01):
Like the beginning of that's

Alex Kantrowitz (01:28:02):
A firewall on the top of the internet. But, but

Leo Laporte (01:28:04):
I think this would open the door to say, oh, you know, let's make sure no internet traffic goes to China.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:28:09):
Yeah. No, Leo, you're, you're exactly right. There's a reason why we haven't done it to this team, and that's exactly why.

Leo Laporte (01:28:15):
Yeah. And I would not quar, I would not quarrel with any government agency that says, no, you can't have TikTok on your government issued phone. That's fine. That's reasonable. The armed services don't let you have Strava on your phone because it was used to figure out <laugh>, we when to map the Pentagon. I I understand that. That's fine. I think, well, I

Steven Levy (01:28:34):
Think as a boon for taxpayers not to have a government employees spending their time

Leo Laporte (01:28:39):
Get 'em off TikTok, although,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:28:41):
But they're on reels anyway, or shorts,

Leo Laporte (01:28:43):
Whatever, state of Alabama they love YouTube band, TikTok in the state and the state school. The state college banded, even though they had TikTok accounts, their state school paper had a TikTok account. And what ended up happening is the students just said, okay, they turned off the wifi and they used their, their phone internet to, to TikTok. Kids aren't, yeah. Kids are gonna find a way to TikTok. They

Alex Kantrowitz (01:29:06):

Leo Laporte (01:29:06):
Care. They don't care. They don't see a hazard

Alex Kantrowitz (01:29:09):
In the us If you use a V P N to use TikTok, well, okay, you're just using a VPN N to use TikTok. If in China you use a VPN n to use Facebook, you could be in trouble. So, you know, I think that it is very different and it's much more difficult to ban any service in the US because we do have this freedom in this country, which is great, that allows people to do things. Like, I look

Leo Laporte (01:29:30):
Forward to the Supreme Court arguments where they try to understand <laugh> TikTok this,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:29:36):
You imagine trying to go after a student who's VPN their way into TikTok. Like, yeah, it's not, it's just a disaster.

Leo Laporte (01:29:42):
Yeah. Let's take a, a little break. Lots more to talk about with a wonderful panel. We've got Stephen Levy editor at for all of his great books, including his Facebook book. And of course, if you haven't read Hackers, I don't know why I have an autograph copy of Hackers. It has a pride of place on my bookshelf. Cause that is the greatest book about the genesis of the technology revolution ever written. And as an emax user, I've, I've very much appreciated. Steven, do you, what do you use to write your books? Not emax?

Steven Levy (01:30:14):
No, no. I, I I had been using Word but I, I jettison word and picked up s Scribner

Leo Laporte (01:30:23):
Scribner's. Awesome. Good choice. Yeah. And it's because I mean, it's good for articles too, cuz you can keep your notes next to your PS and

Steven Levy (01:30:32):
It's Yeah, yeah. What I, I, I, you know, it it is, it is terrific. You know, so I did use S Scrivener for the last, for, for the Facebook. Nice. and, you know, you can get all your research on there. And even for a column, I do a column every week called Plaintext. The subscribers get in their I subscribe

Leo Laporte (01:30:49):
Yeah. Mailbox.

Steven Levy (01:30:50):
Yeah. And, you know just, just even for that, you know, like if I do an interview, I'll just drag it in and the research part or and you know, it, it's, it's a very versatile program.

Leo Laporte (01:31:03):
Literature and Scrivener, what do you use to write Alex?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:31:10):
Google Docs. I'm a Google Docs person. Ah, wow. Google Docs and Apple Notes. I'm Balo Tech as they come.

Leo Laporte (01:31:15):
So Apple Notes. So you can like, just write stuff in your, in your Apple Notes.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:31:20):
Oh. So I use Apple Notes for organization and timestamping my interviews. And then I'll like have that alongside Google Docs. So I'll like ti between them, you know, and then also outlining in Apple. And then yeah, move it into Google Docs and then eventually into

Leo Laporte (01:31:36):
Ck. Nice literature and latte seems to be down right now. <Laugh>, I think we broke it. <Laugh>, let's not break Apple Notes. <Laugh>

Alex Kantrowitz (01:31:44):
Community is

Leo Laporte (01:31:44):
Strong. <Laugh> our show today brought to you by, Hey, good news, mint Mobile. Maybe you saw Ryan Reynolds video with the CEO of T-Mobile. T-Mobile's announced it's buying Mint Mobile. But good news, they've announced they're gonna keep the thing that makes Mint Mobile so special. If saving more and spending less is the top of your list for 2023. I gotta ask you, ta, have you looked at your cell bill lately? 75, 85, 90, a hundred dollars or more? That's crazy when you could switch to Mint Mobile and, and get premium wireless service online only. That's the, that's their secret sauce For $15 a month, cut your cell bill by, you know, a quarter, a third, a half Mint mobile, let you order from home. They'll send you a Simmons no charge. They'll even sell you phones. For anyone looking for extra savings this year, MIT Mobile is the place to go.

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Does it work for you? Yes, it does. So wait a minute, now I'm getting 15 gigabytes for my 25 bucks a month. That's nice. They do have an unlimited plan for 30 bucks a month. Mint Please use that address so they know you saw it here. There it is. Literature and Latte finally came up. S Scribner Typewriter Ring Binder scrapbook. Andy and ACO uses so many of our our writers at the network use it. It's a really great little tool. I'm very pleased to hear you use that. That's nice. Do you use you when you're using Google Docs, do you use Rich Text or do you just use Plain Text, Alex or Markup? There's indifference. I don't know, maybe you use Markup because so you've gotta import it in a sub stack. Don't they have a cms, right? Don't they have an interface? They do. Yeah. This is pretty good past it into that, but okay. Just, yeah.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:35:19):
Copy paste. Got it. I'm, yeah, I'm about, when it comes to Tech Tools, I'm about as basic as they come. <Laugh> proudly. So

Leo Laporte (01:35:27):
The no,

Steven Levy (01:35:28):
When I, when I, when I was at Medium, I, I just love that

Leo Laporte (01:35:32):
Interface. They were famous for, actually, that was their selling point,

Steven Levy (01:35:35):
I would say to VE Williams. I, I even like a year ago, I ran into him at, at Ted and I, and I said, you know, have your business plan is right in front of you. You know, just put a couple engineers on that and beef up that as a, to do basic word processing stuff with one Click Publishing to Medium. And, you know, it would be incredibly popular. There's nothing like it to come up with a beautiful document. So simply as what they came up with at, at a medium

Leo Laporte (01:36:05):
You know, I think he's aware of that. Cause I remember when mediums started, that was one of the things they said, you know, these CMSs that people are forced to use at other publications are so crappy. We wanted to make a good one. And so, yeah, but

Steven Levy (01:36:17):
It's only for publishing a medium. They, they should make it, it could have made it so people can do their docs on it. I I, I would produce, you know, you know docs on that. I wasn't publishing, but I would, you know, send to people, you know, just in draft form and send 'em the link.

Leo Laporte (01:36:34):
Well, I've never used it, but actually maybe I have. Cuz you can just write an article on Medium, right? You don't have to go through any hoops. I feel like I might have used it. Jeff Jarvis loves it. I know a lot of people who use it and love it. Are you ready for the the eSports Olympics? The International Olympic Committee has announced <laugh>, the official eSports and they're a little weird. This is Ali Welsh writing for polygon the Olympic eSport series 2023. They don't quite yet have eSports in the Olympics, but you know, often they do this as they're starting to move stuff into the Olympics. There will be a qualification this month. Live finals in Singapore in June opened to Amateur and Professionals. But unlike other eSports, you know, most eSports are mobs like League of Legends, Dota two, maybe Fortnite the International Olympic Committee is issuing the eSports.

Ali says people actually watch for simulate non-violent simulations of real world sports games and activities. Just dance is one of them. <Laugh> Grand Temo is the driving one. They have an indoor cycling trainer called Swif, Z W I F T. They have a sailing simulator called Virtual Regatta. Virtual TaeKwonDo, a mobile game called Tennis Clash Kunas, W B S C E, baseball Colon Power Pros. And of course, you can't have the Olympics without archery. They've added another mobile game called Tic-Tac Bow to the eSports and the I O C <laugh>. I just can't wait until that's part of the Olympics.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:38:23):
Yeah. I have a funny story about something like this. So, San Francisco hosted the Super Bowl a couple years ago, and as the host committee was getting ready to rumble they hosted a day for potential sponsors. I think something and Levi Stadium we're the 49ers play. And I was moderating one of those panels. And we had like some media people, we had a video game C A C O O from EA Sports. And we had a former 49 er player who was young, just recently retired and was then in media. And we had Lynn Swan, who's a Hall of Fame, the legends receiver for the Steelers. Yeah. Who was like the mc for the day. So we get talking about eSports and I was just curious what the 49 er thought. The guy who had recently retired, I said, Hey, do you think that eSports athletes, each eSports players are athletes?

And he said, yeah, they're definitely athletes in my book. It takes, you know, coordination and competition and you have to be the best. And the guy from EA sports he was like, oh yeah, definitely we believe that they're athletes. And then Lin Swan was in the audience just sitting there. I was like, Mr. Swan, I'm curious what you think. And he gives me a look and he walks out of the room and I was just like, oh no, I've just like upset a Hall of fame, you know, football player, someone who I've like looked up to as you know, a great athlete who's responsible for some of the most memorable plays in NFL history. And a few minutes later, Swan comes back onto the stage. You know, he wasn't even sitting on the stage. He was in the audience. He comes onto the stage with the chair, he sets it down <laugh>, and he looks at me and takes the mic and just goes, they're not athletes. <Laugh>, that was it.

Leo Laporte (01:40:00):
<Laugh>. He was angry.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:40:03):
He was mad. Mad

Leo Laporte (01:40:04):
As heck.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:40:05):
I'm Exactly, that's a terrible, it was just a moment I'll never forget because he'd saw, he'd seen that this was a debate that was gonna get going. And I think it was, he was right. School athlete like him knew he was gonna lose. He was. Right. because this is obviously something that, you know, more and more we're starting to see these eSports players as athletes. Now I'm still on Team Swan, but you know, I I also think, you know, I'm on the losing side of history here.

Leo Laporte (01:40:28):
Chess was also one of the sports that they're gonna look at. Chess.Com will be the host for the eSports games. And there's always, you know, I've played chess since high school. There's always been a debate. Well, our, you know, chess players aren't athletes, but you know, you have to be, to be a top grand master, you've gotta be pretty darn fit. All those super grand masters work out constantly. I mean it's, I mean, maybe they're not exactly moving when they're playing game, but in order to think full concentration for four and a half hours, you try it, it ain't easy. They,

Steven Levy (01:40:59):
Well the thing, one thing that chess has that a lot of Olympic sports don't have is that there's a winner and a loser. That's true.

Leo Laporte (01:41:07):
Right. And it's head

Steven Levy (01:41:08):
Dead. I, I personally, I personally don't think anything is a sport that's like, depends on a bunch of grades, right? That, that people hold up signs and, you know, cause it turns out it's always subject to, it's too subjective. You know, corrupt corruption, you know, the, you know, you could, like, it's like the Supreme Court. You could pick how people are gonna vote before the performer even gets to it. Right? It's like full flat on their faces. You know, it, it's up for grabs. So I feel that you know, the rest of it's exhibitions, right. And you know, and you could say, well, it's like dancing, but dancing is actually kind of an Olympic sport now. Yes. So yeah. So basically to me, let's have winners and losers, you know, and that that's what ath athletics are all about.

Leo Laporte (01:41:51):
Is this guy an athlete? That's the question we gotta ask. <Laugh> sad. According to Lynn Swan <laugh>, that's Lynn Swan's image of an eSports athlete. Exactly. all right, let's talk with the guy who wrote the book Facebook, the Inside Story. Meta has been going through some big changes since you were embedded for three years. You got interviews with Zuckerberg, with Sheryl Sandberg. Cheryl's gone. Now, first of all, I, you know, we haven't talked since the book came out. What is Cheryl's departure from Facebook? Mean? You spent a lot of time talking about talking to Sandberg. She Right. She was kind of adult supervision is the sense I got.

Steven Levy (01:42:31):
Well, you know, and that, that was in 2008. So you know, mark and in the meantime became an adult. Yeah. And I think that also after Cambridge Analytica and where Cheryl you know it was on Cheryl's watch, that was her part of the company where the stuff happened post, post-election. She was not as big a force in the company as she was earlier. And I feel it wasn't a surprise when she left. She's a brilliant executive in a lot of ways. And, you know, it wasn't a surprise that at a certain point she decided, let me, let me move on with my life. I don't need this. I always believe, yeah, I always believe that, you know, when she took that job, she said, I'm gonna spend five years here and a, a series of events, you know, largely out of her control.

 Kept extending that time that she spent there. First she thought the perfect time to go out would be the company does a successful I p o. I've accomplished this. I could leave the I p o actually was a disaster. People don't remember this. And you know, by the time then it got, you know, recovered and it got back together. They figured out how to do mobile ads. Something tragic happened. Her husband died. She wasn't in a shape to go off for a, a new chapter. And when she was like back with, you know all her passion, then the bad stuff happens post-election Cambridge Analytica. And she didn't wanna leave in the middle of that storm. So I think she had to wait to get past all of those things to be able to leave and say, well, you know, it was time. I, I had my time here. I had my impact. She admits it was bittersweet because of the, you know, troubles that the company had. But she's off to do something else

Leo Laporte (01:44:35):
Mission accomplished. And yet, and maybe it's purely coincidence since Sandberg's departure, Facebook seems to be wandering a little bit. They renamed themselves meta, they refocused from being a social network to the Metaverse. 

Steven Levy (01:44:53):
Well that was, that was sort of an escape patch for her too. When, you know, when when, when Mark said, okay, this is a different company. Now we're based on the metaverse and virtual reality, that's our future. That's not Cheryl's wheelhouse. So she could, you know, quite legitimately say, I'm not, this is a journey that I'm not on board for. So I I'm going to go off something else. We haven't seen what that something else is. You know well, she

Leo Laporte (01:45:17):
Just got married, remarried, she, you know, she's got a family and, and if I were her, I wouldn't mind spending a little time with that, all that money.

Steven Levy (01:45:26):
Right. Well, don't we think that true? But she's a pretty ambitious person,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:45:30):
Right? Don't we think that Cheryl is responsible in some ways for the position that Meta finds it in itself in today, which is that it's floundering. And I'll, I'll just say that like she is part of what I've talked about as like the over financialization of tech where tech companies are trying to get every, you know, little scent out of their business and start to forget, you know, what they were there to do, which was to solve problems and improve people's lives. And the fact that Apple's anti anti ad tracking transparency project where people are able to block tracking on their pages has worked so well has been a product of, you know, the fact that people were creeped out what, by what her ad division was doing, that they had to track every last little thing as opposed to sell more broader ad categories. And so like now you have meta in a position where, you know, so many people have opted out that their tracking has effectively broken and that's why they're handicapped against competitors.

Leo Laporte (01:46:23):
They blame Apple for this and Apple's at

Alex Kantrowitz (01:46:25):
T, right? But it's also like Apple did. Of course it's Apple's, apple facilitated it. But what inspired, so, well, first of all, what inspired Apple's program to be so successful and what inspired so many users to tell them to tell Apple, don't track me when you're on Facebook. Yeah. And to do that. And then of course, like you're, you sort of set the conditions for where like, this thing would work.

Leo Laporte (01:46:48):
I wonder what Facebook's future holds, because they've spent, they're spending huge amounts of money, 10 billion or more a year to create this metaverse. They seem to be turning their backs on the social network, but so do people, so do users. And it's not just a privacy issue. I think to some degree you've written about this Alex, the, it's the end of social in, in, to some degree entirely that people are turning to content sites. That was why TikTok, which isn't really social. It's really about content and YouTube and even now Twitter are becoming, you know, places you go to look at stuff, not to post stuff. Right?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:47:33):
That's right. Yeah. I have an episode of big technology podcast with Kevin Systrom, the founder of Instagram coming up about this, where we talk about the homogenization of social media, how TikTok looks like YouTube. And YouTube looks like Instagram and Instagram looks like Facebook. And Facebook looks like Twitter. And all of these sites are starting to look exactly the same. And that initial social media dream where like you would get content from your friends, the stuff that they recommend that's fallen by the wayside. So, you know, that's gonna, this is obviously the main challenge that Facebook is gonna have to navigate. It's gonna be the product question. And, you know, they have billions of users, so there's a good chance that they could hold their own against TikTok, or maybe TikTok gets banned like we spoke about, and that could be the solution. But, but yeah, they, they sort of moved away from their main product, which is social, which, you know. Okay. I definitely in favor of big tech companies saying that our flagship product is not gonna get us there tomorrow the way that it did today. But maybe the pivot was, you know, more TikTok related stuff and less social related stuff. Maybe the pivot was not Metaverse. Right. Like, I keep thinking that, you know, we're just weeks away from meta changing its name from Meta to like AI and

Leo Laporte (01:48:44):
Yeah, that's what I'm wondering. I mean, did Meta make a bad bet? Did they bid on the wrong horse?

Alex Kantrowitz (01:48:49):
It depends on the timeframe. I think over time they're gonna be proven right on the Metaverse. Oh, interesting. But in the short term, they won't. And you know, how many years, you know, if, if the Metaverse is 30 years away versus 10, which I think is probably more like 30 years away versus like two or three or five, or even 10, then you're gonna look really silly. Just, you know, your, your flagship business is not gonna be able to support that type of thing for that long of a time span.

Steven Levy (01:49:15):
Yeah. I think and interesting, I think meta is, you know vying to be the general magic of the Metaverse <laugh>.

Leo Laporte (01:49:24):
That's both good and bad. That depends which era of general magic you're talking about <laugh>.

Steven Levy (01:49:29):
Well, well, the, the era of General Magic, I mean, it, it didn't succeed cause it, it had everything right. But it was too soon. Right. and they're going to developing the tools of the Metaverse way before it, it could be delivered, you know, in, in a package where the masses could are gonna be able to use it. And you know, Alex's point about, you know there was a time about a year ago, everyone was saying Metaverse Metaverse Metaverse, and now it's ai, ai, ai. And I think AI is more real than the metaverse. And that's difficult.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:50:05):
And maybe AI helps the Metaverse, right? Because AI could create like the intelligent non-player characters that all of a sudden makes you wanna wander around some virtual worlds.

Steven Levy (01:50:14):
But, but Zuckerberg says endlessly that the Metaverse is gonna be a social experience. To me, I felt that meta Facebook just left a lot of chips on the table about improving the social experience. You know, can you look at what they've done? They've done almost nothing to really improve the experience that they first introduced and got billions of people to sign on to. So I feel that the creative energy of the company moved away from that vision of building the social graph and, you know, enhancing people's experience with, you know, other people that they knew. There's a lot of really simple things that they're still begging to be done on that service. You ever try to find someone you knew on Facebook? Yeah. Right? And you can't do it because, you know, you know, like a hundred people have that same name and it's just, it's just not easy to do. And, but there's a

Alex Kantrowitz (01:51:18):
Reason, there's a reason though, they moved away from social. It's just because if you're eventually gonna be content companies, right? Which these feeds, they became content companies. You, the people you know are ordinary folks are just not gonna be the ones that are gonna be there to entertain you. It's gonna be the AI generated folks, and it's gonna be professional creators.

Steven Levy (01:51:36):
Yeah. But why be, why be an entertainment company? You know, that's, well,

Alex Kantrowitz (01:51:40):
The question is whether there was a choice or not, if you were gonna be as big as you were because the value came from the time spent on the newsfeed, and if you're just a utility to like a phone book utility, then you're worth way less. So from a business standpoint, maybe it's just like, not a prudent decision, but I could be wrong.

Steven Levy (01:51:55):
Well, if you're worth billions of dollars, you know, your job is to come up with something that you or I can't figure out to make that social experience valuable.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:52:03):
<Laugh>. But I think you're just, I think it's an overrating of, of people's ability to be interesting or desire to be interesting to others.

Steven Levy (01:52:09):
No, if, if you know people, you, you're spending the time with them. I, I don't spend my time with Bruce Springsteen, you know, I can't, you know, I, I could I watch his videos on YouTube, but but enjoy. Good.

Leo Laporte (01:52:23):
Yeah, but you're not, but you can't, but anyway, you can't, no,

Steven Levy (01:52:27):
He's, he's not gonna be as nice to me as my friends are. You can

Leo Laporte (01:52:30):
Watch him, you can watch him just like you can listen to an album. But yeah, I think you're right, Steven. So that means there's a gap. There's an opening for somebody to create a social network, since

Steven Levy (01:52:40):
Facebook is there are, there are abandoned, there are a number of places that they're saying, Hey, we're gonna fill spot. You know, Alex is right that, you know, if your appetite is so voracious, you need to become a different kind of company. But the fact is that Meta isn't in a great position to compete with with TikTok and other comp and YouTube and being an entertainment company that's not their dna. A and as it turns out, they haven't even been able to successfully leverage their, you know, huge number of people to be able to wipe out these other companies.

Alex Kantrowitz (01:53:17):
Well, the worst thing you can do is be sort of caught in the middle, which means that you're a subpar entertainment company, right? And a social company where you put updates of, you know, crappy updates from people or people, or you're, so, you're so diminished the social side that people don't wanna post anymore. And I think that's exactly where Meta is. That's,

Leo Laporte (01:53:36):
They're betwixt in between. You're right. They're neither, neither nor they're neither fish nor foul. What an opportunity. I, I feel like the Metaverse is not an opportunity. Apple is reportedly about to launch its VR headset in the next few months. And it's interesting because there was an an article that I think in the journal suggesting that the the designers said, no, it's not ready. You shouldn't release a VR headset, wait till we can do ar, which is years away. And that Tim Cook and the management decided no, we gotta do this now. Let's take a break. When we come back, we can talk about that. We still haven't talked about Silicon Valley Bank, and I don't think that's over. I think you guys agree. So we'll talk about that as well. We've got lots to say.

And two great people to talk about it with Stephen Levy Stevie, editor at large at Wired, one of the the, the great writers of about technology for the last, what, three decades almost. Yeah. Wow. And of course one of the new young bright lights of technology, journalism, big technologies. Alex Kantrowitz, great to have you both. Our show today brought to you by Miro. We've been playing with Miro at twit and love it. We were in a situation, I think a lot of you are in going from tab to tab and your browser tool to tool on on your toolkit, and meanwhile, losing ideas with those context switches and le leaving important information on the table, there's a better way. The problem is, it's very hard for me to explain what it is except to tell you. It's called Miro, m i, Miro.

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The Miro integrations mean it works with everything you're already using. They've got apps for iOS and Android and Windows and Mac. I just think it's fantastic. Miro.Com/Podcast. Give it a try. M i r We're gonna make that easy because your first three boards, 1, 2, 3 boards are free. Your first three boards for free, start working better. Miro, m i r And do take a look at the Miro verse, cuz that's a really great way of, of seeing what you can do. I mean, it just, it's, it's limitless. It's amazing. Miro.Com/Podcast. We thank 'em so much for sponsoring our show. We appreciate that Miro, and we thank you for trying 'em out. And if you do, please use that address, cuz that's how they know you saw it here. Miro.Com/Podcast. I earlier today on Ask the Tech guys, I likened the Silicon Valley Bank debacle to a game of Jenga where the F D I C the Fed have pulled out one little piece of wood, but now the whole tower is kind of swaying and we're waiting to see what happens next. I, both of you have written about it. Stephen, we'll start with your story. The ugly lessons <laugh> of Silicon Valley Bank's collapse. One of the stories that came out, I think today is that there have been intimations that they were taking too much risk for years, that they've even been under investigation for some time now. What have we learn? What have we learned from this? And, and is this gonna be a problem going forward? Credit Suisse now is, is kind of right

Steven Levy (02:00:45):
Shaking, right? Well, we, we learned a few things and none of them, you know, as my headline flex are, are pretty one, one thing that was struck me was how the bank really operated as a sort of a cheerleader for the whole ecosystem of founders and funding. And, you know they threw parties. They had a lot of clients in the wine industry. So, you know they would sort of cross pollinate, you know, those with the tech people and share the great vintage wines with them and <laugh>, and go into their offices. They, you know, some of the executives of the bank would've wine fridges. And, you know and I I mentioned saying is this sort of behavior really what you want from your fiduciaries, right? The, you know, I, when I think of the bank I want to trust, I think of like the, the guy who hired Mary Poppins, right? You know, the A banker? Yeah. A banker, yes. A

Leo Laporte (02:01:44):
Bowler in a furl tightly frilled umbrella.

Steven Levy (02:01:46):
Yeah. Yeah. And he, and he says, says, I know where everything is, and at six 20 I'm gonna come home and then, you know, gonna be greeted. And, you know, and, and that's, that's sort of the boring kind of person you want in charge of your finances. So the other, so these people who, like say they, they embrace risk all the time. As it turns out, they weren't cognizant of this kind of risk. It was un it was avoidable. Any idiot knows what the limit is in what you're insured about. And then when it happens, they sort of do a 180 from their normal point of view of saying, you know, governments stay out of it and saying, Hey, the government should like, now forget about this limit and, you know go from $250,000 to reimbursement to infinity because, you know, otherwise our payrolls can be lost.

Well, this is an industry that's laid off over a hundred thousand people, right? And, you know, the fate of those people is sort of shrugged off. And now all of a sudden, you know, meeting a payroll and having people not paid for a day or two is, you know, going to collapse the economy. So it is by sort of the you know, insularity and, you know, hypocrisy, I guess of the valley and, and, you know, and they're rushed to, you know, really create a bank run from the, this place where they loyally supported for a number of years, you know showed that this, you know, one for all, for one community, you know, really, you know fell apart when the bulls started flying.

Leo Laporte (02:03:28):
Yeah. but you would agree that the Fed and the F D I C did the right thing to backstop all those deposits, or no?

Steven Levy (02:03:37):
Well I'm not, I'm not sure. I think that, you know, maybe there was a way to do that where they could have you know maybe had a much higher limit or, or said, you know at a certain point, you know, you're, that all your deposits aren't guaranteed for this day. But meantime, by then, things had gotten to the point where, you know they were saying, well, the whole economy's at risk of people deposits aren't going to be protected. And the fact is, you talk about hallucinations in G P T four, you know, the whole monetary system's kind of a hallucination that, you know, everyone sort of accepts the fact that if nothing happens, if people don't pull out their money right away, banks are okay. But the fact is that, you know, if things could turn on a dime and we could be facing giant problems in the economy because we all of a sudden we abandoned our shared agreement not to pull out money from the bank.

Leo Laporte (02:04:42):
Right. Alex, your article talks about, and you mentioned this earlier, the over financialization of tech and the SVB backlash. What do you mean? What's, what's that all about?

Alex Kantrowitz (02:04:53):
Well, look, one of the things that I saw that I, that really sort of made my antennas go up was that there was, you know, the public largely supported the bailout, but there was a loud enough and big enough chunk of the public who were willing to let the bank fail, that it was worth examining who they were and why, and what has happened at tech that it began as this underdog industry one that, you know, was there fighting the establishment one that you could root for that was fun that everyone would support basically, unless you were like, the establishment would support, you know, keeping, keeping vibrant and keeping healthy. And why would anyone then say that, okay, well, we should have have these companies fail. They're just, you know, rich bastards anyway,

Leo Laporte (02:05:42):
But that's what's happened. But look at Elon Musk as a perfect example, right? The trans transition from, you know the, the stark Industries genius transforming Yes. By being a rebel, by being one of the crazy ones, the people who think different, changing the world, making the world a better place to just another batshit crazy billionaire,

Alex Kantrowitz (02:06:04):
Right? So, look, I think that it goes beyond Elon, though, and this is with a point that I was making in the story, and we talked about it on the show also, is that tech has been like most much of the economy over financialized, right? Which is that it has in some, not everyone, of course, but some companies have just tried to squeeze every ounce of money onto the balance sheet, no matter, not really paying attention to the cost. One example, which we know is that DoorDash, right, would take tips that would get for dashers and then keep 'em count that towards its minimum payment, <laugh> to the dashers. They would never see the tip. And I have to say that like when you do this type, when you do that stuff, there is a downstream risk. People are gonna see it eventually. And I think you started to see it when you know, everybody, you know, in the, in the US at least knows an Amazon worker knows a Dasher, knows an Uber driver, right?

And when those, when that, when that squeezing happens, there's a political cost to it, which you end up having people who are saying, okay, like, let the bastards fail. And, you know, they're not, they don't care. Like, necessarily, and this was the text, text argument, right? Your money's not gonna go to door dashers. But what they're saying is, well, the whole DoorDash system is corrupt. Now, DoorDash of course, has fixed that right? After some, some press attention get caught. Yeah. But it ex exactly, it exists all over, right? And I think that, you know, for those of us who root for tech, I root for tech to be a strong industry. But what, what, you know, people want from tech is that it provides all this benefit it can provide through computing, through technology in a way that isn't needlessly extractive. And the fact that some coordinates of the industry have become needlessly extractive, has cost so much political will that there was a very vocal group of folks who said, let it fail. And in fact, when it was coming into the White House, right, with discussions of like, when this thing should be bailed out, it took the whole weekend before Biden eventually gave in. He was

Leo Laporte (02:08:00):
Aware, I'm sure of the political backlash of, of course, of bailing out

Alex Kantrowitz (02:08:04):
Billionaire bailout. Yeah. That was what he was worried about. And it doesn't have to be that way, because at its best tech is for the little person. And I, that's all the whole thing. And I talked to my story a little bit about New York Tech meetup. I don't know if either of you have been there, but it was this amazing meetup. It still goes on to some extent, but at its height, in the early 2010s, we'd have local startups come in and just kinda show off what they built. And it was right after the financial crisis. So you started to have some people from Wall Street seep in to try to get second careers inside tech. And whenever you, you spoke about your finances, your VC fundings the whole place would boo and people would shout, get to the demo, right? And that's sort of what I think going back to that spirit of get to the demo, show us the tech, like, I think that's what we need to get back to in some ways, to some degree,

Leo Laporte (02:08:52):
This is what happens in all industries, right? I mean, the, in the early days of, of Oil, the Wild catters and the, the crazy guys digging oil wells and having gushers, and eventually it's successful, it monetizes, it's a bunch of fat cats with monocles and cigars. That's what happens with any successful industry. Right? Stephen? I'm sorry. Yeah.

Steven Levy (02:09:12):
For, from, you know, for many years the overwhelming narrative of tech was David versus Goliath. And then at a certain point in the past few years, Goliath, it's changed. Yeah. It's changed to, it's changed to the ICARs myth.

Leo Laporte (02:09:27):
Ah, too close to the sun.

Steven Levy (02:09:30):

Leo Laporte (02:09:31):
It's, it's wings are melting. Yeah, I mean, Al Alex, you, you make your living kind of talking about big technology and yes. And the threat in, in some ways that the big technology can pose to all of the rest of us. What's the solution?

Alex Kantrowitz (02:09:50):
I mean, it's a simple solution, right? To look, tech is big business now. No denying that, right? Because it's successful. Exactly. It's successful. And I do think that, look, I think once you saw the first IPOs, you saw the first public companies, you saw the first trillion dollar company that became so alluring, right? The, for CEOs, it became the mark was not what your company can do, but the mark was how, what was your net worth? What was your market cap? How much had you raised these had all became the successful parts of the successful markers in the tech industry. And obviously that's what shifted the, the industry's perception among other people. And so I think it's very simple. I think it's step back focus again on the customer, focus again on tech. And again, get to the demo. I mean, let's see this <laugh>, and that's sort of what, let's see the tech, and it's interesting cuz we're having, we're having this amazing moment right now where we're seeing so many cool things happen with ai.

And in some ways tech is getting back to the demo in that area, right? We're going from zero to one, not one to, you know, n or whatever it is. And and that's exciting to me. But I do think that, you know, we, I think that it's just something that the tech industry needs to keep in, in mind, and maybe it needs new spokespeople, right? I mean, that's another thing that we're hearing about now. Tech has been represented by some very loud, obnoxious people. People like Mark Andreessen, who I don't think really puts the best image forward, you know, on, on the tech industry, I would actually say his entire firm. And I think, like right now, a lot of people, a lot of people, you know, who've been silent in the tech industry are starting to speak up and kind of talk about what the industries, what the sector's values are. And I think that's a good thing. So

Leo Laporte (02:11:34):
Is it Steven though? A little bit just nostalgia. I mean, you and I both remember the home brew computer club. You were, you know, covered the early days of the m i t hackers. They were a rough and ready, you know, antisocial band of misfits. You know, as was I guess Apple in the early days. Those days aren't coming back.

Steven Levy (02:11:56):
Not in the same way. You know but, you know, there is a thriving startup culture that where people do a reset now, a startup in, you know, the 2020s isn't the same as a startup in the late 1970s or early eighties. You know there's a pathway and you know, like a lot of the founders have their eyes on the prize from the get-go, right? They're, you know, they're you know, Y Combinator when it started in 2005, gave $5,000 plus $5,000 for each founder to the company as the stake investment. The investment now for each company and Y Combinator is $500,000. Yeah. Right? And, you know, so, you know during a fair path to fail big or get big so that, that is different yet, you know you know, I think that there's going to be a lot of, you know, contending 20 years from now, the companies that are, we're gonna be talking about are companies that are starting now or maybe haven't even started yet.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:13:04):
Also, one thing that I think is, is worth pointing out is that yeah, of course we're not gonna go back to those days, but we now know that it's a political risk right. To to be where we are today. Right? It almost sent the whole industry into a tailspin because of the image, the billionaire bailout. Yeah. And, and that is the issue, right? And so once that political risk is realized, and I really think it is, like, I think this has been a wake up call to many in Silicon about what could happen to them, you know, based off of public sentiment. I think that might lead to change those. We're not gonna go back to hobbyists, and we're not gonna probably, we probably won't have less funding but we will, we will definitely go back to a, you know, maybe go back to a time where we didn't have this over financialization of the economy. At least that's of, of the sector. And at least that's my hope. Should

Leo Laporte (02:13:52):
We break up these big tech companies like we did Standard Oil or Mob Bell? They'll

Alex Kantrowitz (02:13:58):
Probably do a good enough job on their own of, of breaking

Leo Laporte (02:14:00):

Alex Kantrowitz (02:14:01):
Being no either break breaking themselves up or, or being outcompeted. I mean, look at what's happened to Meta just this year, right? Just in the past year, look at what happened to Meta, right. This challenge from TikTok. Look at what happened to Google this challenge from OpenAI and Microsoft. So I really believe that competition will do the better job in terms of humbling these companies than the government coming in and saying, you can have Amazon retail, but you can't have a Amazon web services,

Steven Levy (02:14:26):
You know, and Leo, you know, from, you know being, you know, like around so much that, you know, we go into waves of success mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and, you know, again, and, and cold periods and busts and booms. But one thing that does not vary is, you know, the arrow of the technology itself, it just keeps getting better. Innovations keep coming. There's never like a downtime for the technology improving. And, you know, we're seeing that now in, in ai, it, it's apparent to us, but there's always going to be something coming along to build on the previous advances. It, it, you know, so, and the innovation of tomorrow is gonna go faster because we've had all the previous innovations. So we're arguing about the state of whether it's big companies, small companies you know, do we need different people? But one constant is that technology keeps getting better and better. And that's what's exciting and that's what's thrilling and that's what's scary about our world.

Leo Laporte (02:15:32):
Yeah, I agree. It's the thing that makes it most interesting to, that to cover, to, to look at and to, and to, and to speculate about. And, you know, I have to say that it's not been good for a huge amount of money to flow into tech because that attracts the greedy, it also attracts the scammers. And you see, you know, NFTs and Bitcoin and, you know, a lot of scams that look, Andreessen Horowitz, mark Andreessen pushing Web three, which is a blatant, you know, grab for the, the free and open internet. You know, I see companies like Spotify and Amazon going after our little corner of the world RSS based podcasting. But I agree with you, Steven. I think in the long run, the human spirit, there's always gonna be some little person who has a great idea who is gonna change the world.

 It may not be Elizabeth Holmes, but there's always gonna be somebody like that, I think. Yeah, maybe that person got laid off by a big company this year. Yeah. Even better, right? And is forced to go back to the garage and find something better. Another 10,000 jobs leaving Facebook, they fired 11,000 on in the fall. And now they're saying, we're gonna fire another 10,000 plus we're not gonna fill 5,000 open positions. So the net of that is, what is that? 26,000, 26,000 jobs gone from Facebook any other industry that'd be a, that'd be a death blow. So yeah, maybe those people, some of those people will go on. You know, it's hard. And I, I feel for you, I'm hearing from a lot of people who're outta work who think that you know, maybe podcasting, you can help 'em.

I would just wanna say it can't. But <laugh>, please don't become a podcast. That's the wrong, that's the wrong direction. But I think that's right, that those people maybe now are gonna have the stimulus, the spur they need to create something exciting and new. And boy, the, the, the, the way AI is happening we can, I'll go through a list of some of the AI startups that were formed this week alone. And in a way, that's why I guess it's good that there's venture capital, there is money available because there are people with big bags of money who don't want to invest in the stock market. They think that if they could just find that next big thing that's the best place for them to make money, that's not a bad thing. Isn't Alex?

Alex Kantrowitz (02:17:59):
No, it's, I don't think it's a, it's a bad thing at all. Makes, yeah. Right. And I also think, like, look, like right now, if you write AI on your term sheet or whatever it is, you probably get money seven VCs that will sign on. Like there's money. Isri money is harder to come by now, but it's definitely there and it is a moment of opportunity, like,

Leo Laporte (02:18:18):
Yeah. Because it does take money Covid

Alex Kantrowitz (02:18:20):
During Yeah, of course. Like during Covid, the, during, like the, the worst part of Covid is when I decided to leave Buzzfeed and start my own

Leo Laporte (02:18:27):
You go company. That's

Alex Kantrowitz (02:18:27):
Right. And this is generally the moment where you start to have people who are like,

Leo Laporte (02:18:31):
Okay, how's that worked out for you? That

Alex Kantrowitz (02:18:33):
Thing I'm very happy. Yay. And people are like, and look, still a lot of room to grow. But, you know, the fact that, that was the moment that pushed me out and said, do this, you know, start your own thing. Yeah. that's happening across the economy now, especially within tech. And by the way, when they get that money, they won't feel entitled to it. They know, they'll know they had to work for it. Yep. And that will lead to better companies, Morristown Management and a true gratefulness, I think from founders that they're able to do what they do.

Leo Laporte (02:19:00):
Alex Cantor was host of the big technology podcast the author of always Day one. And of course the sub big Great to have you. Same Steven Levy, one last break. We'll wrap things up in just a little bit. But first I gotta tell you about our sponsor Collide. They, they're doing something really, really interesting. We all talk about Zero Trust architectures these days when it comes to security, the idea that anybody in the network should be treated as an adversary, but there's a place where Zero Trust falls apart. And that's where Collide is really gonna make a difference. They're a device trust solution that ensures unsecured devices cannot access your apps. If you are an Okta user, you're gonna want this. They can get your entire fleet to 100% compliance by patching one of the major holes in zero trust architectures device compliance.

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Leo Laporte (02:24:51):
The good news about tech is there's always a crisis. There's always, there's always a disaster looming around the corner. I hope you enjoyed your week on on Twitter, and I hope you'll keep watching all week long. And I hope you'll join Club Twitter. If you're not a member, seven bucks a month, you get un unencumbered shows, no ads at all. You get access to the Discord, which Alex and I were talking about before the show. He's thinking about that for big technology. And I have to say, it's the best thing ever we've ever done. You also get special shows we don't put out anywhere else, like Home Theater Geeks brought back thanks to the Club. Seven bucks a month. Go to twit tv slash club twit. That's Nuff said, nuff said. By the way, TikTok is announced, they are adding a new feed dedicated to science and technology. Just trying to say, see, we're good for young people. You're gonna learn about finance and science and stuff on TikTok. Or, you know, watch my son's gentle and learn how to make a sandwich. Good news I guess according to the federal agents who have arrested a peak skill, New York man who ran a dark web data breach site called Breach Forums. Pom pom Poin is a legend. It's a great name. Yeah.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:26:11):
Isn't it's an epic name.

Leo Laporte (02:26:12):
Po He's only

Alex Kantrowitz (02:26:13):
21 years old, by the way.

Leo Laporte (02:26:14):
He's a kid. He's still, he's just like still in school. He's born

Alex Kantrowitz (02:26:18):
In, in the two thousands. That

Leo Laporte (02:26:19):
Shows you, oh my God. His real name. He is, I don't, maybe I won't say his real name cause it's all alleged. Right. Although apparently he confessed when they arrested him, he said, you got me charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit access. Device Fraud Breach Forums hosts the stolen databases of more than 1000 companies and websites. Pompom Porins profile <laugh>. I love saying that on Breach Forms describes him as Boss Man. And according to the f FBI agents, he admitted, yeah, that, that, that's me. I own and operate it. So I don't know. He, he has been released on Bond. He he is, he graduated from high school in 2021.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:27:08):
Congrats pompom. Nice job. If I was a 21 year old hacker Mastermind, I would definitely go by Boss Man.

Leo Laporte (02:27:14):
Just have to say, wow. Anyway I guess, yeah, another one Bites the dust. I guess. Apparently Breach Forms was one of the most active places hackers went to buy and sell leaked information. Honestly, I think you should go after the companies that are leaking the information. But that's, you know, that's just me. FCC has finally ordered phone companies to block scam text messages. What you mean they weren't before?

Alex Kantrowitz (02:27:43):

Leo Laporte (02:27:44):
Bless 'em. God bless him.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:27:46):
This is here, like the, the Rise in spam text messages. Oh, yeah. Going up from what, 3000 article You have that complaints to the FTC about these rose from 3,300 in 2015 when they're already annoyed to 18,900 per year. So like five x what we were getting in 2022, it's probably worse now. I mean, this is, if we're gonna have one government do one thing, pick up the trash, and number two and robo text

Leo Laporte (02:28:13):
And, and fill potholes, that's number three. Yes please. <Laugh>. the every, I don't think there's anybody listening. I don't think there's, who hasn't gotten a text, you know, random texts from number you don't know saying hi, or a lot of 'em are like, I got one the other day that said, Hey, that was a great round of golf. When I'm gonna be in town again, when do you wanna play again? You might say, well, that doesn't sound like a scam. That just sounds like some, some guy w we got a good one. Now. our boss, the c e o of Twit has somebody's impersonating her to our employees, sending out messages saying, I need to talk to you. Call me. Hmm. And almost all of these end up you get in a conversation. I would say, for instance, what, what round of golf? I don't even play golf. And he say, oh gosh, I'm so sorry. But you seem like a nice person. What's your name? Leo, what's yours, John? And then you get in a conversation. Actually, usually if I'm Leo, it's gonna be Sally. And you get in like a little conversation and won't be too long before they offer you a great investment in cryptocurrencies.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:29:18):
<Laugh>, there's a great there's a great Twitter comedian, I forget his name right now, but he posted screenshots of these messages and you know, he, he goes forward with like the first conversa, the first, you know, back and forth. And he says, you know, they say, Hey, so you sound like a nice person. He goes, they're like, what's your name? And he goes like, okay, here's my credit card information. Yeah, just

Leo Laporte (02:29:37):
Take it. Take it. I know, I know what you want. And I've got it.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:29:42):
<Laugh>. Wow.

Leo Laporte (02:29:44):
Well, I didn't know it was illegal. It is now. So just the, the rule requires blocking of text and the phone companies have to do this from invalid and unused numbers. Okay. 

Alex Kantrowitz (02:29:58):
Maybe they can do political campaigns. Next,

Leo Laporte (02:30:00):
A rundown of popular one Chat, G p t appearances, carrot weather, the snark weather. They're gonna have chat. G p T do the snark going forward. <Laugh> let's see. Google has announced, as I mentioned, AI features. Why is by the way in docs, what, where, where are we? Facebook's ll large language mo model. L l m I think they called their's. Lambda Lama. Lama. That's right. Llama. Everybody's gotta play on l l m. It was leaked Unfortu Chan. And people have written interfaces and now you can use it. Why, why haven't we seen Facebook's use of this at all? Are they just like, is there attention elsewhere or are they, are they looking at Microsoft saying that didn't go so well? Maybe we shouldn't do it,

Alex Kantrowitz (02:30:49):
But try.

Steven Levy (02:30:50):
No, they're, they're, they're working on it. They're working on it. Yeah. I mean interestingly, I, I wrote about this Quora uses, you know open AI technology for something they're doing now. We're, you know, Quora is about connecting people to answer questions. Now they're gonna connect people with robots to answer questions. There's a, an app called Po Run by Quora, where you ask your question instead of a human answering it. It'll be you know you know,

Leo Laporte (02:31:23):
I think that's probably already been the, always been the problem with Cora is more questioners than Answerers. So that kind of makes sense that you would you would, you know, give it, oh, I have to log in with my phone number to get together.

Steven Levy (02:31:35):
Yeah. But the, but the thing is that, you know, it was always about which human could come up with the best answer. So sometimes you would say, well, what does Larry Page like to work with? Right? And someone you know, would say, right, this is what Larry Page is like to work with. But instead you can get a robot saying, oh, here's what Larry Page is like to work with. But the robot, you know, has

Leo Laporte (02:31:55):
No idea. Right?

Steven Levy (02:31:56):
Yeah. Yeah. It seems

Leo Laporte (02:31:58):
Like the end

Alex Kantrowitz (02:31:59):
Of core for me, if this is hopefully just a side project, but if it becomes anything more that's a disaster for this

Leo Laporte (02:32:04):
Company. Interesting. Yeah, because really they, they are kind of reliant on people.

Steven Levy (02:32:11):
And I talked to Adam dlo, who used to be the CTO O of Facebook, by the way. Oh, and he was, he was a partner. Well, mark Zucker, Zuckerberg in an AI-based program when they were in high school.

Leo Laporte (02:32:23):
Oh, well that's the thing. I mean, this is not, like I said at the beginning, this is nothing unknown, nothing new. Any company could theoretically do it. So here's po What questions should I ask po

Steven Levy (02:32:36):
What's Larry Page like to

Leo Laporte (02:32:37):
Work with? What is Larry Page like to work with? Good question. Oh, as an AI language model, I do not have personal experience working with Larry Page, but I can tell you he's known for being a brilliant and innovative leader in the tech industry known for cutting edge technology and promoting a culture of innovation and creativity. However, it's important to note individual experiences may vary <laugh>, but those, this is Sage. They also have chat G P T four. They also have Claude Plus. I don't know who Claude Plus is.

Steven Levy (02:33:15):
That's the same philanthropic.

Leo Laporte (02:33:18):
That's what

Steven Levy (02:33:19):
Philanthropics Oh,

Leo Laporte (02:33:21):
So these are different engines.

Steven Levy (02:33:23):

Leo Laporte (02:33:24):
Ah, this is actually smart. Although I note that even though I entered from Quora, it's at

Steven Levy (02:33:33):

Leo Laporte (02:33:33):
Yeah. Huh. How do I make a tasty ham sandwich? Let's see how much trouble my son is in to make a tasty ham sandwich. You need bread, sliced ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, <laugh>. That's, that's pretty, it's fairly accurate. You can also add pickles, onions, or avocado to customize your sandwich. Well,

Steven Levy (02:33:58):
Ham and avocado. Well,

Leo Laporte (02:33:59):
Oh yeah. That's not good, is it? Where is the best bagel in New York City? Now, this, you both would be interested in no personal experience, but he recommends Russ and Daughters the iconic shop on the Lower East Side. Been there. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> <affirmative> since 1914. See, I didn't even know that. I know h and h that's the number three on the list. Yeah. Huh. That's cuz I'm an up upper West side kind of guy. Absolute Bagels and Morningside Heights, which is where I was born, known for its affordable prices and delicious bagels. Would you new Yorkers Concur. How about if I say in Brooklyn?

Alex Kantrowitz (02:34:40):
Yeah, I look, I, I I mean I, you don't even

Leo Laporte (02:34:42):
Have to go for the bridge ever. I know it's,

Alex Kantrowitz (02:34:45):
Yeah, Brooklyn is tough to leave. But also like New York, the pizza and the bagel. The thing is that like, the thing that's great about them is they're high quality wherever you go. So like, if you go for like your local place or you go to one of these like top bagel places, I don't think the Delta is that large. Like you're probably just as good going to your corner bagel shop. But I'm curious what they say about Brooklyn.

Leo Laporte (02:35:06):
All right, <laugh>, where can I get the best Bagel <laugh> in Brooklyn? This is very specific user service right now. I should give them your, are you in flat? Where are you? You're in the bagel hole in Park Slope Frankels. Oh yeah, yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. In Green Point. Frankels Terrace Bagels in Windsor Terrace and Tompkins Square Bagels, which is in Williamsburg.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:35:37):
The one thing I can say for sure from speaking with this chatbot through you, Leo, so thank you, is that I will be getting bagels tomorrow morning.

Leo Laporte (02:35:43):
<Laugh>, Mr. Sure. Yeah. Making me hungry. See, I,

Steven Levy (02:35:46):
I, yeah, I, I I like, I like Tompkin Square, but I get 'em at Tompkin Square. I didn't really real realize that they had a Brooklyn.

Leo Laporte (02:35:52):
Yeah, that's weird to have Tompkin Square in Brooklyn, but, okay, I'm not gonna say anything. GM

Steven Levy (02:35:56):
Tompkin Square Bagel this morning.

Leo Laporte (02:35:58):
Well there you go. See po new GM wants to bring chat G p T to drivers general Motors, which Manufac Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and G M C trucks working on a virtual personal assistant that uses AI beyond chat. G P T, it'll use Azure Microsoft's cloud service. When, I don't know, here's an example. If you get a flat tire, ask the car to explain how to change it. <Laugh>.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:36:30):
Yeah. This actually sounds, I was actually ready to make fun of it, but like asking it to change your car or like when you, when you see the, your engine light on. Oh. Oh. So that's good. Say,

Leo Laporte (02:36:38):
Hey, what's

Alex Kantrowitz (02:36:38):
That mean? What's going on with my engine life? Yeah. And it can talk to you. That's cool. The one thing I worry about is that these bots still hallucinates so much that if it tells you the wrong thing and you drive off, you know, other side of the road because

Leo Laporte (02:36:49):
That be more, you need more kerosene in the tank, go get some kerosene because you're out. See that little oil thing that's a kerosene can, that would

Alex Kantrowitz (02:36:57):
Be bad, right? That would be,

Leo Laporte (02:36:58):
Oh yeah.

Steven Levy (02:36:58):
Don't worry, don't worry about that light

Leo Laporte (02:37:00):
<Laugh>. Don't That's fine. That's what I'm gonna get.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:37:03):
Don't worry about it.

Leo Laporte (02:37:04):
Don't worry about that. That's fine. Don't worry about that. <Laugh>. Just what we need. Hallucinating weather, hallucinating cars hallucinating bagels. G Google's working on AI for ultrasound diagnosis and cancer therapy. What, what I'd really like to know is when are they gonna put something like chat, G p t or Google's bard into the voice assistant? When can Amazon's echo get, you know, chatty or, or Google Assistant or even Siri?

Steven Levy (02:37:35):
Well, there, there was a story about that there. I the other day, I forget where I, I saw it, but it noted that, you know, these, you know that Siri and Alexa they're, they're not based on this, you know, part of technology. So they put a lot into, you know part of technology that had been eclipsed. They thought that, you know, they would do this limited thing. They weren't doing these open-ended chats and instead,

Leo Laporte (02:38:01):
So it was almost a if then statements. It was almost a completely contain Yeah.

Steven Levy (02:38:05):
And they were, they were thinking of people would order order, like buy stuff on them that were,

Leo Laporte (02:38:09):
Was the, they were, they were hoping. Yeah.

Steven Levy (02:38:11):
Right, right. So it, it turns out that now that they're have to go back to the square one.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:38:17):
But it also, I've also thought about this and it could get annoying if these things start to have the ability to talk like the same way that a chat G p t does or a a Bing bot does, because those bots are pretty loquacious and it's fine to read already read

Leo Laporte (02:38:32):
It. Yeah.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:38:33):
Yeah. It's fine to read it. It's like, all right, you sent me like seven paragraphs of text. I'm gonna just scan it, but could you imagine your, your Google Home? I'm not saying the a word cuz I'm gonna set it off now. Couldn't you

Leo Laporte (02:38:44):
Though, say

Alex Kantrowitz (02:38:44):
Imagine Google Home,

Leo Laporte (02:38:45):
You know, as the programmer to limit yourself to one sentence Please.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:38:49):
You could, but

Leo Laporte (02:38:50):
Don't, don't make it

Alex Kantrowitz (02:38:51):
Even now. Oh my God. These things like, even the the Echo

Leo Laporte (02:38:55):
Did, you know, you say one thing I can, so

Alex Kantrowitz (02:38:57):
Yeah, it's like,

Leo Laporte (02:38:58):
No, shut

Alex Kantrowitz (02:38:59):
Up. I like, oh my God. Well,

Steven Levy (02:39:01):
There'll probably song <laugh>. There'll probably be peop there'll probably be people who really like, you know, people who live alone who really might enjoy the,

Leo Laporte (02:39:09):
The conversation. You know, as I get older, I think I'd like a nice little echo silver that would have a conversation with me about the good old days.

Alex Kantrowitz (02:39:18):
Well, that's coming. That will definitely, there will be products that will do that for

Leo Laporte (02:39:21):
Sure. And we've got these synthesized voices that sound pretty darn good. You know, I could have, you know, people talk to me from my, my earlier life. 

Alex Kantrowitz (02:39:32):
I could hang out with Bruce

Leo Laporte (02:39:34):
Springsteen, hang out with the boss. Now the boss can be your buddy

Steven Levy (02:39:38):
<Laugh> of costs $5,000

Leo Laporte (02:39:41):
<Laugh> if Ticketmaster runs it. Almost certainly. Stephen Levy, what a pleasure having you. Steven's latest is of course Facebook the inside story. But go to stephen He's got many wonderful books. And if you haven't read The Hackers what's the subtitle of that? Something at the Revolution, I think. Right? Heroes.

Steven Levy (02:40:00):

Leo Laporte (02:40:00):

Steven Levy (02:40:01):
Computer. Revolut Revolut Lotion. Yeah.

Leo Laporte (02:40:02):
Yeah. Richard Stallman and the m i t Hackers in its what a great book. Really great. Always a pleasure to talk to you, Steven. Same. I think it was you that said you do not like slow food, you do slow journalism, but you're doing a weekly column. Ain't that slow.

Steven Levy (02:40:17):
Yeah. Yeah. I had to ramp up the cadence there. But

Leo Laporte (02:40:21):
<Laugh> it's such a pleasure to talk to you as always. You too. Alex, Alex Kantrowitz, host of the big technology podcast. The big technology newsletter, big And of course, don't forget his book, always Day one, which is just not just about Amazon, is it? Or is it Right?

Alex Kantrowitz (02:40:41):
No, it has all five of, of the big tech companies in there, including an interview with Zuckerberg. I think people would like it. And then, yeah. Thanks for shouting out the podcast. We have Kevin Systrom coming on this weekend. Are lucky. Get the

Leo Laporte (02:40:51):
Best guests. Palmer lucky. Really

Alex Kantrowitz (02:40:53):
Coming on. Yeah. Founder of Oculus coming on in a week and a half. So I saw a big technology podcast on every podcast app. So

Leo Laporte (02:41:00):
You're, you're willing to get people on that, like Blake Lamoyne and Palmer Lucky that I might be scared to have on. Yeah. <laugh>, you're

Alex Kantrowitz (02:41:06):
Brave. I'm part of the fear is part of the adrenaline rush that you get from doing it. So

Steven Levy (02:41:09):
I, I went, I went on a road trip with Palmer Lucky once. What?

Leo Laporte (02:41:13):
Where too?

Steven Levy (02:41:14):
Yeah. Texas Uhhuh <affirmative>, the Texas, the Texas border

Leo Laporte (02:41:18):
To see what

Steven Levy (02:41:20):
To see. They had an installation of their Oh, I remember that technology on the border. I wrote the first big story about Andrew after,

Leo Laporte (02:41:29):
After he after he sold Oculus to Facebook.

Steven Levy (02:41:33):
He, after he got booted from, from booted,

Leo Laporte (02:41:35):
From Facebook, whatever, he Andrew d which was like a surveillance technology for, for people crossing the border. Right.

Steven Levy (02:41:43):
Well, that, that was the first use is, you know, something to monitor the border, the, a smart wall kind of thing. And so we went to this ranch of, you know this guy had, where people were crossing the border and were able to use, you know, you know, he sent someone down into the, the Rio Grande Valley and we, you know, we tracked it and we had a drone. It was a lot of fun. Palmer Lucky. Really loves Whata burgers.

Leo Laporte (02:42:10):
<Laugh>. So who doesn't love Whata burgers?

Steven Levy (02:42:13):
Yeah, we had, we had fun. Actually. I, I, I en enjoy, I enjoyed this trip.

Leo Laporte (02:42:17):
Oh, interesting. I'm very grateful that both you and Alex are willing to talk to people that I kind of just don't want to know. So <laugh>, because you get the stories, you get the stories, and that's what matters. Thank you both for being here. Thanks to all of you for listening. Thank you. We do twit every Sunday afternoon, 2:00 PM Pacific, 5:00 PM Eastern, 2100 utc. You can watch live at live, do TWIT tv chat, live at irc dot twit tv. That's open to all or in our club Twit Discord. All you have to do is pay seven bucks a month to get access to the best dang discord ever and all the other benefits after the fact. On demand versions of the show available at the website, twit tv, there's a YouTube channel dedicated to the video from this week weekend text. So you can watch video, you can want listen to audio and of course, probably the easiest thing to do while you're looking for big technology podcast, maybe subscribe to TWIT as well and your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for being here. Everybody. Have a great week and we'll see you next time. Another Twits. It's in the can. Bye-Bye.

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