This Week in Tech Episode 937 Transcript
Please be advised this transcript is AI-generated and may not be word for word. Time codes refer to the approximate times in the ad-supported version of the show.
Leo Laporte (00:00:00):
It's time for twit this week in Tech. It's a big technology takeover. This week on twit, we've got Alex Kantrowitz. You know him well from the big technology podcast, and CK his cohost Rajan Roy from reed margins.com joins us and we are gonna talk about all the big stories. Elon Musk says, I am changing the name of Twitter today, Activision and Microsoft. The, the deal is a go, but is it good for gamers? We'll also talk about Apple's victory as they go to the Supreme Court to appeal the latest judgment in Apple versus Epic. And it's the release of a new AI model from Facebook. Why is it a good thing? Alex and Ron John explain all of that and a whole lot more coming up next. Plus, we say goodbye to an old friend on Twitter. The show is brought to you by Cisco Meraki.
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It's time for tweet this week at Tech. The show we cover the late latest week's. Tech news. It's good. We're gonna do another takeover. I like these takeovers. The big technology podcast is taking over the show. You all know Alex Kantrowitz, the host and founder of Big Technology Podcast. The author of is it always day one? Always day one Without, without the books behind you? I don't, I can't remember <laugh>. I haven't exactly, I haven't lost all those books. <Laugh> always day one. Amazon guru and big tech expert. We've talked before about the financialization of Big tech. I think we'll be talking about that again this week. Great to have you Alex. And Alex has brought along his co-host on the big technology podcast. Ron John Roy. He you come from the dark side. A tr a trader by trade. The
Ranjan Roy (00:04:14):
Dark side. Yep.
Leo Laporte (00:04:15):
The dark side. A financial guy. But
Ranjan Roy (00:04:17):
I ca I saw the light technology.
Leo Laporte (00:04:19):
Yeah. What, so what, what, what were you, did you trade for yourself or for a company?
Ranjan Roy (00:04:26):
For one of the larger banks? All through the two thousands. Wow. In the heyday of trading. Wow. And that little global financial crisis kind of was the impetus to try to figure out what I really wanted to
Leo Laporte (00:04:39):
Do in life. Took the fun out of it, huh? <Laugh>. Yeah. Well, it's great to have you both. We have a lot of stories that you will have something to say about, no doubt. I suppose though, we should begin because the time is running out on Twitter. Not the company. Just the logo, just the name, just the bird. Elon got up in the middle of the night last night, <laugh>, and started tweeting. Always a bad idea. He wants to get rid of the Bluebird and replace it with an X. He, he said, interim logo goes live later today, which is why I wanna do this story now. In fact, for all I know, it's already live. Remember the company that owns Twitter, the parent company is called X. In fact, I don't think there is a company called Twitter anymore. I think he renamed Twitter to X Corp. And it sounded as if the richest man in the world just asked Twitter users to come up with a logo for him cuz he can't afford it. <Laugh>, I don't know. They also want to change the color scheme from blue to black. Now I gotta just check and see. This may be another one of those Elon Musk's. I know how to get press moments. Yeah, it's still a blue bird.
You know, there's a name for this bird. Did you know that? What's the bird?
Alex Kantrowitz (00:06:06):
Leo Laporte (00:06:07):
Had no idea. I didn't know it either, but it was a jeopardy question, so I figured it's gotta be true. I've forgotten Now, what is the name of the Twitter bird? It was like jackers.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:06:16):
The bird's name is ex
Leo Laporte (00:06:17):
Joey ex Full circle. Larry, Joey the bird. Larry? No, Larry. Larry
Alex Kantrowitz (00:06:21):
Leo Laporte (00:06:22):
Larry The Bird. Larry as in Larry Bird. Oh, I see where I see where this is going. Celtics great. Biz Stone tweeted the name was chosen to honor Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, but I'd never heard that before <laugh>. But I, I did get the answer right in my mind because I, they, you know, they said a social media site with a bird is a logo named Larry <laugh>, but that's gotta be Twitter. So no more Larry and apparently no more Bird, except it hasn't happened yet. What, so do you guys have an opinion on Elon? Cuz you know, we're all wondering what the hell
Alex Kantrowitz (00:07:07):
We do have an opinion on Elon.
Leo Laporte (00:07:09):
What's your opinion on Elon, Alex?
Alex Kantrowitz (00:07:11):
Well, I'll start. I I mean, obviously the guy is a very talented entrepreneur. I think you can't really take away what he's built at Tesla and at SpaceX. And this idea of like the boring company is kind of cool. And who knows, maybe his x AI company will turn into something. I mean, he is also, you know, the founder of OpenAI or co-founder of OpenAI and you know, PayPal. So yeah.
Leo Laporte (00:07:33):
But he pulled that OpenAI when they said we're gonna make a profit, and now he's doing, there was another way he got in the press last week. He announced he's gonna do what? An AI that's not gonna eat the world.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:07:45):
So, yeah, we'll see, we'll see what it turns into. But he, he look, when, when you make announcements like this, I'm looking into what are the resources behind it and who do you hire? And he's bought a bunch of GPUs from Nvidia and he's hired people from Deep Mind and the University of Toronto. But you
Leo Laporte (00:08:01):
Know how he's hired them, impressive by offering them inflated stock,
Alex Kantrowitz (00:08:05):
Tricked them into thinking. But these people are smart. Like, you know, they, they are, they are worth a lot of money. They know that, and they listen. Anyone who spent time talking with folks working in Silicon Valley knows that they are extremely aware of the way that they get paid. And it's very difficult to pull the wool over their eyes. So I think that they probably understood what they were getting into with Elon. But now help me get
Leo Laporte (00:08:26):
Into, he, he valued I think he's gonna call it truth g d yeah. At 20 billion. And then goes to the biggest names in ai, you know, the, the, the real thinkers, the doers, the coders, and says, I know I'll give you 1%, which is worth $200 million if you come on over. And but look, they should really be think
Alex Kantrowitz (00:08:48):
Twice. How many employees? How many employees get 1% of a company, right? As at the start, right? So look, is it gonna work out? But it would a lot of, like people in Silicon Valley say, this is a worthwhile shot to take. I get 1% of a company, yeah. That Elon Musk is founding. That's why people are taking the shot. I don't think that they, like, they know they can't cash out that stock and say from day one that they're gonna be able to make that money. But, you know, 1% of a company is definitely nothing to sneeze at most people. Like, you know, you start, you got a couple of basis points and you're thrilled. 1% isn't bad.
Ranjan Roy (00:09:19):
But I, I, I think let's take it back to Larry Bird <laugh> and, and the fact that twitter.com is still blue and full of birds. I think Alex and I always get into this on our weekly segments about Elon. He spoke, he made a major claim whether he follows through on it. I think this is the thing that in the medium to long term Elon is very interesting. In the day to day, in the short term, I think it's best to try to ignore him. It's very tough to do that. But I still wonder for me, Linda Jino, what is she thinking? How is she gonna approach this? Because I mean, from the business side, trying to convince advertisers, especially with the rise of threads, that we are a stable place. Come here, come do business. And this is happening. I cannot imagine how tough those calls are.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:10:11):
She, she had a very interesting tweet about this X thing where she talks a little bit about what the strategy of Twitter is gonna be. So X if you think about it, is sort of this cross section. And that's what she talks about. X is the future state of unlimited interactivity. Now listen, there's a lot of cringe going on in this tweet, but let's just pay attention to the details for a second. She says it's gonna be centered in audio, video messaging, payments, and banking. Creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods and services and opportunities powered by AI X will connect us all, all in ways. We're just beginning to imagine. And she talked about how people this criticizing Twitter for years, years. Can I be honest? But that sounds like a PowerPoint deck. Straight outta succession. Like,
Ranjan Roy (00:10:53):
Alex Kantrowitz (00:10:54):
So the, the
Ranjan Roy (00:10:55):
Wait, wait. I'm
Alex Kantrowitz (00:10:56):
Not saying it's gonna work, but I'm saying we got a glimpse. They want to do mar they want to create a marketplace, they want to do payments. There might be goods in there. That's where they're going with this. X
Ranjan Roy (00:11:05):
Is the future state of unlimited interactivity. Okay. I have not seen that. I see that that was about an hour
Alex Kantrowitz (00:11:11):
Until hit the rate limit
Ranjan Roy (00:11:12):
Recording until we <laugh>. Luckily, yeah. I must have hit the rate limit at that point. Yeah, but, oh man, poor Linda. Just selling, selling an ad, just delivering a stable ad product, I think is the most important test right now versus trying to build the super app of the future. And we've talked about this again, perhaps that is an opportunity. Perhaps Elon is the one that can deliver it, but I don't know. I still, this kind of day-to-day operation, especially when your business is advertising, I, I cannot see how this is gonna come out on the other side. Okay.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:11:45):
Yeah, I'm with you after everything I've said about Eli, the caveat is that what he's done with Twitter has been detrimental to him. I mean, objectively bad for, and all of his businesses would be concluding, his new AI company would be better off if he sold Twitter. And that's what I think he should do.
Leo Laporte (00:12:00):
I think what may happen is it goes bankrupt and the, and the 13 billion worth of bank equity gets taken back and the banks own it. And I think maybe that's even what Elon would like. Cuz at this point I feel like, well, who knows what Elon wants? Elon's just nuts. I don't know what he's looking for.
Ranjan Roy (00:12:22):
I know I want JP Morgan to be the bastion
Leo Laporte (00:12:25):
Of this. Yeah. They're not gonna, they're not gonna do a good job with it either. Town
Ranjan Roy (00:12:28):
Square is, that's what I've always dreamed of.
Leo Laporte (00:12:31):
It's always struck me. I almost hate doing Elon stories cause it feel, I feel played when I do an Elon story. It always strikes me that he woke up at midnight and thought, well, hey, I haven't been, I haven't been, the president hasn't been writing about me in about 48 hours. What can I say that will get me a lot of coverage? And that's, oh, ah, well rename it X and give us your thoughts for our new logo. And bing ba we're talking about it. He seems like a manipulator of the media more than anything else to me. But
Alex Kantrowitz (00:13:00):
He is a newsworthy person, though. I mean, he definitely is a media manipulator, but he is, he does own Twitter, which is a very important social network. Maybe the second most important. And then like he does, I mean, SpaceX and Tesla, like he, he commands the coverage I have. The media could be better at covering him, but
Leo Laporte (00:13:19):
Snuck certainly newsworthy. I snuck a spy into the succession filming and got this PowerPoint slide from the hundred, which was, if you remember at the beginning of the season, the company, the kids were gonna start here is how big can it get? Is the slide initial audience 180 million English language ready customer base across the world, hungry for stimulating news and info, multilingual multifaceted growth opportunities follow the Growth Contagion financial model, applicable the a hundred franchises of the hundred thousands of permutations, of the a hundred available and scalable audio events and dating services. This seems like Ellan just took this slide, or at least Linda Jino took this slide for their own. I mean, this is this, what I loved about this is his satire. This is Armstrong's Jesse Armstrong's satire of the nuttiness of Tech decks. But it's real. I mean, that's exactly what X is, right? It's bs
Ranjan Roy (00:14:23):
Let's not forget Kendall's description as it would be sub stack meets Masterclass meets The Economist meets the New Yorker. I'm
Leo Laporte (00:14:31):
Glad to know you watched the show <laugh>.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:14:34):
I just haven't been able to,
Leo Laporte (00:14:35):
That was a great line.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:14:39):
I haven't been able to get this thought outta my mind that Jamie Diamond is eventually gonna be making content moderation decisions on Twitter. It's unbelievable.
Ranjan Roy (00:14:47):
And he's gonna, he's gonna let us edit tweets even if you don't have a $8 subscription. That's Jamie Diamond for you.
Leo Laporte (00:14:54):
What was it again? CK Meets Masterclass meets the Economi,
Ranjan Roy (00:14:58):
Meets The Economist meets the New Yorker <laugh>.
Leo Laporte (00:15:01):
That's a description of this show actually. I think that's exactly what we're doing here. He did, Elon did get some big names, researchers from Google DeepMind, university of Toronto to join Xai, which is the current name of it. I, he I just wanna write it all off to be honest with you and just say it's, it's, it's Elon's weird bizarro world. Meanwhile, yeah, but threads use is down to six minutes a day. Elon was very nervous about Mark Zuckerberg's Twitter clone. Not doing that well, according, I think Ron John, you po you posted this article from Business Insider. Yeah,
Ranjan Roy (00:15:56):
Alex and I talked about this last week on our podcast. I think that coming out as strong as they did and making such a big deal about making it to a hundred million users was actually a big mistake. I think they, even though they claim that they did no, quote unquote promotion, mark Zuckerberg had threaded or posted to threads or whatever we will call it, I think they clearly, you know, leveraged whatever they had at their disposal. If you, have you downloaded the app?
Leo Laporte (00:16:25):
Oh, I am on it.
Ranjan Roy (00:16:26):
Yeah. Yeah. So it basically, your Instagram, it, you know, pulls over all of your contacts. It allows you to instantly follow everyone. You don't even have to enter information to create an account. So they clearly made it as frictionless as possible and leverage their billion strong Instagram user base. But now it's gotta be interesting. And, and, and normally, I mean, I really was thinking back what communities have succeeded. Again, YouTube succeeds, it starts with creators, homegrown creators, people who really make their way up on the platform. Even Twitter, if you think about it, it developed so well and so strongly because it developed its own voice. It developed its own community. You know, getting to a hundred million users who are not sure what to expect. Having Paris Hilton tweeting at Taco Bell and Netflix and Spotify and everyone else trying to be funny, I feel does not make for a sticky community driven platform. So, I don't know. We'll,
Leo Laporte (00:17:24):
Ranjan Roy (00:17:24):
Credit, we'll see where it goes.
Leo Laporte (00:17:25):
Credit they got the brands to, to move right over there as fast as possible. And even quite a few celebrity names. That's, that's kind of in, in LA latter day. Twitter was the thing that people said they stayed on Twitter for the news, the news brands, the consumer brands and the celebrities. I don't know.
Ranjan Roy (00:17:47):
Yeah. And I, and I think it's an existential business threat to Twitter, whether or not people stick around. But again, they are, and Alex wrote about this I mean, whether, how early advertisers is gonna get on there, whether it's Q4 this year. I mean, I think they are going to get every advertiser over there who's gonna run away from x.com/twitter. And and they want a safe place to go and they want a place they can trust and Meta owns advertisers and it's another place to go. And they're gonna get every one of those ad budgets away from whatever's left at Twitter.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:18:26):
Yeah. And it's more than a safe place. It's Meta's ad platform, which is just able to target people and optimize in a way that's far better than any other social platform could dream of. And Twitter certainly has never held a candle to. So I think when you talk to advertisers, they're not saying, well, I want, you know, a place where like, I have a more politically correct environment to put my Audi my message in front of people. They just said, we want platforms that can make our customers money. And the meta ad platform is so good that that's where we spend our time on Meta and on Google and everything else is an afterthought. And it's just kind of more of that in terms of the monetization potential of threads. But yeah, it means, like Ron John's totally right here that the, the over-hyping of the user numbers in the beginning was a terrible mistake. And just my experience, I've been using threads a lot and my experience there has been that the the, the usage is, is just an engagement is way, way down. And growth has tailed off completely. Which leads me to believe that, you know, they hit that a hundred million user number pretty quickly, but they, their curve must have just flattened.
Leo Laporte (00:19:31):
Are people going back to Twitter? Is that what you think is happening?
Alex Kantrowitz (00:19:36):
Maybe people are just giving up on this format altogether.
Leo Laporte (00:19:38):
That's what I'm wondering.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:19:40):
A lot less. I mean, that's what's happened to me. Maybe
Leo Laporte (00:19:41):
It's the end of social, you know.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:19:43):
Exactly. Well, it's like definitely like you, you used to, so the utility of these platforms was to know what happens in the moment, right? And Twitter has, because of Elon's algorithmic ranking changes and the end of verification of people that were making news has made that prey utility, you know, much less vital to the platform. And then Threads doesn't even want news on it. So it's like, and your blue sky's too small and not,
Leo Laporte (00:20:08):
So when Tony Bennett passed away, God bless him, r i p I didn't learn about it on Twitter or on Threads. <Laugh>, right? Used to be that's where you'd find out if, or at least go, if you heard somebody passed that's where you'd go. But I don't, I don't think that that's the case anymore. That's just one example, obviously.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:20:28):
But the reason, yeah, the reason that Twitter has been so, has struggled to grow past 200 million users or 300 million users if you go monthly, is because most of the population is totally okay getting their news on news sites. And they don't need to know it that second. They can know it five minutes later when it's on like ny times.com or the Wall Street Journal. And, you know, while, while these platforms degrades, and this is sort of the the point I was building up to when these platforms degrade the 200 million or 300 million of us on Twitter and addicted to Twitter, we are, we are forced to go back to homepages again. And many people are gonna be like, well that's not too bad. And maybe I'll do that instead of Yeah. Being on this app that makes me angry and is filled with outrage and, you know, just, you know, disgusting stuff in Chachi PT influencers.
Leo Laporte (00:21:16):
I hope you're right. Cuz that would be I think the most healthy thing, wouldn't it for the internet is I feel like, yeah. Am I wrong? No, no,
Ranjan Roy (00:21:30):
I, I think that's a good point cuz even for me, that question there, there's definitely been a transition period where I'm looking for someone to tell me what's happening right now about everything. And then after a few days you start to realize maybe you don't need to know what's happening right now about everything at that moment. Yeah, I mean I've started opening the New York Times app, more like starting from there. Ftf going to a
Leo Laporte (00:21:57):
News app. Wow.
Ranjan Roy (00:21:58):
Going to a news app. It's like 2011 all over again. This is the future <laugh>. Yeah, I mean it is. And also being more topical and specific of only looking for things that I want to know about actually, tech meme and going to the, their actual site sites like that. I think curators of news that you trust, I think all of these are gonna become much, much more valuable than we were all spoiled. Cause again, if you had built your Twitter feed in a way, in a smart way, that really was the perfect way to tell you exactly what was happening. But that's, it's just not the case
Leo Laporte (00:22:37):
Anymore. It's funny cuz I've been going to tech meme for probably a decade and a half as my f as almost my homepage on the internet, but I am doing tech news, so that's the first place I go. But that's interesting cuz that is a very old school style of sites where they're aggregating stories from other news sites. And, and, and they used to do it. Gabe used to do it automatically now has editors and they do it manually. It's, it is a very old school aggregator.
Ranjan Roy (00:23:07):
Yeah. But then even what I love that they do even add a bit of context and headline to try to add their own Yeah. Perspective. Yeah. Curate tweets, skeets threads, whatever else <laugh> they built into the CMS right now. But I think again, it, it's, it's, it does a good job of, for a community of telling you what's going on. Obviously how you do that different interest areas and communities is definitely not solved right now. And maybe, maybe doesn't get solved in the way it was before.
Leo Laporte (00:23:39):
That's what's old is new again. Maybe that's the answers going back to the old May. What's next? Google Reader comes back. I don't know
Ranjan Roy (00:23:48):
If Google, I believe it's gonna
Leo Laporte (00:23:49):
Be, yeah, it'll be cks and Podcasts. That's the bet here. Yeah. <laugh>, I named big
Ranjan Roy (00:23:54):
Leo Laporte (00:23:56):
Big Technology <laugh>. I knew that this would be a story for you guys for sure. Given your interest in finance and so forth. For the longest time in the US if we wanna send payments to friends, we'd use Venmo or PayPal or cat, the Cash app. It turns out, and I did not know this in the rest of the world, there governments provided clearing houses that were free and widely available and instantaneous. We just never had one in the us. The Federal Reserve Bank has now launched it, it's called Fed Now, an instant payment service that costs nothing. Now, of course, it's gotta attach to your bank, and your bank may end up charging you, even though it costs nothing for the Fed to do it. They're launching with 41 banks, 15 service providers, including JP Morgan Chase, bank of New York, Mellon Bankcorp.
They plan to add more banks and credit unions as the year goes by. It, you know, the Fed has always run a clearinghouse that's taken days. You write, remember writing checks, <laugh>, you'd write a check, you'd put it in the mail, put a 5 cent stamp on it, and you'd put it in the mailbox. They don't have any of that anymore, by the way. And then, and then it would arrive and the dentist's office would take it and they would cash it. And the, and the bank they cashed it at would send it to the Federal Clearing House, which, you know, I think somebody with sleeve guarders and a green visor would look at it and then stamp it, and then three or four days later, that money would be transferred over from your account to the dentist. It would clear that's how we did it until recently. And I think the Fed has finally caught up with the 21st century and the rest of the world. Thoughts on Fed Now you covered the bank. The S V B Bank run. One, one con consideration. I know Rhan was that this would really supercharge a bank run in the future, make it a lot easier. <Laugh>.
Ranjan Roy (00:26:01):
No, but, but I still, I think this is a huge story because I think this is a perfect example of something, a friction that has existed in industry over the last 15, 20 years. That anyone who has traveled, anyone who has friends who live abroad, especially in Europe or in Asia, who can send money to each other instantly, they don't think about what's the fee gonna be? Is it a wire transfer? What app do I have to use? All this stuff just works and it should work here. It should, money should move back and forth very quickly. And I think it's a good, it's a good reminder that sometimes, you know, like a federal centralized program like this that would be most efficient actually is the right solution. And I think obviously the cryptocurrency dream that was sold for a long time around instant payments and you know, ability to send money. Why can't you send money on a Saturday or when the bank is closed? I think it's finally time that, that, that becomes reality. We
Alex Kantrowitz (00:27:03):
Catch up. But isn't this, isn't this proof that crypto won <laugh> and like, this is like a defensive move from the Fed to say, okay, this is our weakness that could have let the Bitcoiners sort of take over and, and it, what's happened now is that, you know, the mainstream way of paying is actually gonna resemble a little bit more like what the crypto dream looked like.
Leo Laporte (00:27:22):
Well, it was the dream, but remember crypto transfers sometimes took a very long time to clear, right? Even though it was fully digital because the way Bitcoin worked it could sometimes take days for a Bitcoin transaction to clear that's
Alex Kantrowitz (00:27:38):
The, this is the true victory that they've pushed the Federal Reserve to be their dream. That even even better. That was
Ranjan Roy (00:27:43):
Exactly what the entire industry wanted.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:27:45):
Toshi Nakamoto, when he sat down to write that paper, thought about this instant Fed Venmo thing and said, if we could get that to happen, wow, I could die happy.
Leo Laporte (00:27:55):
Wow. check your bank to see if you can get fed now and also check to see what they may add on as additional fees is, is widely expected. Banks will somehow manage to make some money out of this even though the Fed does not charge for it.
Ranjan Roy (00:28:11):
Yeah. But it's, it's also a good reminder, again, I think public private partnerships and the potential for them mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and where they can work well, and this is always with payments, having one centralized source that was connected to every individual bank that could basically, as you said, as Alex said live the crypto dream and be that ledger <laugh>. It does not need to be decentralized. Exactly. It's in fact centralized and it can match payments instantly, I think. And then, I mean, banks can profit off of this and that's okay. I think, you know, it's how much they charge. And that level of competition obviously will just kind of continue within the banking industry. But having that underlying infrastructure, I mean, anyone, again, coming from a trading background, especially I worked in emerging market trading, so seeing how kind of, you know, an efficient infrastructure could then grow entire economies or just help other things happen. I think it was a reminder that, you know, it's something that's been lacking in the US for a
Leo Laporte (00:29:11):
While. I don't know how long ago you were at B of a Ron John, but B of A was one of the companies one of the banks that started Zelle, which was the banking industry's response to Venmo, PayPal, cash app, apple Pay a lot of people think Zelle is a problem because it's very easy. You know, if, if you could trick somebody into zing you you got their money and the banks aren't gonna stand behind it.
Ranjan Roy (00:29:39):
I find it's a problem because if I ever say the word Zelle out loud in the social situation, I'll be
Leo Laporte (00:29:46):
What's the other problem? Kids go, what you're using Zelle, could you please Venmo me? Please?
Ranjan Roy (00:29:52):
You're out of the room. You're kicked out. Yeah. but yeah, but, but, but that was also the fraud problems that happened with Zelle. I think were a reminder that it's this, it's this eternal tension between friction, especially when it comes to financial services. But remember, Venmo had a lot of issues, especially in its early days when it was trying to grow around fraud or illicit use at util utilization. So I think it's just payments always a reminder that, you know, it's a battle of between friction and and and util utility. Yeah. Ease and utility. This
Leo Laporte (00:30:31):
Is hysterical cuz I, I'm with a bank that is not signing up for Fed Now so far they have a bill pay service and most of the time it's not an ach, the bank prints a check, which they put in the mail and sent to the payee. Why is it in the United States where we should be on the cutting edge? We are so far behind every other country in the world. How does Canada or or France or any of these other countries, how do they handle the fraud issue? How does the Fed propose to handle a fraud issue? Banks have said we don't want to be responsible if if you, if you sell somebody money, that's your problem, dude. We're not gonna give it to you back if it turns out to be fraudulent.
Ranjan Roy (00:31:18):
Yeah. One of the problems that's happened with Zelle again is if you accidentally send to the wrong person, right. If you send too much money. But I think these kind of things, these are just like UX challenges, right? These are, however these things are built. When Venmo started, there was no two factor authentication. You know, like at a time where you don't even need a secondary input, someone could grab your phone and send money. So I think, you know, every single bank, maybe the Fed as part it to be part of the program does put some liability on the banks, which would force them to put in some additional checks. Because remember so far with Zelle, banks have been so desperate to compete against Venmo on volume that they would do anything to get you over there. And they would remove all friction to get you to use Zelle in the hopes that you switch away from Venmo. Now, if they have a better, more secure solution that works very well, adding an extra button, adding an extra, are you sure you wanna send it to this person? Can you check the amount? These kind of things. I don't think it's no longer gonna kneecap them versus what was happening where they're trying to compete against Venmo. Yeah.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:32:29):
And Zelle does have an interstitial any time, at least with Chase. I mean, I use it a lot for business and anytime I try to use it, there's an interstitial there talking through like six different types of scams saying that if someone told you to send money this way, ah, then you should probably, that's why, you know, pause. And that's good friction there.
Leo Laporte (00:32:46):
You know, I used to say Zelle is fine, it's no worse. On the radio show, people would ask because there were, as another finance radio host who used to rail against Zelle, probably for reasons of his own. But people would say, well, you shouldn't, you shouldn't use Zelle. I said, well if you, it's no different than Venmo or PayPal or frankly an ATM machine if you take money out of an ATM machine cuz somebody walked up to you and said, Hey, I can't get home. Can you gimme 20 bucks for gas? And you gave them that money the bank's not liable for that. Why should the bank be liable for that? So I'm not sure I really understand why people think the bank should be liable for a Zelle transaction, but I'm glad that they are at least kind of warning people that don't fall for this and don't fall for that. It's
Ranjan Roy (00:33:32):
Yeah, I think it's, it's a good reminder, especially large banks in terms of having this stuff built in. Cuz again, their financial incentives are definitely away from allowing too much fraud or too many scams happening where people lose all trust. Cuz they don't wanna lose your trust on Zelle and then you don't wanna get a mortgage with them.
Leo Laporte (00:33:52):
So I think what happened is when credit card companies came along, everybody was afraid to use them. So the credit card companies, in order to get you to use credit cards, said, well, don't worry if there's a fraudulent transaction, we'll we'll back, back it up, we'll give you your money back. And they had to do that to get people to use plastic stick. But that's just because they didn't have a choice. I mean financial institutions don't, so we got, in other words, we got a false sense of security thanks to credit cards.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:34:25):
Yeah, it's a lot easier to back up any purchase when you're charging 18% interest.
Leo Laporte (00:34:28):
Yeah, they can afford to. Exactly. All right, well anyway, watch for Fed now coming to a bank near you or not? I bet my bank Now see, this is why I'm brought up Zelle. Cause I think the banks have already put so much investment into getting Zelle up and running that they don't wanna do Fed. Now they're, they're like, oh, I
Ranjan Roy (00:34:45):
Think they, they're ready to move past Zelle.
Leo Laporte (00:34:47):
Are they? Every I hope so. Everyone wants to move past ze. I hope you're right. I hope you're right.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:34:51):
Is it the name of Zelle? Like, what makes Zelle so
Ranjan Roy (00:34:53):
Unattractive? I dunno the name. It's the name.
Leo Laporte (00:34:56):
Ranjan Roy (00:34:56):
Is it, I don't, I don't know what it is about it, but I think I've said it out loud. I've heard other people say it out loud and every time. And it, and, and it almost always naturally comes up in a very social situation. You're at dinner, you're somewhere where you need to send someone money and you're all talking about it. Somehow Venmo just rolls off the tongue. But Zelle just makes everyone stop for a moment.
Leo Laporte (00:35:22):
It's just a bad name. I just walked by. Isn't it funny? A
Alex Kantrowitz (00:35:24):
Wells, a Wells Fargo and their money send thing, I think is called Fargo, which I think is the best of all the names. <Laugh>. Hey, with Fargo. Well, Fargo is your, like your money assistant
Ranjan Roy (00:35:34):
Fargo. Me man,
Leo Laporte (00:35:36):
Or far yougo. I'll farge you. <Laugh> <laugh>. All right, let's take a little break. We're doing a takeover. Big technology takeover. We got big technology talk. In fact, let's talk about the ftc, Microsoft Le Khan with our great panelists from the big technology podcast and CK you know, Alex Kitz. Great to see you, Alex and Alex, bro Long, his good friend Ron, John Roy his co-host every Friday on the big technology podcast. More to talk about far you i'll far, far me, I'll farge you. We'll talk about that. Just a second. But first, oh, Jesus <laugh>. And you thought Zelle was a bad name. It's our show today brought to you by, and they're sure happy about it. Netsuite. If your business earns millions or tens of millions in revenues, stop what you're doing and listen, because NetSuite from Oracle has just rolled out the best offer we have ever seen.
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Get the visibility and control you need to weather any storm now more than ever. You need this six months, no interest, no payments. What a great special financing offer from NetSuite at netsuite.com/twit. We thank 'em so much for their support of this week in tech. It's been really fun watching the mic drift soft acquisition, AC go up and down and left and right. A 69.7 billion deal. Only now two people <laugh> in the way of this acquisition. The UK competition authority who's worried about cloud gaming and the ftc. And now it looks like the ftc is stepping back. It started with a injunction. The FTC asked the courts to say, Hey, we're investigating this acquisition. Can you, can you, can you issue a temporary restraining order so they cannot get together? The judge took testimony from everybody, from Satya Nadella, from Sony, from everybody and said, guys, there's no reason for this injunction.
I'm not gonna agree to it. I'm not gonna bar it. Microsoft said, all right, then we're going to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who within seconds <laugh> said, no, no <laugh>, no, no, we're not gonna stop it either. Microsoft and Activision of extend, they had a deadline of July, I think it was the 18th. That was the, that was the trigger for the breakup fee. They agreed, no, no, no, this is gonna happen, but we're gonna extend this till October. It can't be very far off at this point except for this little, you know, speed bump that we call the United Kingdom. You guys have any thoughts on this? I guess the first question I would ask is it problematic? It's a big merger. You don't see many 69 billion mergers in the world. Clearly two big companies getting together. Is that by itself enough to worry? You talk a lot, Alex, about financialization of tech.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:40:49):
Let's turn it back on to you. You're a gamer, right? So the main concern here is that Microsoft buys Activision and big Activision games like Call of Duty, are only gonna be available on the Xbox. Now they've signed some 10 year deals to say, okay, it's gonna be available on other platforms like the PlayStation. But isn't that the inevitable end here? Which is that you get platform exclusivity and that's bad for all gamers because the price goes up on Xbox and you can't use it if you have a PlayStation. I
Leo Laporte (00:41:16):
Guess it depends on if you believe Microsoft. Cuz Microsoft has said, no, no, no. In fact, you're right. They've offered a 10 year deal, which they offered in 2021 and Sony finally signed it after this latest setback non exclusivity. They're gonna continue to offer it. Microsoft says, why would not offer it on PlayStation? We wanna make money on Call of Duty and X, we lose money on Xbox. We're not gonna save Xbox with exclusives. Really, if you think about it, if you're a gamer, you know that Sony is far worse on exclusives than Microsoft is far more likely to use exclusives to prop up a the game platform. And it's worked for them. I kind of believe Microsoft is not gonna, does not care as much about the Xbox business as selling software everywhere. In fact, that's the new Microsoft, that's the new Sachin. Andela is we don't, we we wanna sell products to everybody on every platform. So I believe them on that. But on the other hand, I also get nervous when I see giant companies merging. Cuz in the long run, that seems to me bad for gamers or bad for anybody uses their products. These, the bigger the company, the more chances they have to monopolize. Yes.
Ranjan Roy (00:42:32):
I think being, I think being nervous is correct because to me the most interesting part of this FTC lawsuit was, and it was, it was one of the first times where they really were betting on and they ended up losing on the idea of not just looking at the current state of market power, but also where is that market going? And I know cloud gaming has kind of almost been laughed off because of its size right now, but I think it's instructive. If you think about in 10 years, what's gonna be dominant cloud gaming or console gaming, if I were to bet, I would bet on cloud gaming. Mm. If you start, if you start to think about how does every cloud service work, like especially a cloud entertainment service right now, look at Netflix, Amazon Prime video, how do they all get subscribers exclusives?
So to me it's almost inevitable that for whatever they say right now about a 10 year deal, and of course we want console gaming and it's better for us to sell the actual individual units. We all know where the market is going and it's gonna be cloud gaming and we know how cloud business cloud entertainment services work. So to me, this is more, it's actually a reminder of how hard antitrust enforcement is right now because it's never been done before where like, you know, courts are really ruling on where the market is going and trying to make a prediction about that. But it's pretty clear that any kind of market power that's gonna be accumulated, and again who I mean Xbox gaming, Microsoft imagining how they can tie that back in other ways to entertainment, to software, you know, it is just another thing that they will definitely own. And I think Sony in the long run on that, and I think it was a, I mean you guys talked about it here last week. Sony has been great so far at licensing the IP of its games into movies and other franchises where, you know Activision has not been yet. That's definitely another place where leveraging the overall Microsoft ecosystem, I think will be very, very strong for them.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:44:39):
And monopolies are good businesses at the end of the day. So
Leo Laporte (00:44:42):
Opportunity, yes. That's we to
Alex Kantrowitz (00:44:43):
Have one <laugh>, right? But I'm saying you asked about what's gonna happen with this? Is it
Leo Laporte (00:44:47):
Good for business or good for the consumer?
Alex Kantrowitz (00:44:50):
No, it's good for the business that has it. Right? And so when you ask about like, what do we think about this deal that's like sort of like, well, is Microsoft gonna play by the rules? I don't, I don't mean, look, if, if you asked me, if you have the opportunity to do a monopoly, you do it. If, right. If the government has allowed you, that's their job, then
Leo Laporte (00:45:04):
You do it. Yeah.
Ranjan Roy (00:45:05):
I would love to see a banker pitch deck versus what they say in an antitrust lawsuit court on one side in the courtroom. This isn't gonna help our business at all. You know, it's actually not a great deal. What, and then obviously I can only imagine
Leo Laporte (00:45:20):
That's kind of what Microsoft projection, Microsoft said Microsoft was a great Paine to say, this will only make us the number three gaming company in the world. The only, the number three console company in the world after, after PlayStation and Nintendo. You know, Microsoft said we just wanna have a position in mobile gaming, which they don't. And that's what we get with Activision. Hmm. Part of the problem is that at least in the us our antitrust law is, is really out of date. And I think that's one of the things of FTC under Lena Kahn has been trying to do and con and some parts of Congress have been trying to do, is to update our antitrust law to be more relevant to modern times and to protect consumers more. Right.
Ranjan Roy (00:46:11):
Protect Yeah. To, to me the, sorry.
Leo Laporte (00:46:15):
No, don't please.
Ranjan Roy (00:46:17):
To, to me this is a reminder that outdated and antitrust certainly is, is a huge problem here. And, and there's been a lot of debate should Lina Kahn and the FTC taken on these lawsuits, you know, like she was asked in Congress, do, are you taking on lawsuits that you think you can win? To me, I still think these, these actions need to be taken cuz we're at least talking about it right now.
Leo Laporte (00:46:40):
Now what was your answer to that, by the way?
Ranjan Roy (00:46:42):
That it, that we, they do believe that they will not pursue a lawsuit. That they do not think they can win. Okay. That they are that, but to me, actually, I mean, even if that's what she's saying, I feel like I think there's value in them taking on the biggest players. It's a 70 billion transaction that has huge implications for the industry. So versus, you know, for the past decade, the FTC either went, you know, went after small and mid-sized companies or took small actions on big tech companies. Meanwhile big tech, you know, concentrated power to an unbelievable degree. So, so I actually am still very much on the side of taking these kind of actions. Obviously there's certainly endless blow back for any losses that I think, you know, like is is definitely tough to overcome. But I still think it's the right thing to do.
Leo Laporte (00:47:36):
Ever since Ronald Reagan, the United States has not, has really not enforced antitrust law. It was, it was Reagan era economics that said, no, no big is good. We don't wanna get in the way of big business. And ever since the FTC has been rev a revolving door for corporate lawyers and lobbyists has really not fought trusts. And I think if you talk about big tech, you have to talk about it in this context. It's been allowed to become big because we haven't had really effective antitrust law since the eighties.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:48:16):
That's right. Well, you have the regulator that's underfunded. So anyone who's worked inside the FTC makes clear that they just don't have enough resources. I mean, think about this. You're going up against Microsoft trillion dollar company trying to close a $70 billion acquisition. Your budget is like 300 million a year for all, for everything that you're doing. Pretty hard. 500 million the recently increased it. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you're, you're a company that's meant to regulate Facebook. Your annual budget is what Facebook makes in an the afternoon. So, and this is what you're talking about with like the Reaganism stuff is like after Reagan. Yes. And, and we went through a year where, through an era where we wanted to keep these regulators feeble, then Democrats and Republicans all of a sudden came together and they said, well, maybe we should team up on big tech antitrust. They increased the budget a little bit, but not really enough. And they didn't, they haven't passed the laws that they've been talking about and bringing all these CEOs in front of their committees for their YouTube moments. They haven't passed anything. So, you know, effectively you still have big tech in the power position.
Leo Laporte (00:49:17):
Yeah. And really good piece which I did put the link into the show notes from Cory Doctora, who's, as you know, as you know a very strong proponent of antitrust regulation this from the 14th of July. Why they're smearing Lena Kahn. He's talking about publications like the Wall Street Journal constantly harm hammering on how many, and Congress too, let's face it, on how many losses she has. Four, she's oh for four in, in going to court against meta now against Microsoft and others. But Cory points out that Kahn has also done a lot of good things and is fighting the good fight in a lot of areas. I think everybody listening to this show would agree, for instance, click to cancel, which is most recently the FTCs plan to make it require that it be as easy to cancel a subscription as it is to make the subscription that's not even debatable, right? <Laugh>, it's like, just obvious. Of course, it's not the way it is in most cases. And there's, and, and the War on Robocalls. I think we all agree that that war is the good fight.
It's a, it's a good piece. It's a, it's strongly worded <laugh>. Yes, I think, I think the word lick spittle is used and so forth. But but that's Corey, he's really good at this stuff and very convincing. He says Microsoft has a long, long, long history of being a brutal abusive monopolist. It's a convicted monopolist and it's bad conduct in an end with a browser wars. You remember how the lockdown turned all our homes into rent free branch offices for our employees, Microsoft seized on that moment to offer our bosses keystroke and click level surveillance of our use of our own computers in our own homes via Office 365. That's the Viva product that we've talked about on Windows Weekly. If you think a company that gave your boss a tool to spy on their employees and rank them by productivity as a prelude to firing them or cutting their pay is gonna treat gamers or game makers well, once they've spent the competition out of business, you're a incredulous sucker <laugh>, and you're gonna be sowed disappointed. Disappointed. The ification play, this is Corey's new word, which I love is obvious. Use investor cash to make things temporarily nice for customers and suppliers. Lock both of them in, in this case it's with a subscription based service similar to Netflix, and then claw that value back until that all that's left is a big pile of poop.
Is, is Cory wrong? Or, or do you agree?
Alex Kantrowitz (00:52:09):
I think that he, so he is talking about the smears of Lina Khan using his words. Yeah, I think that there's a lot of criticism of Lina Khan, the one that we don't really hear often enough, and I think this is a fair criticism, is that operationally the FTC isn't working as well as it could. And because because of that, we're starting to see the losses in these lawsuits. Now, you know, you, the FTC usually doesn't bring lawsuits that it doesn't think it can win. Right. Which I think is, goes to Ron John's point that they've been going after small and medium companies. Now they're going, they're, they're bringing these higher risk lawsuits, but they should still be winning them. And I think that operationally, you know, that organization could be run in a much better way to the point where it's starting to bring to bear, you know, all of the all of the acumen of its legal teams and ev all the capabilities that it has. And it seems like, you know, just organizationally it's just not working as well as, as it should be.
Ranjan Roy (00:53:04):
Yeah. But th this is also where Alex and I have debated this definitely, and I think Cory doctor's piece really digs in into just how entrenched a lot of the power structures are that, I mean, trying to overcome, again, I think it was 31 outta 41 for recent FTC officials had worked for the companies that they cover, but even more so the judge who actually pushed this through their, their argumentation was already pretty suspect. And he had quoted Matt Stoller on this around the idea that, you know, the executives essentially said, we will not hold exclusives again. You know, it's in our business interest to not hold exclusives that everyone's gonna always get Call of Duty. But, and then because that the deadline was July 18th that she felt it was unfair to the companies and it was, you know, disingenuous of the F T C to try to essentially break that deadline rather than having a full investigation into the potential of the merger itself.
So I think already this is such a big merger, it's such just on a notional dollar value that it's worth having a full investigation into it. But just as, also as a reminder of, you know, how entrenched a lot of these power structures are, it's the judge's son works at Microsoft, not in the games division. So she did not recuse herself, but it's just a reminder of what Lena Kahn and the FTC are going up against. So we, I still keep coming back to not judging them on wins, but rather than judging them on where is the conversation, how is antitrust move forward? And I think, again, thinking about where we are now versus three or four years ago, no one would've even batted an eyelash on this deal.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:54:45):
But you have to judge on wins because there's ideology and then there's legal, there's the grounding and the legal facts. And you could say that, you know, they're in a good place ideologically, and I think going after this Microsoft Activision merger is certainly one of those cases, but if your ideology can't match your legal, legal grasp of the facts, which will give you victories in courts, then ultimately what are you serving? You're like going up there, well there's the
Leo Laporte (00:55:13):
Argument doing these
Alex Kantrowitz (00:55:13):
Lawsuits, but you're not backing up trying to make your ideology, you know, the law of the land. And that's the criticism on kind that I think is legitimate. But there
Leo Laporte (00:55:20):
Is the argument that at least pursuing these, whether you win or lose, you're making companies think twice and, but you
Alex Kantrowitz (00:55:27):
Have to pursue them and win, though. That's, that's what I'm saying. But
Leo Laporte (00:55:30):
Even if going to trial. If trial
Alex Kantrowitz (00:55:31):
Your ideology matches,
Leo Laporte (00:55:33):
Even going to trial could be harmful. I think there was stuff in discovery during this that both mi hurt Microsoft as much as it hurt Sony. And so even going to trial and discovery can be problematic for these companies. And then there's always the risk that they're gonna lose. You don't know what the outcome's gonna be when you enter into this, even if you think you have a strong case. And so it may cause companies to think twice before. I mean, that's the only argument you can make. I agree that she, it'd be great if she would win, but you're, but probably part of the problem is not so much these are bad cases, but that the antitrust law there, that's the foundation for these cases, does not fit well to the current circumstance.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:56:16):
Is that, but then here's the thing. They know the loss, right? So they should bring cases that they can win under
Leo Laporte (00:56:22):
The loss. I understand. And the FTC has said, we, you know, a big part of this is getting new laws. The problem is you're not gonna get Congress to do anything. Right?
Alex Kantrowitz (00:56:30):
Ranjan Roy (00:56:30):
Yeah. Well, that's the thing. You're, you're not gonna get Congress to do anything. So what do you do? Do you continue going after small and medium-sized businesses, or do you take these swings? And as they could lose, if not every single one of these things goes right for Microsoft, if they don't come in guns blazing with all their resources at hand, maybe they do lose. Or maybe the next, you know, the next merger, like this doesn't go through. So I think I still think yeah, you know, pushing forward on these kind of things. Again, two to three years ago, the idea of looking at a future market from an antitrust perspective did not exist in anywhere in the conversation. This decision makes us at least think about it. Yeah. Or has that never happened before?
Leo Laporte (00:57:16):
70 billion seems like I, I can't, I'm trying to think of any of larger acquisitions. There haven't been many. That's huge.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:57:24):
70 Instagrams. 70
Leo Laporte (00:57:26):
Instagrams. Think of how many Instagrams they could have bought with that money. <Laugh>.
Ranjan Roy (00:57:32):
But o only what one? 1.6. Twitters <laugh>.
Leo Laporte (00:57:37):
But Twitter was a little overpriced, wasn't it?
Alex Kantrowitz (00:57:39):
Yeah. Twitter's then, or Twitter's now Probably Twitter's
Ranjan Roy (00:57:42):
Alex Kantrowitz (00:57:43):
Right now. Twitter.
Leo Laporte (00:57:44):
Yeah. I I Is there a Google search greater than 70 billion acquisitions? I don't know if there is. I have to. I feel
Ranjan Roy (00:57:50):
It would be like only oil and gas company. Is there something
Leo Laporte (00:57:53):
Like that? Yeah. I mean, it's giant. If nothing else. It shows you how big the game business is, how valuable it is to, to Microsoft. I mean, this is, this is more than any other entertainment property, right? Huge. Let's take a little break.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:58:09):
One of the interesting, go ahead.
Leo Laporte (00:58:09):
Alex Kantrowitz (00:58:10):
The thought. First thing I'll say is Okay.
Leo Laporte (00:58:11):
Oh, no, go ahead. I'm sorry. I've said conflicting things mean. Go ahead, <laugh>.
Alex Kantrowitz (00:58:16):
Okay, I'm gonna go. One of the interesting things though is that like, you know, the economy has really shifted since this agreement was inked, right? And Microsoft is still like, yeah, we'll pay the 70 billion. So it's, it just goes to show you how big they think this could be. It's,
Leo Laporte (00:58:28):
Yeah. I think Corey's contention is Microsoft wants to put Sony out of the gaming business. I'm not sure that's their case. That's
Alex Kantrowitz (00:58:36):
Leo Laporte (00:58:37):
But you think so? You think that's their goal ultimately?
Alex Kantrowitz (00:58:40):
Yeah. Look, they're, they, this is the thing. Look at their market cap, right? If you're, once you go in the trillion dollar range as a company, you need to squeeze all the growth outta every market that you operate in to justify your valuation. Yeah. So it's not like, wants or doesn't want, it has to, it has to squeeze Sony out of the game, or else it's market cap shrinks and then the CEO is in hot water.
Leo Laporte (00:59:00):
Ah, okay. See, this is why we had the finance guys on this is the, this is the, this is where you get the money show. We've got takeover by Big Tech today. Well, the big tech podcast and the big technology sub stack. It's great to have Alex Kitz here, the host of the big technology podcast, his co-host on Fridays. Ron John Roy. I know nothing about money or finance, so I'm glad to have some actual experts on the show today. Oh, you're running a business, Leo, so, oh, I'm running it in the ground. That's not <laugh>. That's not a good, that's not true. That's not a good sign. If, if these are my financial bonafides V days, I'm in trouble. I'm in deep, deep trouble. <Laugh> our show today. Fortunately, my wife really knows what she's doing. Our show today is brought to you by Mint Mobile.
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I must say it one more time cuz it doesn't sound believable, but it's absolutely true to $15 a month. Just go to mint mobile.com/twit to see. It's pretty much the best deal out there. If you're paying more, the question is why MIT mobile.com/t We thank them so much for supporting our show. Antitrust is coming at Microsoft and other companies though from Europe in big time, the guns are firing. Amazon and Apple have now been fined 218 million by the Spanish antitrust watchdog. Now, this is saying that they colluded, I'm not sure I agree with this one, but they colluded to limit the online sale of Apple devices in Spain. Apparently when Amazon and Apple made a deal for Amazon to send sell Apple phones from Apple on Amazon, they agreed not to allow third parties to sell those same phones. More than 90% of the existing retailers who were using Amazon's marketplace to sell Apple devices were blocked as a result. Apple's device cost went, the prices of Apple's devices sold online went up as a result. Amazon says we reject the suggestion that Amazon benefits from excluding sellers from its marketplace. Our business model, ADA, our business model, hinges precisely on the success of the company selling to Amazon. I think Alex, you might have covered this in always day one Amazon does these deals, don't they?
Alex Kantrowitz (01:03:40):
Yeah. This is, this is part of the business and I also like, don't really think that they care about the fine from Spain. I mean, a couple hundred million dollars to them is, you know it's a drop in the bucket ultimately. And they can, they can put their, their legal team on it and fight it and come to a settlement that's half or a quarter of that and continue to move on. And by the way, I also wanna apologize to your, to your listeners. I said that Microsoft was around a trillion dollars. It's actually, I looked it up in the break, $2.5 trillion. So that's amazing. You're gonna have times that. So now it definitely needs to squeeze out the market. But yeah, wanted to make that, that clarification.
Ranjan Roy (01:04:17):
But I think this also is such a perfect illustration about what Alex was saying around how you have to just squeeze whatever you can. Cuz again, let's think through the actual dynamics of this Amazon. Clearly iPhones being sold on their platform is a good thing overall globally for the business. Apple willing to go on the business but doesn't want third parties to sell them. They want to sell them under the Apple name. A little deal is done. And, you know, globally, that's potentially a huge business for both Amazon and it's good for Apple, but obviously within that limits consumer choice in a country like Spain is, seems to be going after this. The fact that they would even make that deal for the Spanish market and almost, I don't wanna say waste their time, but something that small in their larger business is a reminder that, you know, the dynamics are set up internally where they are trained to squeeze every market for whatever they can. And this is also a reminder, again, like these are the things where we're actually seeing results and wins in antitrust around the world. And we're almost all laughing enough, and I am kind of laughing it off again, 200 million it's an FTC budget, but it's a drop in the hat for them. So, so I think it it, this case actually, you know, exemplifies a lot about how big tech competitive dynamics work around the world.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:05:44):
Just wait until Spain finds out how much Google's paying Apple to be the default search on the iPhone
Leo Laporte (01:05:49):
<Laugh>. Oh, that's, what is that? The estimate I saw last time I saw was 11 billion a year. I think it's gone up from that.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:05:56):
It's gotta be more than that. Yeah.
Leo Laporte (01:05:57):
It's a big, big part of Apple's services revenue. <Laugh> is money a check from Google? Now it's instantaneous thanks to Fed Now, by the way. Yeah, apple says that, well, we're just trying to keep counterfeits off of the Spanish Amazon, but really they're just trying to keep third party sellers from selling iPhones. Apple's always done that. They want to completely control the channel that way they control prices. Yeah, yeah. It's good for their business and maybe it's good for consumers. You know, at least if you're buying an iPhone on Amazon, it's, it's legit, right?
Alex Kantrowitz (01:06:30):
They just decided that they want to, you know, care about counterfeits the moment that Apple came in <laugh> with an exclusive deal for them, they're like, oh, I actually, we don't need to sell counterfeits anymore. <Laugh>,
Leo Laporte (01:06:40):
It's a good deal. It's a profit deal. I get it. I get it now.
Ranjan Roy (01:06:46):
But, but think about a, again, it's within the eu, apple the right to repair. It's a lot more aggressive. So you should, apple has to let you actually repair your device. You crack your screen, you don't void your warranty if you go actually get your screen repaired. But to me, my favorite and the one I'm most excited about and the the realization of good policy is if the app, the next iPhone will have a u s bbc, at least in Europe because they have to and they have to have single chargers. And I can finally get rid of my lightning cables because that is that the day that happens, I will just <laugh>, you know. Yeah.
Leo Laporte (01:07:26):
Let me channel
Ranjan Roy (01:07:27):
Leo Laporte (01:07:28):
Let me channel Apple fanboys though. Cuz I know cause we got a few of them on our show. Mac Break Weekly. That is the EU dictating technology to a technology company. These guys are not technologists. They shouldn't be dictating what happens when the next thing comes along. And everybody's stuck with type C because the EU said you have to use it.
Ranjan Roy (01:07:55):
Yeah. But then don't make my iPad pro u s bbc. Keep it lightning. I just want, I just want, I I'm gonna boy through
Alex Kantrowitz (01:08:03):
Ranjan Roy (01:08:04):
Right. I'm an Apple fanboy, but just let me carry only one or two cables, max.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:08:09):
I completely agree. Walking. Yeah. Yeah. I've been walking around with a broken iPhone 10 for about a year waiting for that USB C 15. If the iPhone 15 comes out and there's no U S B C go on Android. That's ridiculous at this point.
Ranjan Roy (01:08:21):
Oh, it's pixel time.
Leo Laporte (01:08:22):
Alex Kantrowitz (01:08:23):
Leo Laporte (01:08:24):
Yeah. No, I think you're gonna win. I think the I think we're gonna see u s BBC quickly and, and it's the right thing thanks
Ranjan Roy (01:08:30):
To the eu. Thanks
Leo Laporte (01:08:31):
To the eu. Yeah. And also maybe it would've happened anyway cuz as you pointed out, they've already done it with every other device of theirs is type C now.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:08:39):
But now you're gonna have to charge AirPods with the same lightning cable, just like, you know, wow. Just do
Ranjan Roy (01:08:46):
Air my AirPods wireless charging works. The one device where that's true. It actually does the
Leo Laporte (01:08:51):
Job. That's a good point. It does have wireless.
Ranjan Roy (01:08:53):
My iPhone takes like two days, but yeah. Yeah.
Leo Laporte (01:08:57):
No, I'm with you. I'm, I agree with you. I'm not one of those Apple fanboys who thinks the easier use doing the wrong thing. I think we need that. Let's see. Well, speaking of Apple kind of a victory for Apple. Remember there, the Apple Epic lawsuit, which Epic lost in almost every regard. There was one thing the court said is that Apple should open up to third party app stores. And in particular, one of the things Apple really didn't like was the requirement that they undo their anti steering rules. This is a rule that Apple imposes on anybody who offers an app on the iPhone, on Apple platforms, they can't, for instance, let's use Amazon's Kindle app. Now you and I know that you cannot on an iPhone buy a book in the Kindle app, but the Kindle app is not allowed to sit, put a link to the Amazon web store where you could buy it.
Because Apple doesn't want you to do that. They want the 30% Amazon's response is, well, we're gonna turn off buying in the Kindle store, and people just will have to figure out they buy it on the Amazon store and then it appears in their Kindle. It's a problem for Spotify, it's a problem for anything. Anybody that has in-app purchases, 30% goes to Apple. On Monday, apple was granted a motion putting on hold the appeals court ruling that would push its anti steering rules out and let outside developers link to a third party payment mechanism. The the Appeals Court stayed it for 90 days to give Apple time to appeal to the Supreme Court. District Court found that Apple had not generally violated antitrust law with its wall garden approach to iOS, but did order it to drop rules against letting developers include calls to action for outside payment methods. Now they've given him an extra 90 days to petition that with the Supreme Court. And of course, once the petition's filed, it's automatically stayed until the Supreme Court rules. So Apple's gonna have some time it looks like unless the Supreme Court immediately says, ah, screw it. Get outta here, go away. And then they're gonna have to do it. Why is Apple fighting this so hard? It's how hard could it be to say, all right, fine. Put a link to the Kindle store.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:11:26):
They they really want, oh, go ahead. Around John, they want their
Leo Laporte (01:11:29):
Ranjan Roy (01:11:30):
What they want. I it changes, it, it, it changes everything. Cuz I think there was a long period of time where Apple was able to sell the idea that security, you know, like predictability that the App Store brought something really specific. But now we're at a point that, you know, again, buying a book on a Kindle, why does it need to be so difficult once you're trained to know, to go out and go to the website and buy the book, then go back to your Kindle, you start to figure it out. But maybe, maybe this one's gonna hit hard cuz every Supreme Court Justice has a Kindle and has not figured out how to buy a book on their on their iPad or iPhone. So may maybe it'll hit, but, but I think it, it is just a reminder that they, if they give an inch, they're worried about the overall app store tax.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:12:17):
And it just goes to show you like, they've been so adamant that the reason why you have to go through apples and app payments is because they're protecting you against counterfeiters and or, or fraud or whatever it is. And this whole idea of like letting Spotify say you know, you can't subscribe here, but if you wanna subscribe, go to spotify.com. Like they have such a problem with that. Like it does go to show you that it really is about the 30% that they're gonna make. Yeah. You know, credit cards, like they're their intermediaries or their service, they charge like 3%. That's like a normal transaction fee for the transaction fee on the Apple Store to be 30%. You know, that something's wrong. And then actually going back to our theme, that is what, you know, antitrust should be addressing. And and instead we have courts saying, yeah, go keep, keep doing this. Like, I'll let, well, so
Ranjan Roy (01:13:04):
Did you take for
Alex Kantrowitz (01:13:05):
Consumers from figuring out where they can go to actually buy the services?
Ranjan Roy (01:13:08):
So do you think the FTC should take on the 30% tax? Think they can if they, if they can
Alex Kantrowitz (01:13:14):
Win? By the way, my whole point in this has not been the FTC shouldn't take these things on. It's that the ftc, should it be less grounded in the ideology and more grounded in the legal facts when they come out to these case and just like their track record shows that they haven't been, they should treat it.
Leo Laporte (01:13:28):
So if they have, if they like a prosecutor, like a prosecutor does, where a prosecutor assesses the likelihood of winning the case before actually pursuing the case
Alex Kantrowitz (01:13:36):
Or deciding, deciding what type of case to bring based off of the law. Right?
Ranjan Roy (01:13:40):
Right. Yeah. But, but I think the, the difference here as a prosecutor is not being mindful of how they are shaping the law overall. Right? Right. A prosecutor should prosecuting an individual case is just thinking about that individual case. They're not thinking about how do I shape the entire economy? And that's a good point. And, you know, rule of law going forward.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:14:00):
Yeah. So I'll concede that, that we don't have good enough antitrust law to actually come in and, and bring this stuff. And, you know, if Congress decided that it wanted to act, maybe we could change that. But it hasn't decided that, so we're left with this. But that being said, like I don't think that's a blanket excuse for all these losses.
Leo Laporte (01:14:16):
The ninth Circuit Judge, however, even though they get, did grant the stay, the 90 day stay to Apple was not at all happy about Apple's arguments. Judge Millet Milan d Smith writes, while the arguments in Apple's motion may not be technically frivolous, they ignore key aspects of the panel's reasoning and key factual findings by the district court. Remember apple won everything except this in district court. Apple appealed to the Ninth Circuit. Ninth Circuit also upheld the, the, the ruling but subsequently has granted them 90 these days to to, to appeal. Apple ignores the panel key aspects of the panel's reasoning and key factual findings by the district court when our reasoning and the District court's findings are considered Apple's arguments cannot withstand even the slightest scrutiny. Apple's standing in scope of the injunction argument simply masquerade its disagreement with the district court's findings and objection to state law liability is contentions of legal error. They apple's arguments cannot withstand even the slightest scrutiny. So he spanked Apple even while giving them the 90 days to appeal it to the Supreme Court. I guess he felt like he had to give them that.
Ranjan Roy (01:15:40):
I am so curious if this goes to the Supreme Court Supreme who leans in which direction, because I feel Yeah. The, the fascinating, these these cases you know, break down any normal interpretation of, or conventional interpretation of left and right. You know, there's so many nuances. What's in support of business or free markets or, I don't know. This'll be an
Leo Laporte (01:16:04):
Interesting one. I think it's unpredictable. But I do think Tim Cook should invite Clarence Thomas and Justice Roberts on his yacht and take him for a little ride. Just, you know, press the flesh, greet, talk to him, you know, let them see his side. You know what I'm saying? No, it is
Alex Kantrowitz (01:16:20):
Assuming that hasn't already
Leo Laporte (01:16:21):
Happened. Yeah, I know. What can he do? Does, does, does
Alex Kantrowitz (01:16:25):
Aaron Thomas is on the phone with Apple HQ being like, Hey, so what, what type of trips can we take
Ranjan Roy (01:16:30):
Early access to the Vision Pro.
Leo Laporte (01:16:32):
That's it. That's right.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:16:33):
They want augmented virtual reality. See
Leo Laporte (01:16:35):
Justice, perhaps you would like a a tour of our Vision Pro and and it's fine.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:16:40):
Capable. It's amazing. It's a computer on your face. Give us all the rulings in our favor, please. <Laugh>.
Leo Laporte (01:16:44):
I don't, yeah, I don't know how, how the Supreme, I don't think you have any indicator of how the Supreme Court might rule on this. It's just gonna be you know, see catches catch can, we'll see, we'll see what happens. You were excited. I think Ron John about meta and Microsoft introducing llamas into the world. We talk a lot about artificial intelligence. We haven't talked a whole lot about this. Llama is the large language model Meta has been working on and the next generation is llama too. Of course you notice Microsoft got in there real quick. Microsoft wants to make sure if it's AI, that Microsoft is there. <Laugh>, I saw one headline saying meta opens up llama to everybody except the corporations that might compete directly with his business model. <Laugh>.
Ranjan Roy (01:17:38):
Leo Laporte (01:17:39):
Okay. I think
Ranjan Roy (01:17:41):
This is, this is really, really interesting cuz having done a good amount of work with generative AI for a while, I've been realizing that again, the largest, only working with the largest models or the most expensive models or directly with open ai, you can get very, very good results for solving very specific problems with much smaller models, open source models. So I think it's very smart meta coming in late to the game here. They probably are not gonna build some large API driven business like OpenAI. Openai is doing like Google's opening to do. So I think this was the smartest play that they could make. And again, we've seen that, you know, Meta's been well ahead from the technology perspective. Jan Lacoon has driven a lot of this research and has been on the big technology podcast, I believe a number of times. I I think this is very interesting. It is funny to me, as you said, the fact that Microsoft had to get into this press release. Cuz all they're doing is saying it's compatible on the Azure ecosystem.
Leo Laporte (01:18:44):
It'll work on Azure, right? <Laugh>
Ranjan Roy (01:18:45):
Like Yes, of course. Like it'll also work on Google Cloud. I'm sure
Leo Laporte (01:18:50):
Ranjan Roy (01:18:51):
Leo Laporte (01:18:52):
Ranjan Roy (01:18:52):
Absolutely. It's a standard open source model. You can go on hugging face and pull a hundred other ones. So like I I, I was very intrigued by the communications element of how that came together. Overall, do you think
Leo Laporte (01:19:05):
Microsoft gave them some Azure credits? Because if generating these models is very expensive, that maybe, maybe that's what Microsoft did is say, well, here we're gonna help you out here
Ranjan Roy (01:19:15):
To meta Oh, to Meta's research department.
Leo Laporte (01:19:17):
Maybe, although Meta's got the money. I mean if hey
Ranjan Roy (01:19:19):
Alex Kantrowitz (01:19:20):
Yeah. End service.
Ranjan Roy (01:19:21):
Yeah. This isn't some startup scaling startup
Alex Kantrowitz (01:19:24):
<Laugh>. What does it mean for Microsoft and, and open ai, right? Like, does it change Yeah. If it Microsoft is huge partners with OpenAI. So I, that's sort of what surprised me was to see them head you know, front and center on the meta.
Leo Laporte (01:19:36):
Microsoft got something for this. I'm, I mean, clearly Microsoft wanted to make sure that you understood that this will work on Azure, right? That so what, what, what what Facebook has done is they have open sourced LAMA two, which is their next big large language model, and they're making it available free of charge for research and commercial use. And of course, Satya NAIC says, oh yeah, and by the way, this will run in the Azure. We actually, it's in the Azure AI model catalog. But then Facebook said, yep, but it'll also run an AWS and hugging face and elsewhere.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:20:11):
But they didn't mention Google Cloud. So that's like the dark theory here, is that like, maybe this is just something that they decided to the enemy of my out to kind of mess
Leo Laporte (01:20:20):
Enemy is my friend mess Google now.
Ranjan Roy (01:20:22):
Alex Kantrowitz (01:20:23):
That, is that, because like Google, this is like one of the big business lines that Google might have is like, you know, open or, or charging for their, their LLMs and Meta comes in and says, all right, well here you could just have it. Is that Google? What do you guys, do you think that's a legitimate, like possibility here?
Ranjan Roy (01:20:40):
Yeah. Cuz if you think Google could do it integrated across their ecosystem, they have LLMs, they have the cloud infrastructure, they have the cons, the business consumer side.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:20:50):
Ranjan Roy (01:20:50):
Of everything. So, so that's an interesting theory. And
Alex Kantrowitz (01:20:53):
The restriction is that you can't, you, if you have more than seven any products with more than 700 million users, you have to ask meta for permission to use this. And it's not so open anymore. So it's like, who does that, who, who also 700 included in that, huh? Let me see. It might be Twitter
Leo Laporte (01:21:09):
Also. Google, maybe Google.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:21:11):
Leo Laporte (01:21:11):
Twitter. Not Twitter.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:21:13):
Do you get to POTS or not? So you
Leo Laporte (01:21:15):
Guys know all this, you've, you've interviewed Jan Laun. What is, what is this thing? This LA Lama two, what, what are they giving away?
Ranjan Roy (01:21:25):
They, they're giving away essentially the same infrastructure as a G P T 3.5 or four smaller in scope, in parameters potentially, but still you can fine tune your own models off of them. These are foundation models that allow any company to do all the work of generative AI that we all want to do. It's just free and open. And, and as we're, I'm thinking, is this
Leo Laporte (01:21:49):
Like, is this like so they, in other words Facebook has done the hard work of creating these models. That's the hard part. And now you can play with it to, to create your own
Alex Kantrowitz (01:22:01):
Ranjan Roy (01:22:01):
Layers on top of it. Okay. Business processes around it. And the thing is, all these things, there have been tons and tons of other open source models or free models like this. If you go to hugging face, it's, there's a whole community built around
Leo Laporte (01:22:14):
This. That's, that's the home of stable diffusion. And if you have a stable diffusion, I've been running at my house, you can download different models, right? Different things.
Ranjan Roy (01:22:23):
Yeah. It, it's, but it's, it's an entire community of open sourced LLMs and, and for different purposes, different models. So, so as we're talking, I'm starting to think like maybe Microsoft also realized, and there's a lot of people who have said this really is an industry and an ecosystem that can move more towards open source. So maybe Microsoft is hedging their bets as well with OpenAI that, you know, that's their bet on closed and this is their bet on open.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:22:50):
And they're ah, that's a great
Ranjan Roy (01:22:51):
Point. They're making sure they're Satya is everywhere at the same time.
Leo Laporte (01:22:56):
Well, this was also Austral that Microsoft announced that they were gonna offer chat g p t Bing chat, whatever they call it in Microsoft 365. And it would only be $30 per seat, per per month. Which sounds a little expensive to me, but yeah, there's definitely a commercial side of what Microsoft's doing with OpenAI. Well, if your
Alex Kantrowitz (01:23:19):
Google, you, you use Google Docs, you can get all these things for free, right? So right now Google Docs
Leo Laporte (01:23:24):
Has like a vast, all the same. Same is like one a Cadillac and one a Volkswagen. What's, I don't understand. No.
Ranjan Roy (01:23:30):
So this is where I think competitively gets interesting. Alex and I talked about this last Friday. I, if anyone is a chat GT plus subscriber, I subscribe to it just to try this new code interpreter tool. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it's insane. It's like you can upload massive data sets to it of your own things that would break Excel in an instant. And then you just say, actually, I wanna organize the data this way. Can you query what's the average of anything that has, like, things you would write complex Excel functions in the past, you can literally watch it creating Python code to actually do that analysis for you. Things you would've had a data scientist full-time for before. So, so I mean, I was, this is one of the coolest things I've seen in this whole generative ai.
Leo Laporte (01:24:17):
Is it good code? Is it usable code?
Ranjan Roy (01:24:18):
Yeah. It, it gets you the right answers and it works and it works on, you know, instead of, there's no hallucination. This isn't standard l l m where it's, you know, like working off a giant foundation model and it's not even sure what it's saying. It's just creating Python code that gives you an answer to a data query. But the thing is, again, right now, it's worth me paying 20 bucks a month to ch open ai. Is someone gonna come along and do this open source very soon? I think very likely. So, so I agree with you that I think a lot of this stuff is gonna just be the same across and it's gonna be awesome for, for users and businesses. But how this plays out from a business perspective, I think this is this is anyone's game, which is maybe why Satya is again, everywhere, <laugh>.
Leo Laporte (01:25:08):
So we've used, I, I'm trying to understand this. We've used a thing called whisper AI to do a transcripts. A friend of mine uses it to transcribe conversations, feeds the transcript into chat G P T, which generates an action item list based on you know, a recorded conversation. Whisper is using models a it can use different models, right? It could use, and it could use, in theory it could use llama, right? Is that the idea that, that that's a front end to do, let's say, transcription or in your case to, to do Python code and it sits on top of a large language model?
Ranjan Roy (01:25:47):
Yeah, I mean, d depending on per, we don't know whatever it was built on, I would say like people who got in early on this mostly were using a GPT three or paying OpenAI for the API access. But any, any service like that can definitely, it's, I mean, as of now, maybe it's not completely, but you know, Google has models like text, bison OpenAI has G P T 3.5 and four, Facebook has now introduced Llama for free. All of those things could the theoretically be somewhat interchangeable to do that kind of job, especially transcribing, creating action items, summarization like you don't necessarily need the 175 billion parameter gigantic model to do this kind of thing,
Alex Kantrowitz (01:26:34):
But you still end up paying Amazon or Microsoft to, to use it. So it is interesting. It's like, well, big tech is gonna win.
Leo Laporte (01:26:39):
You pay them for Azure Minutes or cloud minutes. Yeah, yeah,
Ranjan Roy (01:26:43):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're still paying compute a lot for compute.
Leo Laporte (01:26:46):
Oh, you, okay. So there's still a lot of computing going on using this. Yeah. It's
Ranjan Roy (01:26:50):
Just that the actual code element of how this all works can be open source. So, so yeah, Alex is right. Big tech wins again.
Leo Laporte (01:26:57):
Yeah, you could, but, well, I could run it if I have a powerful machine I can run, you could
Ranjan Roy (01:27:01):
Leo Laporte (01:27:01):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah,
Alex Kantrowitz (01:27:04):
Give it a call up Nvidia and get a couple more. Oh, there's another win for, I
Leo Laporte (01:27:07):
Need another 40 for five 40 nineties. How quickly, dang it, we thought we were out of the woods. <Laugh> do. So do we know what Llamas trained on? Is it trained on the same data that chat G P T is do, are they, if they said anything about that?
Ranjan Roy (01:27:26):
I mean, I'm not sure. I know the models that they proudly said are smaller. I think they have like a, and again, you can try, I think it's like a 5 billion parameter. The biggest one was 70 billion. So these are smaller than GT four, GT 3.5. And then even within those OpenAI models, they have different levels as well. They have like ada, ba, Carrie, DaVinci of different sizes. So, so in terms of what exactly it's trained on, I'm not sure, is
Leo Laporte (01:27:53):
This smaller model dumber than a bigger model?
Ranjan Roy (01:27:59):
Alex Kantrowitz (01:27:59):
Your contention here is that like they've been, the, the advance is that they've been able to train an on par model with a smaller set of
Leo Laporte (01:28:06):
Data. It's a smaller set of data, but it's just as good.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:28:10):
It's been trained only on your Facebook messages. Leo <laugh>.
Leo Laporte (01:28:13):
So <laugh>, okay, well that's the question. I mean, Facebook has access to the entire corpus of Facebook messages. Is that what it's being trained on? No, probably
Alex Kantrowitz (01:28:23):
Not. We don't know the full details
Leo Laporte (01:28:25):
Yet. We don't know, obviously
Alex Kantrowitz (01:28:25):
A lot of the stuff is gonna be on open source dataset. But you know, they have access, access to
Leo Laporte (01:28:31):
The whole news is that the next frontline in, in AI in the battle over AI is where are you getting this data? You know, we, we saw that Sarah Silverman, the comic is suing open AI because she says it knows my book. You must have given it my book cuz it can summarize it. Number of authors are also suing is that the next frontline of battles? We're just gonna see people saying, well, wait a minute. You can't train on copyright data. You have to have a a, a process. Where did this, where did this come from? Is a legitimate question.
Ranjan Roy (01:29:06):
Yeah. I think both from a copyright perspective, it gets more interesting cuz all it takes is one case and then suddenly trying to understand what a gigantic dataset was actually trained on, suddenly that could become a liability instead of just, you know, unending profit. But I also think it, and again, like I'm almost hopeful or optimistic around this, you start to get more smaller verticalized models that are more geared towards solving specific problems. Again, like transcription modeled that's trained on podcasts only could potentially be a lot smaller, more efficient and, and do that job better than a gigantic model. So, so I think it's, it's it, if it moves in that direction, I think that's a good thing.
Leo Laporte (01:29:52):
Okay. I obviously have a lot to learn about all of this. By the way, throughout our conversation, I keep checking to see if Twitter has gotten rid of the B Bluebird <laugh>. One thing that has happened is you can now go to x.com and it will redirect you to Twitter. Elon's owned ex.com since the days of PayPal. In fact, somebody in our chat room is saying that PayPal, Peter Thiel took over from Elon when Elon tried to rename PayPal to X. So this is a long standing battle.
Ranjan Roy (01:30:28):
How do you get a one letter domain?
Leo Laporte (01:30:31):
Well, you had to buy it in the very early days. I think you can't get one now.
Ranjan Roy (01:30:36):
<Laugh>, are there any, are there any others that are active? I actually, I went to That's a good a.com b.com. And at least those didn't work. And I was trying to think, is this some kind of, I can, like,
Alex Kantrowitz (01:30:47):
I'm on c do com right now. It's Japan's number one internet group. So
Leo Laporte (01:30:51):
See, you can't get it. Okay.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:30:52):
All right. Dot com. And everyone's been saying on Twitter that now Zuckerberg is gonna buy y.com and name threads. Why, but <laugh> y.com can't be reached.
Leo Laporte (01:31:00):
Why not? Is the question <laugh>?
Alex Kantrowitz (01:31:04):
Maybe it's because Zucker is in the middle of fi finalizing that purchase. <Laugh>.
Leo Laporte (01:31:09):
Wow. What a, what a world we live in. I swear. It's just fascinating. And that's
Alex Kantrowitz (01:31:13):
So, I'm, I'm in it's wild. Like I'm in San Francisco right now and I just walked by the Twitter ran by the Twitter headquarters this morning and saw that Elon has indeed painted the w on the side of the building white.
Leo Laporte (01:31:25):
Can you believe what a nitwit. I mean, that is like worst.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:31:28):
And I, it's just
Leo Laporte (01:31:28):
Like stupidest juvenile joke ever. It's
Alex Kantrowitz (01:31:31):
Embarrassing. It's, it's embarrassing. I lived here for six and a half years and to come back and just to see this, you know, kind of, it's a disgrace really. It's agra what
Leo Laporte (01:31:39):
On's. And at the same time he is not paying rent, so,
Alex Kantrowitz (01:31:43):
Oh, they, they better at least paint that w blue if he's not gonna pay for rent on the building. <Laugh>, who might have said,
Leo Laporte (01:31:49):
He said in his midnight tweets this morning that he was gonna chisel the Twitter off the building. They were just gonna jackhammer it right off the building.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:32:00):
I'd like see Eon up there with the, you know, the harness scaffolding and his own little chisel just taking the name. I
Leo Laporte (01:32:05):
Could totally see him doing that. Are you kidding? I could totally see him doing that. Yeah. Do
Alex Kantrowitz (01:32:09):
Do you think hear,
Ranjan Roy (01:32:10):
Do ever know the, will we ever know the real story of like what went on with these late night tweets or what
Leo Laporte (01:32:17):
He really, I think Michael Lewis is gonna have to write the book and I hope he does. Yeah. Lewis, who of course wrote Money Ball and so many great books about well, he wrote about the finance industry was his first first book, liars Poker. Liars Poker was such a classic. So good. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. He was
Alex Kantrowitz (01:32:37):
Embedded. I'm not gonna suggest that it was mushrooms. I won't suggest that
Leo Laporte (01:32:40):
<Laugh>. I think it was though. I think you'd be right. <Laugh>. I think you'd be exactly right. Let's take a break. We'll come back. We have a great panel. It is the big tech podcast. The big technology podcast. Big technology. I'm sorry, I keep saying
Alex Kantrowitz (01:32:54):
Leo Laporte (01:32:55):
Yeah. Yeah. Why do you care?
Alex Kantrowitz (01:32:57):
Because there's a big tech podcast and we're big. If you put big tech podcasts, then it will come on the show. And we're big technology
Leo Laporte (01:33:04):
Podcast, big technology. Spell it out all the way, baby. The big technology. PO and CK Alex Kitz, it's great to have you. Ron John, it's great to, great to meet you and have you Ron, Jon Roy, his Friday co-host on the show. And man, the interviews they get, as you heard, they've talked to Jan Lacoon several times. Just fantastic. You're, you're just knock it outta the park. We're glad to Thank you, Leon, on here. Our show day brought to you by Collide. Speaking of knocking outta the park, collide is the thing. You need a device trust solution if you're using Okta, Okta's great for authentication, but Okta needs collide because collide ensures that if a device isn't trusted and secure, it can't log into your cloud apps. It's not enough just to have authentication. You need to know that that person's not bringing a payload in with them.
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Now, the problem isn't your end users. The problem is those solutions you that you're using that are supposed to prevent all of this, they're not. But it doesn't have to be this way. Imagine a world. Just imagine this, where only secure devices can access your cloud apps in this world. Phish, phished credentials useless to hackers. And you can manage every os, windows Max, even Linux, all from a single dashboard in this world, this is heaven. You can get employees to fix their own device security issues without creating more for your IT team. Good news, you don't have to imagine it. Just start using collide, k o l i d e collide.com/twit. Book an on-demand demo today. See how it works for yourself. This isn't just a must for any company that uses Okta. It's the, it's the second piece of the authentication, K O L I D e collide.com/twit. We thank 'em so much for their support of this week in tech. We continue on, let's see, we're talking about everything, right? <Laugh>. We can talk a little bit about self-driving vehicles. You just took a ride in a Waymo. Alex, welcome to San Francisco. There's nobody driving your car. How'd you like it? It's unbelievable. How'd you like it? It was
Alex Kantrowitz (01:36:17):
So, it was just so cool. I mean, you weren't nervous
Leo Laporte (01:36:20):
Alex Kantrowitz (01:36:21):
I I, I was nervous for like the first 10 seconds, but it drives so smoothly and like you just like sit in the back seat and literally in the front seat, there's no driver and the steering wheel is moving you around San Francisco. And I just think that like, this is much closer than a lot of people believe. Like there was this moment in 2017 where you know, folks were saying, okay, we're gonna get to self-driving next year. And it didn't happen. So people just wrote it off for like the last five years. They're like, it was supposed to be here. It's not here. Well, in the background, these companies have been progressing pretty impressively and having sat down in the car, I mean, you see Waymo's all over San Francisco. Oh yeah. It's just an unbelievable
Leo Laporte (01:37:01):
Experience. And cruise experience. Cruise and GM cruises as well.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:37:04):
Absolutely. Yeah. And I'm, I'm definitely gonna get in into cruise before, before I'm here. And by the way, for, for listeners, I have David Risher, the CEO of Lyft coming on the show in the next couple weeks. So stand out for that. Like yeah. Tune in for that because we're gonna talk about self-driving also, but this is gonna be a huge thing. It's gonna be a new pillar in terms of the way that we get around. It's gonna be rolled out. You, the thing about technology is you can, you can roll out faster and scale faster than the human mind can conceive and it's gonna roll out in a bunch of different cities. I'm, I'm fairly certain and we're gonna have a serious problem when it comes to, to labor because, you know, it, it, this thing is continues on its trajectory then drivers, it, you know, places like Uber and Lyft and traditional taxi services and then maybe even trucking are gonna have to start dealing with this as a threat to their jobs. I mean, it is, it is extremely impressive the, that this thing operates. And I mean I've, I I'm gonna spend in the rest of my time here riding in these things because it's just unbelievable
Leo Laporte (01:38:03):
<Laugh>. Wow. All right. It does. It it, I've heard, somebody told me it drives like a grandma.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:38:10):
Yeah, but Don, what, which good, I mean, grandmas drive. How many grandmas that get in trouble for DUI or reckless driving?
Leo Laporte (01:38:16):
Oh, I like a grandma. So it's okay. It's just like driving with me.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:38:20):
I mean, shout out to the grandma drivers. Yeah. And if this can thing can, can approximate that, then we're gonna have, you know, we were looking up to how many deaths are there, there are 13,000 deaths alcohol related from driving in the United States every year. You know, and then think about all the people who get DUIs, right? Who whose lives can, can be meaningfully altered because of this. Yeah. And if we turn driving over to the robots, that's, that tens of thousands of lives saved in, or 10,000 lives saved in just one country in a year and many thousands more impacted. So I celebrate this. I think that, you know, we'll have to deal with the labor stuff. That's a really important issue. But if we can move to robotic cars, I think it's a great advance for humanity in our civilization.
Ranjan Roy (01:39:03):
Wait, but I, I I think you'd made the point that it's will scale like technology, which is greater than the human mind can fathom. But will it scale like technology? Because again, this isn't software, this isn't bits, it's atoms. Like it's I think like what has pro, what has impeded it from scaling to date I think is an important question. Cuz even for me, like my Honda assisted driving mode on the highway, essentially self-drive, like for a while. I think this technology has been there for a long time. Do you think to, to me it's one of those questions where to scale it, there has to be some kind of public utility and trust around it. There has to be some kind of accepted regulatory, you know, approach to it. Everyone has to be on board. We have to start like, you know, building highways around the technology, which at least the way the industry has gone so far has not been the case.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:40:01):
I just think that a lot of these concerns are gonna fall by the wayside once more people get inside these vehicles and experience
Leo Laporte (01:40:07):
This. It made you a believer.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:40:09):
Absolutely. And I was sort of not, I wasn't even a skeptic or I wasn't a believer beforehand. I was just like, all right, that's never gonna happen. And then just
Leo Laporte (01:40:17):
Being inside. Yeah, that was me thing. That's me still. Yeah. You're confused
Alex Kantrowitz (01:40:22):
Seeing it. I'll be curious. Same
Leo Laporte (01:40:23):
Routes when you talk to the Lyft ceo, cuz really Lyft and Uber were founded mm-hmm. <Affirmative> with on the premise that we wouldn't, the, the, it's not in a sustainable business if you have to pay humans to drive the cars. It's founded on the premise that we will eventually all be self-driving.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:40:37):
Exactly. So we did talk about that. It's gonna be his first podcast interview since taking over Lyft David Rich. Oh, good. So folks should look out for that coming out in a
Leo Laporte (01:40:43):
Couple weeks. Okay. yeah, I mean I think the reason people were willing to watch Uber rack up huge losses year after year is that there was this premise that at some point this would be financially viable, but it's just taken longer than anybody thought.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:41:01):
Yeah. So I think it's gonna, I think we're at an inflection point here watching the way San Francisco's not exactly an easy city driving's.
Leo Laporte (01:41:09):
And there been a lot of stories about curves, about cruises, more cruises than, than Waymo, but about cruise vehicles, you know, blocking intersections, blocking emergency vehicles, getting lost, having to <laugh>. There was one street in San Francisco where there was just a constant parade of self-driving vehicles coming down, making a U-turn and coming back because they refused to turn. That's right. Make an illegal left turn. Normal drivers would just go, yeah, right, I'm not going and would make the left turn, but the car would conti. Well, I can't turn there. I need to turn there. So I'm gonna go down the cul-de-sac Greg, you two in the cul-de-sac. It's very make right turn. They obeyed the law, but it was right hell for the cul-de-sac people. They weren't happy. The one
Alex Kantrowitz (01:41:52):
That I was in was also just like, no, not making that turn too risky. And it dropped me off. Too risky, a little bit further away from my destination.
Leo Laporte (01:41:59):
Alex Kantrowitz (01:41:59):
Just kind of it aborted mission in terms of eter the eternity to make, but
Leo Laporte (01:42:03):
Not the end of the world you were able to walk to. No, your look absolutely
Alex Kantrowitz (01:42:07):
Ranjan Roy (01:42:07):
But, but, but I also, I think that point you make around the, a normal driver would take that left, but they're playing by rules legally, I think. Legally. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I think it's a reminder though, that we need, and, and, and I am very hopeful and optimistic around the technology. I hate driving. I hope like, you know, this, I can just sit in a four hour car ride and do whatever I want rather than have to actually pay attention. That's the dream. But you know, like we, I think it's the more productive car companies can be in terms of actually engaging in how we build our roads and stuff. I think it's gonna be really important to make sure this technology actually does scale. And I actually think, not to bring it back to Elon again, but I think it's better the fact that Waymo's and the crews and eventually Ford and GM and everyone as they're driving this technology as well, they're going to engage with regulators and highway safety and make sure this stuff is done properly rather than trying to kind of, you know, bloat through everything and fight against everyone.
So, so I I I'm, I'm hopeful I j and I hope it comes fast.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:43:16):
It will, it definitely will.
Leo Laporte (01:43:18):
If, if robots can play ping pong, is it just a matter of time? <Laugh>?
Alex Kantrowitz (01:43:27):
I have seen those robot ping pong. There's no joy in the game. There's
Leo Laporte (01:43:30):
No joy. They don't enjoy what they're doing. They do not destroy destroying humans beings. They're loving. I hope to God they don't enjoy it. I would hate to see, I think this is fake. I'm sure this is fake.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:43:44):
I've seen that in person. Not the thero robots. What human
Leo Laporte (01:43:47):
No. The other ones they wear just a machine. Yeah, yeah. No, I've seen
Alex Kantrowitz (01:43:50):
Those. You know, yes. It just goes to show you there's some things that robots should do and some things that robots shouldn't not, I guess it's, guess it's just proving it's, it's proving its ability to do stuff, but like give it the joyless stuff.
Leo Laporte (01:43:59):
So how do you feel about it? Writing articles, Vox, Vox Media, the ceo of geo Media, which owns which owns Gizmoto and on The Onion and Jezebel says get Ready. Because more and more of our articles are gonna be written by ai. It's absolutely, Meryl Brown says it's absolutely a thing we wanna do with more of Meryl Brown is the editorial director at geo. I don't can can geo write a a, a humorous article in the, like the Onion. Yeah.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:44:40):
Like, let's wait until they can write a funny Onion article with automation before we imagine this is gonna be anything besides like the least quality list. Listicles stories. Yeah. And mystical. It's not gonna be, people aren't gonna read publications because there's good ai. It might fill in some of the gaps in some ways, but it's not gonna be able to do any of the differentiated writing. So for the writers that are on staff, if you can't do better than the undifferentiated ai, there are bigger questions you need to be asking besides AI's ability to take your
Leo Laporte (01:45:09):
Work. It it takes away the, the grunt work articles, the, the listicles, the, the things that really, no, you know, this is what CNET said, what Conne Gimo said when she was on our show is that nobody wants to write those articles. And those are the, those that's the grunt work. And it can do those just, yeah.
Ranjan Roy (01:45:26):
The not that, and that's the perfect representation of where it should, or it could work well is the idea that the grunt work, the repetitive stuff, the stuff you don't really want to do but potentially does need to get done. It does that for you. And then you have more time to actually write differentiated content. Cuz again, remember generative ai, everything is about taking what's already out there. So if you're writing something completely original, if you're, you should and you will not be replaced. So I, I'm still bullish on the idea that it can do the grunt work, but I actually think the bigger implication for the media business is when everyone can write that repetitive listicle article in near instantaneous real time. Like that actually changes the economics of how those businesses worked before. And again, like it's writing an SEO friendly listicle might have brought in some ad dollars in the past, but if anyone can throw up a media site and get that traffic and create that same article, I think then it does pose a bigger challenge to media companies.
Leo Laporte (01:46:33):
Do you think that the Writers Guild and the actors struck at the wrong moment that they could, that this is the moment the the studios are gonna step up and say, good, well guess what we got to to replace you ai? Or, or is it not there yet?
Alex Kantrowitz (01:46:52):
I think it's not there in almost all use cases.
Leo Laporte (01:46:55):
So this would be like the last, this would be the last time, the last moment that the writers and say, I could go on strike is we better do it now because in a few years we're our, our livelihoods will be threatened.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:47:08):
Yes. That's the other side of it. So like, it's not gonna take away like any actor's jobs right now, but there are some like Yeah. Precedent setting moments where they can really have a, make a difference here. So for instance, there there's a, a line in this proposed contract that allows background performers, so not like, you know, the Tom Cruises of the world, but like the folks who are in the background of a extras of a show Yeah. Extras. Or even maybe someone with like one line, I I don't fully know what the definition is, but something in, in that realm they can get like scanned and processed and like, then get paid a one-time fee and the studios can use their likeness for in perpetuity if they'd like. So, you know, I think that that is, you know, one place where this, you know, you could start to have your fight, but then again, like we've also had CGI extras, you know, for, for a long time now. So it, it seems to me like this is really about some other stuff and they're using this as like a rallying cry for their members. And, and you know, by all means go ahead and, and do it. But like, I don't think that we're gonna be in a position where we're gonna have AI actors start to create leading entertainment. And again, if you're an actor and you can't do better than an ai then it's time to ask some bigger questions than whether an AI can replace you.
Ranjan Roy (01:48:25):
Yeah. And I think using AI as kind of the like central theme or talking point from like the PR side of the entire strike has been smart. I think like it makes it much more targeted rather than an entire business model is broken in talking about the earnings of Disney and like, you know, losses on streaming services and the changing nature of a broken business model. I think talking about they're gonna try to steal my, the, I mean, when Alex says that line, like, I mean, you're gonna remember it. We all remember it. The idea that they're gonna scan me and then use my likeness and perpetuity for a day's pay. No one anywhere is gonna feel good about that. I actually can't believe they put that into any kind of negotiation cuz someone somewhere should have told someone to not do that. But, but I, I, I think still, especially visual, especially acting, I think we're, we're a long ways away from anything being like severely affected by ai.
Leo Laporte (01:49:28):
The Biden administration has announced, well, you know, for a long time the, the knock on Silicon Valley was a startup would would ship the T-shirt and then start working on the project. The product, the Biden administration has shipped the T-shirt <laugh>. There's a new cybersecurity label, the cyber trust mark that would e establish that some iot device you're about to buy has satisfied certain requirements from the cyber trust mark program and has earned the cyber trust mark. Of course, we just don't know what those requirements are and they really haven't, haven't said yet. I think it's a great idea. They're talking about privacy as well as security. One of the requirements would be that the IOT device can be updated over the air so that you can, I mean, there are a lot of iot devices that have security flaws that cannot be patched these days. For instance the CI
Alex Kantrowitz (01:50:32):
Doesn't it seem like sorry, go ahead.
Leo Laporte (01:50:34):
The cyber trust mark will bear signify the devices bearing, it meets security standards based on those established in a report by the National Institutes of Standard and technology expected to be 2024 labeled hitting devices soon thereafter. This is the the NIST profile of the IR i t core baseline for consumer IOT products that they're talking about. I think this is a, a great idea. Just, you know, we're, it's more than a year off at this point. Go
Alex Kantrowitz (01:51:12):
Ahead. It also seems like something that was hatched by industry to make the incumbents sell more refrigerators.
Leo Laporte (01:51:19):
It's calm down. Well, didn't it, that's what they did with the epa logo. Right. When you buy a refrigerator nowadays, it's got a big EPA rating on it as to its energy efficiency. But that's a good thing, right?
Alex Kantrowitz (01:51:31):
I think it's a good thing. I just would say that this, all these programs tend to be either a, written by the industry players that will tend to benefit the most by them. That's typically what happens, right? Right. Or b, they, they find a way to use these terms or use these labels to find, find, you know companies that don't necessarily meet all the, all the standards or don't really fit the spirit of the program and up getting like the gold standard of them. Like E S G, for instance, has been one of these type of labels that's actually been manipulated by industry incumbents, where like, you now have oil companies, they're, you know, they're E S G companies. You know, because they find a way to wiggle into these, into these terminology. I, I just think that like, putting this official government stamp on it as opposed to having the companies try to market it themselves and like actually win on the merits is, is an issue.
Leo Laporte (01:52:21):
Yes. Environmental, what is it? Environmentals? Social governance. Social governance. Social governance. Three different things. So it's running a company in a responsible way, basically environmentally and socially. Yes. And having good governance and having, having good governance. Yeah. I remember when I was a kid, we went on a tour of a power plant, the Narragansett power plant, which was run on, on coal back in the days. And I, I know it was cuz it had big scrubbers on the stacks that mm-hmm. <Affirmative> every month would dump soot on my windowsill when they blew out the scrubbers. And it had all over <laugh> all over the plant. And this is in the sixties. It had you know, environmental slogans, you know I can't remember what the slogan of the time was. Kind of Earth Day period where, you know, don't pollute be good, you know, green, I think green may be everywhere. And I asked my teacher, that's interesting cuz this is a coal-fired power plant that's pumping so onto my windowsill. What's the deal with the green? He said, if you post this everywhere and you post it enough people will become immune to it and then you won't have to worry about actually doing it.
Ranjan Roy (01:53:33):
Yeah. Well do, do you know who came up with the, this one still always fascinates me. Who came up with the concept of a personal carbon footprint? The idea that you need to think about your own emissions. Who? British Petroleum
Leo Laporte (01:53:46):
Ranjan Roy (01:53:47):
Yeah. I think it was like two th it was a marketing campaign and it was and and it's one of those that like every time I worry it's not us.
Leo Laporte (01:53:53):
I'm, we're not the problem, you're the problem <laugh>.
Ranjan Roy (01:53:56):
Think about. But it's brilliant. These it's because the more complex you make it and the more difficult to understand, it's, it's brilliant on their side. But, but on the iot side, I Okay. As a someone, do you use any smart home?
Leo Laporte (01:54:13):
I do. I have a doorbell and I have every room as an echo and a Google and a Siri in there and listening to every word I say. And we have some huw lights, that kind of stuff. Yeah.
Ranjan Roy (01:54:25):
And and how easy or difficult was it to get that stuff? Murder
Leo Laporte (01:54:30):
Ranjan Roy (01:54:30):
It's murder, right? It's murder. I, I, I have, I obsess. I'm, I'm a little obsessed with this stuff and blinds that go up and down. Yeah, yeah. And every room and I switched over to the home pod and the entire kinda apple home infrastructure. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. It's murdered. And what's compatible with what is, you never know. Half the stuff doesn't work or you have to like, try to, you know, even the setup is murder. But this is one area where the whole entire iot industry with the matter protocol, I think has been incredibly fascinating. It's been an actual standardization across all these different protocols that everyone has gotten on board. Everyone Apple, Amazon, Google, that every device should start to all, you know, hit this same protocol and actually be compatible. And I think it, it's something where thinking about it must have gotten to a point where they realized they will never be able to actually make scale this industry because it's just too difficult to make anything work. So when they actually have their back against a wall and something is not working for consumers, it, it was a reminder, at least this one hopeful moment that they will get together and and actually make something good for the consumer.
Alex Kantrowitz (01:55:44):
Kumbaya baby. Yeah.
Leo Laporte (01:55:46):
<Laugh>. You guys are just matter cynics. You're just cynics. That's all. But you're right. Didn't I believe
Alex Kantrowitz (01:55:52):
Didn't anything in cars? Yeah.
Leo Laporte (01:55:53):
Alex Kantrowitz (01:55:53):
You do, don't you? I think it's, there's something like when this is a thing like, you know, I, I think there's a lot, there's, there's worth to well merited criticism and when we believe in something, we're gonna talk about it. So it's like, it's opposed to being on the side on one, totally on the side of industry or totally on the side of the critics. I think what's nice about the dynamic we have is like, when something is great, we'll say it's great. And when something sucks, we'll say it sucks.
Ranjan Roy (01:56:18):
Yeah. And and again, my entire home is just outfitted with home pods as far does it work as I can see? Does it work? It works. And then suddenly one thing will break and my wife will kill me. Cuz I have all these different scenes set for each bedroom and like turn it to kids' bedtime and it doesn't work. And so kids are
Alex Kantrowitz (01:56:37):
Up till midnight.
Ranjan Roy (01:56:38):
Yeah. Every moments lay Alexa, it works perfectly and then I feel good. But, but it will, thanks to the matter protocol.
Leo Laporte (01:56:44):
Oh, that's, hope we can butt hope. I have some hope in Massachusetts, they're planning to ban the collection of cell phone location data. This is something that frankly the Congress should be doing. But there as Carl Bode writes in TEC, the US has long been too corrupt to pass even a basic privacy law for the internet. Most regulatory actions that agencies like the FCC are theatrical at best. Carl is another angry man. And while the FTC has been taking specific action against some companies, we're not doing much in terms of an overarching solution for the broader problem, which means it's often, as is often the case as left to the states. So Massachusetts, which is preparing to be the first state in the nation to ban the collection and monetization of user cell phone location data. It's not a law yet.
It's called the Location Shield Act. Massachusetts State Legislature held a hearing last month on it, a sweeping proposal that would sharply curtail the practice of collecting and selling location data drawn from mobile phones in state. It would also institute a warrant requirement for law enforcement access to location data. Did you know, by the way, they don't need a warrant, they just need a, it's called a pen register and they can, they, in fact, most of the cell phone companies have a portal where law enforcement for a couple of bucks can just log in and find out where you've been, what you're up to. The bill would also ban data brokers from providing location information about state residents without quote authorization. You know, law enforcement does not like a bill like this. They like to be able to do this. It's much easier for Congress to say TikTok China bad, get rid of them than to actually pass an effective privacy bill. According to Carl and Tech Dirt, it's, it seems likely that this'll, this'll pass. The bill is expected to be passed. But Carl says, I wouldn't be shocked cuz he's a cynic. I wouldn't be shocked if it's dramatically weakened or modified before that happens. Law enforcement and industry definitely doesn't want Massachusetts to break a to disrupt a very broken and very profitable status quo several decades in the making rights, Carl Bode. But you all would be in favor of such a law, right?
Alex Kantrowitz (01:59:15):
I like it for sure. Yeah, I mean, I think that, like, I'm often, especially with like, you know, phones, apps, you know, you see what they collect and they, they obviously collect more than they need. And so yeah, there's, there should be some protections in terms of like, you know, why isn't this, you know, something universal where they cannot collect this stuff. Like it doesn't, it's just no, there's no reason to, especially like on, you know, on the phone for instance. Like there are things that happened that should never happen and you know, it's like nice to see that Massachusetts is taking the initiative here. I don't know if it will actually spread. I mean, it would be nice if it spread, but I think that like, here's a theory that when Snowden came out with his revelations, because these all have, like, they're all downstream of that.
People were initially like, oh my God, what's happening? And then, you know, they were kind of like, all right, whatever. And the second that happened, it was almost as if like, it was difficult for, for any of this privacy stuff to gain momentum because it's like sort of like the biggest bombshells have already had already been revealed and the responses muted. So, you know, we'll see, you know, little things like this and that's good. But in terms of like having something like this be the law of the land, a little more skeptical that, that, that could actually happen.
Leo Laporte (02:00:25):
Meanwhile, yeah, for me, I, go ahead.
Ranjan Roy (02:00:28):
I was gonna say, I, I, I feel the regulation needs to be around the profit incentives and the profit motives behind this stuff because as, as Alex said, and we've seen repeatedly, like from a consumer perspective, it's terrifying at moments and then everyone forgets about it because it's so difficult to process exactly what's going on and try to like, you know, see under the hood and the web of ad tech companies and data brokers and what's moving where it's like incomprehensible for the average person. So you just forget about it and scroll your threads and Instagram feed or whatever else. So, so I think it's, it, it's up to regulators and policymakers to really focus on what, who's making money and where and what's. Okay. Because again, I think the, I agree the law enforcement argument is almost guaranteed to derail this effort because, you know, you go out and you say, obviously there's some number of people that are always gonna be wary of that, but the safety claim, I'm sure will convince any enough people that they want this to be allowed for law enforcement to be able to track people. So I think it's just a, it has to live at the layer who's making money off of you and your location at any point, which is still definitely a lot of people.
Leo Laporte (02:01:46):
Yeah. Law enforcement is always gonna say, but we do so much of a better job when we know where everybody is, what they're up to, what they've been doing. So don't get in our way, but at least in this country, we've had a longstanding belief that perfect law enforcement is not necessary if it impinges on the freedom and liberty of the people. If it's anti-constitutional, the Senate is considering a bill, a new bill, the bipartisan Cooper Davis Act on behalf of the dea requiring social media companies, encrypted communications providers and other online services report drug activity on their platforms to the dea, it advance to the Senate floor on Thursday. You know, it's for a good cause, right? It's named Cooper Davis was a Kansas teenager who died after unknowingly taking a fentanyl laced pill he bought on Snapchat.
Well, in that case, we've gotta b we've gotta be, make these guys report. It require social media companies, other web communication providers to give the d e users' names and other information when the companies have actual knowledge that illicit drugs are being distributed on their platform. However, if this bill passes privacy advocates caution, there could be a death blow to end-to-end encryption because it includes language holding companies accountable for conduct. They don't report if they quote deliberately blind themselves to the violation. How would they deliberate? Oh, by encrypting end to encryption. Well now they're liable cuz they that we need to know if this activity's occurring.
So Massachusetts residents, please write your state legislators and say, good thing, please pass this bill. Protect us against data collection about our location and the rest of us write your congress critters saying the Cooper Davis Act is, you know, I think a red herring it's being introduced, yeah, save the Kansas teenagers from buying fentanyl based pills on Snapchat. But really it is to end, end to end encryption. And I think this is clearly problematic. And yet it's moving along quite quickly, of course, in Congress because, you know, nobody's in favor of fentanyl laced pills on Snapchat. All right, little break. Then a couple of final words with our great takeover from the big technology podcast, Alex Kitz, great to have you. I should also mention that our o other guest also has his own newsletter on CK called Read Margin, read Margins,
Ranjan Roy (02:04:38):
Leo Laporte (02:04:39):
What is Read Margins about Rajan Roy?
Ranjan Roy (02:04:42):
The We, the technology of business and the business of technology. We try to look at the underlying kind of stories that connect technology and business together. So that's how the big technology podcast and margins got together. Nice. Similar types of stories.
Alex Kantrowitz (02:04:59):
Nice. Yeah, I basically read a bunch of Ron John's stories over a winter break and DMed him and was like, please come on the show. And he came on a couple of times and we had some good conversations. And then it's like, you can see if you're, if you're listening now, like Ron John's like a brilliant business and tech analyst, and we had sudden great conversations and in January, or coming up on January, I was like, why don't we just do this every week? So we added a show on Fridays, that's a quick show, 45 minutes or so that just covers the week news with the week's news and it's been a blast so far.
Leo Laporte (02:05:31):
Well, that's exactly what I'm talking about, <laugh>. You can read, read margins, you can listen to big technology or do both. It's great to have you guys, our show today brought to you by AEG one, the daily foundational nutritional supplement that supports whole body health. You know, I was, I used to have this pill minder with these big every morning and night, a fist full <laugh> fist full of supplements and vitamins and, and probiotics that I would take. Look, we all wanna support our health, but I'm guessing you don't wanna swallow a fist full of pills, sacrifice your taste buds, or empty your wallet. That's why you need Ag one through a science driven formulation of vitamins, probiotics, and whole food sourced nutrients, AG one delivers comprehensive support for the brain, the gut, and the immune system. All of that with a, a delicious beverage.
I drink every morning, first thing in the morning mix ag one and 12 ounces of cold water. It's good, it tastes good, and it really does the job. I'm not surprised they've been around since 2010. AG one has improved their formula 52 times in that time to, in the constant pursuit of making the best foundational nutrition supplement possible. And, and this will save you time, this will save you confusion and will save you money. Each serving costs less than $3 a day when you subscribe. That's a lot less than I was paying for all those supplements. G one makes it easier for you to drink the highest quality supplements and it does it all. Whether improving digestions, supporting your sleep, it's the best bang for your buck. So if you're looking to take ownership of your health with a simpler, effective investment, start with a G one, try G one and get a free one year supply of vitamin D and five free Ag one travel packs with your first purchase of a subscription. Go to drink ag one.com/twit drink ag one.com/twit. We had a great this week on Twit and I believe we have a little mini movie to tell you all about it. Watch
Leo Laporte (02:09:10):
Oh, so great to see Megan on the show. That's awesome. Should mention by the way that we've got some big Club TWIT events coming up. I'll just mention this briefly and we'll get back to the show because there's a new one we've just announced. But first let me mention, if you're not a member of Club Twit, seven bucks a month. The club is great. Lots of special content just for Club Twit members like this Fireside chat with Rod Pyle coming up on the 27th. Of course we do Home theater geeks. We do a number of shows that are only in the club. Scott Wilkinson's, home Theater Geeks is a good example. Rod's this week in space launched as it were in the club. We've got hands on Mac, hands on Windows, the Untitled Linux show also coming up. I know we had to cancel.
I'm sad to say the wonderful Aunt Pruitt show hands on photography, but, but it's really basically been taken into the club. He's gonna do a photo critique session on August 4th, and then we are planning a downtown photo walk. I will be there, Lisa will be there Saturday, 6:00 PM in Petaluma. So if you're Northern California on August 26th, please and you don't have to be a club member for that. We would love to see you, but if you're on the club, click that interested button so we can get some idea of how many people are showing up. We've got a book club at the end of the month, and then September 7th, I don't know if you were around when Ann interviewed Hugh Howie, the author of the wool series, which was the basis of the Apple TV plus show Silo. Hugh is good friends with another friend of the networks, Daniel Suarez, the author of Demon and Freedom tm, and so many other great books.
They are gonna join Ant on stage. I'll be there too. <Laugh> September 7th. I'm not gonna miss this one. Which is a Thursday at 2:00 PM for a special fireside chat with two of our great science fiction authors. Those are just some of the events that are in the club. You also get ad free versions of all the shows. You get special shows we don't put out anywhere else. You get access to our fantastic Club Twit discord <laugh> full of animated gifts of all kinds <laugh>. So get in the club, seven bucks a month. There's yearly plans. There's family plans, there's corporate plans. We would love to have you <laugh> Club Twit. Thank you. Mashed potato for very timely animated gift. I have been checking all through the show. Twitter is still blue. There is still a bird, so we don't know when that's gonna change.
We will end the show with a, on a sad note. One of the, one of my good friends for a long time, a guy who used to come on the screen savers. He was a hacker. He became a security guru, an expert on social engineering. The great Kivan Mitnick passed away, sad to say at the young age of 59. This week our our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. I think he has a baby on the way. Very sad. But I thought I would use this occasion to bring up a, an episode of the screensavers we did 20 years ago when Kevin joined us. Now remember, he'd been convicted of hacking and the conditions of his parole was that he would not go on the internet for some time. 20 years ago, he finally got the letter saying he could go on the internet, and he very kindly agreed to wait until he could come on our show. The Screensavers on Tech tv. Kevin joined us on the, the Screensavers
Young Leo Laporte & Steve Wozniak & Kevin Mitnick (02:12:53):
Leo Laporte (02:12:53):
Maximum. Yes, that's a very young Leo LaPorte
Young Leo Laporte & Steve Wozniak & Kevin Mitnick (02:12:56):
Household term on his
Leo Laporte (02:12:58):
Release from. And we brought in some special Kevin
Young Leo Laporte & Steve Wozniak & Kevin Mitnick (02:13:01):
Barred from using the internet that was
Leo Laporte (02:13:02):
Terms his probation. Yes. To join Kevin. First
Young Leo Laporte & Steve Wozniak & Kevin Mitnick (02:13:04):
Time in eight years, Kevin Mitnick is finally gonna be allowed back online and it's gonna happen today. Welcome Kevin. It's good to have you on the Yes. Let me introduce Emmanuel Goldstein.
Leo Laporte (02:13:14):
Emmanuel is one of the guests
Young Leo Laporte & Steve Wozniak & Kevin Mitnick (02:13:16):
Of 2,600, the Hacker Quarterly.
Leo Laporte (02:13:18):
He was the devil on Kevin's left shoulder
Young Leo Laporte & Steve Wozniak & Kevin Mitnick (02:13:20):
Community. Do you know each other very well? All right. He actually helped start the free Kevin movement. All right, there you go. Behind. So he got, and I see you brought some gifts. Yeah, I brought this for myself. But you can have some champagne champagne forever. You're celebrating. And, and to show you that times have changed. There's a new book out now called Takedown. Oh no, takedown. Not the takedown that you're so familiar with. This is, that's a book about you. No, no, no. That was another book.
Leo Laporte (02:13:43):
Kevin hated John Markoff's book about him called Takedown book, but he was wasn't the only special guest. We wanted to bring an angel in as well on his right shoulder
Young Leo Laporte & Steve Wozniak & Kevin Mitnick (02:13:51):
Angelic side. Steve, come
Leo Laporte (02:13:53):
On in. Steve was the
Young Leo Laporte & Steve Wozniak & Kevin Mitnick (02:13:55):
Leo Laporte (02:13:56):
Steve gave him the latest model. Believe you held
Young Leo Laporte & Steve Wozniak & Kevin Mitnick (02:13:59):
Out and didn't get on the
Leo Laporte (02:13:59):
Internet. Oh, my Macintosh Power book. Who are
Young Leo Laporte & Steve Wozniak & Kevin Mitnick (02:14:01):
You? Look at this Drive Blue Gift. Who drew that? That's awesome. I thought it up this morning, but our artist at the company drew it. Look at that. I can draw at the new, the new. I hope you enjoy it. So don't disturb the picture. And I'm pro-choice, so if you prefer a PC over a Macintosh, Darcy I'm sure can help. Is this, is this the new is this the new power book that's it's, it's the current one being sold. Oh, boy's a good one. I'm gonna put this right here. And, and to be fair, that's an Apple product. Yeah. Microsoft office and some blank DVDs.
Leo Laporte (02:14:29):
Anyway, the, the whole video is probably pirated up online on on YouTube. We just really enjoyed the time we got to spend with Kevin. He was an amazing guy. One time he came on the show with a pile of tuna fish cans. He said all he ate in prison, he was in jail for several years, was tuna fish. And he brought in all the leftover tuna cans from his time in prison. Eight years he was banned from the internet, was able to come back on in I think it was July 20th, 2003. I think it was exactly 20, 20 years ago. Kevin Mitnick r i p, rest in peace. Hack in peace, Kevin dead at the age of 59. Thank you so much to our panelists. I really appreciate the time we've get to spend with you, Alex. It's always good to see Alex Kantrowitz. Thank you for joining us. Nice to see you. Yeah, great to see you.
Alex Kantrowitz (02:15:24):
Thank you, Leo. Thank you so much. Always great to get a chance to speak with you and talk about the latest in tech. And, you know, I think I can speak for both of us with the big Technology Friday crew. We're just so grateful to get the opportunity to come here and get a chance to show you and you're our listeners, what we do every week. So really
Leo Laporte (02:15:39):
Appreciate it. I'm just glad to have some brains on the show. That's all <laugh>. I really appreciate it. Ron. John Roy, really nice to meet you as well. He not only hosts the Friday edition of the Big Technology podcast, he's also a writer and editor of Margins, which is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you Ron. John, I hope you come back. It's great to have you on. Yep, thank you. Great to meet you. Www.Read, you have to type the www in if you're gonna go to reed margins.com. Really good stuff. Fascinating to read about tech from the finance point of view. We always forget that how, how it intertwined. The two are, ladies and gentlemen. That's it for this week in tech for this week. Thank you all for joining us. If you enjoy the show, join the club twit tv slash club twit. That helps us out.
Of course, you can watch us do it live, as with all, almost all of our shows, we stream 'em live at live twit tv. If you're watching live try chatting with us, live our chat room, and you can go there with a browser or an IRC client is IRC twit tv. You can also of course chat in the Discord if you're a Club Twit member as the show goes on after the fact. The show's available on our website this week in tech at twit tv slash this week. Intech. You'll also see on the page there a link to the YouTube channel dedicated to this week intech. That's a great way to show to share clips with friends or family or just watch it yourself. There's also probably the best way to get it is subscribe. It's a podcast. Find a find your favorite podcast player and subscribe to this week in tech. And you'll get it every Sunday, right after we do it Sunday every Sunday from two to 5:00 PM Pacific. That's five to eight Eastern. That's 2100 utc. Thanks to Ron, John and to Alex. Thanks to all of you for joining us. We'll see you next week. Another twit is in the can