This Week in Tech Episode 941 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 & Cory Doctorow (00:00:00):
It's time for twit this Week in Tech, and we have an amazing show for you. All I really need to tell you is Cory Dro, Rebecca Giblin. Co-Authors of Choke Point Capitalism will talk about ai meta news ban in Canada. We'll talk about the F T C. There's so much to say, but really the best part is just listening to the two of the smartest people I know. Explain what's really going on. Next on twit

TWiT Intro (00:00:30):
[00:00:30] Podcasts you love from people you trust. This is twit ttt.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:00:44):
This is twit this week in Tech, episode 941 Recorded Sunday, August 20th, 2023 quake. This episode of this Week in Tech is brought to you by Express v pn. Protect yourself with the V [00:01:00] P N I use and trust. Use our link express today. You'll get an extra three months free with a one year package and buy NetSuite right now. Download NetSuite's popular K p I checklist designed to give you consistently excellent performance. And it's absolutely free at And by Mint mobile inflation is everywhere. Whether it's gas, utilities, or your favorite [00:01:30] streaming services, thankfully Mint Mobile can give you a much needed break. Get your new wireless plan for just 15 bucks a month and get the plan shipped to your door for free. Go to mint

TWiT Intro (00:01:49):

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:01:50):
Time for twit this week at Tech, the show. We cover the weeks tech news with the best people available on a Sunday evening, or in this case, and early Monday morning. [00:02:00] Rebecca Giblin is here. She is in are you in Melbourne?

TWiT Intro (00:02:05):
I I'm in Melbourne. Well,

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:02:06):
It is very early, much too early to be doing a podcast. I'm sorry. Only for you, Leo. It's wonderful to have you <laugh>. We met Rebecca when she and Cory Dro joined us to talk about their new book, choke Point Capitalism. And completely coincidentally, Cory Dro happens to be here as well, which is amazing. Hi, Corey <laugh>. Hi Leo. It's nice to be back. Always a pleasure to have you on. [00:02:30] I was telling Rebecca it's always hard to get Corey on 'cause he's so articulate and so smart that most people just clam up when he's on. And so I thought, who could I get on with Corey that would be able to stand up to him? And I think Rebecca is the best bet for that <laugh>. Sure. So, at any time, Rebecca, that you feel you wanna say something, you just start talking co

TWiT Intro (00:02:56):
Shut at. That's no problem,

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:02:59):
<Laugh>. I, [00:03:00] I'll always shut off for Rebecca. How is Choke Boy Capitalism doing? We had you on when that came out on Triangulation, really brilliant book that I think for many of us crystallized something we felt was happening, but explained it in a way that made it possible to kind of un, you know, not only understand it, but do something about it. Checkpoint If you are interested in getting a copy, highly recommended how big tech and big content captured creative labor markets [00:03:30] and how we'll win the back. And this is something I like about you, Corey. You always have a subtitle that implies there's something we can do about it. Well, that's the, that's the plan. I mean, as, as to how the book is going. So I have some news that even Rebecca doesn't know, I think about it, which is that I got a, a text from David Goodman today who is one of the people who blurbed it, and he hosted our, our launch for it.

He's showrunner, he was running the Writer's Guild during the strike against the agents. And he wrote to me [00:04:00] to say that he wrote a special episode of Futurama about it, that, that airs tomorrow. What and that I'm not scabbing by mentioning it. So there is a, there is a choke point Capitalism inspired Future Opera Futurama episode that goes out on Monday, the 21st. O m G Catch it on Wow. On Hulu or wherever you get your Futurama. Wow. That's a, or Pirate Bay or Pi or Pirate Bay. So is that still a thing? It's probably [00:04:30] still a thing. You know, is still around. He, he's probably just <laugh> just skirting jail at this moment. But I think you could still upload to Mega yeah. Wow. That's, that is high praise. That's wonderful. That's exciting. Yeah, it's pretty cool.

Yeah. And we got a, we got a great shout out in the in the acknowledgements for Giannis Farkas's next book, which comes out in the autumn. It's called post Capital or Techno Feudalism What Killed Capitalism. And he, he gave us quite a good notice in the, [00:05:00] in the further reading section at the end of the book. Very good. I, I will give you a plug because you have a new book out the internet con How to Seize the Means of Computation. And I'm gonna do it early because the clock is ticking. There's only a few more hours, 15 hours left to to get on Kickstarter if you wanna support the D r m free audio book version of this. Yeah. I mean, I think you've raised enough to do that, by the way, <laugh>. Well, yeah. No, and to be clear, right, this is, this is selling pre-orders. [00:05:30]

If you're watching this later in the week or listening to this later in the week, you could just get the book, right. Yeah, there you go. I mean, this is just, this is just a way of pre-selling it so that all of these sales, as we did with Choke Point Capitalism, so it supports the independent audio book, which we can only do. We have to do these independently because Audible won't carry d r m free audio books. So basically, you, you exemp exempt yourself from the market that is 90% of all audio books Audio Audible being this giant monopolist. But it, it's also a way to pre-sell a lot of books that [00:06:00] on the on sale date, go over a book scanner. And so they all register as sales at once. So from a, from a kind of promotional perspective, it's a very good way to do it.

I would be ecstatic if you, if people want to go to seize the means of and pre-up support the Kickstarter. But if the Kickstarter is done by the time you get this, just get the book. Yeah. Comes out on September the fifth, can't wait. I will be in lots of places with it. I'm gonna be in LA on September the sixth [00:06:30] with Naomi Klein launching her new book, doppelganger and my book at the La Public Library. And then on the 12th of September, I'll be in Toronto. I gotta get the name of the store, but I'll be in Toronto on the 12th of September. And I'm, I'm gonna be there not for the book, although I'm doing a book event, I'm gonna be there because Talking Heads are having a reunion. What? And I'm going to, and, and it is their first and only reunion since they broke up.

And I'm going to the reunion at the Toronto International Film Festival where they're doing [00:07:00] a special screening of stop Making Sense. Oh my God. But, but yeah, I'll be at another storybook shop on Rossville in Toronto on the 12th of September, the day after that Talking Heads reunion. I have a Talking Heads anecdote, I'll tell you at some point. But ah, <laugh>, I, I actually got a thing from Spotify saying because you are such a stupidly obsessive Talking Heads listener, we have a special t-shirt you can order <laugh> just for you one time only [00:07:30] deal. I'm on the Talking Heads leaderboard. So Rebecca, of course professor of law at Melbourne the University of Melbourne in Australia co-author, super Smart Corey, you probably know from our shows and from his sci-fi, by the way, red Team Blues, which is the story of a 67 year old forensic accountant named Martin Hench is hysterical.

This is fiction. And as a, as a 66 year old podcaster, [00:08:00] I really look up to Martin. I think he's the next James Bond, by the way. So Will Reon reads that is, are you gonna get Will to read the internet con? No, I read it. Oh, you read it? Oh, good. I read Internet Con because it's basically all the applause lines for my speeches. So I was like, I can do this <laugh>. And I used, I used the director I used for my other, I'm glad you admit it, <laugh>. Oh yeah, no, a hundred percent. I, I, I used the director I used for, for all the other books. Gabrielle Que, who's amazing. And she is semi-retired. The only people she directs now Wow. [00:08:30] Are Will Wheaton LaVar Burton and me <laugh>. That's a nice group. And yeah, yeah. It's quite, it's good company.

So I did that. And then she, she was, she was like, I have never said this to an author before, but I think you should read your next. So I literally spent the last week in the studio reading this one. Oh, good. Which comes out in November. I wrote eight books during lockdown. This is, this Seql to nope, this is just another one. The Lost Cus this is how many books during lockdown did you write? Eight, eight books. Good Lord. So, so it's my Green New Deal, white Nationalist Militia [00:09:00] counter Reformation Adventure novel. It's gotten great quotes from Bill McKibben. Bill McKibben called it the first great YIMBY novel. And Kim Stanley Robinson comes out in November. So that I've just finished recording the audio for with Gabrielle at Sky Boat Media. Good Lord. I'm surprised

Rebecca Giblin (00:09:18):
Corey writes when he's anxious. Yes. So it's been a very fertile period. <Laugh> mm-hmm.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:09:23):
<Affirmative>. Well I think based on what's going on in the world, you might be doing a lot more writing. Mm-Hmm. We [00:09:30] twit listeners are familiar with Corey's phrase that we use on almost all the shows now because it's so brilliant in unification. We change it to ification, but we don't really need to because in unification isn't, <laugh> is not a bad word. But I do just for you know, just to, so people don't cringe. 'cause I want them to hear the concept. And this is what this new book is all about, is in ification. Yeah. It, it explains how unification works, but much [00:10:00] more importantly, what to do about it. How we, how we you know, halt unification and throw it into reverse and dis unify the internet, make a, a new good internet that is a a viable and and worthy successor to the old good internet and turns the in internet that we have now into a kind of intermediate step that we can put in our rear view mirror. Hallelujah. It does seem to be going downhill. I'm sure you're following with interest Elon Musk's antics [00:10:30] over at x <laugh> dramatic overly dramatic attempt to ruin $44 billion <laugh>. I mean, you could just set it on fire, but this is so much more interesting. I'm, have any thoughts? You're still on Twitter, Rebecca, do you use Twitter?

Rebecca Giblin (00:10:51):
I I, I I used to use Twitter. Now it's sort of just tumbleweeds and screaming into the void. Yeah. it's been really tricky [00:11:00] as well, like really noticeable to see the lack of, like, the engagement just actually sort of dropping in real time. And I'm not sure, Corey, is it true that you were Shadow Band?

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:11:10):
Oh, I think I still am. I am most days, yes. Like Act Doctor or doesn't auto complete, it just completes with these 75 impersonators just, but not me. Oh Lord. Yeah,

Rebecca Giblin (00:11:21):
That's, that's right. And so when Corey, Corey got sort of silenced and then my tweets also stopped getting, obviously I had quite a lot less engagement, but then they also, [00:11:30] they just stopped getting seen by anybody. So it's really, really interesting to see what we've been writing about in intro point, playing out in real time and the dangers particularly the dangers of allowing one person or corporation to have such outsized control over who gets to talk to who. And then now seeing the fragmentation, you know, we obviously, we haven't sort of all decided on a different playground to go to together. Everyone's trying to figure that out. And in the meantime, people that used to be able to have conversations together, [00:12:00] not able to have that anymore. It's

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:12:01):
Sad. I mean, it's a, I I grieved the loss of Twitter back in October, but people are really going through grief. How does this, how, run me through Rebecca, how this incorporates ch is a, an example of choke book capitalism.

Rebecca Giblin (00:12:16):
Mm-Hmm. Well, I suppose what we're seeing is the unwinding, right? And then, so in, in that respect, it's actually kind of inspirational. So those of you who aren't familiar with Choke Point Capitalism, what we're talking about here is this phenomenon where you get, you know, one or or [00:12:30] two powerful corporations that manage to capture a market. So they take a market that should have been like a sort of a free exchange between, you know, buyers and sellers creators and audiences. And they turn it into like this hourglass shape where you put say the, the the buyers at one end, the sellers at the other, and themselves squatting at the neck where they use their power to mediate access to kind of shake down everybody for more than their fair share. And so we see this in a whole bunch [00:13:00] of different markets.

We really focus on where you've got really powerful buyers which the, the technical word for that is monotonous. But we try not to say that word too much because people think it's hideous. But, so Amazon is a really powerful buyer, for example in, its in, in its relationships with publishers and authors and the way that it controls access to, to readers. But in the whole second half of the book, which is the much more interesting part, we talk about how you unwind these hourglass markets, how you widen those choke points back out. [00:13:30] And we talk about the reasons why it's really tricky to do that. But what's kind of exciting, the, the exciting bit in the, in the death box that is Twitter at the moment, is to see how the network effects, I mean, unwound in real time.

So network effects are, you know, the fact that, you know, when you've got, you know, one person is on a, a phone network, it's, I've got no value at all. You need somebody else there before it gets valuable. So two people, it's more valuable. 10,000 people, it's more valuable still. And when you've got millions of people [00:14:00] you need to be on that network in order to talk to your family and friends. And what we're seeing now is the unwinding of network effects and seeing how quickly it can actually happen when people have got the right incentives to move away, even though in this case, as we've seen, there's no compelling alternative. And I think there's some really important lessons in that for what we can do about these, these other choke points as well. Yeah,

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:14:21):
Yeah. There's a wonderful article by Dana Boyd, I'll see if I can dig it up and paste a link in here. Where she talks about how when she was an embedded anthropologist [00:14:30] with MySpace, how she could, she could look at the network structure of MySpace and see that there were people who were very densely connected to other people. So it might not just, it might not be that they had more connections, but like they were, the only way that say two people would connect to each other was through this one person as kind of an important connector node. And she saw how when those people left, even though the total number of users wasn't falling by much, the ability of people to connect to each other was falling. And she predicted [00:15:00] that the whole thing would collapse. And the MySpace people were very sanguine about it, and she was like, no, this is gonna happen. And then it, it did happen. You know, network effects are a double-edged sword. People joined because they want to be with the people who are there, but they leave when those people leave. That's really an interesting point. It's the connections that, that give it the value. Do you think that it's also, in a way, it's part of the in notification cycle too, isn't it? At Twitter? It's late stage [00:15:30] though. It's not, it's step four of a gentrification where it all falls apart. Well, that's <laugh>

Rebecca Giblin (00:15:35):
That's the thing with ification though, the whole point, wasn't it Corey, that they try and keep it just not enough that everybody stays, but it's knife itch. Right? And if you to go too far the other way, might've gone

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:15:47):
Over the edge. There we go. <Laugh>, they just might've, I mean, the unification playbook assumes that you've got some surpluses, right? So you've got like your, your investors' capital or, or something else that you can kind [00:16:00] of allocate as you, as you choose. And because it's a digital platform, you can allocate it and withdraw it really easily, right? You can like give people a lot of traffic one day and then take it away the next. 'cause You can adjust the way the filters and the algorithms work. And that's the thing that's much harder to do if you're like, you know, selling bread, right? Or cars or something there. There's a, there's a, it's a lot clunkier, but you can do these fine-grained adjustments constantly and you can be like a fisherman with a fishing pole that you're, you're kind of jerking the, the hook up [00:16:30] and down.

It's, it's bouncing up and down. And so you start by using that very flexible digital mechanism to tempt in a bunch of users and then find a way to lock them in. And if it's social media, you don't even have to find a way users just lock each other in because they, they now, they can't agree on where to go next, right? And so they're all just stuck there, even though they all hate it, right? And, and once those users are locked in, you're like, okay, well now I can start making life worse for them in order to make life better for someone else. So I can [00:17:00] make things better for advertisers or publishers, either by spying on my users or increasing the portion of their feed that is suggested stories. And then once the users and the publishers or the users and the publishers and the advertisers are all locked in, then you wanna withdraw all the surplus that you can, leaving just enough of a residue that they stay locked in and give it all back to your shareholders.

That's kind of your fiduciary duty at this point. Now that everyone's on the hook. You, you, you want it, you want to strip them to the bone. [00:17:30] And the problem is that, you know, the difference between a service that is so bad that you wanna leave it, but you can't, and a service that's so bad that you're leaving is like one scandal, right? One whistleblower complaint, one livestream mass shooting, one privacy rupture. And then people just like in an instant go from, God, I hate this, but I can't give it up to, oh my God, what am I still doing here? I'm out. And and I think that's what Twitter is experiencing. It just keeps, you know, everyone's [00:18:00] got a different version of that point. But as Dana points out in that article, it's self, it's self accelerating. You know, the, the you know, once, once people start to leave, the value of the system goes down.

And so you don't need as much of a a push to go because there's less holding you because the people you were staying to hang out with are already gone al already. So it's easier for you to unstick yourself. And, and when that happens, you know, platforms start to panic and the, the term of art in the [00:18:30] tech cycle for panicking is pivoting <laugh>. And so, you know mark Zuckerberg is like, we are gonna pivot to a company that will turn you all into a heavily surveilled low polygon sexless, legless cartoon characters in a virtual world I stole from a 25 year old cyberpunk novel. And it can be pretty hard to convince people that the guy who just made the service that they actually liked into something terrible is someone they should follow into something even more implausible. [00:19:00] I mean, threads did better than Metaverse, but it, it remains to be seen whether threads will be durable at all.

Yeah. It almost feels like he's pivoted again from the, from the metaverse. Yeah, I think he has. Maybe to ai. It's so, it's so funny because every week you know, I I I'm looking at news headlines and almost every case I look at it and say, oh, yeah, there's some more in ification. Oh yeah, there's some more. It's happening again. And I suspect, I suspect some of the stories we're gonna talk about this week [00:19:30] will Yeah. Encapsulate and I piece it a link to that article by Dana. Oh, good. Into the Zoom chat. I don't know if you see that. I don't see the chat unfortunately. Is there, maybe you could post it should put it, the IRC should shared spreadsheet here. Yeah, that would work. Yeah. Put it in the shared spreadsheet. Yeah. Behind the counter. Yeah. Is it a recent article or no, it's 20.

It's from December, 2022. Okay. It's called What a Failure Is the Plan. I just put it in the spreadsheet. Okay. It's, it's relatively recent. Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. It's very good. Dana's a great writer, obviously, and, and very smart about this stuff. [00:20:00] Yeah. She really knows more about what's going, she would be another good person to have on with the two of you. She would be, yeah. What if the, what if failure is the plan? <Laugh> an a great illustration. It's a good piece. Not ai, I don't think no. What's sad is that all of these platforms seem to forget that the reason they exist is because of us, the people putting the content on there. And I guess that's also part of the process, isn't it, of, of squeezing [00:20:30] people. I mean, so that's why I think a new good internet is not the old good internet revived.

I think it's a new internet that is a worthy successor to it, and whose primary characteristic is that it's operated by. And for the people who it, I think that's the, the thing that the tech sector fears the most is the idea that the people who use the technology would have the final say Yeah. In how it works. Yeah. Because it means that you can't, you know, [00:21:00] put your thumb on the scales and say, party's over, I'm mixing a metaphor here, but say like, party's over you for a long time. You got to hang out on, on here and have a nice time talking to your friends. But now it's time, as Katt Valente said, to stop talking to each other and start buying things, which was <laugh> a thing that Prodigy told. It's prodigy told its it's investors in the eighties, right? That like, we have reached the point where our users have to stop talking to each other and start buying things. <Laugh>. [00:21:30] that's seeing the quiet part, that valent one and put it in the chat in the spreadsheet too, because that is a banger of a piece that's just,

Rebecca Giblin (00:21:38):
But you know, we're seeing as we're seeing the latest data come out in climate it, and we're seeing exactly where we are that's, I think we're, we're getting to the point where we need to really reverse that. We need to stop buying things and start talking to each other

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:21:50):
Because <laugh>, indeed,

Rebecca Giblin (00:21:52):

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:21:52):
Unbelievable, unbelievable so many things to talk about with these two. It's just it's hard for me to, to pick, but I'll give [00:22:00] you a few stories ripped from today's headlines. The dream was universal access to knowledge. The result was a fa fiasco from the New York Times. We're talking about Brewster Kale's emergency library. He got sued by publishers. Now Brewster Kale is the internet archive is being sued by the record labels because he also asked people to donate their 70 eights, digitize them and offered them. I, I, [00:22:30] I think, you know, there's clearly a societal interest in having an internet archive and preserving our history when companies don't care whether it's Game ROMs or old movies or books or well, I can go on and on websites. But at the same time, and I, I remember asking Bruceter this, what about copyright?

Aren't you in trouble? He said, well, worry about that later. His attitude, I guess at this point is there were a library, libraries, don't worry about copyright. You are [00:23:00] a published author. Both of you are published authors, so you maybe have a dog in this hunt if the, I guess Corey, you allow digital copies of your, all your books. They're online, most of them. My publishers haven't allowed me for a couple of books. I, I have to say, Leo I work for Electronic Frontier Foundation. We are of counsel to the internet archive. So there's actually very little I can say about this without first talking to our Yeah, I understand our, our legal director. But I, I can say [00:23:30] I think Brewster is good. Yes. And I think the internet archive is good. And I think that the factual record about the National Emergency Library is thin.

And that what we know about it, it doesn't support the story that a lot of writers have been told about it. So, so here's the thing that I, I think has been poorly understood about the internet archive, is that after that Patriot Act passed, when the librarian [00:24:00] sued over the Patriot Act and the thought that they were gonna be forced to give up their patron records, Brewster went into the internet archive and ripped out everything that would tell him what people were accessing on the internet archive so that no one could ever make him give it to anyone else because he respects his patron privacy. And after the National Emergency Library kicked off, he just didn't have a lot of good usage statistics. But once he started finding ways to build aggregated statistics that would allow him [00:24:30] to help people understand what the impact of the National Emergency Library was and more broadly of the, the lending library that the archive operates it became pretty clear that what was going on here is that people were using this the way that you might use a reference library.

That they were, the average checkout was for a few minutes, and it was to look at a couple of pages looking up a quote, looking up a passage, looking up a recipe, looking [00:25:00] up some technical information, trying to find the name of something and putting it back. And there was a lot of concern that this might be eroding the sales of books during lockdown. And I don't think the factual records supports it. And I hope that my colleagues who in the writing profession understand that and, and understand that the internet archive is a library. It was used like a library, however you feel about whatever liberties [00:25:30] you think Brewster took during the, the brief period in which the National Emergency Library was operating. The record doesn't support the, the story about how that might've affected our economic fortunes. And that is no longer operative.

And so there's a much more conservative version of it operating that looks effectively identical to the library at the digital lending program at your local library, which I hope no writer objects to. Yeah. Well, I think you've written, I know others have that the, what the, what the publishers [00:26:00] would really like is to get rid of libraries. That's the <laugh>, that's the fundamental problem. And Rebecca might have some views because she is a law professor who supports libraries. So we, you know, she can talk about a much more freedom. She's also an author, so she might also, she's also an author, have some, a stake in this.

Rebecca Giblin (00:26:14):
Yeah. Look, there, there is a maximum law that says hard cases make bad law. And I think it's really important to remember the circumstances in which this was happening. Do we all remember how insane it was in those early days of 2020? Nobody knew what was, [00:26:30] what was going on. I know that a lot of our students suddenly didn't have access to books anymore. We have very restrictive a access for, for eBooks. And that's something that I've worked on for many years. People don't necessarily know this, but the way that libraries have always been able to lend physical books is without anybody's permission. But when it become, when it comes to eBooks, that involves making copies and transmissions, which means copyright gets involved, and you do have to get permission, [00:27:00] and that's all well and good authors and publishers should be remunerated appropriately for uses of their books.

But a lot of publishers have responded to the fact that they can control eBooks by saying, well, we don't think that you should be able to hold these in libraries at all. So hase, for example, it does license some, it, its books to, to public libraries in North America for elen, but it won't allow any libraries in the Commonwealth to, to lend those on any circumstances at all. Right. And there's other [00:27:30] things too. You know, we see publishers saying, okay, you can you can license these books, but we're gonna charge you more money and they're gonna wear out, they're gonna wear out after 26 loans, and then you're gonna, you know, have to buy a new one. Oh, wow. Oh, wow. And so there's all of, all of these things are happening in the background. And so that, that those, those policies can make it really difficult.

We also see it was really common as well to have a bundling where you had to buy like a thousand terrible books that you didn't want in order to get the one book that you did want if you were a library. [00:28:00] And so all of that's happening in the background, and suddenly people are not able to get to the University library and access those physical copies anymore. And the, the policies might have been somewhat different in North America, but we still had that same kind of, that, that sudden shift. And, and it was really important to respond to that. And I think that probably it's, people might have forgotten those, those, those circumstances and, and just how difficult it was. And I also believe that barista is [00:28:30] trying very, very hard to do good. And that he's, he is very, he's quite devastated, I think, by the way, that, that this went and everybody was doing their, their own thing.

But I, I think that the, the most important thing we should turn our mind to right now is thinking about, well, how do we make sure that we have got sensible, appropriate e lending policies so that publishers and authors are looked after? But libraries also also got the right to be able to, to lend books. And that's really, really important because libraries are the ones that preserve [00:29:00] them. Often it's publishers that will go to the internet archive and go, actually can we get a copy of this? 'cause We forgot to keep it ourselves. Oh. we need to have, we need to have our people in organizations whose role it is to preserve, because that's not the, the case for everybody's role.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:29:19):
Rebecca, you should talk about your, your authorship project and the libraries you work with in Australia. 'cause It's such an, an inspiring story.

Rebecca Giblin (00:29:28):
Well, do you mean untapped? The,

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:29:30):
[00:29:30] Yeah, Rebecca, Rebecca a has far more books than Came Outta the Pandemic than I did.

Rebecca Giblin (00:29:34):
Yeah. Yeah. So Corey only published what, like eight? Yeah. I, I published, I published 160 on a single day. What? Plus Choke Point Capitalism. Well, so one of the, remember I said, remember I was just saying, do we remember how crazy it was in those early days of the Pandemic? Some of the things that I did to survive being locked in my apartment for two years was one, write a book with Cory Roo two start a publishing house [00:30:00] that is called Untapped. It's the Australian Literary Heritage Project. And we did this as a, an experiment, basically. This was in part my response to the fact that libraries were struggling so much to be able to access books. And Amazon has been whispering in publishers' ears that they should not allow libraries to, to lend out their eBooks and saying that it was cannibalizing their businesses.

Now, one of the problems with that is that there's no public [00:30:30] data that shows that that is the case. And the data that does exist through the, the the elen aggregators that sit between libraries and users suggest it's not the case. Amazon is the one that controls the data that says that it would allow us to figure out whether this was actually happening. But it's a notoriously secretive company and it refused to make that information public. And so I really, I really wanted to know, you know, is library e lending of, of books cannibalizing book sales? Because if it [00:31:00] is, we need to know that we all need libraries and publishers and authors and readers all needs to sustain.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:31:05):
Guys, I'm gonna get on my desk 'cause there's an earthquake. Okay. Keep talking. Oh my gosh. We're keep on Corey, let's watch the earthquake happen as it as it unrolls. I think you're all right,

Rebecca Giblin (00:31:17):
Corey. I'm definitely gonna stop talking about my being.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:31:19):
It's not, he's, he's not gonna be safer under the desk. I just want <laugh> wanna point out, there's quite a few books in there. I hope those bookshelves are strapped down. I think he's gonna be all right. <Laugh>. [00:31:30] It could be related to Hurricane Hillary, who knows? So you're a law professor, so let, let me help, help me understand. 'cause What it seems to be is an eternal conflict between the interests of society and the interest of property holders, right? In this mm-hmm. <Affirmative> in this, that is a constant tension. So in this case, writers and publishers who've created content w wanna [00:32:00] control that content and make sure that they get paid for people to read it. Society has absolutely an interest in, in public libraries. I think we, I think we can agree on that even if publishers and Amazon might not. But those, our intention, are you saying that if we, if we can prove that it's not costing publishers that much money to have digital rights, that it'll be okay. Or, or is it really that the property owners don't ultimately [00:32:30] want you to have 'em at all without buying it?

Rebecca Giblin (00:32:33):
No. Look, what I really wanna draw attention to Leo, it's not this idea that there is it's, it's, it's a tension between publishers and the authors on one hand and society on the other. But even authors with publishers like most of America's and Australia's literary heritage, heritage is out of print and lost forever, right? Right. Nearly every book is out of print, and we don't have copies of them anymore. The only places we're [00:33:00] gonna find those copies are in libraries and preservation libraries in particular. And so what, what what really inspired this project is when we realized that, well, we can't get this data because Amazon controls the, the sales data for eBooks. And libraries have the lending data, but that's all siloed. Well, we thought, well, what if we start and, and, and what if we start our own publishing house and then we, we figure out what's going on?

And so what we did is we found 161 really [00:33:30] culturally important Australian books. And we worked with the authors to help them get their rights back. These are all books that were still in copyright. They were, some of them, you know, half a dozen of them were winners of our most prestigious literary prize. Wow. The Miles Franklin. And on top of that, we had amazing books by First Nations writers, women writers, really important, like local stories lots of other prize winners as well. All of it lost, and we worked with those authors to help them get their rights back from the publishers and then to republish these books. [00:34:00] And so how hard was it important to, how

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:34:02):
Hard was it to pry these away from the publishers? <Laugh>? Clearly the publishers aren't publishing these books anymore, they're out of print. Was it as easy saying, well, you don't want this, do you, can we buy it for a dollar?

Rebecca Giblin (00:34:14):
Well, sometimes the publishers were really happy to give them back. Publishers are book people as well. Right, right. And this is, this is one of the reasons why I find a lot of these debates just really frustrating because we're all book people Sure. We all ultimately want the same thing, and we've got different ideas about how we might do [00:34:30] it. Right. And I mean, ultimately the big problem is there is not enough money, right? So we get distracted fighting over scraps, fighting over whether the internet the National Emergency Library is, is, is taking away some of those scraps from authors and publishers when we should be like asking a much bigger question of where is the money and do we actually want to people to be able to write books and people to be able to read books? And if we want people to be able to write books and people to be able to read books, we need to find money for books. [00:35:00] And, and, and that's all there is to it. And if we, if we found more money, then there would be a lot less fighting over scratch. The

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:35:06):
Problem is, but

Rebecca Giblin (00:35:07):
Yes, it was,

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:35:09):
Go ahead. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt.

Rebecca Giblin (00:35:12):
It was, it was quite tricky, but not because the publishers didn't necessarily wanna give us the rights. In most cases, they were really happy to. Right. But because it was really hard to figure out who even owned those rights. Sure. Right. Often the publishers have been acquired three or four times. You know, in one case we asked [00:35:30] every single publisher that was plausible, and they were just like, well, we really don't think we own it. We'll give you a letter saying, if we own it, you can have it back. But we don't know that we do. Sometimes the contract, and this is like we, we we're talking about, you know, contract copyrights can last a hundred years and, and, and publishers take the rights for the entire time, right. Regardless of whether they are gonna need them for that whole time.

Right. Because they think maybe this time is gonna be the one, right. That is, you know, the Harry Potter or the whatever that, that goes really huge. But [00:36:00] other times they had lost the contracts and the author didn't have the contract either. Sometimes the contracts had been lost in a flood. Other times they really did play highball and they wanted to insist that they had the rights. And then we had to, to try and interpret what a contract written 50 years ago meant today with the very different technologies that we lived in. So it was hard to get the rights, but not for the reasons that you might expect.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:36:23):
Well, it's interesting too, because you have, you have the three stakeholders libraries, [00:36:30] authors and publishers who are all book people. But you've added a fourth stakeholder who is clearly not a book person, which is the choke point Amazon and Right. And that's a, they have very different incentives than the first three. So I, I think you're getting onto something important there, Leo, because one thing that I, I think we lose sight of when we talk about books and copyright is that not only are books older than copyright, they're like older than printing. They're older than [00:37:00] the Codex form, right? Yeah. They're older than binding. Yeah. they're older than commerce. And there is a kind of penumbra of virtue surrounds books. I mean, there's a reason, apart from the fact that I just own a lot of books. In fact, it's the same reason that I own a lot of books and that I appear in front of a lot of books.

And that anytime someone wants to show themselves being learned, they stand in front of books. And if you're making a hacky student film and you wanna show that society has collapsed, you light a bunch of books on fire and [00:37:30] everyone knows exactly what it means, you know, <laugh> than simulating, like roasting a dog, which would be the only other way you could show how far civilization had fallen. And I think for book people in general, there is this sense that there is something quite special about books that goes beyond the vegetable matter sprayed with ink. And that the drive to turn books into a commodity, I mean, they are a commodity, right? But to strip them of all the non-commodity elements and [00:38:00] to make them into just a widget, to make them into like something that is has the same shrink wrap license as an old CD rom might we'll turn them into some that has the cultural cachet of a CD rom, which is to say none, right?

When was the last time you had a CD rom, right? Right. Like, there is this danger that we will someday convince people that the entire contract that relates to how you and your book should, should get along is is, is is contained [00:38:30] in like, you know, a 50,000 word garbage legalese novella that you have to click. I agree to. And that all the unspoken cultural stuff is just not important. And, and, and if we actually convince people of this, which we might, it will be a really bad day for writing and book selling and publishing economically, right? Like, like we, we buy books for kind of like social and cultural reasons that are not the reason [00:39:00] that we buy granola bars. And if we turn books into granola bars that you read, it will be to the great detriment of the publishing industry.

And Amazon really wants a book to be an a s I N, right? Just a skew, just a, just a, like a nine digit alpha numeric that I I is like sequentially between a plumbing fitting and a Chinese sex toy with dangerous contaminants in its plastic. You know, we've come full circle because [00:39:30] this was the same observation Dana Boyd had about MySpace, which is wasn't the individual contributions on MySpace. It was the connections. What makes a book important as opposed to a granola bar, is the conversation that the author is having with its readers, with her readers. And and it is the connections that make the difference. It's very interesting.

Rebecca Giblin (00:39:52):
Yeah. And I don't think, oh, now that Corey said that, I'm gonna just carefully turn my camera and there we go. So I look more scholarly. Oh, you

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:39:57):
Do have a few books. One or two, one or two. They [00:40:00] go, I, you have to have a ladder to get to them. Okay.

Rebecca Giblin (00:40:03):
<Laugh>. But this is the thing. I as a, as a child, I grew up in a house without any books in it. Right? Really? And so, wow. I, I did, and I was, I was one of those kids that was always starving for something to read. And so I would go to the library, I would read libraries like a Locust, and I would go to the local charity shop, and I would negotiate with the Softest Touch volunteer to get the, the books, you know, for about boarding schools and ponies for like 1 cent each. And I would taught a home with this huge pile of [00:40:30] them. And, and, and so I remember what it's like to be starving for something to read. Like my to read pile up there right now is, is oppressive in a different kind of way, but I'm never gonna forget just absolutely.

Being starving for new stuff to read. Yeah. And I don't think that there are many authors out there who don't think that we should have libraries, authors feel like they're on the same side as libraries. Authors want their books to be read. But we do, like I said, we need to find ways of paying for them. And so, for example there's something in 34 [00:41:00] different countries in the world called a public lending, right? Which says, okay, we really want libraries to be able to have books in them, but we also really want authors to be able to eat. And so there's like a state subsidy that says, thanks very much for writing these books when they're held or in libraries, or borrowed in libraries. We're gonna give you some money from centralized revenue. We have this in Australia, we've just extended it to eBooks and audiobooks. It's a great thing, right? Because it's not, it's not attached to who owns the copyright, right? We give a certain proportion of it to the author, which is the Lion Share, [00:41:30] and we give a bit to the publisher as well, and we say, thank you very much. There's one way that we could do it if we, if we wanted to, to actually make sure that libraries had books, people could read them, and authors could get fed.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:41:41):
And, and I wanna mention another great link, which I've put in our spreadsheet as well. It's authored it by several academics from N Y U, including some good, good friends of Rebecca's and mine Jason Schultz, Micah Weinberg, Claire Woodcock, and Sarah Laden. It's called the Anti Ownership ebook Economy. And, and it really [00:42:00] gets into the, the, how the sausage gets made in ebook lending and libraries, and the fact that there's like one monopoly platform that does most of that lending that's owned by a, a terrible rapacious private equity company K K R that ugh. Who did they just buy? They just bought someone. They just bought somebody. Yeah, I just saw that. Yeah. God, I'm blanking on it. Hang on. I I know I blogged it. Yeah, so, so, you know, it's, it's, it's a great paper. [00:42:30] Culvis, who was it? They bought Travis Kohlberg. Yeah, they're horrible, strong,

Rebecca Giblin (00:42:36):
But they own

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:42:37):
Private equity is biggest, biggest problem in the, in this country or just world? Probably. Oh, Simon and Schuster. That's who, Schuster, that's right.

Rebecca Giblin (00:42:44):
Yeah. No, I didn't even hear that nerd. Yeah. Oh, nerd.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:42:49):
Terrible. Yeah. Sorry, that's bad news. <Laugh>. So, so this is, it's like a company, by the way, started by book lovers. Okay, go ahead. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, [00:43:00] publishing firms are, and like the reason that publishing was always sort of gen teel, it's funny, you can contrast two different genteel professions with their two different genteel bases, right? One was banking, which for a long time was the three, six and six rule, or six, three and six rule. Bo 3% lended 6% no board, 3% lended, 6% be on the golf course by three o'clock. And it was this incredibly boring trade that was heavily regulated that you went into if you were the fail son [00:43:30] of a rich person, right? It was like what replaced the, the priesthood for the spare son of the American aristocracy, <laugh>. And then publishing was what you did if you just love literature and wanted to eke out a bear existence by, by bringing literature to the world and making sure that books and authors had a home.

And both of them got supercharged in the 21st century. And, you know, with private equity and giant conglomerates owning, [00:44:00] publishing, publishings down to five giant firms that operate as a cartel. And with the finance sector completely taken over by people who do not wanna be in the golf course at three o'clock. They wanna sleep under their desks so that they can make more exotic derivatives and destroy the world economy. Like both of them have really taken a turn for the worst in this century. It's terrible news, by the way. 5.0. It was at the in the sulfur mountain east southeast of Ojai, and you have survived, thank goodness. It [00:44:30] really rattled our dishes. And I just gotten a text from my, my wife and daughter inside the house, and they're fine. Good. but boy, oh boy. Like it actually, I really, really felt it.

Like yeah, were you jumped on, you jumped under that desk. I hope you have a strong desk. I'm just, because I, I got an alert saying there is an earthquake, get into shelter. And I was like, oh, that's cute. I don't feel anything. And then a minute later I was like, wait, what? This, this is the new Google alerts. They're very interesting. They they let you know ahead of time. [00:45:00] Yeah. Well, yeah. 'cause The, the travels at the speed of light. Right, exactly. And the earthquake travels at the less than the speed of sound through the mantle of the Earth Earth. Yeah.

Rebecca Giblin (00:45:09):
This is a very big Monday morning for me. Like Cory's got his earthquake. We've got the Simon and Schuster news, and Corey had much nicer news earlier before we on on Air. Can we talk about that? I, I still think that's the coolest thing that's ever happened.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:45:20):
I am watching, I haven't watched Futurama in a while. I will watch it tomorrow. That is for sure. That's exciting. Yeah. Corey,

Rebecca Giblin (00:45:27):
Can, can you tell everybody that? 'cause We didn't talk about [00:45:30] that on air, did we? Yeah,

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:45:31):
We did. That was in the show. Yes. Oh,

Rebecca Giblin (00:45:32):
Absolutely. Yeah. Did was that in the show? Oh, that was in the show. I, I, I still think that that is like, of all of the things that have ever happened, and some really cool thing happened. I think when Margaret Atwood bleb the book, that was a very cool thing that happened. But yeah,

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:45:46):
You're famous now. Rebecca Ro episode. That's good. He's gonna be That's pretty good. Doesn't get much for the next the Veka thing, you know? Do you, I don't know if you know who he is. Yeah. He was the No, of course

Rebecca Giblin (00:45:57):
I know who he is, but this is future.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (00:45:59):
I know you [00:46:00] know who he is. I don't know if Leo follows me. I do not know who he is. So Rifka was the finance minister of Greece during Grexit during the moment it was Greece nearly defaulted on its debt. Yeah. But before that, he was the chief economist of Valve What? And he was, he, he designed the economics of all of valve's multiplayer games. You're kidding. He's amazing. So this is the book. It's coming out in a couple of months. I blurbed it and when I got to the end, I was like, wait a second. He says nice things about me on the last page [00:46:30] in the book, techno feudalism, what Killed Capitalism. Corey, you're gonna be the guy, you know, you and Rebecca, they'll be the, they'll be, you know, they'll say, yeah, they wrote this in the British Library and it was incredible.

And I don't no like, like Marks we rode indoors because we couldn't leave the house because we pawned our pants. <Laugh> <laugh>. Exactly. Let's take a little break. Cory, you make sure the dishes are okay. Rebecca, you can get your second cup of morning coffee. It is very early, I know in Melbourne right now, but [00:47:00] I'm so glad that both of you could be with us on a special. I'm gonna go check on the family, make sure they're okay. Special. Yeah, go check while I talk about our sponsor, express V p m. We gotta thank these guys because just like a publisher, you know, costs us money to do these shows. And thanks to our sponsors and our Club TWIT members, we can do them. So thank you. Express V P N is the V P N I use the best v p n on the market.

I'll tell you why. I trust Express V P N. And maybe you saw this article a couple of, I can think it was maybe [00:47:30] almost a year ago now about Express V P N oh, and I'm trying to remember where it was. But it talked about how they, how their technology stack works to protect your privacy. So you all understand A V P N is a virtual private network. It encrypts your traffic from your computer to a server somewhere in the world, and then nobody can see what you're doing between your server and the server at the other end, your computer and the server at the other end. Now, of course, this assumes [00:48:00] that the server on the other end is respecting your privacy. And that's very important that they don't log, they don't keep track of what you're doing on there.

That they are there as a, as a privacy forward service Express. V P N is and this is how we know it, run all our servers, run on a custom Debbie and Distro that wipes the drive entirely every single day. Reboot, wipe the drive, start fresh. And if that weren't enough, they created their own trusted server technology that runs in ram. So when you press that big button on the Express V P N app, [00:48:30] when you launch your express V P N and you start a server up, it whips it up into Ram Sandbox, it cannot write to the drive. And then when you close the connection, it's gone. No trace of your visit exists. We know this Express V P N has regular third party audits. We also know it from stories in the news about law enforcement without a warrant, no-knock seizing express V p N servers and finding nothing.

Now, I can't say this for other VPNs there. If you're [00:49:00] getting a free V P N, they're making money somehow. And it's almost certain they're doing it by selling your data to advertisers, not express V P N. They do everything in their power to assure you, to reassure you that your visit there is private. They're also fast. And this is really important because you can use Express V P N to go, let's say, to go to Melbourne and start watching Netflix in Australia, or go to Tokyo and watch Netflix. And because they have servers all over the world, [00:49:30] you can consume content all over the world. So fast is important because you might be watching HD video. They use Lightweight, which is a new V P N protocol. They engineered to make user speeds faster than ever. Now, I can tell you, and I know you probably have this experience, other VPNs, you might feel sluggish and slow.

You go, well, it's okay, 'cause of privacy, blah, blah. No, why suffer? You don't need to express. V P N is blazing fast stream and HD video with zero buffering. [00:50:00] It's also very easy. You don't need, it's not, it sounds, I'm making it sound technical, it's not. It works on everything. You've got iOS, Android, Mac, windows, Linux, you can put it on your router. In fact, they even sell very good, by the way, very good routers with Express V P N built in. So you don't need any technical skills. Put the app, I'll give you an example. Put the app on your phone, fire it up. You press one button, it connects to the fastest server near you, or choose the locale. You wanna emerge onto the internet. You can do that very easily with little dropdown [00:50:30] and, and you're in so easy, everybody can use it.

And that's important because privacy is important to everybody. Security is important to everybody, not just me. Mashable, the Verge, many tech journals, rate Express, V p n, the number one V P N in the world, frankly, it's the only one I use. So Protect yourself with A V P N I use and trust, use my link express right now. You'll get three extra months free with a one year package express [00:51:00] If you wanna learn more, thank you, express VPN for supporting the show. And thank you for supporting the show by going to that address. That way they know you saw it here. Express We are joined by Futurama Stars, Corey, Dr. Row authors of chokepoint capitalist, Rebecca Giblin. Corey is in LA you're getting ready not just for an earthquake, but a big storm coming your way.

Yep. hurricane [00:51:30] Hillary. Yeah, I just went and checked our drains, which are now draining. They weren't. And also it's point also crinkly knocked a few things down. Yeah. Yeah. We're, we're good. It's a little biblical. It is. And I'm pretty sure nothing's on fire because it's too wet. But locusts could be coming any minute now, so just, you know, locust could be coming, hanging there. Well, there's always, there's always locust Locust Magazine, <laugh>, the Locust Fighter. And Rebecca, it looks like it's a beautiful morning in Melbourne and you've got a ice cup of something. That's good. [00:52:00] I'm glad to see that. Is that, is that cup? Yeah, look. Is that an R B G cup? What is R G b? It is an R B G Cup, actually. Oh, that's fantastic. That's great. Well, anyway, we're glad to have you both. I really appreciate your spending some time with us.

Let's move on to another fine <laugh> ex example of Choke Point Capitalism or something. I don't know what this is an example of government kind of making a mistake. You're both Commonwealth types. Cory born and [00:52:30] raised in Canada. Canada passed a law a couple of weeks ago, C 18, that required companies like Google and Facebook to pay for links to news media. The response from meta was immediate. They said, well, fine, you don't need news. It's only, only 3% of our users read news on on meta platforms like Instagram and Facebook. So, SIA, Canada, <laugh>. Now the Canadian government is pissed [00:53:00] off. They call this ban reckless because of wildfires in the west. Horrific, we know. But they, some people fleeing wildfires in Yellowknife, for instance, have complained there, that the ban prevented them from sharing important data about the fires, I guess links to the local newscast.

And of course, for some reason, I don't know why the Heritage Minister of Canada, Pascal Sanon, is responsible [00:53:30] for all of this. She posted Meta's Reckless choice. I should do it in a bad French accent, but I won't. Meta's reckless choice to Block News is hurting access to vital information on Facebook and Instagram. We're calling on them to reinstate news sharing today for the safety of Canadians facing this emergency. We need more news right now, not less. Who's at fault here? So I, I think Rebecca and I might have a small disagreement [00:54:00] about this. I'm not sure. It's been a while since we talked about news bargaining codes together, but Australia has done this. We should, yeah, we should point out Rupert Murdoch and others said, you gotta, this is not right, mate. So they passed along Excellent Australia accent.

It's terrible. It's the worst. I know. I'm sorry. And it's worse than my French accent. Accent. And then good Logan Paul <laugh> really that bad. And then they've, I guess they've, they've, they've toned it down. They've negotiated it. It's been settled in Australia, although I think [00:54:30] I understand Google is negotiating and making some payments to news publishers down there Canada watching this and paying no attention to Spain, <laugh> and France and, and Germany. And Germany said, yeah, we should do the same thing. So I think that the mistake that they made, the big one was, was not failing to pay attention to what happened in Spain and Germany and so on. It was the category error that the problem with what tech is doing to the news is that it steals its content by allowing [00:55:00] people to link to and discuss the news or to index the news so people can find it.

And I think there's no reasonable world in which that is bad for the news. Or where it's something that you should need permission for. I think if you're not allowed to talk about the news, it's not the news. It's a secret. But what they ignored is what tech actually does steal from news companies, which is money, which is a lot less ambiguous, right? And the way they steal money is by having an ad tech monopoly. So like the [00:55:30] two big ad brokers, which are Meta and Google, they are the seller's agent, the buyer's agent, yeah. They own the market. They are also sellers and buyers in that market. So this is like, if you were getting a divorce, and you and your wife had the same lawyer who was also the judge and trying to match with both of you on Tinder <laugh>, they came out with 51% of your marriage estate, which is what the share that the two ad tech companies get 51% of the ad dollars.

You know, if you're a subscriber supported [00:56:00] news entity, then two tech companies, apple and Google take 30 cents of every subscriber dollar that you get through your apps. There are, there's just, you know, sort of rampant ad fraud. There's price fixing in the market programs like Jedi Blue, where Facebook and Google illegally colluded to rig the market. So ads cost more magazine publishers got less and they got more. And, and all of these things are actually pretty easy to understand. And if we solved, like any of them, right? Like, so imagine that we [00:56:30] fix the app tax, which is currently 30% for processing every payment made in an app. So the, the finance monopoly, which horribly gouges on payment processing charges about 3%. And that's like way too high. And it's got, it went up 40% during the pandemic.

The tech companies charge 30%. So they're charging 300% of the extremely inflated rate. So imagine if every publisher that collected subscriber fees through [00:57:00] an app could just get 25% more or more out of their subscribers, right? It'd be like growing your subscriber base by, by a quarter overnight. That would be massive for them. And it's the kind of thing that governments could step in and do that would put a lot more money in the pockets of every news entity, not just the ones best situated to bargain with the tech companies. And it would mean that the way that they made money was by making more news, not by profit [00:57:30] sharing with the tech companies, which are the companies that we really want them to be watch dogging. And so, you know, Torstar, which is the biggest news publisher in Canada, had a long running, really good investigative series called Defanging Big Tech.

That ended as soon as Google agreed to start profit sharing with them. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I think that it was right. And so I think that that, and I wrote a thing about this called saving the News from Big Tech for E F F that has four recommendations. And I think that this [00:58:00] was, as you say, a foreseeable outcome that we would go from you must bargain to, you must publish. Because as soon as you say to the, the tech platforms, you must bargain for the news that's on your platform, they're like, fine, no news. And then they're like, oh, no, you have to carry the news <laugh>. And they're strong speech interests in publishers not being told that they have to carry certain news. There's a lot of extremely objectionable news in Canada. There's the, you know, Canada is the birthplace of many of the far-right conspirator conspiratorial movements [00:58:30] that we think of as being American.

It's where, you know, proud Boys was founded by a Canadian and so on. And we have some of the most egregious, xenophobic, awful, and extremely popular news entities. And if we're gonna say to, to tech platforms, you must carry the news, even if you find it objectionable, that is going to be effectively a way to force tech platforms to carry disinformation, xenophobia, conspiratorial, racial hatred, and so on. So I just think that it was like I'm all [00:59:00] for making the tech platforms stop ripping off the news companies. I just think we should focus on the thing they steal, which is money and not news. And re Rebecca can't disagree with that, surely.

Rebecca Giblin (00:59:13):
No, I don't disagree with that, but I do have a few things to say about the news media bargaining code and, and, and, and how successful that is. You know, when, when in, in, in true point capitalism, Corey and I talk about the things that don't work to widen these true points out and the things that do work. And one of the things that we know that [00:59:30] does work is to directly regulate buyer power. So we don't have anything against that per se but there are some we can learn a lot from, from how it's been done in Australia. So for one thing yes, it has injected a bunch of money into the, the news ecosystem, but there's been, there's no transparency requirement. And so we don't know where that money's gone, but we have a pretty good sense that it goes mostly to the Murdoch press, or a lot to the Murdoch press, which is the, the big media in, in Australia. [01:00:00]

And there's also no requirement that it actually be spent on more journalism, more journalists actually creating high quality content rather than into investor pockets. And so that's another, another really big problem with this kind of intervention. We've gotta think, I think, much more clearly about what it is that we, we want to encourage. And if it is just money being shifted from some shareholders to other shareholders, then okay, but don't pretend that it's about supporting journalism if that in, in [01:00:30] that case, and also really, really important that we don't cement these trick points in most of the money that has, has been injected into Australia via, via the news media bargaining code has come from Google. And that relies on Google staying big enough and powerful enough and profitable enough to keep putting this money in there. And I think that cor and I both agree that that's really dangerous as well. So yes, if we wanna get quality journalism and we want journalists to be able to be paid [01:01:00] and, and we want to have again, an ecosystem where everybody can be paid, paid fairly, fairly for their work, this is not necessarily their best way of doing it.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:01:10):
And I think it's fair to say that Google and Facebook drive traffic as well, and there is some benefit to being linked on, on a Facebook page or, or to be show up in a Google search that has, that has some value. I have to say, though I'm a podcaster, podcasting is absolutely dying because [01:01:30] Google and Facebook have eaten up all the ad dollars, and advertisers understandably say, we only wanna buy ads where we can know everything possible about the person who's seeing those ads. And that's the kind of thing that Facebook and Google offers. So there's a whole privacy component there as well. And something podcasting cannot do unless you listen in an app like, let's say Spotify or iHeart mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. so it's, it's, it's, it's hurting podcasting. I don't know if that's journalism, but it's definitely hurting podcasting. And I, [01:02:00] by the way, <laugh>, I'm not asking for any money from Facebook or Google. I know that's not what I want. I wanna, I wanna market where we can compete fairly. That's not gonna happen.

Rebecca Giblin (01:02:10):
Yeah. I think it's really important that advertisers well, I think that we educate advertisers as well, though that, that they are also getting screwed by Google and Facebook. Absolutely. Absolutely. And the, the con context-based ads, we know, like we've started seeing some really interesting natural experiments once the G D P R came in in Europe and stopped them from surveilling their users [01:02:30] quite so intensely, the context-based ads where, okay, somebody's reading a, a news article about weight loss, and you put an ad for a local gym in there, it does as well or better in most cases than, than the surveillance based ads. And making advertisers realize that they're getting screwed on the other end as well. And then just reconnecting local people to local businesses that this is where you actually, this is where you actually convert and, and, and a, a click to a sale. [01:03:00] It's not like, you know, how often are you getting ads for shoes like three weeks after you've finished buying a pair of shoes? You don't need your shoes anymore. But those context based ads can really convert. Yeah.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:03:12):
If there's one thing, the ad sector has proven itself consistently very good at selling its ads to people who want to advertise things. Not not the products, but but the ads, right? Yeah. And the, the whole story about surveillance advertising being an incredibly effective tool, you know, the, the, [01:03:30] the margin is about 5% more effective than context ad at the outside. And that's with this a massive apparatus for spying on people, right? That costs a lot more than 5%, right? And so advertisers and publishers lose out on the surveillance ad systems. It's just the surveillance industry that makes money. You know, John Wanamaker, who owned Wanamaker's department store is famous for having said, half my ad dollars are wasted, I just don't know which half. The amazing thing about this is that his ad [01:04:00] salesmen were so good, they convinced him that only half his ad dollars were being wasted.

<Laugh> right number is more like 90% as we know now that we have metrics. And you know, the, the thing that the press could do to really level the playing field here and get on the same side as their readers is to go all in on banning surveillance advertising, because there isn't a reader who likes surveillance advertising. And, and there used to be a debate about this. People used to say, oh, people [01:04:30] like ads. They just don't like ads that aren't relevant, blah, blah, blah. And then Apple added a tick box to iOS that if you clicked it would block Facebook tracking and therefore personalized ads. And 96% of iOS users clicked it, the other 4% either worked for Facebook or got confused, right? <Laugh>, nobody, nobody is like, yeah, gimme more of those spying ads. And so the, the if you really want to like, do a thing that your readers will love you for and will join you in, fight for banning [01:05:00] surveillance ads, and then all that's left is context ads.

And the thing is, no publisher will ever know as much about their readers as the surveillance industry, right? Publishers, like even the ones that are doing their own ambitious tracking platforms, are not gonna have a mobile operating system contracts with 150 data brokers SDKs that are used in the development of all the apps, like buttons, or share buttons or sign in buttons on every webpage in the world that are gonna be gathering these dossiers on people. So when a publisher's intermediary, [01:05:30] when their broker is a surveillance company, they will always be on the, on the wrong side of that negotiation. They'll always have less negotiating power. But the one thing publishers will always know more about than surveillance companies is their own content. And so if we structure the, a the publishing industry around content-based ads, context-based ads, then the publishers will always be an advantage relative to these middlemen.

And there's nothing wrong with middlemen. We, we, our, our New York launch, we had a Kate Judge [01:06:00] as our interlocutor, Kate wrote this great book called Middlemen about intermediaries, like, it's fine that intermediaries exist. I I grew up in Toronto where there was this cult writer named Crad. Kolodny used to stand on a street corner selling his books with a sign that said, very famous Canadian author, buy my books <laugh>. And, and like, loved Crad. He was very funny. I used to stop and talk to him. I found out later, he secretly recorded conversations with people who stopped and talked to him when he started selling mixed tapes of the weirdest conversations [01:06:30] he had. He's a very entrepreneurial fellow. He's some, he also used to just wear a sign that said Margaret Atwood, which is very funny, <laugh>. And when, when he died, they made a doc about him, and Atwood stood on his corner wearing a sign around her neck, thaty, which is great, but like, not everyone has to be Craig Kni.

Like, it is fine that there are intermediaries out there that help different parts of the supply chain connect to each other, that help writers meet audiences and so on. The problem isn't the intermediary. The problem is when the intermediary usurps the relationship, when the [01:07:00] intermediary becomes more important than the publisher and the reader, or the driver and the passenger, or any of those other relationships that are so important in the way that we live our lives. I this brings up the subject of Google Topics, but before, and I'm sure you will have something to say about this, but before we get there, I wanna do a very nice context-based ad that I think will, will very much enhance our listeners' lives. And we know because [01:07:30] you listen to this show, you'll be interested in this topic. And we don't know anything about our listeners.

And so this is all we can do, we're stuck with it. But I think it's a good thing. I, what I should mention, by the way, and I don't know if it's a choke point, but there is a middleman in all of this, which are ad buyers and ad agencies. And and honestly, I think most advertisers would understand this notion because almost all the ads we have are context based as opposed to surveillance based. I think most advertisers do get it. [01:08:00] And I think that the problem often is agencies that are the people who in between the advertiser and the the podcast or the newspaper or the blog, and those agencies have a completely different incentive system. They really, they, you know, the bigger the check, the bigger their commission, and they don't, and they, and they love to push the surveillance based to ads for some reason.

So that's what's pushing us towards direct ad insertion and other technologies that I don't want to use. But frankly, that's, I think [01:08:30] what we're gonna have to do. It is one of the topics this week at the podcast movement in Denver. And my wife Lisa, is gonna be speaking there about this kind of thing. So we are so happy to have this partnership here on the show, the authors of Choke Point Capitalism, Rebecca Giblin, professor of Law, university of Melbourne, or should I say the Melbourne Law School? That's the right way to say it.

Rebecca Giblin (01:08:53):
I'm, you can say whatever you like. Leo, I am a professor at Melbourne Law School at the University of Melbourne.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:08:59):
Okay. So it's either [01:09:00] one's accurate. All right, good. And and also co-author with Cory of Choke Port Copy Capitalism, Cory's new book. I'll give you a last warning because there's only a few hours left to to support the internet con how to seize the means of computation, go to seize the means of, dot org. No.Org if you wanna support it. There are 14 hours left. The clock is ticking. What you're actually supporting is the [01:09:30] audiobook version of this, right? But you can also, you can, you can buy any of, you can buy the audiobook, the ebook, the hardcover you can buy signed hardcover our good friends at Book Soup here in la, which is one of the great indie bookstores. I go down there and I sign them all in their backroom and nice. They ship them out to me for me, all over the world.

And yeah, so we're, we've got it's, it's, it's great. I actually really like this, this hybrid model where I am directly connecting with readers but also working with a great publisher like Verso, who, you know, I can't say [01:10:00] enough good things about. So this is, I mean, this is basically how you've been doing it for the last many books, and it seems like it is working very well for you, which is great. Yeah, the Kickstarter thing has really worked out. It's real. I've really found the niche. I'm not independently publishing, I'm independently publishing just the audio, but I am independently retailing basically. So I am, I am, I become one of the bookstores that sells my books. And so I started doing that many, many years ago just for eBooks, having that on Crap, just as another way to sell [01:10:30] my books.

And I, I made a deal with all my publishers that I could carry books for them that has been going really well. Crap to the point where it's actually outgrowing the software that I had custom written many years ago. And I've been talking with Matt Mullenweg and Automatic has an agreement, at least in principle, to rewrite that code, and we're gonna open source it so that anyone can run their own bookshop as well. Oh, that's cool. Which is quite good. Yeah, Matt's great, Matt. Great. I, I agree a hundred percent. Yeah. One of the great good people, author of WordPress [01:11:00] of course runs automatic and and owns Tumblr now and owns Tumblr now is wild. Which is amazing, isn't it? Yeah. I think he bought it for a dollar <laugh>, something like that. Yeah. Down from a billion that Yahoo paid 1.1 billion that Yahoo paid.

God, you know, it's it's a way to make a little money if you got a lot of money. Yeah. <laugh>. Yeah. You wanna become a millionaire, start with a billion. Yeah. We talked topics in just a bit. First, a word from our sponsor, [01:11:30] as I said, contextually based, we know you're interested in security, we know you need to know about NetSuite. Once your business gets to a, a certain size, shall we say the cracks start to emerge, things you used to do in a day, now take a week, tell me about it. And there are way too many manual processes to keep track of. If that's you, you should know these three numbers. Ready? 36,025 and one. Maybe I better explain 36,000. [01:12:00] That's the number of businesses which have upgraded to NetSuite from Oracle. Netsuite is the number one cloud financial system, streamlining, accounting, financial management, inventory, HR and more.

All those things that are bogging you down. So that's 36,000. What about 25 net? Netsuite turns 25 this year. I can't even believe it. That's 25 years of helping businesses do more with less close their books in days, not weeks, and drive down costs. And [01:12:30] one, well, because your business is one of a kind. So you get a customized solution for all of your KPIs in one efficient system with one source of truth, manage risk, get reliable forecasts, improve the margins, everything you need all in one place. And having a single source of truth transforms everything you do. You know where to go to find out what you need to know to run your business better. Right now, download NetSuite's popular K p I checklist. [01:13:00] You get this. It's right now, it's designed to give you consistently excellent performance. And it's free. There it is.

There's the checklist, That's NetSuite, N E T ss U I T e, please to get your own k p i checklist It's free and it's yours. And take advantage of that offer. That's great. That's one more number to add. Zero [01:13:30] Thank you NetSuite, for supporting this week in tech. So Google keeps, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna give 'em the benefit of the doubt and say it in a positive, nice way, and then you can tear it down. Google <laugh> is trying to balance the needs of advertisers to know more about the people they're advertising to, to make sure that their ads are hitting the right audience with the absolutely [01:14:00] clear desire from users for privacy. And incidentally, governmental requirements for privacy. They keep trying different ways of doing this. They've already said we're gonna, the third party cookie Chrome will not support that anymore.

A lot of ad tech kind of relies on this third party cookie to follow you around the net. Facebook kind of perfected it with the like button. But they don't, they said, no, people don't like that. We don't wanna do that anymore. [01:14:30] So they've tried a variety of things. So Flock was the last one. The newest is called Topics because what Google loves an acronyms or is it an acronym or is it a acronym? Initialism? I can't initialism, I always confuse the two. So, topics, if I can summarize, and correct me if I'm wrong here, Mozilla, by the way, wrote a very powerful screed against this. But remember, Mozilla makes the competing [01:15:00] browser Firefox, a privacy analysis of Google's topic proposal by Martin Thompson. And can I tell you they don't like it. But the idea is, I think if I'm saying this correctly, when you visit a website, and this is in Chrome or interestingly, 'cause it'll be part of the Chrome Medium project, and all the open source, you know, the open source code, it'll be in all the, and Corey has some good things to say about open source.

He calls it open washing. We'll talk about that in a second. Google's a [01:15:30] prime candidate, but it's in chromium. So that means I presume that unless Microsoft, you know, works to eliminate it, it'll be an edge, it'll be in opera, it'll be in Vivaldi, it'll be in brave. It'll be any browser that doesn't take that code out. The idea is you go visit a site, the site is, you know, kind of registered with topics to, and, and Google says a handful of topics, but it's already 349 topics and it's probably gonna be closer to [01:16:00] 1500 topics. That's, those are the official I a b categories like fitness or travel or transportation or whatever. So a site will say we we would say tech networking, security, something like that. And then the browser will keep track of your top interests for that week based on your browsing history.

Topics are kept for three weeks. So after that old topics are deleted, they want 'em to be current. Is it another earthquake or just [01:16:30] the tea? No, that was just some, some something falling off my screen. Sorry about that. <Laugh>, I I, I I just got a, sorry, it's too much to know, but I just got a, a new shipment of Subaru, so I'm gluing all the challenge coins I got at Defcon to my monitor <laugh>. That's not, that sounds normal, but it's something No, it's of every nerd in the audience does exactly what you just said. <Laugh>. He's on the challenge coins to the monitor. Yeah, let's talk about <laugh>. Much more interesting [01:17:00] than this bss. So topics are selected entirely on your device. They don't go back to the Google servers. So it's in the browser. The browser keeps track of it when you visit a participating site. Topics picks three topics, one from each of the past three weeks to share with the site and its advertisers. So it says, well, and it doesn't say Leo, 'cause it doesn't know, it says that doesn't know it's Leo browser, 1 6 4 3 9 recently visited travel [01:17:30] and intestinal surgery and hormone replacement. So maybe you'd like to give them an ad <laugh> for medical tourism. I don't know. The idea being you're anonymous, but advertisers get some information about your interests on the surface. This seems okay.

Is it? Yeah. So the Mozilla analysis, which I, I confess I haven't done a deep dive into is really [01:18:00] about asking whether users can be identifiable based on this. 'cause We know de anonymizing happens, and it happens surprisingly effectively with a lot of these technologies. Yeah. And yeah, Google's making a claim that it's hard to, to de anonymize people using this system. And that's an empirical claim. It's hard to prove the negative, but you can prove the positive, right? So they suggest a method, again, just reviewing the, the math here, right? It starts on, I think it starts on section page. It's section two one, I think. Is that [01:18:30] right? Yeah, yeah. They, they're just like, they're just saying, you know, like, look, your, your math is wrong, right? Like, here is the likelihood that I can re-identify a user. And so if your claim is, this is preferable to third party cookies because it allows for anonymous browsing while delivering the benefit, which, you know, will stipulate to maybe, maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but as, as assuming arguendo that there's a benefit to having targeted ads for the user and that the user should want this.

Yeah. That which is, as we said, debatable, but go ahead. Yeah, it's debatable, [01:19:00] but like sure. Let's, let's just assume it argue endo. Look, as somebody who sells ads <laugh>, whether they're wrong or right, advertisers want it. We gotta, we gotta, yeah, we gotta answer their need. So does it, does it do it right? And, and you know, I, my most instructive story about this comes from the pop-up wars and, and you are like me, a veteran of the popup. Oh God, yes, we are. And we remember right when, when there were popups that would respawn, as soon as you close [01:19:30] them popups that were like one pixel by one pixel and ran away from your cursor popups, pop-ups that played music pop-ups that spawned 50 popups. If you close them. And like, the way that we resolve this wasn't by publishers taking a brave stand on behalf of their users <laugh>, because like you say, right, you are not in a position to say to advertisers, I'm sorry, my listeners don't like it.

When I, we tried that, when I read to them, when I tell them what, when I tell them what to buy, we think you should just give me money and I'm not [01:20:00] gonna tell them to buy your product. The, the advertisers are unwilling to go along with that. So you, you have a limited amount of bargaining power, even if there are things that you might just prefer that the industry requires of you, you, you end up doing it. But once it started with opera and then Mozilla started bundling always on, on by default pop-up blockers. Publishers had a different story they told to advertisers, which is, look, I know you want popups and I wanna give you popups, but the problem is [01:20:30] no one's gonna see 'em, right? I, I can put all the popups you want in there, and they're all gonna be blocked by default, and it's gonna be zero impressions, not like more impressions.

And you know, that speaks to a way that equilibria are arrived at in marketplaces where buyers are given offers by sellers. And one of the things that buyers can do is make a counter offer. And that counter offer can be, how about no, [01:21:00] right? How about nah. And that's what ad blocking is, right? Ad blocking is, how about nah. And you know, it's, it, there is another counter counter offer that publishers can make with advertisers, which is what about a less invasive form of advertising? What about a DJ read, what about an ad that's served natively and not from a third party domain? What about an ad that doesn't track you? Right? Like, it's very hard to block context ads that are first party served because they're served from the same server as the webpage [01:21:30] you're looking for. And so, generally speaking, they're gonna show up on the user's browser.

Now, like, will the user seek out a plugin that does something much more exotic with the dom to block the ad? It really depends on how obnoxious the ad is. And so the equilibrium that we arrive at is not an equilibrium that arises merely from publishers and advertisers negotiating amongst themselves for what users should want. It comes most importantly from users and the tool Smiths who serve them, who produce the tooling that [01:22:00] allows users to express their own preference. And that acts as a kind of veto over whatever it is that the publisher and the advertiser would like. And that's how we get equilibria where the ads are a little less obnoxious, strip away the power of users to push back against ads. And you get, well, you get apps, right? Apps are the basically the ultimate expression of it. 'cause To make an ad blocker for an app, you first has have to reverse engineer it, and that's a felony punishable by a five-year prison sentence under the digital Millennium Copyright Act. [01:22:30]

And so whereas the web is it's now about 30% ad blocked, 30% of browsers have an ad blocker installed doc, you call it the largest consumer boycott in history. That's a Doc Searles quote. Yeah. The world's largest, yeah, the largest consumer boycott in history. The rate of ad blocking in apps is basically zero. Unless you're doing weird things like you've got a pie hole where you're sinking those domains or something, you're, you're getting ads in your apps and they're terrible, right? App ads are awful, awful. And that's [01:23:00] what it looks like when the only answer the user is allowed to give is like, thank you, sir, may I have another? So you're, what you're advocating is, is is, well, I mean, consumers are gonna do it. We'll find a way to do it. There are enough people will wanna do it. Consumers are gonna vote by blocking.

Yeah. But Chrome is making it progressively harder to blog. I wish people well then people can stop using Chrome, right? It's, but everything is Chrome based [01:23:30] unless it's web kit based, right? Except for Firefox, right? And so we've got, we've got very little diversity in web ecosystems. One of the interesting things about the UK competition and markets authority is they have a proposal to force Apple to support third party browser engines on iOS, which might produce some more, not browsers, but browser engines. 'cause Little understood fact is that every iOS browser is just a skin all web kit. Yeah. Around web kit, right? So they're all safari, right? Firefox on iOS is Safari with a Firefox [01:24:00] skin, and Chrome on iOS is safari with a chrome skin. And so this proposal would, would produce a little more diversity, at least in backends. And you know, I think that like the lesson that we've learned over and over again is that companies themselves are not good custodians of their users' interests.

Like Apple did roll out that ad blocker for Facebook, but they simultaneously rolled out a secret and hidden tracking program for iOS that [01:24:30] replicated all the tracking that you opted out of with Facebook, but for Apple's ad network. Yeah. This is the, this is the first party problem, which is, yeah, Apple's gonna block every third party, but, oh, hey, wait a minute, <laugh>, we get all that information. And, and Google is not interested in blocking third party ads because they've suddenly gotten privacy religion, right? Google is interested in blocking third party cookies because it allows them to cement further their dominance over the web. Exactly. That's, if any, if there really is an objection to topics, it's that, that, that it just, no, I suspect that's [01:25:00] right. Yeah. I mean, there's this technical question is topics doing what they say it's doing in, in respect to privacy, but then there's the economic question, the larger, it's like, why does Google, why does Google want this? And I think that the answer is they want it because they want to own the web. They, like Facebook and Apple want you to live inside their walled garden. Google wants to make the web the walled garden. Is Amp an example? Yeah. So this is a question that, go ahead. Go ahead, Rebecca, please.

Rebecca Giblin (01:25:26):
So, so if we we're talking about this through the lens of choke point capitalism, right? So [01:25:30] Google's interest obviously is to make that choke point tighter and tighter and tighter. Is topics a way that's gonna widen these choke points out? Like, I don't think so. I think that that's the exact opposite <laugh>. So then, yeah, how, how do we wanna do that then? Like how do we go about loosening that? I think that's a much more interesting question. And at the moment, we're giving these really powerful private corporations the ability to dictate how our online life looks and works and the economy of it. And I just don't think that that's good enough.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:25:59):
And if [01:26:00] you doubt our assertion Google's motives, all you have to look at is Google's manifest three, which is gonna block ad blockers. Oh, and by the way, <laugh> you won't be able to use ad blockers either. So there, yeah. And this is, you know, part of the, part of the thesis of in ification and the internet con, is that so much of what we do when we talk about the failures of technology is about trying to make them better instead of making them easier to leave. [01:26:30] And oftentimes those object, those objects are, or those objectives are intention. And I sometimes liken it to the California fire problem, where it used to be that indigenous cultures did control burns in the California woodland, and it meant, meant that there were new openings in the canopy, that old wood was being consumed, that you didn't have fuel buildups, and the fire was manageable, and you got con continuous renewal.

And when the settlers declared war on fire, they didn't create a fire free California. They created a fire a fire [01:27:00] indebted California that periodically erupts into absolutely uncontrollable wildfire. And with tech, we interrupted the cycle that allowed tech to turn over all the time that allowed like digital equipment company to turn i b m into a used to once was, and then for compact to turn deck into a used to once was, and then for compact to basically disappear, right? This, this endless renewal that we had because we had vigorous antitrust enforcement because interoperability was presumptively lawful because, you [01:27:30] know, we didn't have rules that allowed the people who won the lottery last time to decide who was gonna win the lottery next time and make it sure it was always them. And when we got rid of that, we started to accumulate technology debt.

And so we have this kind of rampant tism in our tech companies, and they're always on fire. And you know, here in California, we've put a lot of energy into trying to make it safe to live at, at the urban wildlife interface, which just makes the problem worse, right? It just increases the population density in the fire zone. And [01:28:00] we keep trying to make it safe to be a Facebook user or a Google user, which just means that Facebook and Google can now say, whenever we say to them, well, here's a rule that's gonna make you less powerful, they're gonna, they can say, well, we need all the power because we're defending all these users, right? We've now got 3 billion users in our walled garden, 4 billion users in our walled garden. And, and what we need to do is, is evacuate the fire zone. We need to have interoperability that makes it easy to leave so that you can leave a social platform, but still send messages to the people [01:28:30] that leave behind. Or you can leave a, a mobile platform, but still use the apps and data that you had before and so on. In the same way that we need to get the people outta the fire zone in California, we, we need to let the platforms burn, right? Preserving them is is is not gonna make them better. There isn't a future in which Google is even bigger, and the fact that it's even bigger makes it better suited to being the unelected permanent overlord of how we use the internet. That's the real ultimate <crosstalk>. Yeah.

Rebecca Giblin (01:28:58):
That's the thing, right? The imagery I get with a [01:29:00] bigger Google and a Google that blocks ad blockers and has us all captured in its wall garden is from the crick version of a clockwork orange. We're all seated there and we've got our eyes held open, and

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:29:13):
You must consume, stop talking to each other and buy something. Yeah. Yeah. <Laugh> it is a scary vision. How do we do a controlled burn in our current tech ecosystem? So, you know, this is something that you mentioned before that [01:29:30] you like this approach in my work, and it's something Rebecca and I really put a lot of emphasis on in choke point capitalism that I also devote a lot of energy to in internet cons. So people who reach your point, capitalism, they often report that by the time they get about halfway through, they have this alarming ringing in their ears. That's like an incipient rage aneurysm. Yeah. Because the first half of the book is just explaining how all these awful scams that rip off creative workers work, right? The underlying kind of accountancy fictions that are used to make them go. And then the second [01:30:00] half of the book, which we really have to urge people to read, is shovel-ready detailed technical proposals on the theory that because this is so unstable and it's so unfair and so untenable, it will continue to erupt in crisis in fire.

And that when the fire comes, if we have in our minds better ideas for how to fix it, what my arch enemy Milton Friedman called good ideas lying around, right? When, when Milton Friedman was like trying to create the Reagan revolution out of the New Deal, [01:30:30] people would say, like, Milton, how are you gonna gonna convince people to give up like social mobility and healthcare in a dignified retirement? And, you know, subject themselves to like being for forough, tucking forough tucking boot blacks in your future? He would say, look, there will become, there will come a crisis, and when the crisis comes, ideas lying around can move from the periphery to the center. And so we try to create these ideas lying around and in, in, in the internet con I talk about what, what policies we could do that would open up [01:31:00] interoperability straight away.

And there's you know, legislative, you've said this both books, and in fact you've said this to me before in other conversations, the, the, the, the holy grail is interoperability. Yeah, yeah, that's correct. Can you explain what that is? So it's one of those ideas that's both incredibly simple and incredibly complicated. So incredibly simple in the sense that like, you can put any water in your kettle. You can put any shoe laces in your shoes, you wear any belt with your pants, you can put any gasoline, your car trunk, right? They're interoperable, right? And, [01:31:30] and, and sometimes things are interoperable because they conform to standards. So you can screw any light bulb into any light socket. Sometimes they're interoperable because a new manufacturer comes along and figures out how to do something the original manufacturer didn't intend. So you can put a u s B charger in your car's cigarette lighter, and sometimes they're interoperable because a new manufacturer comes along and does something that the original manufacturer objected to and tried to stop.

So you can read and write Microsoft Office files with the iWork suite. Yeah. pages, numbers and keynote. I was at the Computer [01:32:00] History Museum a couple of weeks ago, and I saw the original Carter phone, which is exact example of that. Exactly. And that was what opened up the telephone network. Yeah. A hundred Carter phone and the HHI phone, which was this plastic cup that went over your phone receiver <laugh>. Which, which, and Ma Bell objected to it because it, it was against, against featuring the phone network to attach anything to their network. <Laugh>, they said you were mechanically attaching unauthorized equipment to the bell system and that that endangered national security, and it was a big, it was like a bake alike cup that went [01:32:30] over your phone so that you could talk like this and people could read your lips. It was just like they finally found a, a, a, an abuse of corporate power so egregious that the judiciary wouldn't go along with it.

And that was the beginning of the end for them. And so, you know, computers are interoperable in a way that, like nothing we've ever had before is interoperable, because computers are universal touring complete von Neumann machines. They can run any program we can write. And that means that you can always write a program for your printer that will cause it to accept [01:33:00] third party ink. You can always write a program for your car that will allow it to do third party diagnostics for an independent mechanic. And you can always write software that'll convert one file format to another. And you can always write a scraper that will take data out of a social media service you left behind and put it in the inbox of social media service you went to. And what we've done is we've created this thicket of laws that we, we call them IP laws, but they're really not used as copywriter patent or, or any of the things that we call ip.

They really add up to what Jay Freeman calls felony contempt of [01:33:30] business model. They're just a way, like, you can think of an app as just a webpage that you salt enough IP onto that you can make it illegal to reverse engineer it, right? In in every other regard. It's just like a, like a, a JavaScript page, right? But, but you, you shake, you shake the IP on it, and now it's illegal to compete with it, modify it, add to it, and so on. So everyone's trying to find the hook ip, the skin that they can wrap around it. So how do you pierce that skin? How do you get rid of that thicket? Legislative reform [01:34:00] is a long haul. We should do it, but it's a long haul. There are some shortcuts to it. Like we have rules that are requiring tech companies to start allowing interoperability in Europe.

There's the Digital Markets Act, which forces the largest platforms to expose APIs so that third parties can connect to them. And then we can restore the right to do the kind of reverse engineering that used to be allowed through things like say, procurement laws for governments. So right now, governments buy digital equipment, including things like cars [01:34:30] that have computers in them without ever securing from the manufacturer a promise that they can hire other people to maintain and extend them. And this is really imp prudent bad public administration. And like Lincoln did not follow this principle, Lincoln only bought rifles for the Union Army that had standard tooling and, and ammunition for this like incredibly obvious reason, right? Like, you never wanted to have to go out to Gettysburg and say like war's canceled boys, the manufacturer's not making any bullets week. Right?

And so, you know, the, [01:35:00] the, we could just say, as a matter of prudent public administration, no government in America buys anything unless the manufacturer promises not to legally attack people who are doing interoperability and like, they'll complain. But like, if you're so emotionally fragile that you can't bear to sell stuff to the public purchaser on terms that accord with the public interest, like find another line of work, right? Like no one, no one forces you to sell to the US government. The US government's priority is not your shareholders' interest. It's the public interest. [01:35:30] And so, you know, the, the book has got several of these kinds of shortcuts that we can take to kind of attack the problem at the margins as we make this frontal attack on legislative reform From your mouth to Mitch McConnell's ear, well, you know, there is a Bill the America Act, which is another one of these terrible back acronyms that stands for something like you know, a is for America, the country that I love <laugh> and is for my mother who brought me into this world, right?

<Laugh>. [01:36:00] but the America Act is an act to break up Google and Facebook and force them to make their ad tech stacks interoperable. And it is co-sponsored by Mike Lee, Amy Klobuchar, Ted Cruz, Dick Blumenthal, Marco Rubio, Elizabeth Warren, Josh Hawley, Lindsey Graham, and JD Vance and John Kennedy. But here's the problem. There is a coalition of the will. Here's the problem. They have opposing goals in this, right? [01:36:30] Sure. The, the Republicans are mad at big tech 'cause they're censoring Republican voices. The left is mad at big tech for, I don't know why, because they Monopoly, monopoly, monopsony, all that other stuff, all those Cs. Yeah. but, but that's worries me because they have, they don't have the same goals maybe though, but that's, you know, there were, there were people who every, every majors legislative program has been a grab bag of different motivations.

I guess that's how things get done of vary degrees [01:37:00] of purity. Yeah. Right? Yeah, yeah, sure. I mean, some people want labor rights because they want to give everyone a dignified workplace, and some people want like labor rights. 'cause They just want more consumers to sell to, right? And they think that having consumer, you know, workers being more flush will produce more, more demand in the economy. And, and, you know, like if they can form that is what coalitions are about. Right? and if we can get that coalition going, fine. Right? Yeah. I I'm okay with it. You know, if you want, if you want solar because you're like [01:37:30] a, a sino phobe who's like heavily into Cold War 2.0, that's, and I want solar because I don't wanna roast in my own skin and have to drink my own urine. Right. Fine. Good. We'll take it. Let's be in coalition together. Yeah. Rebecca, you wanna say something? Poor Rebecca. I got him fired up. Rebecca, I'm sorry. <Laugh>.

Rebecca Giblin (01:37:51):
All I wanna say is I definitely don't wanna drink my own urine.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:37:54):
Good thinking. Well then you shouldn't becoming a burning man. Jesus. You guys are both going to Burning Man. It's, [01:38:00] it's, how many times have you gone, Cory? It's 10 or 11 this year, I think. And it's Rebecca's first, first time as a burner. My f

Rebecca Giblin (01:38:08):
My first burn. I go to kind of European Burning Man a bit, but first I'm on the player, so pretty excited about that.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:38:16):
Oh my. It's gonna be good. You're gonna, you're gonna do some talks, right? Yeah, you can catch me at Center Camp on Tuesday at two 40. I'm gonna give a talk about in Acidification, and then my camp is Liminal Labs. We're at six 15 and f and on Wednesday [01:38:30] at noon, I'm hosting Dr. Patrick Ball from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, and he is gonna talk about the forensic statistics that they do in war, in war crimes, tribunals to attribute culpability for recruiting child soldiers to the upper echelons of gorilla groups. Oh, wow. And how that's used in truth and reconciliation and in in human rights trials. He's an amazing science communicator. He basically has made a career out of explaining abstract statistics to judges and juries, to lock up war criminals and help find [01:39:00] reconciliation after horrific human rights abuses. He worked in South African Truth and Reconciliation, East Timor Mont and Guatemala and all over the world with Yazidi and so on.

And then at six 30 we're all gonna drop acid and dance naked. Right. I, that, that's, that's my plan. No. Okay. I I wear a G-string. <Laugh>. Thank you. <Laugh>. Yeah, I mean, the America Act stands for get ready, stand back, the advertising middlemen, endangering rigorous Internet Competition [01:39:30] Accountability Act. <Laugh>, I love that. We take the brightest children in America, give them a half million dollar Harvard Politics education at the Kennedy School, and then just set them to work, basically playing Scrabble, <laugh> like acronym, you know, Lisa or Tony or whatever. This is your job now as a Senate staffer, <laugh> let's take a little break. You may hydrate if possible our show today, <laugh> brought [01:40:00] to you by, well watch The Dust brought to you by Mint Mobile from the gat. Oh, I love Mint Mobile. I love my Mint Mobile.

Oh, man, how much? Just look at your your cell bill. Just, you know, if you really, or think about it, if you know, most of us, what we do is we, we, we don't, we, we put it on the charge card and we intentionally do not look at it. Is it $80, $90, a hundred, 200 from the gas pump to the grocery store? From utility bills to [01:40:30] your favorite streaming service is inflation is everywhere. Everything costs more. Well, fortunately, one thing can cost a lot less. There's one company out there that's giving you a much needed break Mint mobile. Now, now, keep in mind that big number that is your cell bill right now, and let me tell you, as the first company to sell premium wireless service online, only Mint Mobile lets you order from home. There's no stores. You save a ton.

Their [01:41:00] phone plans start at ready, $15 a month, f and that, that's all in all plans. Come with unlimited talk and text, high speed data delivered on the nation's largest five G network. It's T-Mobile. Don't tell 'em I told you it is. I mean, you are paying too much. I could tell you that right now for people looking for a way to, you know, balance the budget. Mint mobile is amazing. Premium wireless, 15 bucks a month. I actually [01:41:30] saved even more because I wanted more data. So I got 10 gigabytes a month and I bought the year plan. But you get, look, just go and, and take a look at the plans. They all start at $15 a month. They all, even the 20 gigabyte, they all started at $15 a month. The unlimited plan, $15 a month, the five gigabyte, I think 15 bucks for unlimited nationwide talk and text and five gigabytes of data.

You, you're not gonna get a deal like that anywhere else, nowhere else, nowhere else, [01:42:00] but you could try the other ones. Go ahead and see or look at your existing cell phone bill if you can stand it and look at how much data you used last month, and that's the amount you should buy. How do they do it? Well, you know, like I said, online only. That means no stores. They eliminate all those costs. Pass the savings onto you. You can bring your own phone. They will send you a SIM for free. Or they do eims too. So if you have an eim phone, they is easy. You'll, you'll be up and running in note time. You could port your old phone number over if they do it very [01:42:30] quickly. Keep your same number, of course, keep all your contacts and everything. They also, cell phones.

I got a nice iPhone SE from them also. 15 bucks a month. That was great. I don't know if that's still the deal, but that was a, I felt like I'm getting, this is heaven for a third of what I'm paying right now. I'm getting a new phone and five gigs of data a month. That's one thing that Mitt Mobile does. Inflate more data all the time, it seems. Switch to Mitt Mobile. Get premium wireless service, 15 bucks a month [01:43:00] to get your new wireless plan for 15 bucks a month and get the plan shipped to your door for free. Go to mint, mint Cut your wireless bill to 15 bucks a month. Mint We thank them so much for supporting this week in tech, and you're doing the same when you use that address, please do. 'cause As I said, we don't, you know, we don't know anything about you, so the best thing you can do is go to mitt so they know you came from the [01:43:30] show.

That helps us an awful lot. So many stories, and there's so many things. I mean, every time I see this, I wanna, I wanna ask you about maybe this is the the legislative crack in the iceberg that we were, well, that's probably not a good way to put it. The sea <laugh> these days, we don't want any more cracks in our icebergs. <Laugh>, the, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, I didn't even know they were still around. The C [01:44:00] F P B is gonna crack down on data brokers, they say at a White House event. That's when I get nervous when I see that says at White House Event at least they're recognizing that data brokers are one of the big problems. It, you know, we talked about the fact that Apple and Google and Facebook have first party data, but there is these even bigger issue.

That data is then sold or somehow given to these third party data brokers, of which there are now hundreds. And they will sell it to the highest [01:44:30] bidder, including we know the N Ss A and we, I suspect other nation states like China, everybody's worried about TikTok. China gets whatever it wants. It just has the data broker says, here, here's a puck 50. What's Leo been up to? So maybe we're gonna do something about this. They these are proposed rules under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. That was clever. That's something that's a law firm. I think the twenties that they are going to kind of slightly manipulate to apply to data brokers. [01:45:00] The actually it's from the seventies, the F C R A it promotes privacy of information and data collected by Equifax, you know, the consumer reporting, credit reporting agencies, credit bureaus, tenant screening services.

And so by making these data brokers responsible to the F C R A, maybe we can do something about this. Are you, are you bullish on this, Corey? So I am, [01:45:30] I think this is characteristic of what the best people in the Biden administration have done. And the, I I think, you know, let me preface this by saying the Biden administration's appointments are our mixed bag. And you have defended Lena Kahn saying people are attack. Oh yeah. Lena are attacking her as if she's lost all these cases. Oh, no, no. She's doing a terrible job. But she's done so much good with click fraud and she's put people on notice. Yeah. And, and she's just put people on notice. There's so many mergers that don't happen because they're just like, that's don't make [01:46:00] Lena Conn drag us into court. I actually was speaking to a friend who works for a startup that Facebook was about to acquire, and then everyone involved said, actually looking at the kinds of cases that the F T C is challenging, we don't want to, Lena Khan is Biden's chair of the F T C.

The F T C, he did not get, unfortunately, the F C C you didn't get gig Gigi so on Gigi. So, yeah, that was, there's a great interview with her. There's a great interview with with her this week on the ER podcast with Mike Masnick talking about that. It was a very ugly, [01:46:30] dirty tricks campaign. Horrible was ho phobic and just really bad. But what, so I think, you know, the way to understand the Biden administration is they're kind of an empty vessel that different factions of the party are like, get to fill up in proportion to how much power they have in the party. And so the left of the party got some really good appointments, right? They got Tim ROI Chopra Tim Wu. Tim was gone now, but he was at the White House and Lena.

And you have Rebecca Slaughter on the F T C. You have [01:47:00] Jonathan Canter at the d OJ and ROI Chopra who cycled out of the F T C and into to the C F P B. We like Jessica Rosen morsel, the chair of the s c She's been great. Yeah, a hundred percent. Although they're deadlocked two and two and they can't make any rules. Yeah. So, because we don't have a Gigi, so Well, because, because he's gonna, is his new nominee I'm as good or half, I don't know. She's gonna have like a 15 minute term by the time she gets in there. Yeah. I don't know. But but you know, it's, and, and like anyone who would go in the hot seat after [01:47:30] what they did to Gigi is nuts. It, it was, I mean, it wasn't as bad, bad as Anita Hill, but it was in the Yeah, it was in the neighborhood.

So, so to answer your question about this, like what all of these people have in common, in addition to being principled, is that they're really skilled bureaucrats. And I mean that in the best way possible. They've read their regulatory authorities, right? The, the regulatory enabling instruments that give them their authority they know what's in there. So like section five of the F T C Act, which has not [01:48:00] been enforced in 40 years, has been there between section four and section six all of these years. And it basically says that the F T C has broad latitude to prohibit any deceptive or unfair business practices. And it was on that basis that con promulgated a rule banning non-competes, right? And, and as well as many other rules, right? And like any F T C chair had that in their power for all these years and just never did it.

She's also using that, by the way, to treat privacy as a consumer welfare violation and bring [01:48:30] it within the FTCs own purview. So they're gonna be looking at privacy and considering it. And, and so this is what Chopra has done, is he's gone and looked at the enabling reg legislation that gives him his regulatory powers. And he said, I already have it in my power to do something about these data brokers and data brokers are just the, the bottom feeding scum of the surveillance industry. Worse even than the ad tech companies and so on. A lot of them have been acquired by ad tech or other big tech giants like Oracle owns more [01:49:00] than 80 data brokers that it acquired. Wow. And they just spy on you with every hour that God send. You think one would be enough <laugh>, like 80, no, they just rolled up.

Well, all a data broker is, is it is just like a siphon that is stuck into someone's data source, right? There's someone who has a relationship with a medical supplier or a taxi company or someone else who can give them data about you and your conduct non consensually under the fiction that you consented when you clicked. I agree. Before doing something. Right? And, [01:49:30] and so what she said is, what he said is that data brokers sell enormous amounts of data to credit bureaus. And credit bureaus themselves are also incredibly awful. The biggest one, Equifax, very famous for having doxxed the entire adult population of America a few years ago after insider trading to sell executive stock before it became public, that they'd had this horrific data breach, never really paid a significant price as a result of it. You know, fines and whatever, but they're still in business. [01:50:00]

Their origins are in the late 19th century as a company that hired private investigators to follow people around, to figure out whether they were political subversives, oh God, queer so-called race mixers so that, my gosh, banks and merchants could discriminate against them. And that was like their high watermark. They've only gotten worse since then. <Laugh>. Right? And, and you know, the, the, the, the, so, so here you have, you have Chopra saying like, I have regulatory authority over [01:50:30] these firms. These firms acquire mountains of data in a complete opaque wild west, you know, free for all from these data brokers. I can reach into that relationship. Congress does not need to pass a new law. Congress already gave me that power. And, you know, a lot of people I get very defensive about Pete Buttigieg and you know, the great transportation failures we've had with railroads and airlines.

A million people stranded last Christmas. And they say, you know, buttigieg does [01:51:00] is not like the IT manager of Southwest Airlines. He can't fix their computers, but he sort of can, right? He's actually got enabling legislation that it was copy pasted from section five of the F T C Act. And it requires that he do certain procedures, right? Like he has to have an investigation and a public inquiry comment and so on, and then he can issue an order, right? These top regulators of these large government, US government agencies are among the top 0.001% of most powerful people [01:51:30] that have ever lived in the history of the human race. They have more power to affect more people's lives. And what's, what you've got in the best of the enforcers in the Biden administration is a willingness to use that power in a way that is firmly in the public interest.

I think we should be really glad about this. This is an amazing turn of events. Good. And it doesn't need a new law. Not, it doesn't need a new law, doesn't need the America need to act. He's got power. Yeah. No one needs to come up with a new acronym. Those, those those ex Harvard kids, they can, they can go to work [01:52:00] doing something more productive with their time than coming up with the data Broker Act. I wanna take, I wa I promised Rebecca that this would not get past lunchtime for you, Rebecca. So we are going to kind of speed to the end of this. You'll be glad, you'll be glad to hear poor Rebecca had to get up at the crack of dawn for this

Rebecca Giblin (01:52:24):
Poor Rebecca did a very stupid thing where she knew this was on Sunday. So got up at the crack of dawn yesterday. [01:52:30] Oh, Sunday morning. Oh. Poor Rebecca <laugh>.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:52:33):
How is Monday, by the way? Is it nice?

Rebecca Giblin (01:52:36):
Monday is nicer than this time yesterday. Yeah, I bet. I have to say, when I realized that I was 24 hours early, it was not my absolute best moment. But super happy to be here. And like I said, I will, I'll do it for you later. Thank

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:52:48):
You. And if, if you are in my future, can you tell me whether the hurricane is gonna involve any flooding in my house? <Laugh>? Yeah.

Rebecca Giblin (01:52:55):
Everything seems to involve flooding in your house lately, Cory, so I think it probably does. Do you

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:52:59):
Have sandbags [01:53:00] against the garage door? 'cause I know you got your Tiki bar in there. I wouldn't, yeah. No, no, no. That's in the backyard. No, the garage is my office. That's where I am now. Oh, you're in the garage now. Okay. In the flooding. And we did it by digging up all of our flower beds, unfortunately, and paving them over. 'cause There was just no way to have a plant bed against the garage wall that didn't involve water seeping into the foundation. Yikes. It is what it is. It's home ownership in Southern California, ladies and gentlemen. Yeah. And if you're lucky enough to have a home, you, you know, you're gonna do whatever you can keep it from Yeah. Floating [01:53:30] away. I wanna talk a little bit about AI, though. I really I think this will be our last topic of the show today.

So let take a, a little pause and we will wrap things up with a conversation. Corey has been talking about open washing, which is, I think a very interesting, you wrote a piece in on your blog pluralistic about open AI isn't, and I think a great topic, but I also want to talk to authors because turns out [01:54:00] a lot of the a lot of the AI stuff has been reading, doing some reading, going to the library, getting the Stephen King novels great article about all of the copyrighted material that AI LLMs are shucking up. But first let's talk a little bit about our club. One of the things to me that is important to our future, I've already talked before about advertising be a tough [01:54:30] road ahoe in podcasting. It's getting harder and harder thanks to the giants like Spotify and iHeart.

Thanks to Facebook and Google we don't know a lot about you. We're an R sss feed, but still advertisers demand something. So, you know, we have little redirects when you download a podcast that go through a site that then we take, you know, take it your IP address and they match it to the IP addresses of the advertiser site to see if you visit, if you heard this ad and then visited the site. [01:55:00] That's all we can do. And I apologize for that. I don't wanna do it. But it's, it's really pretty much all we can do. And your privacy is still protected by that, I think. But wouldn't you love to get all of these shows without ads, without any tracking? That's what the club is for. And it also helps us a great deal to to kind of monetize and keep twit on the air.

It's very affordable. Seven bucks a month. It's kinda like Patreon. In fact, it's, it's through a Patreon division called [01:55:30] Member Full. You pay seven bucks a month or $84 a year. We also have family plans and corporate plans. You get ad free versions of all the shows. You also get access to the Club Twit Discord, which honestly, I had no idea what a great community discord was until we started using the Club Twit Discord. And now I'm just a huge, huge fan. All the animated gif plus more. We're reorganizing our discord now to use the forums section to make it a little easier [01:56:00] to participate. It's not just conversations about the shows, it's conversations about everything geeks are interested in, including Suru, all the things to your monitor that could be there. We can have a suru, in fact.

Let's do that. Let's get a suru section in our club. Twit Discord. We also have lots of events, great events coming up. Our photo walk is August 26th, aunt, and I'll take you through Petaluma if you're in the area. Stacey's book club at the end of the month. Daniel Suarez, science [01:56:30] fiction author Daniel Suarez, will join Hugh Howie. Hugh is of course the author of Wool, which s is based on two great sci-fi authors will be talking with them about their books, their process that is coming up September 7th. So if you're not at Burning Man, that's gonna be one you can watch live and participate with live. Ask questions, join in. We also use the Club. Oh, good. You booked a Renee Richie Fireside chat coming up. And apparently Jeff Jarvis, doc sz and I will be the old farts fireside chat [01:57:00] <laugh>. That's also, and I love the I Art.

Thank you Anthony Nielsen. That's also something to look forward to. We try to do these events. We do. In fact, we should probably get Corey and Rebecca in there. We did when we did the triangulation. We also have a club Twit Feed, which has stuff before and after shows, things we didn't make into the podcast. All of that. Seven bucks a month. I think it's a very good deal. We would love to have you in our club, participate with us. We're gonna have more [01:57:30] events, more meetups. Just go to twit tv slash club twit. If you're not already a member we would love to have you join and enjoy. Thank you very much for allowing me to talk about that.

Alright, we're gonna get back to our great guest, Corey, Dr. O Rebecca Giblin, in just a moment. Before we do though, we had a great week this week on Twit. We've even made a little movie for your Enjoyment Watch. And now it's time for Waffle [01:58:00] <laugh>. Well, we're not celebrating really. No, but you know, when you say goodbye to a beloved member of the crew, I am going to be a consultant for Consumer Reports. Oh, yay. That's fantastic. That's wonderful. We're gonna miss you and I'll miss you guys. We're gonna miss you. Congratulations. Previously on Twit Mac Break Weekly,

Jason Snell (01:58:24):
I decided to turn on my Bondi iMac G three Today in honor of the 25th [01:58:30] anniversary of the

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:58:31):
Imac, it was really the, the bow on Steve Jobs return, wasn't it? Club twit, exclusive cows mooing

Jason Howell (01:58:40):
In a field with crickets and a soft trump trombone sata of trombones, <laugh>, <laugh>. Are we gonna get the song before the end of the show? I hear that. I gotta, what song's done do we want to hear? Oh,

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:58:59):
Security. [01:59:00] Now,

Jason Howell (01:59:00):
Leo, you and I recorded episode one of Security Now oh my, on August 19th Oh my of 2005. Wow. I'm here after 18 years, Leo, due to our gentleman's agreement to do a podcast together. And I think that I should remain here as long as that's where we wanna walk. What?

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (01:59:23):
Oh my God. You just made not only me and everybody in this building, but about a hundred thousand listeners, [01:59:30] extremely happy twit. How are we gonna get the four digits <laugh>? Can we start over at Zero <laugh>? That's such good news. Boy, that was really good news. Alright. We had a fun week, didn't we? Yeah, I forgot we all had stuff that happened. That was a big week. It was a big week. Back to the show, final segment. Gotta talk about ai. First of all, let's talk about open washing, which isn't really just about ai, it's about [02:00:00] the use of open source to make people feel good about you. Yeah. So this is a reference to a great paper by Derek David Gray, Whitter, Sarah West from the AI Institute, and Meredith Whitaker, who used to be with the AI Institute and is now running Signal called Open for Business, big Tech Concentrated Power in the Political Economy of Open ai.

And they just make this point that like open AI isn't, like, doesn't have a very good crisp meaning, and [02:00:30] that companies that call themselves open and AI are, are not delivering any of the benefits that Open is supposed to deliver. Right? They're not creating a, an ecosystem where you can study how these things work, where you can replicate them yourself, where you can improve them, where you can improve their quality by auditing them. What you get instead are these things at the margins where you, you can like run a model on their hardware. [02:01:00] And, and some of that is not their fault, right? Some of that is just like, these models require a lot of hardware anyway. But for them to then turn around and kind of cloak themselves in openness and say don't, don't regulate us European Union.

We are open, and it is because we are open that you will get all kinds of benefits that you wouldn't get if we were closed when they know very well that those benefits don't accrue to this kind of technology because it, it requires that you have a [02:01:30] bespoke data center. And, you know, they get into some nice gnarly detail about this, about how the tooling for open ai things like TensorFlow and PyTorch are not just generic tools that you can use to do development. They're tools that cause developers to be specialized in their proprietary environment. So even though they're open source, the thing that you learn when you master these open source tools is how to be a sharecropper in a system that they have a hundred percent control over [02:02:00] and can, you know, pull the rug out under at any moment if they don't like how you're doing things or if they wanna rip off your idea and clone your product.

And it also means that whatever you build is really easy to integrate into their product and can't be integrated into their competitors' products. So the idea that this is a pro-competitive force is pretty narrow. And then on, on top of that, which I think is a very good analysis, I, I wrote my own analysis, as you mentioned on my blog, and, and I tried to understand open AI as part of a kind of denaturing, progressive denaturing [02:02:30] and the free software movement. And so free software, you know, we've all heard, I think the phrase free is in speech and not as in beer. And, and free software was kind of deliberately a bit of wordplay that it, it was meant to be like a conversation starter. You people would say, you mean you give the software away for free? And you, you say, no, I give you freedom with the software.

And you know, if you're explaining, you're losing, right? Only Richard Stallman thought that was a good <laugh>. I, you know, Richard's done some amazing things and some things that I'm less fond [02:03:00] of. But, but the, the along comes open source and the claim about open source was that it was just a way of kind of resolving this ambiguity so you wouldn't scare the normies, right? So that the business people would not think, oh, well, this isn't something we can make money on. But there's a really important shift from free to open or from freeze and freedom to open or freedom to openness, which is that you go from talking about an ethical proposition that people [02:03:30] should have technical self-determination because they have software freedom that allows them to build and operate the technology that they depend on. And to, you know, have the freedom from, to move from one platform to another to not be locked in and so on.

All of those really important freedoms. And the and that you replace it with openness and openness is like the instrumental benefit of being able to like, look at the code, right? And, and being able to make code better [02:04:00] faster. And this leads up to something that Benjamin Mako Hill, who's a great free software theorist and practitioner talked about in a, a keynote at the Libre Planet Conference in 2018, where he says, you know, the end result of this is that the largest companies in the world have software freedom, right? If you're Google, your software doesn't lock you in at all, right? Your cloud is completely under your own dominion. You can change how it's configured at any moment. It's all yours. But if you [02:04:30] are someone locked in the Google ecosystem, you've got open source, right? You can see what the code is that's running on that backend.

You can suggest changes to it, but you don't have software freedom. If Google wants to make a change, if they wanna build flock, not build flock, build topics, not build topics, do something with their cloud, not do something with their cloud that is entirely their own purview. You have no freedom. You only have openness. And that, that itself was quite a profound narrowing of the [02:05:00] promise of software freedom into software openness. But that we narrow it again in an even worse way when we go to open ai. Because open AI doesn't even deliver the benefits of openness. It just delivers the story of openness that can be used to get lawmakers to forbear from treating these companies with the regulation that they really richly deserve about being forced to tell us what inputs went in and how they got them and so on. And this leads us, I think, well into this next thing about, about [02:05:30] authorship and copyright and so on.

I, I think this is an area where Rebecca will probably have some important contributions to make to, well before we do that. 'cause It is a very interest, this is a, a piece that just came out in the Atlantic revealed <laugh>, all, all articles should begin with revealed the authors whose pirated books are powering generative ai. And those authors might have something to say about this, but let me, before I even get to that, I ask everybody this now 'cause I don't know, I'm on the fence is, [02:06:00] and I'll ask you, Rebecca, is AI a gimmick or is it gen? Is there genuinely something going on? I mean, on the one, on the one hand, you could say it's an existential threat to humanity. I'm not sure I'm on <laugh> on that side. On the other hand, you could say it's more of just like a parlor trick or a, or a toy that ultimately we're gonna realize, yeah, this was just yet another silly thing thrown up by the tech industry. Where do you stand on that scale?

Rebecca Giblin (02:06:29):
Look, it's [02:06:30] not an existential threat to humanity for the reasons that the people creating it want us to think that it is. Like, there's very much a bit of like stage magician like misdirection, look over there,

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (02:06:39):
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Yes.

Rebecca Giblin (02:06:43):
But look, I do think, like I, I do think it's capable or it's got potential. And by the way, when we talk about ai, I don't, I don't wanna just say we are talking about predictive statistics in this context. Yes. it's, that's rights not gonna become ass. I'm sorry. Yeah. exactly. And, and [02:07:00] it, it, it's, it's gonna be useful for some things not at all useful for others. Like already transcriptions, like automatic translations. Some of the students in my classes that don't have that, that, that don't have really strong English proficiency live translate me on their phones, which is really, really cool to watch. Yeah. so like there are in minutes in meetings like the, these systems can be way better than the the humans that already were taking minutes and meetings. So look, it's got use cases, but where [02:07:30] I think that the, the threat really is, is that it's going to be the people who are creating these technologies are the exact same people with the exact same investor mindset that we've had that have been taking over all of these other big corporations to date.

So they're interested in transferring ever more value from labor to capital. They're gonna be using these technologies to make jobs worse, right? I don't think we're gonna see half of all jobs disappear, but we are gonna see greater [02:08:00] surveillance. We're gonna see removal of the creativity in jobs and like our flexibility to do them in the ways that we think are best. Because if we can de-skill them and and, and make it possible for kind of anybody to do and modularize them, then we don't have to pay people as much to do it. We're gonna continue to be able to drive down the, the value of human labor. I think that those are the, the real dangers that I'm interested in. I don't wanna live in a world where the humans do all the drudge work, so [02:08:30] the machines are free to make the arts.

I want to be living in a world where we're able to kind of celebrate rising unemployment and that it's because we're using the machines to do the drudge work work. And that's freeing us up to do that higher level sort of thinking and creativity that the, the industrial early industrial age philosophers told us was what was gonna come. And so, yeah, so I, I, I don't think I would agree with either of those. That was a false dichotomy you gave me later. Yes. But somewhere, somewhere in the middle, we need to be really [02:09:00] thinking about what kind of world we wanna live in. And what is, I think really what's I'm excited about with this, with this sudden popularization of generative AI technologies is that I think humans are really, really bad at responding to crises until, like, not one minute to midnight, but like one second to midnight. And I think that this is gonna precipitate that the labor disruption that's gonna come is gonna precipitate some really important questions. And for us to really ask what is due to us as humans as distinct [02:09:30] to what is due to machines. And from there, it's only the shortest possible route from asking the question and to what is due to corporations? What kind of life do we wanna have? And, and are we doing it right now?

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (02:09:41):
That's a really great recontextualization of, of all of this. I b m surveyed CEOs, 40% of, according to the CEOs, 40% of workers in the next three years will need new job training due to ai. Now, I b m was one of the early [02:10:00] AI hype monsters with Watson, but I, and I don't know, is that 40% of workers is a lot. We're gonna use AI and I think we're gonna use it appropriately. We're gonna use it to transcribe the podcasts and to create show notes that are, you know, valuable. Yeah. And that's a real simple thing that AI can do quite well. A human could probably do it too, but we just, we don't have the manpower to do that. It, it really seems like the [02:10:30] story that AI companies want us to believe is firmly rooted in what Lee Vinzel calls crita hype, where they're fine with you criticizing them so long as you're criticizing them as though they were the most powerful, amazing thing that ever was invented.

Exactly. And the reason they're deserving of criticism is that they're gonna exterminate the human race when the, you know, the predictive sentence machine wakes up, becomes sentient and turns us all into paperclips. I love that term, crita hype. [02:11:00] Yeah. Leave insoles great. You should get him on. Yes. He's, he's, he's a very smart tech critic at oh, I forgot what university he's at, but yeah, he's, he's terrific. Gosh. Now I can't remember. And Georgia Tech, that's the one. And and I, I think that, like, we've seen versions of this before, you know, as you, as you said, there was another hype bubble with I B M where the robots were gonna come and take all of our jobs. And the story we were all told then is that it was gonna come and take all the truck driver's jobs, right?

[02:11:30] And it was the story went, truck driver is the most common job in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And truck driving is easy to automate because you can give them a dedicated lane on the interstate and have them set a following distance, and then they'll drive and then they'll drive. So there's a bunch of problems with this story. The first one is that, that's just a train, right? <Laugh>. And like, in the same way that rideshare weirdos just like reinvent the bus over and over again or the subway. Oh, subway. It's subway. Like rideshare [02:12:00] subway or, yeah, it's like rideshare. But we'll come and pick up several people and then we'll drop them off and we'll have a central depot to make things more efficient. It's like, great. You invented the city bus, the bus, but worse bus, small bus. Thanks. Yeah.

Really small bus, <laugh>, city bus driven by unlicensed person. Excellent. That's, that's what this city needed. We built this city on unlicensed drivers. So it, the, that was the first problem. The second problem is that the most common job in America is not long haul truck driver, right. The b l s statistic it, or, or the category [02:12:30] for heavy goods vehicle operator incorporates everyone who drives a thing. That's like a big commercial vehicle, right? That's the u p s drivers, it's the truck drivers, it's the, you know, other kinds of couriers and delivery vans, moving vans. So like automating a moving van does not put the important workers out of outta work. Mm-Hmm. Right? The hard part of the moving van is not the driving <laugh>. Yes. Right. It's like a packing and the unpacking and the carrying. Right. And like a u p s van that drives itself [02:13:00] needs exactly the same number of skilled humans in the van, because the u p s van does not have a catapult that fires packages through your window.

Right. Like, there is a human who, hey, that's a good idea. I like that. Finally, I'm so into this catapult thing, <laugh> and, and Rebecca lives like on a very high floor. I can really see the catapult coming in handy. <Laugh>. you'd run outta windows pretty fast though, <laugh>. But yeah, I mean, it's not, it like, it is a, like, literally you've just eliminated [02:13:30] zero jobs, right? Right. With if you, even if you can get all, all the u p s vans to drive themselves, which you can't because a u p sve van driving itself is nowhere near the same thing as a bunch of 16 wheelers with a dedicated lane on the interstate. And so, you know, I I, I think that doesn't mean that our bosses won't try and use that to discipline the workforce, to use as an excuse to cut our wages, to threaten us, to make us feel precarious.

And I also think that our bosses have proved over and over again, indeed, since the industrial revolution, [02:14:00] they're happy to replace skilled laborers who make good things with machines that make substandard things. And, you know, you, you don't have to look any farther than the, the progress of what happens when you call a company switchboard, where used to be that you spoke to a human who could try to solve your problem. And then you spoke to a human who was a subcontractor in the Pacific Rim who could only read out of a three ring binder and not solve your problem. And then they dispensed even with that person who is really just an abuse sponge [02:14:30] right there to absorb your anger, and then you'd hang up in, in frustration, they replaced that person with an interactive voice response system whose only job is to get you to say 17, no, 17, no, 17, no 1, 7, 17 operator, representative.

Representative operator. Right. Like our bosses would happily replace us with that robot Yes. And have them write all of our movies from now on, right? Yes. and, and so workers should be worried about [02:15:00] it, but we don't have to like stipulate to the claims of the tech firms themselves that they have designed the thing that's better at writing fiction than we are. Because you can give it a prompt that looks a lot like a bad studio executive note, like, you know, make me et but make the hero a dog and set it in the 19th century and gimme a steamy sex scene in the second act, and a gunfight in the third act. And, and like the, the robot will just do it and not even roll its eyes at you the way a writer would if, if you went and gave them that [02:15:30] note.

And you know, it, it really just like, it really, you can see why they love it. Right. You can see why studio execs love it, because like, they are the living embodiment of that joke where the writer and the executive are dying of thirst in the desert and, and they come across an oasis and the writer drops to their knees and thanks the fates for rescuing them from, from thirst and then looks up and the, the studio executive is pissing in the oasis and the writer says, what are you doing? And the studio executive says, don't worry, I'm just making it better <laugh>. Right. [02:16:00] and, and you know, like executives love the idea of replacing humans with robots that just take their bad ideas and turn them into scripts. Yep. it doesn't mean that they would get good scripts. Right. And, and like we know that, and we know that.

'cause We know what looks like when you hire scabs to write strip scripts during strikes, and they're not good scripts. So you know, I I think that, that we sh we should be worried about it, but not for the reasons that Sam Altman says we should be worried about it. By the way, this Lee Vinzel article is great. [02:16:30] And he wrote it two years ago. Yeah, no, it's super useful. It was prescient. He is a professor at Virginia Tech. Yeah. Virginia Tech. Yeah. highly, highly recommend this for anybody. He he refers to historian David C. Brock. He, he calls them not crit hype, but wish wishful worries. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> worrying about things that would be nice to have in contrast to the actual agos of the present. And as an example. [02:17:00] Oh yeah. He gives the the article hacked sex robots could murder people, security expert warns <laugh>

Rebecca Giblin (02:17:08):
<Laugh>. Yeah,

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (02:17:12):
Yeah, yeah. If only Right. <Laugh>, I mean, it, look, it's the entire, like the entire long termist movement just embodies this, right? Like, why should I be worried about starving people today when there are 10 to the 53 [02:17:30] hypothetical angry virtual intelligences, 10,000 years in the future? Yeah. Any utility I can deliver to them multiply by 10 to the 53 is more utility than we would ever realize for the, you know, poultry, 7 billion, 8 billion people alive today. Because like, any number that you make up, that you multiply by an even larger number that you make up can be a very large nu number. Indeed. And if that's your basis for prioritizing your concerns, there's always a reason not to deal with this stuff that matters. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> [02:18:00] the article from Alex Reisner in the Atlantic this week turns out that, and we knew, I think we kind of knew this, certainly Sarah Silverman is suing open AI because she said clearly it's, it's ingested my book bed wetter. 'cause It regurgitates it to me. And a loss that, that's the lawsuit from Sarah Silverman, Richard Cadre, and Christopher Golden apparently turns out it's more than that. It's Stephen King's 80 Smith and Michael [02:18:30] Pollan. Thousands of writers with copyrighted works are being used to train these ais. But you know what a judge has just ruled on Friday supporting the finding from the US Copyright Office that AI created art is not copyrightable. So it can ingest copyrighted material and create content that anybody can use.

Rebecca Giblin (02:18:55):
Oh, Leo, can I just make a distinction there? Please. We've got a difference between what's happening on [02:19:00] the, sorry, just to put my, like, super one key copyright on. We've got what's happening at the input stage and what's happening at the output stage. So at the input stage, they're training these systems on all of this copyrighted material, and then that raises particular questions about whether that might infringe that material. But then there's the output stage. You've you've put in the prompt, you've had an image sped out or a bit of text, the output stage. They're saying that that's not copyrightable as an as of, of, but that doesn't mean that what happens at the input stage [02:19:30] doesn't raise its own problems. Oh, yeah. And so problems

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (02:19:33):
On both ends.

Rebecca Giblin (02:19:34):
Yeah. And so I think, yeah, so there's, I I think that there, nobody's saying that there's no infringement on that side, and certainly you see really different licensing attitudes. So Adobe, for example, when it created its new Firefly AI powered tool, it made sure all of that was licensed, all of the training data was licensed. So that and, and you know, that that raised its own problems because not all of the the artists who provided this, this, [02:20:00] the stock images knew that it was gonna be used for this, but it was in the fine print. And so Adobe's like, Hey, guess what? You've got nothing to complain about. And by the way, we're gonna figure out some way of paying you for this. But there's other ones like Mid Journey where they didn't license this and they've just ingested everything, and they're just like, well, we couldn't, because like, how do you do that on massive scale that's gonna take years to play out?

And it's the same thing with the, with the language models. That's the ones that are being trained on Stephen King and and so on. But what, what's gonna take, [02:20:30] it's gonna take absolutely years, maybe decade or longer to, to figure out the extent to which that's infringing and what the consequences of that are gonna be. But in the meantime, these technologies might become super entrenched and these companies become enormously wealthy and, and powerful and have kind of walled off a, a bunch of human knowledge as well. So we've gotta be really thinking very critically about what we're gonna do about that and what we're gonna do about it quickly before they do get too entrenched. I think,

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (02:20:55):
And this is another area where open AI is not open because while they say they're open, [02:21:00] they will not tell you where they got their training data from. Reisner Yeah. Analyzed a data set used by Meta to train llama it's large language model, and it's, he says he found 170,000 books in the training data. Yes. Silverman's, yes. Pollins, KRA Hour, James Patterson, Stephen King. And what's interesting is a lot of this actually came from pirate sources because, you know, you can't, this material is not in general, [02:21:30] unlike Corey's books is not in general online. So they were obviously scanning pirate sources, I guess. So yeah, I wanna get wonky here too and say like, I think that there's, there, there's a whole bunch of different stuff going on all at once. So the first question that we need to ask is is making a temporary copy of a work and then subjecting it to mathematical analysis and then embodying that mathematical analysis in a model [02:22:00] are, are any of those steps infringing?

And in the US at least, it's pretty clear that they're not. And the, the, it's not an area of real controversy among copyright scholars that like making a temporary copy of a work in order to do some kind of mechanical analysis on it is not an infringement. There's a bunch of subtle law about this. And, and if it turned out to be it, it would overturn a lot of stuff that we do. The amount of work that remains in the model, at least in, in the main is, is quite small. There is this problem with Silverman's [02:22:30] work being memorized by a model, but we could, like Silverman wouldn't be happy if they just tweaked the model, so it didn't memorize her work. Right? She's angry about the training. Right. And so, you know, when you look at like mid journey, it ingests a whole image and it retains a single bite.

So, you know, a megabyte image and you retain one bite, you've retained a millionth of the image. Again, this is like very clearly like not what we think of when we think of copyright infringement. Now the model can produce infringing works, but that would generally be the problem of the model user, not the model's manufacturer. We, we [02:23:00] generally, you know this, that not law's a little muddy after gr rockstar, but generally if your tool is capable of making non infringing works as well as infringing works, that's the problem. The, the infringing works are the problems. The people who infringe not, not the problem, the people who make the tool, that that was the decision that came out of the V C R. Right? If you can sustain a substantial law infringing use, you're lawful. And so this raises this question if like, this stuff is probably not copyright infringement, or at the very least to make a copyright infringement in a case is a real long shot [02:23:30] at what is, what is it that these lawyers are doing when they round up these people?

And I should say Cadre is like a dear friend of mine. I don't know Silverman, but I really admire her work. And what have, what have they been told by these lawyers and what are these lawyers telling themselves when they create these cases? And my guess is that the lawyers are making a calculus that the training data itself was acquired in such unsavory and potentially ways that these companies just don't wanna go through discovery. [02:24:00] Yeah. And they are wash in money, tens of billions of dollars, and they will just write a check for hundreds of millions of dollars to make the discovery end. Just like Ruper Murdoch gave Dominion $400 million, so you wouldn't have to go through discovery mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And, and that's fine. Like, it's okay with me if plaintiff side lawyers want to take like 10 figures out of the, the you know, overinflated AI economy and hand it to artists, that's great.

But I worry that if we convince artists that training [02:24:30] works is, or should, or training a model is or should be an infringement, that on the one hand we're gonna create a lot of collateral damage, like that would basically be the end of the entire field of computational linguistics, which is a really important field that some of AI's best critics actually come out of. So Emily Bender, for example, co-wrote the stochastic parrots paper as a computational linguist. And on the other hand, I don't think it's gonna help artists because, you know, as Rebecca just described, it's not hard to acquire licenses to all the works needed to train a model to put the artists [02:25:00] out of work for one thing. You can just alter the contract that you present to all of your artists to say, Hey, if you wanna work for us, you have to assign that new, right.

That you just, you just got Congress to give you to control model training. And now we have that, right? Academics don't, independence don't, but we do. And we can make the model. So we have means, motive, and opportunity to fire your ass and replace you with a shell script. And like, this raises this very important question. If you care about artists' livelihood, as Rebecca and I do, we wrote a whole book about a choke point [02:25:30] capitalism, what do we do? And I think that, you know, this US copyright office and DC circuit decision that says that works made by ais aren't entitled to a copyright their public domain is very important. I think that it will act as a major discouragement to firms to firing humans and replacing 'em with software. Because as much as these guys are like insatiably, horny for firing all of us, they love copyright even more.

In fact, it's the only [02:26:00] thing they love more than firing workers is, is getting more copyright. And if you say to them, your choice is pay writers or everything you make is in the public domain and anyone can copy it and reproduce it, they're just gonna pay writers. There are other things we can do, like have a picket line and you know, I'm speaking to you from Burbank, California, and I am walking those picket lines that you, you whistle Disney, are you? Yeah. You in the wga a No, I'm in the animators guil, but I go out in solidarity strike. Awesome. And our mayor, Constantine Anthony, [02:26:30] who's now, he's gonna run for county commissioner, and he's a after sag after member himself. And he goes out and pickets as well. It, you know, it's a union town and like they're demonstrating that if artists think of themselves as like LLCs with MFAs who are, you know, in a business to business negotiation with big companies, they just lose every time. But if artists think of themselves as workers who get our power from collective action, then that's how we win.

Rebecca Giblin (02:26:59):
Yeah. And [02:27:00] that's what I'd really like to see. I I want us to see, I want us to be thinking about what the problem actually is and what kind of solution that we need. If, if what we're interested in is getting artists paid and ensuring that people can live with economic dignity from doing creative work, right? Then that's a different kind of answer to are we interested in shareholders of these existing big companies earning more money? Right. And I think a lot of these copyright approaches to this solution are just aimed at doing a better job of achieving the ladder and [02:27:30] not doing anything to, to fix the former. And so what I really want us to be thinking about, and that, that ties back into when I was saying what's due to us as humans I didn't think we should be thinking about more copyright rights, which is like always been alienable transferrable and extracted the moment that it, that it accrues.

I want us to be thinking about maybe rights to self, you know, the fact that that, that these technologies can now make make, make your voice, say things that you never said, and make your [02:28:00] body do things that you never consented to. Those are intensely personal things, and we can understand that they shouldn't be transferable. I think as well that we can start thinking about certain kinds of creative work as being really personal as well. And we should start thinking about rights that people can't transfer and that, that, that do get, get kept for humans rather than go to corporations or heaven forbid, go to machines.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (02:28:22):
A perfect coda for this show. It's the, it's the through line to the whole thing. Margaret Atwood said, are you a writer, a musician? [02:28:30] An artist is big tech eating your brain and sucking your financial blood. Corey Doc Row and Rebecca Gland's new book, choke Point Capitalism tells us how the vampires crash the party and provides protective garlic. Your brain must remain your own concern. However, <laugh>, the book Choke Point Capitalism is out. Go to choke point, choke point to find out how we get creatives paid and put a, [02:29:00] a kibosh on big tech sucking our brains. You should also check

Rebecca Giblin (02:29:05):
Out, oh, Leo, can I jump in? Yes. Sorry Leo to interrupt. I totally forgotten until right now, but I do have another plug. 'cause We have a, just as you were talking about how a podcast are dying, I finally have a podcast and it today, and we talk a lot about generative ai, but it's in the context of patents in particular with, with, this is called IP provocations. It's about asking the really provocative and challenging questions about IP and data. [02:29:30] And the first season is all about, well, our patents really helping us to benefit from great ideas. A bunch of stuff about generative AI and covid and all the things in that as

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (02:29:39):
Well. That's fantastic. And it comes out today.

Rebecca Giblin (02:29:43):
It comes out today, yes. I've just had a lot of things on, so it slipped my mind. <Laugh>,

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (02:29:47):
You're a busy person. That's awesome. This, I think we've just sent you a few listeners. That sounds fantastic. It's more than Spotify, right? It's available on all

Rebecca Giblin (02:29:57):
Office. You'll find it everywhere. Yeah. You'll find it everywhere. That's right.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (02:29:59):
IP [02:30:00] Provocations by Melbourne Law School, and of course Rebecca Giblin re and Kimberly Weatherall. Let's give her a plug too. And that's right. Don't forget Choke Point Capitalism is now a major well, television show tomorrow, <laugh>. You, you gotta, we all have to watch Futurama because because it's gonna be all about choke point capitalism. That should be interesting. That should be very interesting. Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it.

Rebecca Giblin (02:30:29):
It's a good [02:30:30] egg.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (02:30:30):

Rebecca Giblin (02:30:30):
See. Yeah. Thank you David. David out on the picket line, one of the lead negotiators on the W g A campaign to make sure fantastic that writers get paid and also just like being out there in the front lines to make sure that, that the, these industries remain sustainable. Really appreciate the w for all that leadership they do.

Leo Laporte & Cory Doctorow (02:30:48):
You have 13 hours now to go to Kickstarter. It's on the front page projects. We like the internet con, how to seize the means of computation. The best way to get Corey's new book comes out September 5th. [02:31:00] You'll also be supporting the audio book version. As you know, Corey does not do d r m. So if, if you wanna support this, you know, this is the place to go, Kickstarter or you can simply go to <laugh> if you know how to spell Cs, seize the means of computation dot. That's right. And if you can't spell domains, you outta Lucks. Yeah, <laugh>. Yeah. You know, it's like that. It's like that. Saturday Night Live sketch, like we hear at very serious financial <laugh> didn't want [02:31:30] to jump in the internet when it started. We were worried it was a fad. We know you take our, you know, we know that you value our prudence, but now we finally arrived, although we did wait a little too long, which is why you'll find us at Clown Penis Fart <laugh>.

It's the last domain left having internet <laugh>. All the good names are taken. In fact, somebody has, all the good names are Cory's other book is coming out soon. Tell us again the name of it. I'm looking forward to this. Yeah, it's this one. It's called The Lost Cause. It's an adventure novel [02:32:00] about green New Deal and the backlash against it set here in Burbank. It comes out mid-November. Great reviews from Kim Stanley Robinson and Bill McKibbon. And I'm gonna be doing a launch event for it when it comes out with Constantine Anthony, mayor of Burbank, candidate for Burbank or for Los Angeles city commission. And, and, and if you're a fan of novels about hard charging forensic accountants, you've gotta read Red Team Blues. Really [02:32:30] fun. Really fun. Oh, well, thank you.

And that's gonna se to that one comes out in February. Yeah, that's called The Bezel. Yeah, I Hollywood's got to option this, this would be, I mean, he's the next James Bond. Martin Hench. Well, nobody's optioning anything right now. That's a good point. Yeah. Later, later after they, there'll be an opportunity, the writers, everything they want, once they do that, they're gonna, they're gonna need a lot of content to fill that empty pipeline. That's right. This'll be an excellent choice. Catch your, and if you're coming to the Playa, come, come see me on Tuesday at Center [02:33:00] Camp at two 40 Wednesday at Liminal Labs at six 15 and f at noon. Or if you're in LA come see me. And Naomi Klein with her new book, doppelganger at the La Public Library on February the, on September the seventh at 7:00 PM I don't know when Corey sleeps.

I really don't. But we're I sleep in the car on the way to Burning Man, <laugh>. We're glad he doesn't have fun at Burning Man. You two. That's, that's gonna be awesome. Alright, thank you. And I hope we can get you back real soon. Thank you so much for being here. Anytime, [02:33:30] Leo. We do Twitter every Sunday. It's so nice to talk to you both again. I really appreciate it. Even you getting up so early in the morning, twice in a row. Now this might be a new right, this might be a habit, an idiot <laugh>. No, absolutely not. <Laugh>. No way. We do Twin every Sunday. Just for your information. Sunday afternoon, 2:00 PM Eastern, I mean, sorry, 2:00 PM See, I didn't even know. 2:00 PM Pacific's. It's Daylight Time. That's 5:00 PM Eastern. That is 2100 utc, [02:34:00] which means it's Monday morning for Rebecca.

Let's get this straight. You can watch us do it live at Live TWIT tv. If you're watching Live chat with us, live in our IRC Open all you can use a browser, IRC TWIT tv. There's also, of course, the Club Twit Discord. We'd love to hear from you there. If you're a Club Twit member, after the fact on-demand versions of the show are available at the website, twit tv. We have a dedicated YouTube channel audio and video. We also have of course an r s [02:34:30] s feed because that's what it makes it a podcast. And we believe in that. And if you have a podcast client, you can use that to subscribe and listen to it every week. This is, I think, a show. That's the best way to start your your week. We call it The Last word in tech is your first podcast of the week.

Thank you everybody for being here. 18 years in, I think Corey, you were on this show maybe like 16 years ago, 17 years ago in the very early days. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, remember we did that live thing at the bookshop or something? Oh, I sort of, yeah, [02:35:00] I have video, I video of it. Yeah. Big guy, Kevin, Kevin Rose was there. Yeah. And we also, but I used to walk down to your studios when you were in the, when you were in the Petro Hill and E F F was in the mission. That's right. And I used to walk down to the tech TV studio. I remember that. Yeah. I told my kid, I'm going on the, the vlog of the guy who invented vlogging and she was like, who didn't invent vlogging? Mr. Beast invented vlogging. <Laugh>. Oh, Mr. Beast. I tell ya. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I [02:35:30] thank you Corey. Thank you Rebecca. Thank you all for watching. We appreciate it and we'll see you next time on this week in tech

All Transcripts posts