tv The Communicators Future of Transportation with Hop Skip Go co-author... CSPAN December 30, 2019 8:02pm-8:33pm EST
lack of funding and the lack of actual issues in our government and how we are just as important as the universities [inaudible] >> the most important issues right now are both healthcare and on campaign finance and government. healthcare i do think we should move towards improving [inaudible] we are not fully seen the vision of universal healthcare and making it simple and more affordable and i like to see that extended to some single-payer, medicare system and campaign-finance system to make addresses [inaudible] >> voices from the road on c-span.
>> host: long-time technology journalist and author, stephen baker is the co-author of this new book called "hop, skip, go". mr. baker, you write that this book is about the coming age of mobility. what do mean by that? >> well, there are -- it's an information revolution we been watching it for the last half-century but it spread into computers and overwhelmed media and advertising and then it spread into telephones and we were carrying around the internet wherever we went. now, in this next aid the internet and the mobile machines will be carrying us around. i think it will be an age in which all kinds of new choices will surface for us and we will be able to -- we will be able to go a lot of places and it will have a big effect on our cities and at the same time companies and city governments are going to be able to manage our
movements and that will raise questions about privacy at its next stage of the internet revolution. >> host: imagine a scenario, something you write about in her book, los angeles 2028, what should we expect? >> guest: well, one thing about information revolutions is you can't bet on dates releasing it before with cell phones. my co-author and i were in paris in at the turn-of-the-century around the year 2000 and we were predicting smart phones were going to teach communication by 2003. turns out we were way early and they did not come until 2007 but the changes are still important. los angeles in 2028, what will be see? we will see more choices and they will have spent billions of dollars on public transportation and there will be cars that are
semi- autonomous, running in certain parts of los angeles. i don't think we will have -- i don't think by that point we will have fully autonomous cars going around that space but we will have some of that. there could be airships like networks of small robotic drones that carry people hither and yon across los angeles. >> host: you spent time with mayor garcetti and you talked about the lumix and what they are planning to do for that ti time. >> guest: yeah. they have a lot of big projects they hope to get in gear by 2028 for the olympics but i think the big thing is in the thing the los angeles is people are really fed up more than ever with traffic in los angeles and they are so fed up that they decided to tax themselves raising gas taxes to fund public transit.
i think the hope for many of them is if we fund public transit many of the people who will leave the roads and it will move ins will move faster. >> host: with these billions of dollars that are being spent in los angeles are they being spent on smart transportation or just more roads and more vehicles? >> guest: they are not being spent on more roads and more vehicles. they are being spent on a dramatic expansion of the metro system and more buses and more electric buses and they are looking at -- they are looking at los angeles as this test fed for all kinds of new technologies so they are opening it up and telling people if you set up your new company, whether scooters or autonomous cars or flying ships you can try it out in los angeles.
>> host: that happened in santa monica, didn't it? with the bird scooter. >> guest: yeah, people were unhappy about it because one day the bird scooters appeared on the sidewalks in santa monica and people looked at them and saw how they could use their phones to activate them and the next thing you know they're riding around without helmets getting in the way of traffic and making some people very mad. the funny thing was that the guy who'd set up bird had previously worked at uber and the way that uber traditionally is worked is barge in, offer your service, get a lot of people who liked it and then deal with government once you've got a constituency and a fan base. that is what bird did. it angered officials in santa monica but i was just there a few days ago and a lot of people were zipping around on all kinds of scooters. >> host: in "hop, skip, go" you
write this -- if governments failed to assert their control with taxes and regulation cheap ubiquitous mobility services could overwhelm the entire region much the way the automobile did. mr. baker, some would argue that cheap ubiquitous service is what we want. >> guest: well, it is 28-degree but if it is so cheap and ubiquitous you might send a car 20 miles to pick up a special type of panini that you like and so if people -- if it is too cheap it will get overused and overwhelming info structure because it involves molecules and you only have a certain number of molecules you can move in a certain physical space. >> host: what do you see is the role of government in this coming mobility age? >> guest: well, government is
going to have to take a much more active role than they did, and they have in the internet revolution and much more active than they did a century ago when cars came in. if you think about cars coming into our cities over the last century they basically colonized our cities and much like as i described with the bird they developed their constituency all motorists around the world and then the motorists in the car industry forced cities to build immense infrastructure all these roads and basically to pay much of the planet and in this next stage it's a chance for a do over. cities that we visited regarding this book from los angeles, dubai, shanghai each is a different approach but what they have to do is figure out how to make things work efficiently,
cleanly and also giving everybody a chance to move around and not just the rich. questions of equity as well. >> host: how is the approach and los angeles to the mobility generation different than that in dubai? >> guest: wall, los angeles is a hard place to govern but there are scores of different municipalities within los angeles county and there are -- there is a lot of freedom and that is part of what makes the united states and especially california unique and so it's a hard place to govern whereas dubai there's the essential authority has a lot of power. dubai is organizing things so that they can control movement. they are investing in all kinds of new technology and like los angeles they are looking to become a test fed for flying
machines, robotic cars and all the rest but all of the data in dubai will go to a command center and that command cente center -- the goal in that command center is to move people and their things around as efficiently as the items in an amazon warehouse. >> host: you say in your book -- >> guest: it's a question of freedom versus efficiency. in dubai and in china they have a lot of efficiency and the question in the united states will be how do we achieve that efficiency while still respecting peoples data and giving them the freedom that we are used to. >> host: in a sense, an authoritarian government like that in dubai has a easier time of it? >> guest: yes. i mean, i think that's true about all kinds of things of authoritarian government. they have an easier time controlling things until people
rise up. >> host: in dubai you compare it to being on the jetsons. >> guest: it is not there yet but that is the vision. the vision is to have flying airships early in this coming decade and not just a few of them carrying around rich people to golf courses and luxury hotels but they want to have these flying airships carrying all kinds of people and they want to have a flying network like eight metro system with little stops all over dubai with flying machines carrying people back and forth. >> host: what have they developed already? >> guest: they not early developed anything but they've opened their doors and they have done test flights for the german company called [inaudible] where drones carry people across the city but they are not at a point
where it is happening yet. they have a goal, stretch goal of 2022 for these flying machines but as i said earlier you can't count on dates for technology revolutions. if those machines don't prove to be don't prove to be safe than they can to go with it and they can't go with it yet. >> host: from your book whoever controls the data will be in a position to manage meant. what data are we talking about and who should control it? >> guest: if you think about an autonomous car it's a huge data machine and it will have the equivalent of supercomputers and each car calculating each turn and recording everything that is happening in that car and most
of that information goes up onto networks but at the same time even scooters, bikes, all the these machines are network machines with sensors so there's a vast amount of data and they will record every movement that humanity makes in a city. who should have access to it? that will be one of the big battles in this coming decade. i will give an example that if you have ford wants to offer all kinds of great services, digital services in their cars and they want to have voice commands and interface with and all the rest so they could develop that technology they could team up with amazon and get people alexa in the car if they get amazon -- alexa and the cart than amazon has all this mobility data and ford has access to less of it
but that's a decision that companies will have to make is that how much will they have tech companies to control because if the tech companies are better at data and have services that people want. >> host: but you go further in "hop, skip, go" and suggest that perhaps that data that the tech companies have should be turned over to government for efficiency's sake. >> guest: well, i don't know if it should be turned over to government but i mean one thing in helsinki what they do in helsinki is one of the cities that we focus on they don't turn the data over to government but they stipulate that every conveyance whether a bike share or a car share or a bus or metro has to provide mobility data
with the same standard so that any company that wants to manage mobility and offer mobility services has access to this anonymized data and can use it to provide services and so that is a case where the government does not control the data but the government puts autonomous data and makes it available to entrepreneurs and companies. >> host: mr. baker, you mentioned earlier ford motor company and you mentioned that piece by piece opera firms are to conquer the car in one of the characters in your book is chris thomas. who is he? >> guest: chris thomas is a young man and still a young man who went to ford and he was a graduate of yale and from
detroit and asked for an internship at ford and went to ford and got the most boring internship you could imagine and so he sent e-mails to all the top executives at ford same could i have a half an hour of time to talk about what i want out of this internship did he gets to talk for a half an hour with the chairman of ford, billy ford and tells him how boring his internship is and begs him for an interesting job. billy ford eventually puts him in this project which is the skunked work which is to scope out the future of transportation in megacities. chris thomas feeds this mobility revolution we are talking about and he convinces billy ford and others to set up a venture fund that will invest in all these new technologies so that is what he did and when i wrote when we wrote the book he was still doing that but later he quit the
venture fund called [inaudible] and is now sitting up in education basically a new university to develop the brainpower for new mobility in detroit. the idea being they need to have the talent for these new technologies robotics and other new technologies to keep the auto business in detroit. >> host: has he made any profit from what he's been doing since he left ford? >> guest: well, i imagine he did very well. it's a venture fund and had a good return on a lot of the investments in robotics and other mobility technologies. i think he's done just fine. >> host: a lot of the mobility. >> guest: the education i don't think is a huge profit maker. i think he's doing it to try to help detroit.
>> host: a lot of the mobility technology that is being developed now has not seen a return. is that correct? >> guest: what is happening is were in the boom phase of an industry so money is pouring into all kinds of startups and ventures and silicon valley is just full of all kinds of mobility startups. at some point this boom phase will end and the investors will start asking difficult questions about where the companies are making money and that will lead, as he seen in previous iterations of the internet to some kind of a bubble bursting and many of the companies, including, i'm sure, some committees be profiled in this book are likely to fail because that's what happens when booms and. the victors, the survivors, will pick up the brainpower in the code in the patents and grow
with it. >> host: mr. baker, what's going on in china when it comes to mobility technology? >> guest: china is all over this technology. they've got massive government funded investments in artificial intelligence which is at the heart of many of these mobility technologies. they want to become leaders and robotic cars and autonomous vehicles and they are big on airships and they want it all. they want china to be the leader in the technology and also they want it to they wanted to improve life in chinese cities because chinese cities are like shanghai and beijing are covered in a smog and traffic is miserable. if they can organize this right
they can make their cities much more attractive and vibrant and at the same time, a leader and perhaps the most important technology in the next ten, 20 years. >> host: the right to the china has by far the biggest and richest data sets on earth. >> guest: right, they don't have any citizen action groups that are decrying this or asking for anonymized data. the chinese have access to the data and they can do with it to what they want. that gives them a big step up. it's quite a bit like dubai. >> host: that makes americans american suspicious, doesn't it? >> guest: yeah, it will be a huge issue in this country how to beget get or reap the benefits of this revolution while maintaining our freedom and our privacy.
>> host: stephen baker in "hop, skip, go" he list three different items that you think data collection and this technology needs to be judged on. open standards, algorithm audits and net neutrality. could you walk us through those please? >> guest: sure. if you want a really vibrant mobility system in a city where you can go where you want to go and everything works well you need to have standards so everybody has the same type of data. it's what i was describing earlier about helsinki. if you remember the cell phones back in the '90s and early 2000's. we had different standards. some cell phones couldn't talk to each other and europe moved way ahead of us because they had
a common standard and you could go from finland to portugal and make calls anywhere you wanted in europe. we need that kind of open standard in mobility so that everyone can build together and not have a fractured ecosystem but as far as audits go there is all kinds of ways that companies and governments can misuse this data. and they could conceivably make things happen so that poor people can't move as fast as richer people, for example. and so or they discriminate against certain types of people because they are not as economie the economic return so what you want is an audit to make sure that the algorithms are fair.
what was the third thing, i forgot. >> host: net neutrality. >> guest: yeah. it's related to the audit but the idea is that everybody should have equal access to the mobility and to move around the cities. >> host: heavy found inequality when it comes to mobility? >> guest: well, i think our world is full of inequality. we have cities that have transit deserts where people can't get public transit to go to a job interview or go to a school and the idea is that we could perhaps use this next generation of mobility to provide more opportunities for those people. it could also change real estate in cities because mobility
deserts -- people move to mobility deserts in part because the rent is low and the rent is low because it's such a pain to get anywhere. there are areas in cities that would be fine and full of potential if they weren't mobility deserts and so if you had a system in which people could move around leather with car share, bike share, metro, whatever it is and had access to more areas of the city then it would, you know, have a big effect on the real estate mark market. >> host: stephen baker, in "hop, skip, go" you have a futuristic vision where some of the highways, perhaps even the four oh five in la would be a bike path or a walking path or a return to nature. >> guest: right. i think this could be a while before the 405 becomes a bike path but yeah, the idea is and helsinki is doing this. the idea is if you have more
people using, not using cars and using other options to move around then you can you won't need as many parking lots in the city or county of los angeles has an immense amount of parking. i think it's five times the area of paris in a parking lots and in san francisco or in los angeles. that's an honest opportunity for parks and schools, sewing pools, malls, whatever you want. it doesn't have to be like that but in helsinki they have this venture that is called mobility is a service. the idea is that you open an app on a cell phone and it tells you how to get someplace and has all the connections and they've got a lot of transit in helsinki and it's all paid for with a monthly subscription.
the idea is if you can use information this way and package it people won't need their cars as much. if people donate their cars as much then you can start turning highways into bike paths and greenways. >> host: how is it that helsinki became part of the cutting edge of the mobility revolution? >> guest: while, the fans are very advanced in technology. they are willing to try things first. when i was working for businessweek in europe in the late '90s i was going up to helsinki all the time because they were on the cutting edge of mobile phones with nokia and a bunch of other mobile phones providers. so, this is just like the next step. the fins are in the next stage of the internet which happens to be mobility and the question is whether they can -- nokia was huge for a while and then it clicked got eclipsed by
basically apple and the question is whether the fins can become world leaders in these apps that move us around or if they will get swallowed up by someone like google. >> host: and other city featured in "hop, skip, go" is jakarta. what's going on there? >> guest: well, jakarta has some of the worst traffic in the world and so there is a company there that has turned these motorbikes they have into a taxi service and also a delivery service. they can bus much faster through jakarta then the cabs or the limousines. once you have mobility on an a app, this company is finding then you can start providing all kinds of other services on that.
and start delivering food and banking services and it shows how the -- if you think about the previous revolution, the smart phone back when we were imagining it in the early 2000's you will not imagine that smart phone would become would become a music player, video player and social networks and all the other things it became in the same thing will happen with mobility. if you have services that deliver things and they are on apps and those apps can move into other things like entertainment, food, banking and that is what we are seeing in jakarta. >> host: you began this conversation, mr. baker, by talking about privacy. where is this going to head when it comes to privacy? >> guest: i don't know. it varies from one place to the other.
the one thing interesting abou about -- if you think about the automobile revolution we had incredible amounts of privacy because we could go anywhere we wanted and get lost and no one knew where we were. our parents did not know where we were and are cities barely knew where we were but you have to put hoses that counted cars across roads just to count the traffic and that was so primitive they treated us like herds and so we had an immense amount of freedom and privacy and incredible waste. this next revolution has much less waste and it can be much greener but we are going to be counted, surveilled and controlled much more. i think it's a trade-off and i think a lot of people will not be happy with it but you know, a lot of people -- if you tell people about how intrusive the
cell phone is and how much it tells google where the phone companies and the government about our lives a lot of people are horrified but we still carry cell phones around because they provide a service we can't do without. i think the same thing will be true of mobility and we will sacrifice more of our privacy in a bit more of our freedom perhaps, freedom to get lost in our freedom to escape but if it works the way it could we could move much more efficiently and we could have a lot of fun to. >> host: "hop, skip, go", how the mobility revolution is transforming our lives is the name of the book and all communicators are available as a podcast. >> for 40 years c-span has been providing america unfiltered coverage of congress, the white
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