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tv   After Words Rana Foroohar Dont Be Evil  CSPAN  February 17, 2020 8:32pm-9:31pm EST

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john ford. "after words" is a weekly interview program with relevant guests hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest work. all "after words" programs are also available as podcasts. >> great to sit down with you. your book, don't be evil, is contained a timely timely subject given the political times that we are in a given at the heights that the stocks of apple, amazon, google, facebook and others have reached recently but you normally have a pretty broad scope to your coverage required this book, why now? >> good question. thank you for having me, by the way could i started this book in 2017 and i had just taken a job as columnist for the financial times in my mandate was to figure out what are the world's biggest business and economic
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stories and uncover them in opinion form which is a rather large mandate. [laughter] in order to narrow the funnel i started looking through corporate figures and i saw from an amazing number of in terms of how the transition from the financial sector to the technology sector since the great financial crisis and one of the numbers that stuck out was a mckinsey global institute figure looking at how 80% of corporate wealth was being held in just 10% of firms and those are the firms that were richest in personal data and intellectual property so basically if you are trafficking in these things you are holding the majority of the world's corporate wealth and the biggest of those firms were the ones that i profile in the book, facebook, apple, amazon, netflix a little bit and google. >> they make money, all of them, pretty differently but there is some overlap with facebook and
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google and digital advertising but look at apple and they mostly shunned advertising and look to sell their devices and technology, uber you mentioned is not an ad driven profitable company but makes money on a whole different basis. besides the fact we think of them as all being attacked they all have one thing in common. >> great question but it is an interesting point because right now they are all trying to very much separate each other while regulators looked tightly at this space. i think that think they do all have in common is the network effect. the network effect is something i talk about a lot in my book and it is the idea that as you get big you get bigger. the business model of these companies and of many unicorns in silicon valley and the private billion-dollar firms is to get territory as goofy as possible so everybody wants a
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moat, move fast and break things. you get in and you do this in many cases by sacrificing margin. a company like amazon but also like uber, for example, you go and undercut the worlds taxi services and to take over the entire industry and worry about profits later. this is something that businesses simply have not been able to do at scale in this way until now and that in and of itself has ramifications and it cuts competitors out that may be anticompetitive and point to monopoly power. >> it is called "don't be evil" which harks back to google's, now i guess in a corporate sent is called alphabet but google's original very optimistic and yet simplistic statement about itself and what it was going to adhere to and the indication is it is not evil but they have certainly gotten bad. >> right. >> what is bad about being big
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and powerful and successful? >> where to start. [laughter] i wrote 350 pages on it. "don't be evil" was a mantra that the google guys came up with in the 1990s which is when the internet was a garage industry, consumer industry was just been born and had these individual smalltime entrepreneurs coming up with these companies and the reason i decided to focus on google and on this idea of not being able is that google was there in the beginning but when you write a book, particularly a completed book that looks at economic, political and social issues you want to find a narrative arc. at the time i looked at this facebook was the company that was in the news for election and epilation and there has been plenty of that on google but election manipulation, monopoly power, bad behavior in general but if you go back and look at
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google and its founding's i read a paper that larry page and the founders of google wrote and in 1998 and you can find the paper on the internet that it looks at what is a search engine and how would you run a search engine and how would you pay for the search engine and at the very end in an appendix section they have a paragraph on advertising and they talk about how targeted advertising which is the business model of essentially watching what you are doing online, following you around and seen what you are clicking on and what are you searching and building a digital voodoo doll of you and showing that to advertisers and auctioning your eyeballs off for the highest bidder and that business model would eventually bring users and advertisers into conflict and their interests would not be the same grade vide companies or, for example, large state entities like russia or iran or right-wing nationalists or whoever might want to reach you
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and try to influence you. this was amazing to me. >> like a grim prophecy. >> this is one thing the bunkmate when i see tech ceos get up on the hill and say we are so sorry that we could never have imagined all these terrible things pretty well, go back to that paper in 1998. it was all there in the small print the unspoken foil in the statement, "don't be evil", was microsoft. at the time in the '90s especially in the mid to late '90s they were seen as this descendent evil empire that had stepped on apple with windows 3.1 and stormed into the internet and trying to own everything. it is on now that bill gates is now this sainted figure and technology, giving this money away and why doesn't every billionaire do what he does and it is seen as this kindly gentler and effective ceo and
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they don't come under too much fire or scrutiny. >> no, it's true. i didn't focus on microsoft and i think it is microsoft had their way i'm sure they would be happy to have a very successful search engine but that goes to the point in everything you say hones in on what constitutes monopoly power and what constitutes anticompetitive behavior because the mega soft antidepressant case which actually allowed a lot of people would say the space bar google to be born into grow that happened over 20 years ago at this time and this was the last time that regulators and the public really looked at silicon valley and took a hard look at the tech sector and said okay, we have competition problems here. now, microsoft spent so much
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time i think grappling with those issues and being drawn into legal battles that google was able to get this leg up. google was trafficking non- software but in data, in surveillance capitalism as -- who wrote a wonderful book on that topic has dubbed it. that is a whole new world and if you go to some of the books written about data economics by people like -- who is the chief economist at google talk a lot about the power of networks and how in this new world the network effect of surveillance capitalism that these companies would become natural monopolies but that is the whole thing. these guys did not want to get into the business unless they thought they could create monopolies so that, in a way, sort of comes into conflict with the "don't be evil" slogan pretty early on. >> yet, it is completed to because while we talk about them as being monopolies and having monopoly power in a lot of cases
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but at the same time they are all competing with each other is what they would argue. they say amazon is in the lead and microsoft is the challenger and in operating systems microsoft is leaving and apple is a challenger and in smart phones apple is in the lead and if you're touting devices but google is in lead if you're counting operating systems. they would argue look for much condition there is but when looking at the wrong -- >> there is so much wrong with that argument but you are reminding me an early conversation i had with google when i started thinking about this book i met with one of their strategy folks and put forward my idea that hey, you are a natural monopolist and we have a competition issue here and she looked surprised and said feel like we are competing against the big guys all the time but that is the issue and its goliath and goliath at this point. have a handful of players basically three, four companies that have taken over everything and are actually moving into
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entirely new fields so just look in the last few months at the landgrab that is happening on the part of apple, amazon, google in areas like healthcare and areas like finance and we have seen amazon go overnight into the grocery business. it is hard to think of a business that couldn't be disrupted by the giant firms. that might make the question of why haven't you seen other major industries saying we need a monopoly and we are bringing a suit and it's a very faustian bargain because they benefit from every company in the world benefits from the power of targeted advertising and they are all using it's an increasingly the model that has been pioneered by these businesses, harvesting our personal data for free, imagine if gm got its steel for free. they would have double-digit profit margins two. harvesting our data for free and selling it, collating it across devices and across industry and
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you look at the privacy and security and monopoly issues when a company like facebook and then think about layering your checking account onto it or healthcare data onto it and then think about the world of smart speakers and how the surveillance is all around us now and not just online but in our smart homes and smart car. >> do you have an amazon echo? >> my husband loves it and keeps it in his office but i insist you turn the darn thing off i go in there. i cannot imagine. >> i'm the same way. >> yet, particularly at the political moment we live in i do not want surveillance in my ho home. >> let's talk about exactly what [inaudible] is and the idea and fill in the detail here. the idea that by watching people and by collecting data on what people are doing you can build a
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whole economic system that does not necessarily benefit them and they are not necessarily the consumer but they are the goods. >> it is funny, just the word consumer so shoshana goes back in everyone should read it and i read it for my research but she looks in a very academic way most through a marxist lens at the history of capitalism and how this new surveillance capitalism is, in some ways, the ultimate fruition of corrupting society or the citizen, turning a citizen into a consumer and out turning a consumer, a person into a raw material as we are followed around online these digital patterns are developed. we get none of that resource so my shopping pattern, the fact that i have an issue with buying shoes and the same kind of dresses over and over again, you
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know, that's my desire and my habit in my personal information and that is my behavior. it is no longer mine and it is being harvested by google and by amazon and used to sell me more things. now, we have not even gotten an replay of time to go into the political but take what we've talked about in terms of purchasing and corporate monopoly power and start to put that into the political arena. one of the things that happens online is you get more of what you click on print if you are clicking on -- let's say you are on youtube and like my son you're clicking on lebron james videos all the time. you are getting a lot of those and you could give you any stats about the nba but if you are clicking on right wing hate speech you are also getting more of that. that is called a filter bubble. that benefits these committees because they monetize by keeping us online longer.
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this polarizes us politically and if you think about the power of these tech titans, corporate giants have always had political power. the robber barons and the real railroad titans, every ceo and founder and billionaire when they get to be a certain size and have to they by politicians and by lobbying power but we have a new system in this world of surveillance where that power comes not just from top down and we can get into how big tech is by dollar the largest lobbying group in washington but comes from the bottom up because our behavior can be manipulated, these algorithms know us in some ways better we know ourselves. george soros, the financier and political activists give a speech a couple of years ago which you may have heard talking about do we even have free will in this world anymore? are we really in danger of
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losing -- john stuart mill, the ability to be free citizens in an open society in a world in which we can be controlled at this level by algorithms. >> it sounds like some the original questions about advertising. >> yeah. >> addiction to television. >> you probably read the intention and it's free promo for other people's books but we are all in the same game here. tim wu who was at columbia, antitrust scholar, did a book looking at some of these similarities but i do think that this world of digital surveillance capitalism is fundamentally different. it is everywhere all the time and these services are like utilities. can you imagine having e-commerce or your uber app pulled? it's a whole new world we are only at the beginning because we talk about smart speakers for example. those sales are going up exponentially digits a year and that has more of a cognitive
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power. when you hear suggestion given to you by voice it is even more powerful in terms of influencing your behavior than if you just type in a search and go where google tells you to do. we've already seen and we are seen as more antitrust actions roll out the power of the companies that can erase you as a product and as a person if they want to. it is too much power. >> tim cook, apple's ceo would probably say lana we are not the problem the part of the solution for we have this idea and concept differential privacy that we are building into our products where we are not setting people's identifying data out of their device and using that to inform our ai but we are shielding that and taking general insight and keeping ourselves in our own hands clean so we are not trafficking in it. is that true?
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is that right? or is there a hole in the argument? >> i think it is largely to put their several holes in the argument. for starters, apple certainly has had more of a commitment to privacy. to be fair for its own competitive advantage than a google or facebook. it is not a data harvester in the same way that a google or facebook and those companies make 85, 90% of their revenue on digital advertising that apple makes selling hardware devices. it wants to create that network and create that ecosystem in the loop you into buying as many apple products and services as possible so in that way it uses the network effect but i would point out a couple of things. for starters, apples commitment to privacy has varied very much depending on what country you are talking about. apple will capitulate on privacy in china in ways that it would not dream of doing in the u.s. so it is certainly subject to political pressure, differences in the way different countries
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regulate data and it is not going to stand up and fight beijing on these things. i would also say there are a couple of other problems with apple that overlap with some of the problems i see with google and facebook. one is in terms of who gets what part of the innovation pie. one of the big arguments right now when regulators in the public say these companies are too big and we have to make them or bring them to heal and make them smaller or break them up and they will say look, it's a battle between regulation and innovation but we have to save stay big to innovate. i would argue these committees and apple is foremost amongst them are implement others, not innovators. >> implement others. >> they are implement tours of fremont other people's technologies. you can see this playing out and there's a great story right now in the headlines that google battle. sonos, a beast to pick with apple. it's a maker with a small
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innovator, guy came up with this way to make smart speakers very intuitive company, came up with a lot of technology that were adapted by both google and apple and asked those companies got bigger and more powerful they started infringing on those patents and sonos has not taken apple to court over patent infringements and it couldn't afford to take on both google and apple over patent infringements but apple has had major fights with other big companies like qualcomm and apple, in some ways, is responsible much more so than huawei which the chinese chipmaker gets a lot of slack for okay, they are becoming the new go to chip company and they are infringing on qualcomm but apple was on a three continents battle with qualcomm, biggest 5g innovator in the world infringing on its patents but at some point got big and said we don't want to pay what you are asking. these companies are implementing
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thousands of technology and they want them to be an expensive and are, in some cases, legally taking open-source information and other cases infringing on patents but sometimes they simply buy out small companies in order to get rid of competition but again, it is the big getting bigger and using the system, i think, to [inaudible] it's a zero-sum game. to make one more point you can't have an economy in which four companies are taking all the wealth. you got to have a bigger innovation ecosystem. >> sonos is suing google and they said they would've sued amazon to but cannot afford to take both of them on at the same time. >> amazon, not apple. i'm sorry. amazon has been taken on vice modify. >> could into argue that the limitation is innovation in a lot of cases?
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steve jobs went to see it and said how can you have this just sitting here and they ought to bring this to the world and put out his version but that is one thing that is the allegation and sonos case but could one argue that part of what companies and maybe even big companies become good at is actually bringing that innovation into life and into the economy and getting it to people. >> may no, a lot of people would argue that but i guess i would say i don't see a consumer electronic product that really, let's face it, have game changing innovation since the smart phone which was in 2007. every thing else has been more or less iterative and it is been about apple being extremely clever as a marketer and as a brand creator. value at this point lives in three places, and lives globally, ip, data, big brands,
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they are able to greet a veneer and desirability and in real estate. that is where value lives. i think in the new world that we are moving into i think there will be an environment of deflation and commoditization of everything. you see apple fighting hard to keep market share. look at apple losing the battle to say shall meet which is a big chinese smart phone maker and a number of emerging markets and apple success in being able to continue packaging extensive product and selling them in giant glass boxes is not helping put more americans to work but actually helping to create the next big productive bubble, say in green technology or in things that will bring along a critical mass of workers and bolt our economy to the next good place and it is about selling more expensive stuff.
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i would argue that a company like a qualcomm, for example, not that it's a perfect company but they've done things that i wouldn't want but that is a company that came up with the 5g chip. this is something that makes the smart phone smart. in the current apartment they are having to duke it out just to stay alive and three continental legal battles with other american companies at the same time you have china, for example, rolling out one bold, one road working to institute huawei's tips and technologies into an entirely new ecosystem and i think that is a model we should be looking at more carefully absent this laws a fair, zero-sum game, keep margins as tight as you can, put jobs and products out the supply chain wherever you want and we see in the last few weeks and months the number of corporate scandals that that zero-sum balance sheet driven financial
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eyes thinking has led to and i don't think it is leading us to a good place. >> so, if we think about the different systems in dealing with challenges of they companies, the legacy in the u.s. is different from europe. in europe it is more about detecting competition and in the u.s. it's been more about protecting the consumer and it seems like in this digital era that kind of distinction doesn't work the same way it used to because when we talk about facebook or talk about google very often the companies want to say look at the consumer, they are paying nothing. this is good for the consumer. other people say that is not the consumer and the customer for them is the advertiser and that is the consumer and they are paying more than that. does the old model for antitrust and dealing with big companies and competition does that work
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still in the u.s.? is the european model any better or does it all change? >> these are great questions. two or three points i would make. one of the things the big tech giants in particular google extra say is competition is a click away. eric schmidt, these guys are saying that all the time. let's be serious, to go back to question about microsoft if you were doing a google search and your computer stopped working for a minute would you go to being or would you get up and have a cup of coffee and come back and try google again in five minutes? i will bet you will do the latter. >> i do use being. sometimes i use google and sometimes i do shopping on walmart .com and i'm spreading my data all over the place. >> excellent for equal opportunities surveillance. [laughter] but so, the network effect actually creates mode you are talking about but the deeper point is i think the rules of
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free market capitalists do stop working and it's like laws of gravity that as long as both sides know what the transaction is and prices are going down what is the problem? in this world in which you are pain, not in dollars, but in your data neither of those things hold so you don't know what you are giving up or what you are getting pretty you know you're getting a search but you don't know how much the data is work that you just gave to amazon for that search. it's a very asymmetric transaction and that is a problem right away. also, when you are doing barter and you are not paying in dollars that is not free-market but that is not the way adam smith would have envisioned a market working with adam smith would've said ps that you need equal access to data, transparency and a shared moral framework in order for markets to function properly. do not have that in any of these
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things when you're dealing with a digital giant. it also called in a very technical way into question that 1980s robert bork ask school of thought that it is just consumer prices that matter. that is the school of thought that allowed walmart to get this big and destroy towns squares. fair enough, we get our cheap stuff so that is good for us, i guess. there are a lot of negative strewn maladies of that. you get less choice. in this world of free and i put quotations around free because when you download these apps and do these searches you think it is free but you are pain but you just don't know how much. that model really does work anymore. you have to look at two things. you can look at the innovation ecosystem which is the way the europeans do it. they look at, they almost look at markets like biological systems. you are looking in a petri dish or a pond and they are these
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different things, plants, frogs, fishermen and how do we make sure the system is working for everyone. that's eight european way of doing things but it is complicated and time-consuming and that is why there are antitrust cases take years and decades. >> the outcomes are questionable. ... that we haven't thought about in this country for 40 or 50 years and so one of the things in my book that i spent a lot of time
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thinking about and writing about was the 19th century railroad paradigm. you go back to the rockefellers and vanderbilt and have a network of the 19th and 20th century economy being built by the railroad companies and at one point it's not just the railroads but the col got the cd delete and the commodities who was traveling, how and when it is very much in that way that you should not be able to control the network and controlled commerce that happens on the network because you inevitably come into conflict with your own if of companies
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simply wouldn't take on issues because they could be disappeared they could be cut off from all the consumers of amazon decides they don't want to algorithm algorithmically process the search result into thandthe same with google you se cases come to light around this but they are difficult to prove again because there is a block of algorithms. with amazon it's about the e-commerce site and logistic networks. it allows for third parties to operate at the same time of its own brand of products is competing against the customers and in apple's case, having a store where third parties kind
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of have to do business if they are going to have an app on the platform for the podcasts and music that some competitors might argue i have to pay a toll to be on here and you are competing with me in the same place. >> guest: tha >> guest: that is right and fundamentally there are rules in place already to separate networks in congress. you're describing a company that provides a network competing against third parties in ways that are not very transparent. my last book was about the finance and you have rules you can trade aluminum but you can't own all of the aluminum in the
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world. it's an anecdote that i covered in my first book where at one point to get around those rules, goldman sachs had bought up a bunch of aluminum and they were moving it from one warehouse to another to get around the commerce network so there are loopholes and a precedent that does exist and it existed in the railroad business as well and had a reformer come in and say we are going to bust open these tracks and he looked at the system and the idea that political power exists. we are not living in this world where everyone is making efficient choices all the time and free markets are perfect. if we think about economics, certainly since 2008 markets don't always know best.
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>> host: don't be evil in your book came out in november and really puts a spotlight on the likes of google, facebook, apple, amazon and a few others as well and how the size and success in the treatment of data marketplaces is having an impact not just on customers but all of global society specifically in the u.s.. i wonder can we regulate data information while perhaps regulating speech because people are choosing in a lot of these cases, choosing to put information in the search engine on the social networks etc., etc., pictures on instagram giving away information and what
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to do with their speech, how can it be stopped? >> something that i grappled with is it makes it liable on them and on the one hand, and is you don't want facebook monetizing the massacre of people in new zealand, but you also don't necessarily want mark to be the minister of truth, so that is the line we are walking but let me point out a few things as folks think about this argument. these companies have a get out of jail free loophole that was written in the communications act of 1996 and allowed them to not be liable in a way that you or i would so if i print
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something inaccurate then we could be sued and not so for google or facebook look at what these companies do. they essentially put tons of content online and event advertised against it. that is what the media does they want to say we are the town square but if they want a business model that eats the launch of traditional media in the post-fact world. we really have to consider rethinking. there is a high-profile case a couplhigh profile case acouple t that which is a website that was knowingly trafficking minors. it's something the right and the left took gone and now the
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platforms do have a liability if there's other federal high crimes they have a liability for those things. they do a pretty good job using algorithms to get child pornography, for example, off the website. i think that we have to look closely at how much more we can do and they have to think about if they can't do it, should they be allowed to monetize content and scale in the way they do. >> guest: to turn the entire internet upside down or upside down if you miss too much with section 230, the idea being the comments on the news sites. arguably it was organizations went back to comments. the uploads about the content is
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going to be liable. >> at the financial times the numerous employees to look over the user content and if they are inappropriate or hateful, we get them down. will make different judgment calls in terms of how the content is going to be briefed. it's important that this be a democratically led conversation and government decision. in part they are going to do what is best for their own profit margins. one of the reasons i wrote this book besides looking at the
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sheer economic power of the companies is full disclosure, my own son became completely addicted to a free online soccer game and i discovered this. $947 worth of tiny that i i thought could have done this. my 10-year-old son had become addicted to an app that uses persuasive technology. they are literally casino gaming techniques. all of this takes you down a rabbit hole into which you are spending and minors are being marketed in ways that they fall out of existing rules of the children and media, but i thought about this as it's like nicotine. in the case of my son the needed
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governments to put limits on things like that, and i think that we are probably going to need a government agency of some kind perhaps even fda of technology to really look at what is the whole battery of effect. one of the things i have a chapter in my book that gets into the ways children are being reshaped into the digital natives that have come of age they read less and their attention spans are lower and there are higher levels of anxiety and depression and it's difficult to prove causality but there is strong research to show that they are being affected in serious ways by this technology. >> host: can we get the genie back in the bottle? arguably it's gotten so good
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with data the sites are based on little pieces of information with the layout to drive the engagement and give people little doses of dopamine to keep them engaged and an investor would say that is why the stock is so high. do we need to have data to be able to regulate it packs >> you are already seeing social scientists come out. there was a wonderful book i can't remember it right now but looking at the last ten years or so of usage of mobile technology and correlating it with things like depression and anxiety and isolation, so you have a body of research that is developing you
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have now a diagnostic handbook for physicians you have new ailments that relate to digital usage. these are real things and we need to treat them as such. ultimately, silicon valley has a problem they are very good at taking credit for the things they do and we have given this terrific technology with productivity enhancing, but they are not good at taking responsibility for the downside and also not great at admitting that they didn't give it all themselves. do it all themselves. these technologies were basically federally funded r&d, think about the internet touch screen technology. these were things that came out of the pentagon, taxpayer-funded innovations commercialized so you have very similar
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privatization process of socialization into so many ways that the human costs of automation, i have a whole chapter you and i., robot will be doing our job at some time. lawyers are already experimenting with algorithmic reporters. there will be disruption. now that isn't a story tha the t you write. you frame it the issue this way early in the book and write periods of great technological change are characterized by great disruption that needs to be managed for the sake of society as a whole otherwise you end up with things like religious war of the century
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which niall ferguson has outlined in his book might not have happened without the printing press which brought the age of enlightenment thought before the internet and social media offended society. it was very compelling. how do you go back to that period of time and fix that? are there lessons we can extract that help us figure out what to do now? >> guest: there isn't a silver bullet and that is the problem when you come on programs and write a book.
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my publishers were likely want the solution chapter to a problem that has taken 20 years to create or depending where you want to put the markers some are about capitalism in general and how the markets are regulated and that has been decades in the making. the first step is creating the proper narrative and this is something i've thought a lot about because i think that one of the reasons we are at this polarized moment has to do with the fact we didn't create a proper narrative about why we've had such disruption from globalization and financial tech related enriched countries that the u.s.. markets should be able to do whatever they want, that's fine, but we didn't talk about the
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fact that they were going to be these big pockets paying. we need to look now at where this technology is going. where is it taking us had to be want to go there. i have a chapter that juxtaposes the u.s. with a situation in china if we want to look at what the surveillance state looks at all we have to do is go to china and right now there is no debate. the autocratic society about privacy there is no assumption. the government can and does track every one. if you and i are doing things that are judged to be the right-thinking but if we fall foul of that is where this can go. the power can be yielded by countries or corporations as it is potentially in the u.s..
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we are starting to see some bright spots already in europe. i did a book tour and was phenomenally impressed by average people who turned out to hear these kind of complex debates about what should the digital economy look like and capitalism in the era of data and there is a robust public debate people were making different decisions in different countries. in this country you look at california which interestingly has been way ahead on legislation. it's the birthplace of these companies but also a lot of solutions. you have california looking at a digital dividend going back to one of the first points we discussed if data is the new oil, should these companies be able to harvest it for free or might they share some of the value and put it back into say a digital sovereign wealth funds like norway or alaska can do
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things for the public benefit lets use data as a resource and help people along, help them for the problems of automation. >> host: for those that have been to do well with data. >> guest: the trump administration is trying to implement a tax like this right now. going back to the proper narrative, there is a debate and a push to create what i think it's a verisa very problematic d nationalistic debate about don't regulate big tech or google or amazon or facebook because they are the national champion in the battle against china. i don't believe that there
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should be a national champion. they are not a national champion, they are a for-profit company that is going to do what is in their best interest. >> host: forced to do what is in the public interest by the public it is hard when the public is the sort of unruly m mob. these days the government and the trump administration was doing the same thing to push
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apple to create a backdoor. then china is going to want it, russia, turkey. is that the kind of privacy free world we want to live? >> guest: these are not easy questions that i would look to a couple of questions in taiwan. you had a really rich vibrant democracy that is actually being enabled by various decentralized technologies. so come i, in the same way thata is using the big tech model to create this state, you have taiwan creating the identities of people can vote on issues so you can capture the kind of nuance that you're talking about
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a. i'd like to see them used in service to democracy rather than degrading it which is what you have seen in the last few years. >> host: a possible solution you mention in the book as individuals getting a cut in the use of the data. if i'm in the right demographic i get a bigger payment and then there is a question of network effect aneffects and data in the that my data might not be worth that much but find plus yours and another persons is worth exponentially more than an individual's data. so is it possible on the individual basis?
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>> guest: the idea of the digital sovereign wealth fund makes sense because of the things you are pointing out. one of the things i wanted to present, should individuals get a cut, there are some people saying we are moving in the era of ai and more and more automation that can do more and we are moving into a post-work world. it sounds great at first but think about it, all of us have been on vacation and we start to get a little cranky and a little bored. a lot of economists are saying maybe our data is our labor. maybe we need to start thinking about that as something that is of value and so i want to point that out and i also want to show some of the numbers, and it's true, it is almost impossible unless you are in peace companies to get a realistic view of how much the data is
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worth because of their use by individuals and how much you are layering. but just a conservative estimate shows you that this is an enormous industry can't the fastest growing industry in the world. so, i think that is worth thinking about when you have companies making double-digit profit margins harvesting the data for free. but think about what that is worth and the appropriate system. this really gets to a bigger and more profound point about the way that capitalism and globalization works. so, was a fair globalization, free-market capitalism as practiced in the u.s. has been exported in man to many countri. the idea was that the capital and people should be able to go where they want to. the problem is the capital can jump across the borders more freely than goods and certainly people. now, in this digital world it puts all those problems of neoliberalism where the companies can fly at a national
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problems but labor is down here even with the reality on the ground, the digital transaction puts that on steroids because of capital can move across the border, data can move across borders and really fast. so we've got to just look at where this is going for those that have been decimated by globalization having the kind of very fractious politics that we've had. we are going to get tha back ata much broader level. >> host: rana foroohar, we've been talking about your book, "don't be evil," where you look at google, apple, facebook, other companies that traffic in ththe event that has marketplacs and networks that have enormous power. i wonder, there is so much work that goes into writing something like this. how does it change you an into o
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you do that work, does your personal life differently deal with the companies and networks differently because of what you discovered while writing this? >> guest: first thing i did is take my son's phone and do something analog which pushed him to get out of the street and make back the money. my part of brooklyn on a hot d day. i would often use encrypted e-mail and more private apps when i'm reporting. it made me think a lot about the value of my own intellectual property. we are moving to a decentralized world in which the only value we have is what is in our head into
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the intellectual property. when i think about my next project, i make sure i take control of my own data and intellectual property. >> host: you talk about solutions at the end of the book and certainly what you hope will happen. what is the cost if you don't do anything? >> guest: i think, and this is going to be the topic of my next book, i think we can theorize because particularly in the u. u.s., because we are in a world in which it is so easy to create political manipulation, there are all these economic and now technical changes that are
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driving change so quickly into dislocating so many people and it creates the conditions for the very extreme and hateful politics. if we get the framework right it could be a world in which this is a stretch and i'm going to be optimistic. digital technologies to allow distributed power. that is one of the things that is kind of interesting. we can be sliced and diced by the tech companies businesses can be started more cheaply. it's back in the 80s if you
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want to see an international company you needed, these are complicated things but there is potential there for the post-worthe proposedwork world n which labor is in power to the capital and ways that were not possible in the past. >> host: that would certainly be an interesting outcome. >> guest: let me give you an example to help you. this is just a piece of software. why should a taxi workers union not have that same software, guess what they do now. they are run by workers themselves and drivers that share the profit and that is kind of a cooperative model. one could imagine those in the labor movement itself being invigorated and we see the freelancers union and the afl-cio trying to organize the workers saying high paid graphic designers in silicon valley you
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are a freelancer and have the same problems with asymmetry of power and say a cleaning lady and so i think that is an important point to make. >> host: many are bringing up those points in 2020. politically as well as technologically the book is don't be evil, rana foroohar. a lot of good thoughts in here. one of the things the rest of us can do is at least get smarter and read it so thank you very much. it's been a great conversation.


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