tv USC Law School Commencement - Fred Ryan CSPAN May 27, 2018 6:27am-6:48am EDT
hisd ryan returned to on the moderate to address law school graduates were he talked the ruleh innovation, of law, and privacy. he is the former president and ceo of politico and served as chief of staff to ronald reagan after his presidency. dean, thank you class of 2018 for that warm welcome to usc. it is great to be with you on this special day. just to assure you that life continues after law school, in fact long after law school, i would like to point out that several members of my class, the class of 1980, are here tonight. thank you for joining us. [applause] frederick: and it is great to see that the home for all lawyers let you out for the day. [laughter] with two: i will begin
confessions, purely voluntary, so there is no need to whip out your book of rules of evidence. have no ideastly who the commencement speaker was 38 years ago when i graduated from usc. whoever he was was not especially as firing and i take away no lasting wisdom. [laughter] frederick: so one goal for me tonight, if you are invited back 38 years from now to give a speech, i hope you won't say the same thing. [laughter] frederick: for my second confession, my law school graduation ceremony, i received a special and unexpected award. it was the most improved student award. [laughter] frederick: and it went to the person whose grades had improved the most over three years. now i was honored and flattered. my parents were impressed, and till we learned the award had more with where i started than where i finished up. [laughter] aederick: now i know
graduation ceremony is hardly the time or place to question your choice of degree, but i feel compelled to point something out to you. if you decided to study communications instead of law, you would be at the annenberg school listening to oprah winfrey. [laughter] frederick: i should know better rah ono compete with op a commencement speech face-off, but frankly my job is made easier by the fact you are choosing to pursue the legal profession at a unique and interesting time. career has been spent in journalism, icy important parallels between the press and the law, especially the challenges facing both professions in today's environment. both a free press and the rule of law have played ole as the anchors of our freedom.
figures reporting and the legal discovery a newspaper story telling and the legal systems guarantee of the day in court gives voice to those who otherwise might be silenced. and independent, fearless press, and the rule of law rather than men, make our country a place with a powerful are held to account by those they govern. both of these professions are essential to america's identity as a nation of laws under our unique constitution. and today, however, both of these noble professions are being tested by the impact of advances in technology, as well as by people deliberately seeking to chip away at these institutions and disrupt our civic order. the outcomes of these trials are unpredictable coming yet consequential.
it is no exaggeration to say that how you respond to these challenges, how you choose to practice the location you are about to begin, will he felt by your profession and society for many years to come. we live in a time when technology is completely revolutionizing our lives. it is changing the way we communicate, shop, do business, learn, make friends, get dates get from one place to the other, even how we exercise, eat, and sleep. your generation has grown up with these technologies, so for many of them you may take them for granted, but that me put the swiftness of this transformation in perspective. in 1997, when many of you were in preschool, two stanford computer science students at a research project they called google.com. today google has billions of users. the company that started off in a garage is now building self-driving cars. its name has become an official
verb in the oxford english dictionary. in fact, some of you are probably googling, who is this fred ryan guy? [laughter] frederick: in 2006, when most of you were in middle school, a messaging service called twitter was launched. now some half billion tweets are posted each day come and not all those come from pennsylvania avenue. [laughter] frederick: and i would just ask if any are live tweeting these remarks live, please use the #betterthanoprah. [laughter] frederick: today there are more than 2 billion smartphones in use around the world, and these are just three examples of how your lives have been shaped by technology so far. today, as you embark on new careers, the pace of technological innovation is accelerating. the tension caused by rapid change is affecting every industry transforming business
, models and creating opportunities. at the washington post, we are not just embracing these changes, we are actively experimenting and working to disrupt long standard practices, even when they are our own. our newsroom is a laboratory for many of the innovations taking place in media today. we built a team of more than 300 engineers, many of whom are embedded in the newsroom beside over 800 journalists. they work side-by-side to present stories more quickly and more vividly than ever. as new technologies emerge, we want to be on the front line. our goal is to deliver the best washington post experience on all platforms and devices in use today, and more importantly on those yet to be invented. these efforts are showing encouraging results, reinforcing our belief that there is a successful and sustainable business model for high-quality journalism. well, i would suggest that this experience offers lessons for lawyers too.
so far compared to other industries the legal profession , has been relatively shielded from technological disruption, but it would be naive to assume that the status quo will remain forever. in fact, the legal industry is ripe for transformation. startups are already using the web to provide basic legal services, algorithms are powering online resolution dispute software that improves the mediation process. artificial intelligence could transform the document review and discovery processes, and block chain technology might revolutionize areas of contract law. all of these developments, along with technologies yet to be deployed, could completely upended the legal profession. as new lawyers, you should embrace the opportunities this disruption might bring. it may be tempting to resist change, after all lawyers are cautious and risk-averse. often you are paid specifically
to mitigate risks, to give clients protection against the unexpected, to provide insurance -- assurance is that every t has been crossed and every i dotted. i am not arguing against thoroughness in the practice of law but keeping pace with change , requires innovation, and that innovation requires a willingness to experiment. the reality is most experiments fail. in these failures lie important lessons that may become the seeds of future success. a favorite quote of mine from winston churchill -- no stranger to disaster himself -- describes success as "the ability to move from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." so in your work and in your lives i urge you to invite the risks that come with experimentation, take chances, even and especially if you feel you might fail. another challenge you will face
is determining how the power of technology will be used, for good or for ill. over time we have learned that advances in technology follow a pattern. one generation discovers the science and expands the limits of what is possible. the next generation has the difficult task of contending with the consequences, often unintended and harmful, in deciding the moral and ethical limits. your generation inherits the task of balancing technologies -- technology's promise against its peril. for decades we in the united states have actively embraced digital innovation because we have mostly seen the upside of technology. it has promoted commerce, improved education, and to save lives. but we can't always assumed that technologies applications will be positive. in the wrong hands, the same innovations can do grave harm.
an example of abuse of new technology is the use of artificial intelligence and china. there, a.i. is the underpinning of a project which in english means "sharp eyes." this is a vast effort to create a sophisticated surveillance state. the program uses facial recognition and location tracking to constantly monitor citizens, observe their behavior and relationships, and assign them social credit scores. the chinese government then uses the scores to separate trustworthy citizens from those they feel might pose a threat to the regime. the recent problems afflicting facebook remind us that technology can be a double-edged sword. on the one hand, facebook has connected billions of people around the globe and has revolutionized the way business is done on the internet. on the other hand, it has raised concerns about privacy and decreased confidence in our electoral process. then there is the challenge of
fake news. in some ways the phenomenon is not new. in fact, last summer, a story in the washington post told of seven fake letters purportedly from george washington that were released in 1777 to cast doubt on the journalists' commitment to the independence from england. the sort of fake news has never been as threatening or as widespread as it is today. we all grew up with the internet, thinking everything on it was true, but we have since learned that plenty of people are willing to exploit that belief for nefarious purposes. today's digital world and it is possible to be a news purveyor without a newsroom, spreading poorly-sourced a stories, or in cases intentional, outright , lies. the speed with which information races across the internet enables fake news to be weaponize, strategically targeted to achieve a desired
effect, be it to move financial markets, impugn reputations, inflame regional tensions, or influence political campaigns. in fact, one recent study found that fictitious stories spread faster and more widely on twitter than the truth. these challenges create an opening for new lawyers. we need bright legal minds willing to seek the balance between optimizing technologies -- technology's advantages to society and the safeguarding against its potential overreach. i encourage you to remain open to this path and to pursue an area of legal specialization that perhaps you had not previously imagined. while technologies represents one major stress on journalism and the law, intentional efforts to undermine our work represents another. today, we are witnessing purposeful, calculated attacks meant to discredit journalism and the rule of law conducted by people who would prefer to wield power free from scrutiny and out
of the public eye. at the washington post, we are keenly aware of efforts to discredit journalists who are simply doing their job to keep the american people informed about the conduct of the government officials. the accusations and reprisals typically come in response to unfavorable coverage, threatening to revoke reporter's credentials, intentionally spreading misinformation, calling journalists enemies of the people. these are all efforts to undermine an independent rest. -- independent press. there's the tactic of delegitimizing serious reporting by calling it fake news. in these cases the charge fake news is used to muddy the line between what is real and what is not. fair and accurate reporting by respected news organizations is critical. the conservator -- contradict the leaders narrative.
the goal is to challenge the veracity of unfavorable reporting so the public will ignore it and tune out. there is enormous difference between unfavorable news and fake news. it is wrong to conflate them. doing so is an attack on the truth, it is reckless, and it is corrosive to our democracy. our legal system has been subjected to a similar assault. during the 2016 campaign, a federal judge here in the southern district of california was attacked for his mexican heritage in anticipation that he would make an unfavorable ruling. in another case, a western washington district judge was belittled as a "so-called judge" and had his opinion ridiculed after ready in opinion adverse to an executive order. in addition to judges, institutions at the core of our judicial system, including the fbi and justice department itself have come under attack
from both sides of the political aisle. each side claims political bias when it perceives a particular investigation is not going their way. such actions can't diminish -- such actions can diminish confidence in the rule of law and those we trust to it independently administer our system of justice. how can we thrive in chaos, both natural and created? we can begin by remembering we must stay true to the core principle of our profession. at the washington post, we are committed to never letting the attacks on our work and our profession deter us from carrying out our mission. our journalists remain relentless in their pursuit of the truth and in shining light in dark corners of power. consider some of the recent stories that were awarded the pulitzer prize. they weren't revealed because of the government or other powerful figures announced they had aired.
they were uncovered to the work of determined efforts of hard-working journalists at new organizations across the country. the russian interference in the 2016 campaign is one of the biggest stories of our time. it wasn't revealed because the russians confessed to it, reporters at leading news organizations worked diligently to stay on top of the story and keep americans informed. harvey weinstein and others in the film and television industries didn't announce that they had used their positions of influence to harass and abuse scores of women. it was reporters who had the difficult conversations with the victims, supporting them, and encouraging them to go on the record that gave rise to the global me too movement. these important stories and many others came to life because of journalists who never lost the sight of the fundamentals of their profession, who do their best to live up to the purpose of the first amendment. essential to journalism and the
law is an understanding that those who practice these professions occupy positions of immense public trust. we are expected to conduct ourselves honorably, to live and work civilly, and with integrity . it is incumbent upon lawyers and journalists to exhibit hairnets, -- fairness even to those who , may not be fair to us. today, as you receive your degrees, you become the newest stewards of this public trust. you can reinforce the foundations of our freedom by being ever mindful of the great responsibility that comes with this position. by engaging with adversaries civilly, always trying to find common ground, and by remembering that those with whom we disagree most fiercely are still fellow citizens. by honoring the traditions and institutions that have preserved
the rule of law while never being afraid to challenge areas where the profession is not living up. that someone can be your opponent and not your enemy, and your goal should be to defeat your opponent, not destroy them. this is how to build a reputation for trust and reliability that can help you survive through times of doubt and periods of transformation. this is how you can restore some respect for civil conduct that our country has seen diminished. this so you can serve your clients and profession. i think you will find over the course of many years it is how you can build a meaningful and fulfilling life. now, i know i am the only thing standing between you and the diplomas. so, i will end with a bit of advice which may be the most urgent and undisputed that i've offered today. we are all here to celebrate the incredible achievement of the graduates. [applause]
frederick: your success stories are as big and old as the -- bold as the american dream itself. but i doubt that many of you got here entirely on your own. each of you has helped here by the efforts and devotion of someone else, a spouse, partner, parent, friend who got you through the tough moments and times of dealt along the way. this is their day as much as yours. so, in all the joy and withement of celebration your classmates, be sure to find a quiet moment to pull them aside and say thank you. and to recognize their contributions to this achievement too. [applause] frederick: congratulations to the class of 2018 and to everyone who has helped prepare your the world of opportunities that await. thank you. [applause]
>> graduates of arizona's embry-riddle aeronautical university heard remarks from national transportation safety board chair robert sumwalt. the former pilot and nasa aviation consultant is an alumnus of the school. mr. sumwalt: wel, as we all know, obtaining a college degree is a huge accomplishment. as you stand at the threshold of this new bright future, allow me to offer a few words of guidance that has served me well over the years. it is pretty simple. do what you love. do it well. and do it with passion, integrity, and professionalism. growing up, i assumed that my career path would take me to be an engineer. after all, my grandfather was an engineer. my father was anin