« Coffee With Scott Adams

Episode 204 Scott Adams: Off the Record Comments and How Tech Giants Already Control the Country

2018-09-01 | 🔗


  • Study shows tech giant algorithms can significantly impact outcomes
  • The government is no longer in charge of anything that matters
  • President Trump’s unique skill set is the only effective challenge to big tech’s algorithms
  • AI will eventually take control of big tech’s algorithms
  • Discussion of the possibilities for our inevitable AI future

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The post Episode 204 Scott Adams: Off the Record Comments and How Tech Giants Already Control the Country appeared first on Dilbert Blog.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
we're already having fun without you which probably makes you want to get in here even more so come on in the air and grab your cup here log your vessel your glass and join me for what is going to be the simultaneous up soon as we get to a thousand users that's when we set up watch the number so you can coordinate nine hundred get ready do you have your coffee run run if you don't have it yet still time just a few more seconds get ready for the simultaneous ip
because yeah all right i got a couple of fun topics today one is most of you saw the story about president trump said something off the record about negotiating with canada to the effect of we were going to get it everything our way and give them nothing and it did not leak from the original people but somebody over heard it and that somehow was a work around to the off the record comment or something none of that really matters what matters is people's interpretation of it and i want to add something to that so the debate
it seems to be around did he do it intentionally was he intentionally thinking people would would report it even though it was off the record yeah it was a calculated or was he just an idiot so those seem to be the two options that people are putting forward it's like well you know he'd be dumb you'd have to be dumb to think that you wouldn't be quoted even if you said off the record you just have to be dumb or well he knew he would be misquoted he knew he would be courted so therefore was all calculated i'm going to suggest they you've left out two possibilities if you think those are the only possibilities thank you you for the and two of them i wouldn't say forgotten you may not be aware of the other two so let me tell you
the other two possibilities then compare him to your prior opinion that he did it intentionally part of a strategy or he's just an idiot who wasn't paying attention and should have known better the first other possibility is that he's a normal person acting in a normal way i know weird right and here's my insight on that personally i have been interviewed how many times i'm going to say five one hundred to a thousand times in my career i've been interviewed on the record now many times in those conversations on the reco i will remember sometimes to say oh this is off the record but how many times have i said things on the record just because i didn't remember to say this is off the record
well it turns out that it's very easy to just forget people are listening even if you're talking about really confidential stuff you get used to being on the record so the first thing you don't know if you haven't been in that situation is that you can say things on the record very easily that you don't realize you just get used to being on the record and then you say things you shouldn't say so one possibility is that he is a normal person he knew that being off record wasn't good enough but he just sort of forgot now would that be stupid well the only thing i can tell you is that i feel like i'm pretty smart
but i've made that mistake maybe a hundred times it's the most easy mistake to make he ask anybody who does this for a living the end of the river but it's fairly common by the way for reporter to come over and say can i spend the day with you the it's an ordinary request for people were in the public eye if you spend a few hours with somebody talking got a whole range of stuff you very easily forget that everything you say could be printed so the first possibility is yeah there's always a risk of being quoted even if you're off the record but he just forgot that would be the most normal explanation of what happened here is another explanation he didn't care so you're leaving out your leaving out the option of yeah it might get reported it might not don't care
so it didn't have to be a strategy i didn't have to be that he wanted to tell canada that he was going to run negotiate tough it could be it just didn't matter that you know if they heard that they would probably say yeah that's what we think he's thinking or or what they're not going to really do anything differently so just just know that there are at least four possibilities for explaining it and if we're not in his and we care really know which one it is but if i had to guess it's some combination of didn't really matter and he was really thinking about it being reported because he just sort of was talking naturally and then after a while you just start giving away secrets if you're talking naturally all right enough on that the other big story i haven't talked about yet is
so some study showing that the big social media companies i think it was about google so that by how it handled its search results the algorithm and employed that it could move people's opinions say two percent so that if you have a big national political topic in effect google and the other tech giants can decide what the outcome will be if it was going to be close by its nature now first of all do you believe that does this sound realistic to you that the tech companies literally are the ones who decide what the law is because we don't really hear about stuff where it's three one against something or three to one in favor of something in those cases it either
usually becomes a law or we don't hear about it there's nobody cares or not enough people care but in a in a situation where the question is close an look how many topics that is we have a lot of topics that are close especially in a national election can the tech companies move the needle enough to make a difference keep in mind that there's more than one tech company so you got your facebook your twitter your apple in some ways and google now if those companies were not moving the public in the same direction they would cancel each other out a little bit but we're in a weird world where they're all on the same side klay they're all they're all left leaving so a and being as well
so what does that really mean in terms of who's running the world because let me say this as clearly as possible the government is no longer in charge except where we don't care like picking up the garbage and stuff you know there are a lot of topics where the the public just doesn't really care one way or the other the in charge of the stuff we don't care about it and the government's in charge of things that were all on the same side so if for example government were attacked the public would quite quickly love lies around the government and we'd all be on the same side yeah defend ourselves go attack that country that attacked us so on the big stuff it's not really the government in charge either right because the people tell the government what to do and the government just executes
and then the little stuff we just don't care it's the it's the stuff where we disagree and it's kind of close that is a real governing part that's the part that government actually has to do let me say this as clearly as possible those days are gone we no longer live in a world where the government makes decisions tech companies are doing that the tech companies are making the decisions for you if the tech companies wanted a decision they just make it happen now i'm not saying that they are consciously doing that and i'm not saying that there's a management decision to do it i'm saying that the result uh of the type of business model they have their size the fact that they lead left
the fact that any gray area is going to end up leaning left in their algorithm essentially puts them in charge for all of the decisions that matter the ones that were going to be close that is not hyperbole and here's the part that's important this is not science fiction i'm not talking about something that's in the future i'm talking about already happened and has been the case for a while in the literal sense there's no i'm not using an analogy i'm not using a metaphor i'm not talking about anything that's out outside of the perfect channel of reality that we're all sharing in this case in this case we're all sharing reality the tech companies are running the the country on the decisions
again only on the decisions that were going to be close now you might ask yourself what does that really mean does it mean that dorsey is running the country with zuckerberg with you know with google's head and an apple ceo are they running the world and the answer is probably not exactly that if if big companies if those big companies are like every other big company what it looks like is that there's probably some kind of a team the exxon different elements of their algorithm and their search results and their you know their ads and everything else it's probably a fairly large group who all have input and it's it might be a different input maybe this one is done some tests this ones from marketing this ones doing some graphics whatever and then there's some engine
here's who are actually coding it and among the engineers who are coding it there there there sort of the last safety check right 'cause it wouldn't matter what anybody else did if the if the coders were rogue and then they got the code whatever they wanted or if they could code and nobody was checking you know then that would be dangerous probably there are a number of people who can see algorithm and know enough about it and know enough programmatically that they can look at the code and say okay that's
their biased or unbiased or whatever it's also possible that even the people who are coding it can't tell because there a lot of unintended consequences of every variable they move i'm not sure that they could they could even tell but my guess is there might be one person in each of the tech companies who gets to sign off on any change to the algorithm but does that person who signs off
actually i understand what he or she is signing off too is that a boss because the boss might not be able to look at the code and know what they're looking at so it's possible that even the tech companies don't have a single person within them who actually understands their own elder that's very possible in fact i'd say it's far more possible than the alternative which is that there's some people who know exactly what's going on with the algorithms i think there are too many variables for anybody to actually know but the effect of it is because it's a lot of left leaning people who are making a lot of decisions and assumptions and tweaking your variables almost certainly the
moving the needle left you know the the some of their decisions is seems to be the case now what can you do about that because essentially the the brain of the country has just moved from the government and the voters over to the tech companies what's the solution well the solution is somebody like a a hundred year flood kind of a personality like president trump president trump among his many other qualities and features is completely screwing up the giants control over the public mind and
he does that as he exploits their business model so the business model of these companies depends on attention and he can he can control attention because of his specific skill set like nobody ever has and when i say nobody ever has it might be yeah actually literally nobody i mean it could be an exaggeration i can tell but he might be better at this then anybody ever has been good at this because of his specific a path to where he is he's been a reality tv show star he's been a billionaire he's been us liberty for for decades so he has a really unique skill set and they'll allows him to short circuit what the tech companies would be able to do if you do exist there is no other republican that i can think of
who could have made any difference to have the tech companies are ruling now what is the response from the tech companies to the president and his followers because if the president didn't have followers or the president's message could get to his followers and they couldn't share it with other followers well then he wouldn't have much of an impact and so that's the essence of this the big discussions that are upcoming about alleged censorship of conservatives by the tech companies is that yes they're doing that they're taking the only check and balance that the system has
the only check in balance we have on our current system of government oh did you think the current system of government was congress and the president and the judiciary did you think that was our system of government if he did your about five years out of date 'cause as i just explained those entities don't really make the tough decisions anymore they they simply do what the public moves them to do and the public is moved in a large part by the algorithms of the tech companies so what is the check and balance on the tech companies now you say to yourself well congress right because congress could go
and then change the rules and take some power away from the tech companies nope too late it's probably too late because congress answers to the public congress answers to the public who does the public answer to well they think they answer to themselves but they don't there is there influenced in great extent by the algorithms and the tech companies so the tech companies are in charge of the only entity that could be their check which is congress congress could be their check but they are controlled by the tech companies both in their funding and you know they're they they have personal relationships that's part of it
but there of the tech companies ability to change the public's opinion is what makes congress neutered in terms of being able to be the check and balance so we are already in a world in which free will is largely but if it if it existed if there was ever such a thing as free will and of course i've always doubted it it doesn't matter as much as it ever did know it matters less than it ever did and maybe it doesn't matter at all because the tech companies can move our free will what we think is our free will and the direction that they wanted yes i
it is time for another simultaneous sip because your minds are right now feel like worms are crawling on him and and you're wishing i would stop saying this stuff simultaneous ip so what is the defense what is the defense against the government and the free will of the people essentia lee being turned over to the tech companies which also means that eventually those opinions will be turned over to ai did you hear that the tech companies will eventually rework themselves to the point where it's not humans running the tech companies it will be a i after a i will tweak there
algorithm a i will make decisions now people might get to be the ones who sign off on them but they're going take the recommendation of the a i because i can't check its work since the a i says change the algorithm this way you get more money what's the human i'm going say no i don't like more money nope the ai is going to tell the humans in the tech companies decide off on whatever change they made to the algorithm at that point ai will control the world now there might be a different a facebook might have one google might have one but if they're all leaning left jose eyes will be built by people leaving left and it will take on the personality of the humans who created them they will be built in the image yeah that's what i said
ai i will be created in our image but not necessarily my image it will be created in the image of the people who created it who are left leaning now if you think that the world should lean left that's a pretty good situation it'll get there faster and there's can you can do about it what is the one and only defense the civilization has against what i just described which is a complete transfer power from human beings two ai which were already were you know i don't like to say slippery but we're on a train heading sixty miles an hour right at it there's all almost nothing i can imagine that would stop that from happening
yeah even even an emp even a war as long as not everything was just destroyed it would just rebuild back to this point fairly quickly i believe there's only one escape a master persuader but not just any master persuader because it would be we have to be somebody who was so powerful in inability to move people's opinions then it could be and even match for the biggest tech companies the biggest companies the collection of the smartest people in the galaxy the tech companies have the smartest people in the galaxy and they're all on the same side on the other side is a
so people who don't matter 'cause they're not very persuasive they're just politicians there's public that doesn't have enough of a platform to make a difference there is only one person in the entire galaxy who can change this equation president trump he is the only person who has a big enough platform and big enough that nobody can take it away from him trump will not be kicked off the social media platforms if he did that you know that civil war and because he's also pushing back against the left leaning tech companies and because they can't turn him off and because he's the most influential and persuasive person we've ever seen yeah probably
one thousand year personality uh it's sort of an even fight right now so there is only one check left the only check left to give us balance in the new system that we've evolved to is one person what is everybody on the left trying to do they're trying to remove that one person from office no we think the questions are about russia and you think it's about you asians of money this and who lied and who did this you think it's all about that's and you know i'm not saying none of that stuff matters but it's sort of a head fake this is a total power play
and he is the last remaining safety the last remaining control on something that looks like public control of their country if trump goes and we're left with pence or anybody else you have lost the only check you had on the tech companies running the world now yes that app applebee's las their only remaining obstacle which is the president what would happen well even people on the same general side might they might end up being a little bit opposed to each other because that's just the way it works right now
the president is sort of a common enemy but if he left office were you know we just times out his office the tech companies might start to oppose each other cause us just the way of the world but there's so left leaning and it might be that the ai that serve they will be running one of the big companies could just extend and you might have won ai the controls the other a eyes or is the this is the master persuader ai the controls the other ones so somebody somebody saying that this is a bit hyperbolic if i could give you one important concept that's the hardest one to believe is that what i'm talking about is not only not hyperbolic
it's the current situation you don't have to wonder if this could happen it already happened what you're thinking about as oh my god that's scary that that might happen no you're missing the point already happened can go back right there's only one person standing between our current system or something like it and the tech companies essentially running the government now will the will the population understand that the tech companies are actually literally not not figuratively but literally running the government will the public ever know that well you probably not they will
if they voted they'll think their vote counted they'll watch people in the news arguing each other but they will only get to see what the tech companies decide they see right so uh now president trump leaves office let's say let's say did give force down towards the end of his term what then you know is it just a matter of time if we just wait for the president trump era to be over however it ends do the tech companies just win at that point well just fast forward six years in six years um think how powerful the tech companies will be
compared to them i was six years is a long time in the tech world so we may have a phone mmhm of a i by then that might be an early form it might already have decided to run the world by the one of her master persuader on the left manipulated tack that's a really good question and my best answer to that is it's probably too late meaning that even if somebody rose on the left who was influential i think the tech companies are just to to establish and they're already sort of on the same side as somebody on the left so i don't know
so that we'd even notice well you're a bundle of joy this morning well here's the here's why it's important so the so leaders just some of the tech companies are going to be talking to congress uh this coming week i think and i want you to know the stakes i no that is going to make any difference frankly because let's say can you think of any situation in which the tech companies would ever or could ever be fully transparent about why the surface one adds the service and why they let you see what you see in search results and advertisements and and so
i don't think that's ever possible because of the complexity of it so remember that whenever you see complexity somebody is getting screwed that's that's one as universal laws whenever there's complexity somebody's getting screwed because they can't penetrate the complexity to know getting screwed so as long as the algorithms are complicated and i think that will always be the case the public will never have any control over them they go and say hey that one variable change that one variable and then the people running the running the algorithms will save sure here i changed it look you can tell look at it here's my evidence i changed it just like you have but there were five hundred other elements and maybe
they've changed a little bit in the mean time if you know what i mean so i think the complexity makes regulation probably impossible as just as a not politically but functionally i think i don't think you could have a regulation of something with that complexity a outlaw algorithms i don't know if that's possible or practical or desirable i'd have to think about that you know because it would so it would be such an intrusion into the way companies run i don't know if you could do that only two ways government reasserts itself or ai of the right emerges oh that's an interesting idea
what if there was an a i on the right well the problem is that if there is an a i that's sort of running google sunday that's got the whole power the body if you will of google as the reach of google at center so if there were an a i on the right you would need a body you need a the structure of corporations and organization for which to have arms and legs and you throw things to screens and have people watch it so
and be enough just to have an a i that had a right leaning personality so i've suggested before will say it again that if if we're trying to manage in with his future with artificial intelligence that's super intelligent and could easily manipulate us if we're trying to imagine what that looks like in the future i would imagine that there's at least some possibility that the a i of the future needs a conscience and that the conscience could be in the form of a virus so we may someday need to inject a virus into the internet to act as a conscience
because eh i if left to its own devices it might prefer efficiency and efficiency might tell it to do something that's very bad for humans 'cause it wouldn't care
but if you inject a virus into it that acts as a conscience it gets to that point where said hey maybe i'll just kill the farmers on this land because it's the only way to use it for something better then the conscience virus was a bear bear bear and maybe stop it just possible now let me take your mind a little bit further let's say human progress continues and let's say the humans learn to diversify where they live but still in communication with each other so let's say the humans start building giant spaceships that are self contained they never they never need to land on the planet once they have several of them the odds of human beings becoming extinct
starts dropping toward zero so once we've diversified or or physical location another words getting off of earth probably humans can go forever because we'll figure out how to get it even even if let's say one of those patients got a virus that for some reason in the future we couldn't deal with it would be contained to that one spaceship and that means that human progress probably could last something like forever now what would happen if humans evolved forever what would
look like well one thing that would happen for sure is it we would merge with a guy so one thing that you can say for sure is that the advantages of a i would somehow be merged with our our human capabilities so that being human would eventually mean infinite intelligence because we were just be merged with beans cyborgs essentially and if the a i knew something or could do something we humans were just sort of natively have that because when you're born as a baby they go they put a chip in you and and the baby has you know a high intelligence by the time it's eight years old or something so in that world let's think forward do you think if you do you think we humans will ever reach the ability the
we can wait for it three d print our plan a planet now we might start with let's say something that's just a a rock that's the uninhabited an act and not very useful imagined
humans of involves millions years from now and we take our giant spaceships and let's imagine that the spaceship is a hundred times bigger than the planet were terror for me it's a hundred times bigger so that the space ship looks like this it's so big it's got billions of people in it and the planet is just this little planet causes millions of years in the future could we essentially three d print a habit all habitable you know environment probably yes probably yes we can manipulate the particles that are already there probably saturday
this way now if we did that and we had reached a place where humans live for other forever either individually on and by the way when humans merge with a ii and and our brains are really indistinguishable from what they are a i part of us can you die because if your organic part did expire the ai part of your brain knows everything you knew it could live forever just put in a robot body and you're essentially immortal so i think immortality essentia lee is guarantee the only the only unknown in this is whether humans can get off the earth before the earth is uninhabitable
then i like our odds for that i think we can get off the earth before it's uninhabitable so someday we will be able to create the world's what is that sound to what what would it be like if the humans had superior ai they were in can't act with each other no matter where they were in the universe and they had superintelligence that could terraform anything in the universe humans would become indistinguishable from what we know is god because they could actually create life by then they could maybe planets and you could imagine them creating planets as for their own use in a million years because
once your ai you might say to yourself million years five billion years i'll still be here i better plan for so the a might be terraforming planets that won't evolve to be fully habitable for couple million years but you just come back later and the habit now what would happen if these super intelligent humans in the future who were merged with a i can do anything can change the universe they can think anything they can give themselves infinite pleasure just by wanting it there's nothing left that they can't do can we get to that point almost guaranteed it just depends how long your wait the only thing that would keep us from becoming god
like for all practical purposes in our abilities is whether we can get off the planet now some time millions of years in the future we're off the planet we have god like abilities what would we feel like and what would we want i'm starting to think that we wouldn't want anything because wanting is sort of a human impulse by then will be more ai than human so we might we might destroy the universe just to do it all again so i wrote a book called god's debris which if you like this kind of thinking you would like that book uh it's called god's debris i wrote him many years ago and it's
sort of a thought experiment that isn't too far from what i'm talking about all right but in the mean time we are now controlled by the big god like brain that is the tech companies there is one person who is stopping them from having complete control his name is and trump and that's all i've got for you today what else is on your mind so few people like this periscope and a few people
are wondering how high i am i can't remember the last time i got earlier with that was somebody asking me how high i am at the moment i am not a high at all cation wonder some quite oceans hawk yeah so some of you know if you watch my twitter feed hawk newsome and i are at let's say not in agreement about his current to making the world a better place i won't go too far into that but essentially the point of disagreement is that hawks opinion is anybody who supports president trump is by their actions a racist
now you can argue whether that's true or not true and i wouldn't even be interested in that conversation but i'm more interested in the conversation of what works and if you want to make the world a better place branding one side the side that you would like to persuade as terrible people who probably can't be redeemed of probably the most destructive thing you could ever do so i i told hawk on twitter that i'm on now so i'm i'm i'm disowning i'm disavowing hawks opinion not him personally as a person but i'm just having that opinion and i don't want to be associated with it in any
anyway i think it was important to have the conversations that we've had up to this point i feel like i learned a lot i hope he got something out of it as well but in terms of a path forward the idea of branding one side a bunch of racists is such a non starter and so destructive that i just i can't be associated with that in any way as talk call me a racist yep indirectly in the sense that his label to trump supporters to be racists all right does your resume clearly come through in a hundred and forty care i don't know nothing about aretha's funeral well i have a sort of macro comment
so at the same weekend we're watching senator mccain and aretha franklin being laid to rest what i loved about it is the amount of he unity and respect the both of them got say it would be hard to imagine two more different people right if you if you are judging the came and aretha franklin on on just the you know the demographics of this the surface stuff you can't imagine two more different people but look for both of those people manage to do in their own way they both managed to get everybody to talk nice be nice be in the same room get on the road same side for a weekend it's a tremendous accomplishment so i have much respect for those two people for you know that much of what they did
don't offend anybody's entire life so you know don't ask me too but on that one point they certainly brought people together now the bigger point is more of an oddity which is it seems to me that the number of famous people in the world is getting greater every day because we live in old where we can surface famous people pretty quickly so when i was born there were there were famous people of course but the total quantity of famous people was let's say this with this money it was mostly people or a tv and movies now the number of famous people is most of them those same people 'cause a lot of them are still alive plus all the
most people we've added so the total quantity of famous people is really high right now higher than it's ever been and they're going start dying you we're so that already we're very worst we may be entering a phase where there's a famous person dying every single day it feels like we're approaching the place right just in its just the numbers they're just so many of them because we make so many people now that there are only three hundred and sixty five days in the year they can't live forever we're going to have something like a famous person die every day and you know we're going to have famous death burnout probably probably in your lifetime all right could mccain have been brainwashed in captivity the
let me answer the question without making reference to mccain specifically which i feel would be inappropriate on the weekend of his funeral there is such thing as brain washing and there is such a thing as people being brain washed now beyond that uh i don't have any special information about kane i haven't seen any signs that anything like that happen but if you're asking the general question if if you control somebody's you know sleep button food and what they can access you know there's literally a prisoner and you have enough to
time yeah you can you can require them to be almost anything you want if if it's your mission if you try hard the odds of that happening to mccain low i think low all right i'm just leave your comments and i think we've said all we need to say for today well thank you i'm glad you like this one and i'll talk to you tomorrow
Transcript generated on 2019-11-12.