« Commentary Magazine Podcast

Turning Up the Temperature

2020-07-31 | 🔗
Tech commentary columnist James B. Meigs joins the program to break down Thursday’s congressional hearing on Silicon Valley. How consolidation in the tech world makes disasters more likely. Also, Barack Obama’s politicized eulogy for the late Rep. John Lewis and his naked effort to raise the temperature on a nation already near the boiling point.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcome to the Commentary Magazine Daily podcast today is the last day of July, the thirty first twenty twenty, I jump on words. The editor commentary, the seventy five year old monthly events will actual analysis, political probity, M, cultural criticism from accounts where the perspective we invite you to join Us Commentary magazine dot com, would give you a few free reeds, and we ask you to subscribe Christine resinous out this week with me, as always: executive editor, a green while higher how John Associate at Renault Rossman high on our agenda
in joining us today, tech commentary columnist James, be mags Jim thanks for joining a second time on the pod cast how're ya. I'm doing great happen to be her great, so we we will turn to Jim's very original writings on these matters of tech in a moment. But first I think it is incumbent upon us, given He trashing, and we delivered yesterday to the president and his insane postpone the election tweet to shift gears and then talk about his predecessor, Barack Obama's eulogy for John Louis, at
the Ebony Baptist Church once again a wonderful liberal event where nobody was mysteriously put in the position of having to socially distance because, of course, it being of a funeral tribute every could be within six feet of one another, while in many states are known, as the people are still not allowed to have funerals for people who aren't Jean Louis, but we can put that to one side. The central message that Obama delivered in this speech was about how to paint proper tribute to John
was the and, in the end, the future, and that the rising tide of a vote of racism in America that these Senate should get rid of the filibuster pretty much in order to make it possible for the Senate on eight on a strict majority vote to increase the size of the Senate by four by by bringing in Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia as states. So here's my proposition to you, we don't look at Donald Trump. We talk about Donald Trump. And we say he breaks norms violates norms. He is destructive of the institutions of the United States at the time when we need more than ever, and he is therefore
or you know, a threat or a danger to the republic. Donald trumps advance of some of these extra constitutional ideas and things that he is up to would not have been possible. This is my proposition if Barack Obama had not soften the ground first systematically, once he lost his super majority in the Senate and after his first two years in which he passed or shepherded through four pieces of legislation that cost two and a half trillion dollars the largest No increase in the sort of federal spending in in history until pretty relatively recently the pandemic, the nation rears back and horror the house has taken by the Republicans. He is compelled to negotiate an extension of the
a Bush tax cuts and then at some point in the middle of twenty eleven he decides he's had enough. He did he declares. We can't wait for the recalcitrant Congress to do its work and he starts basically writing executive orders praising himself for doing this by the way. And using it as a campaign issue, writing executive orders to circumvent the will of Congress and essentially right legislation in the executive branch him in the war. It house, culminating the declaration of the pact, citizenship for the dreamers and and Dhaka most of these things he did many of them were overturned by courts on
on nine zero votes. I mean you know like you now: as liberals and conservatives both because they were patently unconstitutional, but he did it. I'm in time and time again and created conditions under which trump someone who doesn't care about social niceties and doesn't know anything about Washington and thinks that you know things should be done by fear comes in, but this none of this would have been possible without Obama The above I mean I agree entirely and also, I think, what what wooden been possible without Obama. Similarly, is the kind of inconstancy that making those drastic that zigzagging like that.
A means that we see with with Trump Obama, spoke out passionately against to filibuster four years of before before he I mean in favour of rather before he now has done I did to oppose it, because things must happen that he wants to see happen regardless of the institutional breaks now again dad you're completely agree on just to focus on in its it wasn't exactly appall well stoning, but it was as close as you can get them in the president. Going up. There are making this big broad case for progressive institutional changes. Not not I'd get not done principal objectives by institutional changes to achieve principled objectives. Making the elect
election day, a federal holiday and, as you said, making Washington Dc Rico estate and ending partisan Jerry Andrews. Eliminating the filibustering that sort of thing. If work is the partisan rolls were reversed. It would be extremely regard as extremely uncouth at the very least in abandonment of the kind of niceties indecencies. You should observe at a funeral, but I do want to do along this filibuster thing for a little bit. We were arguing about this before, though the pike has began by die. It's for a clear to me. I think that the present just transformed the notion The legislator filibuster from being a tool of minority rights into a racist, relic of the gym throwing era and turned it into a much more mainstream position than it was previously. This is something that you have heard only on the ban on the progressive fringe for the most part, and it stand
It has to be said that the Democratic Party is the minority Party in the: U S Senate right now they are the beneficiaries of these minorities, protections and they are not shy about appealing to them. Centre Republicans had been forced to hold roll call votes over the course of the trunk administrations to break filibusters. On nominees, three hundred and fourteen times according to politico, which examined the Senate, tally all previous president's combined faced a group a total of two hundred and forty four roll call votes to advance. A nominee over a filibuster Democrats are are using these protections when other arguments against the filibustering. Twenty thirteen was Republicans appeal to it. Often- and now you hear people even moderates, like Joe Biden saying things like well, the filibusters probably gonna have to go, if Republicans or to obstreperous when they appeal to it. In other words, if Republicans oppose democratic initiatives,
two vehemently. Then they might have to abandon those minority protection. So very generous of him The notion here that Republicans are alone in assaulting the norms that have the servants guard rails and american governance is. Betrayed by Barack Obama's record and his own speech. Can we do Do. You have anything you want to yet What are you doing here? What I am struck by here is I'm thinking about how this idea will be worse Indeed, in the coming days and weeks- and I'm always go back to all of my liberal Westchester friends, who have this image of Obama has been as very black, and moderate sense, a ball centrist who govern with a gentle kind of delicacy
and it's part of his genius. As a politician, I think that he often would find the words it sounded conciliatory and and sort of conceal the the iron fist there was. There was under that that Velvet Glove and you sought with the executive orders, you see it here. You sought in sometimes his casual way of denigrating people but without the course language that a trump would use- and I think, receded here and what were this may, as that that perception tends to dominate pub, nay public memory of about his ministration and his his policies. It is advocating now so what what? What strikes me is interesting is that, if there is anything that makes the case for the rules that the filibuster takes advantage of meaning the closer rule, that requires a two thirty three fifths of out of the Senate. To
Vance a piece of legislation to afford to be voted on. If anything in the history of America makes this a good thing, it is the idea of expanding the side, the number of states in the union- The reason that we have this rule is to create a census view they consensus position that is not simply partisan swimming as only rarely been the case that the Senate three fifths of the Senate is constituted of one party an end, not you know, fifty four four
sixty five thousand five hundred and forty five or whatever the number would have been before there were fifty states in the hundred senators that this. This requires a consensus because you have to get people from the other party to join in to vote to close debate in order to go to a vote on the Senate floor. That is, the filibuster. Is there to prevent the the closing of the baby cuz the Senate rules effectively permit. Unlimited time for debate, house rules do not house rules. Committee rights rules vary of legislation that sets the number of hours that something can be debated before there is a vote in before then is brought to the floor. We're talking that adding senators. The last time Senator were added with sixty years ago. Right was ninety six
and what happened then in order to bring Alaska Hawaii into the Senate one there was one. Republican state and one democratic state. Why was Democratic Alaska was republican? It was understood that if a democratic state was gonna be brought in, a republican state had to be brought in, and vice versa, in order to maintain proper comedy in the political process and so on, but he got a taste and everybody, and so the Senate was expanded, it is now twenty twenty and Democrats are going to push through a partisan vote that a change in the composition of the political make up of the United States.
I mean fights over how many states and who is going to come into the union when we're central to the decade before there was the civil war slave state free state way. Henry Clay great compromise like in this is a horrific idea that Obama is pedling, horrific Jim, I think the I think the metro North just went by I live right above the train tracks is love that no love that remember that from last time anyway. So that's my so basically Morocco, but what Barack Obama's proposing here is is something that will lead to you now. If we are on our on on the road the kind of political dissolution, the United States? This is only going to advance it because it you gimme idea that Republicans will never be in.
Aren't you the Senate ever again, unless there is a huge political shift, the Democrats, R, R r, enshrining a a momentary tactical event, yeah and if somebody comes up and trying to avoid says these guys, you know we need to split off the Senate. We we have two Disempower, the Senate org. You know Sprague Texas, up into five or break California, two, three or whatever, because we can't and then basically we're talking about the collapse of the United States, and I dont want, He too dramatic about this, but things are kind gonna Harry right now, and the idea that Barack Obama should come in and introduce this note into the political discussion. Right now, when his own vice presidents rain for president promising a return to normal sea and the return to democracy is going to be, maybe
democratic, when the Senate, and then we can force through everything we want at, will that's insane an incredibly irresponsible and points out. I think that the person that we need to look to when we are talking about this on rush towards the destruction of our institutions at the jacket, branch level is not Donald Trump but Barack Obama anymore than that during his eulogy. I'm just gonna highlight a couple aligns here that I think need to be set club oconnor may be gone today. We witness with her eyes, police officers kneeling on the next block, Americans George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal sending agents to use, tear gas and buttons against peaceful demonstrators later quote those in power that are doing
our darnedest to discourage people from voting closing, pulling places attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in an election. Let's go depend on male and ballots now You can take a lotta issue with the factual accuracy of a lot of what he says. There's emphasis there that I think is completely inappropriate. Some
defensible, some of its not. But what none of that is as an effort to take the temperature down on a moment that where were you near boiling and in that sense it is completely irresponsible and if it were any other person than Brok of Amr, the commentary class would look upon us with contempt for its effort to agitate and aggravate a nation on the brink. Here's. What I think is particularly frightening about this. Oh bomber was made one public appearance in the wake of the George Lloyd Killing, in which he did not sort of overt Lee but implicitly kind of carved attempt to sort of calm the discussion to the extent that he he talked up. The idea that the police are necessary and and many of them are great and that the? U S history,
extraordinary progress on on racial matters. What changed! What changed is that Obama's reputation for being a sort of soft and reasoned and pragmatic is deserved to be step that he he wouldn't you like to come across the way as a technical matter to get across his is more sort of actual genuinely radical ideology. What changed is that he's sort of took the temperature of the room so to speak, but of the nation and term and that in this moment he no longer needs to cover up the more ambitious proposals and ideas.
In order to sell them? He can now given, given the environment, come straight out and propose radical things like that, and that is what makes it so egregious wrong, as Jim said, is perfectly capable of striking a conciliatory tone. You can get the tone absolutely right. And it has done on many occasions that he chose not to doubt unlike Donald Trump and Donald Trump strikes. A conciliatory note strikes the right tone. You are shocked because it is not in his nature to do that. It is the Brok Obama is the consummate politician knows what he's doing when he's doing at each shows to make an inflammatory speech in this particular moment, which makes it our mortgages because he knows it or sell now, and no one is going to come out and Enron criticized save the usual suspects present company included. I mean look the Obama administration sent the Bureau of Land Management forces from the rear of land management too
surround the end you now and the end Attempt to disarm and then take the lands of clay Bundy in Nevada. Now, would you know it's not as though about the Obama administration did be, whose federal forces as law enforcement vehicles when now sorry, just like every other administration ever and for him again? to use the language of their? You know our federal officers are in our are using the tear gas again blah blah blah like. What are you kidding me I mean. Are you? Are you kidding me. What what is going on here, he knows Nowhere is gonna Lafayette Park or Portland
By the time, the introduction of the times, and in that, the sort of blurs the line to the black of moving it indistinct, also, you know what I'm gonna do I'm good at it How being provocative an incendiary and say that for somebody to compare what going on now in the United States, with a single cop in in in Minneapolis doing this horrific thing to George Floyd to bull Connor and George Wallace George George Wallace was the governor of the state of Alabama unused state police to block the entrance of people into school, build? to which they were legally given the right to enter bull, Connor and less dramatic and other law enforcement officials who ran laudable departments of law enforcement, who were explicitly racist,
explicitly India in their application of their force, and to compare that two rogue efforts on the grounds that they represent some mystical form of whites. Supremacy that is putting down you know. People of color and is this? Is this something that a former president I'd states? Is this an idea, though a former president say, should be retailing if we're gonna be what's what walking when talking about how the current president I'd states is wildly irresponsible, with his rhetoric and his proposals about what what the kind of United States is constituted. Like I mean you know it, disgusting to me that that you know I we sit here and try to make sense out of out of Trump and criticise crumb trump when necessary,
Where are the people defending the United States and its institutions against Barack Obama's depredations? Where, where are they? Why didn't this eulogy yesterday? a trigger some of this reaction that I'm having like don't change Mitch Mcconnell when Harry it eliminated the filibuster in one area right, which was for judicial nominees in twenty thirteen as part of the general doctrine that we can't wait and Republican shouldn't be allowed to retard democratic decision. Mitch. Mcconnell said you will regret this you, because power changes and we're gonna get control of the Senate and then we're gonna do what you're trying to do to us and damn? If that didn't exactly happen in twenty seven, that and didn't happen when Trump became president and they could forced through these to him
judicial nominations, and now now they want to do the entire Senate, and what, if you know talker Karlsson, gets elected in twenty twenty four with a republican Congress and Republican Senate, and then you know yes, said the guy was his rider. He nominates firm, you know a judge ship and then its force through a fifty one, forty nine voice about more and graduated republican. Having been nowhere near as pliant as Democrats when it comes to this issue, Donald Trump has lobbying for the elimination of the legislative filibuster forever enrichment, issued a second warning in June to Republic, to Democrats, noting new, to remember that you might not be in total control in the future and reminding them how they did nothing to the legislative filibuster the understanding
they may not be in a minority in the majority forever, despite the president's agitation to that effect, Democrats have demonstrated that they do not have the kind of fortitude that Republicans had in resisting the appeal of the of the White House when it's under their control aiming at once. It occurs to me that we have. This resting total again Yang Black White distinction here, or you know how very wanna area a slice it between Trump and an Obama that Trump talks like a fascist but governs like a kind of somewhat mildly income: But don't you know guy who does not exercise power and Obama speaks in the most honeyed possible way and was a complete
determined seizure of Power Caesar at I mean not not Keyser, I mean it s, the icy are. How are you spell seas, ah but was always like work. If you have a good idea for good ideas from all parts of the political spectrum and we're all one country, and all of that- and you know what people should take a lesson from this- because of Obama was vastly more successful president. Believe in some understandings, maybe we'll see, but I mean then that then Trump was because he had this. He got the tone right while he was aggregating power to the federal government and to you know, centralized Socrates, and all that in a way that no one ever had before in peacetime. Like I mean people had them Vienna away bad joy, so
trumps manner is too like act like he's, you know, he's crazy, authoritarian but know how to execute it and doesn't really have the energy, and is you know, Mister nice Guy, who is basically destroy foundations of government, yes, he got so. I think you're right I'd taken farther, which is that, just as Obama acts or has acted like MR nice Guy, because he thinks it is it to tackle asset. Somehow thinks that his off the rail tweets and proclamations also,
somehow sell him right at the end that that this is taking the union things into consideration. This is what actually people want they they want. They want the the fierce wild man too, to make these proclamations sort of regardless of of of what actually happens. It me there's is there's this response. That's bubbled up since yesterday, since trumps tweed and since from pinned his tweet of saying that elections should be postponed or delayed. This idea that don't you get it everyone's getting upset he's trolling. This is what he does. This is how he makes the liberals crazy,
they offer should and they. So I don't doubt that that that is a huge part of it. That's terrible you dont troll, with assertions about changing the structure of of presidential elections, that that, in and of itself is that is eight a absently terrible excuse now, given that Trump speaks like a fascist, and governs like a sort of indifferent, incompetent and Obama speaks mildly and tries to append the system. What happens? I think- and this is like across the board, which is that we ended inevitably end up with, with only the worst of both right
so now is now we have Obama out their speaking like this sort of mirror image of Trump and overtly proposing endorsing things that are in reality, dramatic and terrible and everyone nodding and assenting, ah you so Jim eggs. On Wednesday, Jeff Pieces Mark, Zuckerberg and Remind me who apples typical couples, TIM and and Google son DARPA. I write appear before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, which had covered itself in such glory the previous day with Bill bar the attorney general to get raked over the calls for the fact that the tech industry whatever exists.
A me and is making a lot of money and some hours and doing the right thing in some fashion Can you give us a sense of your your sense of that that hearing and what it portends about the future of tack in this? in this world in which both conservatives liberals and Democrats and Republicans all seem to be hungering to reg tube, to impose the harsh hand of regulation, Our leave hunger industry are at least to talk, really tough eat out. These hearings are always so painful to watch as everybody just try it out. To each other in in grandstanding and typically they, the people, as we saw with the bill bar hearing, Don't get. A lotta chanced actually explain themselves that sometimes they representatives almost seamen, salted that somebody actually wants to answer the question they just posed. But what was interesting about this one in what made it kind of entertaining? Why
Then it was such a by partisan raking over the calls over different issues mostly, but this sense of antipathy a was just was you know, I'm over well, meaning people are calling it a text ash- and you know the Wall Street Journal said that the hearing was almost universally hostile, typically you'd, see republican step in and least makes some defence of of business and free enterprise, and there was a little bit of that James Sense in Brenner from Wisconsin ease the top republic on the committee. He actually defended the current and I trust laws. He said they don't really need to be changed, but but there was just a I highly not from both sides. The Democrats talked a lot about competition and how these companies stifle competition. They talked about. Some of their kind of
get you records of acquiring companies a seemingly for the purpose of just The many nam Arbe are eliminating them as potential competitors. In some cases they acquired but his and then just shut them down, but the Republicans came up coming back to the free speech issue, and that too is about power. You know and when this very small number of institutions, when everything flows through a handful of platforms in all of you. You have so much of online commerce going through Amazon, but especially Facebook and Google. When so much of the content, the people consume and shared moves through those two platforms. The power they have is is really kind of terrifying, and so I think the report, the right to ask questions, I think they're framing of the questions, doesn't necessarily help their case. It's often like you know, are concerned.
It is being censored, are our conservative getting a fair shot? I think that the questions about how those companies manipulate speech run deeper than just are they intentionally art censoring concerned. I mean that's it. That is a legitimate question, but I think they're doing more in the way that their algorithms work to distort our discourse, some of which is an even controlled by individual human, some of its job, in the way the algorithms sort out certain kinds of terrible content encourage people to two gravitate towards the most extreme, content and now they're trying to use their. I engines to somehow limit what they see as dangerous falsehoods? It all- and you can appreciate them trying to do that use- can see why the kind of that, but that
as a simple libertarian is a real, dangerous, slow to get on when you start deciding what's accurate speech. What's not accurate speech and we ve seen a lot of examples of that just the last couple of weeks, while so the I think that the there art or two related questions that were raised by this, the first, whether the Congress is out matched by these guys, who you know, I think, if you added up their their net worth come out to about you now closing in on half a trillion dollars or something like that or three hundred billion dollar. Something- and you know these,
This may be members of Congress and they get votes and they have the power to write laws and all this but they're they're pipsqueaks. Next, to these you know wildly dominant figures and that and that basically they're going to be out salt, whatever efforts they make to rain in the power of these guys, as these guys will have so much on the wine and and- and I have so much have unlimited resources too, to faint and dodge against them. That what's gonna happen as a form of regulatory capture in which there will be changes made. That will cosmetically look as though the tech companies are being reigned in, but that in fact, will eggs only to enshrine their power forever and to make it impossible for anybody to come up lap them and take their place right. That's the regulatory capture theory.
I completely agree with that and that's why I'm very very leary of attempts to to directly regulate them, typically what you'll see is that those kinds of regulatory regimes will? Yes, you have the toy capture in that the that companies been regulated, have enormous influence on over how those laws are written and then how those regulations are enforced. But you Also have these cases where some burdensome regulations are just fine for huge, incredibly wealthy companies. I mean it's a it's its it'd, hundredth of of percentage point off of their revenues to hire the armies of lawyers and and whatever they need to to cope with it. But it's a great way to keep our new competitors if you're trying to start up some new social channel in your six kids in it, dorm room it
you now in in southern California, you don't have the resources to jump through all the regulatory hope, so the very the very rules that are set up to restrain companies from abusing their power become obstacles to new companies, getting stuck I did and and so on, I this is gonna work, as I dont have. A solution based on very concerned worked up about the consolidation of power in these companies. I am also very leary of attempts to craft legislation that gun gonna rain, that in but I'm open a hearing, the different ideas about applying antitrust law on other mechanisms to to consider putting some kind of of restraints here. Well that in the second ethic related issue is, would be the opposite, which is when you have kids. Urban, as who don't like the tech companies, because they think that their suppressing their speech and liberals and unlike them, because they ve created too much power
Large, have too much money, are making too much money and are Therefore, at any moment, could you know raise prices that make it impossible for less well to do people get out to do all that in turn to get together. The interbank and access, and all of that will be haves and have nots that, when You have this kind of consensus that we are talking about earlier, that allude Senate the Senate, mostly and everybody else, something big is gonna happen like this is one thing which liberals and conservatives seem to agree that the tech companies are turning into the bad guys and something he's gonna happen, my my proposition would be based on things that I've read that pull will essentially declare the senator that can Congress or whatever will essentially declare internet access and the use of the internet, a public utility and they will become
versions of bell or something like either versions of my bell, which of course, his baggage Marvell restrained the innovation in the tax base for decades. Or they will be nationalized indoors. Parts of what they do will be will be will become part of the up a grid that will be run by the federal government Which is a terrible, terrible idea, you know We saw this in all the the the garment rending over overnight Neutrality and the idea that, without rules to make sure we have equal access to the internet, somehow these evil corporation there to come in and clamp down. Of course, it hasn't happened. There are doubly areas where people don't have is many choices and internet access. Is they as we'd like
but there's all these new technologies coming down, including you know, getting the internet from space which Elon Musk, is working on in ten years. There's gonna be a bunch of new ways, people get internet access, there's no reason for it to be regulated like a utility and and in fact, if we did do that, we probably see progress. Stop I mean look at your power. Look at your outlet in your office. That's a hundred and twenty vault sixty cycle power grid. That's standard was set up, a nineteen twenties hasn't unaids citizens, and so we shall we don't ex once you? U turn them into a utility. You tend to freeze the technology in place. I wanna say we done is back in the nineties, we'd all still be using dial up. Can I kindly historic zoning I found out last week totally by happenstance, because one of my kids, said to me, how come the numbers on on FM or what? How come it's only eighty,
seven point, five to one hundred and seven point nine or whatever it is. What does that mean? I'm, like I don't know, I mean it's some megahertz, I don't know whatever so I didn't look it up and it turns out that the bandwidth of this particular band was actually from the sixties to the eighties in nineteen thirty's, and that RCA run by David Sarnoff had a preference in its own equipment or some setting or something it he wanted, and they wanted this band to be in the higher megahertz number from them.
From the high eighties into the hundreds and somehow got the FCC to declare that this area below it would no longer be form. You know broad cat whatever and was shifted basically to help this one company that was selling radios so that that's a version of this right history. How bandwidth was divided up in that in early in the twentyth century, is actually pretty fascinating. In that these huge chunks of and what they were delivered to the three networks for their tv stations in the major cities, closer incredibly valuable resources that would essentially given away it was it was. Like a land grant approach to the.
To the airwaves, and it did lead to the development of broadcasting. But it became a an example of a case where you know you don't have perfect foresight. Forty since everything's gonna Digital they ve been out, maybe go back in and carve up those huge swaths of bandwidth. It used to be required for over the air, television and other things and awe and criminal more data in there, so that their managing that better today, but that FM dial is a great example of how an old knowledge can live on in our and arson bullyism, though, even in the word three years so who the out there. Maybe I examples of that in our in our digital era to but I I but to the question of. Can Congress come up with a smart way to regulate this? I think the utility approach are probably but one of the worst options. I think that an and I trust, approach that limits their acquisition of new companies
it's an and target some of their more abuse of business practices might be, and again I would need to be convinced of this, but that might be they approach. The does the least damage in though, as the least veto opportunity set up a regulatory capture, a kind of situation will only propose one other thing: Gaza, Christine I talked about this in a peace she wrote for us on Facebook and basically why it needs to be broken up and Is that this much controversial, very complicated bids that it's not that simple, but the drafting of the the update of the Federal Communications act that lead this section, two thirty them eventually declared that, if you were an internet male provider, largely or ache trends and someone who trends method information from one person to another that you could be held liable for what was said in that communication, and that this was then deemed
to cover social media and Facebook and twitter. That that day work they were transmission points. They were not careers of content, they could not be considered lie Bull as companies for the discussions, and things were going on that they were simply a vehicle for the transmission of. But you know what Facebook what now has two billion users worldwide ended up? It's a it's one of the largest companies in the world and what, if what, if they just changed the rules, what if they would, if they rewrote section two hundred and thirty in Facebook, did become liable for slanders and miss meds and stuff. Like that, not this kind of not not this question of whether or not it should be checking facts, but simply that it was no longer a bystander to what was going on its platform,
you wouldn't come up with a way to connect to to make sure that their work eyeballs and slanders on its side. Of course, it would if they have a higher twenty five thousand. Bull of thirty thousand lawyers. To do this, it would still be less it would fill. It would say you know that would just be the cost of doing business like opening a new factory for GM when GM start sadder, you know it s the higher twenty five, thirty thousand people right as though, but here's here's the problem, I'm talking about, as in terms barriers to entry for other players. Section two thirty was part of the communications decency, decency, active. Ninety. Ninety six so basically means that you can't treat somebody who transmits third Party party content as a publisher and sue them for the bat for what's in that content, right where? Oh, yes, oh, maybe Facebook could have higher thousands of readers to double check and screen stuff for libel and
and other and other problems, but could commentary do that further for the for the cop people who comment on on the website? Ah, but we eliminated comments, alright yeah yeah. I'm not re literally eliminated contents caught comments, for this very reason that we did not want to feel responsible for four things on our website that we did not added or control right, and that was of editorial corporate decision that we made yeah but that's a joy choice. People can make, but many businesses that do not rely on online reviews commentary individual bloggers.
If you, if you make everyone liable, I think there's really good arguments to keep section two hundred and thirty more or less intact, and they come down to two enabling free speech, and so I think that the penalty, the what would happen if you got rid of it would might not so, Down the giants very much, but it would paralyze everybody else. It is part of this vibrant exchange of ideas and even a giant site like twitter. If they were checked also responsible for every idiotic thing somebody says I dont think any of us would be able to express ourselves very open like like wait. You just criticise somebody. We can't put up that wait for three days until somebody get the chance to check and make sure what you just said about. Whoever is it? Isn't? Libelous
be careful what you wish her on this. You know we're wishing. Oh by the way, my presumption is that something's gonna happen, and it will be the worst possible thing in some ways. You could say that section two thirty is a very complicated issue, but it was aunt ass, the thing for a while and now its increasingly less fantastic icily because of twitter like Twitter, has heading, I think, a horribly destructive effect on then on the national political. Conversely, and yet you know what I have wished: the internet not to develop as it did in the mid nineties onward, without without the heavy hand of God, controlling every move, yes, but then things happen, and this is what I think has really taken a lie: the digital utopians, and I was certainly one of the early arts. We all thought that you now there would be a thought, and flowers, bloom, meaning and everyone would have their own.
Logs and there would be this wonderful diversity of ideas and somehow it all got sucked in to this more of the of the Tec giant and now I would include individual publications. The between them, Google, for an eye, and Facebook have something like fifty five percent of all digital revenue on the internet, A lot of that revenue is coming from people, her advertising against content, that created by people like com. Terry Herb, are you know our entertained? We, the magazine or or all kinds of content? creators and the New York Times of washing boats that are spent a lot of money, great content, but most of the revenues going to Google or Facebook, because when people linked a content they ve found this brilliant way to basically to basically he back and all the work already else does, but suck all the money out of the exchange. Let's move outlet, let me just that I just want to talk to conclude by talking to you about the peace.
You have in our July August issue, that is on our website. A commentary magazine, Dotcom called our over connected world because, as a as a civil libertarian, as you say, there is an interesting connection between, our belief in letting a thousand flowers bloom and the deep. M of all discourse and a problem that you have discern in the nature of how we are handling tack and some of these things in that. In that it is becoming more centralized in some ways and that that is our It's the way we are living is is becoming centralize in a way that is potentially of actual danger to us in the good working order of how we live. Can you right last year I have spent a lot of time studying disasters and how disasters happen. In theirs is concept in that field called a tightly couples.
That would be something where many different parts of mechanical or a digital system are interlinked in such a way. But a problem in one area can rapidly and dragged on other parts of the system of them. A classic example would be the way that all the different power utilities are connected, so they can shift power around at at really on a split second basis. If it mangoes opera goes down here. Are there and it's a great site some that allows them to keep the lights on in all kinds of conditions, but if something goes really wrong in one part of one grid and they can cope with that. That problem then can propagate, and we saw that in the actually was a two thousand and three black out the northeast black out. But this time edit dragged down the whole northeastern and Eastern Canada in war? giant blackout, you also see it and in cases where were you have a
a problem in certain plane crash should give a proper one part the airplane, but ultimately it involves other system. On the airplane that in a way that could ultimately be be fatal, so. What are we seeing in our tech world today? Well, what we ve done as we tightly coupled things it used to be really really separate. You know we have all get little Newt newspapers delivered to our our front door, stop the doorstep. You now in the in those ancient times and people in subscribe to different magazines, conversation that happened in person over the fallen there were there were thousands of independent radio station round the country s communication has gotten more and more funneled through again these these tech giants, What does that mean? It means that the whole system, what runs much more quickly and notably, but also bad ideas can spread really quickly. Misconceptions can spread really quickly and
the anti. I believe the system has gotten more of a hair trigger it. That is dangerous, and- and I do is- I do think it is enabled. If you were talking about Twitter- is enabled extremism. Other writers sign up to fetch a who son has rights for the New York Times and is a professor of some kind of digital sociology. I think every brilliant commentator on this particular issue and she talks about the way that the algorithms and make these big giants. Work often will exacerbate the most are exaggerate the most stream versions of any particular comment. Something that might have been really on the french state on the fringe of the past, now get dragged into the center and it would me that into with tightly coupled systems
you are also open to a far greater danger to those who would seek to attack right and and to explore the tightly coupled system in a malicious attack, because- whereas before they might be able to target one small peace now, if they have these sufficient knowhow and They they find the right single switch to flick vacant. They can do incredible damage against you, write or against us writing they can. They can shut down a whole mass of network for the purpose of destabilize. Yes, absolutely I mean I think one of the nightmare scenarios that war planners and others look at is some kind
information warfare that would knock out. Are these these highly centralized systems? There was a very ominous thing happen. A couple of weeks ago. Twitter got hacked note you guys, member this, and it looked like some kind of a bit coin scam, but I dont think it necessary We was, I think that, were some deeper experiment going on there, but it was very, very ominous they were get people to get right into the heart of the network and take over the accounts of some of the most famous people on twitter. And how could they do that? Because it centralized you now you get into the into that into the network, and you can control the network in contrast Let's say you were a dictator, you wouldn't have a coup and take over all the radio stations in the country in the old days. You'd have to send your guys with guns to every radius right now,
today. It would be a lot easier it if you could take over. You know: Google, Facebook and Twitter, you could control what everybody see ah you now and again at the nightmare scenario, but this tight complained it's more tightly coupled communication system. We have, it does a lot of work. Things really well and really efficiently, but it also has this potential for Canada system, wide failure of vulnerability, It's interesting because you know one of the things that we were promised. By the digital age was a kind of decentralization. In that the end that was itself. There was no internet, there was no central thing called the internet. It was this infinite network of of computers all as storing information for each
There are in different ways and then over time, like We else things started to Central So you have these web services like Amazon people. Don't really know this, but Half of Amazon's business is the thing Amazon Web Services, which is basically the world's largest internet host- and Is one of the things that you know. I'd trump through doesn't like bees, ask ASEAN the washing puzzle whatever is like freaked out by Amazon Web services, but he's right in the sense that. If you have an enormous centralisation of the storage of information and on on on the world wide web the hands of one company and that companies can somehow be subjected to an electro magnetic pulse attack or say I know it's hard to. I mean I don't even know what I'm talking about about. How technically would happen,
but this was also to be vitiate at the entire development of the internet was an effort to create a system that would not be destroyed but destroy able in a nuclear attack. That's what I'd DARPA, when DARPA came up with the idea for the internet was the radical decentralization of computerization so that things could survive if you'd have things were melted down by a nuclear, strike and now they're all aggregating again into centralized location by this goddamn. What can I do this growing our darn ages, since we're on like disaster move, scenarios. Can I give you my fantasy disaster movie scenario regarding the stuff of core? Ok, so there's consulted
is tat, consolidation, its outrage and salvation right and then some genius digital terrorist comes up with the idea whereby the attacks, the the the art, are consolidated system. We all wake up one day and every email is just available, everyone can read everyone else's email, every secret. Every every scheme in every hidden every would be the whole place, are we where we invest, our secret and private lives is exposed to everyone all bonds of trust breakdown immediately people are dropping out of windows, governments Corporation breakdown marriages fall apart. Everyone knows everything about everyone else. They can Irish via email, discoverable, medium you're, a terrible conspiracy theories in the first place. What Albert Rock conspiracy it's like what what it feels like yeah, the ever you find out that somebody insulted,
Did you find out there? You are someone you thought was your friend said something nasty about you to another person. That's all it takes to break down all social drop. Forget it! It's the Gilan Maxwell story. Right now this happened actually having this happened. A small scale with the Sony, I was her only act in twenty fourteen, and here I used to cover the movie business. I know some of the people who are involved in this and you can you know how people in the entertainment industry talk. I mean their pride themselves on being course, an unguarded and and saw the static. Madame these emails was just a lot, a nasty criticisms, alot of revealing what people were really negotiated behind the scenes, and it was a practically brought down the studio- it was absolutely devastating and it was exactly at age. It was, it was, oh, my god, honesty right now we can survive ahead and
but again never had at the head of the studio was aiming hasn't. Aerodynamic Pascal have to resign for insulting. Angelina Jolie. I believe me I've. I primarily I somebody this would be a great book for somebody, because it would be great case buddy and who and what happens when, when this kind of transparency is opposed and again, if all of those communications had gone by phone instead by email, if they weren't all others. Emails warrants weren't stored on one server. This wouldn't have been possible in our aid that consolidation but dear Point, John about the internet by being more consolidated. You could I, these rest a little bit easier about that, even though you know Amazon may on a lot of observers. Aid are not all in the same place their distributed around the world and be the
still set up as a kind of a self organized network, where signals were where messages travel and they find that best available route to thee. They web address that you're looking for, and so they re route around damage they re route around problems and that it still work that way so by the consolidation, as happened hasn't been at that base level or the internet. So much as in the tools we use to to organise the way that we get around so every if everybody uses Google than that becomes a kind of centralisation. I've been using doktor go search. Engine which isn't result are nowhere near as as Google's, but just as my lips, what my little protests in our of monopoly power. I use Gmail and all the rest. But ah you know there are there. There still are There are alternatives, and none of these countries on the internet, you now they what what they own
is a lot of internet users and and the way that people get on to you know do the work that they want to do, but that's not permanent. Ass we regulated in a way that makes it permanent. You know it's always like Facebook. His fate, a lot among younger people. I think that you know we could see big changes there. I think we could. We could see a changes in the way people do search if they get nervous enough about this. So I think, if we don't let these companies influenced government, to enhance their power. Then then is as worrisome is. It is right now I think it's it's not a problem that necessarily continues getting worse it could. It could changing and get better at some point in the future. Hey we're gonna end up on an optimistic about what the hell is going on. This is this is
glaringly inappropriate for our crushing veracity. But what what can I do? Jim eggs is a cheerful, the more cheerful person the the eternal optimists aren't you know I mean daddy disasters, but I've also sort of temper mentally on the Arctic, excited are sometimes learned temper that that little bit during this pandemic time, I dioxide Garriga. So thank you so much for being with us, we will have you want again. Pristine Rosen will be back on Monday form no Rossman in a remote, I'm John outwards keep the camel burning.
Transcript generated on 2020-08-01.