As a young entrepreneurial entrepreneur who led the destructive business appeared on the scene, the reporter Franklin Forer first took root.
"I can not say that I was skeptical of these people from the beginning," he said in a recent episode Decode the code with Kara Swisher. "What they did was interesting and novel, it takes a little bit of time to realize exactly what we did, and it can be terrible or threatening."
Foer is interested in Amazon's proprietary nascent tactics to increase the price of book publisher Hachette and e-books, and whether companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook should be destroyed under US antitrust laws . He said the law was "excluded" in the 1960s, limiting regulatory interest to anti-competitive prices, but not so much.
"I felt frustrated when I spoke to the Justice Department about Amazon," Foer said. "It hurts the producers and eventually hurts the consumers in the long run and they act in a way that is annoying." Consumers, but not producers, can not see the sun in the name of God, They could not see it because they are outside of the paradigm they are currently operating. "
Google and Facebook's core products are free, but focus is still dangerous, he noted.
"Facebook and Google are constantly organizing information in a way that we are not aware of, and even we do not teach that we are cognitive, and most people are not doing it in a way that leverages data," Foer said. . "Our data is the mapping method for the inside of our mind.They know our weaknesses and know the things that give us joy, anxiety and anger.They use that information to poison us.It's a company It makes us an enemy of independent thought. "
You can hear it. Recode Decode You can get podcasts anywhere, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, and Overcast.
Below we shared the full text of the lightly edited Karla's Franklin conversation.
Kara Swisher: Hello, I'm Kara Swisher, the editor of Recode. We know the popular board game night for the technical CEO as the organizer. I want to play an exclusive game all the time, but in my spare time I speak the technology and listen to the Recode Decode on the Vox Media Podcast Network. Today's red chair is Franklin Foer, the national correspondent of the Atlantic and former editor of the new republic. His most recent book is "A World Without Mind: The Existing Threat of Big Tech, "Just came out on the cover of paper. Frank, Decoding Recording Welcome.
So it is an honor to be here.
We met each other in Washington DC the other night.
Because people are easy to do.
It was strange. It was from David Gregory. Thank you, David. I had a delicious meal with his wife, Beth Wilkinson. It was really fun. Living part time here, I became the first big Washington party.
You, yes, yes.
Listening was fun. their have.
How has the situation changed?
Interesting … I feel like I'm in a "Kia game" and living in the capital. Do you know what I mean? It's really nothing. I thought it would be different.
I am a student of Bay Area culture and Washington D.C. I want to hear about the contrast between them someday.
Well, they only talk about technology and talk about politics, right?
Pretty much. Technical gossip vs. political gossip.
It falls into a trump. They all fall into Trump in essence.
And I want to talk to you.
It is a condition of modern life.
Let's look at your history. There is a remarkable history of journalism. You worked in the new republic. You were in New Republic and you were in Washington and wrote about the policy and all sorts of problems. Then it is now in the Atlantic Ocean. Now there is everything … How is the money over there, Lauren [Powell Jobs] money?
It's pretty good. I will tell the story … so last year I published my book. The series was a chapter on how Silicon Valley swallowed journalism. So, as you know, this leads to mixing and printing problems. , Has a crazy long lead time, and between the time it entered the galley and the time it appeared, Laurene Jobs bought the Atlantic.
It's part of it?
Part of it, the Atlantic and I looked like a punk.
Yes, I did. OK. I do not care. They do not care about anything. We will also talk about it. There are so many things to talk with you. You are working in the Atlantic, you … Please tell us a brief history of where you were. You've been … Where did you start?
Okay, so my first job was actually in slate and owned by Microsoft.
So summer …
You have been working for a lifetime technician.
Yes it is. I can not escape it. Yes, Microsoft, like you remember …
Yes, Michael Kinsley.
… I wanted to build with Michael Kinsley, but because I wanted to create a media empire, I started a fresh campus called Red West that I went to. It was a typical technology paradise with a wonderful cafeteria and waterfall. Running through it.
But you had to. payment The food there is extraordinary.
Yes it was. Yes it was.
Microsoft is so cheap.
Yes, they gave us a drink. But it is not food.
Yes. right. Yes, Red West is always interesting because it was always the same. I am 500,000 feet away from Bill Gates, and I think it's the only thing that matters to Microsoft.
Yes. Well, do you remember that it started? They had a women's magazine named UpWire.
Oh, I remember them all.
I wonder why it failed.
Mungo? Was it UpWire, not distant? UpWire.
First, MSN, MSN2 …
… had everything, it was all dark and the comic appears – oh, yes. I was around. I wrote about all of them.
Yes, yes. Yes.
What is it? Did they have Mungo Park? No, it's Discovery. There is a whole bunch of them. They were all bad.
Yes, but they new Media empire.
Oh yeah. That's right.
But sadly, it did not work.
They thought I was the average when I said this. I creak at them all the time. "It makes sense." We can do that here. But there was Michael with Jack Caper who was full of talent.
Yes it is.
They were all there.
Accurately. They were going to the sidewalk. Press compete with city newspaper.
India is right. I got a lot of people from the Washington Post at the time.
Yes, yes. Well, and MSNBC was, of course, the great son of a shotgun marriage.
MSN.com. They just poured a lot of money. Now they are going into the clouds. I think it's all they're doing now.
Yeah, so I've been there for years.
By the way, slate was a great product.
Yes, I did.
Thank you very much for giving Bill Gates money.
Yes, it was a revolutionary magazine. And in a chunk of time, it was one of the great magazines.
And actually it was quite fun. I mean, remember at the time, maybe you were exposed more than I thought. But did you feel that everything was happening at that moment?
And there was no rule, it just really felt good. You can experiment. I did, and I came to work in New Republic.
Yes, I did. It was a magazine. I am the first child. I want to please my father. It was a magazine my dad read.
It was a hot place for a long time when I was very young in the media.
It was as if you were a sort of thing if you got it.
Yes, I liked it. I had to deal with incredible characters who made life, but it was a pleasant place to work …
Yes, oh, I know them all.
… sometimes very difficult. I was a writer there and editors from 2006 to 2010, and in 2008, when the 2008 financial crisis hit, the life of New Republic really became difficult. New Republic was already a difficult place because it was already against the digital era.
Did Peretz own it? Did Marty Perez own it?
No, he was a partial owner at the moment, but the appearance of the blog Was Because of the existential challenge of magazines …
That was it.
The magazine … Yes, trafficking has suddenly become commonplace, and much of it has been as good and better in some cases as we are publishing. It has become a real challenge to magazines and how do you adapt to that kind of world?
Then the financial crisis occurred and we were constantly in possession of a profitable owner who worked as a hobby. It has become increasingly difficult to find magazines looking for such hobby magazines. Then at some point I am just sick of it. And I left to go down the books and leave to write some essays. Then in 2012, the magazine was going to be sold again and was looking for an owner. And a man named Chris Hughes appeared.
Chris, I know him well.
Who was this mystical savior. He was too smart.
Yes, I'm passionate.
He was so passionate.
So I felt the core value of the magazine. I liked him a lot. I became famous with him, and indeed, I was always. It was a surprise to me.
He was a lovely person. I met him at the podcast about UBI. He is in trouble with UBI.
Yes, yes. Lovely little guy. It was like this amazing opportunity because we had suffered before.
Now we have all this money. We had a dedicated master. We have had a lot of attention because of his enthusiasm and because of the kind of idealism he thinks.
His husband is running in the office. No, it's a good story. right.
I think we had this opportunity once in a lifetime to do a demonstration project to reconstruct journalism in a dignified way and to learn all of these things that have challenged us in the past.
you. I remember seeing him and I said, "Oh no, no, no." They can not all help.
Well, in my head …
Pierre Omidyar was also doing this with Intercept and will not forget. We talked to him because we talked to him. "We have to talk about it," he said. I do not want to fight with you. But it's one of my favorites, and these people will drive. If you choose a desk, they will think of you. Interference again. This is a group of people. Everyone has personality and thank you for having the money, but if you go away, it is not.
Well, I think about Chris – and I think he'll probably agree with me after talking to him. – He is a disadvantageous guy. He is not one of the founders.
No, he does well.
He means well and I am a person who dislikes conflict. We have had this kind of conflict-adverse relationship until the situation explodes.
So, what happened to you from your point of view?
I'll talk a little bit more honestly than what I've said. I mean, when my husband ran for parliament, I think his life was at stake. Page stories about them in the New York Times.
Yes, I saw it.
And I think he is embarrassed. And New Republic Was Lost … We do not think we were spending a lot of money. In his property he could easily absorb losses, but nobody likes to absorb losses.
Loss of millions of dollars.
Even if they have advertised themselves as Idealists.
"I came to bring the loss."
He really embarked on some kind of work. I also think he felt shameful about being considered this guy who was always in his luck.
It is one of the main papers of the new work.
He was there.
Yes, he was there. He wanted to prove himself.
On Facebook. Chris has made money on Facebook since he was in the dorm.
He wanted to prove himself in the sense that Zuckerberg and other early Facebook people would respect him. He also admitted that he did not like selling ads, which was a lot of advertising when he appointed a magazine publisher.
We started looking for a CEO and there were many other ways we could do that. This is one of the amazing things to me. He was open with me about the process of electing a CEO. You will always be a new layer because you've always notified the owner. He is very charitable …
He wanted you to be a member of him. That makes sense.
I liked someone who we interviewed, except for his favorite person, and indeed he was ironically a Guy.
Yes, he came from Yahoo.
Oh, I know Guy.
Yes, I had nothing against his resume, but from the outset it was clear to me.
What a bad thing.
It was a bad fit, but he just did not want to deal with me.
As Chris started this interview process, I was drinking coffee and making phone calls to all the candidates, and he seemed to just avoid me. I made it a bad sign and I let Chris know that he was the one I hated. Of course he was the man he picked. It was almost inevitable that the situation would get worse there.
My first, it took me about two weeks to meet him. As I entered the office, I began to draw on the whiteboard the editing process of the magazine and the way I wanted to change all these changes. Then we released ourselves to our employees through this editorial meeting. He wanted to become a technology CEO and study all sorts of cliches.
A chunk that can be shared.
Content for snacks.
Yes. Well, and also just … It's a magazine that celebrates a 100-year-old birthday.
and you People are the worst people who take that stuff. Oh no. I would not say that if I could pick a group of people, it would be that group. By the way, you're not easy. That is, you refuse to change.
It is completely resistant to change.
I talked to the crowd. I was like that. hurry. Some of these things can be started.
Well, to be fair, I felt over time because I became an adult. I understand that the world … things change. You must swallow things you do not want to do. Some of them are easy, but this way …
Oh no. He was wrong.
No, but there was this way … Even if something is easy and helpful in their defense, there is a way to do it unconsciously in some way. I do not want to do it because you are not signed. .
right. Accurately. No, but I think in many ways. The important thing when this technology / journalist thing happens is journalism. That is the first place. And second, you guys, you can not make a lot of money here. That's the other thing … Sorry, you can make money. You will become famous. I think that Bezos was perfect. It does not make a lot of money, but it is good. He is helping it. It's getting better. They are smaller ones, and I hope others will realize. But above all, journalism is important. And that's it.
Yes. Yes. Well, I think that's what you're talking about. Once you have a plan to change the core, you start spoiling the mission of the organization. It is fundamentally destroying the fundamental value of the enterprise.
Yes, but there is no problem in asking people to chitchat and work. Still tolerance. I will not interfere unless you want to understand it.
Yes. I do not agree with that. But this is the way. So one of the errors of the modern republic was paradoxical to the core. Then you were kindly asking us for trends and what other people are doing. I was just feeling good because you joined as an original person. Then you have to take the damn clip from "The Daily Show" and write the tested title. It is easy to do so. right?
And maybe the right thing.
We should probably have been able to do it, but when you asked people to do that, they grumbled so much.
Journalists are such idiots.
You too … It is in New Republic.
You will not pay that much money.
Yes. As you are asking, it's … it's just begun to end without you, and you pay us $ 30,000 a year, pay $ 35,000 a year, and you come with this expectation. .
Writing great essays.
Yes, you can just cut and paste links from the show all day long.
I now work on the BuzzFeed farm.
That kind of thing.
You were there, you were gone. You were very famous.
right. I resigned. But he resigned, knowing that he would resign.
right. It was right. I like it.
Was it just interference?
Yes … Well, something happened at some point. I'm like, I'm done.
Life is too short.
In fact, I tried to quit. I would quit, but I tried to present them the condition that I quit. I was just like you. just …
You can go on with your work. I will continue my work. Good luck to all of us. At that time I was told that they were editor of Gawker because I was a journalist and that there was a person talking to people about their jobs and that he was going. He will be the next editor-in-chief of the new republic. At that point it means a resignation with little cost. It is not as benign as you want. I quit because the other people who came out of the door and followed me were doing it for good cause, because the staff did not quit … just in terms of signals …
It was fantastic! It was a good media moment.
Well, it was like a teen fantasy. Wherever you like, "I quit!" And others were cut off, but it is also scary. In journalism, we are being slandered by our masters and the media …
Not for me, I like to finish.
The press keeps you informed that there are no jobs in journalism. right? If you …
Yes, I like you. My favorite thing.
Yes. This is pretty …
It's my favorite weapon. "I am leaving now." It is wonderful. You can do it without worrying.
It is true.
It is true.
You regain strength. It is wonderful. You must have talent. That's the problem. You must have different options. It's easier now because you can make your own stuff. If you are an entrepreneur, it is good for you. If you are not, you are bad. You've continued the Atlantic. So you left there. And who currently owns New Republic?
One person from Oregon called Win McCormack. I think Baffler also owns it.
OK. They are more comfortable in that environment.
Rediscovered. And in my own mental tranquility I have not seen it for a long time, but in fact I picked it up to this point because a copy of Ezra Klein sat in the mailbox. I have not seen this for too long, I just …
Of course, Ezra gets a copy!
"Let's just see." Actually, I actually liked what I saw. It surprised me. I mean we are much more to the left than we were then.
It should. It is where I go scales.
You moved to the Atlantic and then wrote this book. Did you work or write a book first?
I first wrote a book.
What stimulated you? This experience with Chris …?
In fact, yes. But I really …
Yes, you could have a glimpse of my world and he was one of the nicer people. I'll tell you.
I was actually thinking about this because I was in a radical position because of the dispute with Haashetto about Amazon eBook prices. So I saw this. I was a writer … I wrote a book with Hachette and saw what the Amazon is doing. At first, I did not really care because I was an exclusive publishing work on the e-book monopoly. I got a lot from the Amazon and I was never anti-enemy … I was not anti-Amazon in the Amazon before, but I saw how they abused the power of the market. Hachette books redirecting people to search. It brought me thought. And it worked me. And yes.
We are with Frank Foer. He wrote a book called The World Without Mind. It's about the threat Big Tech will bring to us. You said you started it because you had an experience with Chris Hughes. You got a little taste of Internet users, and Amazon attacked Harcourt.
right. I was active, active with the author's guild, and I tried to do something with the FTC and the Justice Department. One of them is my dad is an antitrust lawyer …
It is like his passion.
This did not happen.
It is his passion. There is another strange thing. Right now we are in a building on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC. My grandfather was a building that had a jeweler shop for a long time in Brooks Brothers space.
OK. OK. OK.
He … He's trained as an antitrust lawyer. When his grandfather passed away, he asked Dad to leave the jewelry store. My dad has forgotten at least a passion for antitrust law, but he also testified Robert Bork as a small businessman, and he was always really passionate.
As the recession of the early 90s caused many retail businesses to disappear, my dad tried to figure out what to do. He said, "Tighten it, my enthusiasm is antitrust, I will start the advocacy group / thinktank …"
His passion was contradictory. only once.
All right. Whatever.
I know that everyone moves on their own.
Can you believe it?
"Antitrust law, yes, it will be my concern."
I never … like I grew up listening to the dangers of monopoly. Until I started seeing it with tech companies, it was something I did not really take. I started with an economic framework and almost started to think about it. There is a problem of dependency. When you rely on the platform, the platform begins to have full control.
The writer is a remarkable narcissist. I think we are at the center of the narrative. But in fact, Amazon first …
It started at the largest bookstore in the world.
They have accumulated this exclusive monopoly in an exclusive monopoly ebook. Since 70% of all ebooks are sold through Kindle, you can set the terms. They set the terms in a very annoying way, without any concern for the fundamental health of the industry. They were confusing the industry to incorporate greater power. They wanted everything that was published directly through Amazon.
The fact that e-book sales are stagnant is interesting.
Right, Apple came in.
Not only did Apple come in, but it also launched ideas for Kindle singles and a publishing house where they could take advantage of themselves by using the platform.
It did not work. In contrast to the media, book publishers, in retrospect, think they have made many important decisions that were a virtuous and sound decision that they advocated for the fundamental economic value of the product.
They set up a platform confrontation. They did not agree smoothly. [Facebook] Instant articles …
They are still under the influence of the Amazon.
Oh sure. But they also protected the business.
right. Right now, right now because Amazon sells microwave and furniture. They will march in all areas where they can march.
물론,하지만 그렇지 않습니다 …
내가 얻는 것은 게시자들에게 일어난 일이 나머지 경제에도 일어날 것입니다. that It is. 경제의 나머지 부분에 일어나는.
펜실베니아 주 시골에서 Whole Foods의 복숭아 생산자라면 아마존에 의해 어느 시점에서 압착되기 시작할 것입니다.
맞아, 절대적으로. 당신이 "마음이없는 세계"를 말할 때 … 당신은이 두 가지 경험을했습니다. 하나는 뉴 리퍼블릭이고, 하나는 하트 체트와 아마존입니다. 왜 "마음이없는 세상"이죠? 당신은 이것에 관해 아주 초기에 책을 쓸 것이라고 결정했습니다. , 나는이 책을 쓸 때 "Tech is fantastic"영역에있는 대부분의 사람들이 생각합니다.
That's right. 그래서 처음에는 돌연변이 적 모험이었습니다. 나는 두세 가지를 생각하고 있었다. 하나는, 나 또한 … 나는 관심에 대해 이야기하는 측면에서 Tristan Harris와 같은 누군가와 분명하고 정확한 것은 아니었다.
그것은 중독 일 것입니다. 알았어,주의.
그러나 나는이 장치들이 묵상의 적 이었음을 볼 수 있었고, 분명히, 나는이 점을 지적한 최초의 장치가 아니 었습니다. 많은 사람들이 관심 집중 경제를 건설하고 있다고 지적했습니다. 하지만 그건 나에게 …
주의를 끄는 슬롯 머신이 내가 부른 것이다.
네, 그리고 저 한테는 그것의 중요한 부분이었습니다. 그들은 실제로 우리가 사고하는 것을 방해하고있었습니다.
글쎄, 그들은 중독성이 있고, 길을 만드는 방법, 그들이하는 방식으로 중독을 강조하고 있습니다.
그러나 당신의 사고 과정이 끊임없이 조작 될 때 …
… 보이지 않는 힘에 의해 페이스 북과 구글은 우리가 실제로 인식하지 못하는 방식으로 끊임없이 일을 구성하고 있으며, 우리는 심지어 인식력이 있다고 가르치지도 않고, 대부분의 사람들은 그렇지 않고 끝난다. 데이터를 활용하는 방식으로
우리의 데이터는 우리 정신의 내부에 대한이지도 제작법입니다. 그들은 우리의 약점을 알고 있으며, 우리에게 즐거움과 불안과 분노를주는 것들을 안다. 그들은 우리를 중독 시키려고 그 정보를 사용합니다. 그것은 회사를 독립적 인 사고의 적으로 만든다.
Yes. 그래서 당신은 그것을 가지고 있습니다. 중독 부분입니다. 광고주는 광고, 모든 종류의 행동, 소매점, 사람들의 사물 보급에 대한 시장 지배력을 가지고 있습니다.
마음이없는 세계를 말하면, 우리는 더 이상 마음이 없습니다. 그게 본질적으로 맞지, 그렇지?
Yes. 나는 몇 가지 일을하고 있었다. 하나는 중독성 조각이었습니다. 하나는 그들이 저널리즘과 문화 산업을 파괴하는 것을 보았습니다. 보편적으로, 왜냐하면 …
권리. 분명히, 우리는 TV에서 르네상스의 마지막 무언가를 보았습니다 …
일부는 이러한 회사 때문입니다.
부분적으로이 회사들 때문에 의심의 여지가 없습니다. 그러나 우리는 또한 다른 많은 전통 문화 산업에서 볼 때 그 가치가 산업에 악영향을 미치고 있음을 알 수있었습니다.
저널리즘에서는 저널리즘이 페이스 북과 구글에 트래픽과 그에 따른 수익을 위해 점점 더 많이 의존하게되었으므로 … 알고리즘이 바뀌면 시스템을 구성 할 때, 당신은 물건을 만들려고 할 때 그들의 기준과 가치를 고수 할 수 밖에 없습니다.
그들은 그렇게하기에 불충분하다.
방금 그것에 대해 토론하고있었습니다. 누군가가 Mark Zuckerberg에 관해 나에게 묻는시기에 관해서, 그는 "이 문제를 처리하기에는 부실하다."이것은 최악의 문제입니다. 그는 능력이 아니라 능력을 가지고 있습니다.
그 사람 인터뷰했을 때도 ..
… 그리고 그는 자신을 가라 앉혔다, 당신은 바퀴가 그의 머리를 돌리는 것을 볼 수 있었다.
… 그리고 그는 단지 길을 이해하지 못했습니다 … 자신의 플랫폼이 어떻게 작동했는지 이해하지 못하는 것처럼 보였습니다.
나는 그의 앞에 엄청난 도전을 다룰 준비가 안좋다고 생각한다. 그는 모든 힘을 가지고있다.
더 넓은 문화적 문제가 있습니다. 엔지니어가 시작한이 회사가 있고 엔지니어가 그 회사의 최고 계급으로 올라갔습니다.
엔지니어로서 훈련받은 사람이라면 매우 좁은 사고 방식으로 훈련받을 수 있습니다. 시스템을 작동하고 자체적으로 작업하도록 훈련 받았습니다.
당신은 문제를 보지 않도록 훈련 받았습니다. 당신은 단지 해결책 만 보도록 훈련 받았습니다.
네, 그렇습니다. 하지만 당신은 또한 훈련을 받았고 … 시스템을 만들 때 인간을 데이터 더미로 생각합니다 …
음. 맞아 맞아.
인간으로서가 아니야. 당신은 그들의 전체 차원에서 그들을 생각할 수 없습니다.
또는 당신은 다시 무슨 일이 있었는지에 대해 생각할 수 없습니다. 그것은 챌린저 사고와 같은 것입니다. "우리는 O- 링에 집중하지 않을 것입니다. 더 나은 로켓을 만들자. "그것이 그들이 대답하는 방법입니다. 당신은 "O 링은 어떨까요? 그런 일이 어떻게 일어 났습니까? "이것은 정말 흥미로운 문제이며 비극을 초래했습니다. 그래서 …
그러나 오링을 사용하여 문제를 진단하지 않으면 그 방법을 이해하는 데있어 근본적인 점을 건너 뜁니다.
당연하지. 아뇨. 그 인터뷰에서 나는 계속해서 "이 점에 대해 어떻게 느끼나요?"라고 말했을 때 그는 "나는 해결책을 얻고 싶다."라고 말합니다. 나는 마치 "나는 그곳에가보고 싶다. .. I'd like to get to how you got to the problem.”
I kept saying, “How do you …” That’s why I kept asking four or five times, “How do you feel about your invention being misused this way?”
This is the thing that annoys me in these conversations, because I’ve tried to engage with the tech companies at various moments. They can understand, “Okay, we have a fake news problem. Okay, we need to …”
The bot problem.
But they never talk about manipulation, which is the core of the problem. The problem is that they’ve created these platforms that are based on …
… this idea that they’re going to be able to manipulate us to engage us for as long as possible, and that other people are going to come in from the outside and take advantage of that, because that’s the system that they created.
Well, that’s, I keep saying that. It’s exactly … They didn’t hack. It was built this way.
It’s acting … Remember Jessica Rabbit? “You can’t blame me, I was drawn this way. This is the way I was drawn.”
There was a point you were trying to get through when you were talking about was this, that we are facing a threat from these companies which was … You were early. I’ve always been banging at them. But in terms of the public, why has it taken so long for that to happen? Why did it take so long? Then, in our next section, I’d like to talk about where it goes. Because now, everyone’s fully aware of these problems.
Look, the United States has not … When we build a competitive sector that becomes a source of national pride, when you have a new …
Which tech is.
You had a new elite emerging, and it’s exciting to have a new elite emerge.
And they’re very wealthy.
They’re very wealthy. They defied a lot of our stereotypes about what captains of industry should look like.
Hoodies and sneakers.
The cult of youth is such a powerful, American thing. You have these people appear on the scene.
At first, I can’t say that I was skeptical of these people right from the start. What they did seemed exciting and novel. It takes a while for us to realize exactly what they’ve done that’s so terrible, or what the threats are that’s posed by them. Media certainly was complicit in concocting a very, very glossy perception of this cohort.
Mm-hmm. In terms of how exciting they were, how interesting, how quirky, how strange, aren’t they refreshing? You’re not your father’s old logo.
That, and also the products that they were creating …
… defied a lot of our templates for thinking about some of these problems. If you’re talking about monopoly, well, they give away their products for free. They defy a lot of the problems that we associate with monopoly, which are all about jacking up prices, or … Media was in no position to decry them, because they’d made a devil’s bargain with them many years earlier.
What’s interesting to me about the backlash is how much of it seems based on pent-up emotions. There’s this psychodrama that journalism has had where it’s known a lot of what’s wrong. I’m talking the New York Times, where it was like, every day the New York Times was hammering these companies. It was this pent-up rage that they were suddenly expressing that they hadn’t been allowed to talk about or feel or express for many years. It came out in this everyday hammering.
What tipped it, from your perspective? Because it was going along like, “Look at these cool covers of Fortune, aren’t these interesting?”
Rulers of the world, that kind of stuff, it shifted really quickly.
Well, clearly, the proximate trigger was the election of Donald Trump.
On the surface, the reasons for the backlash were obvious, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Russian interference more generally. But, I think it was also the sense that … and it’s not even expressed that much, because it sounds elitist, and as you know from my book, I’m not afraid to sound elitist.
No, go right ahead, Frank. Really, I am too.
It’s that Facebook produced this garbage ecosystem for news and information. If you give citizens garbage information, they’re going to make garbage decisions.
This is the intangible thing I lay blame at Facebook on, that I can’t prove explicitly. But when so many people are influenced by what they read on Facebook, they deserve blame for creating the environment that created Donald Trump, because it was not … It’s not an environment of reliable information.
It was an environment filled with filter bubbles that weakened our intellectual defenses. It made us really vulnerable to demagoguery.
Right, and Twitter?
And Twitter, yeah.
Same thing, just the handmaiden to Facebook kind of thing.
Yeah, I’m a little bit less hard on Twitter, just because its market share is smaller.
Oh, its influence is massive.
Its influence is clearly massive, yeah. Its influence is on elites as much as …
Right, as anyone else. But look, Donald Trump has used the platform beautifully.
Oh, no, it’s not a virtuous environment.
권리. When you’re talking about this, when we don’t have these … What are your solutions going forward? Because I think the backlash is really continuing. It hasn’t stopped.
I think that we see two types of solutions coming down the pike.
Actually, can I ask you one more thing?
It’s also not all of tech. Can you really blame certain companies for this, others that are not necessarily …
No. I tried to focus mostly on the GAFA companies — Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple — because they have the size and I think that they’re crowding out a lot of innovation in the rest of tech.
Yes, I do too.
It’s a hard position to take where I am … I do have certain Luddite tendencies, but I also think that tech is an incredible thing, that Google is one of the great achievements of human engineering. The iPhone is a pretty spectacular incarnation of human creativity.
Yes, it changed everything.
Yes. There are two things that are coming down the pike. One is the possibility of regulation. We’ve seen it already happening.
Sex trafficking is the first place …
Yes. Around Section 230.
Yeah, and then we say, “Okay, you need to take responsibility for foreign political influence on your sites.” Everybody applauds these things, because who could possibly object?
Then there’s governmental pressure to regulate other speech, to curb bullying, to curb bots, and it just doesn’t stop, potentially. I think that there’s a real danger. You look at China, that if we regulate these platforms in the wrong sort of way…
I’m sympathetic to their arguments that regulation could be a way for them to squash competitors. We saw this with AT&T. AT&T cut a deal with the government where they said, “All right, the function we perform is a utility function. You’re going to keep our monopoly, and we’re going to do whatever the hell you say.” That puts us down the road to China. That’s why I … you know, I’m not anti-regulation. I think that we need to have 약간 form of data protection. Maybe there are other, softer steps that we could take that …
Think about those. What would those be? An internet bill of rights, a what?
Yeah, so I think that I’m interested in some of the fiduciary models that are being kicked around.
Explain that for people.
When you’re dealing with, when you’re trafficking in data, when you’re trafficking in news and information, all these public goods, historically, the government says, “Okay, you can traffic in those public goods, but it also comes with responsibilities.” With the environment, there are clear rules that we put on that say, “You can’t degrade this public thing in certain ways.”
If you’re a cigarette manufacturer or a chemical manufacturer.
Yeah, if you’re a factory… We did the same thing with the telecom companies as well. With telecom companies, with the news networks, where they had fairness doctrines.
We also limited the ability to own too much, yeah.
To own too much. 권리.
I think that there are important analogs that we can consider there.
That we consider, do you think that’s going to happen?
I do. I think that, I do. I think that there are changes within the Democratic party right now that make that much more likely to happen.
I just talked to, I just did an interview with Mark Warner that hasn’t been published yet.
Yeah, we did have him at Code this year.
He published this white paper that I think is really sweeping in its criticisms of big tech.
Oh, yeah. Yes.
It doesn’t have the silver bullet solution. It’s kind of an all …
No, he’s quite into, I think he’s focused a lot on cybersecurity and things like that, but yes, 100 percent.
But he’s now talking about privacy and he’s talking a lot about news.
Mm-hmm. Yeah, because what was really interesting, because someone from Facebook the other day was saying, “Well, they’re only mad at us because we stopped pushing politicians in the press on Facebook and are focused on family and community and stuff like that.” I go, “I don’t think that’s … I think that’s … Yeah, they’re really mad about that.” I don’t think that’s what they’re really mad about. I think they’re mad about a range of other things.
You’re right. The Democratic party, which was the friend to tech, is now going to turn on it.
You interviewed Cory Booker, right? That was the famous interview where he …
Yes, and we did Mark.
So, when Booker talked about regulation in your interview, I think … I had lunch with somebody from Google soon after, and they said, “Well, that’s the marker that’s been laid down,” that he is kind of the most centrist politician …
That he’s somebody who we thought was an ally.
And he’s somebody who now is saying that he’s considering taking pretty radical action against us. Well then, everybody else in the Democratic party is gonna be further to the left than him.
Yeah, absolutely. What solutions … When you think about their influence now, obviously everyone can be stopped on some level. Every big company has been brought down ultimately over time, whether it’s U.S. Steel or whatever. These things could have these things, but they do incredible damage along the way. Do you consider tech damaging now?
Yeah, I do. I do. I think that the last election is probably as good evidence as we could look at the ways in which it’s been …
It’s damaging. And I think that the questions … because tech It is. everything. It’s almost silly at a certain level to talk about tech anymore, because tech is everything.
It’s the oxygen.
Yes. It is the oxygen. When we talk about Amazon, we’re talking about the future of the economy, we’re talking about the future of jobs. When we talk about Facebook and Google, we’re talking about companies that have just, that are so much more than the front-facing obvious part of their platforms. And with Alexa and Google Home, they’re implanting themselves ever deeper into our lives.
And I think anybody who has … people always ask, “Can you imagine life without Google?” And I’m 44 years old. So, of course I 양철통 imagine life without Google. And you can see the ways in which the rise of tech has transformed us as individuals.
Yeah, absolutely. I found my maps the other day. I threw them out. I was like, “Oh, look. I used to use these.”
Because they’re well worn.
But good riddance to your maps. I’m totally happy to be done with maps.
But I’m pissed and I’m unhappy with myself and with the platforms that it makes it harder and harder for me to have a conversation with people I love where I’m fully present.
Engaged. 권리. 권리. Absolutely. And one of the things that’s interesting is if you think about a lot, it ranges from everything. Shopping, mapping, everything you do. So, where do you imagine it’s going now? You wrote about this first more than a year ago and then … Where do you imagine, what do you imagine happening next?
I think that there’s going … You have these debates happening within the Democratic party that seem kind of esoteric, like “what’s the difference between a socialist and a liberal now?” It’s pretty vacuous. I think socialism just means excitement for new ideas. I don’t think it necessarily means nationalizing. But I do think that there are these … I’m saying there’s two different approaches. One is that it takes us kind of away from capitalism, that maybe treats these companies more and more like utilities and that there’s even some … I can imagine us even contemplating nationalizing Google, which I don’t think would be a good idea.
But then there’s this other tradition, which is the anti-monopoly tradition. At our dinner party, we talked about Elizabeth Warren and I said I liked Elizabeth Warren. I think I got death stares from all the establishment figures at the party.
Yeah, they didn’t like it.
They didn’t like it.
I can tell you, tech doesn’t like her either.
But she is thinking about the future of capitalism in a way that I think tech should like. Because … follow …
OK. I’m gonna follow you, because she literally was the most hated speaker we ever had at our conference.
Well, of course, because …
And I thought it was ridiculous. I thought she was incredibly articulate and intelligent about these issues.
Because what she’s talking about is recreating a competitive economy where, if you define concentration as the biggest problem … What’s so bad about Facebook? Well, Facebook wouldn’t be bad if it wasn’t so dominant. So, if you had a smaller Facebook, that’s something I think we could all live with.
I think they think of themselves as smaller. You know that, these people.
The Googles. They think of themselves as scrappy. I’m like, you guys just got in a private plane and flew to Kilimanjaro to hike. You’re not scrappy.
권리. You have two billion global users.
Nice chef. 내가 무슨 뜻인지 알지? But it’s astonishing when you talk to them, because they feel like, “I’m just a regular person.” I’m like, “No you’re not. What are you talking about?”
Yes. This is also part of the problem, which is that, and this is separate from the solutions, but when you accumulate great power, you also accumulate great responsibilities.
Right, I say that all the time.
When I was listening to Zuckerberg, when I listened to him on your podcast, it seemed like he was so uncomfortable with his …
He wants to push it away.
… with the idea that he would have which sort of responsibility.
Well, he’s also uncomfortable with the power, but he’s not giving it up. It’s really fascinating. He’s uncomfortable, he wants to push away the power. “It’s the community.” I’m like, “But you control it.” “But it’s the community.” I’m like, “Well, why do you have all the stock that controls the entire board? Every decision is yours.”
Where we’re headed is we’re gonna have a conversation about power.
This is the conversation we should be having. They have too much power and we need to … Our politics and our policy should be shaped around curbing …
But do we have the right policy in place?
Because we’re living in an AT&T-Microsoft world, we can grab them for a monopoly. They’re not clearly, like going back to your dad, the whole concept, and this has been written about quite a lot recently, the whole concept of what antitrust is has to change drastically.
Yes. Or it has to just revert back to what it was before the 1960s, when Robert Bork bastardized it. Instead of just focusing … The standard right now is consumer welfare, which means that if they don’t jack up prices, if they don’t do anything to actually …
And they deliver beautifully.
Yes. Then there’s nothing we can do about these companies. And that was my frustration when I went and talked to the Justice Department about Amazon. It’s like, “Well, they’re actually hurting consumers over the long run by hurting producers. And they’re behaving in a bullying sort of way.” Maybe not to consumers, but to producers. Why in god’s name can’t you see the harm? And they just couldn’t see it because it was so outside of the current paradigm under which they’re operating. I don’t think it’s that hard to change the paradigm here. It just takes some leadership.
Do you think that’s gonna happen?
I do. I think that we’re moving in that direction. I think it’s interesting when you look at what the Europeans have done.
So, let’s set aside that …
And by the way, Margrethe Vestager is in town this week.
Yes. So, you set aside the GDPR and you look at what she’s done.
With Amazon just recently.
Yes. And with Google.
And Facebook. All of them.
권리. You stare at it really hard. You can start to see the ways in which …
This is the EU commissioner, just for people who don’t know.
Start to see the ways in which she’s thinking about, “How do I lessen their power? How do I take their advertising business and open it up to third parties?” Which is in a way a form of breaking up the company. It’s not smashing it into a million bits and pieces, but it’s taking critical parts of the company and finding ways to make it more competitive, more welcoming to an ecosystem that supports …
Startups and it’s not just dominated by the platform itself. You look at Amazon. I think there’s this interesting principle that Amazon operates like this bazaar, it’s this marketplace, yet it’s also a competitor in the marketplace. And I think we need to find ways to separate those two functions, to say, “If you’re gonna own the bazaar, you can’t also actively participate in it.” It’s the Google-Yelp case.
Right, right. Exactly. Which has gone on and on and on. What’s interesting is the Republicans are attacking tech on all the wrong reasons than they used to, like bias. That’s not … I’m always like, “No, over here.”
”The crime is over here.”
But there is this core nugget of insight …
That something’s wrong.
That something’s wrong, that these algorithms are a black box, so that if you’re gonna say that you’re not biased, why should I believe you?
Yes, that is true.
And you’re manipulating things in all sorts of invisible sorts of ways. So, how do I know you’re not manipulating them against me? So, they’re just superimposing …
I get that. I just am sitting there like, “No, no. That’s not what they’re doing! They’re over here doing 정말 bad things to you that you don’t even see.” But I think it’s the obsession with Trump on bias and things like that.
Well, that’s just like the conventional…
When he’s their best friend. I’m like, “Hey, attack them all you want, but send them a giant embossed thank you note for what they did for you,” which is really interesting on so many levels.
Yes. Well, he changed tax policy.
Yes. Well, they like that. They like the repatriated money and everything else.
The bouquet of flowers. This isn’t gonna happen quickly. I think it’s gonna happen, but it’s not gonna happen quickly. With the Zuckerberg hearings, everybody walked away with this great sense of disappointment, like, “Why didn’t the world change the next day?” Because that’s just not what happens in our political system.
Especially when it’s dysfunctional and broken. It takes time for things to turn and to change. And the backlash against these companies has come really quickly. I think much more quickly than I had expected it would. And so that needs to simmer for a little bit. And you need political leaders to emerge to kind of take those sentiments and to corral them towards policy ends that actually might do something.
So, what do you imagine that being?
I don’t think that this is gonna be … I don’t think tech is gonna be a big campaign issue in 2020. I think monopoly is going to become a big issue in 2020 because we have concentration in all these industries and it’s having an effect on the labor market. It has an effect on healthcare. It’s kind of crazy, if you have a kid who has a nut allergy that there’s only one maker … EpiPen’s had this unchallenged monopoly and we’ve just fallen asleep. So, that becomes …
All over the place.
Yes. That just becomes an issue, becomes a new framework. But I think that Democratic elites are starting to kind of universally almost think about the perils of big tech. So, once they come into power on this issue of monopoly, they then redirect it towards these companies. And you look at the people who would populate the FTC or the other regulatory agencies that would deal with big tech, they’re thinking about this stuff now.
Finally. They didn’t before, I’ll tell you that.
Even the most conventional center-left neoliberal, whatever you want to call them, Democratic policy wonks I think have arrived at the place where they can see that there’s something, something big needs to be done against these companies.
You think Trump will move against them in any way? Besides his crazy tweets?
I wouldn’t be … I got invited to speak at the Justice Department by Makan Delrahim.
Yeah, I just had him on the podcast. He’s hugely intelligent.
He’s a fascinating guy. He endorsed my book to his division. And it’s this strange thing, walking into the Jeff Sessions Justice Department and I’m kind of delivering my populist indictment of these companies and they’re nodding their heads and you think, “Well, this could go really badly in dangerous directions,” but so much of our world is about pressure. So, what was with Microsoft, Microsoft wasn’t broken into a million pieces, but it felt pressure. And that pressure can strain them.
So when it came to using their power in a bullying sort of way, they thought two and three times about it, to the detriment of the company. But also to the good of the internet. I think Google would have been strangled by Microsoft. I don’t know if you agree with that …
Yes. Yeah, I do. Well, maybe not. Time comes for people, but in this case, they do have these advantages that they don’t even realize they have. They do realize they have them. I don’t know. Everyone says [today’s tech giants are] more reflective. I know it sounds crazy, but what just happened with Instagram and Facebook tells me no, that they have learned … If that happened there, it’s a big sign that they’re becoming more inflexible.
That’s actually part of the problem, which is that in the end you can apply pressure on them, but you can’t count on them to regulate themselves.
And there was a moment … it took me so long to quit Facebook. It’s not even that I liked using it that much, but I wrote a book, I knew everything that was wrong with Facebook, but I just kept it. And then there was that … there was kind of this spurt of things that Zuckerberg did around the hearings, and just listening to him talk after everything, I thought, “You’re still being so evasive. You’re still dissembling about the core things that your business does. Everything I think that you’re doing wrong, you’re probably doing 100 times worse than I know, and I’m just done with you.”
You broke up with him.
I broke up with him, yeah.
You’re still on Twitter, yeah?
Why? I like Twitter. It’s just a mess.
Yes. It’s fun. I can’t actually … I think that there are bad, obviously bad things that come of Twitter, but there’s also a lot of good that comes of Twitter.
Funny names and stuff like that.
But it’s also, as a person who is trying to … you made fun of me for coming in with my paper edition of the New York Times.
Yes, I did.
But I also like Twitter. I think that they’re both pretty good technologies for delivering information.
I agree. I just haven’t picked up a paper newspaper in 100 years.
In my life, I kind of need them to complement one another, because I get lost on Twitter all the time.
Well, that’s good. So, finishing up, what’s your next book, then? What are you gonna focus on?
I’m focusing on work.
Future of work. That’s my big thing. I talk about that a lot. Especially, I’m focusing on the tech company’s responsibility in it, but it’s critical, how we’re gonna work. It’s all affected by tech, AI, automation, robotics.
Totally. I’m not doing this about tech, per se.
권리. [whispers] It’s about tech.
I know it is about tech. But tech is everything.
No, I’m trying to do it about kind of asking the question, “Why is it that we work?”
Work is a source of meaning. It’s something that’s …
But it’s something that we … We work all the time and yet we’re very unreflective about why we do it. So, as a consequence, both as individuals and collectively, we degrade the possibility of gaining meaning from work. And if we focused on that, I think that we could make work a lot better for us as both the choices that we make individually but also …
That’s a great topic. By the way, you’re only gonna work three days a week going forward, just so you know. Your kids are definitely not working more than three.
I’m kind of psyched about that.
Really? You’ll be dead by that time.
So, you’re gonna work 365 …
I thought tech was gonna deliver me immortality.
No, it’s not gonna do that for you. Maybe your kids, but not you. Never for you.
I thought the singularity was happening in my lifetime.
No, it’s not. Let’s not even get into that. Frank, it was great talking to you. Thanks for coming on the show.