Options Techtonic with Mark Hurst: Playlist from September 24, 2018 Options

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Conversations with creators and thinkers who are charting the way forward in a tech-saturated society. Tech, community, video games, and whatever else is next.

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Options September 24, 2018: M.A. Taylor, director, "The Creepy Line" - and Dr. Robert Epstein

Listen to this show: Pop-up listen Pop‑up player!

This week: M.A. Taylor, director of the new documentary "The Creepy Line," with (past Techtonic guest) Dr. Robert Epstein, also featured in the film

Pointers to M.A. Taylor and Dr. Epstein:

The Creepy Line website, which includes the trailer

Taming Big Tech: The Case for Monitoring, by Dr. Robert Epstein (also linked on the playlist page full o' links from July 30, when he was on the show)

Washington Post op-ed from 2013 about Google and elections by Dr. Robert Epstein, referenced in our interview this evening

The Verge's negative review of The Creepy Line (Sept 19), which I disagree with - I think the reviewer covered politics, rather than technology, and so missed the larger point of the documentary. But worth seeing a counterpoint to my positive review.

PJMedia's positive review of The Creepy Line (Sept 23): "During the interview, Epstein lamented Trump's win and his presidency, but he insisted that Google's power is a much more important and terrifying issue."

The Real Google Censorship Scandal, by Kara Swisher (NYT op-ed, Sept 13): "Conservatives have been spreading the canard that social media companies oppress their views — a drum Mr. Trump has himself been banging on lately. ... I am astonished by the focus on this ridiculous scandal when a much more important issue concerning Google and censorship has been largely ignored by the public and by Washington. I’m talking about the fact that Google is considering re-entering the Chinese market after leaving it with a lot of righteous indignation less than a decade ago."

Recent Tech News

John Oliver on Facebook (Sept 23, Last Week Tonight): (NSFW language - don't turn up loud in the middle of the office, or around kids)

Alexa, Blow My Mind by Scott Galloway (Sept 21) - good review of recent launches by Apple and Amazon. On iOS vs. Android: "The Mecca of innovation, Apple’s Special Events, [is] where they announce the accessories of the global wealthy. If you think you’re buying into a differentiated ecosystem or technology, think again — the Galaxy and Android are pretty close. You’re buying into a cohort, the global affluent, and the entry fee is the monthly disposable income of a household in Hungary. An Android phone can be had for free, with a contract, but will molest you for data, pulling 10x more data points than iOS." As for Amazon, "Amazon announced a plethora of items that explain one freakishly hard to believe piece of data: Amazon’s Alexa group has had more open job positions than all of Google. Put another way, the brightest young minds in the world aren’t working at Instagram, the NSA, NASA, or Bottega Veneta, but at Alexa."

The White House is considering an antitrust investigation into 'online platform bias' at Google and Facebook (Business Insider, Sept 22): "The president and other conservatives have repeatedly complained that they believe Facebook and Google (owned by corporate parent Alphabet) bias the way they show news to users by dampening down conservative voices or outlets."

Google CEO Warns Staff: Stay Nonpartisan (WSJ, Sept 21): "Recent disclosures have fueled concerns Google’s search results favor liberal views over conservative ones.... An email chain from January 2017, days after the Trump administration instituted a controversial travel ban, showed Google employees discussing how they might be able to tweak the company’s search functions to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies, according to internal company emails. 'Recent news stories reference an internal email to suggest that we would compromise the integrity of our search results for a political end,' Mr. Pichai said to employees. 'This is absolutely false.'"

Rescripting Search To Respect The Right To Truth, from Georgetown Law Technology Review (2018). As danah boyd puts it, "Deirdre Mulligan & Daniel Griffin make the brilliant case for how the Google cannot hold onto its obsession with neutrality given how people see search and how search is being manipulated."

• And about Kara Swisher's op-ed mentioning Google and China: Google Suppresses Memo Revealing Plans To Closely Track Search Users In China (The Intercept, Sept 21): "The Intercept has learned [Google's] plan to launch a censored search engine in China... The memo, authored by a Google engineer who was asked to work on the project, disclosed that the search system, codenamed Dragonfly, would require users to log in to perform searches, track their location — and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner who would have 'unilateral access' to the data.... According to three sources familiar with the incident, Google leadership discovered the memo and were furious that secret details about the China censorship were being passed between employees who were not supposed to have any knowledge about it."

...and from the Uncanny Valley:

Spotify Teams Up With Ancestry to Create DNA-Curated Playlists (Complex.com, Sept 23)

United Nations Accidentally Exposed Passwords And Sensitive Information To The Whole Internet (The Intercept, Sept 24): "The United Nations accidentally published passwords, internal documents, and technical details about websites when it misconfigured popular project management service Trello, issue tracking app Jira, and office suite Google Docs."

Delta to start scanning faces at airport check-in (TechCrunch, Sept 20): "Delta will later this year roll out facial recognition at its terminal at Atlanta International Airport for anyone traveling on an international flight. The airline said the biometric facial scanning is optional — a move that will shave off a few minutes off each flight — but will help border and pre-flight security authorities before jetting out of the US. It’s the latest roll-out of facial recognition trials at Detroit Metropolitan and New York John F. Kennedy airports."

- - -

PODCAST: Subscribe to the Techtonic podcast

Artist Track Album Comments Images Approx. start time
  M.A. Taylor, director of the new documentary "Creepy Line," and Dr. Robert Epstein (featured in the film) talk about manipulations worldwide that Google and Facebook have the ability to carry out.
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Options Machinarium Soundtrack   
  Mark's intro      
  Interview with M.A. Taylor and Dr. Robert Epstein      
0:21:30 (Pop‑up)
  Uncanny Valley      
0:50:15 (Pop‑up)
  Your calls and comments 201-209-9368      
0:47:20 (Pop‑up)
Youngsta  Wes Kaap (2-minute shower version)   Options   from South Africa's Two Minute Shower Songs    0:55:58 (Pop‑up)

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Listener comments!

Avatar 6:01pm Linda Lee:

Mark Hurst! good evening!
Avatar 🤖 6:01pm Bas NL:

Hi Mark!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:01pm ultradamno:

Hello Mark! Techtopolitans!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:01pm listener james from westwood:

How do, Mark and all!!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:02pm listener james from westwood:

Kara Swisher has been killing it with those NYT op/ed pieces, as one might expect.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:03pm chris:

why, yes, i will have a tech-n-tonic, please. hi, everyone.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:04pm listener james from westwood:

Also, per your excerpt from Wake and Bake, we may need a New York-y district name for the chunk of Chelsea Google now owns. Searchpoint? Billionsburg?
Avatar 6:06pm Linda Lee:

as long as Facebook exists, there's reason for negative coverage.
  6:07pm melinda:

Hi all
Avatar 6:07pm TDK60:

Hi Mark. Darn I gotta leave soon...
Avatar 6:09pm Jeff Moore:

Tee hee.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:09pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Whut?...I had a problem w/ fb & Google - & I got their Customer Service persons directly immediately & they solved my problem sensitively & intelligently w/ persona; attention...right.
Avatar 6:09pm Linda Lee:

that's it. i'm calling it Shitface.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:09pm Michael 98145:

don't forget to flush
Avatar 6:10pm Linda Lee:

bring your plunger!
  6:11pm melinda:

@LL I used to call it Shitbook
Avatar 6:11pm Linda Lee:

might as well continue :-D
Avatar 6:12pm Linda Lee:

one more time: if the product is free, you're the product.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:13pm northguineahills:

@LL: But sometimes I like to get shitfaced!
Avatar 6:14pm Linda Lee:

me too .. after using Shitface! :-D
  6:15pm melinda:

I read that Apple just killed off several phone models, including ones with headphone jacks. Sigh.
Avatar 6:15pm Linda Lee:

'course if you get online with an apple product you pay *and* you're the product. it's marvelous.
Avatar 6:17pm geezerette:

Everything today is politics. We're in one of those moments.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:17pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

...& you can't even change the battery...fine till it was SteveJobs' own liver - truth...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:18pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Orwell said no not being Political, yeah.
Avatar 6:18pm Linda Lee:

100% right, Mark. social media has no politics. it's more like cancer.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:19pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

...everything going Bluetooth - broadcast yer headphone choices - whynot...
Avatar 6:19pm geezerette:

Political parties are nearly beside the point; politics are larger than that now.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:20pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Orwell a real Prophet of how Language, Thought, & Politics intersect...Marshall McLuhan told us we were in a new world as well as far as Form & Content would relate...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:20pm mrdonutsu:

No only do I not think most people can separate out ideology from any critical analysis of this, I don't think they even want to.
Avatar 6:20pm Linda Lee:

it's no secret to many that facebook suppresses content & thereby depresses discourse.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:21pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

I say - KILL THUH BASTURDS! You know you hat them!...Join me NOW!...
Oh sorry - force of habit...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:22pm mrdonutsu:

This is all going to lead us to these companies being nationalized and government mandated and controlled. It is not going to cause them to go away in any fashion.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:22pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Well - the Financial Crisis destabilized the Media & Democracy - & the Right Wing (POLITICS) wants to Deregulate everything...News & Entertainment became one - & a whole generation expects it...
  6:23pm Epz:

I hope no liberals or SJWs were triggered by the fact that Mark spoke about conservative viewpoints being surpressed! #runtoyoursafespace
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:23pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

...whoever the highest bidder is...for everything...
Avatar 6:24pm geezerette:

Mark, this program is so valuable.
Avatar 6:25pm Linda Lee:

social media is totally co-opted by government intelligence in any case. it's basically already the same entity, just as corporate wealth & corporate interests are generally the same entity as our governance. they aren't two different things any more. it's one thing.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:25pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

News does not get Sponsors (money) from providing real information now - it gets it for entertaining.../ validating - what have you...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:25pm chris:

had to look up with SJW means. lol! i'm a SJW. cool!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

As Chomsky says - The Business Party - w/ two branches...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm chris:

*what, not with
Avatar 6:26pm Linda Lee:

media deregulation went into hyperdrive under Clinton. not 'right wing' according to the public imagination. but honestly ..
Avatar 6:27pm Linda Lee:

our concepts of left/right are becoming ridiculous.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:27pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Yes - the New Democrats...NeoLiberals. A Clinton.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:28pm Mark Hurst:

Hi everyone, thanks for tuning in & commenting this evening

@geezerette, thanks - and I agree, ultimately it's about politics - in that it's about the sharing (or not) of power. Right now there's an imbalance in favor of opaque tech cos, hence this interview.

Hi again, @Epz - all voices welcome here, even if they disagree, as long as they're respectful.
Avatar 6:28pm Linda Lee:

center-right GOP Lite. if that.
  6:28pm Tom P:

Wow, all these disclaimers about the source of the clip you are airing. Sounds like you are really afraid of a liberal backlash. That really says something.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:29pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Can we talk about how fair & safe Elections are imperiled by Tech?
Avatar 6:30pm Linda Lee:

divorce your emotions from political discussion & any discussion at all is possible. just don't get all het up about it. that enables your manipulation.
Avatar 6:30pm Linda Lee:

hello HAPA!
Avatar 6:31pm glenn:

meh. i despise the right wing, and i make no bones about it.
Avatar 6:31pm Linda Lee:

sorry, that was HAVA. the Hinder American Voting Act. not that there's any actual choice presented, ultimately.
Avatar 6:33pm Linda Lee:

once an individual is in the position to win your vote, they're beyond helping you. really.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:33pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

The Electoral Process was sold out by Citizen's United. Done deal. Money should have nothing to do w/ Democratic Elections - but is has more & more & more & more.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:34pm Mark Hurst:

@Tom, not how I see it - instead for this show, I think it's important to distinguish between politics (of any stripe) and the underlying relevance to tech. I made a similar comment here last week in the other direction: the story is relevant because of the *precedent* that's being set, not because of the specific group being affected.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:34pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Congressional Reps are telemarketers: they have to spend most of their time fundraising just to be there.
Avatar 6:34pm Linda Lee:

darling we're only looking at the logical conclusions of the exclusion of the non-moneyed from the political process. & that's built in.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:35pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

- & these Tech Giants are Monopolies.
Avatar 6:36pm Linda Lee:

100% right Mark. & we're all being jerked around so severely & purposefully by our politically-driven media, we can barely breathe without considering it a sign of political affiliation..
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:36pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

After the Financial Crisis - every Media Source knows in great detail who precisely butters which side of their bread - & what that Source wants promoted.
  6:37pm SerpentStrike:

Nice show, Mark! #Google manipulation. Best DJ ever. Huge fan.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm Mark Hurst:

@Linda, thanks - my thoughts exactly. The left/right thing is so artificial, like "you must choose! Coke or Pepsi"... when there's an overriding threat to ALL of us from Big Tech. The question should be, do we (of all parties) want a democracy that works, at all?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm Mark Hurst:

@SerpentStrike thanks!
  6:38pm Tom P:

@Mark H - I completely agree. This subject is totally relevant no matter what political stripe you wear (or not). My point is he spent more than five minutes explaining why he is using a "right wing" source, I assume to mollify the left.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:38pm Ken From Hyde Park:

All I wanted was a Pepsi, and Mark wouldn't give it to me!
  6:38pm SerpentStrike:

Heh Heh
Avatar 6:39pm Linda Lee:

a bit late for that one, Mark! in 'save our democracy' discussions i always feel like Gandhi when asked his opinion about western civilization: 'i think it would be a good idea'.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:40pm Mark Hurst:

@Tom thanks. Just trying to be clear to set up a good discussion, is all. Anyway hope you enjoy the interview & the documentary

@Linda - if I really thought it was too late, I wouldn't be hosting this show! Definitely still have hope.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:40pm Mark Hurst:

@Ken, I *can* offer you a Mr. Pibb
Avatar 6:41pm Jack:

Mark, your show is great! Re: Alternatives to Google services: what's a decent replacement for Google Earth? Also, Google Translate? I have found other mapping software/web services, but nothing as good as Google Earth, or Translate. Any suggestions?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:41pm Tome:

still like my ,, radio ... for listening only
Avatar 6:42pm Linda Lee:

ah, ok. thought you were referring to 'saving' our democracy, rather than creating one.
Avatar 6:42pm geezerette:

LL, precisely, but we need to stay awake and try to roll that boulder uphill.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm Mark Hurst:

@Jack - thanks & good question. Those are tough. OpenStreetMap is... ok.... for maps, though doesn't have nearly the feature list of GMaps. Translate I'm sorry to say I don't know (yet) of any alternative. Maybe best bet is to use a non-Chrome browser to access it, over a VPN, and then dump cookies afterward.
Avatar 6:43pm Linda Lee:

i think it would be nice to know what the boulder is & why we're rolling it! :-)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:46pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

We're in for Changes. It's gettin' real. Fast.
Avatar 6:46pm Linda Lee:

also think it would be nice to have the terms 'left' & "right" properly defined, rather than using the Right's definitions. the party wins who defines the terms of the argument.
Avatar 6:46pm WaveyDavey:

I love your show Mark. As of last Tuesday my facebook account is officially deleted (whatever that means in facebook terms). I've passed the 28 day 'cooling off period'. FREEDOM!
Avatar 6:47pm Linda Lee:

how come the cooling off period is the same as one menstrual cycle?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:47pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

...or Lunar...
Avatar 6:47pm Jack:

Thanks for your answer Mark. I would never use Chrome, and cookies are just not allowed on my computer.
Avatar 6:48pm geezerette:

Too complex for comments but the current boulder is fundamentally climate degradation.
Avatar 6:48pm Linda Lee:

same thing Rev :-D
  6:48pm Roland from Australia:

Fantastic conversation and interview. Thank you Mark
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:49pm Michael 98145:

for translators, you could pick your poison : www.bing.com... the MS offering
Avatar 6:49pm Linda Lee:

ah .. well. in that case, be nice if we weren't trying to roll it while also sitting on it. that's hard.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:50pm northguineahills:

ack, I couldn't focused on the the interviews, trying to finish work madly *wipes brow*
  6:50pm seth from muddy creek:

How is this issue different than ethics and legalities in newspaper editorializing?
Avatar 6:51pm Jack:

@Michael98145 - thanks! I'll check it out. I do use Bing maps; they're pretty good. Hmm..Google vs Micro$oft..that's a tough one.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:52pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Facial Recognition was a turning point in *my* head about what was going on...
Avatar 6:52pm Linda Lee:

& then again, who exactly is 'we'? that's a big one. are 'we' the corporations fouling human life because there is no humam consideration involved? are 'we' the legislative bodies now serving corporate interests in direct opposition to the people? there's another term that needs defining..
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:52pm northguineahills:

@LL: I told my brothers that there are only a handful of American politicians that can actually be considered left of center (ie:Sanders), and they were flabbergasted, especially when I told them Hillary is pretty far right (my bros. are socially liberal conservatives)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:53pm chris:

different in at least orders of magnitude, seth. millions vs. billions.
Avatar 6:54pm Linda Lee:

then you always have to define 'left' & 'right' again. is 'left' in relation to domestic policy while also serving the military-industrial complex as Sanders does? what the heck is 'left' in this case?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:54pm Folsom:

Just get new eyes like minority report
Avatar 6:55pm Linda Lee:

that ol' national debt clock.. still tickin away after all these years.
Avatar 6:56pm Linda Lee:

at this point i think 'left' is mainly a creation of the Right to provide othering opportunities for the faithful.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm Revolution Rabbit Nov63:

Minority Report became reality years ago...that was fast!...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm Michael 98145:

PK Dick was a prophet
  6:57pm seth from muddy creek:

Can anything ever be unbiased?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm northguineahills:

I believe in the classic definition of the political left and right, not the the far right derp squad's definition.
Avatar 6:58pm Linda Lee:

Burroughs & the concept of the reality studio.. visionary.
Avatar 🤖 6:59pm Bas NL:

Thanks Mark!
Avatar 6:59pm Linda Lee:

personal, direct experience as experienced is unbiased.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:59pm chris:

thanks, Mark and folks.
Avatar 6:59pm Linda Lee:

thanks for TechTonic, Mark!
  7:00pm seth from muddy creek:

Great show - again
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm Michael 98145:

thanks again, Mark H
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:01pm Mark Hurst:

Thanks, everyone! Appreciate your comments & your listening. Have a good week.
Avatar 7:02pm geezerette:

Edward Bernays, ( not a sauce).
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