Skip to main content

tv   Media Technology 20th Century Politics  CSPAN  May 26, 2020 9:34pm-11:09pm EDT

9:34 pm
good morning and welcome to the media and technology and state panel. this is part of a larger today's session called remaking american political history, we are all talking about history and how it's going to be taught
9:35 pm
and talked about and consumed over the years. this conference is sponsored by the department of history at purdue university, is organized by one of our panelists. it is also by nikki. we are thankful to all of them to get into this and discuss how history is going to be taught in the future. my name is connie doebele. we are fairly new entity the, here at purdue, our goal is to help professors from across the country used the c-span archives, which is over 250,000 hours of american political history in their classrooms and in the research. we do some other things but that's what we are concentrating on at this conference. i tweet at c.j. doubly we we hope that you will follow us.
9:36 pm
on twitter. we would be interested in following you as we reach out to, specifically history professors across the country who are interested in using the c-span archives in their classrooms and research. here is what we are going to do, we have three excellent panelists who have different areas of interest under this topic. they are going to speak for five to seven minutes and then we are going to open it up and take a lot of q and a. we are going to start with margaret pugh o'mara, i hate to read introductions. so there is her introduction, you can read it. i do not need to read it for you. i will do what i am trained to do, ask you the questions that are not on their. margaret, where did you grow up? >> >> i grew up in little rock arkansas. >> how did you make the move? where did you go to school? >> northwestern.
9:37 pm
i wanted to go to a big city. i wanted to be somewhere other than the south, and i got in. >> how did you choose history? >> one of the reasons i chose history is my high school is a little rock central high school. i was in my senior year, the 30th anniversary of the fall of 1987 of the crisis at central high. and it was a real, by the time i was in high school it was a time that we were all being made very aware of that history, at least certainly in the halls of the high school we are reckoning with that history. it may become a majority, minority diverse high school. understanding my own personal connection to someplace that had such a significant role in
9:38 pm
american civil rights stories one of the reasons i did this. >> last bio question. what teacher, no matter it was grade school, high school or university level, made the most difference in your career path? >> my graduate adviser, that late michael cats university of pennsylvania. that's >> because we are the c-span archives, i was able to, find that all three of our panelists have appeared on c-span. here is margaret pugh o'mara talking about the vietnam war and the protests. this is part of a program that c-span history does called lectures in history. they go across the country and look for professors teaching certain historical issues in their classrooms and they actually bring the cameras into the classrooms. >> 1960s is a time when the
9:39 pm
liberal left comes together, you have strong leftist movements. both within and outside formal politics, a push towards more leftist solutions. but it is also the moment when the modern right is coming together. there are also young people on college campuses, young people in high schools, who have very different ideas about what america is and should be. >> this margaret pugh o'mara has a book called the code, this silicon valley and the remaking of america. it seems crazy that that is history now. i turn it to you. >> thank you so much, thank you for organizing this. it is great to be on this panel with all of you and to be speaking to the people in the room and who will be watching this on c-span. i set to writing my most recent
9:40 pm
book, the code, and approached it, when i started about five years ago, thinking about it as a political history of silicon valley. it morphed into something much broader. but that political spine is still there. in the course of writing about the evolution of the high technology, computer in hardware and software companies on the west coast, from the 1940s to the president, particularly when you get to the last 25 years, it also becomes a story about media. i'm intensely interested in, as scholars say, putting the state back into the story of silicon valley. a place which has for quite awhile portrayed itself to the techno libertarian paradise in politics and government should be avoided. wind government got involved a
9:41 pm
just missed things up. funny and of politicians of both parties had held up is this beautiful example of free enterprise and entrepreneurialism. but there is actually very critical government and political story that runs throughout. there is also a media story, or information dissemination story. going to something that we see that is manifesting right now, you have these large tech companies like alphabet google, and facebook, that are the media disseminators. we are so much information flows. yet they are companies that do not think of themselves as media companies. not only saying they are not in the business of media as if they were newspapers. but their whole self conception truly is one of being against traditional media and being something that media is like
9:42 pm
government, an old style institution. but when we look at this historically, we not only see how the culture of silicon valley in particular, business culture, that was based on growing fast at all costs, elbowing competitors out of the way, bringing products quickly to the market, the growth mindset of silicon valley is inundating how these very large companies are working today and why it is challenging, to create and change the business model. it was but also, a community that grew that i referred to as the galapagos, it's a distinctive ecosystem that grew up in the fifties to the eighties, though very much connected to centers of finance and government on the east
9:43 pm
coast, notably through the flow of money through the military, which is why silicon valley came to be. but it was isolated enough, geographically and in terms of the people paying attention, if you read a story and the washington post for the new york times that referred to silicon valley around 1980, that term comes up very rarely, and when it does it comes up as silicon valley. even when you did have national news coverage like fortune, who are profiling entrepreneurs, it was eight this strange beautiful faraway species, a very different type. if we look back to the way entrepreneurs like steve jobs and bill gates were presented to the world when they first came to prominence, when their companies came to prominence, they were these shaggy haired,
9:44 pm
iconoclastic, disruptive narrative. one of the things that we discover when we look back is both, there is a very distinctive business culture that grows in the technology industry, an industry that has come under modern age to have an immense influence on politics and government and on media. it is very distinct of, yet it is deeply connected to old economy institutions, national government, state or local governments, old money, where did the money for the technology revolution come from. where were the funds that that flew into the initial venture funds that started these iconic entrepreneur companies and semi conductors and personal computers and on and on? it was the rockefeller's, the whitney's, it was where the money was.
9:45 pm
it was wall street banks. these companies like apple, which is some presenting itself as this counter cultural dream of a company, they think different, but why did apple break apart from the pack of other personal computer makers in the late seventies? they had a beautiful product and they also had a singular, the two steve's, steve wozniak who designed the beautiful, powerful, eloquent motherboard inside the computer. and steve jobs who could tell a good story and understood how to present this device to the world. they also had management expertise from other companies that were traditional and we'll establish that took these two guys into a garage and turned into a real operation. we see it again and again. recognizing a, that this whole
9:46 pm
ecosystem has a history. it is both singular and distinctive but it is a product of the last 75 years of american political history and american social history. it is really critical to understanding and grappling with the immensity of these companies today. i will leave it at that. >> thank you very much. meredith is our next speaker. meredith is from new york university and she has a book called artificial an intelligence, how computers misunderstand the world. i will put up your biography but ask you some questions like where did you grow up? >> i grew up in a small quakertown. >> how did you make it from philadelphia to nyu? >> the i was at pen before this, i was at temple them -- sorry?
9:47 pm
oh the microphone. just >> before i was at nyu i was a professor at temple and a professor at the university of pennsylvania. i studied data journalism it is the practice of finding stories and numbers to tell stories. new york is the epicenter right now of people who are working on data journalism and people who are working on major issues around ethics in technology, especially ethics in artificial intelligence, which is my other specialty. >> so what teacher move your life? >> one of the stories i tell in the book is about when i was in high school, and i was in a pro grab an engineering program for kids. the >> go ahead, do we need to
9:48 pm
start over? >> absolutely not. >> i will just ask you to question again, what teacher changed your life. >> one of the really important educational experiences i had and learning to use technology happened when i was in high school, and engineering program for kids. we would get taken once a month to the are see a plant in the small town where i grew up. it was rumored that they were building nuclear weapons there, but actually what i did was go on this little bus to this engineering program and they gave a spare computer parks and said here, build a computer. i actually built my own first computer and it was great. so i learned from that. when i learned that i had the power to create technology, also that there are a lot of
9:49 pm
wasted spare parts laying around tech companies. once that employ useful information. i learned about power and i had the power to build things. as margaret said, there is a lot of economic power behind building technology. that was really important knowledge that i took with me into becoming a data journalist. >> so looking for you in the c-span archives i found you in the yelp headquarters. and here you are. >> technology is not going to save us from every social problem. let's take homelessness for example, the fix for homelessness is not making an app to connect people with services. the fix for homelessness is giving people homes. so, we need to think about
9:50 pm
pushing back against techno chauvinism and using the right tool for the task. sometimes that tool is a computer. sometimes it is not. >> when meredith broussard. thank >> you. i want to talk a little bit about today about understanding artificial intelligence. my book is about the inner workings and outer limits of technology. i started writing it because i was having a really hard time with people understanding what i was doing in my work. so, i build artificial intelligence systems for investigative reporting. i would say this and people would say, it's like a robot reporter? and i would say, no. and they would say, it is like a machine that spits out story i.d.s? and i would say no.
9:51 pm
i realize that if i wanted anyone to understand what i was talking about and working on, there needed to be more of a basic understanding of artificial intelligence in the world. i started researching the book. i realize that we don't often get good definitions of ai. we talk about it a lot, but there is kind of this fog that descends when we try to talk more precisely about it. there's a lot of confusion. when you're having a conversation about ai, one person is talking about the hollywood stuff with killer robots, and a computer that is going to take over the world, and the other person is talking about computational statistics. it is really important if we are going to have policy discussions about artificial intelligence, the role of
9:52 pm
technology in society, we should all be talking about the same thing. one of the things i do in the book is give a really concise definition of ai. i show readers exactly what it looks like when somebody does ai. specifically i look at machine learning. it is a form of ai. ai is a sub discipline of computer science, the sway way that is a algebra is that sub discipline of mathematics. inside the field of ai there are a lot of other sub fields machine learning's, systems, natural language processing, and generation. this interesting thing has happened that ai is the most flip -- so this linguistics lip itch has happened. when people say i am using ai
9:53 pm
for business, what they actually mean is i am using machine learning for business. the two terms have become conflated. it is really important to keep that distinction in mind. another point of confusion is that machine learning like ai, sounds like there is a little brain inside the computer. i was at a science fair for grown-ups, i was doing a demo of this ai system i had built, this undergraduate came over and said, oh you build and ai system. i said yes. he said is it real? i said yes. and then he starts looking under the table like there's something hiding under the computer, as if there is little brain in there. i realize that this linguistic confusion is really profound, we need to talk about the fact that real ai, real machine
9:54 pm
learning is not actually about sentence in the computer. it is a bad term. what must machine learning is, computational statistics on steroids. well it is essentially making statistical predictions. it is amazing that it works so well most of the time. it is amazing that we can use math to figure things out about the universe. the but matt cannot tell us everything. prediction can tell us likelihood but not truth. so we need to keep these ideas in mind and we need to think about hollywood. because hollywood ideas about ai color are believes. and every student who comes into your classroom, and starts
9:55 pm
learning and start thinking about technology and history, is also simultaneously thinking about hollywood. thinking about hollywood images of ai. we need to make that distinction, make the point that hollywood imagery of ai is totally imaginary. researchers call it general artificial intelligence. that is the singularity that machines that think, the robots that are going to take over the world, it is all totally imaginary. real ai is called narrow a i. machine learning, even though it sounds magical is a kind of narrow ai and it is just matt. another thing i realize when i was doing the recent search for the book was, that the confusion over ai is almost
9:56 pm
deliberate. it's that people have been using confusion about technology as a gate keeping methods to aggrandize their own importance, to make money, and to keep certain kinds of people out of the profession. when you really trace it back, all of our ideas about technology in society today come from a very small, very homogeneous group of people. there are mostly ivy league educated, white male mathematicians. there is nothing wrong with being a white male ivy league mathematician, some of my best friends are. but the problem is that people invent their own biases in technology. for example if you look at the way that we don't have women and people of color represented at the upper echelons in
9:57 pm
silicon valley, that is a -- we can draw a direct connection to the fact that women and people of color are not represented of mathematics. at the harvard matt department, one of the best math departments in the world, there are two senior professors who are women. in 2019 there are two. you know when they started? 2018. so there are structural forces outwork inside what fields that are extremely important but for people in technology fields, mathematics, physics, don't actually think that the social structural forces are important. they think is what matters is just the math. they think that solving mathematical problems, technological problems, is so
9:58 pm
superior to these pesky little social problems that they get a pass. this is the root of an idea that i call techno chauvinism which we saw in the earlier clip. it is the idea that technical solutions and problems are superior to other kinds of solutions. using a computer is a superior technology, which is really about saying that math is superior, and it is really about a kind of bias. what i would argue is, again let's think about using the right tool for the task. sometimes the right tool is a computer, other times it is something simple like a book in the hands of a child sitting on appearance lap. what is not better than the other.
9:59 pm
it is what is appropriate. we can also think about the environmental cost of our rush to use ai to replace existing systems. we can say, what is behind the rush to use ai? is it techno chauvinism, is it a desire to make vast amounts of money? is that actually giving us the world we want? we can also look at the way that ai systems function, which is that they replicate the world as it is. the way that you build and ai system is that you take a bunch of data and build a machine learning model that is a mathematical model of what is happening inside the data. then you use that model to predict values and make decisions about future data. the problem is, this bottle has no sentence, no soul.
10:00 pm
it replicates what already exist in the world. if you think the world is pretty great, then yes, you will want to replicate exactly. but i would argue that the world includes sexism, racism, generations of biased decisions about who gets a mortgage, the world includes in the u.s. a vast amount of segregation. if we are using ai systems to decide who gets a mortgage to buy a house, then we are actually just replicating generations of inequality. we need to think about these ai systems as replicating the world as discriminating by default and we need to question whether we are actually building a computational system that gets us towards a world as it should be thank >> you very much.
10:01 pm
now we go to the kathryn brownell, she's a history professor. this republic of entertainment is going to be the title of your book? >> it is the title i came up with for a grant application. i do not like it. any ideas, let me know. >> all right, you could read on the screen her bio. tell me a little bit about where you are from. >> i am originally from michigan, i went to the university of michigan and did my graduate work at boston university. >> how old were you would you do you wanted to study history as a profession? >> it was my freshman year at the university of michigan. i went to study business, i thought that would get me a job. i took a history class with matt lasted or. and the first day of that class completely open my eyes to how amazing history was. my jaw dropped after that lecture. i decided i wanted to learn more about history and by the
10:02 pm
end of that year i wanted to be a historian. >> your first book was showbiz politics, what was that about? >> it looks at the role of entertainment in american politics leading up to ronald reagan, how are political culture shifted. it made how becoming a celebrity and how showbiz politics was a core component for how politicians gained power and credibility. >> that is a great transition to the clip we chose for you. this is an interview that suspended with you at the organization of american historians. >> sounds right. it is this really compelling speech when -- the reagan appeals to the heart, we appeal to the mines. are we missing something by not invoking reagan strategy? he gathered this team of media adviser, advertising executives, television producers and they
10:03 pm
all agreed that what went wrong in 1960 is that he didn't use media effectively and turn himself into a celebrity the way that kennedy had. he revamped his media strategy and made television central and followed what kennedy did and what reagan did. this is really significant because at the end of the day, he believed himself believed that the difference between nixon the loser and nixon the winner was the embrace of the showbiz politics style. >> so take all that into your next project on the cable television industry. >> thank you. i'm honored to be on this panel by two people's work i admire so much, especially because they have completed their work and i'm drawing on it for my own work. mine is still very much a work in progress. i am trying to put together all of the pieces and think about
10:04 pm
the larger narrative which looks at the political history of cable television. it really builds off of my first book because it starts with nixon and a president who firmly believed that communications mattered and communication policy mattered as well. the core question is -- what is the relationship between media, technology, and the state? that is something i'm thinking about and looking at the ways television dramatically changes over the past half-century. for the cable industry, politics were deeply intertwined with all aspects of its business. political battles, whether they played out at the local or state level with national
10:05 pm
elected officials or fcc regulators are really at the core of the history. these political debates propelled transformations and the idea of what cable television was and how it could actually function. for the first two decades that cable television existed, it emerged with the advent of broadcast television. it was simply a way to extend the reach of broadcast television originally. if there was trouble with terrain, cable could amplify the reach of broadcast. during the 1960's and 1970's, cable became seen as a new technology that could be an alternative form of how tv could function in society. that could have very specialized programing that would empower viewers to have more control over what they
10:06 pm
were watching and to "vote with the remote control." they realize their business was tied to political debates about what cable television meant. this is especially important because they were not part of those decisions that were being made about how their businesses were to function. they were firmly cable operators and outside of the political media establishment during the 1950's and 1960's. this meant that the broadcasters who are part of the political establishment had these relationships with regulators and congressmen. they limited what was possible for cable to function as a business. there is a very powerful clip of a cable pioneer that is available through the cable center's oral history. it is done in 1990.
10:07 pm
after the history expanded during the 1980's and he lists all of the opposition that once faced in the 1950's and 1960's. he rattles off the "list of enemies unquote that we had. the movie producers, local tv stations, state councils, power companies, lawyers, lobbyists, abc, nbc. he added to the particular challenge came from congressional representatives who "didn't like us because their broadcast buddies at home and who were depended on to get elected didn't like us." this captures the environment of cable television in the 1950's and 1960's because it really did suffer at the hands of the regulatory regime that gave tremendous social, economic, and cultural power to the broadcasting industry. there was a close collaboration between broadcasters and
10:08 pm
congressional leaders and presidential administrations and the fcc that created a very favorable regulatory framework that benefited congressmen and presidents who were very eager to be in the eye of their constituents on local or national news and so they benefited from this. the broadcasting industry also benefited from this arrangement because they experienced very little competition in exchange for these official voices from government. there were certain values that underpinned this arrangement that allowed for the corporate monopoly of the three networks to dominate for about two decades. even a little longer, but politically what is central is that politicians believed they needed broadcasters to get elected. nixon is key here.
10:09 pm
in the 1950's and 1960's there are a moment where politicians are grappling with the age of television and hiring consultants who are telling them you need to go on tv and have advertisements and be part of the news. they believe that broadcasters have a lot of political power and they have to have favorable relationships with them. culturally, this regulatory model also depended on the idea of objectivity and a trust that the public had in big institutions. network news was primarily a collective source of information that gave out the official line, think of walter cronkite and that is the way t it is, overwhelmingly -- that is the way it is, overwhelm and link to shape their presentation of the news. intellectually, broadcasters shaped the research about how
10:10 pm
television function. all of the studies that supported the broadcasting model with the three corporate networks that this was in the best interest of the country were actually done by the research departments of the networks. they were able to shape the intellectual framework as well. during this time, the 1950's and 1960's, the fcc and congress created strict regulations that ensured that cable could not compete in the top 100 markets. it limited the type of programming cable could use and offer its subscribers. it basically made it so that the only way cable could function was if it extended the signals of the broadcasting industry but it couldn't necessarily offer a competing service. or alternative form of television. that starts to change over the next two decades. political changes, the white house, state and local governments combined with the activism of cable operators,
10:11 pm
the formation of an effective lobbying organization and consumers to transform at not just the regulatory structure, the very ways that television function in american politics. this is the story that my book will hopefully continue to outline. these changes started in the presidential administration of richard nixon. it is not an accident that richard nixon, who so firmly believes in the power of media to shape his political success, something i charted in my first book, becomes a president who is very passionate about telecommunications policy. he takes it seriously. he firmly believed there is an idea of liberal bias in network television. he wanted to do something to challenge these institutional structures that gave network television so much power.
10:12 pm
he ultimately empowered many white house staffers who work for him to pursue a very revolutionary approach to television that would allow cable television to emerge as a competitor to broadcasting. he created the office of telecommunications policy and it existed for eight years. this was an incredibly influential office because it started to pierce holes and some of the reigning assumptions about television. notably, it capitalized on the growing critique of objectivity that was manifesting both on the left and the right in the early 1970's. it encouraged new research about the economics of television and whether it can flourish as a new type of business. they ultimately dismantled the economic justifications of the broadcast monopoly. in the aftermath of nixon's
10:13 pm
presidency, congress continued to debate and take seriously some of these policies that originated in the nixon white house. the newly elected post-watergate reformers took away the emphasis on the waging war against broadcasters that nixon had used but took seriously the ideas that his office of telecommunications put forward about the need for more diversity and a more comprehensive television programming that could benefit all aspects of civic engagement and government. the televised watergate hearings i see is an important moment because it elevated the prestige of the legislative branch and its members and it taught congress if they were the stars of the show they
10:14 pm
could gain the power and shift some of the power back to the legislative branch congress debated how they can integrate television coverage as a way to restore more power to what they were doing and more visibility and faith in what they were doing. they were looking for television. how do we have more attention and cameras focused on what we are doing. the problem is, network news had only a half an hour or an hour that they wanted to dedicate to public affairs. you needed a different type of television in order for this to work. the cable industry, they were taking advantage of some of these political shifts and new ideas and proposed a solution, one that would benefit them and benefit congress. this is something that c-span founder brian lamb argued in an
10:15 pm
oral history when he is recounting how he sold the idea of c-span to cover what congress was doing to "turn the lights" onto congress. he told people in the cable industry that only by becoming a player in the news could c-span challenge the authority and power that abc, cbs, and nbc ultimately had. he was right. c-span launched in 1979 and over the next decade, politicians debated how cable should be used not if it should be used. the politicians that once dismissed the industry because their broadcasting buddies didn't like us eventually saw cable television as a tool for political advancement and they forged relationships with the industry that were at times collaborative and at times very contentious, but they were
10:16 pm
always concequential. in the process as political leaders are becoming eager to manipulate the style, the style of government and how they were communicating and engaging with constituents became transformed by the core ideas of market populism, niche marketing and entertainment that made cable so powerful and popular. since the 1960's, the financial success of the cable industry depended on the industry's ability to defend, define, and distinguish cable television as a new technology and new form of television. it really reshaped the way people thought about media and the way media functioned in american political life. by the 1990's, that conquered list of enemies that bill
10:17 pm
daniels outlined, by conquering those enemies forcing relationships and becoming a power player itself, american society and the media structures on which it depended were fundamentally transformed. the terrain had shifted and this is one of the key arguments that i want to bring out in the book that in the process of shifting that terrain, it is not just that politicians came to rely on cable television more or consumers came to rely on television more to interact with politicians, but through that process, politics began to look more like the programs that were actually on the dial. thank you. >> thank you very much. we are going to open up, i was just getting ready to say we are getting ready to open up the phone lines. it is all automatic. we are going to open up for a
10:18 pm
cue and a in a minute or two, if you will just let them know and they will get a microphone too so we can get your questions. as they do that, let me ask each of you, since this is a panel about media technology and the state, tell me in each of your areas where you think the states let people down. so where in that history, did the states let american people down in silicon valley and that history? >> >> i think there was a critical moment in the early 1990's where the internet, which had been around since 1969 as a product of the defense department used by employees and researchers until the early 1990's is becoming commercialized. and the commercialization of the internet requires a set of regulatory decisions.
10:19 pm
there is a really interesting, it is the moment when silicon valley, at least the generation of silicon valley entrepreneurs turned billionaires, turned political activists starts making and becoming a presence in washington. that is partially because bill clinton is elected in 1992. he works very hard before he declares his canvas deceit to silicon valley and to make democrats the party of silicon valley. prior there is close ties to republicans. there is a moment where they try to figure a medium that is defined as the wild west. and where the advocates of the --
10:20 pm
talking about it in a very frederik jackson turner sort of way, although not consciously, but wide open spaces waiting to be. conquered limitless possibility but are arguing for keeping something that on principle that sounds very good to members of both parties as well as defenders of free speech which is keeping the internet free and out of the influence of the media companies, including cable is possible. a political battle in which media is defined as the telecoms and as the cable providers who want to control the information flow and where newly formed organizations like the electronic foundation are arguing to keep it a jeffersonian internet, so to speak, a place where many different voices can blossom.
10:21 pm
leaders of both parties, republicans first in the opposition and then after 1995 as the majority in congress led by newt gingrich, and democrats in the white house are one of the few things in the mid-1990's the two parties can agree on by and large. what was not realized, and this is less the case of the government letting the american people down really not realizing that some of these little companies would become google or facebook or even silicon valley itself, those people who were arguing for the jeffersonian internet. it was talked eloquently about this notion and he reflected that we had no idea that people would use the internet and we were naive and didn't know they would use the internet for bad as well as for good. neither did regulators or
10:22 pm
politicians in the nineties. there is no conception, it was such a boutique issue, the technology was so very little understood's. meredith and i were talking last night about there are very few people that grasp the technology. it is a real challenge. that lack of gulf of understanding and what ai is, this thing transposes into policymaking. at the ants, why is the internet economy? why is our tech economies so unregulated? they are not regulated like the cable companies, like nearly everything else. what we are doing now is grappling with a post hawk regulatory decision making. where these new economy companies grow so large and we need to figure out some way to
10:23 pm
contain and channel this energy in a way that allows them to continue to grow and do their business but to not have these second ordered third order effects. between 1993 and 97 there is a moment that is so consequential to what happens, where the media technology landscape is now and the state didn't realize what they were deciding to do or not to do. >> we'll get your thoughts on that, but let's take a first question. >> it is so interesting that, you are great. i am wondering as somebody who's interested in local radio, we have someone who is sitting here who built a low power fm station in kentucky and i am wondering what you feel as a
10:24 pm
potential for democratic media or policies that could potentially promote a jeffersonian internet or radio-television competing from the bottom up that actually brings the voices of people to the surface. >> who wants to take that? >> i can start by saying that i don't have a solution. but i can tell you that is a debate that has been at the core of regulatory issues. when connie asked the question of how has the state let the people down, i would have said that i think that politicians are constantly having regulatory debates in the seventies and eighties and they are re-thinking about how they can restructure the regime, that many people are pointing
10:25 pm
out the problems. there are a lot of problems, what we do about it? the language of diversity that we need to have, diversity of voices and local islam, we need to empower local communities and return the media back to the people, that is so powerful in their debates. and how they are framing. it they are talking about the ports of consumers and privileges their interests. what they actually do, they are shaped more by their self interest. you see a corporate structure -- i think there is that tension that has always been there. and it is kind of waiting through what these policies could actually do. would they provide a more diverse, more ways for local communities to have control? or do they actually just replicates so that these corporate structures allow for
10:26 pm
amounts of amounts of mergers that happened in the eighties and nineties? and then they stifle those very ventures that you are talking about. >> we have a question up here. while we wait for the mike, let me ask you meredith broussard, you are a member of the media, you are a reporter for the philadelphia inquiry? and now you remember for this media in this new era, have you been welcomed by the journalism community in this new area that you want to work and? >> one of the really wonderful things about working in journalism, as opposed to working in tech, jerusalem isn't is vastly lust sexist bend the tech industry. the sexism that you face as a woman doing computer science i found unbearable. everything they say about the social forces that conduct women out of tech careers are
10:27 pm
all true. so, journalism for all of its faults, is just an extraordinary place compared to the tech industry. the it feels like a privilege to be able to do what i love, building technology, in a realm that i really love. and to be able to communicate with people about what i am doing. >> you find that journalists are open to using your kind of data in their stories? >> yes, data journalism is a fast growing field. people of only really been talking about it since 2006. but it actually dates back much further. the first time that somebody used to computer for an investigative reporting story was in 1968. the it was a reporter named
10:28 pm
bill meyer who looks at the detroit race riots and the dominant narrative was that the race riots that most of the people involved were lower-class. and so he did this analysis where he did a survey and so he used the tools of social scientific research in order to conduct a survey, used a mainframe to analyze the survey results, he found the participants cut across the class spectrum. that tells us a very different story about who is participating in the race riots in detroit. and also what does it mean for the community? philip myers work in the sixties, morphed into something computer assisted reporting. kind of a dorky name. that is what we called in the eighties and nineties when the big revolution was that every
10:29 pm
reporter had a desktop computer. we are moving off of mainframes, it was a big revolution, you can use database and spreadsheets, data journalism is what we started calling it when we started using more internet tools. >> takes. >> excellent panel, i love the conversation that you have had. my question is to meredith. i would like to know if you think, would it be fair to say that there are causal links between the rise of ai and the decline of humanity over the last few years. if so, what can we do in humanities to take on techno chauvinism? my understanding is humanities doesn't question this, it is just questions relevance? there are certain kinds of
10:30 pm
mentality that there is that really reinforces that rewards techno chauvinism. that is why humanities is not attracted to policy makers. to put up science and economics have had -- them it is part of a bigger problem. what i'm wondering is, -- i worry about techno chauvinism. >> thank you. that is a really good question, what can we do to work against this? it starts with admitting that techno chauvinism exists and pushing back against it. saying that technical solutions are not necessarily superior to solutions from social sciences, each is valid. when we have to look at funding inequality. we have to look at funding for humanities and social sciences
10:31 pm
versus funding for data science for them for darpa and to remedy that particular inequality because there's a lot of nonsense that gets funded and through darpa and the lot of those funds could be re-appropriated and put into that at the ancient nda so we have to think about the money, we also need to address, economic inequality in terms of the pay gap. so one of the reasons that we don't have more data journalists, is because of the profound profound big app in regards to what you can make as a journalist and what you can do for someone who does ai in silicon valley. so if you go into journalism say you're going to make 30 or 40,000 a year as a starting
10:32 pm
salary and you can literally make ten times as much as a starting salary just out of college doing ai that is absurd, and it did not used to be the case. in the 1960's and 1970's when technology policy was developing, the gap between what you made as a doctor or lawyer and we made as a social worker was much smaller. now the gap between what you make as a technology executive and what you make as a teacher is unfathomable. one thing we can do is pay teachers more. if we pay teachers more, not just university professors but k to 12. if we pay teachers more, then we will have more talent in the classroom teaching our younger
10:33 pm
generations about technology. right now, -- when i meet computer science teachers, a lot of them are wonderful. some of them they used to be gym teachers and teaching computer science which is basically how to use word. i think it is about economics and looking at priorities and also thinking about race and ethnicity. part of the narrative has been in technology that it is objective and unbiased and therefore superior. when you ignore incredibly important social factors like how race and ethnicity
10:34 pm
functions, you build systems that do not get us toward the kind of society that we want to live in. we need to interrogate sustain, there is a discipline disciplined called algorithmic reporting, that is my little corner and it's a really promising field. one of the things we do in algorithmic accountability reporting is we look at the black boxes of algorithms using to make decisions on our behalf. we interrogate them and ask if they are fair or just. generally, the answer is no. we also build our own algorithms in order to look at how systems function and to find the flaws in the system. >> so margaret, when you were
10:35 pm
looking at your history, what is it? >> techno chauvinism has a history. silicon valley looks at two professions that were entirely white and all-male. they were not necessarily elites -- there were plenty of penniless boys from south carolina who got scholarships to m.i.t.. a lot of the founding generation of the valley were men from a modest background who went to university because it had free tuition and came to stanford for grad school because they could work and go to school at the same time. it was all white and all-male. it is the world of engineering and engineering where women were not -- you know department chairs could say if a woman wanted to major, sorry we don't allow woman in this program as
10:36 pm
the 1950's and 1960's. the other was finance/mba executive management. harvard business school did not admit women. you had very homogenous worlds. the magic of silicon valley is that the time that my friend talks about a relay race. we are passing the baton. the semi conductor funds the personal computer generation and then does the same to the internet generation and the social media generation. they have what they say is pattern recognition. i am going to invest in this person because they went to stanford in computer science they are wearing a hoodie and they are somewhere on spectrum. it is also this got thing because you're giving resources somebody because you believe in the product.
10:37 pm
that is the challenge. if you want to explain the magic of silicon valley. the other dimension of the history is there is a little history. there is a lot of money. darpa has become the giant in your science, in part because it is government austerity and everything else got cut away even computer sciences -- scientists who were not taking money from the pentagon and had to find a way to work on it and that was the only way you could get money what you want to do certain parts of the government, and the military is one part of the u.s. government that gets money and appropriations. other parts of the research establishment have been cut away. whereas these military agencies, that are funding basic research,
10:38 pm
it has to have some long range affability for some military purposes some way. so all these things are feeling and this is not to say it's not intractable, and we can't fix it but recognizing the political history, and the way that this has been structured embedded in the larger narrative of history that so many people in this room right about and think about. so many people who are watching or thinking about this and living it. recognizing that, that is the way you identify how you perhaps make change. anyone looking at history, does show these instances of where things to change remarkably. and so if we are frustrated by this imbalance, and technologists themselves are very frustrated by, what they recognize that there needs to be some refraining and some incorporation of whether we want to call it ethics or something else. they're their understanding this history and it's a way to
10:39 pm
get to a different future. >> next question. >> >> when you look at political polarization and dysfunction today, you have to look at cable tv and the internet as twio of the primary drivers of this. they are right at the top of the list. i just wonder what you think and they are only growing stronger and more in american daily life -- what is the way out of this? i wonder what you see in terms of what comes next and what is the way out of fixing this problem. >> >> it is a really great question. >> it's a really good question. i think the dominant narrative around cable is it has created this polarization, but i think that narrative does foreground the technology part.
10:40 pm
cable is doing this, rather than a variety of politicians who are using cable platforms for different strategies. newt gingrich really brilliantly saw an opportunity to take c-span and turn it into a way to blast his opponents, even though no one else is watching, and nationalize congressional politics. in new ways. i think that it is important to think about how there are choices in terms of how the medium is used, but also there's the ramification of relying, putting that faith in the market, right?
10:41 pm
if it is this going to be about competition and what becomes defined as news, then you have a very different style of news. i think that is one of the parts that is important to understand. the news that existed in the 1960's and 1970's advocated for this consensus. it is driven by white, middle-class and wealthy men and did not allow other voices to come into play. one thing i appreciate about what cable does in terms of providing tens and hundreds and so many more channels that it does give voice to different perspectives. so there's a shift, there is a shift from an elitist perception of what constitutes as news and where people are going for further information to this more diverse -- and
10:42 pm
again, bringing in those market principles, right? what counts as news, how people vote with their remote controls. i think that there's a payoff, but it's important to note that this older system of broadcast network television also had a lot of problems inherent as well. in terms of solutions, i do not have any concrete ones. the media is recognizing its reputation and the political choices in how to deploy those media formats are really important to consider. >> so i saw statistic in some of your work, where you said that 10% of the american people
10:43 pm
at the height of walter kwok i doing the evening news or watching him, and yet today -- walter cronkite doing the evening news were watching him, and yet today 23 times that number -- not the percentage, but the number are involved in twitter and facebook and that kind of thing. go from there. >> there are two different the way that someone watched walter cronkite in 1967, is that you sat down in front of the television at a certain time, and you had 30 minutes. and 30 minutes is a high bar for news. it is highly curated, but highly created by people in power. it by the late 1960's you are getting pushback on that, but there is a certain worldview and point of view and the point of view of the ivy league, east coast educated media. very limited.
10:44 pm
you could not have silly news stories. what cable creates initially and what the internet has exacerbated is the spin cycle, just this hunger for content and which trivial things become multi-day news stories in the way these millions of people are using -- including all of us, the way we use media -- is much less deliberate. you're not sitting down at certain times like, now, i shall sit down and look at twitter for 30 minutes and get everything i need to know. everything it comes in snippets. this is one of the upsides of the internet age, we know everything going on in the world and there was a lot of bad stuff that was not revealed. now there's revelation. but one becomes immune to all of this bad stuff.
10:45 pm
you do not take things as seriously. whereas when walter cronkite turned to the camera and had a brief editorial moment in which he said the vietnam war has reached a stalemate, this is something -- we are in something we cannot get out of in the way we expect, that ricocheted through politics. it was just, we don't have those moments anymore even though there's so much more consumption of so much more information. >> next question. >> >> one of the things i appreciate, meredith, about, i don't think we're doing a good job of capturing the tide that we are all standing in. when you speak to most people about ai, and you start to even
10:46 pm
speak to them about some of the people in the field, they do not know some of the basics, or some of the formulating this layer of complexity around us. we in our own realm have not delved into it too much. we have not imported that much of the history of silicon valley into what we are teaching our students, the way we have with the history of the steel industry. we have an integrated that to make it part of their understanding. and because we have only a few little articles here, and media has surprised itself by realizing when we did the facebook movie, oh my gosh that was less than ten years ago. it is moving so fast that historians are not prepared for the speed of that industry because we like to go back
10:47 pm
three four or five decades to look at things. but we have not been given that space. i try to bring that to my students and radio audience is that i look for people that are doing this, and it has to be more of a crossover for people like you who are bringing this techno perspective into technical writing and giving it more of a historical perspective. i really enjoy all three of your powerful minds have given us today. what is the big point that you think, this is for the whole panel to, what do you think is the biggest thing that historians are missing about this moment of technology? what is the secret? where is the book that is going to break this loose? and wake us up to realize that we are in a renaissance? and that we are not realizing
10:48 pm
it. >> i think it is margaret's book. it is available for pre-order. >> i think that if you read margaret's book and my book next to each other, it will probably give a really good historical overview as well as technical overview, how do we understand all of these forces? i think we have only been, publishers have only been investing in books that counter the dominant technology narrative for the past three to four years. it is really not surprising we have not had such a narrative until now because publishers are driven by market imperatives. everybody believes technology is the future and everyone believes the techno-libertarian rhetoric and everyone believed
10:49 pm
the new communalist rhetoric about, oh, cyberspace is going to be so different and it's going to change the world and empower all. only the past three or four years of people start to say, maybe that's not strictly true. i am excited that dialogue is happening now. one thing that is important to start grappling with, the question of how do we do history in the future? because when you think about twitter posts as an historical archive, for example, those are not being preserved anywhere. so what you get from twitter as a civilian is you get a garden hose of twitter data, and there is a firehose of all the twitter data, but you have to
10:50 pm
pay for it. twitter is not going to be around forever. so, what's going to happen to all of that data? you think about newspapers and how our newspapers archived? we know a lot about how to archive print news because you can go to any library and find a paper from 1849 and read the entire paper for the entire day. you can see all of the ads and that's a really useful tool for history, but you can't go to the boston globe and see everything that was written in the boston globe on a given day in 2002, because there's the print paper and then there's the digital version of the paper and the website and then their social media, and god knows what else.
10:51 pm
the ads change for everybody, so you can't see those. and there's proprietary ad technology. that doesn't exist anymore because that 2002 is the stone age. >> this is a really big problem, the fact that we have invested in all of these technological systems for creating media, it's really great, but at the same time we are shooting ourselves in the foot because in five years you're not going to be able to read any of today's news. , david journalism projects are really hard to persevere. >> you are picking up that mirror for your own industry, historians, particularly people teaching history -- what do you think? >> that question makes me think
10:52 pm
about the key in my research, which is how technology is defined is a process. that is really important to understand. again just seeing all of these different moments looking at cable and how people are talking about how it can be used, its potential. , and the policies that should shape its development. this is so deeply embedded in the politics of that particular moment, and it changes so dramatically and that is one of the fascinating things about the cable industry. it's not a new technology in the 70's. it's not a new technology in the 90's, but the way it is talked about and potential and how it is talked about is about these political battles.
10:53 pm
a lot of times in the public eye and a lot of times behind the seeds as well. so, i think it's really important to understand that and to think about who is influencing that discussion of how technology is being defined. you have consumers, constituents riding to their representatives, demanding access, demanding certain things. lobbyists are playing a key role shaping the public relations debates, and politicians, how they understand technology is frequently shaped by how they use it. those are key things to consider at this moment when everything is changing so quickly. it is hard to keep up with technology. there is a reason my book will and in the nineties. the environment changes. >> you think that. now that's what i thought. to >> all of a sudden
10:54 pm
everything does escalate really quickly, but some of those fundamental questions are still at play. >> are historians up for this challenge? i think one of the things that historians are very good and doing, as meredith said three or four years ago, changing the world for the future and now we have swung violently to the other side where things are bad, bad, bad, so bad. before i was the person saying, maybe it is not all good and now i am, we have supercomputers in our pockets, guys. they have done some good things. let's think about -- so what historians are good at is
10:55 pm
showing there's complex, nuance, making sense of the data, showing the good and the bad, showing how and why you can grapple with that and understand the phenomenon is not just all good and all bad, but helping people understand something as this complex subject that is actionable. that is where the historian's superpower is, bringing this together and the other dimension is teachers of history, of writers of history have an obligation with the state of the internet archive broadly defined. we need to be talking about how historians to what they do, here is how we produce things that others read and learn from. here is what needs to be done with this new digital archive. not just digitizing things but
10:56 pm
how you grapple with a twitter feeds and the ephemeral internet-based advertising -- how do you preserve that records? not just that record, but the broad record of the web itself. that is not in institutional channel project. >> we have time for one more -- exasperated by cable companies and tech companies like facebook and twitter to become arbiters of proper political speech, they use stalinesque phrases like hate speech to try to suppress conservative perspectives on issues there are couple examples of this is
10:57 pm
the case of incidents as this with covington catholic high school being berated by the american indian activists and the new york city man who posted be parity video of nancy pelosi online got pilloried. how do you see government policymakers and scholars addressing this weaponization of political differences in their future writings? >> can we combine that question? >> i'm very interested you talked about public policy. you talked about technology. where do you see the influence of advertisers in the shaping of, i have often said to my children the inventor of the mute button ought to get a
10:58 pm
nobel peace prize. because i mute out the commercials. to what extent do they influence or the competition for them influence what we see on cable tv? >> who wants to start? weaponization, advertising? >> i see these questions as being very connected. the advertising, the ad-based model, the model by which these platforms think about, facebook, think about google, the debate about who speech, these companies are driven by their ad-based model and their shareholders and they are for-profit companies, but they
10:59 pm
are also informed by politics -- small p politics, the origin being the gates computer science building. kind of the don't be evil idea of we are in the business of creating a platform in which conversation can happen. but the way that this functions now is this is incredibly important media functions -- speech of all kinds and the, what is actually being understood as censorship of some voices is a product of companies that do not want to take sides, or do not know how to navigate, because they've become producers and curators of media. their algorithm is the underlying mechanics of what is enabling these countries to do what you do. and to sell ads, very tailored
11:00 pm
adds to individual users. it is creating what i refer to as a runaway train, this process where we have different pieces of content produced by different people that has a way of spiking out i don't see for my understanding and the understanding of how these companies work, i see a desire to keep this fight for neutrality -- these things are very different from when it was a search engine created by a bunch of graduate students. this is the dilemma of these companies they need to take
11:01 pm
sides without taking sides, if that makes sense, and at the same time they have to serve the ad-based model because how do you change it? probably the way it's going to be changed is with the third part of the triumvirate, the state, some sort of regulation. what is that regulation going to look like and how do you pursue the jeffersonian internet dimensions of this and allow different voices to be heard across the spectrum without having the state of affairs we have right now which no one is really happy with. >> i can take the advertising part of the question. one thing to add but your question makes me think of, that i haven't spent a lot of time analyzing, but this is a really important part that they
11:02 pm
of the story, arguments for cable television in the 1970's and 1980's really hinged on the idea that subscribers would be the ones that cable would be serving. again, the empowerment of the consumer, that they would offer new types of programs, from espn to mtv to c-span. hbo one of the early models of this, all subscription-based. and some of those channels of remains subscription-based, but the majority have shifted toward an advertising model and that happens over the 1980's and into the 90's as well. that's a really interesting shift in terms of the business model where the cable industry begins with all of these ideas about how are they going to be different question mark they will be different from broadcasting.
11:03 pm
they will solve these problems with the broadcasting model, but they actually become more consolidated, corporate media structure. they take on these media structures and the come a new player in that model and they replicate it. >> i would say one of the things i am really interested in and thinking about the ad model, i am interested in advertiser fraud. they estimated something like $7 billion of internet advertising is about ad fraud. there is vast amount of fraud in internet advertising. i've heard that organized crime is heavily involved in ad fraud these days. this is something i have wanted
11:04 pm
to write about for a long time but i have not found the right hook yet. it's a major complicating factor when we think about the success of facebook and twitter and their ad model. also the historical perspective of how newspapers address this. because there is a similar crisis in the wild west era, because you could print a whole bunch of newspapers and front and throw them away. and claim that you printed this number, so we had things like, advertising bureau that came into the advertising nearly came into being. and we do have the i-80. the internet advertising bureau. but their effectiveness is
11:05 pm
limited. i'm really curious about that. margaret, one thing you said, and katie i was reminded about this. the way that government regulation has advanced around cable television, i was thinking about the way that telecom policy evolved, the way that broadcast regulatory policy evolved and i've been thinking about the silicon valley idea of iteration. that's one idea i really like. i like the idea that, ok, we can try something and see if it works and if it doesn't, you try to do better.
11:06 pm
i think that's a way that this fits with the law because the law evolves. the law is the original artifact that iterate, right? it is the constitution. we have iterations of the constitution. when it comes to regulating social media platforms, i wonder if we should regulate and iterate, right? that we should get rid of the idea we should get it right on the first try and do something because doing nothing does not seem to work very well. maybe let's try something, put it in place for a little bit and if it doesn't work, let's iterate. >i am the timekeeper. we have to wrap up. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> thank you. [applause]
11:07 pm
11:08 pm
[captioning >> next, from purdue university, biographers talk about their subjects in political history. they include sammy davis jr, jim and tammy faye baker, and muhammad ali. this talk was part of a


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on