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tv   In Depth  CSPAN  April 10, 2015 9:37pm-10:59pm EDT

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bank and the international fund. but would you need the think tank to look at the democratic values and free minds. free markets and will figure out how they will had help to make a better world. that group of the business leaders by walter who read the container corporation of america. and henry crown. crown family there. they helped to create the kinds institute to look at our values and how they could you know. help to shape a better world. how did you get the name? it has a campus in aspen colorado. and it is useful. and we are here in washington doing the show. and head quarters are in washington, one of the hundreds of glow he's of being apart of the aspen institute is that when it gets hot in washington june july and august. most of the programs are done in the campus of colorado and aspen. walter issacson is the ceo and author biographer. we have a little over an hour to go.
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with our guest. but every guest is on in-depth. we asked what they are reading and influences. ch here is the look at mr. issacson's answers. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ >> host: walter isaacson, who is walker percy? is. >> guest: he was one of my original heroes mentor, uncle of a friend of mine, ugging by -- uncle by marriage. we called him uncle walker. we used to go across lake
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pontchartrain in new orleans where i group, and percy was a friend of ours. we couldn't figure out what ann's dad did. what's your dad do? a writer. and it wasn't until the movie goer came out in the early 960s -- 1960s, and i was 9 or 10 years old, and i go oh a writer that's something you can be when you grow up just like a fibberman, a doctor an engineer. and and so i took sort of an enter in, you know, dr. percy, uncle walker. and, you know, i would sit there, and i'd sort of read his books and say, well they're sort of deep, philosophical religious messages, especially in the moviegoer the last gentleman. and he'd say things like, you know walter, there are two types of people that come out of louisiana; preachers and storytellers. he said, for god's sake be a storyteller, the world's got too much preachers. so he wouldn't answer my questions. he'd say do it to the story the
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way the bible does it which is not just commandmentses, it's storytelling. and he said the storytelling is the most effective way to get across the type of things your interested in. -- you're interested in. so he became somebody i deeply, deeply admired and, of course every couple of years i'd just reread the moviegoer which is one of the greatest of all times. >> host: somebody you're currently writing, dave eggers, he's new orleans-connected, isn't he? >> guest: well, he came down after the storm. and if you're from new orleans you say to yourself i'll judge people by what they did after katrina. eggers comes down he writes a great book that involves two of the characters coming out of the hurricane. but i admired dave eggers who's not from new orleans well before the hurricane. when i was at time mag he went to cuba for us once. i think bicycled around cuba and reported on it. and then when his book, a
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heartbreaking work of staggering genius came out about his helping to raise prison brother after his parents -- his brother after his parents die,-like, wow, a voice our generation can relate to. so so if i had to pick novels including "the circle," "hologram to the king," "the circle" came out a bit of a warning over the use of overreliance of the digital revolution. those of us who love the digital revolution have two or three devices at all times and watch you follow a twitter feed is like that's great, but it's good to read a novel like "the circle" that says okay, let's take a little bit more detached view of all of this. >> host: what's it like to grow up in new orleans? what is it about new orleans? >> guest: new orleans has a creativity that comes from a diversity of people. ben franklin goes wow, there's quakers and anglicans and jews and that makes for creativity. new orleans you had that, you know triplefold.
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you had in my neighborhood of broadmore in central city right in the heart of the city a very mixed neighborhood mixed economically mixed racially mixed ethnicically, and you realized the same neighborhood that is 00 -- 100 years before louis armstrong had grown up in that neighborhood, one of the great central streets in new orleans. and louis armstrong growing up there is influenced by, you know, the great french opera singers and also the slaves coming back from the plantations singing, you know, spirituals. but also the sang the uh-uhfied church -- sanctified church, people coming back from the spanish-american war so that a jewish family in that neighborhood could help them get a horn out of hock and start playing the trumpet. you know, complicated family life. and you see in that questionersty what do you get? you get -- diversity, what do you get?
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you get jazz. buddy bolden kid oliver and all of a sudden he's doing a 17-bar riff to open west end blues, and you say, whoa, where did that come from? it comes from being exposed to a diversity of interests and talents and musical influences and that's also true of the food of new orleans. i just carpal back my -- came back my wife and i go quite often, just came back last week, and just looking at the creativity of the restaurants the architecture. you say, okay, i didn't think the city would come back after the storm. it's been ten years now. we've been creative about the school system, creative about a entrepreneurial economy. places like idea village that tim williamson started there which is an incubator for cool people who just wanted to create. and i think that the next wave of entrepreneurship and innovation comes not just from information technology or
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digital technology, but connecting the creative industries and arts to digital technology. theater, that becomes him mersive and interactive. immersive and interactive. food and music i new forms of it that we can do. i see that happening in new orleans as well. >> host: phone lines are all jammed. we'll put the numbers up just in case and we'll also put up we will also put up our social media addresses if you want to get in and talk a great moral issue historians have to wrestle with when assessing founders slavely. and franklin is wrestling with it as well. slaves made up 6% of philadelphia's population at the time and franklin had fascilitated the buying and the selling of them through ads in the newspaper. and the pennsylvania gazette. he first started it. you can see the ads for
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buying and selling. ben franklin did to household slaves. and when you look at jefferson. a big slave owner that is what have you to wrestle with. and the thing that end and life end and everybody makes deep moral mistakes at times. i said that ben franklin's strength is that he knew how to compromise you know. and the convention as he said saved a little bit. from the joint. apiece of wood to hold together for centuries and he compromises on slavely as they do in the constitution and they realize. it is a deep flaw. a mistake. he had made. and because he is interperspective. so we will have to learn that i know mistakes that have i made. you know. greatness nor mistakes have been high or low as ben franklin. did he that. from the very beginning of his life. and he kept alleger. i mean a real one and he made a chart of every error
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or mistake. and a moral mistake that he made. and then. the right hand side. how he had rectified it. so for example. i think that it begins with running away from his brothers print shop in above the only. he was an apprentice to his brother james and not able to leave. have you to stay throughout before will you leave and he runs away secretly. he didn't want to work for his brother james. he called that a lapse. a when james dies benjamin franklin proprovides for the education of james' kids that is his way of keeping a moral ledger and at the very then is a big one. it tolerated and compromised slave reechlt and of correspondence he freeze the slaves and of course he feels that this is an era and very old. and late in life. he was 80. president of the society for the apparition of slave reechlt and the last great
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piece. with parodies was the spooch by the divine that was a leader in algiers and explaining why he was putting white europeans in the captured into slavery and algiers. and parody for the argument and also ridiculing and there is was a brutal piece against the argue up that were being made in congress to justify slavery. this is how he tries to rectify the deep moral era.
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co-author he have an thomas. kissinger. benjamin franklin american life and o 3. einstein 07. and steve jobs 2011. and walter issacson's most recent book is the initial elevators how the group of hackers geniuses and geeks created a digital revolution. and somebody will buy one of the books when you read it. which would you suggest? >> nowadays we talk about ben franklin being a person relaid to the most. if you want to sort of understand the role that you can play in your civic life and pulling people together you know when i graduated from college, i didn't know who my graduation speaker was and there was a minister that gave a surf upon. what we forgot to tell you and he said what we forgot to tell you is that we told that you this was an exclusive college. you got into the class that's were exclusive and clubs that were exclusive. what we forgot to tell you is that life is all about inclusion.
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and not exclusion. you will be judged by how many people that you bring together. and not how many people that you exclude. and was appoint of ben franklin's life. somebody that is was able to bring people. and different races and creeds of the together. into a sense of civic you know. community, and so to me that is still the most important lesson you know. during his lifetime. he had donate today the building fund in each and every church built into philadelphia. at one point they were building a newhall there near independence hall for the wayward wandering preachers of the great. you know. awakening. and so he writes a fund-raising document and said that if the sent somebody here to preach islam to us and teach us about the profit prophet mohammed we need to listen. and the largest synagogue. and philadelphia. so when he dies and the minister accompanying the casket.
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and ministers. and linking arms with the rabbi. and the jews. that is the secret sauce of the nation we were creating. that is what we were fighting for. whether it is in paris and syria, and ferguson. today is so to me. he is the inspiring of how you live your life. and obviously einstein understand the beauty and the spiritual beauty of the elegance of the laws that manifest itself in the universe. einstein and steve jobs if you want to make a debt in the universe and a passion of making beautiful products that is steve jobs. so like your kids. you are like oh the books. and there is a certain partialality that you will say, how do i make my little world a better place. that is up by reading ben franklin.
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what is the next book? you know. two books that i am juggling with and maybe people can go by twitter to tell me what to do. i really like the notion diverse strands and people come together. and creativity will occur. ben franklin would not want. when we will respect the differences and jazz whatever. so to me the tale of luis armstrong's life is a tale of creativity. and born of a love for different influences and diversity. it is alive of the arts. but just connected with a lot more. i have trouble. i have studied armstrong and i have played jazz growing up with the people that played jazz. luis armstrong so you feel akin ship. but i am not sure that i fully understand if he is happy or what. so the other that is going into the way back machine for a while, would be the ultimate connection of arts
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and not begineering and the connection with science and the person of the humanity. that of course is leonardo da vinci. the man you know. the man in the circle. that is the symbol of the connection that we. in my mind. the symbol and the coming ex-with the arts and the sciences and that to me. is such. and so many many notebooks and so many drugs that geeking out on the notebooks and seeing how he thought of himself as an engineer and he did, autopsies. you know. and an an at an at me. on cadavers and how it is reflected in the paintings that he he does that is an sighting thing too. we just learned walter issacson is writing two books. one on leonardo d.a. individualsy. and new orleans. louis armstrong. kathy. have you been very patient. please go ahead. thank you. mr. issacson. had enry kissinger came to a
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security meeting before the people's congress this past week. and many individuals where protesting holding up the signs. and shouting out his war mongerring past and interrupting him. not surprisingly john mccain called the protestors lowlife sculpt and demanding their removal. i this i that activists are the greatest people of our time. so do you think that this protest is -- did you see the protest. do you have a comment about it? what do you think about nonprosecution of war mongers thank you. i saw it on tv. i was not sitting there. but i this i that the ability you know, starting with the people like thomas payne to the people today. in our society to protest and to have free speech in our comfort, with the protests and the free speech, that makes us a stronger society. and if you look at societies like china where the free flow of information and protests. ideas is to be never successful in the digital
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age. and i do think that it was an unfortunate approach to protest. we certainly have better ways than to sort of making apiece of theatre against george schultz and madeleine albright. henry kyser there. and you flow. are ways to know ones feeling about kissinger's decisions. do i not think that he was a war monger if i did, i would hope that i would find a better way to fry to convince others of that than doing that i think, not very useful by the of theatre. and i did thank you know. i did admire. and i read the testimony of had notary kess ger. if you are looking for the books to read and if you want to understand kissinger, where is he coming from. read a world order. the great book that was of last year. you would say he is a war
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monger. is he a structure of thought that will lead to his sense of what will make for a stable and good order. and you can disagree with it. and then push back in an interelectricly. in that of which i found disturbing. david is calling in from st. thomas virgin islands. david, you are on with walter issacson. mr. size accurate son. i am a new fan, since i saw you on book tv the other day. if you are will indulge me for a moment. i will make a comment to our friends in connecticut. scientists will create social leaders and artists. teach us what to do with the technology. um. i would like to go on with my question. i feel much the last several millennium of human history is the deevolution of power. for those individuals and as
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we have become more interface with the technology. as we have moved towards becoming cyborgs how do we protect ourselves from the individual uniqueness in the process? you answered your question in the beginning of your statement, that this is a humanity and arts that make us unique. and one of the thing about that allen. the movie. as much as we thought that we were like machines and we could be cyborgs in the end is he a human and has his own creativity so there is a chapter about this and i also did for the humanities last year. that is the importance of connecting the humanity to the sciences. this is all about the importance of connecting to machines let them run away. without us. a lot of people are fearing artificial intelligence and singulairity. and robots are taking over.
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as long as we understand our connection and interest facing with the machines i think that our creativity and our art. our moral sensibilities. those are the things that we have to understand and to understand the sensibility it will understand to help with history. humanities and the arts. a facebook page of the books. which do you fine teaches most about learning about culture or a culture? well the benjamin franklin will invent a new form of culture of which there is a tolerance of people and different religions to create a democracy based on individual liberties that also have the spirit of community to it. of that is one of the strands of america and they did not fully get it right. they thought that the forming of the association yae!ings was in conflict with the individualality.
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and ben franklin knew that our ability to come together. and libraries and hospitals, that was a core of a new form of culture. but to me if i had to answer in another way, the very interesting cultural situation is when einstein is in germany wrestling with general relativity. that comes after the 905 -- 1905 miracle of special relativity. he now wants to tie gravity into it. he wants to make it a way to tie in the whole forces of the universe and have a neary of gravity that relate -- a theory of gravity that relates to even space and time. the grandest and most elegant of all theories. but he's doing it in germany as a jew when anti-semitism is rising. he's a member of the prussian academy, but he's gotten -- he's split from his wife he's being ostracized more and more by attacks on what is called jewish ienc
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to a science and so watching that from 1914 to 1950 which is elegant theory 1915 which is the most elegant of all of science with the huge him, social forces pushing in him him 's , racing to see if that theories right.ll of the summer of 1915, all of this happening in germany and infigureut europe and he's trying to figure out the logic. another facebook comment.educator a being in the field of science education i'm always puzzled how little empathy is put on theat
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history of science in primary education. what are your thoughts? i think that is a great question. i've come to believe that one of the best ways to with teach science is to teach the humanity and the history of science. starting with the science withand othe as t galileo and kepler and others. an they test certain theories and comes then the product is comes along that the sun resolves around the earth rather than assert scienceay solar system. teach they help teach us how to think and how teach us how science society progresses and how to hu fimand her appreciation for the humanities arts whatever is you.
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important to you. wh to my daughter i mentioned earlier is trying to figure out what to major ineg and the college she s goes to has a great history ofat then -- as i'd sa science depidartment. she emailed me and said i don't know that science had a history but now that i look at it i see how anit builds on things and how there is a method that then, as i've said about benjamin franklin and thomas jefferson that can be we teach biology whatever. but if you want to understand where biology is going and where it came from read the double transferred to how we make a system, a society. so i think an appreciation for the history of science is something that our society could grab onto more. we do teach physics and biology and whatever
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introduced you to ada lovelace, but you also in all of your books mention a woman named kathy. >> guest: oh my wife. you know, she's got the most common sense of everybody, and she is the first and last reader of every book, you know, when i do the first draft and before i turn in the last draft. and, you know, there's a -- when you connect the humanities, kathy's somebody who, you know, she's been a lawyer, but she works on the washington women's foundation, new york women's foundation, you know helping other people. that notion of being engaged in society is always helpful when you're trying to write a biography and say how will that connect to other people in society? >> host: facebook comment: in the wise men you write about the mesh establishment -- american establishment. is there an establishment
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mentality today? if so, what is it, in your opinion? who or what determines those within this blushment? >> guest: yeah, there is an establishment mentality, and i mean that neither to elevate it, nor to denigrate it. there's a general consensus that i would call, you know, we have some at the aspen institute, the aspen strategy group. our aspen strategy group is run by brent sew craft who was george bush the elder's national security adviser and a great professor at harvard, bill nye. but likewise, council on foreign relations, the various sort of established view of the wld h the various sort of establish views of the world which believes and defines free markets and liberal democracies. it believes in balancing a realist of foreign policies. what our national interest? about you kane and russia is
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that the best place to assert it it combines it with an idealistic approach. we want to fight against people who are radical. that wrestling for the balance between idealism and realism and convention is him between foreign-policy and you can see that happening. the establishment is no ones being challenged so whether it's a ted cruz or a rand paul on the republican party or on the democratic party are against the general consensus that led us to a lot of interventions that were misguided over the last 15 years, including in my opinion the invasion of iraq. that was a misguided and miss calculated decision.
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challenging the establishment view. democrats and republicans favored the invasion of iraq. that was a mistake so we say who is going to challenge this view. what are we thinking, why are we getting into this? it's what the wiseman representative in the late 1940s. this is why democracy tends to be so much better is because he doesn't realize that's the strength of democracy when people from the outside get to challenge you and say no, why are you going into cambodia or vietnam. that to me makes democracy stronger in foreign-policy. the wiseman, how many did you get to talk to?
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i spent a lot of time with john mccoy. he died right as the book came out but i remember near the very end him and his wife would let us come and talk to him about that. i got to speak them, bowling and atchison just died. i spoke to bolan's children but working with them in thomas who's my co-author on the book it was a chance to look at archive. look at all the letters. herrmann and lovett rhody
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cheddar twice a day. see that's a conversation in the letters and then you could go to government and say what did you mean about this thing on laos. what we were able to do in writing that book was combine and go to the archives. they can go to the people who were involved in say what where you really aiming at? that's why i like this intersection that i was able to be part of and the journalistic approach to history and an archival architect approach. >> are we losing some of that with today's -- often times e-mail. >> i remember sitting in steve jobs house.
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hugely dramatic. in 1997 or 1998. he didn't write letters. oh yeah i got those e-mails. he had it in his house. he and all other techies tried to figure out how to we get access to these e-mails. unix and operating systems and he couldn't get those e-mails. i sat down to talk to him and he did something at harvard in the digital age which was try to get oral histories and get people's e-mail. after 45 techies i found all the e-mails and we were trying to
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crack passwords. so here's all my e-mail and i would hope university libraries can get the papers. we need your papers and your old computers so we can go through and archive your e-mail. i don't think were archiving e-mail very well. in the unit or care this week i've always admired the internet archive. these are folks who are in san francisco and are archiving every you're looking at your
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twitter feed. when twitter twitter feed. when twitter is affecting the events in ferguson, how are we going to get those tweets 50 years from now when were writing about what really happened in ferguson. how we going to get those e-mails? how are we going to get the webpages somebody may have put up. it's 50 years from now and god knows where they are. so i think we need to have a real effort to archive e-mails voluntarily. if you're donating your papers in your bill gates e-mail as part of it. if or trying to archive all the newspapers there's all also twitters and all the web things and we need an internet archive. >> there was a biography on jane franklin. >> jane has a sister and this is
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a cool thing, they wrote letters all the time. so when franklin is writing the french prime minister their writing every day talking about what he's doing and of course that's a different conversation and it's great the way she's tried to create a biography even though we don't know how it was obtained. it was based on letters to her brother. >> elizabeth you've been very paceman patient. >> first of all you have to do innovator part two. two. there's a lot of information that you've been covering that i'm really looking forward to reading about in the women having studied in it i know it's a real effort. but the second thing is i would like to see that book on da
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vinci because taking a math class and it classes and art classes all at the same time i'm beginning to understand that we don't understand the interaction between the art music and engineering. and the other half of our lives. >> absolutely and when mozart and einstein and all hell is breaking loose he picks up his violin and plays mozart because he believes that will help him connect with the harmonies of the universe. and franklin was that way. he was great at connecting art to science. leonardo was the greatest. but get back to the innovators, one problem with the innovators and the criticism of it is that every day i get for five letters
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saying you left out people who did basic. i would like to have a multimedia crowd source, open source book. maybe with the digital loyalty system and share in the loyalties where people take a book like this and that's there as a foundation. they add to the chapters and say here's what happened with this innovator i worked with and what he was doing with the computers in it at carnegie or wherever. all these people are writing in saying you didn't put in this or you didn't put in that. i need to have a way to have a living growing book and i hope to have that in five years or
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so. especially if there is a way to have a cyber story that allows anyone to create something and a piece of the royalties. >> there's one vote so far for da vinci. >> alley and allen in fullerton california you're on. >> thank you for taking my call these are wonderful books and helping us understand the people were shaping the way we lived. in your opinion is there a style that all innovators share? i feel date innovate in spite of turmoil that's going on around them. what is your opinion?
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>> as different as ben franklin is from steve jobs they all have a similar story. they all run away from high school and that's why i don't get asked to speak at a lot of graduations. they have a rebellious spirit to it. steve job captured that when he came back to apple and had to write a manifesto and you may remember it's the rebels. the people were crazy enough to think they can face the world are the ones who do. steve had a motto about what he was doing where he put up a pirate flag above the building where the macintosh building was an senates you time and einstein and franklin.
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the conventional thinking to think out-of-the-box, not knowing what was in the box and to challenge conventional authority with wisdom is awesome and important. >> benjamin sorensen tweets who in today's world lives up and is innovation limitless? >> it is limitless his answer number one. it's hard to do in the nondigital world than in the digital world. in other words you can do facebook and you can do things like biotech and electric cars and that faces a lot more regulation. it faces the need to not only innovate but collaborate and push the boundaries of reality.
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i love the things they're doing at google because they're connecting commerce to innovation and were bursting out with cloud computing right now. ibm is doing it and others are doing it. i think it's truly awesome. i think the way mark zuckerberg is doing facebook which is a platform upon which to build thing is really cool. i see innovation all over the place. i ran into tony fedele yesterday and he is the person who helped design the iphone and my can control my thermostat in my garage door in my life is better
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by connecting things. there is just enormous innovation. one interesting question is everybody i've mentioned, why is it that were more innovative? and i think that's we allow people to be innovative in our society. they used to be appalled and horrified and didn't like what people did, but we live in a country where what happens in china and other countries and maybe you don't get as much innovation. >> who is the most fascinating speaker you've heard in a while? >> we've heard tony blair to hillary clinton to barack obama bush. i find that people who are doing new things on the cutting-edge
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in science and policy and technology who come to the ideas festival or the action forum, like eric landon, somebody you may not know i hope he writes a book someday but he does, he's helping to create more sequencing with mit and harvard. he understands how we can have databases that have genetic information that can help us build new drugs. we might have to have a system that says count me in i want my genetics information to be shared or i don't want to be shared. those are fascinating and that's why i like being at the institute because there are many issues where science intersects
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with society and business and i hope we can find solutions. >> please go ahead with your question her,. >> thank you it took me about an hour to get through on air. i want you to think of a baby for a minute they don't know house from a dog. as they grow older they begin to get more curious. i think that curiosity is the key to many things. they have to collaborate because you can't live on an island. i think curiosity is very important. >> what you do? >> i'm retired.
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>> from what are you retired? >> i don't think you have the time. i was a reporter for a newspaper >> you talk about curiosity. yes that's me is something that you see in every great innovator and i'm so glad you raised it. let's take einstein for example, when he was about 16 years old his father gave him a compass. he looked at the needle twitch and it pointed north he was mem mesmerized by it because there's no particles hitting particles in the needle. how does a field work like that? you and i probably remember getting a compass and then a
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moment or two later were on to something else. there's a passion for curiosity on that compass needle for einstein. particle physics and gravity and relativity and the unified theory basically came from why does a compass needle twitch and point north. you can see that in ben franklin. why does it take a ship this time a ship this time to get to europe and come back and he measures the temperature of the water when he 17. he's able to chart golf stream. einstein worrying about things you and i might not even care about he questions the obvious.
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so i would put collaboration rebelliousness, passion and i'd also put curiosity up there. >> here's my question. why does the innovators not include jack guilty? guilty? he's in the book in different places. >> he's in the book in different places. when he when he gets the nobel prize and has such a wonderful answer and says the whole digital revolution comes. it reminds it reminds me of what the beavers said to the rabbit at the foot of the hoover dam.
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so coinventors of the microchip which is now intel the ability to have that rival and also to collaborate and work together maybe the index is messed up. but people read about jack and truly in my spirit i need the ability to figure out how he can make it so creative and then do it. a patent war about who did it between years ago in the courts and finally people were like jack kilby, let's just settle this let's crosslicensing move on. brian and wimberly texas, you're on high good afternoon, just wanted to say i'm really enjoying the conversation i
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wanted to, the reason i'm calling is i'd like to put a suggestion to mr. isaacson and i'm doing it more in the way of a plea. the institution as you mentioned focus on developing leadership. there are two critical issues that are illustrated by three books, one of which you reference in your book that influenced your book that you're currently reading. which areas i'm thinking about our the problems that exist currently with wall street and what i typically have in mind is the behavior that goes into
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getting that resulted in the recession. second thing and this relates to the book is the dysfunctionality in our healthcare system. the three books that i have in mind -- >> can you list the three books so we can get some more calls. >> 13 bankers by simon johnson and another book called in bed with washington by larry boyles. but the series would be excellent to focus -- >> it started as a time magazine article and gives an amazing look at the dysfunctionality of our healthcare system.
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i haven't read the other two books. i think when it comes to the financial industry one of the best things we can do is work with technology. to be able to have a digital and cyber currencies that bring alternatives to the banking systems that might enable commerce in a beltway. >> hi george. >> hi please go ahead with your question or comment. >> einstein described himself as a determinist. just like mark twain did i'm wondering how they got there. >> the issue of free will is one of the richest, most difficult topics to wrestle with and
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explain. certainly einstein wrestles with it, steve jobs wrestles with it and i'm not sure everyone's going to resolve it. do we have free will in a way that different work consciousness in a way that's different? einstein was a determinist and of course wins the nobel prize on the photoelectric effect that both basically said at the subatomic level there's physics and there's an indeterminacy at the atomic level that means there's indeterminacy at the basis of the universe. it can help with this theory but the universe may not be that way
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so even einstein never cracked into determinism and free will and i'm not going to be able to. he was not truly a relativist even though it was interpreted by many including some. >> what does that mean. >> that means when he does the theory of relativity it's not as if time is totally relative, he saying there is a relationship between time and motion but that is the law that determines how time and motion go together. he's not saying everything is well with it. he saying it's a cause that can be expressed in general of relativity.
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it happens though that when people look at the theory of relativity they think it ties in to a relic to stick morality and people who are doing arts and plays in music. they're doing the music with the old laws and with resistance -- you see that today, people who resist identity whether they're in the muslim world or america here's einstein saying the fundamentals that you've always believed in those are relativity. he believed in laws of nature but people who criticized him saying he saying everything is relative and that was part of
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the anti- stomach backlash which was called jewish science. a light at night, i write at night when the phone's not going to ring and things are going to pop up. i'm in my home office writing hard and writing alone. i'm not one of those people who gets no sleep. one of the joys is that i can i can convince people that no great ideas happen before 9:00 a.m. and we shouldn't get into early. there's been jobs when i was at cnn where i had to be in at 6:30 a.m. or seven but i like to be in at 8:00 o'clock or 9:00 o'clock a.m. when i can.
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i put it in the cloud and microsoft and ibm both have a great cloud but i use dropbox so i can be on the train going to new york on my ipad and i can write. i get to my office and we all have computers and i can call it up there. my iphone can pull it up. any device i want to so i'm not as wedded to hardware and i think that's great about having cloud service. if there was a funeral on that side of the room and i wanted to call up what i was writing i could just call it up from the drop box. >> do you worry about security? >> know, there are things i worry about.
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we got hacked in at the institute and they stole all our report. if they're spending that time stealing their reports maybe it will be good for them and good for us. i think the things you have to worry about your privacy and security but somebody reading the first draft of one of my books doesn't keep me up at night. dennis from illinois higher on the air. >> higher wanna think c-span for this program and especially wanted to think the author because i've read all his books and enjoyed all of them everything from the beginning wiseman to his last book. the question i wanted to ask is with the release of the white house tapes to the administration and the like has
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he changed his ideals of what kissinger was about russian mark looking at it he's a lot worse than the book on kissinger. >> were always getting more material. i've listened to those things before. there were many many available. there's no fundamental holy cow it was so different than we thought. it was revealing because they show private conversations when kissinger didn't know he was being taped until you see him sometime later in the darker side of his personality. they did a great job editing some of those tapes and i'm glad
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they're coming out. i have a friend, evan thomas who we talked about in the wiseman with me. he's writing a biography of nixon based on tapes. those tapes are weird but we talked about how we used to have letters and diaries and phone conversations, that's a travis or drove treasure trove but i don't think anything's come out since my book that would fundamentally change my book. >> chapter 32, january 1977, for the first time in eight years henry kissinger arrived in new york city by one of the air force jets of the presidential fleet. it was the week after jimmy carter's and operation. unlike any other previous secretary of state and unlike any past president he would be able by his larger-than-life
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personality long after he took office. >> what happened in washington he spoke at a lunch. i think he's 92 years old. he gave an overview of the world order about the ukraine in particular and russia. that was still as brilliant as any analysis you'd want to see. he was in front of john mccain's armed service. he was at the alfalfa dinner last night. henry kissinger has by his ideas, thoughts and his writing. his intellectual rigor retained
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the respect. >> you say that's 1977, let's do the math. thirty-eight years. he was last in government and 38 years. most people were born and yet he's still somebody as much as you may want to uphold the code but he's still a dominant part of our thinking and our debate over how idealistic policy should be. i definitely respect that and as i said henry kissinger wrote a book about how while world order happens even now many years later, we can apply that
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rigorous and intellectual framework to this world. especially now that hillary clinton is going to be running for president. people of both parties but even the republicans have asked them when bill clinton is doing his tour of the world and answering question and remembering everybody's name and having read policy papers on how urban revival happens in older cities with rivers, how the creative class moves in or how they help women in india, he understands and knows more than anybody else and he's absolutely hypnotizing when he's giving a dissertation. so he has that, definitely.
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>> thanks for holding, you're on with walter isaacson. >> hello mr. isaacson before i asked my question i'd like to say that i'm in favor of the da vinci book myself. i think that a lot of people my age don't appreciate biographies that much and i'd like to ask you because it's my favorite book of all time i'd like to ask how does your writings that you apart from others? you're the only one that i can connect to in that genre. >> i think if you like that book it's because steve jobs is a truly interesting person. it was revealing in dealing with with a biographer and so i doubt i deserve the credit that his book is very interesting to you. but there's a larger issue and that's that a historic academic
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has downplayed the role of biographies. the very beginning of my kissinger book, i don't know if you have it there, but it's something that he wrote and said when they were shuttled back and forth between the middle east. i used to think history was made by great forces. now that i see it up close i see the difference individuals make. so we biographers believe in the world of an individual to bend the force of it history. we also have to understand why i wrote the innovators that sometimes we biographers distort history. we make it seem like it's one person sitting in a garage having a lightbulb moment and innovation happens. when in fact, it's great innovators and thinkers that
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have to collaborate and form teams. that's what i tried to do in my latest book, but there may be some other academia experiences, but if you just tell the story of here's the beginning, here's the person here's how he grew up and you convey that that tells the history of our time through people. to me that's the best way to appreciate the creativity. >> as a professor i tend to think of history as something to study but when you see it in practice and you see the differences people make between great leaders that we don't have now were not dealing with --
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but their times and personalities make a big difference. mr. isaacson, have you ever written about anyone who's been elected to office? >> in the colonial assembly of the pennsylvania -- i hadn't really thought about that. i do think that i do think that is important and great to get involved in electoral office. it's something i've never did and should've done and if i could rewind the tape put yourself out there. run for office, run for city council and those people do get to make a difference. public surface is a very noble call. sometimes we make it difficult
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to put yourself out there and to be in public service and run for office. so maybe after da vinci and after leonardo i'll try to do somebody. >> if you were to write about an american president, is there one that comes to mind? i always thought roosevelt was somebody who is totally fascinating because he rises above the party but he somebody who understands the them portions of a bully pulpit of traveling across the country and saying he wanted us where deal. it's unlike the time were living in today, a time of prosperity and great technological change. great technology is exacerbating a divide the tween the rich and
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poor. he comes up with a square deal and unlike some of our leaders he says okay, i'm get a do it. he's gonna talk to every single town about the malefactors about great wealth. we have to have a square deal for the working person. i love teddy roosevelt. >> william is calling in from hot springs national park. >> mine is more a comment than a question perhaps. many of the things i've appreciated today have been answered. i'd like to use thanks these c-span for the wonderful presentation and i'd like to express my deep appreciation to mr. isaacson for presenting to
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us and determine the per trail of the forgotten characteristics of so many great people. one other comment i would like to make ben franklin i had the fortune as a youth to work in a small printshop and old ben would've been right at home. i was printing on a washington hand press then i became the operator of the press later. >> he believes in the spread of information and built the system so ideas can move about, just like the internet so i really do admire that part of ben franklin, that like me and you
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love the newspaper love the printing and the free flow of information and ideas. in 21st century america an inventor with the curiosity that would've felt right at home in the information revolution who is part of an upwardly mobile meritocracy. >> you asked me at one point was there some resistance. he was ambitious, he was entrepreneurial he was born of a working-class candle maker and become somebody who really wants to make a difference. it was somebody who was enthusiastic that i find appealing and i can understand
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why they say a little too ambitious, a little too brash. >> hi, i'm a big fan so thanks for taking my call. my question is, if the powers that became to you and said here's the key and i open up all of time to you who would you asked to talk to about being the most influential person. who's the top of the list for you and at the bottom of the list for you? >> chris who would you talk to question mark would be on the top of your list? >> i like da vinci and at the bottom of the list i'd like to talk to hitler. >> i would love to talk to leonardo da vinci about one thing that still a mystery to me
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and that's that he was a genius but so much was incomplete. designs were incomplete and never done. was it because he had a passion for perfection or was it because he didn't focus or he tried to do too much or once he invoked the code on something he didn't feel he needed to put the finishing touches on it. that's what i'm working on as i read his notes. likewise if i could talk to louis armstrong, okay i know everything about you, everything you did every day but i don't know if you are happy.
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i don't know if you were smiling. sometimes, i've had the wonderful fortune to do that with steve jobs. when you do get just talk to someone you can say i know everything about you but this in the case of steve jobs he's trying to explain this. >> here's a tweet i hope he writes a book on louis armstrong >> they do a very good book on armstrong and i still i don't know him but i think it has everything about louis armstrong i still find things a mystery. what was the cause of his smile and his happiness? to me i also would like to wrestle with new orleans and the diverse and mix of people. i would say the tolerance but
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also the intolerance. he is arrested on new year's day so it's not exactly ferguson, but what's happening back then with the prostitution and sense of tolerance but also -- all of that gives you a sense of what's going through his mind and i'd like to deal with that. to me new orleans is just fascinating. obviously it's fascinating in a complex way but to me it's a beautiful way. it's a city of math.
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the carnival season is beginning. the first parades are starting. louis armstrong watched this parade he didn't really know his father that while, he marched through the parade in a mask signifying in a strange way putting all those symbols -- you where your mask for mardi gras they called his war a mask. as we become the mask beware. that too is an interesting topic to explore. >> we have four minutes left and
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i've been waiting for a while to bring this up. did albert einstein kill math and a few years ago the book came out -- >> what happened when einstein died is take his brain out of his head and put it in a jar from aldehyde. i want to figure out why was he so smart. there's a larger issue because you can look and say this was different but that gets back to alan turing are we just machines? can you just assign little parts of his brain? i don't think so. were not machines, were human as
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much as they carve up that brain and slice it there has to be natural explanations for things. that doesn't mean under a micro scope you can find things no he didn't fail math. he laments the fact that his math is starting to stump him but he gets his good friends to help him. he did fine in math but it's a good myth to have because he's doing a thing that says you can learn anything. you can learn math you can learn relativity. you can go to con academy and watch the videos of inspiring people and you can learn anything.
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there was a time even einstein didn't know how to do that. you can learn anything. i think most of it is imprint now but it was parceled out. was it fun to write? >> it was some ime amusing. it was fun to write but we got to the larger issue that we just look mechanically and try to figure out why he was a genius. you need the whole book. not just a microscope in his brain. david, you're the last word today. >> thank you for taking my call. i've led quite a few of your books in the last two books i've read was the future of the mind
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and your innovators. i read them because i saw you and him i saw you and him talking and about them on book tv and it was such a wonderful format to have. i read a lot. one of my questions is do you think sometimes historians don't understand and don't bother to look at the time the person lived in and therefore there making assumptions about if the person lived today. >> yes that's when you impose the standards of today on that person. i think it's important for
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readers and historians to rest wrestle with that. the obvious example is when you're looking at slavery. you have to rise above some of the moral sentiments of your time. i think i can judge jefferson more harshly than others would because he didn't do that. even churchill did not get on the right side when it came to this but that's imposing a later judgment on them. you have to be aware of that. the last chapter of my benjamin franklin book is about how every new generation discovered franklin a new and sees him differently. in the age of great economic struggle he's revered as a self-made person. a romantic period, like the 1820s and 1830s they looked down on him. he wasn't romantic enough.
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we see a reflection of our own time but we have to be aware as readers that were not judging him in the context as today but in the context of history. does he deserve the accolades of the americas first philosopher. theology was an important achievement, enlightenment. byron relating morality to every day franklin laid the foundation. that is from walter isaacson's american life. his first book came out in 1986 and was co-authored the


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