tv Charlie Rose PBS February 25, 2017 12:00am-1:01am PST
>> hockenberry: welcome to the program. i'm john hockenberry sitting in for charlie rose. we begin tonight with a question -- what would christopher hitchens do and say in this unprecedented political climate? i talked to a group who knew him well, his widow carol blue hitchens, martin amis, douglas brinkley and leslie cockburn. >> yeah, i think he probably would have something to say every time he wrote a column or came on tv and, sadly, we have to try to infer what he might have said and really only he could say it. but there you go. >> hockenberry: we look ahead to the academy awards airing sunday. a.o. scott of the "new york times" talked to film critics david edelstein, josh horowitz and aisha harris. >> whether this is a watershed moment, is this a begin og offa new normal, it's honestly too
soon to say. yes. is this progress? yes. is this the solution? no. happens there is great films led by african-american actors, people of color, and that's great. in some ways, i'm almost looking beyond the academy. i'm looking at the blockbusters that are coming. that's more indicative of where the industry is headed. >> we con crude with jared cohen, president of jigsaw. >> the notice of toxicity of people being mean to each other is not new. throughout history and every corner of the globe we're experiencing things that are interesting where people derails a conversation. i think the main issue is we have to understand that the toxicity we experience online that has real world implication. >> hitchens, the oscars and jared cohen when we continue. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by the following:
>> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> hockenberry: this is one of those moments. you know what i'm talking about. everyone has an opinion. i've heard people this week say they've set rules, are we going to talk about trump or not. not. jon stewart retired last year but is on the colbert show virtually every night which is blowing jimmy fallon's ratings. who cowe need to guide us in this time. we lost christopher hitchens in 2011 to cancer, but when he was
alive, no president, monarch, politics, not even god was safe from his commentary, his historical wisdommizing. he was unequal with wit. he was a '60s socialist and ardent supporter of the invasion of iraq. no one wore the badge of contrarian as christopher hitchens as he once explained to charlie rose. >> not everyone wants to always be an awkward cuss or out of step or against the stream, but if you do feel the consensus doesn't spook for you, if there is something about you mat makes you feel it would be worth being unpopular or marginal, for the chance to lead your own life and have a life instead of a career or job, then i can promise you it is worthwhile, yeah. >> hockenberry: with so what would hitch say about america in
this age of donald trump? with me and hitches friends and colleagues from stanford, california, his widow carol blue hitchens, historian douglas brinkley is in austin, texas, and here in the studio are the novelists martin amis and journalist and author leslie cockburn. welcome to all of you. >> thank you. controlcarol, you said up untils last moments he was engaged in the news. we could predict he would have something to say about what's going on right now. >> yeah he probably would have something to say every time he wrote a column or came on tv and, sadly, we have to try to infer what he might have said and really only he could say it. but there you go. >> intellectual forensics, that's what we'll call it. douglas brinkley, he had a
historical reference that nobody else had that could create a parallel. what do you think he would find as the most important or significant historical reference that would describe this time of donald trump? >> well, he probably would have turned lacked to georg george ol who he loved so much. orwell's books are back in association. one of the consistency of christopher hitchens was his disdain of authoritarianism in any guise. he would go after whether henry kissinger or the catholic church, he did not care, if he smelled authoritarianism. so i think the moves of donald trump to suppress journalists would drive hitchens mad. but he would also see this as a grand opportunity, living in washington, d.c., to lampoon trump's, you know, speakers that are coming in, people who are on television. he would have just loved to have
warred with people like steve bannon or kellyanne conway, because he knew he would be able to devastate them. nobody could have beat hitchens in a debate. he would have picked up freedom of the press, anti-authoritarianism would have questioned all of trump's seeming fascist tendencies. although -- >> hockenberry: although because trump is an opportunity to lambast traditional liberalism in washington, d.c. and because of the sort of contempt for the clintons that christopher hitchens had, in the election, it's hard for me to know where he would have come down on this election. leslie, what do you think? >> i think christopher would have been appalled by trump, but he also would have said, who gave us trump? hillary clinton. i mean, christopher was not, as you know, a big supporter of hillary clinton. >> no. >> hockenberry: and i feel he would have said it's because of the way they ran that campaign
that we ended up with donald trump. i think h he would have laid a lot of responsibility at her feet. >> hockenberry: liberalism infuriated christopher, seemed to me. just sort of the complacent liberalism of sort of the intellectual elite drove him crazy. what do you think he would say about the people who support donald trump versus the people who have contempt for him? >> i think he would be very active in the resistance. i think he would sense that this was, you know, a moment that has chosen him. i think he would have more or less ignored trump himself, and he would -- he thought bill clinton was a titanic barbarian. he would have jumped out of his shoes to see trump in his pomp. i think he would have gone for steve bannon. he would have honed in on steve
bannon, who revealed himself yesterday as a semiliterate neurotic when he said every morning president trump tells reince and i -- he means reince and me -- that's a gross ill literacy. the idea of him being an intellectual is laughable. he's another nuclea neurotic wi. >> exactly. christopher would have said look to the language. with trump, the incredible language. negativity is what's coming out of trump and bannon's mouths now. look to the language and i think he would have learned a lot from that. i agree with you, martin, the idea that bannon is the intellectual heavyweight and idealogue of this kind of
supranationalist wing to have republican party is laughable. >> hockenberry: what would he think of bannon, doug brinkley? >> as martin pointed out, it's like swiss cheese filled with holes. hitchens was deeply well read and a brilliant interpreter of modern life and bannon is sort of a goldman sachs hack, wanna be producer in hollywood who kind of stumbled on this policy in 9/11 a policy of raw american nationalism, thoughtless. hitchens' word against established religions in general, and so, the fact of bannon trying to play some kind of god donald trump, you know, the first lady reading the lord's prayer at the florida rally the other way, those are things that would have irritated hitchens, but i do think he would have aimed for bannon for
the intellectual poser and, also, leslie nailed it, too. there's no way christopher hitchens would have voted for hillary clinton. >> hockenberry: what do you think his verdict on the state of the american system would be right now? >> well, i think a couple of things. with one, remember christopher said the totalitarian is my enemy, not the person who tells you how to live or makes you pay taxes, it's the person who wants to control how you think. so he would be very concerned of what's happening in those spicer press conferences, and what's coming out of bannon and miller and trump himself, this sort of controlling the thought process. it goes back way before orwell to tom payne who made it very clear that if you can't think, then liberty, you know, is a shadow that quits the horizon. so i think that looking at the numbers, he would have, for
example, on the whole russia issue, i think he would have loved the putin bashing, loved it, but i think he would have not bought the notion that the russians through the election -- threw the election in any way. i think he would have said that's the responsibility of the hillary campaign. he would have looked at the numbers in michigan, for example, he would have said, they weren't there on the ground, they didn't woo the unions, they didn't do their job. >> i think he would zero in on these threats to and trump have been making about the opposition party, and they said we're going to do something about it, now, that's what would set off all the alarm bells. >> he would love being called the enemy. you see it on cable news, this
sort of sanctimonious why are you calling me the enemy thing, i'm just a journalist. he would take it. he would just, oh, i'm the enemy, then?! you would see the spirit come out. >> hockenberry: he would say i am the enemy. >> he would think it is a badge of honor for the press to be attacked in the way that it it . the question would be could the press in general, those who cover trump, live up to it. it's a high compliment they're attacking the press. the question is will the press deserve it. >> that's the salient question for us. i mean, the press itself has a job to do. when we say, what would hitch say, it's because we miss him and admire him but it's also because we're asking the question of what is the press to do in this moment. what do you think, doug? >> well, we had richard nixon, after all, and hitchens
participated and all in that he loved to gossip about the nixon tapes and all the heinous things nixon said. but i think one of christopher's most successful endeavors was calling henry kissinger a war criminal. that took brave riand he stayed on it with a steady drum beat. there is a book called the great shark hunt. the shark was richard nixon, and the press came and went after nixon and got him, and i think hitchens would be proud of investigative journalists, people like leslie who get out there, do stories, break news. being in washington, d.c., not new york, he would have been the grand man to hav of the party ad people coming to his place. their apartment would have been the hub. it was the salon of washington a
decade ago and i would still be now. it would be what is the press doing. he had the spirit to rise above and say look what they're doing. >> he would have joined in solidarity with the press. when one journalist is shouted down by trump, all the other journalists, i am spartacus, they should all ask the same question. they've got to be confrontational with him because he's going to be confrontational with the press. that moment where he said, we caught them in a real beauty today, the press, and they're going to pay for it -- that beauty was the crowds weren't as big as they were for obama at his inauguration. it wasn't a beauty. anything. if someone gets his sop's middle name wrong, he calls it fake news. h he muddies the waters.
fake news is no longer usable through ambiguity now because, for trump, it means news i don't like. >> hockenberry: so, carol, does christopher hitchens, you think, know the script of how we proceed? will he look back at his knowledge of orwell and the 20th century and fascists and dictators who came and went and he could quote chapter and verse like no one else and know where we're head like nowhere else -- like no one else? >> i think you're right about that. i think he also, because i think we know trump doesn't really read, there are two movies i think he would be revisiting. i'm certainly not the first to point out. the manchurian candidate. so imagine angela lansbury is bannon, though bannon is not half as clever as she was. then also network, which i looked at it again recently, incredibly apt, and i think he
would have been drawing on some of these movie references. in "network," the problem was just the international corporatization of the media. now we have it with the government, with the executive branch. you know, and i think, also, he would be really attacking the so-called republican hold-outs, you know, the guys like mccain and, before that, you know, rubio, who disgraced himself. you know, who questioned tillerson, who had no business becoming secretary of state, and has, you know, international commercial relations with russia. but then rubber stamped it. so i think he would be turning an eye to the congress and really going after members of the senate and the congress as well. >> hockenberry: tillerson would be a particular target, i
think, of christopher. douglas, wrap this up for us. >> i was going to say someone like scott pruitt, the head of the e.p.a. who doesn't understand climate change, or water boarding, and the trump administration shrugging their shoulders it's not really torture, it would inflamed him. >> hockenberry: what would hitch say? i think we have an, inc. lynn. thank you so much for that. >> thank you. > i'm a.o. scott of the "new york times" filling in for charlie rose. the 89th academy awards will be held sunday in los angeles, jimmy kimmel will host the first time. la-la land leads the pack with 14 nominations. barrygenicings' moonlight and "arrival" follow with eight nominations apiece and joining
me is david edelstein chief film critic for "new yorker" magazine and commentator for cbs sunday morning. aisha harris, culture writer for slate, and josh horowitz, mtv news correspondent. happy to have them at this table. is it going to be a long night of la-la land land.? >> if you're a beght man, yeah. it's a crowd pleaser. it's the closest thing, i think, to a movie that lets you forget your troubles until a bittersweet ending and enjoy a classical form done right. >> seems to be a movie that
nits wake quite polarizing, one of the things that surprised me since it first kind of emerged through the festival circuit in the fall is how people seem to be fighting about this movie. it's weirdly divisive. >> one of the objections to this movie has come from kind of jazz fan corners who say it gets jazz wrong and that there is kind of an unpleasant racial politics running underneath it. also, among the other objections, are that ryan goes ling and emma stone can't sing or dance. >> that's why i didn't like the movie. when i go to a movie musical i want to see you be really good at dancing or singing. but if yo you aren't good at boh why aim going to see that musical?
>> what would you want? i love a lot of people. i don't want to hear marnie nixon's voice anymore. i can carry a tune better than ryan gosling, but he sounds ryan goslingesque when he sings. he's not the great singer fred astaire was or dancer. but emma stone has a sweet voice. it doesn't have a lot of fullness but it's on key and it's here. it's what the movie is about. it's not everybody does this wow gene kelly number. the singing and dancing are extensions of their personality as in umbrellas. >> i think one of the criticisms i think has come up and i agree with is the music -- i think maybe it's the music's fault,
the music is not as memorable or very good. astaire did not have that great a voice but he was singing berlin and gershwin, which to me the music here doesn't stick out. nothing stuck with me with the exception of piano trill. but the lyrics, the music didn't sound that great. >> i think there are ear worms. all five or six are stuck in my brain. it's the irony we're talking of la-la land sit maybe plays least to musical afis aficionados bece it's not full-throwed singing and 20 numbers. there is only six or seven sodges in the film, a ver me, i0 minutes or so that kind of sold it to me and made me forgive some of its other lapses or
flaws, and i think that has to do with movies and a kind of an idea of what movies can do and a way that a film can tell a story of something that didn't happen with as much emotion or more and conviction than it tells the story of what did happen, and that kind of idea and that openness to fantasy is, i think, something that maybe has been missing from a lot of hollywood and maybe why the academy in particular is so -- is so willing to -- so eager to anoint it and to anoint damian. >> that's why i liked when you checked yourself when you said it was app escapist film and then said to the bittersweet ending. actually it's a tough-minded movie about people who put ambition before -- you know, these are star -- are -- these people are meant to be together in the stars, and to demonstrate that, they go to a planetarium
and, you know, i mean, if -- there is no other more clear way to say these people are fated to be together. damian jazel i gave his ex-wife now a producing credit on the movie but they broke apart. i think he understands, as the last film he made pointed out that artists are often, you know, leaving, you know, the niceties of real life behind to perfect their craft. i think that's very much in the movie. >> that was whiplash, the story of the jazz -- >> let me say one more thing, his first film, guy madeline on a park bench, is a story of interracial romance and a wonderful black musician and there are long, searching jazz solos if that movie that i think would surprise a lot of people
from la-la land, also very abrasive at times. as well as a good old fashion song and dance number. so i think he's -- i think he's probably been blind-sided by this sort of charge that he's kind of whitewashing jazz. >> and i think the broader issue we should remember about anything, this is how we do pop culture now. we love something only to tear it down. and la-la land has been in the driver seat for so long, that it was kind of inevitable it would be picked apart in these ways and it's just kind of the cyclical nature. moonlight maybe hasn't had those chinks in the armor, but i think if you're out front as long as la-la land is, you're subject to criticism. >> you have to point out the world has changed, at least in america. the election happened and i think some of that pushback is also coming because we don't want the cad pi to give into this escapist nature. we want it to more effectively confront that through another movie winning as opposed to la-la land. >> this year, it is an unusually
and refreshingly diverse group of nominees. i mean, one of the questions that comes up is is this a sign that the academy or that hollywood is changing, is making progress, is this kind of one of those moments of the progress we have so often. what do you make of that dimension of the politics? >> do you agree that there is probably going to be probably three out of the four major acting categories are going to have winners who are people of color? i hate that as much as everybody else, but non-whites, let's say. >> this will be the first time in the history of the academy. >> i'm not sure about denzel.
ali. maybe casey affleck. this is part of the politics thing, and this is racial, too. i don't mean racial does a denzel is african-american and casey is white. i mean one of the ways they brick the consciences of the white liberal academy members, in many cases, is the sort of whisper campaign about the sexual harassment charges against casey affleck that were admittedly settled out of court versus how nate parker's the birth of a nation was pretty much, that whole debate played out in the hollywood reporter versus the "new york times." it was either sell them to oscar voters or turn oscar voters against it. i think there may be people, that might be enough in a season lie this and, again, it has nothing to do with such point notions as artistic merit, which
we would all like to believe in. it has to do with politics. >> although i think we can agree maybe birth of a nation didn't have the stuff to be a nominee. >> yeah. to put it delicately. it turns out to be overpraised at sundance. >> yeah, i mean, i think in terms of whether this is a watershed moment, the beginning of a new normal, is too soon to say. yes, this is progress. is this the solution? no. i mean, it happens there are great films this year led by african-american actors and people of color and that's great, but in some ways i'm almost looking beyond the academy. i'm looking at the blockbusters that are coming. that's more indicative of where the industry is headed and allowing a marvel film to come called black panther and to have a wonder woman film, have female-led franchises coming. that is more telling about where our cull cure shedding and hopefully how the movie industry is reflecting society more.
>> and then ghost in a shell or the great wall. so seems like it's moving a little bit. but then in other regards, particularly in the aging american community, doesn't seem like we have events near as much. >> let's give credit where 's due. i think a.o. scott at the "new york times" has pushed movies like moonlight. as much as we all loved it, i think you have been rather single minded in getting us to see film -- getting the mainstream audience to see film by filmmakers of color. let's not pretend that doesn't make a difference. makes a difference with the oscar voters and with the new york audiences, that's sort of the elephant in the room. >> i am that elephant. but i want to talk about moonlight because i do really have a very high regard for that movie and great admiration for
its director barry jenkins. but i think also that, in that case, credit also should go to a-24, the company that managed to take what is, in many ways, a challenging movie not only because it's the story of a gay, black young man growing up in poverty but also the way it tells that story, the wait uses the vocabulary of international arts cinema to tell the story and the the way it doesn't follow a standard plot arc and ends with this beautiful, delicate, quiet, intimate. it's the clue mack tick moment in the movie, two guys drinking tea together. which is a pretty radical thing to get you an oscar nomination. >> it is radical, but it is a movie about a gay character that still has hope under all the tragedy. the first time i watched it i
was wondering, what will happen? will he survive? how tragic will this turn out for him to be? and in the end, it's not at all easily solved, and not everything is tied up in a nice bow, but there is closure and there is a ray of hope and i think that for that to be a movie that's nominated is a movie about black people and a gay character is radical in its own way. >> it's sad but enormously hopeful and do any of the other movies have happy endings? >> the happiest movie we might have. >> it figures, yes. let's talk about hidden figures. hidden figures is the highest grossing of all the best picture nominees, having squeaked ahead of even la-la land, and is, i think, a movie that has just kind of connected with audiences in a really wonderful way.
it's a very conventional kind of movie. there is nothing radical about the form and the way it tells its stories and the way it sort of hits its beats and, yet, it also feels like it's opening up new dimensions in stories that we might think we know or that we might have seen told in other ways in hollywood movies. >> we're talking about trends and watershed moments, that's having three african-american women fronting your movie that's not a genre film, that's just like a well-told, very down-the-middle, based on a true story crowd pleaser and something that should be acknowledged as a good moment. the best movie of the year? no, but it works on its own level and works as well as it should. the casting is fantastic.
even before meryl streep's speech at the golden gloarks there is been this question and fake controversy about politics and oscar speeches and do politics have any places in movie awards show and we have jimmy kimmel a new host, a popular late night host, you have to kind of walk this tight rope between not seeming like an utter coward and also not, you know, alienating middle america. i mean, how do you foresee the night unfolding as a political event? >> i think as far as kimmel goes, aim little concerned because i don't think that he is the most astute comedian. handling this very delicate time period will be difficult. obviously there will be writers writing for him, but i kind of wish even though chris rock had his ups and downs this year, i
wish it was chris rock hosting again. i wonder if we'll see a repeat of the 2003 oscars which occurred a few days after we insided iraq -- after we invaded iraq. >> it was michael moore whoo stood up. >> a couple people chose not to go. >> billy crystal was very careful. he walked on egg shells the whole time. but what about that documentary category? there are four of the five are very topical, very politically charged, the fire at sea about the refugee crisis on a small island in italy. the 13th about mass incarceration. made in america, o.j.'s epic
ability race and history and sports and sexual violence and everything through the lens of that trial and rowel peck's i am not your negro, where he turns out to be the voice people want to hear the most of. it's when you put his words under actual contemporary footage, too. >> i think that would walk away with it if it hadn't been for o.j. made in america. o.j. made in america is such a monumental work, the only thing that might give anyone in hollywood because is it really is a made for television event. it has been screened theatercally, but the running time gives edelman so many resources and so many ways building his story others don't v. i would vote for o.j. in a
heart beat, though i love all the nominees. >> it's the category i think of the oscars this year. i feel like those five have a place in the best picture category. i would put those up against any of the nine nominees. o.j. is the starring achievement. it feels a little false to put it in a 23eu78 category. but whatever we call it it is the monumental pop culture work of 2016. you ran through the laundry list of issues it deals with and that is thanks to an amazingly long running time but also an exceptional 23eu78maker like ezra edelman. >> and a great companion piece to jeffery who is filling in for charlie, his book was the basis of the other monumental o.j. work which looked at it much from a courtroom personality drama. >> you made a good point, though, ezra had seven and a half hours to tell this story, and i'm just now thinking about
it, and i had the pleasure of interviewing rauúl peck for my podcast, and he worked a decade on a movie that's 90 minutes long, he pulled passages from baldwin and having samuel jackson not sound like samuel jackson reading the words. >> he didn't really sound like baldwin, either. >> no. after 90 minutes, you felt like you read six books. >> it's a great movie, out now, everybody should see it. >> amen. can we do a lightning round of any surprises? i mean, we're sort of looking at it as if la-la land is a done deal in most of the categories. is there some category where you think, you know, there might be an upset or -- >> well, hollywood loves tony
erredman. i love tony erdman. it's a delightful going to be remade by americans comedy about an overbearing daled trying to get his daughter to laugh again and have a sense of humor and a social conscience. however, what's happened with "salesman," you know, might tip the balance. i think "salesman" is a great movie, too. it's sort of an embarrassment of riches this year. that's why the oscars are so heartbreaking. you don't want to see people kicked off the island. you want to see them all gather together and hug. i do, anyway. >> bleeding heart. i would go with all the frontrunners, honestly. that being said i never get my oscar pooled right despite being invited to this table. supporting actors, mark did no
publicity. ali is the favorite but patel has the muscle of the weinsteins and lyon. you never know. michael shannon can do no wrong. so i think -- that's a place to look for an unlikely upset. >> i think that emma stone is probably going to win but i can maybe see natalie portman sneaking in there, even though jackie is stated and the movie is about her and the movie is not that great. >> isabelle should be in there. that could happen, too. can i just say, let me just say it again, i can think of so few of the nominees this year who i would not want to win, and in the past, you know, i've got a bee in my bonnet about somebody, but this year it makes me want to cry when i think
about those actresses and annette bening who gave my favorite performance of the year who was, you know, so -- you know, a cruelly ridiculously for 20th sen chi women. amy adams was in a rival which was a spectacular performance and she was very good in that lousy nocturnal animals movie, too, which shannon is so great in. this is what's so horrible about the oscars. these people are all this year wonderful. i don't want anybody to -- they won't be. they're going to go home and go into the fetal position and cry for a few days. >> we have been grateful to have seen so much good work. you're ending this on a wonderful and unexpected note of optimism, as you said about moonlight. there is hope. we will go on. and the oscars will be broadcast on abc on sunday night.
it has been such a great pleasure talking with all of you. aisha harris, jos josh horowitz, david edelstein, thank you so much. >> good evening, i'm andrew sorkin filling in for charlie rose. jared cohen is at the forefront of using technology to address the toughest challenges. founded goodle ideas in 2010, now president of jigsaw, its successor. the company is focused on a range of global security projects such as protecting people from online bullying and countering violent extremism. before joining google, jared served under condoleezza rice and hillary clinton where he pieo neared the concept of digital diplomacy. pleased to have jared on this program. >> thanks for having me. you for coming. you just announce add new project i want to get to immediately called perspective,
an idea about protecting people from bullying >> we're all familiar with toxicity online. we have a program to detect the toxicity to help publishers mitigate it. >> elon musk called it a hellscape. what has happened to culture online? >> i think this is humanity with us having more visibility into it. you have the notion of toxicity, of people being mean to each other is not new. throughout history and in every corner of the globe today we're all experiencing instances in which someone derails a conversation. by online barriers of entry are lower, people can scurry out faster. i think the main issue is we have to understand that the toxicity we experience online has real world implications.
>> we're not talking about fake news. we're talking about the idea of what we see on social media. what we see in the comment section of news stories, what we see on twitter and elsewhere. that's what this is about. >> the internet is made up of publishers and plat forms and publishers and platforms are eager to moderate. they're overwhelmed by the volume of nasty comments. what we've dealt with is an opportunity for any publisher in the world to run all their comments through perspective and in return they get a tocks sissy score of 0 to 100. toxicity is defined as this language makes someone leave the conversation. >> to put it in context, what's going to happen? if i wrote something that was toxic, does it get eliminated from everyone else's feed? >> that's the beauty of perspective.
we're trying to help with the detection of what's toxic, not trying to make a determination of what one does with it. you work at the "new york times." if you're at the "new york times" using perspective, you may make a determination any toxicity scored north of 75 you're going to remove from the comments. >> how do you define toxicity? these comments are likely to cause somebody to leave the cnversation. now, the way in which we've done this is we have data sets from partners, research partners. we've taken data and crowd sourced it to a credited organizations and asked them which of these communities do you think would cause somebody to leave? there was greater agreement among ano taters on what constitutes a toxic comment rather than a personal attack, obscene, off topic or hate or
harassment. >> how do you define hate or harassment? it's forcing someone offline or someone to leave the conversation. abusive language or more? >> in this case, abusive language. to use machine models you need a data set to train against. >> this is artificial intelligence reading thousands of millions of sentences. >> yes. we have a large data set in the "new york times" that is annotated based on what's toxic. the machine learns based on that data set. then we have other research partners. we go out to communities and people and crowd source and answer the question we are toxic. human beings read the comments and determine this one is toxic. >> how do you determine how the publishers will use this?
>> the publishers have drawn a line in what constitutes a violation of the policies. we're putting the power in the hands of the publishers. an obvious use case is for moderation. there is not enough human moderators to sift through the comments whereas if the human moderators are able to see in batch these comments are all sort of over our toxicity threshold based on the number of return by perspective, they can do it more efficiently. you can also imagine a situation where a publisher might decide we want the people writing the comments to know that the comment in which they wrote crosses that toxicity threshold as well. is the ultimate goal to change behavior? >> the ultimate goal is to get people to come back to these conversations, to have more civil discussion and, yeah, it is to change behavior. the reason we want to change behavior is, you know, if you look at what is happening, people are either shutting down -- the publishers are either shutting down comments altogether or overwhelmed with negative discourse at the the
sane people aren't participating. >> sorkin: what about fake news, what happens when somebody comments and lies? >> fake news, the challenge is it keeps getting defined in different ways. we have to be careful to distinguish between news we don't like and fake news. >> sorkin: but this system won't look at that. >> this is not about dealing with fake news. this is solving one problem which is people are nasty to each other in online discussions, and the arbiters of what discourse should be allowed or not allowed through the publishers currently do not have detection tools to scale the process of moderation. >> sorkin: last question on this particular issue which is, when you look at why there is so much hate online, what do you think that's about? i always say real life, as terrible as it sometimes feels online, man would this be a bad world to live in.
>> yeah, i'm not a sociologist, but i have hypotheses about this. i think there is something about the distance between the person making the comment and the victim of the comment that lowers the barriers of entry. why somebody is quicker to give somebody a digital black eye than to punch somebody in the face. >> it's not about anonymity because people put their names next to some pretty horrible stuff. >> i think having technology is something that creates space between the attacker and the attacked. again, i think it makes people not count to ten, makes people not think about consequences and the consequences are less apparent so i think that's part of it. also we're interacting with more people online in any given day than we will in our entire life. as the touch points go up, people agitate us. with we're also experiencing more people who are not a part of the circle of individuals we interact with. by virtue of be being online, you're in the same town square
as people across the world and you will encounter more and more voices you don't want to hear. >> i imagine if there's a critique of this, it is going to be this is the ultimate form of big brother. have you thought about that? >> so we thought a lot about this in the process of building perspectives and in the process of doing these models. one of the first things we wanted to do is ensure we built something that was a tool that, you know, would empower publishers to be the ones ensuring discourse was constructive. we made sure that we build something where neither our data nor models were things that were going to be used by governments. attend of the day, the best protection of users is machine learning models can't see through encryption which addresses concerns someone might have about surveillance. my view is if you look at the trends of conversations online, they get more toxic by day. you have 3.4 billion people online today. by 2020 you will have
6.1 billion people online on sphoans. a lot of new people being added to conversations. by the way in parts of the world where there is political, ethnic, sectarian tensions, so we should expect this to get much worse if we don't do something about it. for a problem we all agree is bad which is people having way too easy time being nasty at scale, if we can use machine learning to address that problem why would we not give it o try? >> sorkin: while we're here, i want you to put your state department hat on which is you spend a lot of time thinking about digital diplomacy, cyber attacks, cyber capabilities and the capabilities of others. what do you worry about now? >> i think the biggest thing is in the world is in a perpetual state of cyber war fair driven by a group of countries sort of varying forms of governance that are sort of the cyber powers, and they are deploying cyber
capabilities on a kay-to-day basis against each other, against their populations, you know, out into the wild, and the rules of engagement, for what it means for states to interact with each other in the cyber demand, have not yet been written. >> sorkin: are there countries we should worry about that have been underappreciated in terms of what their cyber capabilities are or saber capabilities they're trying to get? >> i think to me the most powerful cyber countries that -- in the u.s., u.k., germany, israel, china, russia, north korea has a very sophisticated capability, iran has very sophisticated capability. butthe real question is not which states are we failing to identify, i think it's more which states have demonstrated a habit of wreaking physical horror in the streets that do not possess a nefarious cyber
capability and how will they try to procure it, what will they be able to trade to get it. >> sorkin: rules of the road in terms of how all these countries deal with each other and how they might retaliate. there, of course, have been multiple reports that our intelligence officials believed that this election may have been hacked or was hacked to some degree by the russians in terms of the e-mails that were ultimately discovered and released. what is the proportional response. this has been the big topic in washington. >> there are no doctrines of proportional response for the cyber demand i'm aware of which is why we have no deterrents in the cyber domain. we have small examples, right, north korea hacked sony, the response is sanctions. the obama administration in its final weeks kicked a bunch of russian diplomats out and added additional sanction. some indictments of some iranians that hacked a dam in the u.s. you have these small examples but none are enough to change
the behavior. so if you're writing sort of new rules of the game, and by the way we have decades of experience around deterrents and proportional response and so forth, but if you're to write rules that really create this kind of -- >> what do the rules look like? what should they look like? >> has to be something that changes behavior. for instance, if the goal is to get, you know, a country to not conduct corporate espionage, what can you -- what threat can be sort of posed that would cause them to essentially change their behavior? this all gets more difficult in a world where attribution is so difficult. so i believe now that all wars will begin as cyber wars. what's so dangers about cyber wars or cyber incursions or cyber invasions, whatever you want to call them, you may not know that you were attacked for several years. we're used to a world in which a physical attack happens, and that moment in the situation room or wherever else, that retaliatory moment, where you say here's what happened to us, what are the options, what are
we going to do, what are the consequences, what happens when it comes two years later or three years later and so much changed, the political will is no longer there, everybody moved on, but you get the smoking gun information, what do you do if you're the leader of a country in that moment? >> i want to also talk about the role of corporations, specifically technology corporations in terms of the balance of power between states and companies. harvard business review had a piece out in the fall that said every corporation needs a foreign policy. do you think about a foreign policy for google, for alphabet? >> i think foreign policy is the wrong word because these companies are inherently global. i think the right way to think about it is each company has its mission statement, and it needs a strategy for applying that mission statement around the world. so companies have mission statements and a set of core values. where this gets interesting is historically, even in the last ten years, there's been a whole
host of international security issues that didn't seem relevant to the companies and i think what we're finding now is every physical challenge has a digital manifestation, all the problems where from the physical world are spilling over online and it's better for companies to assume whatever problems exist in the world is something that should be proactive and understanding how their mission statement and values applies to it. >> what happens when your program decides to put a toxicity score on a politician, dare i say by president trump or somebody else? >> the models themselves are imperfect, right, so we're putting these models -- so with perspective, there will be false positives. so we'll run comments through perspectives and the scores that come back through some of the comments in some cases will be wrong and, in this case, the users themselves can correct it, and it will help improve the model. but this is also why you apply
multiple models and end up using different data sets. >> thank you for a conversation that was non-toxic. >> thank you. >> sorkin: jared, appreciate it. >> rose: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
welcome to kqed newsroom. coming up in our program, former u.s. labor secretary robert risch shares his thoughts on job creation. and longtime lgbt activist cleave jones talks about his new memoir when we rise, also the title of a new abc mini series. but first, as part of our coverage of the first 100 days of the trump administration, new rules from the department of homeland security to crack down on illegal immigration, including expedited removal of undocumented people who can't show they've been in the u.s. for at least two years. anyone immigration officers deem a threat to public safety or national security. president trump is calling for 5,0ad