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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  September 23, 2019 12:30am-1:00am BST

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global warming is speeding up. the report was issued a day before the latest un climate summit in new york, where world leaders will discuss ways to control global warming. the future of the british—based, but partly—chinese—owned, tour operator thomas cook is hanging in the balance, pending the outcome of last—minute negotiations to save it from collapse. the fim needs £200 million in extra funds. and the us awards season is kicking off in los angeles injust a couple of hours. final preparations are underway for the emmy awards ceremony at the microsoft theater. the final season of game of thrones leads the pack with 32 nominations. that's all. stay with bbc world news. now on bbc news, stephen sackur
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speaks to microsoft's president brad smith on hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. remember the time when the internet was trumpeted as the tech tool that would deliver us a golden age of knowledge, freedom and democracy? well, now we are in a darker, more cynical place. the digital revolution has generated fears about lost privacy, mass surveillance and systemic misinformation. have the corporate titans of tech failed us? well, my guest today is brad smith, president of microsoft. how do we ensure our astonishing technological advances are harnessed for good? not harm?
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there brad smith, welcome to hardtalk. thank you. nice to be here. you have served an extraordinary amount of time at microsoft, the best part of three decades. you have seen the evolution of our attitudes towards information technology and the internet in particular. i have referred to the sort of great positivity, the optimism, in the early years. would you agree that these days, we are much more anxious and fearful about what the internet does, and how it might betray some of our values?” think that's the case. we live in an age of anxiety overall, i would say.
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we talk about the forces that are disrupting our lives, and even when we're not talking about technology, when we are talking about globalisation, income inequality, we are actually talking about forces that have been unleashed by technology. so we do live in a time when technology is both a tool under weapon, and we need to address both sides of that coin. interesting you use this phrase, and you have written a whole book with its title front and centre. tool and weapon. let us address this notion of information tech and the internet being a weapon. who is to blame for the weaponisation?” being a weapon. who is to blame for the weaponisation? i think in some sense we should look all around us. i would look first and foremost up certain governments that clearly are weaponising technology. we have authoritarian regimes launching cyber attacks that disrupt it on a single day in 2017 one third of all of the nhs hospitals in the united kingdom. # disrupted. but it is broader than that. we see cyber
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criminals, we see concerns about our privacy from unintended consequences. the one group you left out there with a giant tech corporations themselves, of which you are of course a representative, a very senior you are of course a representative, a very senior one. you are of course a representative, a very senior one. is it not time to conclude that the tech giants, and of course in the western world there are the big five, which includes microsoft, and we can list the others later, these tech giants became too big, too powerful, too full of hubris? i don't know if the tech giants are too big or too powerful, but we all need to step up. we need to think more broadly. we need to assume more responsibility. i do think that the industry needs to mature and really acknowledge quite explicitly the challenges that technology has created, and not just challenges that technology has created, and notjust the benefits. ido want created, and notjust the benefits. i do want to talk about the evolution, because it is very germane to the microsoft story itself. it is not so long ago, let's say in the mid to late 1990s, but many people studying the tech sector
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referred to microsoft as the evil empire. you were the first of these giant companies that ruthlessly exploited technology to dominate a marketplace. looking back, do you think that was actually a mistake? the attitude that was brought to the table by microsoft? we made more than our share of mistakes. and i think it is an interesting story, because we had to learn. part of what we had to learn was to look in the mirror and see ourselves not as we wa nted the mirror and see ourselves not as we wanted to see ourselves, but as the way other people saw us. we had to learn to connect with the world. we needed to assume more responsibility. we needed to compromise and accept regulation as it was imposed on us, and in that story, i do think there are parallels for the tech sector as a whole today. because it was tempting, of course, this was personified perhaps by bill gates more than anybody else, attempting to see this sort of geeky extraordinarily smart business
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leader in a new enterprise, tech oriented, to really was sort of in it for the purity of developing the knowledge. but of course bill gates wasn't really like that at all, just as mike took a big more recently isn't really like that at all. he is not just be uber—geek, isn't really like that at all. he is notjust be uber—geek, he is a ruthless businessman out to suck every dollar of profit that can be made from his dominance of the market. i would not endorse a statement that brought. what i would suggest is that in the world of technology, people start companies with a great idea and they move in very fast. 0ne with a great idea and they move in very fast. one of the lessons to be learned is that while it is important to move fast, one should never move faster than the speed of thought. and i think if you look at the history of digital technology, it has had a tendency at times for companies to move fast, the old slogan was moved fast and great
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things, i think the new slogan is... just to interrupt you on that point, do you think microsoft was guilty of that, in its determination to absolutely dominate and rule the operating system market for pcs?” think that what we learned was that we needed to think more broadly. there is a singularity of focus that you often find in very successful tech companies, and microsoft would be among them. and then you reach a point where you just have to recognise that the impact that you are having on others, other people in your industry, the world as a whole, is so much greater that you have to step back and internalise that, and that is the key to accepting more responsibility. interesting. if that is the place that big tech is out today, do you understand the calls being made across the political spectrum in the us right now for the breakup of the biggest companies? if we are going to name them, then it would be
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amazon, apple, alphabet, who of course have google, then there would be microsoft, than facebook. there are, and i'm going to quote you, senator elizabeth warren, a hopeful presidential candidate in the democratic party, calling for the breakup of those big companies, because she says they "fundamentally the balance of power in our democracy". —— fundamentally threaten. i do believe we need to... also strengthen the democratic side of the balance of power in democracy. —— i'll say strengthen. i don't believe you need to break companies up. i don't believe that is the best or even fastest path to restoring the power of governments, especially democratic governments elected by the public. we learn from microsoftmy own experience, that while the government in our case 20 yea rs while the government in our case 20 years ago, actually pursued a breakup of the company, it could accomplish what it wanted indians without doing that. and you can move
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a lot faster as a government to doing it in a different way. —— what it wanted in the end. let's talk about regulation, what you call guardrails in your book. the idea that you can find a way of working, private sectors, the big tech companies, working alongside the state government to develop meaningful, effective guardrails. to ensure that the public is well served. tell me what you think these guardrails should look like, but we don't have today. i think one should start by asking what problems we wa nt to start by asking what problems we want to solve, and then you create guardrails to solve each one. certainly we look around the world today and there are plenty of technology problems that need to be solved. there are issues around privacy, there are issues around cyber security. there are issues around the use of artificial intelligence in, say, something like facial recognition. there are economic issues especially the impact that technology is having on
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jobs in the future of the economy. and in some places in the world there are some guardrails in place, say, in europe, around something like privacy. but almost everywhere you look, i think we need additional guardrails. we need to guardrails that will be essential for the decade ahead, the 2020s, and we need to start building those now. let's get specific, and let's start with privacy and data. goodness knows technology allows every single one of us now to use technology allows every single one of us now to use our technology allows every single one of us now to use our smartphones and our laptops and our tablets to acquire and use information, and thereby to also provide information about ourselves. to tech companies such as yours. in the united states, there is a law which in essence says that the tech companies can't be held legally responsible for online content that is on their platforms. is it your contention but but must now change? actually, yes. section
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230 of the communications decency act. it was created in the 1990s when the internet was reallyjust taking off. the notion was that the best way to enable the internet to ta ke best way to enable the internet to take off was to give to interactive services immunity that journalists, networks, television and radio had traditionally faced for content. i don't think that one should just abrogate what was created in the 90s, because i think that would probably virtually suffocate social media. but the time has come to accept that there needs to be some exceptions under some new responsibilities for companies, including our own, responsibilities for companies, including ourown, in responsibilities for companies, including our own, in this space. you say including your own, but the sceptic in me says to myself, here is the guy, one of the top officials at microsoft, suggesting a change, making himself look like a real public spirited corporate leader, but actually, a change which will hamstring facebook and twitter and some other content carriers, but it
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won't really affect microsoft at all. this is an easy hit for you. well, i would actually say there are two things to consider. first, one of the largest social media networks in the world is linkedin, owned by microsoft. it has 650 million members around the world. i think it is always important for us to make sure that we are willing to assume the responsibilities we suggest for others. and secondly, at the end of the day, i don't enquiry should pursue a path that fundamentally impairs the ability of any service to deliver the value that people really expect and rely on. —— don't think we pursue a path. whether it is from us or from anyone else. this needs to be an exercise in identifying how we protect what we value, but create more responsibility, and there are real practical steps under way this year
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to do that and i think those are the things we should learn from. let's talk about the degree to which the big tech companies and governments are capable of cross collaboration, of working on these problems together. i am very mindful that, for example, earlier this year, after a terrible mass shooting in christchurch, new zealand, the new zealand prime minister and the french president tried to work together and brought companies such as your own on board to get a sort of clarion call, a declaration together, of collaboration, to ensure that hate speech, for example, is taken down, taken off the internet. but frankly all these months later there is no sign but thatis months later there is no sign but that is actually working.” months later there is no sign but that is actually working. i actually think we are making important progress, and we will continue to make important progress. i think tremendous credit is due to new zealand's prime minister, jacinda ardern, and to president macron, and other leaders. i happened to be in wellington, new zealand's capital, less tha n wellington, new zealand's capital, less than two weeks after the christchurch terrorist attack. i had
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the opportunity to sit down with prime minister ardern. the work that began lead two months later to the christchurch call. you know what i'm going to say. donald trump and the trump administration do not seem to be interested injoining this initiative, and if the us won't join, what on earth use is it? well, it is interesting. in the world today, if your goal is to actually change the features or conduct of american technology companies, you actually don't always need the united states government. look at what happened in the wake of christchurch. new zealand moved, australia passed a new law, just two weeks after that the british government introduced a new proposal. the french and germans have moved forward and the american technology companies have actually changed a number of important aspects of our services but were exploited by the christchurch terrorists in a way that we should never want to see exploited again, all without the support of the us
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government. but i have to be honest with you, mr smith. when you tell me that the new zealanders are on board and the scandinavians are on board and the scandinavians are on board and the scandinavians are on board and the french and may be the uk government to, it doesn't really surprise me. it seems to match the rhetoric we hear from surprise me. it seems to match the rhetoric we hearfrom politicians in those countries. i would be much more interested in frankly impressed if you told me about the russians, the chinese, the north koreans and indeed donald trump and the americans were signing up to what you have at some points called the geneva convention that is needed to control technology across the world. these countries are the problem. and they are not interested in your solution. i think one should consider it from a different perspective. we need to build coalitions of the willing, especially among the world's democracies. there are roughly 75 democratic nations in the world, roughly half the world's population live in them. for example, under the
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leadership of a number of western countries, including the uk, france, germany, people came together in paris last year, to sign a new cyber security agreement. all 28 members of the european union, 25 of 27 nato members, the us was missing but progress is advancing.” members, the us was missing but progress is advancing. i address my wider point about other people missing. ifi wider point about other people missing. if i had been in a british hospital and had computer systems wiped out by a malware attack that came from north korea, it would be no great consolation to know the scandinavians had signed up to geneva convention or internet safety. what you're not telling me is, while we can continue to have any confidence in the security of our data, our information, when we know there are people in north korea, russia, china, and a host of other countries committed to developing ever more sophisticated cyber warfare. but that is exactly the point. if you're going to defend the point. if you're going to defend the world's democracies from the
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world's authoritarian regimes, you start by building an alliance of the world's democracies. it's the basic principle that led to the creation of nato. it's the basic and simple that won world war ii and it's the basic and simple we need on the 21st century to defend the world's democracies from these authoritarian attacks. interesting point but maybe you are being a bit naive because i'm also remembering in 2013, you and many others from big tech were called into crisis meetings in the white house under the 0bama administration because you discovered thanks to the leaks of edward snowden that the us state, the government of america, your government, its national security agency were illicitly tapping into electronic communications for their own national security purposes, unknown to the millions of people's data was accessed. since when did any government in the west trust america? one should have some facing
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democracy and be to protect it. i actually think as we described in our book that the snowden disclosures in 2013 were one of the great inflection points for technology of the past decade and it did awaken us all to things we did not know. it led us as a company to file not one but four lawsuits against the 0bama administration. we went to the united states supreme court, we took steps that lead to greater legal protection is and that's the other side of the point. if we protect our rights and democracies and protect ourselves from authoritarian cyber attacks, that's not going to solve the problems of the world but it's fundamental to the progress we make. iam fundamental to the progress we make. i am really sensing your passion for this but i'm also wondering whether you are not being deeply naive and perhaps some people watching this will say a bit misleading. because we've established the state actors across the world, frankly, on the
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record, can't be trusted to follow your principles but also on the private sector has repeatedly failed to follow your principles. we only have to think about facebook and the data released by cambridge analytical and the fact that millions of facebook users won't do know their data was being accessed for political purposes and we can frankly look at microsoft and even the recent past, you've been reprimanded in ireland, there was a published report showing that linkedin, one of your companies, was applying algorithms to personal data to suggest network connections, addressing email addresses, accessing email addresses of millions of people who had no idea they had been accessed, and that was a linkedin responsibility. dutch officials pointing to microsoft collecting personal data without informing users. why should we trust any of the actors in this set?” don't think that this is about sitting back and just hoping that people do the right thing. i think it is about engaging people are
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perhaps most especially the public at large, so that we all take the steps to ensure that the right thing is done. i think that the fundamental point that you are making actually is a valid one. one of the stories we share in the book was that meeting with president 0bama in the white house in 2013. i was there and is when the tech sector were pushing the white house to put in place more checks and bala nces to put in place more checks and balances on the nsa, there came a moment in that meeting when president 0bama looked at us and said, i have a suspicion the guns will turn. you all in the tech sector have as much or more data in the government, there will be a day when the demands you are trying to place on the government will be placed on you. he was right. it was a patient observation. so if you're accepting the premise that brackley we should be sceptical about the state actors in the big tech companies, let me bring it back to the individual and all the people watching and listening to this interview. we all generate enormous,
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most of us now, enormous amounts of data. why can't we have ownership of the data and at least have a transparency as to what our data is being used for and by whom? actually think that is something that is an important goal and it needs to be a reality around the world. so when? interestingly, for any country that is today in the european union, that is today in the european union, that is the law of the land. it became the law of the land in may of 2018. people in the eu have the right to go to people in the eu have the right to gotoa people in the eu have the right to go to a digital service and find out what information the company has about them. they have a right to correct and if it's wrong, to deleted, moved to another provider andi deleted, moved to another provider and i will say, we need to bring those rights to the rest of the world and i will also say, microsoft todayis world and i will also say, microsoft today is the only company in the tech sector that said last may that we would take the rights that
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european law gave to european customers and we would extend that to all of our customers, everywhere in the world. and we found that customers, people everywhere, actually value these rights. in the future, artificial intelligence appears to be the next great step in the sort of text story. in the west, and particularly the united states, it seems that al and innovation within it is being driven by the big tech companies. in china, it seems the state is committing itself in vast resources to investment in al. which approach is going to win out? i think at the end of the day, you are going to see ongoing competition between both approaches. i don't think this is the kind of thing where one approach is going to win and one is going to lose. i think the real question shouldn't be who will do better, the us or china. the real question is, how do we ensure that artificial intelligence becomes a little bit more like electricity
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in the sense that it needs to be a tool that any company, any government, any nonprofit can use anywhere. shouldn't wanted to be an invention that drives wealth or income or power tojust invention that drives wealth or income or power to just a couple of places on the planet. in the course of your long career and having seen what has happened to the text set, what's up in a private is this, our states abused and misused information technology, are you confident that we human beings as a species are going to develop autonomous, quote, unquote, thinking machines in a responsible way?” think you just asked what may well be one of the most —— single most important questions for our generation of people because think about it in the terms you put it. where the first generation the history of humanity that is giving machines the power to make decisions that historically can only be made by people. if we get it wrong, every
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generation that follows will likely pay a price for our mistakes. does that mean that we should be optimistic or pessimistic? i shall think it means need to be determined. it is of fundamental importance that we get these issues out on the table, we enable people to understand them, we start to bring together not just to understand them, we start to bring together notjust technical people from the tech sector but people from the tech sector but people from the tech sector but people from brought communities, to really co m e people from brought communities, to really come to terms and enable us especially among democratic societies, to put laws in place that at least increase the probability that we will get this right. so optimist or pessimist? i am both but mostly i say, it doesn't matter. it only matters that you are determined. we are determined to do what we can do notjust think about this from a technology perspective, it's why as we share in the book, if you go to the vatican, we meet with the world's religious leaders, with
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philosophers. if we are going to ensure that computers reflect the best of humanity, we need to ensure that all of humanity is reflected in this conversation and we just have to stay on this every day. brad smith, it's a great way to enter this interview. you very much for being on hardtalk. thank you. thank you very much. hello. it was a weekend of two halves. we had plenty of sunshine for most places on saturday. followed by more showers on sunday. but on both days, it was warm, with temperatures above 27 celsius. this was the scene
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as the sun went down on sunday night in cornwall, some clear skies but shower cloud around and really, through the week ahead, we are looking at a pretty unsettled autumnal, wet and windy at times and it will feel quite a bit cooler than it has done. monday is of course the autumn equinox and right on cue, we are welcoming this area of low pressure from the atlantic. some of this rain is much needed rainfall, articularly across parts of south—east england where we have had less than 20% rainfall for september. most places starting dry. cloudy and damp for the north—west of scotland. these areas are working to the south—west of wales and england and northern ireland, central and eastern parts of england, up to southern scotland, you should stay dry all day. typically, the high teens when you are under the cloud and the rain in the west. moving through into monday night, and ovenright into tuesday, we see that rain becoming quite heavy, especially across parts of south
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wales, southern england as well, the winds also picking up with that heavy rainfall. it will be a mild night, certainly frost—free as it will be really for much of the week ahead, we're not expecting to see any frost this week but what we are going to see is some strong winds and heavy rain on tuesday morning, courtesy of a bit of a wave developing on this weather front here moving on from the atlantic. so with all that rain and also the strong winds to content with as well, we may well have a bit of disruption to travel tuesday morning especially for parts of southern england, and into south wales as well. a lot of standing water on the roads. this area of heavy rain works its way gradually eastwards across england and wales. that'll followed by more heavy showers and thunderstorms packing in from the south—west. i think northern ireland and the north—west of scotland should stay predominantly dry through the day. temperatures only around about 15—19 degrees. much cooler than it has been and plenty of really quite heavy showers around. not only showers but wind gusts.
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30mph in land, a0 or even 45mph on the south coast all that wet and the english channel too. and windy weather, some rain in the south—east wednesday morning. unless windy day by the time we get to wednesday, with a mix of sunny spells and a few scattered showers but not a particularly wet day on wednesday. temperatures around 16—20 degrees of the week. bye— bye.
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this is newsday on the bbc. i'm rico hizon in singapore. the headlines: as world leaders gather for another climate summit we ask — can china kick its coal habit? getting electricity from these things is now cheaper per unit than generating it from coal. but at the un, scientists say greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere have reached new records. i'm kasia madera in london. also in the programme: crisis talks continue at travel company thomas cook, the british—based but partly chinese—owned firm could collapse within hours. the emmys — america's
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