tv 60 Minutes CBS January 13, 2019 7:00pm-8:00pm PST
captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. >> you've asked the white house for a bunch of things. you've asked for documents connected to jared kushner's use of private emails. child separation policy at the border. have you ever gotten anything? >> zero. >> nothing? >> zero. that's the point. now, i don't know if any president has ever done this. none, none. >> well, that's about to change. democratic congressman elijah cummings is now chairman of the house oversight and reform committee, with the constitutional authority to compel testimony, demand documents and investigate anything, creating new problems for the trump administration.
>> today, artificial intelligence is not as good as you hope and not as bad as you fear. you do believe it's going to change the world? >> i believe it's going to change the world more than anything in the history of mankind. more than electricity. >> kai-fu lee believes the best place to be an a.i. capitalist is communist china. one of lee's investments is "face plus-plus." its visual recognition system smothered me, to guess my age. it settled on 61, which was wrong. i wouldn't be 61 for days. >> chris downey had constructed the life he'd always wanted, an architect with a good job. >> that whole exterior. >> happily married and coaching his ten-year-old son's little league. but then something awful happened. he went blind, and that threatened to end his career. >> different? >> oh yairks.
-- yeah. >> or did it? >> i'm relearning so much of architecture. it wasn't about what i'm missing in architecture, it was about what i had been missing in architecture. >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm scott pelley. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm sharyn alfonsi. >> i'm bill whitaker. those stories, tonight, on "60 minutes." >> cbs money watch sponsoredly lincoln financial. no matter who you're responsible >> good evening. tomorrow is day 24 of the partial government shutdown, now longest in u.s. history. banking giants, airlines, and netflix all report earnings this week, and at the auto show in detroit, ford and volkswagen are production partnership. i'm david begneau, cbs news.
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testify in a televised hearing before the house oversight and reform committee. it marked the beginning of season three of what's been called the "donald trump reality show" with a fresh plot, and new characters ushered in by voters in the midterm election who gave democrats control of the house of representatives. among the recently empowered is congressman elijah cummings, the new chairman of the house oversight committee. it has the constitutional authority to investigate anything it wants, creating serious problems for the trump administration, and making cummings one of the most powerful people in washington. >> elijah cummings: we are better than that. >> kroft: elijah cummings has been a familiar face on capitol hill for a long time, a respected 13 term maryland congressman who has served on the oversight and reform committee under four different presidents. and he was handpicked by the democratic leaders for this job. >> cummings: we are in a fight
for the soul of our democracy. and you've got to understand that. this is serious business. >> kroft: you can dismiss the congressman's statement as partisan hyperbole, but part of the government is shuttered, four of president trump's former associates are now convicted felons, ten of his original cabinet secretaries have left, four under a cloud of scandal. and there are 17 other investigations underway. >> will you all please raise your right hand? >> kroft: not counting the ones that are about to begin in the new democratic house of representatives empowered with the legal authority to compel testimony and demand documents. so how are you going to run this committee? >> cummings: what i'm going to do is i'm going to try to work with the republicans as i have in the past. you know why? because that's our job. and when it comes to subpoena, i know the power of a subpoena, having practiced laws. in order to do oversight, you
got to have documents. you got to have emails. you got to have information. >> kroft: for the first two years of the trump administration, that kind of information was beyond the reach of house democrats. the power of subpoena belonged exclusively to the republican majority. as ranking democrat on the house oversight committee, cummings made 64 requests for subpoenas on things like white house security clearances, hurricane relief efforts in puerto rico, and the justice department's refusal to defend the affordable care act. all of them were blocked by the republican chairmen. you've asked the white house for a bunch of things. you've asked for documents connected to jared kushner's use of private emails. child separation policy at the border. have you ever gotten anything? >> cummings: zero. >> kroft: nothing? >> cummings: zero. that's the point. now, i don't know if any president has ever done this. none. none that has ever said, "i'm
not giving you anything." for anything. nothing. >> kroft: but you're sitting here telling me you think somehow, miraculously, he's going to change. >> cummings: it's not about miraculous. it's about adherence to the constitution. and the american people and the congress is insisting that he allows us to do our job. basically what the president has done and the republicans have done, they've joined hands. and the republicans have been basically not only blocking, but become the defense counsel for the president. okay. but no documents? i mean, come on. >> kroft: now, as chairman of the oversight committee, cummings no longer has to consult with the republicans to issue subpoenas, initiate investigations or cari and he has a much bigger budget and staff. so will adam schiff, chairman of the house intelligence committee, and jerrold nadler, chairman of the judiciary
committee, but their inquiries will be limited to their specific jurisdictions. cummings' committee has the authority to investigate anything inside or outside the federal government. >> cummings: we can look at anything. >> kroft: you could-- >> cummings: anything. >> kroft: --look at interior, you could look at e.p.a. >> cummings: anything. but the fact that we can look at anything is part of the problem. there's so much. no, i'm-- i'm serious. there's so much. >> kroft: and you only have two years. >> cummings: less than that. actually, less than that. the congress doesn't meet but so many days in a year. and all i'm saying is that we've got to hit the ground, not running, but flying. >> kroft: some democrats believe cummings should go for the jugular and push for impeachment. he says it's premature, and he also wants to pursue other issues especially the high cost of prescription drugs. his staff has already sent out 51 letters to government officials, the white house, and
the trump organization asking for documents related to investigations that the committee may launch. the issues range from the private use of government owned aircraft by cabinet members to the flow of foreign money into various trump enterprises like his hotel in washington. you think he's making money off this job? >> cummings: please. >> kroft: a lot of money? >> cummings: a lot of money. >> kroft: and you say the constitution and the laws say it's not okay? >> cummings: it's not okay. and, but this is the other piece, i still believe that people-- the average citizen, the guys on my block, they ought to know if the president is making a deal, whether he's making it-- making it in his self-interest or that of the country. >> kroft: in response, the white house said, "these claims are completely baseless, but we cannot comment further about ongoing litigation." elijah cummings has been in congress for 23 years, but he is
not a creature of washington. >> kroft: when he needs to be there, he commutes from his maryland district, an hour's drive to the north, where he represents 700,000 people and most of the city of baltimore. he was born here 67 years ago to parents with fourth grade educations who'd been sharecroppers in south carolina before moving north for a better life. his father worked in a chemical plant, his mother was a domestic. both were pentecostal ministers. >> cummings: first it was religion, and then it was the education. my father, steve, had a saying. he said-- he told us, "if you miss one day of school, that meant you died the night before." and he meant that. i did not miss one second of school between kindergarten and graduating from high school. not one second. >> kroft: he graduated phi beta kappa from howard university before earning a law degree at maryland. he says he is one of the few congressmen who live in an inner
city working class neighborhood. how long have you lived here? >> cummings: 37 years. >> kroft: he says he keeps a campaign poster in the front window so people will know where to find him. so you like to be among your constituents? >> cummings: i like to be among my constituents. let me tell you something man, if i don't do well in this block, i'm in trouble. i mean, if you want to take a poll, if i lost in this block, i might as well go-- i might as well stay home. >> kroft: when riots broke out in baltimore three years ago after the death of a young black man, freddie gray, who was fatally injured in the back of a police van, cummings gained national attention walking the troubled neighborhoods trying to keep the peace. he is part of the city's fabric. this is pretty impressive. >> cummings: oh yeah, i love it man. >> kroft: but now he has stepped onto a much larger stage, under the bright lights of the oversight committee. >> cummings: well, i sit here. and the democrats will be all over here.
and the republicans will be over there. our hearings can go anywhere from an hour and a half to eleven or 12 hours. >> kroft: so you got a good, comfortable chair. >> cummings: got a good, comfortable chair. and i got to tell you, steve-- standing here, it just-- it sort of gives me chills in a way, because i think about my journey to this chair. >> kroft: after years as the committee's ranking minority member, he is ready to wield the gavel and the subpoena. >> kroft: you've got a lot of power, but you don't have unlimited power. i mean-- >> cummings: no. >> kroft: --and the republicans are going to put a lot of obstacles in your way. >> cummings: sure. i expect that. now, there's one big elephant that's sitting around here that we don't know-- what it's going to yield, and that is mueller's report. i don't know what that report is going to have in it. one thing i do know, though, is whatever it is, even if it-- if it exonerates the president, fine.
but this i do know: i want whatever it is, for the congress to have it, and i want the public to have it, so that everybody can make a judgment. >> kroft: do you think it's possible the republicans will try and suppress the report? >> cummings: i hope not, but that's a possibility. but i hope not. i hope they don't. >> kroft: cummings' republican foil on the committee is ohio's jim jordan, one of the president's most loyal and enthusiastic supporters. you've known elijah cummings for a while. how would you describe your relationship? >> jim jordan: well, look, there's-- there's not much of anything that mr. cummings and i agree on, policy-wise. but i certainly respect his toughness-- his tenacity. you know, he's demonstrated that he's a fighter and i kind of-- my background is such that i kind of appreciate that. >> kroft: a founding member of the freedom caucus, congressman jordan is a onetime college wrestler and coach, still known for his scrappiness. he's seldom seen wearing a jacket, and always ready to go
to the mat. >> jordan: taxes have been cut, regulations reduced, the economy growing at an unbelievable rate, lowest unemployment in 50 years. 312,000 jobs added last month alone. gorsuch and kavanaugh on the courts. we're out of the iran deal. the embassy's in jerusalem. hostages are home from north korea. and oh, by the way, there's a new nafta agreement. so it's an amazing record and that's what i know about the two years that we've had donald trump as president of the united states. >> kroft: after the midterms, you wrote a letter to the republicans saying, "you must valiantly defend the president." is that your job? >> jordan: my job is getting to the truth. if the president is getting a raw deal, i'm going to defend him. >> kroft: i feel like i would be remiss in this if i didn't point out that truthfulness has not exactly been president trump's strongest asset. >> jordan: well, i mean, steve, look, this-- this president's probably been attacked more than any president that-- in my lifetime. and here's what i know. over the last two years, in spite of the unprecedented attacks that have come against
president trump, the last two years have been amazing. >> kroft: chairman cummings wouldn't disagree that the past two years have been amazing, but in a much different way. >> cummings: i don't think the other presidents called a lie the truth and the truth a lie. i'm going to tell you, that's what makes the relationship so difficult. it's hard to trust. you want to believe that if you make an agreement with someone, and i believed that with the other presidents it was this way, their word was their bond. i don't know how to compare. i-- i-- i don't. and i'm not trying to be smart. >> kroft: we're in new territory here. >> jordan: yes, it's new includes a beefed-up white house counsel's office. it has added more than a dozen new lawyers to fight what it anticipates will be a barrage of requests and subpoenas from congress. what happens if you issue ati dd or invokes executive privilege? >> cummings: we probably will
end up in the courts. and one of the interesting things about the courts is that our president has been making sure that some of the most conservative judges are being appointed to the federal bench. and i think he relies on that, and i think that he assumes that the courts will possibly be-- it all depends-- be helpful to him. >> kroft: it promises to be a demanding time for a man who spent nearly six months in the hospital over the last year and a half for heart and knee surgery. as he showed us the victory prayer chapel, a church founded by his mother, congressman cummings relied on a cane and a walker. he says his chairmanship will be a physical burden on him, but his strong faith and awareness of his mortality will see him ro do y feelike you have th strength-- >> cummings: oh yeah, man-- >> kroft: --and the stamina to do this? >> cummings: oh, i'm good. i'm good. like i tell my constituents,
"don't get it twisted. you know, i may-- my knee may be hurting a little bit, but my mind is clear. my mission is clear." and i am prepared and able to do what i have to do. and i will do it to the very best of my ability, so help me god. >> a lifetime of lessons learned in elijah cummings' own words at "60 minutes" -- 60minutesovertime.com. >> a lifetime of lessons learned in elijah cummings' own words at that can disrupt your life for weeks. in severe cases, pneumococcal pneumonia can put you in the hospital. it may take weeks to recover making you miss out on the things you enjoy most. just one dose of the prevnar 13® vaccine
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>> pelley: despite what you hear about artificial intelligence, machines still can't think like a human. but in the last few years, they have become capable of learning. and suddenly, our devices have opened their eyes and ears, and cars have taken the wheel. today, artificial intelligence is not as good as you hope, and not as bad as you fear-- but humanity is accelerating into a future that few can predict. that's why so many people are desperate to meet kai-fu lee, the oracle of a.i. kai-fu lee is in there-- somewhere-- in a selfie scrum at
a beijing internet conference. his 50 million social media followers want to be seen in the same frame because of his talent for engineering and genius for wealth. i wonder, do you think people around the world have any idea what's coming in artificial intelligence? >> kai-fu lee: i think most people have no idea, and many people have the wrong idea. >> pelley: but you do believe it's going to change the world? >> lee: i believe it's going to change the world more than anything in the history of mankind. more than electricity. >> pelley: lee believes the best place to be an a.i. capitalist is communist china. his beijing venture capital firm manufactures billionaires. >> lee: these are the epat we have funded. >> pelley: he's funded 140 a.i. start-ups. >> lee: we have about ten billion-dollar companies here. >> pelley: ten, $1 billion companies that you funded?
>> lee: yes, including a few $10 billion companies. >> pelley: in 2017, china attracted half of all a.i. capital in the world. one of lee's investments is "face plus-plus," not affiliated with facebook. its visual recognition system smothered me, to guess my age. it settled on 61, which was wrong. i wouldn't be 61 for days. on the street, "face plus-plus" nailed everything that moved. it's a kind of artificial intelligence that has been made possible by three innovations: super-fast computer chips, all the world's data now available online, and a revolution in programming called "deep learning." computers used to be given rigid instructions. now, they're programmed to learn on their own. >> lee: in early days of a.i., people try to program the a.i. with how people think.
so, i would write a program to say, "measure the size of the eyes, and their distance. measure the size of the nose. measure the shape of the face. and then, if these things match, then this is larry and that's john." but today, you just take all the pictures of larry and john and you tell the system, "go at it. you figure out what separates larry from john." >> pelley: let's say you want the computer to be able to pick men out of a crowd and describe their clothing. well, you simply show the computer ten million pictures of men in various kinds of dress. that's what they mean by deep learning. it's not intelligence so much. it's just the brute force of data having ten million examples to choose from. so, face plus-plus tagged me as male, short hair, black long sleeves, black long pants. it's wrong about my gray suit. and this is exactly how it learns.
when engineers discover that error, they'll show the computer a million gray suits, and it won't make that mistake again. another recognition system we saw, or saw us, is learning not just who you are, but how you feel. now what are all the dots on the screen? the dots over our eyes and our mouths? >> songfan yang: the computer keeps track of all the feature points on the face. >> pelley: songfan yang developed this for t.a.l. education group, which tutors five million chinese students. well, let's look at what we are seeing here now. according to the computer, i'm confused, which is generally the case. but when i laughed, i was happy. that's amazing. >> yang: exactly. >> pelle the machine notices concentration or distraction to pick out for the teacher those students who are struggling or gifted. it can tell when the child is excited about math? >> lee: yes.
>> pelley: or the other child is excited about poetry? >> lee: yes. >> pelley: could these a.i. systems pick out geniuses from the countryside? >> lee: that's possible in the future. it can also create a student profile, and know where the student got stuck, so the teacher can personalize the areas in which the student needs help. >> pelley: we found kai-fu lee's personal passion in this spare beijing studio. he's projecting top teachers into china's poorest schools. this english teacher is connected to a class 1,000 miles away, in a village called duh- fang. many students in duh-fang are called "left behinds," because their parents left them with family when they moved to the cities for work. most "left behinds" don't get past ninth grade.
>> pelley: lee is counting on a.i. to deliver for them the same opportunity he had when he immigrated to the u.s. from taiwan as a boy. >> lee: when i arrived in tennessee, my principal took every lunch to teach me english. and that is the kind of attention that i've not been used to growing up in asia. and i felt that the american classrooms are smaller, encouraged individual thinking, critical thinking. and i felt it was the best thing that ever happened to me. >> pelley: and "the best thing that ever happened" to most of the engineers we met at lee's firm. they too are alumni of america, with a dream for china. you have written that silicon valley's edge is not all it's cracked up to be. what do you mean by that? >> lee: well, silicon valley has
been the single epicenter of the world technology innovation when it comes to computers, internet, mobile and a.i. but in the recent five years, we are seeing that chinese a.i. is getting to be almost as good as silicon valley a.i. and i think silicon valley is not quite aware of it yet. >> pelley: china's advantage is in the amount of data it collects. the more data, the better the a.i.-- just like, the more you know, the smarter you are. china has four times more people than the united states, and they are doing nearly everything online. i just don't see any chinese without a phone in their hand. college student monica sun showed us how more than a billion chinese are using their phones to buy everything, find anything, and connect with everyone. in america, when personal information leaks, we have
congressional hearings. not in china. do you ever worry about the information that's being collected about you? where you go, what you buy, who you're with? >> monica sun: i never think about it. >> pelley: do you think most chinese worry about their privacy? >> sun: not that much. >> pelley: not that much. with a pliant public, the leader of the communist party has made a national priority of achieving a.i. dominance in ten years. this is where kai-fu lee becomes uncharacteristically shy. even though he's a former apple, microsoft and google executive, he knows who's boss in china.t d technology the sharp weapon of the modern state. what does he mean by that? >> lee: i am not an expert in interpreting his thoughts. i don't know. >> pelley: there are those,
particularly people in the west, who worry about this a.i. technology as being something that governments will use to control their people and to crush dissent. >> lee: as a venture capitalist, we don't invest in this area, and we're not studying deeply this particular problem. >> pelley: but governments do. >> lee: it's certainly possible for governments to use the technologies, just like companies. >> pelley: lee is much more talkative about another threat posed by a.i. he explores the coming destruction of jobs in a new book, "a.i. superpowers: china, silicon valley and the new world order." >> lee: a.i. will increasingly replace repetitive jobs. not just for blue collar work, but a lot of white collar work. >> pelley: what sort of jobs would be lost to a.i.? >> lee: basically, chauffeurs, truck drivers, anyone who does
driving for a living. their jobs will be disrupted more in the 15 to 20-year timeframe. and many jobs that seem a little bit complex-- chef, waiter-- a lot of things will become automated. we'll have automated stores, automated restaurants, and all together in 15 years, that's going to displace about 40% of the jobs in the world. >> pelley: 40% of the jobs in the world will be displaced by technology? >> lee: i would say displaceable. >> pelley: what does that do to the fabric of society? >> lee: well, in some sense, there is the human wisdom that always overcomes these technology revolutions. the invention of the steam engine, the sewing machine, electricity, have all displaced jobs. and we've gotten over it. the challenge of a.i. is, this
40%, whether it is 15 or 25 years, is coming faster than the previous revolutions. >> pelley: there's a lot of hype about artificial intelligence, and it's important to understand this is not general intelligence like that of a human. this system can read faces and grade papers, but it has no idea why these children are in this room or what the goal of education is. a typical a.i. system can do one thing well, but can't adapt what it knows to any other task. so for now, it may be that calling this "intelligence" isn't very smart. when will we know that a machine can actually think like a human? >> lee: back when i was a grad student, people said, "if machine can drive a car by itself, that's intelligence." now we say that's not enough.
so, the bar keeps moving higher. i think that's, i guess, more motivation for us to work harder. but if you're talking about a.g.i., artificial general intelligence, i would say not within the next 30 years, and possibly never. >> pelley: possibly never? what's so insurmountable? >> lee: because i believe in the sanctity of our soul. i believe there is a lot of things about us that we don't understand. i believe there's a lot of love and compassion that is not explainable in terms of neural networks and computation algorithms. and i currently see no way of solving them. obviously, unsolved problems have been solved in the past. but it would be irresponsible for me to predict that these will be solved by a certain timeframe. >> pelley: we may just be more than our bits? >> lee: we may. (burke) parking splat. and we covered it.
expert care for every new beginning. >> stahl: at age 45, chris downey had pretty much constructed the life he'd always wanted. an architect, with a good job at a small housing firm outside san francisco, he was happily married, with a 10-year-old son. he was an assistant little league coach and avid cyclist. and then, doctors discovered a tumor in his brain. he had surgery, and the tumor was safely gone-- but downey was left completely blind.what he he years since losing his sight-- as a person, and as an architect-- can only be described as a different kind of vision. several mornings a week, as the
sun rises over the oakland estuary in california, an amateur rowing team works the water. it's hard to tell which one of them is blind... and chris downey thinks that's just fine. >> chris downey: it's really exciting to be in a sport where nobody looks in the direction they're going. you face this way in the boat, and you're going that way. so, okay, even-steven. we were just talking about that whole exterior. >> stahl: it's not exactly "even-steven" in this design meeting, where downey is collaborating with sighted architects on a new hospital building... >> chris downey: under the canopy, where you could have down lights. >> stahl: ...but he hasn't let that stop him. here you are, in a profession that basically requires you to read-- read designs and draw designs. you must've thought in your head, "that is insurmountable?" >> chris downey: no. i never thought-- >> stahl: you never thought-- you never thought the word "insurmountable--" >> chris downey: lots of people, friends that were architects and anybody else would say, "oh my
god, it's the worst thing imaginable, to be an architect and to lose your sight. i can't imagine anything worse." but i quickly came to realize that the creative process is an intellectual process. it's how you think. so i just needed new tools. >> stahl: new tools? downey found a printer that could emboss architectural drawings so that he could read and understand through touch. >> chris downey: they look like normal prints, normal drawings, on the computer. but then they just come out in tactile form. >> stahl: so it is like braille, isn't it? >> chris downey: right. >> stahl: and he came up with a way to "sketch" his ideas onto the plans using a simple children's toy-- malleable wax sticks that he shapes to show his modifications to others. and he says something surprising started to happen. he could no longer see buildings and spaces, but he began hearing them. >> chris downey: the sounds, the textures... and the sound
changes because there's a canopy overhead. >> stahl: you can sense that we're under a canopy? >> chris downey: yes. it's all a matter of how the sound works, from the tip of the cane. i was fascinated-- walking through buildings that i knew sighted, but i was experiencing them in a different way. i was hearing the architecture, i was feeling the space. >> stahl: it sounds as if you began almost enjoying, in a way, being the blind architect. >> chris downey: it was sort of this-- this excitement of, "i'm a kid again. i'm-- i'm relearning so much of architecture." it wasn't about what i'm missing in architecture, it's what-- it was about what i had been missing in architecture. >> is that >> chris downey: oh, yeah. ( laughter ) >> stahl: chris downey's upbeat attitude doesn't mean that he didn't go through one of the most frightening experiences imaginable, and struggle. he and his wife rosa were living in this same home with their son renzo, then ten, when downey
first noticed a problem while playing catch with renzo. the ball kept coming in and out of sight. the cause turned out to be a tumor near his optic nerve. surgery to remove it lasted 9.5 hours. he says his surgeon had told him there was a slight risk of total sight loss, but that he'd never had it happen. >> rosa downey: when he first came out of surgery, he was able to see. >> stahl: but then things started to go wrong. the next day, half his field of vision disappeared. and then? >> chris downey: the next time i woke up, it was... all gone. it was just black. >> stahl: complete and total darkness? no light, you can't see anything? >> chris downey: no light. it's dark. it's all dark. >> stahl: after days of frantic testing, a surol was permanent, irreversible, and sent in a social worker. >> chris downey: she says, "oh, and i see from your chart you're-- you're an architect, so
we can talk about career alternatives." >> stahl: career alternatives, right away? >> chris downey: i hadn't been told i was officially blind for 24 hours, and-- >> stahl: and she's saying you can't be an architect anymore. >> chris downey: yeah, and she was saying we could talk about career alternatives. i felt like these walls were being built up around me, just like, "yeah, you're getting boxed in. >> stahl: alone that night in his room, downey did some serious thinking... about his son, and about his own father, who had died from complications after surgery when downey was seven years old. >> chris downey: i could quickly appreciate the wonder, the-- just the joy of, "i'm still here. >> stahl: it was actually joy? >> chris downey: yeah, it was like, "i'm still here with my family. my son still has his dad." >> stahl: you know your eyes are tearing up. you know that. >> chris downey: yeah, sorry. i always have a hard time talking through that. >> stahl: he knew that how he handled this would send a strong message to renzo. >> chris downey: i had been
talking with him about the need to really apply himself. at the age of ten, it's that point where if you want something you really have to work at it. and here i am, facing this great challenge. >> stahl: so, motivated to set an example, he headed back to work only one month later. >> bryan bashin: this was the most healthy thing about chris. >> stahl: bryan bashin is executive director of the non-profit lighthouse for the blind and visually impaired in san francisco, and is blind himself. >> bashin: he waited a few days, until the stitches were out of his skull. and 30 days after brain surgery, he was back in the office thinking, "okay, there's got to be a way to figure this out. and i'm going to figure it out." >> stahl: bashin's organization, the lighthouse, helps people new to vision loss learn how to figure things out. blind, the odds are 99% they've never met another blind person. >> stahl: is that right? >> bashin: yeah, that really is true. blind people need those role
models, how to be blind, how to hold down a job, how to live an independent life. >> stahl: specifically, how to work in the kitchen-- safely. how to navigate public transportation. how to use screen reading software to listen to emails as quickly as the rest of us read them. did you understand that? >> chris downey: yes. >> stahl: no! and most critically, how to get around in the world alone. downey learned that at the lighthouse. when you first crossed a big street like this on your own, was it terrifying? >> chris downey: absolutely terrifying. >> stahl: i can imagine. ( laughs ) i can totally imagine. >> chris downey: i remember that day, stepping off the curb, and it was like, you would have thought i was stepping into raging waters. take a deep breath and go for it. you got to push through it. >> stahl: within a few months, he was travelling the streets on his own and getting back to normalcy with his son. >> chris downey: the first
father's day came up. rosa was like, "so, what do you want to do? do you want to go on a picnic, go on a nice lunch? "i want to play baseball." ( laughter ) "with renzo." renzo was like-- he pops up. i could just-- i could feel him, like, jump to the edge of his chair. "baseball, you want to play baseball?" ( laughter ) >> renzo downey: so dad would throw to me, and i'd play like i was playing first base. >> stahl: how could he throw the ball to you? >> renzo downey: i'd just call out, "i'm over here." and he'd point, and i'd say, "yeah, that's right." and then he'd throw it at me. >> chris downey: that's something i really loved about our relationship. he quickly was looking for possibilities. he wasn't saying, "you can't do that." he was like, "well, why not?" >> stahl: downey seems to have a knack for finding windows when doors slam shut. just nine months after going blind, the recession hit, and he lost his job. but, he got word that a nearby firm was designing a rehabilitation center for veterans with sight loss.
they were eager to meet a blind architect. what are the chances? you had to believe that god's hand came down-- >> chris downey: it took my disability and turned it upside down. all of a sudden, it defined unique, unusual value that virtually nobody else had to offer. >> stahl: nobody. >> chris downey: yeah. >> stahl: starting with that job, downey developed aecialty,s accessible to the blind. he helped design a new eye center at duke university hospital, consulted on a job for microsoft, and signed on to help the visually impaired find their way in san francisco's new, and now delayed, four-block-long transbay transit center, which we visited during construction. >> chris downey: if you're blind, you don't drive. right? they don't like it when we drive. so, you know, we're committed transit users. so the question was, "how on
earth do you navigate this size of facility, if you're blind?" >> stahl: his solution: grooves set into the concrete running the entire length of the platform... >> chris downey: i would just follow this, following those grooves. >> stahl: ...with a subtle change from smooth to textured concrete, to signal where to turn to get to the escalators. >> chris downey: would you like to give it a try? >> stahl: okay. i know to go straight because of this line. and i feel-- ( scraping ) oh, my. oh, my. so it's pretty obvious. >> chris downey: i can hear the difference from here. >> stahl: it's something sighted people might never notice-- and that's precisely the point. downey believes in what's called universal design-- that accommodates people with disabilities, but is just as appealing to people without them. it's the approach he used for his biggest project yet, consulting on the total renovation of a new, three-story office space for his old training ground, the lighthouse
for the blind. >> bashin: coming into blindness need not be some dreary social service experience, but rather, more like coming into an apple store-- thinking that there might be something fun around the corner. >> stahl: one of downey's ideas was to break through and link the three floors with an internal staircase that sighted people can see, and the blind can hear. >> bashin: in blindness, it's so wonderful to be on the 9th floor and hear a burst of laughter up on the 11th floor, or to hear somebody playing the piano on the 10th floor. >> stahl: for the hallways, downey chose polished concrete, because of the acoustics. >> bashin: i can hear the special tap of somebody's cane, or the click of a guide dog's toenails. >> stahl: the click of a guide dog's toenails? >> bashin: yeah, yeah. >> stahl: well, is that good or bad? >> bashin: that's great. it's like you're seeing somebody coming down the hall. i know the sound of individual people who work here by the way they use their cane, or the kind of walk they have.
>> stahl: you can really distinguish between people by how they tap their cane? >> bashin: absolutely. >> stahl: if you hadn't had chris working on this building, a blind architect-- >> bashin: it wouldn't have been as rich or so subtle, for sure. >> stahl: last spring marked the ten-year anniversary of downey losing his sight. so what did he do? he threw a party, a fundraiser for the lighthouse, where he's been student, architect, and now, president of the board. >> chris downey: maybe a slightly bizarre thing, celebrating my ten-year blind birthday. but when you're 55 and you have a chance to be ten again, you take it. >> stahl: i get the feeling that you actually think you're a better architect today. >> chris downey: i'm absolutely convinced i'm a better architect today than i was sighted. >> stahl: if you could see tomorrow, would you still want to be able to feel the design? >> chris downey: if i were to
get my sight back, it would be-- i don't know. i would be afraid that i'd-- i'd sort of lose what i've really been working on. i don't really think about having my sight restored. there's-- be some logistical liberation to it. but, will it make my life better? i don't-- i don't think so. >> welcome to cbs sports h.q. presented by progressive insurance. i'm adam zuker with a look at the a.f.c. playoff picture. earlier today on cbs new england cruised past the l.a. chargers, advancing to an eighth straight championship game. yet cincinnati routed indianapolis for its first home playoff win in 25 years. next sunday, kansas city and new england meet on cbs with a trip to the super bowl on the line. england meet on cbs with a trip to the super bowl on the line. for 24/7 news and highlight, visit cbssportshq.com.
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>> stahl: now an update on a story we called "plastic plague." last month, sharyn alfonsi reported on a young dutch inventor, boyan slat, who came up with a plan to clean up the enormous patch of discarded plastic in the pacific ocean. he raised more than $30 million to build a 2,000-foot floating boom, with a nyl s frcisco bay for that great pacific garbage patch. >> boyan slat: it's five years of work and planning coming together in one nice shot. it's overwhelming, exciting to see. >> stahl: slat's excitement and
hopes have suffered setbacks. first, the device failed to corral the plastic. then, 60 feet of the boom broke off. the contraption is being towed to hawaii for repairs, and is expected to arrive early this week. i'm lesley stahl. next week, the a.f.c. championship game will be here on cbs, so we'll be back in two weeks with another edition of "60 minutes."
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captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org - previously on "god friended me"... - i'm running the god account code through the identityseal server. - what the hell happened? dude, does this have something to do with the software you were running? - no. maybe. - can i have everybody's attention? identityseal has been sold. - to who? - simon hayes. - simon hayes? he's like the bill gates of a.i., dude. what if simon hayes is behind the god account? - when your mother was in the audience, i played every note for her. - it may be time for you to play for someone else. if you want it to be for trish, that's okay-- mom would want you to. - you're dj trek? - i also go by nia. - miles. cara and i are just friends. - i can't help but think that there's more to that. - everything okay? - nia just broke things off with me.