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tv   Amanpour Company  PBS  December 27, 2018 12:00am-1:01am PST

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♪ >> hello, everyone, and welcome to "amanpour & co." during the holiday season, we are dipping into the archive and looking back at some of this year's highlights. so, here's what's coming up -- my in-depth talk with tim cook, the ceo of apple, the world's first trillion-dollar company. in a candid conversation, we talk about his surprising support of privacy laws around the world, the responsibility and the privilege he feels as an openly gay leader, and the danger posed by what he calls the data-industrial complex. plus, our michel martin talks to an american legend, award-winning actor, writer, and director alan alda, on finding meaning in a creative life well-lived. ♪
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>> uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & co." when bea tollman founded a collection of boutique hotels, she had bigger dreams, and those dreams were on the water -- a river, specifically, multiple rivers that would one day be home to uniworld river cruises and their floating boutique hotels. today that dream sets sail in europe, asia, india, egypt, and more. bookings available through your travel agent. for more information, visit uniworld.com. >> additional support has been provided by... ...and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> welcome to the program, everyone. i'm christiane amanpour in london. a titan of america's tech world
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stands before a room full of european government regulators and calls for comprehensive privacy laws in the united states and around the world. why? apple ceo tim cook says that we have a crisis on our hands and if we don't rein in technology's dark side now, problems will soon be too big to fix. since the 2016 u.s. election, we've been aware of the danger posed by the abuse of our private data. and cook also paints a dark portrait of society riven under unbridled tech influence. so, this week, just before a spate of mail bombs unsettled america, tim cook delivered a landmark speech to the european parliament and asked what he calls a fundamental question, which is, "what kind of a world do we want to live in?" >> our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency.
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taken to its extreme, this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. >> apple's extraordinary size and its global influence means that tim cook has the unique power to influence solutions, not just to privacy and surveillance challenges, but also in the wider cultural realm of gay rights, migrant rights, climate change. these were all on his radar as we sat down for an exclusive interview at where else but the apple store in brussels right after his speech. tim cook, welcome to the program. >> thank you for having me. >> so, here we are at the apple store in brussels. and you've just given a major speech on privacy. this probably is the era where we're so concentrated on privacy, trust, surveillance. in brief, what was your message to the audience today? >> my message is that we need to
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deeply look inside ourselves and ask us what kind of world we want to live in. the fact is, now you have more information on your devices than you do in your own homes. and this is a major change over the last several years. and so we're trying to raise the level of awareness and to ask countries all around the world to begin considering legislation over what companies can do and what they can't do. >> well, look, that's really interesting 'cause it's an issue of great controversy, especially in the united states, not so much here in europe, where they have a whole new data-protection regulations. there's a lot more regulation here, presumably of all your content, than in the united states. do you -- where do you see the parameters of regulation? >> yeah. >> 'cause you've called for a federal regulation, right? >> yeah, you know, usually i'm not a big pro-regulation kind of person. i believe in free markets. but i think we have to admit when a free market doesn't work
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and take an action. and in this case, it's clear that the amount of things that can be collected about you without your knowledge, maybe with your consent, although it's a 70-page legal piece of paper, just isn't not reasonable. and these things can be used for such nefarious things. we've seen examples of this over the last several years. and we think it's time now to take this thing and put it under control because if we don't, the problem gets so large that it may be impossible to fix. >> well, you actually were quite blunt in your speech today just on this issue. you were talking about profiles, people's profiles. >> yeah. >> "your profile is run through algorithms that can serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions." and then you say, "we shouldn't sugarcoat the consequences. this is surveillance." >> yes. >> that is pretty -- that's pretty controversial. >> well, it's the truth.
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and i always get back to that. it's what is the truth. and i do see it as a crisis. i see privacy as one of the top issues, the top few issues of this century. i mean, it's to that level. and because of the number of nefarious things that can happen -- and i advocate to put the user in control, completely in control of their data in a very transparent manner. and, you know, we're -- and there's a lot more behind that than that, but that's the spirit of it. >> and you say -- >> your data is yours. it's not mine. >> and you say if we don't get a grip -- and you're saying the tech industry doesn't get a grip, if the market doesn't get a grip -- then either it can get out of control or others can impose regulations at some point. >> well, but just to be clear, though -- i'm sorry to interrupt. >> no, please. >> it's not saying this to the tech industry. this is broader than the tech industry because many, many firms out there are collecting
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data. and so -- and there's a whole data industry called the data-broker kind of industry, right, that's sole objective is to gather data on people. and so i made a broad speech about a very key policy element that i think is critical to every country in the world and our future as a society. >> and i'm gonna get into that in a second, but, i mean, obviously the big content providers have been under the microscope, whether it's facebook, particularly with the cambridge analytica -- i mean, tens of millions of people's data being shared and monetized without their knowledge or their permission. and so it's a big deal, and i wonder how you think at least those platforms, those parts of the industry, will take what you've said because the other thing you said, again, was very blunt. you've talked about the fantastic opportunities provided by this technology, but you said, "at the same time, we see vividly, painfully how technology can harm rather than help. platforms and algorithms that promise to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human
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tendencies. rogue actors, even governments, have taken advantage of user trust to deeper divisions, incite violence, and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false." i mean, this is the opposite of a brave new world. this is really a dark vision. >> it's a crisis. it's the realization that a lot of the things that have been created have some downside to them, and now they have -- and as a part of the technology, there's an amplification effect. and so i talked about gossip in the speech. you know, gossip has been -- has existed since man was created. but it's a little different if it's you and i gossiping versus if i can go on something and all of a sudden the world is in on this. and you have things like cyberbullying and a lot of other things that really affect deeply people. and so this is my concern. and i'm not speaking to one or two companies. i'm speaking to all of us, the
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broader, worldwide community, because it's not just one or two companies that are collecting data. it's everyone. and we have to realize that that data is precious and should be treated as such. and we've got to ask ourselves, "do we really need all of this?" >> many of the companies who you might be including in your speech use content as their profitability. that is what it is. you click, you sell, you get money. that's what data is often used for. it's not the case really with apple, so perhaps you could stand up there and say that and it wouldn't affect your bottom line as much as it might affect some of the others. is that a valid point? >> no, because -- it's a valid point that our business model is different, yes, but you have to -- but cause and effect is very important here. so, why is it different? it's because we've elected -- our values tell us to go in a certain direction.
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and those values have always been -- this is not in the last year or so. we've always been very deeply committed to people's privacy. we've always viewed it as -- in the united states, we've viewed it as a fundamental civil liberty. i mean, these things are guaranteed to us because our forefathers had the vision to know how important this was. so, that -- to us, it's a basic human right. >> so, you just decided not to share, sell, or otherwise disseminate data. >> and so -- that's right. and so we made that decision. it was against our values, and therefore that derives a different business model. now, i'm not saying, though -- i want to be clear on this. i have no personal issue and apple has no issue with digital advertising. digital advertising can be good. we may find something we want. that is good. it's the formation of a deep, detailed profile that knows more
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about you than you may know about yourself because it has information about all of your browsing, perhaps all of your purchases, maybe some of your health information, maybe who your friends are, maybe who their friends, maybe the messages that you've sent, maybe what you've talked about. i mean, these things -- think about all of this information that is out there. it's -- it is too much. this is too much. this should not exist. >> you say it's too much, but you've also said that you thought you were quite disciplined in your screen use, in your device usage. but then you've developed a new app, right -- screen time? >> screen time. this is very important. you know, for us, we've never wanted people to spend all their time on a device. we want people to live. and you don't really live if you're always in a digital world. i mean, i get more out of our dialogue here than i'll ever get
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out of reading something online. it's that human interface that i think is so valuable. and so we developed something called screen time because we knew that people were getting uptight about both themselves and, maybe more importantly, their kids and how much time they were spending. so now -- this started shipping in the fall. and this builds on all the parental controls we've had in for years. now you can actually monitor what your kids are doing. you can get a report every week -- you can check it more often if you want -- to see where they're spending their time, how much time they're spending. you can control certain apps from them not having access to. they can -- you can give them a budget for how much time they can spend a day. and if they hit that amount, in order to spend more, they have to come back to you and ask you for permission. now, i think -- that was job one, to do focused on kids. but, frankly, what i learned --
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and i think many of your viewers will learn, too -- is that they spend too much time, too. >> adults. >> adults. because as i looked at my information -- we tell you how many times you pick up your iphone every day. we tell you how many notifications you get. we tell you how much time you're spending on your phone. and for me, the number of times i picked up my phone and the number of notifications i got were unacceptable. i mean, it just didn't make any sense at the end of the day when i backed up and said, "is this how i should be living my life?" >> did you change your habits? >> i whacked it. yes. and i hope everybody takes a hard look at their habits. and it's something -- there's something about having this moment of truth. you can't kid yourself, "oh, i'm only spending a few minutes a day," because the facts are right there. it's powerful. >> so, let's get to the trump era. >> yeah. yeah. >> you know, there's been a lot
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of -- a lot of upheaval, disruptions, some say chaos. a lot of business leaders have approved of his tax reforms, like yourself. i believe you like the fact of the corporate tax and being able to bring money back to the continental united states. how have you the dealt with president trump and this administration to your advantage? for instance, you were able to get him to exempt sort of tariffs on technology that apple uses, like bluetooth, when it comes to china and all the ref of it. >> well, i do believe the corporate portion of the tax cut that came out in january is great for the u.s. economy because i think you're already seeing people invest more in the u.s. i think it is creating jobs. and i think it does have a long tail to it. it's not a short kind of sugar high. and so i applaud them for doing that. and i think that people will see more and more returns from that. in terms of, how do i deal with
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it? i believe in engagement. i believe in engagement. i believe engaging with everyone, whether i agree or disagree. i think you should engage even more when you don't. i think that's one of the issues with our society today is people tend to go in their silo and they only talk to people that agree with them. and i never see that. so, i engage on everything. i engage because there's some policy things that are being discussed that are incredibly important to apple. like, daca is an example of this and immigration more broadly. i think, you know, fundamentally -- and human-rights issues. we talked about tax. environmental issues, this privacy regulation that i'm talking about. and so there's these enormously large, important things. and i do feel both an obligation both personally as an american and as the head of apple to
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represent us in these policy discussions. what i don't do is i don't participate in politics. i disdain politics. and so i steer clear of that. what i focus on is the policy. and in terms of trade, to just add a little bit on this, is i think these -- you know, when i back up and look at this, the trade that's going on between two countries, particularly u.s. and china, you have two very large countries, a very complex arrangement between the two. the agreement had not been touched in a long period of time. it does need to be updated. there is no doubt about that. there's some big topics that need to be addressed. i am not a fan of tariffs because i did -- i don't see the issues as tariff-related. and so this is an area of divergence in -- >> are you concerned? because the president talks about another round of tariffs, even higher than the previous
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ones. are you concerned that that -- that maybe some apple products and things you depend on might get caught up in the next round? >> i would encourage the administration not to do that because i don't think it would be good for the united states. and i don't think it would be good for china, either, by the way. and i think the reality is, as i see it, my experience says that in order for the world to do well, the two largest economies have to do well. and that's the united states and china. and so i think there's this mutuality about the destination of these two countries. and i think it's inescapable that that is the case. and so what i am hoping for is more dialogue, significant dialogue, the issues being discussed and addressed and moving forward. >> you had mentioned, i think, something about -- in regard to this, and president trump sort of tweeted back, you know, "build more plants here now.
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you know, stop doing business -- as much business with china and building so much there and manufacturing so much there. bring it back to the united states." that was a little skewer. here's the -- here's what we do today. the iphone is really not made anywhere. it's made everywhere. that's the truth. it's developed in the united states. there is many components that come from the united states, like a lot of the different silicon. the glass of the iphone comes from kentucky. the face id module is coming from texas. there's technology from france and germany and the u.k., and there's technology from korea. there's technology from china. and so we are using things from all the different countries. so, everybody is gaining from iphone. and in particular it's been a job engine in mobile app development. and so if you look at the total number of jobs apple's created in the u.s., it's 2 million. i mean, this is huge.
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we're a job engine. and we've also created a lot in many other countries, including the european countries that are represented here today. and so i'm a believer in, you know, finding the best around the world and utilizing those skills and know-how and technology because we make global products. >> you talk about a lot of the european countries that are based here, and you talk about quality of life and economy and jobs, not just in the united states, but globally, as well. and, you know, tim berners-lee, who created the world wide web, is very concerned with the growing inequality that technology seems to be exacerbating. so, i guess i want to ask you because you're right here in brussels now -- you are one of the biggest taxpayers in the united states, but the europeans want to you start paying taxes to ireland, for instance, where you brought a lot of people and business. both you and the irish government are challenging that.
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why? >> because the law in the past was very clear that that tax revenue, which is on essentially the intellectual property that apple has created in the united states -- that tax should be paid to the united states. that was the law and is the law. and until that law changes, i -- we will follow the law. now, i understand there's a lot of emotion around it and a lot of points of view that are valid points of views that perhaps the allocation should be different for multinational companies. and we embrace that conversation, by the way, and are actively, constructively participating in those. but i think it's important that companies today follow the law and pay taxes where it's due and -- and also, you know, fundamentally participate in the discussions about how the tax system may change going forward. >> are you concerned, given all
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the privacy issues and the security issues around your technology -- are you concerned about this rather controversial report that was in bloomberg that suggested, based on a number of anonymous sources, that the chinese military, a special unit of the chinese military, had infiltrated little -- little chips into servers that were used, among others, by apple and amazon? is there any evidence to that? i know that you've pushed back on that very strongly. >> yeah, i want to be unequivocal on this. that article -- the part about apple is 100% a lie. it is completely inaccurate. there is no truth behind it. we never found a malicious chip in any servers. we never reported something to the fbi like that. the fbi never contacted us about anything like that. and so i think that casts doubt on the broader story, but that's for somebody else to look at.
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amazon has also made comments, as you can see. and my view is they need to retract that article because this is not doing anybody any good to have fake information out there. it doesn't do them any good. it doesn't do the cause any good. cybersecurity is an important topic, a really important topic, and we should put all of our energies into protecting, you know, the companies, the country, but not chasing a ghost. >> is it something that you were ever concerned about? is it something that apple ever looked into or would continue to look into? >> christiane, i sleep with an eye open. i sleep with an eye open. and so in that world, in the cybersecurity world, you want to employ people there that are so skeptical of everything in life that they're always thinking because in this world, you have to stay a step ahead of all of
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the hackers. hackers used to be the guy in the basement, you know, doing some stuff. now hackers are sophisticated enterprises. and so it's like running on the treadmill and you keep running or you fall off the back. and we need to keep running toward real topics, not fake ones. >> let's get to -- you mentioned daca. obviously, one of the areas of disagreement you have with the trump administration and the president is on immigration. and last month we saw a really quite alarming article, a report about how the immigration crackdown is harming high-tech community, high-tech jobs, and even low-skilled jobs, people on both ends of the spectrum. employers cannot recruit enough people, workers, to fill their jobs. how dire a situation is it? >> well, i'm a deep believer in that the power of the
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united states, one of the great things -- many great things about our country, but one of those is that we're accepting of people from everywhere. and they all come together, and they have the opportunity to, you know, build their business or do whatever they want. and we give them the freedom to do that. and that's always been a power. and so i -- that's the world i would love to continue for the country. i think on daca -- i'm very emotional on this. we have 300 folks in apple that are here on daca. and these guys are living one court order away from a problem. and i'm deeply worried about it. i continually push on this and talk about it. i believe, based on my conversations, that the vast majority of people in both parties want to address this. it hasn't been addressed yet.
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i'm optimistic that it will be. but i'm going to be pushing until it's done. you mentioned inequality earlier, and i just want to comment a bit on that. i am deeply worried about inequality, as well. and i do believe globalization has created more inequality. and so i'm not one of these guys that say, "i'm not involved in this." i think it has created more. and i think it's up to us peop-- us that have benefited -- you and i benefited from globalization in a big way. i mean, your whole show, in a way, would not exist without globalization. >> but so, too, have hundreds of millions of people around the world been lifted out of poverty by globalization. >> that's absolutely right. and i am so happy to have participated in that. but when i look in the mirror, what i see back is that some people haven't. and it's not just that they haven't. it's they've actually been hurt by it. and so i think it's incumbent on
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all of us to help address that issue. and, to me, that is about education. as i look at my own life, in my own life, i came from a very lower-middle-class family. and the way you moved through society was education. and you counted on having a great public school down the road with teachers that really cared deeply for you, with access to enough stuff that you could really learn and take the next move and the next move. and i'm deeply worried that we're not providing that for lots of people today. and that should not be the case in a country as wealthy as the united states -- and many other countries around the world, as well. >> to the specific issue that the administration tends to say, "the more foreigners we have, the less jobs americans have, the less good it is for americans, et cetera," but this -- these reports seem to suggest that not being able to
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recruit workers is harming the gdp of this country, is harming the economy of this country. >> what i think is that many people coming in, that have immigrated in, are creating jobs because they have ideas to create a new company or they're entering a company like apple and participating on the next big thing that creates more jobs. and so what i see is there's lots of people with significant skills coming into this country that add to gdp. and so i think, not only from a humanity point of view, which i feel deeply, but from a sheer business point of view, immigration is an add to gdp. yes, it's very true that the border has to be controlled, right? and so i'm not at all saying, "come one, come all." there has to be a control and a way of doing it.
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but the truth is, the united states needs large immigration to continue to grow. i mean, people like me at some point are -- the baby boomers are retiring. and we need more people working. >> you talked just a moment ago about growing up, and you described it as lower-middle-class environment. you're gay, and you came out very proudly. it's quite rare. it's quite brave for ceos, especially in silicon valley. it doesn't happen that much. what do you make of -- do you believe the environment has become better, more tolerant for gay people, let's say just in your industry? and secondly, what do you think of the current debate by the administration over how to redefine transgender? they're saying, "forget what we thought a year ago. now we're gonna say, 'only identified by the sexual organs with which you're born.'" >> yeah, the -- my strong view is everybody should be treated with dignity and respect. and that's the way i look at
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everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of their religion, their gender, their ethnic history, regardless of their gender identity, anything, right? and so that's the way i look at things. i was public because i began to receive stories from kids who read something online that i was gay, and they were going through being bullied, feeling like their family didn't love them, being pushed out of their home, very close to suicide -- i mean, just things that really just pulled my heart. and i started saying, "you know, i am a private person. and so i've kept me to -- to my small circle." and i started thinking, "you know, that is a selfish thing to do at this point. i need to be bigger than that.
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i need to to do something for them and show them that you can be gay and still go on and do some big jobs in life, that there's a path there." and so that is the reason i did it. i did not do it for other ceos to come out. it wasn't even in my mind. i was the first, which is kind of shocking that i was the first. now i think -- >> so, you're proud of it? >> i'm very proud of it. i am very proud of it, yes, absolutely. to me, it is god's greatest gift to me because in doing so, i learned what it was like to be in a minority. and all minorities are not the same. everybody has their own experience. but the feeling of being in a minority gives you a level of empathy for other people who are not in the majority. and you begin to look at life a little differently. it also for me -- and this is very good for being the ceo of apple because i take a fair amount of shots from different
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people along the way -- having thick skin, which comes out of being gay, as well, was actually pretty beneficial for this role. >> did you face the same kinds of bullying and -- and hardship that you described seeing from other people writing to you, when you were growing up? >> i was fortunate to be in a loving family. >> and they knew. >> and -- at different points in time. i wouldn't want to go into exactly when and that sort of thing, but -- and so i never had the situation of kids that i've now met and talked to personally that are being pushed out of their homes. i've never had that. and so personally i can't say i have an experience there. the bullying part, of course. of course. this happens to almost 100% of people out there -- and not just gay people. it's basically anyone in the
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minority in some way. >> anyone who's a little different. >> yes, and we have to get beyond this as a society. these are relevant differences in people that really don't matter. >> it is extraordinary to look in and see how huge a cultural debate the transgender issue it. i mean, just bathrooms. it's almost like it swayed an election. i mean, i'm exaggerating, but it's huge. it's a huge, huge topic. and i wonder whether that caught you by surprise or -- and what you make, as i said, of the potential for this administration to decide -- to declare and define transgender as the sexual organs you were born with. >> it doesn't surprise me, unfortunately, because i grew up and i saw discrimination my whole life, right? i saw it with african-americans and their fight for their rights. i've seen it with women, and -- you know, it was only 100 years ago that women were given the right to vote. and so, i mean, you think about this, and you go, "what?
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women weren't allowed to vote? who came up with that?" i mean -- and so i think each generation has a responsibility to -- to increase and expand the definition of human rights. and i feel that. and i think what i can do, not only for the gay community and the transgender community, but i want to help women. i want to help african-americans. i want to help hispanics. i want to help immigrants. i want to help religious minorities. because at the end of the day, the problem comes down to one thing -- treating people with dignity and respect. i mean, at the basic, that is what it is. i look at that and go, "oh, my god, if in one day somebody could declare, 'everyone treat everybody else with dignity and respect,' the world would be totally different." wouldn't it be great?
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>> you mentioned steve jobs in your speech and he's obviously the lodestar and that'll never end. his legacy is over all over the place. i wonder what you think your legacy is, even though you're not -- you know, you're not about to retire. but what would you say that you have done that's legacy? >> the truth is that i don't think about that. that is the honest-to-goodness truth. i think -- i think if you focus on that, you begin to fixate internally and be focused on yourself. and i'm just -- i'm -- first of all, i'm not good at it. and i don't believe i should be doing that. i think i should be focusing on other people, and so i don't really think about it. i just do stuff. >> you do stuff. >> and i hope that some of the stuff that i do winds up helping other people. and if i do that and somebody
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says at my funeral that, "he was a good man, a good and decent man," then i feel like that's a good life. >> you know, his widow, laurene powell jobs, is addressing a very key issue of our time, which is the press and how to support the press. and she's used a lot of her money to buy the atlantic and to try to, you know, revive that. and we see jeff bezos has done that with the washington post. how do you assess that? >> well, i love laurene, and i love steve. and i applaud all the work she's doing with emerson collective, which is sort of the -- her organization. she's working on everything from climate change to education, focusing on the news, as you just said, and so many other things that are -- immigration -- that were so important to our times. and i applaud her for doing that. >> now, i could end there, tim, but i want to ask you one more question. >> yeah. >> apple park -- huge,
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wonderful, new, shiny, glassy building. i've read that it's being very heavily integrated with designers at every level of -- of the operation there. in fact, jony ive, the design in chief, just gave an interview and described it. and he was asked whether this might be the precursor or the incubator for a future apple product, the autonomous-driving system. >> [ laughs ] >> what can you tell us about that? >> well, i can tell you that we love apple park. >> [ laughs ] >> i moved in there in january, and i such high expectations for it, but it's exceeded all of those. the thing i didn't appreciate before i moved -- i knew it was gonna be fantastic, but i didn't know it was going to make the company seem smaller. but when you're all in one building or a significant number of people are in one building, you see so many more people during the course of the day, and all of a sudden, you feel really small again. and i think there's a privilege in doing that. >> and the autonomous-driving solution? >> we're working on autonomy. we are working on autonomous
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systems on the software side of it, to be very clear, because we think autonomy is a core technology. but it can be used in many different ways, right? people the automatically think about it in the car sense, but autonomy itself can be used in so many different ways. i wouldn't want to give you the list, but it can be used in a lot of different ways. and it turns out that autonomy is probably the mother of all machine-learning projects. and so you also build a lot of skills in working on autonomy that can be used across the company. >> tim cook, thank you very much indeed. >> thank you for inviting me. >> and now we turn to a famous actor who's communicating a powerful message of his own. many of you will know alan alda as the star of the classic hit tv show "mash," playing the lead role of "hawkeye" pierce. what you may not know is that alda, now in his 80s, has spent
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the past decade channeling his creativity into the art of communication, teaching students at the alan alda center for communicating science. and our michel martin sat down with him to talk about his work, which is coaching people how to communicate complex ideas, especially relevant for these divisive times. here's their conversation. >> alan alda, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> gosh, you've done so many things in your life. i mean, people of course know you for hawkeye pierce and appearing on "mash," which is still, you know, one of the most watched -- the final episode one of the most watched tv episodes of all time. many people may not know that you also wrote many of the episodes. but you have this whole other life as a student of communication, as a person who's actively trying to help other people communicate better, particularly in the scientific realm, but beyond that. so, how did that desire to understand the roots of it start for you? >> it began in my roots as an
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actor because as an actor you have to relate to the other person. i mean, i learned that as time went on. in the beginning, it was performing. it was doing something to amaze an audience and get them to pay attention to you and like you. and then i began to realize it doesn't really happen. they don't really get engaged with what's going on unless you're engaged with the other performer. and you mentioned "mash." when we were on "mash," we would sit around in a circle and talk and laugh and make fun of each other. and we got such a connection as regular people that when we went on the set a couple of minutes later, we still had that connection. and so i started the center -- i helped start the center for communicating science at stony brook university because i thought if we teach scientists to make this connection -- and whether they're talking to a
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live audience or writing for them -- they'll be aware of the audience as the other player in the conversation. and that, to me, is the basis of communication, is what's going on in your head, not what's going on in my head so much. >> one of the things that i found intriguing about your center, the center at stony brook university, is that you use some of the techniques you learned as an actor to help scientists communicate better. will you talk a little bit about that? >> we teach them improvisation exercises. a lot of people think improvisation is comedy improvisation, but that's not what we teach. we teach exercises that were invented first maybe 70 years ago by viola spolin, who was the mother of paul sills, who started second city. so, it became eventually comedy, but it's not really -- that's not why we teach it. we teach it to establish a connection. and all the exercises that we do are to maintain that connection
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with the person you're playing with in the games. and then when you turn to an audience, you make that same connection with them. >> this is obviously a passion project for you, but was there something in particular that sparked your hunger to help people communicate better? >> i don't know if there was. it was kind of a rolling discovery. i never expected i'd be teaching communication, writing a book about it. but there were 30 people at the center for communicating science who were teaching all over the united states and in five other countries around the world. i never expected that. but i realized that i had something to offer. to me, that's the best feeling. >> your podcast -- you've got a podcast called clear+vivid that you just started this summer. i understand that it grew out of your work with your foundation, with the work that you were doing on helping scientists to communicate better. tell me about what -- what is the goal of the podcast? other than that it's hip to have a podcast these days, and i know you want to be hip.
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>> there's a wonderful cartoon from the new yorker that says -- two people talking, and one says, "i'm thinking of stopping a podcast." >> [ laughs ] >> it's about this whole subject we've been talking about. the podcast, clear+vivid, is about relating to other people and communicating. and although it grew out of trying to teach scientists to communicate better, one of the things we found out from the scientists themselves was that it was applying to everybody, not just scientists. at least one scientist said, "you know, this training is saving my marriage." because if you listen better and communicate better, things go a lot more smoothly. so, we've found there's almost an endless supply of people, interesting people, to talk to, some famous, some not so famous, about relating and communicating in so many different ways. for instance, the most striking example to me is talking to -- on the program, talking to a hostage negotiator who said,
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"you know, these same techniques i use to get a hostage released is very good in a marriage between spouses." it has to do with listening. it has to do -- over and over, they talk about the importance of empathy. >> one of the things that a lot of people have talked about in the current political moment is that people don't want to talk to people who don't already agree with them. >> yeah, that's true. but we're -- i'm talking to people -- i've talked with letty pogrebin, who has taken groups of women from israel with groups of women -- together with groups of women from palestine. and they have gone places together and shared experiences and learned from one another. i talked with george mitchell, who brought peace to northern ireland. and in both cases, they did it by introducing people to other people who they hated. >> i actually have a clip. you want to play it?
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we can play your clip from george mitchell. >> i said, "listen, we're gonna be here we don't know how long, but these are long days and nights. we're gonna eat our meals together. and what i'm asking you is, during the meals, no talk about business." they said, "well, what are we gonna talk about?" i said, "well, talk about your kids. talk about your wives. talk about your dogs. talk about your vacations. what do human beings talk about when they're not involved in negotiations to try to end a war?" it was awkward at first, but then it kind of worked. >> and it's over and over again. and the funny thing is, it doesn't just work with people you hate. it works with people you love. >> okay, well, let's talk about people you hate, though. >> [ laughs ] >> i mean, 'cause i've been listening to our conversation so far, and i'm thinking i can see easily where this works in your family circles or in community. >> we are in a time of tremendous polarization. and just as in george mitchell's clip, if all we do is stick to
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talking about the things that divide us, what he called the business -- when they sat down to dinner, they couldn't talk about business. they had to talk about their children or their dogs and things that -- where they had an emotional attachment to them, they had an everyday human experience that they could share with the other person as a fellow human. maybe that's a clue for family dinners. maybe it's a clue for members of congress. maybe it's too soon to ask them to go back out and have a beer together after after work. but to stop in the hallway for a minute and talk about something that has nothing to do with business, but just, who are we as people? it actually will help us talk to one another, regardless of the position we take. you live to change the world. you just have to respect the other person as a person. >> i want to play a clip from a conversation you had with sarah silverman... >> yeah. >> ...the comedian. she's got a program where she's
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going out and trying to connect with people who she doesn't necessarily agree with. but one of the things you talked about in your conversation with her was an exchange she had with a troll, a person -- for people who aren't familiar with that term, somebody who connects with you or reaches out to you on social media for the purpose of being mean. >> i happened to see somebody just -- he just called me the "c" word. >> mm-hmm. and just that one word. that was the whole tweet. >> yeah. simple. >> yeah. >> i saw his tweets, and they were so filled with rage, but not about anything in particular -- just rage. and then among them was a tweet about his severe back pain. [ chuckles ] >> hmm. >> and i saw that he was just in pain, which is a lot -- most of -- maybe all of rage comes from pain, you know, physical or emotional.
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and so i just -- i tweeted a loving gesture towards him, which -- >> can you remember what you said? i remember something like, "you must have been terribly hurt at some point in your life." did you say that? >> yeah, just something like, "this is -- you're -- this is rage that is thinly, very thinly masked pain. and my heart, you know, breaks for you." but he immediately opened up. i mean, i think he didn't have people in his life that were concerned. >> there's a lot there, isn't there? >> you know what she wound up doing? he said, "i can't -- i can't show any love. that was ripped out of me by an abuser when i was a child." and she helped him find a place where you get therapy for free, therapy for people who had
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suffered that same kind of abuse. and i interviewed her in her kitchen. and she told me, "oh, just an hour ago i was communicating with this guy again." they're friends now. i think she took a real risk doing that. i think it shows real courage. but look what you can get if you -- if you're lucky and you have that kind of courage. >> you've obviously chosen the people you spoke with, with intention and because you want us to learn from something. and i'm trying to figure out now -- let's say going back to charlottesville, virginia, and the demonstration there and these, you know, hundreds of guys with -- you know, mostly men with these torches, marching around saying, you know, "jews will not replace us." and, you know, you can see people looking at that and thinking, "i'm afraid of these people. they don't want me to exist. they don't want my children to exist. or they only want me to exist in a subservient place in their
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lives. they don't want to understand me. they just want to rule me and oppress me." >> it doesn't seem possible. >> so, what -- >> we're not gonna meet each other halfway... >> right. >> ...because they don't want us to exist. but just yesterday i interviewed christian picciolini, who was a skinhead for about five years, beat people up mercilessly, believed in the philosophy of those people marching in charlottesville. he had a flash of empathy a couple of times and realized that the people he was beating up were fellow humans. and he didn't want to do it anymore. and little by little, he got himself out of the movement and then spent the rest of his life, has spent the rest of his life, helping other people get out of the neo-nazi movement. he has helped 200 people get out. but you don't collect 200 people in a room and talk to them. it's a person-to-person experience.
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>> and what's your message to the people who feel afraid of people like him? what would you say they should do? >> i think we have to be cautious about those people, i think, that the whole movement. and it's in the hundreds of thousands when you look worldwide. it's a very dangerous movement. we fought a war over that. but before we fight the war again, people like christian picciolini can make a concerted effort. he has a whole organization that works on this one by one, person to person, to find out how you can bring them to a human awareness and then introduce them to the people they think they hate. >> what's your suggestion for how we should practice that? like, i walk out of here today. what should i do? >> well, what i do -- you have to do what you want to do, but what i do is i try to figure out what people are going through.
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i try to look -- i happen to have a brain problem called prosopagnosia, which is face blindness. so i don't remember faces. but therefore it's interesting to me to study a face and try to really see the person i'm talking to. and the more i do that, i think, the better able i am to know what they're going through. and the more i know what they're going through, therefore, the more empathy i have and, therefore, maybe, if i really want to, i can be more compassionate. but you have to want to. i don't think empathy makes you compassionate. i've found -- and i think i see it in other people -- that when you are more empathic, you not only know more about the other person, but you're more available to things that come up from the back of your head yourself. you're more aware of your own emotions, your own creative thoughts, so that --
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i don't know why that should be, but i find that i'm more in touch with myself and not just with the other person. >> i notice that you share a lot about your life and have over the years. i know you've shared about growing up with a mom who was struggling with mental illness and therefore the whole family was. and i notice that you've shared even now that parkinson's is something that you're living with. and i wondered, as a person who is so well-known -- i was thinking about this, that social media kind of allows us all to do what celebrities have had to do, which is to be known in some way. on the other hand, sometimes it feels like a trap. like, i don't necessarily want people to know these things about myself. how do you handle that? >> i think there's a difference. there's a distinction to be made, and the distinction between personal and private, i think, is good. you know, i didn't mention and tell anybody i had parkinson's for three and a half years. and then i realized it was -- people were gonna notice that i had a tremor.
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and i wanted to make sure that if i -- when the first story came out about it, i wanted to make sure that it wasn't a sob story, it wasn't maudlin, because one of the problems that i think that people who get diagnosed with it have is that there's a tendency on the part of the whole culture to think the world has come to an end with that diagnosis, but it hasn't. and as a matter of fact, if that feeling, that worry that the world has come to an end, and you have to keep it a secret even from yourself and just hope it goes away, you might postpone doing something that can help, like an exercise program. and that can hold off worse symptoms for a long time. i wanted to help get rid of the stigma. but i don't want it to be my identity. >> i was gonna ask. exactly. >> i don't talk about. i think -- >> you don't want to be -- you don't want to be the poster child. >> exactly. >> right. >> so i don't talk about it. i mean, i have to talk about if somebody asks me. >> i cannot help but notice that
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you and your wife have been married for a long time. >> 61 years. >> 61 years. and congratulations. >> yeah. thank you. >> i have to give you congratulations and my admiration for that because it is an achievement. i mean -- >> it wasn't that hard, believe me. >> well -- see, that shows you've been married for a long time, right? [ both laugh ] but i wonder if your study of communication is something that you attribute in part the longevity to that? is it in part your -- >> well, it gets better and easier the more i think i've learned about communication. arlene's always been great at it. that may be true of most male-female relationships. but i think -- the basis of this is really that we really do love each other. so, when people say, "what's the secret?" i say, "well, we really love each other. have you tried that?" >> [ laughs ] >> but she has a whole other take on a long marriage. arlene says the secret to a long
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marriage is a short memory. >> mm. >> so, maybe that's -- i've benefited from that. >> mm. alan alda, thank you so much for talking with us. >> thank you. and you didn't look at those pages once. i just love that. that's so nice. >> well, thank you. >> and that was a conversation you could really get your teeth into, and what amazing insights into alan alda's life and his perspective. tomorrow we'll look back at my wide-ranging talk with hillary clinton, when she was in oxford, on why she thinks america's democracy is in crisis, about america's shrinking role in the world, and the supreme court, also a lot more. that is it for our program tonight. thanks for watching this special edition of "amanpour & co." on pbs, and join us again tomorrow night. ♪ >> uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & co." when bea tollman founded a collection of boutique hotels, she had bigger dreams, and those dreams were on the water --
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a river, specifically, multiple rivers that would one day be home to uniworld river cruises and their floating boutique hotels. today that dream sets sail in europe, asia, india, egypt, and more. bookings available through your travel agent. for more information, visit uniworld.com. additional support has been provided by... ...and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ >> you're watching pbs.
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