On a recent episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Republican and Democratic consultants Juleanna Glover and Hilary Rosen discussed the ways a Trump administration might deal with tech industry issues.
You can read some of the highlights from Kara’s interview with Juleanna and Hilary at that link, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
Transcript by Celia Fogel.
Kara Swisher: Today in the red chair, I have two fantastic women who are going to talk about tech and politics. The first is Hilary Rosen, a Democratic political strategist and the managing director of SKDKnickerbocker. She was previously the CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, where I met her 150 years ago. Hilary and I are here in Washington, D.C., and we’re also joined from New York by Juleanna Glover, a Republican consultant who has worked for politicians like George W. Bush, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. We’re going to talk about this crazy election and what happens next, especially for tech and media. Hilary and Juleanna, welcome to Recode Decode.
Hilary Rosen: Thank you, Kara. It’s great to be here.
Juleanna Glover: Good mornin’, guys, good mornin’.
So there’s a lot to talk about. We’re going to focus on tech and media obviously, but let’s ... we’re going to talk a little bit about what’s happened over the past four years in the Obama administration. There’s been a lot. You both have worked and consulted with various tech companies and worked on all kinds of issues.
Let’s start with you, Juleanna. What do you think the big issues have been over the past couple of years? Because I think it’s pretty clear that Obama’s been the first really tech-forward president compared to many, many others, although there’ve been lots of different initiatives over the years. But what do you think are some of the key things that have happened and have been very important for tech and media?
JG: I think the rise of search and the rise of AI and the rise of this sort of ubiquity in classrooms for interconnectedness. And I think this president has been very, very good about talking, particularly, about interconnectivity and the need for technology to be an economic driver and leverage tool to ensure that children across the country have the same level of access to great education.
HR: I agree with all that, but just from a more political point of view, I think this would be the kind of defining moment where the growth of the tech companies got a complete pass.
HR: Meaning that the White House and the regulatory agencies consistently avoided doing anything that would have put any sort of a roadblock or choke hold or rules in place to limit the growth of these tech companies. And the reason why I think it matters is because they went up against really significant institutional players...
Sure, cable companies, net neutrality.
HR: … Like cable companies and telephone companies and entertainment companies and a whole host of really entrenched industries. And Obama, from the very beginning, saw his base as very connected to the tech industry. So I think as a matter of policy, you ended up with things like net neutrality which pushed back on the cable and phone companies on refusal to sort of limit, as Juleanna talked about, search. Or put consumer protections in search, or those sorts of things.
And on the law enforcement side, which we’ll talk about the difference maybe with the Trump administration. But across the board, you saw kind of a partnership, they viewed it as, and a pass for tech.
Juleanna, what do you think of this? Do you this has been important? Because obviously these companies are not small shrinking violets. They’re very wealthy companies, they’re very powerful companies, they’re among the most valuable companies in the world, from Apple to Google to Amazon.
JG: In my opinion, I don’t think that the sort of regulatory disposition from the Obama White House was something that arose out of a decision not to necessarily regulate. I think it was more sort of an ambient understanding that these technologies are moving so very, very quickly and they are some of the primary economic advances for our country at large, and that the government as a regulator, if they decide to step in, they’re going to be regulating the technology — by the time they actually put those rules in place — that would have been hanging around for, you know, at the fastest, six to nine months. But you know, more like 18 months to two years.
And I think there was a fundamental understanding at the Obama White House that they’re not going to be able to keep up with this [as] quickly as all these remarkable companies are innovating, so where they could, they steered it where [it was] appropriate. But in terms of trying to set marketplaces or guidelines where companies should stay, I think they fundamentally followed the rule that information should be free.
HR: I agree with that. I say they got a pass sort of without pejorative view. Just that …
But a lot of people feel they got a pass in a negative way. Look at Europe, for example.
HR: There are clearly some areas where people felt aggrieved and probably are aggrieved. But the point that Juleanna makes is really, really, really important, which is that fundamentally, people inside government have just not been able to keep up and are outgunned scientifically, technology-wise, just knowledge-wise, of the marketplace. It’s changed a little bit in terms of some of the stuff that the White House Technology Office has done, but even that has been more directed at making government more efficient, not in being more aggressive on policy.
Right, absolutely. All right, let’s go over some of the issues that have been over the past couple of years. Because I think they’re all going to be, going forward, the same ones. And I will note that in Europe, Margrethe Vestager and others have been much more aggressive against Google, against Facebook, against Amazon, against all kinds of things. And at the same time in Britain, they’re being very aggressive in approving self-driving cars and drones and all kinds of regulations that have been mucked up, a little slower, here in this country.
Let’s talk about what the key issues of the past few years have been. Because I think it will show how much it’s going to continue to be an issue. I want to look at a couple of things, net neutrality, the new employment economy, the sharing economy, and then encryption and those things. And then in the next segment we’ll talk about where that’s all going to go in the Trump administration.
But let’s talk about net neutrality first. Juleanna, how do you feel that decision was made? It was obviously in favor of internet companies, to the chagrin of companies like Comcast and others. Do you feel that that was the right decision? How do you look at that decision and how it was made?
JG: I don’t have a personal view, necessarily, on how this came down. I do think that this took years to promulgate, and it’s something that folks in these issue areas had been working on for a very, very long time.
I do think that as we look forward, and I know we’re getting there in a minute, but I don’t think you can talk about the fact that this administration came down on the side of the internet companies without a great deal of interest and fascination with how a candidate who doesn’t believe in the power of eminent domain, the idea that owner rights trump all — excuse me there — is going to handle this going forward. Obviously the telecom companies, anyone providing bandwidth, they own those pipes, shall we say. And I think it will be fascinating to see how this next president manages things that people own, and allowing for free transportation or free access through those pipelines.
HR: Well, I think that’s right. And I said earlier, I think that the Obama administration saw much of the online revolution, as it were, as fueling their candidacy. And net neutrality ironically — and again, I don’t have a dog in this fight and didn’t have a dog in this fight, although in full disclosure, my firm does do work for AT&T — but there was an irony about [how] the tech companies did not want the government to regulate anywhere in their space, but yet they did want the government to insist that they get access to other people’s space.
[laughs] What a surprise.
HR: So I do think that we see that throughout the tech space. And going forward that may change a little bit, that you might not just get an automatic pass because of who you are. Having said that, there’s no question that consumers have been on the side of net neutrality and global access and free information, so consistently, the arguments have been framed as pro-consumer as opposed to pro-industry. And I think when you are able to do that — and Juleanna and I both do message framing for a living — when you’re able to do that and when you’re able to mobilize in particular, it’s enormously helpful.
Which I think they will continue to do as they move forward.
HR: Which they will have to continue to do as they move forward.
Don’t you want to watch your “Game of Thrones” freely without …
JG: Can I ... let me throw a wrinkle into that.
JG: So as you all mentioned, I’m up here in New York, and as an avid content consumer on my phone, I do think that we are going to be watching ... it’s going to come to a head again. The ubiquity and capability of our bandwidth options versus what we are trying to watch and see and hear on our phones every single day — I mean, as you all know, when you travel around New York in particular and these hyper-concentrated environments, sometimes phones don’t work so great. And we’re going to see how that plays out, whether it’s a proliferation of other broadband providers or these private sector agreements between content providers and those offering bandwidth that will figure out on a bilateral basis what will be permitted in the future. Because I do think that this problem is not fixed.
No, not at all.
JG: I think the Obama administration they held the ball and crouched on this one, and I think that people don’t feel that this is a remotely completed conversation.
No, I think some of these services are going to turbocharge themselves as people use these even more, and have multiple devices in the home and things like that happening. And it’ll be interesting to see who pays for them. And who decides.
JG: That’s exactly right.
So let’s move onto the new, speaking of that. Jobs were one of the biggest issues in this election. Part of it was how the economy is changing with job classifications, with the sharing economy, with people [who] are on contract. And each candidate, and different candidates, said different things at different times, but it’s clear that there’s got to be a new reclassification of jobs and how employment happens.
Hilary, why don’t you talk a little bit about that, what’s happened. Again, it’s another punting in a lot of ways, because nothing has really gotten ... even as these companies like Uber and many, many others of course ... the San Francisco area, I always say, is assisted living for millennials. There’s all these VC-funded things that are going to change job classification, but no one’s done it. And I know Gavin Newsom and others in California are looking at this, but how do you look at it on a nationwide basis? Because we are becoming a nation of contractors.
HR: Well, interestingly, we saw, over the last two or three years, a push to actually regulate more in this space, from increases in the minimum wage, which the court just struck down, to the Labor Department that was starting to work on regulations on the sharing economy, to labor unions that had started to get very aggressive in this last campaign about trying to organize and push policy makers to force sharing-economy companies to treat more of their suppliers like employees.
And I think that is going to be put on significant hold, but I think there is increasing pressure from old-school work advocates on these companies. I think what you’ll see and what I’ve started to see is these companies start to find ways to develop their own rules around employee benefits and support and things like that, without actually calling them employees. And that marketplace may end up being where we go. But had Hillary Clinton been elected president, this is probably one area where there would have been more activity in terms of work rules and other things that would have had a significant impact on the market.
JG: Yeah, I do feel as though as we went into the election, many of the sharing economy companies were really preparing for this specter or prospect of perhaps Bernie Sanders as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. And that combined with what everyone expected was a Clinton administration, where there would be labor union sentiments and concerns put front and center, I think that after these companies — many of them are tech companies, and California went so solidly for Clinton — after they comprehended the results of the election, the next sequential logical thought was [that] the independent contractor conversation got much more open and fluid once it became clear that Donald Trump was going to become president, and that the Republicans were going to hold the Senate.
HR: I do think that the courts may speak in this area and that these companies are not totally off the hook. And then there’s this other interesting dynamic that will take place with the progressive community, who will not be silent in a whole host of areas. That same community that was actively trying to use the arm of government will try and use the arm of government for the loyal opposition, whether it’s Senate Democrats like Elizabeth Warren, [who] was pretty vocal in this area.
HR: ... So I don’t think that these issues are over with Donald Trump as president, but I do think that some of the momentum has stopped, and that people have to be smart about how they pacify the real thoughtful desire of their contractors to have fairness and equality and good working conditions with government regulation.
Well, I don’t know if, you know, the statistics right now, I think 40 percent of millennials are in these contract jobs. It’s an enormous and growing number. And at the same time, shifting jobs, four and five and six times. These have been the trends over the last couple of years. And as these companies, again, like Uber and Airbnb and there’s all kinds of things that are related, and AIrbnb has a whole host of regulatory issues around housing, too, but they’re all part-time work in the part-time economy and how people think about work going forward.
HR: It is, and it’s interesting because a lot of those companies were depending on Obamacare, for instance to give those part-time workers or contract workers health care. I think that’s going to be a big issue for this administration going forward. How are they going to replace what are really requirements for daily living from people without pulling back everything?
Right. And the last thing very quickly I want to talk about, and then in the next section we’ll talk about where things are going in the Trump administration and the key issues, is encryption. Obviously, Juleanna, this was a huge issue between the FBI, between especially Apple and tech companies. Where have we left it? Can you just sort of describe where you think the situation is right now? And then in our next segment we’ll talk about where it’s going.
JG: The encryption does feel as though it’s been resolved. But not because government did anything. It’s certainly had much more to do with, again, the function of exponential innovation. Encryption capabilities are so quickly advancing and it is so crucially important for U.S. corporations to be able to provide devices and communications with the highest level of encryption in the age of the hacker.
The interesting rub is that when government has tried to step in and stop this, you run the risk that the economic repercussions of the United States from not being able to sell these devices internationally because Huawei or maybe ZTE doing a better job of encrypting for their international clients — not necessarily their domestic clients, but their international clients — than various U.S. companies. And again, this is a classic example of government, just by its nature, not being able to keep up with the speed and capability of innovation in the private sector.
HR: I think this is an area where you’re going to see a lot of new activity. You know, the nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has been on record as being very hard on companies that have, for instance, refused to provide back doors to [the] government for access to data. He was very hard on Apple. He worked in the Senate and said that these tech companies shouldn’t get a pass, law and order was more important, access for the FBI, etc. So I think we saw in Donald Trump less of a reverence for companies on this issue, and I think that going forward there is going to be a renewed debate around how much control companies should have versus government should have.
All right, we’re going to get back to that when we get back from our break. We’re going to take a short break now for a word from our sponsor. We’ll be back with Hilary Rosen and Juleanna Glover and we’re talking politics and tech and media.
We’re here with Hilary Rosen and Juleanna Glover talking about politics and tech in the era of Trump. We were talking about what the big issues have been in the past couple of years around encryption, around how jobs are classified and [around] net neutrality. There’s all kinds of issues for the Trump administration going forward, from transportation and how we’re going to regulate self-driving cars, encryption, privacy, taxes.
It’s a really important time for tech and also for media, and there’s tons of mergers happening. AT&T is trying to buy Time Warner, Verizon is in the midst of buying Yahoo. And then there are all kinds of issues with hacking and other things like that. There are so many tech issues, and I’m being kind when I say this is not a tech president. Although he is a genius at Twitter, it’s not someone who thinks a lot about where future tech is going.
Juleanna, why don’t you talk a little bit about what you see [as] the big issues for the Trump administration in tech. Because in the campaign — and again, he’s changed a lot of his tune from a lot of his campaign statements, he seems to be taking them back every day — he was quite aggressive on tech companies, particularly Amazon and Apple, spent a lot of time insulting them and such. So where do you imagine he’s going to come out on some of the key issues and these campaign comments that he made, which were pretty much all hostile towards tech?
JG: Yes, I think “imagine” is the operative phrase there. [KS laughs] So, as everyone saw yesterday, one of the most really adamant statements President-elect Trump had made, perceived by many to be outrageous statements, during the campaign was his belief that he would go ahead and reinstitute waterboarding, a.k.a. torture, if he were elected as president. That was something he repeated often. It was an applause line at his rallies on a daily, if not a multi-daily, basis.
And he unwound that yesterday at the New York Times. He said that he’d learned more information, I think after talking to General Mattis, he’d figured out that a beer and a pack of cigarettes was more effective than waterboarding. So I take that for an indicator that we have no idea how he’s going to come down on issues where he’s spoken on the campaign, and it’s going to be a function of his advisers as to how he ruminates and then settles on different policy proposals. And, quite frankly, we don’t know who is tech advisers are going to be.
I can’t even think of who they are. That’s the issue. I mean, I could think of a half a dozen Clinton people.
JG: Last week I think he met with Safra Catz, and then Brad Smith of Microsoft.
JG: And we don’t know why that happened, really. [There’s] some speculation that Catz could be commerce secretary, but we don’t know who his most influential technology adviser is going to end up being. It’s just the delta of individuals that exist in the conservative movement, or even outside the conservative movement. We just don’t know who he’s been around or who he would find to be compelling. We do know that Jared Kushner’s brother has been active in the tech sector, but I think he’s also been sort of arm’s length from the campaign. So everybody who’s thinking about these technology issues is triangulating and strategizing and trying to come up with this range of policy proposals that a Trump administration could put in place. And it starts at a dartboard right now.
HR: Yeah, I think there are a few things though to look at. First, we know that he has a lot of loyalty to Peter Thiel.
HR: A famous libertarian.
How could we leave him out.
HR: Someone who Kara knows well.
I don’t actually. I know of him well. Actually, I do know him a little bit.
HR: Well, our listeners know of him well.
HR: And a famous libertarian though when it comes to government.
Sure, they do.
HR: And on the other hand, the FCC transition team that the president-elect has put in place are filled with people who were sort of anti-net neutrality people.
Yes, they are. Pro-merger people.
HR: And on the antitrust side, you have folks from law firms that essentially have worked for the last 25 years to get mergers approved. So I do think that there’s a bunch of signals about both what they’re looking for in mergers, which is not much enforcement, and what they are looking for on telecom and other sorts of tech stuff, maybe leveling out the playing field a little bit to not advantage tech companies quite as much.
Then we have this opposite issue, which is I really believe that Democrats cannot be discounted in this conversation going forward. In particular, you’re still going to need 60 votes in the Senate to get things done. They’re going to eliminate the filibuster rules for court nominees, for the Supreme Court, but they’re not going to eliminate it for everything else. So those moderate Democrats, or those progressive Democrats, depending on the issue, are still going to be very important for how things move forward.
There are going to be policy issues. They’re not going to be able to just reverse something like net neutrality without Democratic input. They’re not going to be able to push through work rules or encryption or other kinds of issues without Democrats in the Senate engaging on this.
So I do think that you’ll see interesting coalitions being made, both industry interest and ideological interest, that may create some strange bedfellows on these issues.
So what do you think the key issues are going to be going forward? Because I don’t imagine he will be pushing a lot of tech issues the way that President Obama had. Although there are certain things that he’s promised, like jobs, [where] he’s trying to take care of the infrastructure and other initiatives. But really, the future does rely on a lot of tech jobs, and that’s where the jobs are in this economy, and what the U.S. has excelled in.
Juleanna, what do you think are the key things he will be pushing in tech? I mean, I do think he will pull away from attacking maybe a company like Amazon quite as much. Someone will say, “Oh, you know, people do like that Prime.” And he’ll be like, “Oh, yes, they do. I shall not ... this is a popular company with consumers ...” That’s exactly how a decision could get made. But I don’t think he’ll be attacking them quite as vehemently, because it doesn’t really work.
HR: Well, he’s talked a lot about tax, for instance, and tax is a policy driver. So he’s, for instance, criticized Apple for not manufacturing enough at home. He’s criticized most of the tech companies for keeping profits overseas and …
Which he’s promised to bring back.
HR: Which he’s promised a repatriation rate, and it looks like with the new Congress that that might actually happen. So if those companies end up with a lot of cash in their pocket, and distribute it, as opposed to investing in domestic manufacturing or in domestic jobs, they could be on the hot seat again.
Absolutely. I think probably if Apple opened a plant of some sort, it would go a long way if they got the repatriation of their cash.
JG: Can we go back to the infrastructure question?
JG: So yes, of course this president-elect has been very articulate on the infrastructure question, and there has been a lot of speculation that this is going to be an enormous, enormous spending bill. And we’re not sure how they’re going to pay for it. Perhaps they’ll pay for it with bringing back this $2 trillion worth of overseas profits that U.S. companies around the world are holding. But the definition of infrastructure is crucial here as one thinks about technology. I think that there’s going to be a real opportunity to argue that bandwidth, telecom, that is infrastructure as well. That could also really be an opportunity to release tremendous growth there that will be truly impactful to the technology sector.
That’s absolutely true. I agree with that. But again, when we get back to who in the Trump administration is going to be influential, you do have, pretty much, Peter, who has investments: He’s obviously a Facebook director, he’s got investments in Palantir and Airbnb and all kinds of sharing economy companies.
HR: When you look at the people that they’ve talked to, for instance for Treasury Secretary or for the commerce department or for trade, and, Juleanna, who they’re talking to about these jobs as opposed to the parade for the media.
JG: There is a back entrance.
HR: You know, Wilbur Ross, Mister 19th-Century-Steel-Companies? I mean, we’re not talking about the new economy at all when we’re thinking about these things. We’re talking about investment bankers who may have some experience in financing tech, but we’re not exactly talking about the most forward-looking leaders here.
So, Juleanna, the back entrance — is Eric Schmidt coming in through the garage? Is that what you’re saying?
JG: [laughs] I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eric Schmidt coming in. I think they’re taking meetings with everybody.
Do you see ... like, for example, Harold Ford has been mentioned as a transportation secretary. I do believe the transportation secretary is a key appointment because of regulation around self-driving cars and around drones and around all kinds of fast-forward robotics, and it all has to do with transportation.
Would you see anybody in that area that’s going to be not from the old world?
HR: Look, I think that if Harold Ford takes this job, if he’d offer it, I don’t know. I mean his political career will be over. It’s not that he wouldn’t be a good transportation secretary, it’s that he cannot sustain the pressure from his friends if Trump starts enforcing on immigration, or against Planned Parenthood, or against LGBT rights or civil rights issues. Like that is just going to be an untenable situation for somebody like Harold Ford to be in the Trump administration, I don’t see this at all.
JG: But wait, wait, you know, I agree that people who go into this administration could potentially be put in an untenable situation, but I do believe absolutely that somebody like Harold Ford, if he is at a point in his life where he can do this, and he thinks he can be helpful, he should go in, but he should have his resignation letter written as he goes in and [be] ready to walk.
Because I do think that although I was a very prominent never-Trumper, I think that it is so vitally important that we give him an open mind and as much advice and support as we possibly can. Because he’s just going to be too incredibly powerful to limit the circles of advisory services that are available to him.
HR: You’re right, except there are the realities of real people feeling very threatened by this president, and a whole host of civil rights issues. So being associated with him is just a dangerous front. But as we’ve learned this week, Donald Trump probably cares more about what the New York Times and its readers care about him than almost anybody. And let’s not ever forget that, that’s a significant way to influence this situation.
JG: I’ve been joking all week on that point, which is, although he’s been bashing the media incessantly throughout his campaign and continues now, you’re exactly right, Hilary. It is the New York Times, the New York Post, the papers that he’s woken up and read every single day of his life that are going to be the most powerful in this next new world, and I think that that’s potentially a great tool and a transparent tool in working with this president. We don’t expect that he’s necessarily going to read briefing books that are produced by hundreds of staffers in the White House, but we do know that he’s going to wake up every morning and look at the New York Times. And if different interests can communicate their issues that way, it’s a clear tool to use. I’m not saying it’s uncomplicated, but I think it’s something that the entire world can get their head around, [that] he’s going to read the Times every day.
All right, so old media wins! We’ll talk about that and more when we get back with Hilary Rosen and Juleanna Glover. We’re talking politics and tech.
I’m here in Washington and therefore I have to talk politics. And I dragged my old friend Hilary Rosen in, who is a Democratic consultant. And Juleanna Glover is calling in from New York City. She is a Republican consultant. I like to keep it even stephen. I don’t have a Green Party person here, and I apologize. Some of the things we’re talking about here ...
HR: That’s why we lost.
[laughs] Because we don’t have a Green Party. Media, big mergers, lots of them [are] going to happen. And I think most people in tech feel [that] there’s going to be a lot of mergers happening, if not some IPOs going forward and things like that. There’s going to be a lot of activity in tech around finances. Let’s talk a little bit about this administration’s viewpoint of this.
Now Hilary, you had [said] earlier that there’s a lot of pro-merger people here, and you think these are going to sail through.
HR: Well, you can’t have as much money as you have now in capital markets and not see a huge amount of consolidation. Big companies have just so much money available to them, so I think the deal market that we have seen active over the last couple of years will continue, only it will continue much more unabated. I think the Justice Department is in litigation over five big mergers now, between the Justice Department and the FTC, and I just don’t think we’re going to see that as much in the Trump administration.
Although I do still think that the changing dynamic of mergers will not go back. And that is that companies need to define their consolidation in a frame of the public interest as opposed to the shareholder interest. I don’t think we’re ever going to go back. Because I think that the populism of the day that fueled a Trump candidacy, that helped derail a Clinton candidacy, is not going back. And I think that the way that people think about big business, the way that people think about growth, is really, really important for these companies’ brands, not just for their ....
So framing. Framing is critical.
HR: Framing not just in how they’re dealt with in the public policy sphere but how they’re dealt with in the marketplace. I do think that there is a significant amount of capital activity that we’re going to see, but you know, the AT&T-Time Warner merger is a great example of completely upending — and full disclosure, my company, as I said, works for AT&T — how we think about content, and how we think about platforms. And all of a sudden, these companies that have had really distinctive businesses — you’re either a platform company or a content company — I think that distinction is going to go away.
JG: Let’s go back to the consumer question. Assuming this president-elect, the only way to communicate with him is going to be on the front page of the New York Times or Post. The storytelling around what big mergers are going to mean for consumers and voters and where those are positioned, where they might end up costing middle America more of their hard-earned dollars, that’s where I think you’re going to see some real trepidation as to whether these big mergers are going to be able to go through.
Absolutely, the disposition at the Department of Justice and the antitrust division is going to be “prove to us that this is anti-competitive,” not “this is anti-competitive, prove that it isn’t,” which is sort of how Democrats have historically come at the antitrust arena. But I’m not entirely sure that the merits around whether there’s vertical or horizontal integration in mergers that are going to be introduced in the future and are going on now, I don’t think that’s going to have anything to do with whether this White House opposes or supports them.
I think it’s going to be entirely a communications function as to whether this is — as Hilary just said, what’s the impact on consumers? And again, that will play out [on the] front page [of] major papers. Let’s add the Washington Post, because I do think he’ll be reading the Washington Post when he’s going to be in D.C.
So in that regard, though, Europe, opposite stance. You’ve got a very aggressive person in Margrethe Vestager and others in Europe, where these companies don’t sail through quite so easily, and these mergers don’t sail through. Google is still under continual watch by the Europeans. Does that stop them? They have had pretty much a pass in this country. Do you see the Europeans becom[ing] more aggressive?
HR: I think that they may become more aggressive, as we’ve seen kind of a populist right as opposed to a populist left taking on more power in Europe. I think they’ll end up with the same consequences. The other thing that we’ve seen in Europe is an increased desire for more tax enforcement, right? For all of that U.S. money in theory parked overseas, the EC wants to get a piece of that. The U.K. wants to get a piece of that. So I do think that these companies have to have more of a potentially global outlook than they had. But it will start from this really significant framing of: How are individual workers going to benefit, individual consumers? And I think that will start to be more of a global problem.
Let’s face it. These jobs are not coming back, the ones that Donald Trump promised would all come back. Right? So what’s going to substitute for them? Where is growth going to occur? The more that this administration takes a hands-off approach on business, the more trouble Donald Trump is in when it comes to his reelection.
And so the more money that goes into CEO pay and consolidation and job cuts, the harder it is for him to feel it and be successful. So I do think you have this sort of historic Republican establishment pull to let the marketplace work its will. And that is probably more the Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell congressional Republican …
Right, leave things alone.
HR: ... leave the marketplace alone. That is going to go up against the Donald Trump, Steve Bannon ... these economic populists are angry for a reason, and we have to address that. And so which way that goes and shakes out on the regulatory front is really an open question.
So let’s end on that and talk about that issue. Because one of the things that’s sort of being discussed in Silicon Valley a lot these days is artificial intelligence and the impact on jobs. That a lot of these — what Hilary was saying is entirely right — these jobs, not just the manufacturing jobs, but the jobs that have been touted as the “growth of the economy,” they’re also going away.
Radiologists, for example, is a good example everybody always uses. We’re not going to need radiologists in the future. There’s drones right now taking the place of people who are delivering food. It just goes on and on and on. And a lot of the new developments, self-driving cars — and I know, Juleanna, you’ve consulted on this issue quite a bit, where those are all going — those are pretty much all job-replacement technologies. Uber, same thing. Everyone’s working on self-driving cars and things like that. Why don’t you talk a little bit about the impact of AI and does this administration understand the possible real contraction of jobs that could happen. Not just where it’s happened typically in the Rust Belt, but pretty much everywhere.
JG: I think California entrepreneurs absolutely understand the potential of AI to completely transform how people work in coming years. I don’t think there’s either a Washington elite or a Donald Trump advisory circle that understands how potentially quickly this is coming.
If you look at the numbers on the sort of people who make their money driving in some way, shape or form, I believe that settles out at around three in 10 men earn their livings behind the wheel. And if regulators someday in the not-too-distant future decide that autonomous vehicles, or quasi-autonomy, are indeed safer than humans behind the wheel, and you see this suddenly ubiquitous and inexpensive technology being downloaded into vehicles, that’s going to be a great and enormous cultural and economic challenge for this country. And I don’t think policy makers are necessarily thinking about how you take a 50-year-old male or female who has been productively and happily employed throughout their life, making a contribution to their community, taking care of their children, making their mortgage, and suddenly they’re replaced by a machine at a faster rate than anyone is expecting, and how do you take that person and ensure that they have dignity after moving into some sort of social support system?
The whole retraining question, I think, is also an area we’re going to have to inject into the infrastructure debate. That and bandwidth have got to be a part of the conversation of any massive spending bill on infrastructure that’s upcoming, and there will be a tremendous amount of education that needs to be done that this is coming quicker than anyone is expecting.
HR: So true, and Republicans have obviously always historically fought retraining money, but you know, Donald Trump so famously said on the campaign trail, “I love the non-educated voter! I love those guys! I want more of those voters!” And what his advisers have since said in the analysis of the election was people just don’t want to be told that they have to go back to school to get a good job. Right?
And so, you know, this administration’s going to have to be careful about supporting these companies where that ends up being the only opportunity. It’s like going back to school. And there is this viewpoint, I think, by many that there are thousands of vacancies in tech without people to fill them. And so this, let’s say, more progressive viewpoint, [that] we need to figure out how to get more folks educated so that they can be more supported in the new economy, has been dismissed by the Trump campaign over the course of the last six months. But it’s inevitably where they’ll have to go.
I would agree.
JG: And I think he’ll go there, happily. I mean, once a president-elect’s policy circles come to understand how quickly this is potentially coming, those are the voters that he cares most about. Those are the voters that put him in the White House. And just as he says, the atypical, anti-usual-conservative belief [that] we need to have Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security reform, Trump has opposed that. I think he’s going to come out in an unexpected way on how to manage the displacement that’s going to occur as AI becomes more highly utilized across the country.
HR: And my view is that he’s going to end up with allies of Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer more than Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.
So he’s back to being a Democrat — that’ll be interesting. So let’s get to the thing I want to end on, because I know Hilary’s got to get going, on Twitter. What do you think about how the power of Twitter with Donald Trump? He’s obviously a savant at using the medium. What do you think about the impact of Twitter on the election and fake news and things like that?
HR: Two thoughts on Twitter. One is that we just saw that Twitter announced that they were not going to provide a back door to the government for access to user data. And it will be interesting to see if Donald Trump’s favorite medium will end up feeling the force of law enforcement and what they do, because he’s promised more aggressive law enforcement there. Look, I think that there is no going back. I saw a poll yesterday that said that 60 percent of Americans want Donald Trump to shut his Twitter account down because they think it’s not a good way for a president to communicate. But that’s just not going to happen.
JG: I agree with that.
HR: It’s been too useful, too exciting for him. And I think we are in a new era of really authentic communication, because it is his voice, but a huge media fact-checking problem. Because he is completely unabashed about lying on Twitter and having his perspective repeated over and over and over again with fake news. I do think that if Facebook and Google and Twitter want to survive, they are going to have to deal with this problem. There is accountability there.
HR: I think that the steps that Facebook has taken are good so far, Google’s done it on the advertising side, but I don’t think it’s going to be enough. They’re going to have to invest in resources to address this problem.
Which is a very difficult computing issue. Juleanna, what do you think about the impact of Twitter?
JG: Listening to Hilary, I continue to be stunned by this fact that yes, we live in a world where Donald Trump can communicate directly to voters, and he clearly values that tool — but not more than he values what the major papers say about him.
JG: That’s how his relevance is playing out in the world, and that has been how it has been for him his entire life. I don’t think that’s going to change. So although I have a tremendous amount of concern about fake news and trolls and the harassment and the really grotesque behavior that happens in so much social media, I settle back on the belief that it’s going to be a vibrant and free press that is going to thrive under this administration.
HR: But this is in every sense the two sides of Donald Trump. The unknown of Donald Trump. Does he care more about the New York Times and what they say, or is his success really dependant on being able to effectively lie on Twitter? Therein lies the excitement of the next four years.
Oh my god. Oh my god, wait until he gets onto Snapchat. Anyway, we’ll see.
JG: But what did he say at the Times yesterday? Yesterday, at the Times, he was asked, “How do you know you’re going to be successful?” He didn’t say Twitter or voters, he said, “When you all think I do a good job. And I don’t mean as a conservative, I mean when you think I do a good job.” And I’m definitely paraphrasing that and perhaps bastardizing a bit, but it was where the media settles on how he does a good job, writ large, not in terms of imposing a governing world view or structure, but he wants it to be said that he, in a ubiquitous and globally media recognized sense, did a good job.
Not enough likes is not good enough then.
JG: Yeah, I agree. Jazz hands.
Jazz hands. All right, thank you so much, Hilary and Juleanna. We talked a lot about politics, all kinds of things — it’ll be very interesting going from here. We’ll have to check in at the midterm time. Midterms. Thanks for coming by.
HR: Thanks for having us.
JG: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.