Thomas Friedman, columnist for the NYTimes, on how technological accelerations are shaping our world

By | September 5, 2019


[BEEPING] Good afternoon. Welcome to the
Institute of Politics. It is altogether
fitting that we should be meeting in the library
here at the Quad Club, because our guest
today has written some of the really incisive
books that describe the current condition of
our economy, our society, in global affairs. So this is the proper
setting for this discussion. I will only say this
about him because we have someone who will give
a fuller introduction– that there are a few
people in this country who you would describe as public
intellectuals, who people look to for guidance and for
direction in complicated times. And Tom Friedman has been that
person for a couple of decades. Many of you probably read his
column in The New York Times. Many of you have read his books. Hopefully all of you
will read the one that’s on sale down there. But I feel very fortunate
to call him my friend, and very fortunate to
have him here today. And to fill in the
introduction, I want to introduce Nicole
Beckmann Tessel, who is a PhD student in history. So you were a student here–
an undergrad here as well? Yeah. Yes, she said she’s
a seventh year. [LAUGHTER] That’s hardcore, Nicole. I’m happy to welcome
Thomas Friedman to the University of Chicago. Friedman is a foreign affairs
columnist for The New York Times, as you all know, a
three-time Pulitzer Prize winner in 1983, ’88, and
2002, the best-selling author of eminently readable
and compelling books about complicated matters. Among these books
is his, The World is Flat, first
published in 2005, which established
Friedman as a leading expert on globalization. Friedman has also
written extensively on power, the environment,
and American politics. Known for his
indefatigable efforts to understand and then
evaluate what he aptly describes as, “our
interdependent world,” Friedman is here to discuss with
us his latest insights. Particularly those put forth in
his most recent book, published late last year, entitled,
Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving
in the Age of Accelerations. We’re especially fortunate to
have Friedman with us today, the eternal optimist– [LAUGHTER] As we look toward the
future, on this icy, cold, early January 2017 day. Please join me in welcoming him. [APPLAUSE] I just ask you to
silence your cell phones, and when we go to
questions and answers, make sure that you
actually have questions. Thank you. Well, Nicole, thank
you very much. David, thank you. It’s a treat to be here. And I’m going to talk
for the next 30, 40 minutes about my new book, and
then open it up for questions. And we’ve got books downstairs
if anyone wants to buy one, I’ll stick around and sign them. I always begin by starting
with the title of the book. People ask me where
from comes the title, Thank You for Being Late? And the title actually
comes from meeting people in Washington, DC for
breakfast over the years, including in his previous
life, David Axelrod. And every once in
a while, someone would come 15, 20 minutes late. And they’d say, “Tom,
I’m really sorry, it’s the weather, the
traffic, the subway, the dog ate my homework.” And one morning three years
ago, when Peter Corso, an energy entrepreneur, came late. I just spontaneously said
to him, “actually, Peter, thank you for being late. Because you were late,
I’ve been eavesdropping on their conversation,
fascinating. I’ve been people watching
the lobby, fantastic. And best of all,
I just connected two ideas I’ve been
struggling with for a month. So thank you for being late.” People started to get into it. They’d say, “well,
you’re welcome.” Because they understood
I was giving them permission to pause, to
slow down, to reflect. In fact, my favorite quote in
the first chapter of the book is from my teacher and
friend Dov Seidman, who says when you press the
pause button on a computer, it stops. But when you press the pause
button on a human being, it starts. That’s when it
starts to reflect, to rethink, and reimagine. And the argument of
this book is, boy, we need to do a lot
of that right now. Now the book actually
was triggered when I paused to
engage with someone I wouldn’t normally engage with. I live in Bethesda, Maryland. And I take the subway to
work in Washington, DC, when it’s running,
about once a week. And for me that involves
driving from my home in Bethesda on Bradley
Boulevard to the Bethesda Hyatt. And I park in the public
parking garage there. And I take the red line into DC. And I did that, low some
three years ago now. Went into DC. Came back at the end of
the day on the red line, got my car from the
public parking garage, had my time stamped
ticket, drove up to the cashier’s booth,
handed it to the cashier. He looked at it and
looked at me, and said, I know who you are. I said great. He said, I read your column. I said great. He said, I don’t always agree. I thought get me out of here. But I said, actually,
that’s good. It means you always
have to check. And I drove off. So a week later, I took
my weekly subway ride in. Into DC, red line, office,
back home, red line, car, time stamped ticket, cashier’s
booth, same guy’s there. This time he says, Mr. Friedman. I have my own blog. Would you read my blog? I thought, oh, my god. The parking guy is
now my competitor. What just happened? So I said, well, write it down
for me, and I’ll look it up. So he wrote down, he tore
off a piece of receipt paper, and wrote on it odanabi.com. And I took it home. I called it up on my computer. It turned out he’s Ethiopian. Writes about Ethiopian politics. He’s from the Oromo people
and a real democracy advocate. I thought about him for a
couple of days, talked about it with my wife, and I
eventually decided that this was a sign from God
that I should pause and engage this guy. But I didn’t have his email. So the only thing
I could do was park in the parking garage
every day, which I did. And after four
days we overlapped I parked my car into the gate
so it couldn’t come down. I said Ayele– now I know
his name, Ayele Bojia. I would like your email,
which he gladly gave to me. And that night I began
email exchange with him, which I repeat in the
front of the book. Some of them are quite
funny, our back and forth. That I basically said I
have a proposition for you. I will teach you how
to write a column, if you will tell
me your life story. And he basically said, I see
you are proposing a deal. I like this deal. So he asked that we meet near
his office at Peet’s Coffee house in Bethesda, which we
arranged to do two weeks later. And I came with a six page
memo on how to write a column. Some of this I’ve thought
about before and some of it I just did for this occasion. And he came with his life story. Ethiopian immigrant,
democracy advocate, got thrown out of the country 10
years ago as a political exile in America. Was blogging on
Ethiopian web sites, but they weren’t fast enough. So he decided to
start his own blog. And now, Mr. Friedman,
I feel empowered. His Google metrics say
he’s read in 30 countries. This is my parking guy. And it’s a great story about how
anybody can participate today in the global conversation. And he’s a wonderful man,
and we’ve become friends. And as I say, a
terrific democracy advocate for his own country. Well, I then explained to
him how to write a column. If the world is a big data
problem, this is my algorithm. I explained to him that a
news story is meant to inform. I could write a news story
about this event that would inform better or worse. But a column is
meant to provoke. So I’m either in the heating
business or the lighting business, that’s what I do. I either do heating or
lighting, I’m either stoking up an emotion
in you, or I’m illuminating something for you. And ideally, I’d do both, and
I produce either heat or light or both. But to create heat or light
requires a chemical reaction. And you have to combine
three substances. The first is what
is your value set? What do you stand for? What are you promoting? Or you a communist, a
capitalist, a neocon, a neoliberal, a libertarian,
a Keynesian, a Marxist? What are the set
of values you’re trying to push into the world? Second, how do you
think the machine works? So the machine is my
shorthand for what are the biggest forces shaping
more things in more places in more ways on more days? Because as a columnist,
I’m always carrying around in my head a working hypothesis,
always being updated, about how the main gears and
pulleys of the world work. Because what I’m trying to do
as a columnist is take my value set and push the machine. And if I don’t know how it
works, I either won’t push it, or I’ll push it in
the wrong direction. And lastly, what
have you learned about people and culture? Because there’s no column
without people, and there are no people without culture. How does the machine
affect people and culture and how do they come back
and impact the machine? Stir those three together. Let it rise, and
bake for 45 minutes. And if you do it right,
you’ll produce a column that produces heat or light. You’ll know you’ve done that by
the reaction readers give you. They might say, I
never knew that. That’s a good reaction. You produced some light. I never connected those things. That’s a good reaction. I never looked at it that way. That’s a good reaction. Your favorite,
you’ll live for this. Happens four times a year. You said exactly what I felt,
but didn’t know how to say. God bless you. I want to kill you dead,
you and all your offspring. I get that. That tells you you’ve
produced heat, OK? Any one of those
reactions will tell you you’ve written a
successful column. Well, the more I
explained this to Ayele, the more I started to step back
and say, I’ve been doing this, I’ve been a columnist
for 22 years. What’s my value set? Where did it come from? Because as readers of my
column know, I’m not really, I’m not quite a liberal. I’m a radical free trader and
a super capitalist actually. But I’m certainly not
a conservative, either. And that’s because
my values actually did not emerge from a
library or philosopher. They emerged from the
small town in Minnesota where I grew up in the
’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. I grew up in a time and
place where politics worked. And it had a huge impact on me. How do I think the
machine works today? And what have I
learned all these years about people and culture? And I decided that was the
book I wanted to write, and that’s what
this book is about. That’s the journey. So let me begin by breaking
the book into two parts. The first half is about
how the machine works. And the second half
is about how it is reshaping the world in five
realms, politics, geopolitics, ethics, the workplace,
and community. So I think what describes
the machine today is that we are in the middle of
three non-linear accelerations in the three largest
forces on the planet, which I call the market, Mother
Nature, and Moore’s law. I believe that’s what is driving
more things in more places in more ways on more days. So Mother Nature for
me is climate change, biodiversity loss,
and population growth. If you put it on a graph, it
looks like a hockey stick. The market for me is
digital globalization. Not your grandfather’s
globalization, that was containers on ships. That’s actually going down. No, this is everything
being digitized, whether it’s books at
the University of Chicago or Facebook or
Twitter or Paypal, and now being globalized. And that is what’s driving
the world from interconnected to interdependent. That’s the driver of
globalization today. And Moore’s Law, coined
by Gordon Moore in 1965, the co-founder of Intel,
posited that the speed and power of microchips would double
roughly every 24 months. It’s now closer to 30 months. But lo and behold,
that exponential has held up for 52 years. Put it on a graph, it
looks like a hockey stick. We’re, in fact, in
the middle of three nonlinear, exponential
hockey stick accelerations in
the three largest forces on the planet,
all at the same time. And they’re all interacting
with one another. More Moore’s Law drives
more globalization. More globalization drives
more climate change and more solutions as well. So let me talk about just one
of them in the time we have. We can get into the
others in the Q&A. And that is the
exponential of Moore’s law, because it’s really the
driver of all technology, and really the Uber
driver of all of this. One of the hardest things
to explain to people is actually an exponential,
because you rarely encounter one in your daily life. Where you encounter it is when
you’re merging onto the freeway and go from 0 to 60. That’s when you feel velocity
and acceleration both kicking in at the same time. The team at Intel to
give people just a feel for the power of
something doubling and doubling and doubling and doubling. They once took a 1971
VW Beetle over at Intel. And they said, what
if this VW Beetle improved at the same
rate of microchips over the last 52 years? They determined that
that VW Beetle today would go 300,000 miles an hour. It would get 2 million miles per
gallon, and it would cost $0.4. You’d be able to drive the
car your entire life on one tank of gas. That’s the power
of the exponential we’re now in the middle of. Now my chapter on Moore’s
Law begins with the question, and is so titled, what
the hell happened in 2007? 2007? What’s this guy talking
about, such an innocuous year. I was on Stephen
Colbert last night, and they told me, that’s
not innocuous year. That was the year Stephen
Colbert ran for President. But actually, 2007 will be
remembered for something else. 2007 began in January of
that year at the Moscone Center in San Francisco
when Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone, beginning
a process by which we are now putting in the hands
of halfway to all the people on the planet, a
handheld computer connected to the internet with more
computing power than the Apollo space mission. But that was just 2007
clearing its throat. In 2007, a company called
Facebook, actually late 2006, opened its platform up to
anyone with a registered email address, and broke out of
colleges and universities and went global. In 2007, a company
called Twitter split off on its own independent
platform and went global. In 2007, the most important
software you’ve never heard of, called Hadoop, named after the
founder’s son’s toy elephant, launched itself into the wild. Hadoop basically is
the software that allows us to take
a million computers and make them operate like one. That’s called big data. That happened in 2007. The guys at Hadoop, Doug
Cutting, the founder, didn’t actually invent it. It was actually all
invented by Google. But as Doug explained
to me in the book, Google lives in the future and
sends us letters back home. And what Google
did basically was leave a trail of breadcrumbs so
the open source community could reverse engineer what
Google did, and basically gave the world the
big data revolution. But 2007 was still just
clearing its throat. In 2007, Google bought a
little known TV company called YouTube,
and Google launched into the wild and operating
system called Android. In 2007, this guy
up in Seattle named Jeff Bezos gave the world the
first e-book reader called the Kindle. In 2007, IBM started the
world’s first cognitive computer called Watson. In 2007, three design
students in San Francisco were attending the
design conference. And they noticed all the
hotel rooms were booked. And they happened to have
three spare air mattresses that they thought would
be cool to rent out. Which they did,
and it was so cool, they started a
company called Airbnb. In 2007, let’s go to the
videotape here, it’s a clicker. What am I doing wrong? This was definitely
pre-2007 technology here. Yeah, thank you,
yes, the first one. There we go. This is a graph of the cost
of sequencing a human genome. In 2001, it was $100
million, one genome. In 2006, it was $10 billion. And in 2007, it goes over a
cliff down to about $1,200. Solar power took off in
2007, as did a process for extracting natural gas from
tight shale, called fracking. This is a graph of
social networks. That white line
there, that’s the cost of generating a megabit of data. Let’s see, that started
to fall in 2007. The blue line is the cost of
the speed at which you could transmit it, a megabit of data. It takes off, and the two lines
cross in 2008, close enough for government work. That’s what Moore’s
Law looks like. Oh, I forgot, the Cloud was
also born in 2007, the Cloud as we know it today. In 2007, Intel
for the first time went off silicon and
introduced nonsilicon materials into its transistors, extending
Moore’s Law’s exponential for at least another decade. It turns out, friends, that 2007
was the single most important technological
inflection point, may be seen as the
single most important technological inflection
point since Gutenberg invented the printing press. And we completely missed
it because of 2008. So right when our physical
technologies just took off, like we’re on a moving
sidewalk at O’Hare that went from five miles an
hour to 50 miles an hour, right when David
Axelrod and Barack Obama were moving into the White
House, our social technologies, what Eric Beinhocker calls
our social technologies, the adaptation mechanisms,
the regulation, deregulation, the political responses
to this, many of them completely froze
because of 2008. And we are still living
in that dislocation. So as I laid this
idea out, I was out visiting Astro Teller, who runs
Google X, Google’s research arm. And we were just
talking about this. And Astro went over
to his white board, and he just drew this
simple abstraction. I said, what’s that? He said, well, this blue
line is the average rate at which human beings
and societies adapt to change over time. It has a positive slope, but as
you can see it’s very gradual. This is technology. We’ll call that
Moore’s Law, even though it didn’t exist before. So we forget if you
lived in the 11th century or the 12th century, your
life didn’t change at all. We forget there was a time
you lived a whole century and your bow and arrow really
didn’t get much better. Then we got Copernicus
and Galileo and then Intel and chips and the line
starts to take straight north. Then he drew that
little diamond. I said, what’s that? He said, we are here. We’re now at a pace where
technology is simply, at this exponential
rate, growing faster than the average human
being and society can adapt. Then he went over and drew
this little gray dotted line. And I said, what’s that? He said, that’s politics. That’s called learning
faster and governing smarter, so we can lift the
line of adaptation to begin to meet
technology where it is. So what actually
happened in 2007? What 2007 represents
in my view is, your little computer here,
including your iPhone, actually has made of
five key components. It’s made of a processor, the
Moore’s Law microprocessor. It’s made of a storage chip. It’s made of networking. It’s made of software. And it’s made of a sensor. It’s got a camera, but
sensors are now everywhere. What actually
happened, I believe, is in the early 2000s, all of
those were in a Moore’s Law. And they all melded
together in 2007 to create this thing
we call the Cloud. The Cloud– but I never use
the word the Cloud in my book. Because it sounds
so fluffy, it sounds so soft, so cuddly,
so benign, sounds like a Joni Mitchell song. [SINGS] I’ve looked
at clouds from both– This ain’t no cloud, folks. This is a supernova. The supernova is the
largest force in nature. It’s the explosion of a star. And I believe what all
these melded into in 2007 was a giant release of energy
into machines and people that changed four kinds of power
in the early 21st century. It changed the power of one. Oh, what one person
can do now are things we have never imagined before. We have a
President-elect who can sit-in his pajamas in
his penthouse in New York and tweet to hundreds
of millions of people directly without an editor,
a libel lawyer, or a filter, some would say without
even a brain, OK? [LAUGHTER] But what’s really new and
really scary is the head of ISIS can do the exact same thing
from Raqqa province in Syria. That’s when you know the power
of one has really changed. The power of machines
have changed. Machines now all five senses. We’ve never lived in age
of intelligent machines. I wrote about this last week. My teacher and
friend Dov Seidman said, Descartes, when the
scientific revolution happened, said, I think, therefore I am. But what am I, when machines
can now think better than me? But we crossed that line
on February 14, 2011, on, of all places, a game show. There were three contestants. Two were the all time
Jeopardy champions. The third simply went by
his last name, Watson. Mr. Watson passed on
the first question. But he jumped in on the
second question, buzzed in before the two humans. The question was it’s worn
in the foot of a horse and used by a
dealer in a casino. And in under 2.5
seconds, Mr. Watson said in a perfect Jeopardy
style, what is a shoe? And for the first time,
a cognitive computer figured out a pun faster
than two human beings. It’s changed the power of ideas. Oh, ideas now flow, circulate,
and change at a speed we’ve never seen before. Barack Obama five years
ago said, marriage is between a man and a woman. Today, blessedly so, he says
marriage is between any two people who love each other. And he will follow
Ireland in that position. Dylann Roof, this
terrible man who shot up a black church
in South Carolina– a week later the
Confederate flag, which had flown
over the statehouse there for I don’t know
how many decades– it was gone. Wiped out by Twitter
and Facebook in a week. So we see ideas now
changing and circulating at a speed we’ve
never seen before. And lastly, it’s changed
the power of many. Because when machines and
individuals get this amplified, we as a collective become
the most important force in and on nature, which is
why the new geophysical era is being named for us,
the Anthropocene. Now the argument of this
book is that these four changes in power, they’re
not just changing the world. They are fundamentally
reshaping the world. And they’re reshaping
five realms– politics, geopolitics,
the workplace, ethics, and community. So since we’re at the
Institute of Politics, let me start there. How are these accelerations
reshaping politics? Well, I believe we aren’t just
in the middle of one climate change right now. I believe we’re in the middle of
three climate changes at once. We’re in the middle of a change
in the climate of the planet, we’re in the middle of
a change in the climate of globalization, and we’re
in the middle of a change in the climate of technology. We’re in the middle actually of
three climate changes at once. What do you want when
the climate changes? You want two things. You want resilience,
because boy, there’s going to be disruptive
things happening around you. And you want propulsion. You want to be
able to move ahead. You don’t want to be
curled up in a ball because the climate is changing. So as I worked on
the book, I sat down and I thought who do
I interview about how we build resilience and
propulsion in citizens when the climate changes? Who do I interview? And then I realized
I knew a woman. She was 3.8 billion years old. Her name was Mother Nature. And she’d been through more
climate changes than anybody. So I called her up,
and I sat her down, and I interviewed her. In the book, I
said, Mother Nature, how do you produce resilience
and propulsion when the climate changes? Because we’ve actually built
with our own hands today, in globalization, a
complex adaptive system that the only thing it is
comparable to in scope, scale, and complexity, is
actually the natural world. So I thought it
would be a good idea to start with Mother Nature. Oh, she said, well, first of
all, Tom, everything I do, I do unconsciously. But this is what I do. She said, first of all,
I’m incredibly adaptive. In my world, only the
adaptive survive, first rule of politics and Mother Nature. Secondly, she said,
I love diversity. I’m the most pluralistic
person you’ve ever met. I try 20 different
species, see who wins, and my most diverse
ecosystems are my most resilient and propulsive ones. She said, I am
incredibly sustainable. In my world,
everything’s circular. Everything is food. Eat food. Poop seed. Eat food. Poop seed. I’m incredibly sustainable. There’s no waste. Fourth, she said, I am
totally into entrepreneurship. Wherever I see an opening
in nature that’s empty, I fill it with a plant or
animal perfectly adapted to that niche. Fifth, she said,
I’m very patient. You can’t speed up the
gestation of an elephant or a 1500-year-old baobab tree. Sixth, she said, I
believe in co-evolution. There’s nothing
dogmatic about me. I put the right bees
with the right flowers. The right trees
with the right soil. I’ve incredibly
hybrid in my thinking. And lastly, she
said, I do believe in the laws of bankruptcy. I kill all my failures. I return them to the great
manufacturer in the sky, and I take their energy
to nourish my successes. Well, the argument
of my chapter is that the countries, companies
and communities that most closely mirror Mother
Nature’s killer apps, will be the ones to thrive
in the age of acceleration. And then just for fun, because
we were in a political season, I imagined what would have
happened had Mother Nature been running in this election. What would Mother
Nature’s political party look like, to build
resilience and propulsion? And the point here was not to
be cute, but to be very serious. I believe all our
parties are blowing up. And they’re blowing
up for a reason. Because they were
essentially designed to respond to the New Deal,
the Industrial Revolution, the early IT revolution, and
civil rights, both gender and race. And I believe what
politics has to be about today is how you respond
to these three accelerations, and how you get the most out of
them for more of your people, and cushion the worst. And I believe we’re in
a transition from one set of challenges to the other. And that this is what
politics has to be about. So my party is built
entirely on that premise. I won’t go into the details,
but the basic thrust is my own politics. On some issues, I’m actually
to the left of Bernie Sanders. I believe we should have
single payer health care. But at the same time, I am to
the right of The Wall Street Journal editorial page. I believe we should abolish
all corporate taxes, and replace them with a
carbon tax, a tax on bullets, a tax on sugar, and a small
financial transaction tax. I believe to respond
to these accelerations, we need to get radically
entrepreneurial over here to pay for what
we’re going to need– stronger safety nets over
here because this world is going to get too damn
fast for more people. And that politics has
to be about those two. So my own thinking is we
need to let things co-evolve. Unfortunately in
our politics today, if you’re for radical
entrepreneurship, you’re never for safety nets. And if you’re for
safety nets, you’re never for radical
entrepreneurship. We do not let things
co-evolve, and that is not sustainable in my view. So that’s how politics
is going to, I think, be reshaped in the
age of acceleration. I’ll talk a little
about geopolitics, because again we’re
here at this Institute. So that chapter is called
control versus chaos, or order versus disorder. Now I am an old fart. I’m 63 years old. When I grew up there was a
great sitcom called Get Smart. It was a spoof of James Bond. And Don Adams had a shoe phone. He was Agent 99, his
partner was agent 86. I’m going to test you
here, Ax can’t answer. Who can remember the
name of the organization that Don Adams worked for? It was called– KAOS? No. Control. Control, thank you. This is a good audience. It was called Control. Their worldwide enemy was
called KAOS, spelled K-A-O-S. Well, I believe the writers
of that show were ahead of their time, because I believe
the relevant geopolitical divide in the world today
is no longer communist, capitalist, East,
West, North, South. It’s between the world of
control and the world of chaos. That is the relevant
geopolitical divide. And right now, the
Mediterranean and the Rio Grande are the two major
dividing lines. Why is this happening? Basically, it’s
happening because we went through a period
in the last century, as we moved from empires
to nation states, where after World War
I and World War II, we birthed 190
plus nation states. And the Cold War, the Cold
War was a fantastic time to be a weak little state. It was great. Why? There were two
superpowers, first of all, who were ready
to throw money at you– foreign aid, build your
stadium, rebuild your army. If you’re Syria, you could
lose three wars to Israel, get your army rebuilt. Climate change was moderate. Everyone had a demographic
dividend, lots of young people, few old people. And China was not in the
World Trade Organization. So it couldn’t take
your low wage labor. So everybody could
start with textiles. It was a fantastic time
to be a weak little state. Get your kids educated at
Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow or in University
of Chicago, fantastic time to be a weak little state. The age of acceleration
has obliterated all of those advantages. Now there’s no superpowers,
unless you’re Syria and that’s a freak case, who
want to throw any money at you. Donald Trump may
abolish the AID. Because superpowers know
all they win is a bill. There’s no more global
competition in that way. Climate change is now
hammering everybody. Many countries now have
huge demographic deficits. And China is in the
World Trade Organization. So if you’re
thinking of starting your people in the
textile business, I suggest you think again. I tell the story– I was in Egypt for Tahrir Square
revolution, gone from my wife for three weeks
covering the revolution. The revolution was over. I went to Cairo airport. Fly home, see my honey. I’m in Cairo airport. And they’ve got the Treasures
of Egypt souvenir shop. I thought I’d go in and buy
my honey a little souvenir to remind her where her
honey was for three weeks. Let’s see, what
do they have here. Pyramids ashtrays, my
honey doesn’t smoke. Oh, what’s this,
it’s a stuffed camel. And if you squeeze
its hump, it honks. My honey doesn’t have
a honking hump camel. I take it to the cash register,
turn it over, what does it say? Made in China– yeah, you’re
the lowest wage country in the eastern Mediterranean,
and there’s now a country a half a world away
can make your pyramids ashtray or honking humped camel
cheaper than you can, and ship it, and make a profit. Basically what’s happening is
all these states, in my view, are going to fall apart. And the ones that
are going to go first are those whose borders are
primarily straight lines. Because they’re the
most artificial. They are like caravan
homes in a trailer park with no basement
and no foundation. And my three accelerations
are like a tornado. And what you are seeing
today from West Africa to the border of
India is a tornado going through a trailer park. We took down some of them. Others are doing very well
at taking themselves down. And it is creating a
vast zone of disorder. Now in centuries
past, an empire would come in and occupy this zone. But as I said
today, the would be empires of the world
don’t want to touch them. So we have never
lived in a world where you have vast zones of
disorder, where no empire wants to assert control,
and where individuals are getting super empowered
in an interdependent world. So if Rex Tillerson is not
affirmed as Secretary of State, and Donald Trump calls
any of you and says, I’d like you to be
Secretary of State, my advice is tell him you had
your heart set on Agriculture. Because I think being
Secretary of State in a world of order
versus disorder is going to be hell on wheels. It is the most impossible
job today in the world because it’s all about
managing weakness. And for so many years
being Secretary of State was all about managing strength,
and there is nothing harder than managing weakness. Let me say a few
words about ethics, and then we’ll conclude
and go to questions. Ethics– why would ethics be
an issue that’s being reshaped? Well, my chapter
on that in the book is called “Is God
in Cyberspace?” Comes from the best question
I ever got on a book tour. Portland, Oregon 1999,
I’m selling a book called Lexus and The Olive
Tree at the Portland Theatre. A young man stands up
in the balcony and says, Mr. Friedman, I have
a quick question. Is God in cyberspace? I said uh, uh, uh, uh, uh,
I said, I have no idea. I felt like a complete idiot. So I went home and I called
my spiritual teacher. He’s a rabbi, Zvi Marx. I met him at the
Hartman Institute when I was a New York Times
correspondent in Jerusalem. He lives in Amsterdam
now, married to a Dutch priest,
very interesting character, great Talmudist. I called him. I said, Zvi, I got a question
I’ve never had before. Is God in cyberspace? What should I have said? And he said, well, Tom,
in our faith tradition, we have two concepts
of the Almighty. One is biblical,
one’s post biblical. The biblical concept is that
the Almighty is almighty. He smites evil and rewards good. And if that’s your
view of God, he sure isn’t in cyberspace, which is
full of pornography, gambling, cheating, lying,
mass criminality, and we now know, fake news. But he said, fortunately,
we have a post biblical view of God that says
God manifests himself by how we behave. So if we want God
to be in cyberspace, we have to bring him there
by how we behave there. Well, I liked Zvi’s answer. I threw it into the paperback
edition of Lexus and The Olive Tree where none of you saw it. And I forgot about
it for 20 years. I started writing this
book, and I found myself spontaneously
retelling that story. And I finally sat myself
down and said, why are you telling that story now? And the answer was twofold and
became immediately clear to me. It’s because we have
never been more godlike and because we have never
lived in a realm more God free. What do I mean? We are now living
our lives, and I believe 2016 will be remembered
as the tipping point, we are now living so much
of our lives in cyberspace. It’s where we educate. It’s where we communicate. It’s where we find
our next date. It’s where we find our spouse. It’s where we do our business. It’s where we get our news. It’s where we produce our news. We’re living in cyberspace
now so many hours of the day, there’s just one problem. Cyberspace is a realm
where we’re all connected, but no one’s in charge. There are no stoplights
in cyberspace, no judges, no courts, no 1-80-please stop
Putin from hacking my election. But yet, that’s where
we’re now living our lives. We’re living our lives in a
realm that is completely not only God free, but law free,
and basically rule free. And all you have to do
is be a public figure and be slimed in cyberspace to
know how there are no rules, and there’s no one to call. At the same time, we’re
living in a world of amplified human and machine power. Now you put those
two together and what do you start to
realize you start to realize we’re at
a moral intersection we’ve never stood at before. In 1945, we entered a world
where one country could kill all of us, post-Hiroshima. If it had to be one country,
I’m glad it was mine. I think we’re entering a
world where one person can kill all of us,
and where all of us could actually fix everything. The same amplified
powers are creating a world where one of us can
kill all of us, and all of us could actually feed,
house, clothe, and educate, if we put our minds to it,
every person on the planet. We have never been
to this intersection before where one of us could
kill all of us, and all of us could fix everything. What does that mean? It means we’ve never been
more godlike as a species than we are today. And we’ve never spent
more hours in a realm that is completely God free. And that is going to be a huge
moral and ethical dilemma. How do we deal with it? Well, you know I gave
this part of my talk as the commencement address
at Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts last May. And I said to the
parents, I know what you’re thinking, just like
I know what you’re thinking. I said to them
you paid 200 grand so your kid could get
an engineering degree. And they brought in a
knucklehead commencement speaker who was preaching what– the golden rule. If we don’t scale
the Golden Rule, do unto others as you
wish them to do unto you, or whatever version
your faith has, and every faith has a version– oh, we’re going to
have a real problem. Because we now live in a
world where more people can do unto you from farther
away than ever before. Putin just did unto us in a
way that no country has ever done in our history. And we can now do
unto him the same way. If we don’t scale
the Golden Rule, we’re in for a real problem. And as I said to those
parents and I’ll say to you, I know what you’re thinking. Is there anything more naive? Is there anything more naive? Oh, there is. Because what’s really
naive is thinking we’re going to be OK in a world
of this much amplified power where we now spend this
much time in a realm where we’re all connected
and no one’s in charge, if we don’t scale the Golden Rule. Now that’s naive. And the theme of this chapter
is Naivete is the New Realism. So where does the
Golden Rule come from? I think it comes from
two places, primarily– strong families and
healthy communities. Now I’m not an expert
on strong families. I hope I built one
and lived in one, but I wouldn’t presume to
lecture anyone on that subject. But I am an expert on
healthy communities, because I grew up in one. And the book ends with
the last two chapters about the little town in
Minnesota where I grew up, called St. Louis Park. Very briefly, in
Minnesota, in Minneapolis, that’s outside of
Minneapolis, all the Jews lived in a ghetto in the north
side in the ’40s and ’50s with African-Americans. Not because we had
integration, but because we were both forced there. And Minneapolis was known as
the capitol of anti-Semitism. My parents couldn’t join
triple A, for instance, until Hubert Humphrey became
mayor and cleared it out of city government,
big hero in our house. After the war, in the
mid-fifties, I was born in ’53, all the Jews, almost all
the Jews move en masse in a three year period out of
the north side of Minneapolis to one town, one suburb
really, called St. Louis Park. Overnight a suburb that
was 100% Protestant, Catholic, and
Scandinavian, became 20% Jewish, 80% Protestant,
Catholic, and Scandinavian. If Sweden and Israel had a baby,
it would be St. Louis Park. And you had this
incredible experiment in pluralism and inclusion. We the Jews of the frozen tundra
who called ourselves the Frozen Chosen melded with
these incredibly pluralistic and decent Swedes. And we built a pretty
interesting and inclusive community. Not without pain, not with
broken hearts and broken friendships, but we built a
pretty interesting community. Because I actually
went to high school, lived in the same neighborhood
with or went to Hebrew school with the Coen brothers,
Al Franken, Norm Ornstein, Michael Sandel, Peggy Orenstein,
Sharon Isbin, the guitarist. Alan Wiseman wrote
The World Without Us, the Hautman brothers, who
won the National Book Award– we all grew up in the same basic
neighborhood at the same time. The Coen brothers
movie, A Serious Man, was about our neighborhood. If you watched No
Country for Old Men, you remember the scene
where Chigurh blows up a car outside of a
pharmacy in Mexico so he can go in and
steal drugs, the camera briefly pans to the
name of the pharmacy. It’s called Mike
Zoss Drugs, that was the main pharmacy
in St. Louis Park. So I actually saw a really
interesting community get built. And I saw how it happened,
two things reinforcing each other, great
leadership and trust. The better the leadership,
the more the trust. The more the trust, the
better the leadership. You come to St.
Louis Park today, it’s indistinguishable from
Hopkins, Edina, Minnetonka, and Golden Valley. There’s no moat around it. There’s no drawbridge, no wall. But the culture is
incredibly powerful. And it’s all about this
ability to build trust. My friend and teacher Dov
Seidman likes to say trust is the only legal
performance enhancing drug. Where there’s trust in the room,
oh, it’s like a hard floor, you can jump so high. Where there’s no
trust, it’s like sand. You can’t jump a millimeter. I tell that story,
and then the book ends because I come
back 40 years later. I left St. Louis Park in
1971 to discover the world. And I came back 40 years
later and found the world had discovered St. Louis Park. Now my high school is
50% white, Protestant, Catholic, Scandinavian,
10% Jewish, 10% Hispanic, and 30% Somali, and
African-American, mostly Somali. Because the same
neighborhood little town that was ready to take
the Jews took the Somalis. Now the inclusion challenge
is so much more profound. The bridges that
have to be built to span racial and religious
divides much longer. And I tell the story
about how they’re doing. And they’re doing pretty well. It’s a struggle. I make no predictions. But my high school’s rated
by The Washington Post the fifth best high
school in Minnesota with a totally
different demographic. And I tell also the
story of Minneapolis and what’s going on there. I don’t know how it’s
going to come out, but I am struck at
the number of people who want to get caught trying. And I’d like to quote
my teacher and friend, Amory Lovins, a great physicist
who, whenever he’s asked are you an optimist
or a pessimist, always answers, I’m neither. They’re just two different
forms of fatalism. Everything will be great. Everything will be awful. Amory’s motto is– I
believe in applied hope. And what strikes me about my
little town and the politics of Minneapolis right
now is the number of people ready to apply hope. If you want to be an
optimist about this country, stand on your head. The politics looks so much
better from the bottom up than from the top down. Because there are a lot
of healthy communities. There’s a lot of
struggling communities. But there’s an amazing amount
of social innovation going on in the country. So much so that I would tell
you nothing has to be invented. Whatever you can imagine,
somebody is already doing it. It just has to be found
and scaled and shared. So I’ll end here with–
my book has a theme song. I thought of, could I buy it? And when you opened
the book, you would play this
song like a Hallmark card plays “Happy Birthday.” The song is by Brandi Carlile,
one of my favorite singers. She’s a country folk
singer, if you don’t know. And her song is called
“The Eye,” E-Y-E. And the main refrain is, “I
wrapped your love around me like a chain. But I never was afraid
that it would die. You can dance in a hurricane. But only if you’re
standing in the eye.” And I think my
three accelerations, they are like a hurricane. I think Donald Trump
is selling us a wall. And I think there
are politicians all over the world today who
are in the wall business. I’m arguing for an eye. An eye that moves with the
storm, draws energy from it, but creates a platform of
dynamic stability in it, the healthy community, where
people can feel connected, protected, and respected. Connected, protected,
and respected– I think the struggle
of politics, in the next few years at least,
across the industrialized world is going to be between the
wall people and the eye people. And my book is a manifesto
for the eye people. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] Some one right up here. Thanks so much
for being with us. My name is Matt Enlow,
and I’m a second year student at the law school. The world is certainly
accelerating. And like you say, I think safety
nets for preserving or creating healthy communities will be
more important than ever. So my question is about
one possible approach to this, a way in which all
of us might save everything. Would you predict the widespread
adoption, domestic and abroad, of policies like a
universal basic income to address poverty
and stagnant wages, giving the decoupling
of production from wages in the
past few decades? Very good question– so I’m
actually against UBI, not for economic reasons. In my politics, my Mother
Nature’s political party, I’m for doing what
President Obama tried to do, which is vastly expanding
the Earned Income Tax Credit. I think the dignity
and the anchoring and the sense of self-worth and
purpose that comes from work is so important that
what we should be doing is encouraging people
to work and then top up their wages to
narrow income gaps. But the idea of paying
people to stay home, I think that could be
socially very corrosive. Let me go all the way back,
and then we’ll come up. Yeah? Mr. Friedman, thank you for
coming in to chat with us today. In my native Michigan, towns and
cities across it, and people, are being ravaged. That’s one reason that people
changed their voting habits, as you know, this cycle. And Charlie Cook’s
Political Report recently reported that medical technology
and green energy jobs are not going to be adequate to address
the economic structural changes in our country. So what advice would you offer
to people across Michigan in light of disappearing jobs
and the difficulty in replacing their economic means
in your framework? Very good question. So I deal with this– I have a chapter on how the
workplace is being reshaped. It’s called “How We
turn AI into IA.” How we turn artificial
intelligence into intelligent assistance, A-N-C-E,
intelligent assistants, A-N-T-S, and intelligent algorithms. And I address some of what
you’re asking right there. You know, there’s no question
we have pockets in the country and especially in the
industrial heartlands where people have been ravaged. So I did a column last
week about this subject. It was called– and I
did it with my friend Dov Seidman, was called “From
Hands to Heads to Hearts.” I’m going to give you a
general answer, because I can’t give you a specific
answer for every town. And the basic argument
was that for many years we worked with our hands. And 98% of us were once
farmers, worked on the land. And then when industry
came, and services, we worked with our heads. A lot of us worked in
services and knowledge. And the argument Dov
and I put forward is that in the next generation,
we’ll work with our hearts. That it will be
jobs of the heart, the one thing machines don’t
have and can never have. And I’m not in any
way minimizing– if I’m a 50-year-old guy who’s
lost my manufacturing job, and Friedman comes to town and
says you’re going to work with your heart– I get it. We have a challenge there. That’s why we’re going to
have to have stronger safety nets, because a lot of
people are going to be caught in this transition. But what am I actually saying? So really for me, one of the
most interesting interviews in the book I did was with our
Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, amazing guy, Indian-American. And Vivek– we’re talking about
what’s the biggest disease in America today– is it heart disease? Is it diabetes? Is it cancer? And Vivek said,
it’s none of those. It’s isolation. The Surgeon General
of the United States says the biggest
disease in America today is people
feeling isolated. Now isn’t that interesting. We’re in the most connected
era in world history, and the Surgeon General
says the biggest problem he has is isolation. So what that tells
me is there are sure going to be a lot of jobs
connecting hearts, OK? And as the Talmudic adage says,
what comes from the heart, enters the heart. What doesn’t come from the
heart, can’t enter the heart. And so I think there’s going
to be a huge explosion of work around connecting people. An example I give– and it’s not
to trivialize your question– but the fastest growing
restaurant chain in America in 2015 was called Paint Night. It’s paint by numbers
classes for adults in bars. Art teachers make $50,000 a
year for three hours’ work five nights a week. Because adults, it
turns out, hey, actually would like to get together
and paint by numbers together with other adults. And I use that simply
as a small example. But I think there’s
just going to be a huge industry around
connecting people to people. And I think it’s going to take
many, many different forms. On the other side, there’s
going to be a whole set of jobs as a result of
these accelerations that you can’t possibly imagine. I was at a conference
in September and a woman stood up
and said her job was tagging sharks for Twitter. And I thought, jeez, your
kid comes home from college, says mom, dad, I
want to tag sharks for Twitter when I grow up. What you couldn’t be
an ophthalmologist? You have to tag
sharks for Twitter? Like who knew there was a job
tagging sharks for Twitter? The point is, horses
could have voted, there never would
have been cars. And so in a period
of rapid change, there’s always
somebody, there’s going to be a state, that’s
going to be really disadvantaged, all right? There’s no question about it. And that’s why I say we’ve
got to have these safety nets. We’ve got to figure it out. So I don’t have
a specific answer for everyone in Michigan. But my general answer is
this, and it’s completely the opposite of where
Donald Trump wants to go. I think in a period
of rapid change, you actually want to
be radically open. I want TPP everywhere, actually. Because the most open society is
going to get the signals first. And it’s going to attract
the most high IQ risk takers to start new jobs. You want to be radically open. You want to educate
everybody as much as you can. And you want to strengthen
your safety nets, because it will be too
fast for too many people, for a lot of people. If you close off, if you
actually close us up, you will be doing the
most dangerous thing you could do to America right now. So I don’t have a specific
answer for everyone in Michigan, because I don’t
know the amazing things that people are doing like
tagging sharks for Twitter and making a really
good living from it. All I know is
generally what I would do in a moment of transition
like this is be radically open and trust human creativity. If I were running, and this
is part of my platform, I would have run on four– I would have run on four zeros. I would be for zero emission
cars, zero carbon power, zero waste manufacturing,
and zero energy buildings. In other words, Rex Tillerson
said something yesterday– he’s going to get
a column for this– that was the most
dangerous thing he said. But it was just–
it’s sotto voce. He said, yeah, we should hold on
to the Paris agreement for now. But we want to make sure
it isn’t disadvantaging our companies. Well, which companies? Solar companies? Efficiency companies? Wind companies? I’ve got to include this graph. But think about this
graph for a minute. I’ll do it visually for you,
because it applies to Michigan. Because I was at war with
the Michigan delegation, congressional delegation,
including Mr. Dingell, who I do not think highly of. Because 1973– I’ll try
to do this graph for you– we have the oil crisis. And in 1975, Gerald
Ford comes in, and he doubles mileage
standards from 12 to 24 miles per hour roughly. So think of the graph goes
like that, mileage standards. Reagan then comes in, stops
it, and for the next 25 years, mileage standards stay flat. We tell our auto
companies to really focus on making better cup holders
rather than better engines. For 25 years, it
stays totally flat. And in those 25 years, we
send a trillion dollars to petrodictators
around the world. Then Barack Obama comes
in 2008, and he doubles it from 25 to 50. Now what is Trump telling
the auto companies? Just hang on till
January 20, and I’m going to stop what Obama did. Is there anything more stupid? And by the way, I
hate to tell you, I don’t mean to
insult Michiganders, a lot of people in Michigan
are going to applaud for that. And it was precisely
in that flat line there that Toyota and Nissan
killed the auto industry. To me, the Michigan delegation– it was appropriate that Dr.
Kevorkian came from Michigan, because they were
essentially involved in the assisted suicide
of the US auto industry. Imagine the line
that Ford started we had taken straight up. I bet you anything
the jobs in Michigan would not have gone away. And so I have sympathy,
but at the same time, we’ve got to think about
what world we’re living in. And if you listen to Trump,
who is really stupid– I mean he’s like– you can’t underestimate
how little this guy knows and how much he has nothing
but a first paragraph. He won the presidency
with one paragraph. He couldn’t sustain any argument
more than one paragraph. Unfortunately, Hillary only
had a second paragraph, and it didn’t have
a topic sentence. And that’s why she lost, OK? But what he is doing, these
little things you have to pay– the long term
consequences of taking Gerry Ford’s line like that
and then flattening it out for 30 years? That’s why Michigan’s
where it’s at. So please– I’m
not saying to you, but I’m saying in general to
these people out there saying, what are you going to do? Well, you made some really
bad choices that some of us were arguing against
for a long time. And now you say, let’s
close down everything. Well, wait a minute, you want
to close off, choke all of us. Trump is actually talking
about eliminating H1B visas. I’ll tell you what
will happen there. First, that’s the full
employment for India act, let’s start there. But what will happen
is Microsoft tomorrow will do what it did the
first time they tried that– open its next research
center in Vancouver. So we’re not– Trump would say, I saved
these 800 jobs at Carrier or whatever he did. What he doesn’t see is every
CEO of an industry in America right now is
saying, we are never going to build another
plant here again. Because I don’t want to be
stuck, exposed to this guy. And automate
everything you can, I don’t want any workers, because
then Trump can’t get me. So he’s holding up this. And meanwhile, over here there’s
a million other decisions. Actually, this is a good column. I’m writing a column now,
which is all the stupid– this is how columns appear. It’s just like just
a list of this guy doesn’t see around any corner. We’re going to fight with
Putin against ISIS, really? Who are Putin’s our
allies in this fight– Hezbollah, Iran, and a
group of mercenary jihadists from Central Asia. We’re going to be in
a trench with them? So there isn’t a corner
this guy has looked around. There isn’t a second
paragraph he’s ever read. Sorry for the rant. But that’s where I answer, yeah. So a question from Wisconsin? [LAUGHTER] Go over here, right here, yeah. This will be much different. I am from Turkey. Please. So the point I have is this
that, you’re talking about– so what I think you missed
about Mother Nature– Please. Is that Mother Nature
is very gradualist. Yes, absolutely. That it change really slowly. But what you’re saying,
what you’re advocating is radical change. So when we have a time where
these radical change is happening and your trust that
government is at its lowest point, how do you get your kind
of “Eye” politicians to power? Because even if what
you say is 100% correct. Right. Like my skepticism is
I’m from Turkey, so– Yes, I noticed. –I have reasons
to be skeptical. How are your “Eye”
politicians going to win, because that’s where I
see the most problem lies. It’s a very, very good question. Next question,
back there please. No. [LAUGHTER] It’s a very good question. And I frankly, on one
hand, I despair over it. I really do. But show me someone who’s
actually tried my platform. Because Hillary Clinton didn’t. I said she only had
a second paragraph and it had no topic sentence. And so I actually
still believe if you can package it the right way,
and Ax may disagree with this, but that if you actually
take these people on. I think the challenge for
Democrats now going forward– so you know I spent a lot of
time covering the Middle East. And my friend Leon
Wieseltier once coined a phrase to describe
Itzhak Rabin, and he called him a
bastard for peace. What Democrats today need
is a bastard for peace. They need someone
who can connect up at the gut level with people
where they are, but still have a progressive agenda. It’s a very rare balance. But Rabin had it. Sharon had it. Because I’m a firm
believer– people do not listen
through their ears. They listen through
their stomach. And if you connect– what Trump did, in a
phony, utterly phony way, this plutocrat, fraudulent
marketer basically, presented himself as
the man of the people. Somehow he connected
at a gut level, and that’s why he could say,
same thing Erdogan says. Erdogan says exactly
what Trump says. I could shoot someone on
the Sultan Ahmed bridge, OK, in the middle of
the day, and no one would testify against me. When you’ve got that
zone, then you’ve arrived. Who’s got it today? Bibi’s got it. Trump has it. Erdogan has it. Putin has it. They’ve all found this
gut connection to people, because it’s basically cultural. It’s about humiliation and
that they present themselves as the anti-humiliation people. If Democrats don’t
find that, that person, they’re going to
get steamrolled. And you marry that
then with my agenda. Because see when you connect
with people at the gut level, you know what they tell you. Don’t bother me with the
details, I trust you. And when you don’t connect with
them on a gut level, Hillary, could you show me those
details one more time? Could you show me
paragraph five again. I got to read that
again for the 14th time. So that to me is a
challenge for progressives. And that’s why when
I write about Trump, and I try not to
write about him a lot, because he can actually take
your brains out, he’ll just– if you write about him everyday. So you won’t write this book. You won’t be thinking
about the world. The worst thing from my point
of view you can say to Trump is you’re bad. You’re a bad guy. Oh, my god, he loves that. The liberal New York
Times says I’m bad. What I say about him
is you’re a chump. In fact, you’re
everybody’s chump. You’re Bibi’s chump. You’re Putin’s chump. You’re big oil’s chump. You think you’re a
tough guy, you’re actually everybody’s sucker. That drives him crazy. Because he thinks
we’re all his chump. So you’re really got to
think very smartly about how these guys are
winning, and they’re playing off cultural humiliation
of large groups of people. They’re connecting
up with it, and then using it to advance
the oil companies. It’s a terribly cynical play. And in four years,
trust me, Trump’s voters will not be better off. But Democrats have
to break into that. And if you do it
the traditional way that we just weren’t
left enough, trust me, you’re going to get steamrolled. Yeah, take a couple more. Yeah, please. So when John Brennan
was here last week, he was discussing the role of
Russia in the recent election, he mentioned that people are
uncomfortable with the idea that a government
might have to intervene in the internet the same
way that the United States government does in airports,
for example, with the TSA. And so you discussed this God
like nature on the internet– Yeah, God free. [INTERPOSING VOICES] And to what extent
do you believe that a government or
a body of government will be able to regulate the
internet which has [INAUDIBLE]. Right, yeah. I don’t have an answer. It’s a very good question. I don’t have an answer. I think we need some kind
of new social compact, but I don’t know what it is. And I’m truly stumped. All I can now is
describe the problem. We’re sort of early
in on it, relatively. But I think, for
the IOP, you want to study the next great
political science challenge? That’s it. Because if all our lives
are moving to a realm that’s basically god
free and law free, what does that
mean for politics? And what does it
mean for governance? we know about
terrestrial governance. But cyber governance
can be so much harder. So it’s a very
important question. Yeah, take this. You’re calling for this radical
change in our relationships with each other to become more
open and more trusting and more entrepreneurial. I’m wondering if there are
any examples in history that we can look
to for guidance. It’s a very, very good– I’d have to think about it. I’m not enough of a historian
to answer your question. You know, has there
been a period like this. And it would be interesting to
look at the early Industrial Revolution and that
transition moment. Because we’re in one of these
transition moments, you know. We’re at that moment when
horses and buggies are still on the street, but new cars
are just being phased in. And I don’t know. But it’s a very good
question, another good PhD thesis at the IOP. Take one more, back there, yeah. So I asked a question
last week to Sean Spicer. He didn’t give me a very
satisfactory answer. I think you’re the perfect
person to address this issue. I talk about Trump using
his Twitter or social media platform as a way to shape
his foreign policy message. Would this way of addressing
to American people derail or even debase on serious
foreign policy discussion in the first place or it will
be a flatter foreign policy discussion landscape
in a positive sense? Another good question. You know, one of
the things I always respected about
President Obama was that whether I agreed with where
he came out on an issue or not, like Syria, whatever– Actually, I’ll back up and say
that the new second edition of An Inconvenient Truth is
coming out, Al Gore’s movie. And the Paramount people asked
me if I would look at it, and write about it,
and I said I would. I was talking to my friend Hal
Harvey, who actually went here. He’s a great energy
entrepreneur. I said, I’m going to do,
maybe I’ll write something about An Inconvenient Truth. And he sat back, and
he said, you know, Tom, the most
inconvenient truth is that the world’s a
complicated place. That’s the most
inconvenient truth. And I’m actually
thinking of doing Al Gore’s movie the day of
the inauguration as my column. Because you can tweet
whatever you want, but my teacher and
friend Rob Watson, a great environmentalist, likes
to say that Mother Nature, she’s just chemistry,
biology, and physics. That’s all she is. You can’t talk her up. You can’t talk her down. You can’t tweet at her. She’s going to do whatever
chemistry, biology, and physics dictate. And Mother Nature
always bats last. And she always bats 1,000. Do not mess with Mother Nature. And that’s what Trump is doing. So you can tweet about
that all you like. But at the end of the
day, these big forces, unless you approach
them as Obama tried to in a really
complicated way where– what does the politics
allow me, and maybe I can double mileage standards. Don’t talk about it a lot. That’s how he moved the
ball in a complex world. And if you just come in and
tweet at me, and tweet this, and tweet that– in a world of these
accelerations– they will blow you down. And I think the most
dangerous point for America is the day Donald Trump really
meets resistance, because he’s going to get really ugly then. And when the President of
the United States goes ugly– we’ve never experienced this
kind of deformed character– with these kind of tools. I really worry about that day. I think we have done the most
reckless thing we have ever done as a country. Period. Paragraph. End it. And on that happy
note, that’s right. [LAUGHTER]

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