This podcast is originally published in BBC Business Matters with the link here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w172ydpzfk05ps8
Roger Hearing is joined by writer and journalist Karen Percy in Melbourne, and the Founder of AI firm Complete Intelligence, Tony Nash, in Houston.
They discuss the tech giants in China that have shared details of their algorithms with Beijing for the first time.
The first day of campaigning is getting under way in Brazil’s presidential elections, due to take place on the Second of October. What is the impact on the economy?
The Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, has confirmed his predecessor secretly held five parliamentary roles undertaken in the two years before losing power in May earlier this year. Meanwhile, in the US voters in Wyoming are expected to oust Liz Cheney from her seat in Congress in Republican primary elections taking place on Tuesday.
BBC: Also say hello to Tony Nash, founder of AI firm Complete Intelligence, who’s joining us from Houston. So, Tony, very good evening to you.
TN: Hi, Roger. Good evening.
BBC: Good to have you with us. And we’re going to talk let me come to you coming. You’re involved in the AI world, which I guess is in that zone, too. I mean, our algorithms really the great bugbear that we think they are, as Ken was saying, leading us in places we perhaps don’t want to go but are unable to resist, or is it just a very simple way of selling us stuff?
TN: Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not. These things are trade secrets, whether or not they are, say, patents or excuse me or something like that, these are trade secrets. And companies have spent a lot of time and a lot of money developing them. And so in China, you can expect to have these things demanded to be revealed because there really isn’t personal property in China as much as we think there is, there isn’t in the west and the US. We like to think that we have personal property and company owned property. And so if a government were to command a company to release an algorithm or a trade secret or a business process, then that would effectively be nationalization of property, and it’s just not right.
BBC: Yeah. Some members of Congress certainly want that, as we heard from Facebook and others.
TN: All they do is talk for a living. They’ve never built a business. They don’t know what it’s like to actually value something. And so if something were commanded to be opened, unless it was for a national security reason, which everyone understands, but if things were commanded to be opened, it would be a long fight. But property rights, intellectual property rights are a really big deal, especially over the last 30, 40 years, as we’ve had a software led world. So, again, you can get this in China, where there really are not individual property rights. And for one to expect to have individual property rights in China is silly. But in the west, one would hope that we would have property rights, especially intellectual property rights, and this would not be something that would happen.
BBC: Yeah, but I suppose there’s always compromise in that. That’s a fair point, Tony, in the sense that these are mega companies with enormous power and they are trading in our data. So it isn’t a normal commercial relationship, is it?
TN: No, Roger. What governments have to do and what citizens have to do, if there is objectionable behavior, then they have to legislate and regulate that objectionable behavior. If people are being discriminated against, if people are being threatened, if one political party or another is being favored, those things need to be regulated and legislated. But seizing intellectual property is not the way to do it because the precedent there is devastating. And in the US. Where you have an IP based economy, it would take down valuations of massive companies very quickly.
BBC: But we’ve heard, Tony, that Twitter has effectively open source on this. I mean, maybe they’re not doing brilliantly, but they’re doing okay.
TN: That Twitter API.
TN: Has been available for years, and it kind of tells you what’s going on, but it really doesn’t. And so it’s not a credible example, really, because they kind of let you know a little bit of things. And sure, you can download the data, and that’s a business that Twitter has had for a long, long time, where you can download the data to detect patterns and these sorts of things, but it’s not really letting go of their trade secrets, and that’s where the value is.
KP: That one of the concerns I would have is that politicians, though, rarely want to regulate or legislate. There’s this whole kind of mantra like, oh, no, we’ll let you do your thing, whether it’s the market or whatever. Politicians don’t like to regulate, they don’t like to legislate, and they’re in the rub for me.
BBC: Well, I think there are politicians and politicians, if I can anticipate what I.
TN: Mean, I live in America. Politicians here love to regulate.
BBC: Maybe economics. Tell me there’s a funny aspect of this that Brazil almost seems to be shadowing the US. In a funny sort of way. A similar kind of president, perhaps, in Bolsonaro to what we saw with Trump and some of the same economic issues.
TN: Yeah, I really don’t follow Bolsonaro all that closely, although I know he’s populist and he’s had some new economic measures go out recently that were very populous. So from that respect, you may be right. I think Brazilians have seen Lula before, and they’ve seen Bolsonaro before, so they know what to expect from each president. So at least they’re voting with their eyes open because they know how each performed in previous administrations.
BBC: Yeah, which may of course, be what’s informing the polling, if we believe the polling at the moment. Exactly. And tell you, one of the aspects always seems to me is this is the classic sleeping giant. I mean, it’s an enormous country with enormous resources, and one always bumps into Brazilians. Almost everyone goes, you still about China in a way. It’s a sleeping giant of this. It’s odd that a country like this hasn’t risen to its proper position in the global economy.
TN: Well, but it’s getting there. If you look at, for example, the AG exports that Brazil provides to China, it is a major supplier of the Chinese economy with AG and metals. So Brazil is getting there, and it’s gradually building up. Of course, there’s still a lot of poverty there, and I don’t know of administration in Brazil, and maybe I’m overstepping here, but I don’t know of an administration in Brazil that hasn’t been accused of corruption. Lula was, Temerer was.
BBC: They all are. I think it seems to be a regular thing. True or not, it seems to be there.
TN: Right the time I was absolved. So I just want to make that clear. But they were accused of that coming out of office.
BBC: Of course, one of her key issues is what happened on January 6. She’s on the Congressional committee investigating that at the moment. So meanwhile, Mr. Trump has backed a candidate rivaling her, Harriet Huggerman, who opinion polls suggests will easily win the Republican nomination for the seat. Miss Cheney earlier urged Democrats to register as Republicans in order to boost her slim prospect. I mean, Tony, this is an extraordinary sort of development in a way, because this change is close. It comes really to Republican royalty, isn’t she?
TN: Unfortunately, yes. So we don’t really like royalty in American politics. And so I think part of the problem here is that Lynn Cheney is in the House of Representatives and she represents a state that, whether she likes it or not, is very pro Trump. And so she is not representing her constituents. And at the end of the day, that’s really what this story comes down to, is when a representative is elected by a state, the people expect that representative to actually represent their views in Washington, DC. That’s how the US legislature works. And what’s happened is Liz Cheney has decided that she doesn’t want to represent the people of Wyoming and she wants to have her own views and do things that they don’t want her to do. And that’s really what this comes down to.
BBC: Isn’t there an issue here, though, to do with you delegate and representative? I mean, many people who represent an area in the legislature aren’t necessarily going to transmit the views of the people who elected them because they were elected to have their views heard in the parliament or wherever it is.
TN: In the US Congress. In the House of Representatives. They have two year tenure and they have to be elected every two years. And that’s to ensure that we have a diversity of opinion in Washington, DC. Whether or not one likes Trump or doesn’t like Trump doesn’t matter. I think the issue here is that Liz Cheney is not representing the views of her constituents and they have every prerogative to vote her out. And that’s really what this is about. The people of Wyoming, I haven’t seen the results. I don’t think polls are closed yet.
BBC: But no, I think they’re still open. This Cheney represents the people of Wyoming, not just it is predominantly a Republican, as you say, but not just the Republican Party. She represents the people who voted for it.
TN: But there is one representative from Wyoming. And so, yes, she represents the people of Wyoming. But if she’s a representative of a political party and she’s elected by that political party and the voters in that, so the Republican Party of Wyoming has actually censored her. So they’ve told her that the actions she’s taking are not endorsed by the republican Party of Wyoming. She’s known for over a year. So shortly after the 2020 election, they censored her. And so she’s been way out of bounds for almost two years because it’s the party, she has to go through the party system at the state level to get on the ballot for the primary, so she can win the primary to win the election. And so she really does report to the people and to the party in Wyoming. So it’s kind of the ugly side of democracy, but there is accountability in representation.
BBC: Well, clearly, but I suppose the other thing is that I’ve heard reported is that Liz Cheney, in terms of her views, apart from on the subject of Donald Trump, her views aligned pretty perfectly with most of the Republican voters of Wyoming. Very conservative on most issues. It does seem to be Trump. That’s the issue. Which seems strange to hear that this man still has so much influence over almost everything that happens in US politics.
TN: I don’t know that that’s the case. I think, to be very honest, I think Trump is good for US media and I think US media love covering Trump. Trump has very little to do with a lot that goes on. But if you watch US media, every day has a story about Trump and that story gets the most clicks and the most views. So whether or not Trump has something to do with the story, us media love to make the story about Trump because they know they will get traffic on that story.
BBC: But the reason they get traffic on the story is because people are interested in them. It’s a circle, isn’t it?
TN: Well, I don’t know. I think most people would like to understand what the actual issues are exclusive of Trump, but with the obsession that US media have on Trump, people just can’t get away from it because you have a kind of a splintered media environment in the US. And a lot of that is partisan to the left and to the right. So people can get partisan news really anywhere. But it’s the main US media that really seemed to have this obsession with Trump that they just can’t quit because he gets views and he gets airtime and people watch their shows when he’s on it.
BBC: That would be true in Texas as well as Wyoming, where you are.
TN: Anywhere in the US.
If a story is about Trump, some people intensively hate him, some people intensively love him, and people are in the middle and you just cannot avoid it. You just can’t avoid it.
BBC: Penny I mean, your neck of the woods, I guess that might be where the William Mammoth ends up if colossal get their way. How do you feel about all this, Penny?
TN: Well, it’s a Texas company that did it exactly. Maybe they just wanted more things to hunt, right? We like to hunt in Texas.
BBC: Everything is big. Of course, in Texas. So that makes some sense.
TN: Yeah. So if we do make woolly mammoths, great. And I think I’m kidding about the hunting, but I think it’s really interesting as different species are, say, overhunted or whatever, I’m curious how they’ll be accepted once they’re reintroduced. So let’s say someone is the first farmer to find this to be a pest and shoots it. So how will that person be treated if this marsupial is reintroduced?
BBC: That’s a really key question.