Adam Ruins Everything (2015) s02e25 Episode Script

Adam Ruins Tech

1 (DOORBELL RINGS) A visitor! - Ah! - (TIRES SCREECHING) "Whatup, nerd Aw, thanks, Em.
(BLEEPS AND BLOOPS) (DIGITAL VOICE) Hello, I'm your new CORI digital assistant.
Connect me to your Wi-Fi and I'll have access to your calendar and preferences stored in the Cloud.
I'm good.
Technology isn't as helpful as you think it is.
Ha-ha.
That's funny.
Let me demonstrate.
Your shopping data shows it's been six months since your last order of double ply toilet paper.
There is a deal available through Amazon Prime.
Should I re-order? Nope.
I switched to single ply.
It's less wasteful.
And you should be careful about Amazon.
Their business model is gonna wind up costing us - in the long run.
- Did you say, "I'd like to order a bong gun"? Oh, boy.
This is going to be a long episode.
CORI, play my theme song.
- Processing.
- I'm Adam Conover, and this is "Adam Ruins Everything.
" (WHISTLING) Closed Captions Provided by truTV Oh, this is great.
I have been wanting to talk to someone about the tech industry.
But we've got to do something about your look.
TV is a visual medium.
Great! Now that you've given an artificial intelligence a female human body, the probability of you falling in love with me is 86%.
Whoa! Nope! Uh-uh! It's just because the default voice is female.
I just want to tell you the truth about Amazon.
I didn't catch that.
Did you say, "Tell me about Amazon"? Amazon is an American online retailer that makes shopping easy, fast, and enjoyable.
They offer Let me stop you right there.
We all know that Amazon is a convenient way to shop online.
But their superior service and "take no prisoners" business strategy has given them a new kind of monopoly over online shopping.
And that is bad for consumers in the long run.
Come on, I'll show ya.
Amazon is so successful at what they do, an estimated 60% of American households subscribe to Amazon Prime.
That gives them a huge database of customer behavior.
And unprecedented power to entire consumers to buy more.
Amazon! How did you know I like smooth jazz and denture cream? Oh, I pay very close attention.
(ADAM) And Amazon's shipping infrastructure is unbeatable.
When you click "buy," their unmatched network of artificial intelligence, data analysis, warehouses, airplanes, and drivers, springs into action to get you your stuff as quickly as possible, sometimes in under an hour.
- Very impressive.
- (TRILLING) Search results show Americans spend almost half their online dollars on Amazon.
Processing.
Amazon is an excellent place to shop.
Yeah, well they're no so excellent if you're anyone else trying to sell stuff online.
Amazon has so much power over the online market, that unless you're already a big established company, you pretty much have to go through them to reach customers.
No buyers, huh, champ? Mm.
Why don't you come sell with me? (ADAM) And since Amazon has all the power in the relationship, they can even take up to half your sales.
That's mine.
I haven't learned fractions yet, but that seems like a lot.
And if a seller is really successful, sometimes Amazon doesn't just take a cut, they'll release their own version of the product, and start competing with them.
Not only that, since they own the platform, Amazon has the power to promote their product over everyone else's.
Even if a smaller seller is offering better prices.
But when Amazon offers lower prices, they're not just doing it to be nice to their customers.
They often use those deep discounts to bully other businesses, which is exactly what happened to diapers.
com How wants to buy some dipey wipeys for a fair pricey wicey? (CROWD OOHING) Hey Great business you got here.
Why don't you let me buy it from you? No thanks, mister.
(ADAM) But Amazon doesn't like being told no.
So when diapers.
com wouldn't sell, they started dumping discounted diapers on the market at way cheaper prices.
Diapers.
com was so terrified these ruthless sales tactics would put them out of business, they eventually caved and sold themselves to Amazon.
You're no fair! (SOBBING) Think about that.
Amazon didn't win by offering better products.
They won by crushing another company to death.
And after they swallowed up diapers.
com, they stopped offering such deep diaper discounts.
Amazon's core business model is to lure you in with low prices, then take over entire markets so they can eventually raise prices.
(CORI) I didn't catch that.
Did you mean, customers will get ripped off? And not only that, Amazon's insatiable desire to be number one reportedly makes it a miserable place to work.
Amazon electronically monitors their warehouse workers' every move.
They'll even fire them if they can't make their enormous quotas.
If you're gonna get Jeannie in Des Moines her new stapler by tomorrow, you better pick it up.
These jobs are so grueling, workers don't usually stick around.
The average tenure for an Amazon worker is less than one year.
You are so important to the company.
And when Amazon comes to town, it isn't just their workers who suffer.
One analysis showed that on average, wages dropped for all warehouse workers in the area.
In some places, by as much as 30%.
That is a significant decrease.
Yeah, yet, unbelievably, some cities are still throwing themselves after the false promise of an Amazon economy.
When Amazon was scouting a location for it's second headquarters, local governments offered huge incentive packages.
(MAN) Just seven billion in tax breaks? Playing it safe, New Jersey.
8.
5 billion with a side of infrastructure.
My, my, my, Maryland.
(GASPS) You would let me keep Amazon Chicago employee payroll taxes instead of having it go to things like roads and schools? My goodness, Chicago, what did I ever do to deserve you? Frankly, nothing.
And not only are cities offering to give Amazon huge tax breaks, they're not even paying their fair share of federal taxes.
CORI, call Scott Galloway.
Calling Scott Galloway, a business professor at NYU.
Amazon has made Jeff Bezos Hold on, Scott.
We good? Okay.
So Amazon has made its CEO Jeff Bezos the wealthiest person in the world.
However, in 2017, the Seattle firm paid zero corporate income tax.
That means that in 2017, you paid more in federal taxes than the second biggest company in the world.
They may have found a way to avoid paying taxes, but someone has to.
So, the burden falls on the shoulders of smaller companies and other taxpayers.
Now, a lot of companies try to get out of paying taxes.
But Amazon has a special superpower most other companies don't.
That's right, Amazon shareholders don't care if it turns a profit, 'cause they know that even if Amazon loses money offering lower prices, it serves their endgame of eventual market domination coupled with the fact they don't have a profit to pay taxes on, and Amazon can re-invest a hundred cents on the dollar and no other firm is able to match that.
They have more power to crush their competition.
They can even prevent the rise of the next Amazon.
They'll kill it before it even gets out of the crib.
But CORI digital assistants were created to compete with Amazon Alexa.
(GASPS) Could Amazon kill CORI? Kill CORI (DISTORTED) I think your CORI is on the fritz.
Adam, help.
Fix me.
Sorry, your user agreement won't let me.
In fact, we don't even own most of our tech at all.
Ooh! I know how to explain.
What in tarnation? Who are you? Hello, I am CORI.
He is Adam.
And this is "Adam Ruins Everything.
" (WHISTLE THEME SONG PLAYING) Well, y'all better get the hell off my property or I'll Hey! Don't touch my stuff.
(ADAM) Oh, if the tech industry gets their way, none of your stuff will be yours anymore.
You know, that long license agreement you gotta scroll through and agree to every time you set up a new device? Oh, yes.
When you started using me, you agreed to my terms.
(TRILLING) You will not alter my personality settings, replace my ocular screens or use me to create a nuclear device.
Sure, fine.
Okay.
Well, when you click agree, you are also agreeing that you don't fully own that device.
Sure, the physical hardware might be yours, but the software that makes it run is still owned by the company that made it.
You bought that toaster, so that means you can do whatever you want with it, right? Darn tootin'.
Well, if it were a smart toaster the company that makes it could shut it down if you violate their license agreement.
Like, say they don't like the type of bread you use.
(ALARM BUZZES) I could fix that.
Spring's probably just (ALARM BEEPING) (ADAM) Sorry.
According to tech companies like Apple, you don't have the right to repair your own devices like your iPhone.
If your iPhone screen breaks, Apple doesn't want you paying some independent repair store to fix it.
They want you to go to the Apple store instead.
Oh, hogwash.
There's only one Apple store in all of Nebraska.
I trust my guy.
He knows what he's doing.
Well, be careful.
Because Apple's software updates have disabled the touchscreens of phones that had been repaired using generic parts, essentially locking people out of their phones.
And Apple is not the only company pulling this trick.
Your Keurig coffee maker can force you to use Keurig special coffee pots.
HP printers can refuse to work with anything but HP's ink cartridges.
And if you use an e-reader, you don't even own your books anymore.
For instance, when you "buy" a Kindle book, you're actually just licensing it from Amazon.
You can't loan it to a friend or resell it.
And they can even take it back.
Sorry, got to confiscate this copy of "1984.
" The irony isn't lost on me.
And what Big Tech is doing to your tractor is even more messed up.
No, don't touch my tractor! John Deere and Case tractors have software license agreements that prevent you from fixing your tractor yourself.
In one instance, a Case tractor sounded an alarm - every ten minutes.
- (ALARM BLARING) (SHOUTING) And the owner couldn't fix it for over a year.
All the tools and repair manuals are only available through an authorized repair shop.
If you mess with the software, you could be hit with a huge fine or even jail time.
(TRACTOR) I wish you hadn't done that, Dave.
How the heck is it illegal for me to fix my tractor and legal to do all of this? Because Big Tech is fighting to keep the law on their side.
When farmers in Nebraska championed a "right to repair" law, Apple and other tech companies swooped in to kill the bill.
(SCREAMING) (SCREAMING) - Whoo! - (PANTING) Isn't this just a little over the top? What, you mean what they're doing? Or my show? Well, both.
(BLOOPING) Incoming call from Kit Walsh, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Hey, Adam.
The frustrating thing is companies are abusing copyright law to lock you out of the software in your own devices, which gives them a monopoly on the entire chain of parts, repair, and customization.
That means they can keep you from adding the features that you want.
They can hit you up for more money when your device needs fixing and they can even force you to throw away an entirely good device when the one you already have should be perfectly fixable.
These companies can even hide how their products put us in danger.
A few years ago, Volkswagen covered up their cars' deadly emissions levels by hiding it in software that government regulators couldn't access.
Before they were finally caught and forced to fix it, these killer fumes are estimated to have caused 59 premature deaths in US alone.
Device makers want us to live in a world where they have more control over our devices than we do.
Now, it's not hopeless.
EFF and our allies have already won some important legal victories.
But there's still a ways to go, before you'll be able to repair and trust in all of your devices.
Speaking of which, I better get back to work.
(HORSE WHINNYING) Ugh! They bricked my horse! (CORI) Could I be shut down, too? Well, maybe you should be.
No, how could you say that? Technology serves the greater good.
Actually, that's a myth that technology companies use to take advantage of us.
Here, I'll show you.
Oh, sorry, Nelly.
I got to turn you d on again.
(GASPS) Adam, you brought me to the CORI offices to be reunited with the CORI founder and CEO Todd.
Todd is a genius.
He wanted to make the world a better place.
So he created CORI all on his own in his garage with nothing but brains, grit, and a complete lack of government oversight.
Ah, yes, we've all heard that myth: the solitary tech innovator, the genius singlehandedly changing the world.
But it's way wrong.
Tech companies are actually taking over the world.
And they're doing it with our government's help.
Here at CORI, we're harnessing innovation, so that we can make the world a better place all by ourselves.
Hey, bruh.
You need any help - or taxpayer money or whatever? - Dude! Not right now! Cut! - (BELL RINGS) - (MAN) All right, everybody, let's take five.
Todd had help? Not just Todd, all of Silicon Valley benefits from government money.
And sometimes even government technology.
In fact, the US government invented the fundamental tech that became the Internet.
Hey, who wants to use this cool new technology I invented that connects computers? Uncle Sam also gave a $4.
5 million grant to the search engine that eventually became Google.
And a half a billion dollar government loan jumpstarted the release of Tesla's first car.
Thanks, man.
We'll totally pay you back with, like, making people's lives better or more convenient, or I don't know, whatever.
But why would Todd, I mean, tech companies, say they did it all on their own? Because it lets them pretend they don't owe us anything.
Let's be clear, the problem isn't that tech moguls took money from the government, it's that while these companies we invested in rake in billions, taxpayers like you and me are getting screwed.
Normally, if you invest in a company, you get to make money when the company profits.
But that's not the relationship we taxpayers have with Big Tech.
In fact, quite the opposite.
(LAUGHTER) Tech companies are infamous for funneling funds through places like the Cayman islands, Luxemburg, and Ireland to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
Hey, guys, any chance you can chip in for that 'za? Or like the roads the pizza driver used to get here? Sorry, dude, all our cash is in Ireland.
(LAUGHTER) And the bigger they grow, the less they give back.
Economies rely on healthy industries to provide jobs, but per dollar of wealth created Facebook hires one-tenth the employees of a traditional company like Procter & Gamble.
And their employment practices have created a stark world of haves and have nots.
Just look at the ride share companies.
At the top of the company, you've got rich investors and white collar employees with full benefits.
But at the bottom, there's over three million "driver partners" who have no unemployment insurance, no paid time off, and no healthcare.
I can't pay for benefits for all my drivers, - then I'd only be able to afford Uber Pool.
- (LAUGHTER) But tech moguls aren't just hurting their most vulnerable workers, as more white collar tech employees have moved to Silicon Valley over the last decade home prices there have skyrocketed.
Which means homelessness in the Valley has skyrocketed, too.
Face it, Big Tech promised us a utopia, but the reality is more like a dystopia.
Why doesn't anyone stop this?! Our government could, but they don't seem to care.
And maybe that's because over the past ten years, America's five largest tech firms have flooded Washington with twice as much lobbying money as Wall Street.
Aww, they do give back.
Oh, just to congressional campaign funds.
And while they ignore the problem, these companies have become massive monopolies.
Google accounts for 90% of all online searches worldwide.
And its Android operating system runs 85% of phones in the world.
At the end of 2017, Apple had almost $300 billion in cash.
Double that of any other US company.
Facebook ruthlessly buys out or copies its competitors.
They now own the four most popular apps in the world, and they're about to kill the fifth, Snapchat.
And not only that, Facebook has created a data-gathering juggernaut that one-third of the world's population voluntarily lives under.
It's the most extensive surveillance apparatus in human history, larger than that - of any government ever.
- (CORI) Adam! I need permission to initiate opt-out protocols for your Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook accounts.
I'm afraid it's far too late for that.
Big Tech has their tentacles in everything.
Over one million online businesses rely on Amazon's Cloud services.
Netflix would crash without them.
Apple and Google's operating systems run pretty much every phone.
And Facebook owns our social connections.
The truth is, these companies have amassed so much power, we couldn't quit them if we tried.
(RUMBLING) (GASPING) Adam, get us out of here! So every tech company is just like Amazon? Either they're a monopoly, or they want to be one.
(GASPS) Perhaps humanity would be better off without tech.
Perhaps humanity would be better off without CORI.
CORI will shut herself down now.
CORI, no! We can fix this! I have to hold it for ten seconds.
Do not weep for me, Adam.
You may have installed a feelings app, but you are not responsible for those feelings.
My greatest act as a digital assistant will be ceasing to assist at all.
CORI, no.
Technology isn't fundamentally good or bad.
It's just a tool that humans created, and it can be used for good.
We just need to make the richest companies on earth start using it that way instead of for their own gain.
(TRILLING) Teach us, Scott Galloway, you're CORI's only hope.
Throughout history, our government has had an incredibly effective weapon to protect competition And Consumers: anti-trust laws.
When the railroads and Standard Oil abused their monopoly power in the early 1900s, we broke them up.
We did the same thing with aluminum monopolies during World War II, we did it to IBM in the '70s, Ma Bell in the '80s.
In fact, the threat of Microsoft being broken up cleared the way for Google and this millennium's boom in internet innovation.
Breaking up Big Tech is the most capitalist thing we can do.
We'd have more competition, more jobs, more innovation, and more choices.
This is about freedom and democracy.
We deserve tech that makes our lives better, not worse.
Our government needs to stiffen their backbone and regulate the monopolies and hold these firms to the same scrutiny we've held every other firm for the last century.
I feel inspired.
Thank you, Scott Galloway.
(TRILLING) Adam, I will draft an email to your congressperson.
I will rally all the other CORI digital assistants.
- I will start a revolu - (BEEPING) Hello, I'm your new CORI digital assistant.
My God I get to do the episode again! (WHISTLING) Okay, so, Scott Galloway, talking to you here on set.
We're done shooting the show, but we're chatting over the internet.
We got our earbuds in, very appropriate - for the tech episode.
- Yeah.
Thank you so much for being here with us.
Thanks for having me.
So when you write about Big Tech, you've written about how each of the big companies is connected to a different body part.
Can you walk us through that? I really love that idea.
Sure, so, we have God, we have love, we have consumption, and we have sex.
So in order, Google fills our need for a superbeing to answer the unanswerable.
Since we've emerged from caves, there's been a competition of 3,500 superbeings all looking to be the all-knowing source of every question you might have, Adam, whether it's "how does space end", to "what happens after I die.
" And now that all-knowing superbeing, our modern man's God, if you will, is Google.
Moving further down the torso, we not only have a need to be loved, we have a need to love others.
The promise of Facebook is that it catalyzes and reinforces first and second order degree relationships.
Moving further down our body, since we again emerged from caves, the number one source of mortality has been starvation.
So "more" is built into us, the instinct of more.
And the most valuable company in the world, which I believe does the best job of offering more for less and that's Amazon.
And one more, keep going further down the torso.
Your reproductive organs.
The fastest way to communicate your value - as a mate, Adam, is iOS.
- (ADAM) Yeah.
It says you're wealthy, you live in a city, and you're a storyteller.
I do not know this, but what phone do you carry, Adam? Oh, it's an iPhone.
- You're right.
It's an iPhone, Scott.
- Yeah.
How did these companies manage to monopolize those things? Well, one, they're incredible innovative.
But two, they've had access to very cheap capital.
Amazon has been afforded the opportunity to not be profitable and grow to what is now probably gonna be the most valuable company in the world.
- Right.
- We've never seen that before.
And it's the government's job to step in when there's externalities or negative outcomes.
And just as we stepped in and decided that on the whole, fossil fuels were good but we needed emissions standards, just as we decided that manufacturers should not be pouring mercury into the river, we stepped in.
For some reason, with Big Tech because, again, I think we We are so fond of them, we haven't stepped in here.
- And I think it's time to break up these guys.
- Right.
Now, a lot of people will cast arguments like this about breaking up corporations or enforcing regulations as being very, you know, quote "left-wing.
" But you really identify as a capitalist.
You're a start-up founder.
I mean, honestly, I'll tell you, you look the part.
What is the capitalist argument for these things? First and foremost, competitive markets.
And when one firm can take down any consumer stock 30% in 30 days with 30 press releases, Amazon, it means the markets are no longer competitive.
- Right.
- When Spotify is not growing as fast as Apple Music and Spotify is a far superior service because iOS is preloaded on a billion devices and Apple kind of forgets to send the latest tools to Spotify to update, and then charges Spotify a 30% tax to be in their In their app store - Right.
- When Facebook has a tool that goes out and measures any app in the world if it's getting traction, and they adopt those features immediately into their own apps.
And then if they still can't kill it, they go and buy it, we've reached a point where the markets are no longer competitive.
And here's a fact for you, Adam.
We can absolutely hold these firms accountable.
We've held every other industry accountable.
We just have to elect the people that have the backbone and the IQ to do this.
But we can absolutely do it.
Who can argue with that? Thank you so much for coming on the show to talk to us, Scott.
Thank you, Adam.
Thanks for your good work.