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[MUSIC PLAYING] ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: Thank you for having me Look, we all recognize the awkwardness of me talking about the elite charade of changing the world at Google So let’s just name that upfront, and be aware of that, and be aware of our complicated feelings we may have This is going to be like therapy I want to start by laying out some kind of propositions to you, and I say this in a spirit of sharing with you some of what I’ve found as I spent the last three years thinking about what happens when the winners of our age move with great sincerity to try to solve some of our biggest societal problems, but also, in my view, end up having an effect that they don’t sometimes understand, which is changing how we think about change, and redefining change in ways that makes it friendly to winners and makes it hard to make real change I’m going to advance some of these propositions, and then I’d really love to have a dialogue with you, because we are here in the belly of the beast The first proposition is that we live in an age of extraordinary generosity by any measure Some of you may just have seen the Bezos announcement a couple hours ago, which only is the latest installment in very wealthy people who’ve done very well, many of them in the technology realm, deciding they want to give back, deciding they want to make a difference There’s 184 people who have signed the Giving Pledge I think American philanthropy is now $410 billion a year being given away, which is starting to approach the level of nonmilitary discretionary spending by the federal government Every young person– and that includes many of you– but you go to any campus, every young person wants to change the world There are talks about making a difference in millions of lives Starting a social enterprise– people will tell you they’ve just come back from Africa where they started some organization to recycle poop into coffee, or there’s all these kinds of efforts everywhere you look of elites using their skills and talents to try to respond to an age of extreme inequality in the United States, an age of extreme anger, and do something But the second proposition is that we also cannot deny that we live in an age of extraordinary cruelty in the United States, that this is as unequal as our society has been in 100 years It’s as tough a time to achieve the American dream of building a better life than your parents as we’ve had in 100 years When you look at economic growth over the last 30 or 40 years, almost all the benefits of growth have bypassed the bottom half of Americans About 117 million Americans saw their average income go up from $16,000 to $16,200 in the age of Google, and the genetics revolution, and the rise of India and China, and automation, and everything else Tom Friedman writes about All of that amazing stuff– the progress that you probably see around you every day in 50 different forms somehow miraculously bypassed the bottom line of half of our country It actually takes a lot of engineering to achieve that outcome That is not a natural outcome And so what I became very interested in is the question of, how do we explain the extraordinary elite helping of our time and the extraordinary elite hoarding of our time? How do we understand the two of those things together? What is the relationship between all these elites making a difference and all these elites building a winners take all economy that only generally works for them? And one possible answer is that the elite helpfulness is trying as hard as it can, doing the most it can, working as hard as it can, disrupting things, and creating things, but it’s just not fast enough It’s just a drop in the bucket That’s one possibility And I think that’s probably the conventional wisdom that’s out there Yeah, we live in a very unequal time, but people are helping The ambulance is on the way What I want to argue is a more awkward proposition in this space, which is I’ve come to believe and be persuaded that a lot of the elite helpfulness in our time is part of how we maintain the hoarding We do giving in ways that protect the opportunity

to keep taking We make a difference in ways that protect the continued opportunity to make a killing, and we seek to change the world in ways carefully chosen to not change our world When you look at the ways in which the winners of our age give back, help out, make a difference, they are often designed to protect the system above all that the winners stand on top of And so I want to explore what I think of as the ideology behind a lot of elite change making, and it’s an ideology that’ll be familiar to you It’s an ideology that has a lot of resonance in Silicon Valley It’s also an idea that you hear in Wall Street foundations, and an idea you can actually hear every time you go to the shopping mall and someone pitches you a red iPhone case that’s going to change the world, or a tote bag that’s going to change the world, or coffee that’s going to change the world What’s the ideology? Something that you probably have heard five times in the last week– the word win-win How many of you have heard that term in the last week would you say? How many of you have used that term recently? And what’s your general impression? Win-win– good or bad? AUDIENCE: Good ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: Good, right? Positive It’s not just one victory It’s two Double the pleasure, double the fun What I want to suggest today is that win-win is a more sinister and dangerous ideology than we recognize, and I know that’s a little mind bending, particularly in an institution like this that has created some genuine win-wins for the world, but here’s the problem with a lot of what happens when the win-win becomes our way of thinking not about business, but about social change Win-win starts to mean that the only kind of social change that is acceptable, or the kind that should get the most funding and the most attention is the kind of social change that kicks something up to the powerful The only kinds of social change that are good are the kind that don’t cause problems, don’t ruffle feathers, don’t blame anybody, don’t accuse anybody, don’t have perpetrators– just solves a problem in a way that is a win for the people you’re helping and frankly a win for those who are helped And what has happened in our time, I believe and I have found through my reporting, is that, on any number of the most fundamental questions of what ails us as a society, there is a real change option out there if we think hard and study hard, but often that real change option is expensive for the winners of our age one way or another And then, miraculously, a fake change, light facsimile of change materializes that is very inexpensive for the winners, and often what happens in our culture now– in a culture overrun by win-win thinking in my view– is that we go for the fake change We go for the light facsimile of change because that kind of change is free So I’m going to give you a couple examples In theory, everybody in this room and many, many people in America would agree that we need to do a better job of empowering women, particularly empowering women at work and in playing their many roles in life Now, we know, if you look at most countries that have done this better than we have, the reason they generally have done this better than we have is social policy They actually have maternity leave in a way that we do not as our law They actually provide a childcare tax credit that makes it not punitively expensive to go to work after having a child, and they do any number of other things at the level of the system and for everybody Well, what’s the problem with all those ideas? Expensive That’s real money We’re talking about multibillion dollar kind of money to fix a problem like that It’s not a mystery, but it’s expensive So what happens? We get an idea like Lean In And again, Lean In seems great Good for your back to move around What’s the problem with Lean In? It is telling women to bear the burden of our failure to create the kind of policies that would actually help them It is telling women to bear the burden of sexism It is telling women to bear the burden of their lack of representation in the halls of power,

and this is what we often do Faced with a real change that we know would make a difference, we gravitate as a culture– and not just rich people– people who then follow rich people’s ideas, and that includes many of us We gravitate to the Lean In school of change, which is cheaper and easier on the winners, and frankly, for many women, unfortunately becomes fake change Let’s take another issue– education Across this country, right and left, rural and urban, many, many Americans would agree we have a problem with education Many Americans I think would agree that if you want to fix many of the deeper other problems we have– from climate change to our political polarization, to our economy– education would be a great single lever to make a lot of difference on a lot of those other issues– a good bargain Do that, get a bunch of other fixes free But when the winners of our age, as they very often do– this is one of their most popular issues– move into making public schools better, what is their most common approach? Charter schools, or other kinds of programs that maybe help match more effective teachers with students in need, or things like that You know what the winners of our age don’t do in general when they approach the problem of public education in America? They don’t actually raise the question of how we fund public schools in America, which is a barbaric way of funding public schools, which is funding public schools according to the value of essentially the homes in your parents’ neighborhood Now, I don’t know anybody in this building or any building who could actually sit, and look at a six-year-old in the face, and explain why their education should be indexed to the home values in their neighborhood I actually don’t think there are right wing people who, as a matter of deep principle, believe that that is the optimal way to organize an education system And I think there are many people on the left who would find that really objectionable, but frankly, who do nothing to challenge that, because in the neighborhoods where the winners live, in the neighborhoods where perhaps many of us live, we benefit from a system that ring fences our own property taxes for our own schools, and that leaves schools in other parts of this country high and dry And so when the winners step into social change, they change change They’re not just joining change They change what change is, how it’s defined, how it’s talked about, how it gets covered in the press And those are just two examples of how that change in how we think about change can actually be devastating It can mean that on some of the biggest issues of our time we move from the possibility of doing something transformational, bringing millions of women into the workforce who find it hard to play their many roles, to sort of telling them to raise their hand more– actually funding public schools equally and for all, which you could achieve in theory with a single Supreme Court ruling holding this system that we currently have unconstitutional versus what a lot of rich people do, which is setting up one charter school in a poor neighborhood in their city, and going, and being on the board, and mentoring, and telling all their friends at the country club that they helped those three minority kids get into Yale, and it’s so great So great And I’m happy to be having this conference I’m surprised to be having this conversation at Google, and I’m happy to be having this conversation at Google And I applaud whoever it was who invited me or did not read my book carefully when they invited me, because I think this is ground zero for this conversation And it’s ground zero for the following reasons that are obvious One, who represents the winners of our age more than this institution? Who represents the complexity of win-win change? Because this is not like a Koch brothers factory This is a company that I think we all know does tremendous real good in the world, that has made a lot of money making a lot of people’s lives better The win-win is real, and you guys know that and live that every day But this is also a company that, because of the very real fact of the win-win, can perhaps in my view be blind to the ways and the places in which that story breaks down When that ceases to be true, you may be the last to know precisely because of how deep the truth is One of the people I write about– some of you may have known him or worked with him– is a guy named Justin Rosenstein He worked at Google and Facebook, invented some very important–

I think he was part of the team that invented Google Drive, but some very important things in this company And he and I talked about the win-win, and he said, you know, the thing about tech that is so amazing is that, in tech particularly– there’s other industries where it’s true, but in tech particularly, there really are opportunities where you can have your cake and eat it, too You can make something that makes you a lot of money, that makes a big company, that allows you to have the darling of Wall Street, and you can truly make the world better And he said, actually, in our interview, Google search– out of the many things that you all do, search is the greatest example of this of all time It’s an incredibly lucrative franchise that has immeasurably made the world better for all kinds of people, and I think you could argue has particularly empowered people with the least power If you’re a doctor at Mt Sinai here in the US, maybe Google search made a certain amount of difference to you If you’re a doctor in a very rural clinic in Uganda, the marginal effect of Google for you is probably transformative So that’s very real, but as I was speaking to Justin, I started to realize where we diverge and where our perspectives diverge And I think all of you know that the way in which America thinks about Silicon Valley and thinks about these companies has evolved over the last year or two, and you may be feeling that And I started to realize where Justin and I parted from that initial sense that, yeah, you can, in some cases, have your cake and eat it, too– make the world a better and make a great company, and make a lot of money And where we diverged was the world he was calling for was a world in which the concentration of wealth and power and the emancipation of mankind could both keep growing in tandem to infinity If he is right that a company like Google, or Facebook, or others is able to make money in ways that just empower more people and do more public good the more money is made, play that out What does 50 more years of that look like? What does 100 more years of that look like? It a vision in which it is possible to imagine there are only three companies left in the United States, but everybody is so empowered they’re tired of being empowered And I think even those of you who are here know that there’s probably some kind of irreconcilable tension in that vision that needs to be thought through and worked out And that’s way I think you will notice all around you– and I think we notice all around us in this society– more and more of a desire to challenge the win-win story, to challenge you all who work in Google, who work in tech, who work among the winners of our age to push yourselves a little harder than to simply say whatever we do happens to be what’s best for humanity, to explore the uncomfortable possibility that there are places and situations– and there may be more of them than you think– where what is good for you and what is good for the world are different And what will you do when you come to those places? That is a very important question And what will the society do when we come to those places A lot of the winners of our age– when they’re thinking about getting back, when they’re thinking about doing CSR, when they’re thinking about any number of things, a lot of the winners of our age ask the following question– what can I do? What can I start? What can I create? That’s an understandable question in the age of entrepreneurship What a lot of the winners of our age refuse to ask is, what am I already doing? How am I already involved in these problems? How am I complicit in an economy and a society that has been so unkind to so many people, even as it builds and created amazing things? How am I part of the central drama of American life today, which is more future raining on America than we know what to do with, but the very few harvesting almost all of that rain water? How am I involved in that, and how could I be part of changing that? And not just what new initiative could I create So I want to raise with you a couple of questions that I’m sure you think about a lot, I’m sure you explore within, and I’m raising them as questions as an outsider The obvious question that comes up again and again

is the question of, should Google be broken up? Is this company intrinsically anti-competitive in just the scale that it’s got? And that’s a hard question I mean, do we divide the room this way, or would we divide the room this way, or how would we do it? It’s an awkward thing to talk about Let’s be honest, we’re all feeling awkward right now because I’m talking about breaking up Google at Google Does this happen all the time, or this never happens? Never happens I told you they didn’t read my book So I’ll give you one example of where this question comes up in an important way in my industry, which is the media One place where the story of what’s good for us is good for humanity, one place where that breaks down– I think an important place We’d all agree an important place So a recent piece in “The Guardian” I’m quoting “In the nine years since Google bought the mobile ad company AdMob, annual ad revenue of Google and Facebook has soared to more than $95 billion and almost $40 billion respectively During this period, ad revenue at newspapers fell around $50 billion in 2005 to under $20 billion today.” And you all know You read all the time the stories that flow from that Newspapers cutting– they’re laying off half their staff overnight There’s another one of those kinds of stories every day Newsrooms in America lost 40% of their people over the last decade or two In my world and as a journalist, the profession essentially feels like something’s been gutted And it’s not “The New York Times” and “The Post” that actually have some resources and are going to do OK It’s every state legislature in this country that basically doesn’t have a full time correspondent anymore sitting there, reporting on what happens in the state I mean, there are many states in this country that basically their legislative process is now an unreported thing You might as well have the Chinese system, because what is done by public officials in that space is not reported on in a way that’s presented back to people Now, did Google go in and cause that effect directly and mean to? Probably not But most of the best thinking on how it is that in a very brief period you went from $50 billion in ad revenue in newspapers to $20 billion involves the rise of the online ad business, which is what powers what you guys do But also– and this is not no one would have sour grapes if it was like, you did better than everybody else– there’s the question of monopoly Let’s be real There’s a real question of, is there the abuse of a monopolistic level of power over that online ad business? I mean, does anybody really use Yahoo Let’s be real here That creates a condition in which newspapers could not thrive even if they were thinking, innovating, figuring it out, hacking it, reinventing themselves That’s what monopoly means, right? And I am not an anti-trust lawyer, and I can’t litigate that question here today, and I’m sure you’re relieved, but I think it’s an important question And certainly in the EU you have people who have grappled with that question and have charge big fines to Google, and have found that there is an anti-competitive issue, and that it is suffocating the parts of the economy that we need full of air And the question is, do you block that, or do you let the public do what it needs to do on that score? Do you obstruct that, or do you say, OK, here’s a place where Justin Rosenstein’s theory cracks a little bit? Here’s a place where there may be a divergence between what’s good for me and good for the world And what will your posture be then If it is simply to insist on the old story– more of what’s good for you is more of what’s good for the world– we may live in a world in which this country doesn’t have journalism anymore I will tell you as a working journalist that is not an insane possibility That’s not a remote possibility It may not be probable, but in an era when the business is collapsing with the numbers I said to you, and the President of the United States thinks news is fake and journalists are enemies of the people, those are headwinds that may not be recovered from Moving on from the monopoly issue, there’s the question of, when organizations like this give back and help, what does that buy you in terms of influence?

When I say the winners change change by getting into the arena of change, there’s that whole controversy that some of you may remember, which made very big waves and was on the front page of newspapers where you all had made some very well-meaning donations to New America, a think tank which does exemplary work And it does work on actually thinking about, how do you bring this country together, how do you have solutions that are cross partisan, and any number of other– thinking a lot of things about democracy right now How do we protect and defend democracy right now? But when one of those– not just one person, but one person plus a whole team of thinkers with New America sponsorship started to push the question– actually, I said I was moving away from monopoly It’s sort of related– started to push the question of what do we do about Google’s market power, Eric Schmidt made his displeasure known The guy was fired New America spun off that think tank to itself, and there was a whole discussion at New America and elsewhere about how do we protect honest research and scholarship from the winners of our age who have all the money now so they inevitably are going to end up sponsoring research and thinking There are fewer institutions that have the kind of money to sponsor that thinking, and again, you get into this cycle of that very noble giving comes with strings attached And it’s going to take a lot of fortitude on your part, and a lot of self protectiveness on the part of think tanks and others to take that help in ways that don’t compromise the help, to take that help in ways that allow researchers and thinkers to actually push for real change and not be hobbled by the source of their patronage Moving on to a third issue, how many of you feel like you have a good sense of what Google lobbies for in Washington? Who it meets, what issues it lobbies on, what positions it takes on those issues, who it gives money to in terms of campaign donations, and how that is structured to kind of deliver against those Raise your hand if you think you know I mean, it’s being done in your name It’s being done on behalf of your work They’re doing that to make your work– to protect it, to allow you to do your work, but you don’t really know that And that’s something that I’ve heard a lot– that companies– a lot of where the rubber of an age of an extreme equality hits the road– a lot of where that happens is actually in lobbying, not in the companies themselves, because the companies are doing what they’re doing, but in order for that work to be– individual people are head down at their desk doing their individual thing It is somewhere else, often, that a particular policy is fought for, external to you, that has to do with the interface of the society and the company– that is actually the place where, out of your view, a certain policy is being fought for that would relax the pressure on this, or that would allow this or not allow this And one of the things I found– and I’ve been educated by going on book tour and talking to people, and talking to a lot of people privately about their experiences– particularly in Silicon Valley companies– and I’m obviously using that term broadly because we’re in Boston– people are almost totally kept in the dark about what’s being done with their work, and in their name, and with the resources they generate in the realm of politics And the reason that’s important is I actually think that if people in these companies insisted on the following– I’m going to propose this idea, and you guys see if you want to run with it I think the employees of a company like this that is all about transparency and open information– you should demand, as employees, to know– have an annual report, not a financial annual report, but another annual report that is an audited report that discloses to you, as employees, the full lobbying and political persuasion activities of your company I think you should know those things We can argue about whether I should know those things,

but I think you are entitled to know those things, and I think you should know if your work is being used to spy on people in other countries I think you have a right to know that, because I think you have the right to decide whether or not you want to be part of that I think you deserve to know whether your work is being advocated for in ways that foster your belief, say, in competition, or in journalism, in anything else, or whether your work is being used in ways that undermine your own values That’s the whole point of having values You’re allowed to do you, and the company is allowed to do it, but often that cognitive dissonance that I actually have found has a very deep reality in many, many of these elite spaces in our time– my reporting tells me there’s a huge divergence between many people– in these leading institutions of our country, there’s a huge divergence between what many workers and executives feel and the way their companies show up in the world And part of what allows that cognitive dissonance to go on is not knowing what your company actually– how it fully shows up in the world– not knowing And I think that’s something that we could start right here at Google with some of you insisting that you have the right to know that, and you have the right to know what is being done with your work I think one of the challenges of some of these kinds of ideas of looking within is that, because there is some truth to the story that you here at Google have at your fingertips some genuine tools of human liberation– because there is truth in that story, it is possible to also believe that anything that slows you down from executing on your mission is bad Journalists asking you questions, bad Regulators pushing back, bad Courts that want to slap fines on you, slowing you down from your mission of emancipation And so I think what’s going to be incredibly important in phase two of the tech revolution if we think of this backlash that you’ve been living with as a kind of pivot point– I think what’s going to be really important is to be able to actually hold two different ideas in your head Number one, that you have at your fingertips some genuine tools of human liberation that, if deployed correctly, can really make the world better Number two, that there are large and possibly growing areas of human societies where what is good for you is different from what is good for the world And not just solving those problems or Columbus-ing your way into those problems, but actually, first and foremost, not being part of the obstruction of the world as a world, as a society, as a nation, as a city, as an EU, whatever Not being part of the obstruction of the public solving those problems as a public and understanding that a deeper consequence of the kind of world you fought to build, a world that is transparent, and has information, and knows truth– a consequence of that once you get big and powerful is that much of what that world is going to want may not benefit you, and to have the fortitude, as I say, to press on with humility in the face of the public’s desire to solve some of its own problems without your permission slip When I was growing up, I remember seeing on the news you’d see news of some war torn country, and you’d often see rebels in pickup trucks fighting– this kind of ragtag army fighting an unjust king or fighting a president that was corrupt And sometimes the rebel army would win, and the guy in the back of the pickup truck would end up in the palace And I think that’s what happened to tech This was, in many ways, an industry of renegades, and hackers, and tinkerers, and people doing weird things, and I could imagine when some of these technologies– and some of you may be old enough to remember– some of these technologies were getting off the ground I can imagine that to be up against General Electric, or Walmart, or IBM you must have felt like rebels against an incredibly powerful establishment, but here’s the problem When the rebel in the pickup truck ends up in the palace,

you know you’re in trouble if they keep wearing that beret Think of Saddam, or Mugabe, Idi Amin The people who keep the beret on– you know what happens to them? They never actually process their own arrival They actually never cross that threshold of understanding that I am now the establishment that I was once fighting against I am now power I’m not going up against power I’m not the rebel I am Goliath now And there is a great danger in being a Goliath who thinks they’re a David There is great danger in being an establishment figure who thinks they’re a rebel There’s great danger in being a king who thinks they’re an insurgent And the danger is a blindness to those spaces where the story of what is good for me and good for the world breaks down I think what would be really important to start thinking about in this realm of tech, what would mark a new kind of maturity as a response to this backlash, as a response to the way in which the society seems to be looking at you with new lenses is actually relinquishing this fantasy of the win-win It’s a cherished fantasy All of you seem to have positive associations with it, but I think maturity– now that you’ve ascended to the palace, maturity means accepting that it is your job to play offense, and it’s the society’s job to play defence It’s the society’s job to protect a bunch of things that are properly its to protect and that you can’t be in charge of both There’s that saying the best offense– the best defense– the best offense is the– I’m very bad at sports The best offense is defense And in a way, you tell us something similar, that the best defense of our values and institutions as a society is letting you play offense unencumbered But I think we have to accept that our best defense as a society is not your offense Maybe that was true at some moment in time, but I don’t think it can be true today I think those of you in the temples of this new power need to learn do you and let us do us I think you have to learn to be satisfied with creating, and innovating, and profiting, and doing all those amazing things that you do, and yes, by all means, do them with a view to making the world better, but also stepping out of the way when the society, unimpeded by you, seeks to tend to its own welfare in ways that may be at your expense, that may make it harder to build a particular business, that may mean more intrusion into your affairs, that may mean less profitable quarters I think, if we think about what it means for this industry and spaces like this to truly accept their arrival, to accept showing up in the palace and to take off that beret, it means actually it will require moving past the win-win fantasy, accepting the world’s need to fight for itself in ways that may threaten you And above all actually– because I truly believe this– above all, listening more, and giving more space to the voices of individuals within this company and many organizations like it who I think privately– and they confess to me all the time, and they did so for my book, and now that I’m out in the world with the book I’m getting more and more messages every day There is a quiet rebellion happening across many of the victorious institutions of our age– tech, big philanthropy, any number of big banks in Wall Street And I get these messages every day from people– young people often, but not only– saying I don’t like the way my institution shows up in the world I like what I do, but I can’t defend what it does in some bigger aggregate way And the way things are set up now

people are sending me that in private I mean, you guys probably know about it because you’re at Google, but in general, it’s private to most people And I think what we’ve got to think about is how do we actually let those people that– I’m convinced there’s a minority of people at least of rank and file people within some of the most powerful institutions in our age who know that they are part of a system that they can’t defend and who want it to be different, but who are often isolated from each other, and don’t quite know how to speak up, and who sit there calculating in a meeting the risk of their speaking truth to power I think we need to think about how can we create space for those people, because those people are the people who are actually going to turn these ships in directions that are going to make fewer people hate you and actually may help you get out of the way of the society doing what you have long been committed to doing, which is changing the world for the better Thank you very much [APPLAUSE] AUDIENCE: So there’s an idea, I think, that’s at the root of a lot of people not wanting to, for example, increase the top marginal tax rate to fund early childhood education, that kind of thing– is this idea– and I think it’s wrong– that the government can’t do anything right And I think it’s because the government is doing things right all the time, and it’s transparent, and we don’t notice it unless it’s not there Why or why isn’t changing people’s minds about that particular thing sort of part of the solution where people might stop hoarding their money, and then spending it privately, and support higher tax rates, for example? ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: I think that’s a such a great question, and you’re absolutely right The way that I tell the story in the book is there has been a 30 or 40 year all out war mainly from the political right in this country against the very idea of the government, against the idea of virtually having a government Government is the problem Government is the enemy The government is taking this The government is doing that Now, I think most people here probably don’t subscribe to that version of the theory That has been a very successful revolution Government has truly scaled back There’s a reason that that private philanthropy giving is starting to approach the level of federal nonmilitary spending– discretionary spending But one of the things that I explore in the book is that that revolution prosecuted by the political right didn’t end there, because often what happens when a revolution like that succeeds is that it kind of changes the cultural atmosphere in which everybody operates And even those on the other side of it end up playing on its field, if you see it I mean You may be an opponent of that idea, but you’re not playing that game You’re forced to play that game So it is not an accident that, after Reagan said government is the problem, some years later, Bill Clinton from the other party– very different world view, much more favorable view of government– nonetheless said the era of big government is over That’s what it means to be an opponent who’s still fundamentally playing on someone else’s field And I fully, fully, fully agree with you that one of the most essential things we need to do– and I end the book by talking about this on a hopeful note– is we need to redeem the idea of government in people’s eyes Is the government bloated, and inefficient, and underfunded, and not good at a bunch of things? Yeah, but as you say, the government is also a miracle All the things that go right– I mean, have you been to other countries where you need to do a lot of homework before you eat out in public? When was the last time you got sick eating in a restaurant in America When was the last time you put your kid in a car seat and wondered if it had been properly tested? When was the last time you stayed in a hotel room and wondered if it was safe or it had been cleaned? I mean, you think about all the greed in this society– even Wall Street, for all that it does wrong, it is so carefully regulated and hyper regulated, and you can’t just do crazy stuff, except every now and then when you can and tank the world economy But we forget how much works right because we have not some big overbearing evil step-dad of a government, but because we have a government that actually in all these million unsung ways tends to common welfare And I would say– I’m not saying Google specifically, but Silicon Valley institutions and the complex of thinking around tech have been part, I think,

of discrediting government, of framing government as this old kind of 1.0 thing that can’t really fix things anymore, and crediting the kind of innovative sphere as being the place where real change happens And I think that’s very unfortunate, not least because the entire internet was made by the government in its origin, but also because there’s a real reason that Silicon Valley didn’t arise in another country A lot of the common institutions we share in this country– the courts, the boring stuff that you don’t even realize allows you to do what you do are public things, are common things, are things we share in common, and we need to give those things more credit Otherwise we’re going to head into a society that is actually like many very poor countries where there’s a lot of rich people and some great companies, and most people are just not part of the economy, are not part of building a better world, and I don’t think that’s actually a world that anybody wants to live in AUDIENCE: So in your discussion today, you’ve talked about some of the problems that can result from good faith actors who maybe go about things in a way that’s not helpful to society How much of the problem do you think comes from bad faith actors? Or how much do they end up co-opting or corrupting good faith efforts? ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: That’s a great question I mean, I focused this book on people who I think are genuine in trying to make a difference and who end up upholding the system that causes the problems, but you’re exactly right And I think that has more to do with what I saying a moment ago When I think about the Koch brothers, they’re not part of my story When I think about Fox News, that’s not part of my story I don’t think that those are people chiefly motivated by making the world a better place I think those are people who wanted to grab wealth and power, and understood that a certain kind of influence campaign and changing people’s norms and values, and kind of tricking– astroturfing issues so that regular people supported things that actually only benefit billionaires– that that was a cynical effort to achieve their own business interest at the expense of the society And there’s a very good book on that called “Dark Money” by Jane Mayer about how that was done That’s not my story My story is the story of how is it that Mark Zuckerberg can be one of the most powerful idealists in American history, but also the first person in American history to potentially allow an election to be compromised And are those things just a coincidence, or is his idealism part of why he was able to get enough power to have the election be compromised, and part of why, when reporter friends of mine have tried to investigate what happened and what happened with Cambridge Analytica, they get so much pushback from him and his company that they can barely do their job? Is his idealism and his sense of himself as a savior part of what actually allows that problem to happen the way it did? AUDIENCE: So you asked the question, what are we already doing? And one answer that comes to mind that I see at Google and elsewhere is the issue of subcontracting There’ was a great “New York Times” article recently comparing a janitor at Kodak I think in the ’70s and a janitor at Apple today, and back in the day, the janitor at Kodak received the same vacation and health benefits as every other Kodak employee And now the janitor at Apple is an employee of some contracting company, and they’re not receiving any of the same benefits, and my understanding is the situation is similar here And we see these workers every day Can you comment at all on that particular situation? ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: That’s a great question There’s another story even more recently The Kodak one was amazing There’s another story a couple of days ago about Harvard, and the students at Harvard on the exact same issue you named revolted against the administration and basically forced them to stop doing this thing of subcontracting it out to– essentially it’s like the labor version of shell companies so that you can say I had no idea they didn’t provide maternity leave I’m shocked Shocked And Harvard students found out about that and pushed Larry Summers, who was the president of Harvard at the time, and Harvard fixed it And the story was focused on this woman who works– I forget what part of the university she works in– but she and her husband between them

make a low six figure income both doing working class jobs It’s exactly like what it used to be at Kodak in the past, and they make a good living They have a home They are living in dignity and decency, and it was because students said don’t clean up after us, or don’t serve us food in a way that’s degrading other people And so look, one of the things that people have talked about is, relative to most employees in America, you have a lot of power You really do The China thing, the Microsoft thing that happened– these are all stories– particularly the people with that kind of coding and engineering background have an enormous amount of power in these companies, but you all have a lot of power You’re very talented people, and each of you in general with a couple exceptions– there’s always a couple exceptions, but each of you generally would be a huge loss for your company They don’t want your talent next door fighting for someone else And then I think you’ve got to think about, who do you use that? If there were people at this company who wanted to work on that issue, I 100% guarantee you you could get that issue done in a month, and that would have a huge effect How many offices does Google have around the world? AUDIENCE: A lot ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: That would have a huge, real effect this month on a lot of people’s lives, on people’s kids, and whether their kids can go to school or not– real That’s an example of using that power in a way that feels right, but that involves a painful conversation about that’s going to cost real money That’s going to come at the expense of something, and those are exactly the kind of conversations I would encourage you to have And I think one of the myths– one of the people that read the book recently and explore kind of what it meant for her– she said this very profound thing, which is this book has made me resist my urge to overestimate the risks of speaking truth to power I think we all tend to overestimate the risk of speaking truth to power I actually think if you raised the issue you raised– I don’t think anything would happen to you, and we could all do more on those fronts So thank you for your question, and good luck with your campaign AUDIENCE: Thank you AUDIENCE: Looking forward to reading your book, and thank you for, in your words, coming and speaking in the belly of the beast My question is regarding global movement of capital I mean, capital moves with complete impunity, and the issues that you spoke about– health care, education– all of these are national issues How, without any democratic control over movement of capital versus, say, movement of labor– how are we going to make any real effective changes and what– of course, this is a very general question, but what do you think we, as Google employees, can even say or do about some of these? ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: That’s a great question I mean, so when I think about, if you’re persuaded by me, that we need to do less of the fake change and more real change You start thinking about, OK, what are the three or four really big areas of American life where a little tinkering is not going to solve it, where are we need some transformational reform? I would say a couple One is health Regardless of what your view is on the right system, I think we can all agree we’re not a particularly healthy country It’s very cruel People are dying of things they don’t need to die of Life expectancy is going down It’s not supposed to move in that direction– health I think we’d all agree on education as another major area, major transformational change required simply to keep up with where the world is I think a third area is labor and thinking about work and the kind of question that was raised by that woman, but also questions around what does it mean to protect an Uber driver from the vicissitudes of the gig economy? And the solutions we have don’t really fit the realities we’ve created, but the fourth area that I think is a big one is the one you raised, which is, in a world where money is not necessarily a physical thing in your wallet, not just a thing in an account anymore either, but can be– I mean, I don’t understand what all of these things are, but you probably do, but is virtual, and can bounce around untraced, and can be anonymized, and can be moved through shell companies, and transferred, and turned into things faster than any government may ever be able to make sense of What does it mean to tax people? Let’s just face reality Many of the largest American corporations do not pay corporate income tax in any given year

I’m talking about big, big, big, big companies– companies that make an enormous amount of money There’s the double Dutch with an Irish sandwich I don’t know if you’ve eaten that, but that’s a tax maneuver that saves– a lot of companies pretend to be a lot bigger in Ireland than they actually are Let’s put it that way You’ve got all these tax havens that kind of rich individuals use– and others And I think we just have to face I don’t know what the answer is, but in a world in which it is as easy as it is– and by the way, all of that that I described is without any of this crypto stuff having really affected it We haven’t even seen– when GE adopts crypto It’s going to be a slow– and then that becomes part of how we have figure out taxing, it’s going to be a nightmare And we’re very– if we’re not careful, we are heading into a world in which the most important pots of money to tax to fund a basic common existence are going to be invisible to the taxation authorities And so what can you at Google do? I mean, the technology and know how you have– you’re probably one of the few people who can actually think about solving that issue From the beginning of this money revolution that’s happening, how do we embed in those inventions the ability to tax people? That’s antithetical to why a lot of these people do crypto, but one of the things we learned with the internet that you know very well is early design choices matter a lot The internet was designed to protect anonymity, and that’s very hard to work around that Well, the internet ended up being this incredibly abusive, racist space, and if persistent identity had been more of a part of the early design of the internet, maybe the internet would be in a different way Maybe people would behave online more than the way they do at cocktail parties, which is occasionally mean, but not calling people by racist names every time they say something that slightly offends them These kind of design choices matter, so I think it’s worth thinking about, how do you design money, this new money in a way that is not going to lead to a world in which there is no money for the common good? AUDIENCE: So I’m really glad you came here also I came because I heard your interview on Ezra Klein, which I thought was great ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: He’s one of the greatest interviewers on earth AUDIENCE: He’s very good I was struck by how much you seemed to get all of it right I don’t have a lot of– I don’t see a lot of what having big plans [INAUDIBLE],, but it all makes sense You have a whole bunch of people who there’s concentrated wealth They’re going to give money Those people are going to be unintentionally or intentionally influenced Everything you say makes a ton of sense And to your question, I’ve actually brought stuff to an SVP– so I was one of like 5,000 of his reports, and pushed him directly, and got no retribution ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: On that issue or a different issue? AUDIENCE: Completely different issue, but I don’t mind getting yelled at ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: That’s an important asset in making change AUDIENCE: I got surprisingly little pushback as it went up the chain– only just crisp up your message, but go for it The only thing I want to push back on is it’s not always easy to tell when you’re being the Goliath or not So Google started off as a very small company We grew We put a lot of businesses out of business Was that bad? Which of those businesses that we put out of business was bad? There’s some, I think, fairly relatively clear cut cases, but with a lot of cases companies grow, and then they get old, and they become inefficient, and they eventually go out of business Google will not be in business probably 300 years from now That’s OK What are your guidelines for that? ANAND GIRIDHARADAS: I think the simple answer for that that’s actually embedded in the law– it is not bad to put another company out of business when you do so out of an abundance of competition It is bad to put another company out of business when you do so because of a lack of competition So when you guys were starting out, and you were smarter and nimbler than competitors, and there were a bunch of competitors, and people wanted to come to you instead of them, I don’t think anybody cries for that, except the people who are being disrupted, as you guys say But I think when you get to a state where there’s many people wanting to advertise basically only one company left to do their ad buy on, and you then see “The New York Times,” or “The Washington Post,” or actually, more to the point, smaller newspapers struggling to exist–

at that point, I don’t think that business is struggling because only of competition I think if there were eight Googles vying for the online ad business the price dynamics in the market might be different enough that that newspaper could compete So I think you have to ask yourself, when is there an abundance of competition, and when have we become the thing that results in a lack of competition? [APPLAUSE] Thank you Thank you for embracing the awkwardness

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