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On Recode Decode, Jarrett says tech companies should work with the government to safeguard democracy.
As a senior White House advisor for all eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, Valerie Jarrett says Obama used to ask his staff, “When are you going to bring me the easy decisions?”
“And we’d go, ‘Oh no, we took care of those,’” Jarrett said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “‘You get the tough ones.’”
One of those tough decisions that has fallen under retroactive scrutiny was how Obama reacted to early emerging evidence that Russian-backed actors were attempting to sway the 2016 U.S. elections. Was there more he should have done?
“You make judgment calls every single day,” Jarrett said. “With the benefit of hindsight, we would all maybe do things differently, but I feel confident that based on what he knew, when he knew it, he made the best decisions he could.”
She expressed sympathy for the tech companies that she said weren’t aware that their platforms were “being used as a force for evil.” But she said there’s a more important role they can play in future elections, rather than merely looking back on what could have happened differently in 2016.
“It should be a united front of the private sector and government saying, ‘What could be more key to our democracy than preserving the integrity of our voting?’” Jarrett said. “We should all be really dedicated to that.”
On the new podcast, recorded in front of a live audience at South by Southwest 2018, Jarrett reflected on how quickly technology has changed — in politics and everywhere else — in just a decade.
The technology revolution is like no other revolution we’ve seen before in our country,” she said. “I remember, President Obama was in office when he asked me what I knew about Twitter, and I said, ‘You mean, like, all a-twitter?’ That was in 2008, and I had no idea what he was talking about.”
Today, Jarrett is something of a techie herself, serving on the boards of Lyft and 2U, and advising the Los Angeles-based media company ATTN. She said she disagreed with the idea that, since 2016, her fellow Democrats have become more “anti-tech.”
“I think tech is an incredible tool for good,” she said. “I’m not anti-tech at all. I want to figure out how to make tech stay as good of a tool as it can, and do no harm — or, do as little harm as possible.”
If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:
- Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
- On Too Embarrassed to Ask, also hosted by Kara Swisher, we answer the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
- And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Monday has landed. Over the last couple of days, we discovered a new contender king of smartphone photography, Tesla fixed one of our biggest issues with the Model 3, and European Netflix users got to stream from every corner of the EU without issue.
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There are no two ways about it, 1999 was a vastly different time. There were no driverless cars, A.I. or augmented reality. And, notably, it was a full eight years before the first iPhone was unveiled by Steve Jobs on a stage in San Francisco. Few of us back then could have guessed where technology […]
It clearly makes Tim Cook angry that people think the iPhone is made in China. “It’s not true that iPhone isn’t built in the United States,” Apple’s CEO said today. The design work definitely happens in the United States. However, Cook points out that Apple suppliers produce many components in this country as well. Apple’s […]
“It’s not true that the iPhone is not made in the United States,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said this morning in an interview with Recode‘s Kara Swisher and MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes in a response to criticism about its ties to China and other countries.
“We have always made the parts here,” Cook said. “People just look at where the final product is assembled.” In a global world, he explained, manufacturing and assembly needs to be done in a variety of places.
As Cook has said multiple times in the past, key iPhone components are manufactured in the United States. Display glass for the iPhone and iPad, made by U.S. manufacturer Corning, comes from Kentucky. The Face ID module for the iPhone X comes from Texas. Various chips for Apple devices are also built in the United States, according to Cook, as is equipment for manufacturing the iPhone.
Components manufactured in the U.S. are shipped abroad, with devices assembled by suppliers like Foxconn and Pegatron in China.
Cook said “political pressure” doesn’t push Apple to add U.S. jobs, as it’s something the company is already doing. As Cook often says, Apple could “only have been created in the United States,” and Apple wants to give back. “Businesses should be more than just building revenues and profits,” Cook said. “They should be building people.”
“We know that Apple could only have been created in the United States. We know that. This company would not have flourished in any other country in the world. We love this country. We are patriots. This is our country and we want to create as many jobs as we can in the U.S. We don’t need any political pressure for that.”
Apple in January outlined a five-year plan to contribute $350 billion to the U.S. economy through job creation, existing investments and manufacturing, and new investments. Apple has established an Advanced Manufacturing Fund, for example, to invest in U.S. manufacturing. Apple has thus far invested $200 million in Corning and $390 million in Finisar.
On the topic of job creation and automation, Cook said that it’s important to “get comfortable” with “the notion that education is lifelong.” Jobs, he says, will be “cannibalized over time and replaced by others.” Continuously learning is important, which is why Apple puts such a focus on teaching students of all ages to code. “The jobs of tomorrow are heavily software based,” he said.
“There’s an element of what each of us do, which will be automated over time. That’s not bad. But we need to think about training for the jobs for tomorrow, which will be software-based.”
He said he does not believe the narrative around “doom and gloom” is correct, but he does believe government and businesses need to work together on job retraining and creation for industries that are being automated. “We should not all sit around waiting for government to tell us what to do,” he said.
Tim Cook’s full interview will air on MSNBC on Friday, April 6 at 5:00 p.m. in a segment titled “Revolution: Apple Changing the World.”
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