METROFOCUS: FEBRUARY 18, 2020

February 19, 2020 at 5:30 am

From Hollywood to Whole Foods and even outer space – is the Amazon empire willing to dominate the market at any cost? Frontline takes us inside the rise and reign of Jeff Bezos. Documentarian Rory Kennedy exposes inequalities in our schools that have kept underprivileged students in a technological darkness. 

Aired on February 18, 2020. 

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>>> TONIGHT ON "METROFOCUS."
FROM HOLLYWOOD TO WHOLE FOODS
AND INTO OUTER SPACE.
FRONT LINE TAKES US INSIDE THE
AMAZON EMPIRE AS IT INVESTIGATES
THE RISE AND REIGN OF JEFF
BEZOS.
HOW DID A TINY COMPANY RUN OUT
OF A GARAGE BECOME A GLOBAL
BRAND?
IS AMAZON WILLING TO DOMINATE
THE MARKET AT ANY COST?
AND FROM YOUR PRIME DATA TO
ALEXA WHO IS ALWAYS LISTENING,
WHAT IS THE COST OF AMAZON'S
GROWING POWER AND REACH TO YOU?
>> AMAZON IS NOT SIMPLY GOING TO
BE AN ECOMMERCE PLATFORM BUT AN
INVISIBLE INFRASTRUCTURE THAT
POWERS OUR EVERYDAY LIVES.
>> WE STARTED WORKING ON THIS.
>> ALEXA.
>> ALEXA!
>> THIS DATA COLLECTION IS
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO THIS
BUSINESS MODEL.
CONVINCING PEOPLE TO JUST DEPLOY
SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN THEIR
HOME IS A BRILLIANT TRICK.
>>> THEN FROM TAKEOVER TO
DIGITAL DIVIDE.
>> IT IS EXCITING TO KNOW I'M
GOING TO GO TO COLLEGE.
MY DREAM IS COMING TRUE.
>> WE GREW UP LIVING POOR.
WE WANT TO SEE WHAT IT IS LIKE
TO HAVE A CHANCE.
>> DOCUMENTARYIAN LOOKS AT
INEQUALITY THAT HAS KEPT SOME IN
DARKNESS.
THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS
"METROFOCUS" STARTS RIGHT NOW.
>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH
RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND
JENNA FLANAGAN.
>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY
JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,
ROSALIND P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,
AND BY --

>>> GOOD EVENING.
WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."
WHEN JEFF BEZOS QUIT A LUCRATIVE
JOB IN THE 1990s IN ORDER TO
LAUNCH AN ONLINE BOOK RETAILER,
NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED THE
BUSINESS WOULD ONE DAY TURN HIM
INTO THE RICHEST MAN IN THE
WORLD.
IN A SHORT 25 YEARS, AMAZON HAS
GROWN INTO A BUSINESS EMPIRE
UNPRECEDENTED IN AMERICAN
CAPITALISM.
INTEGRAL TO NEARLY EVERY SPHERE
OF AMERICAN LIFE.
FROM SHOPPING TO CLOUD COMPUTING
TO ENTERTAINMENT AND BEYOND.
INSIDE OUR HOMES THROUGH DEVICES
THAT LISTEN TO OUR EVERY WORD.
SO HOW DID JEFF BEZOS BUILD ONE
OF THE MOST ECONOMICALLY AND
CULTURALLY INFLUENTIAL
BUSINESSES THE WORLD HAS EVER
SEEN?
AND WHAT ARE THE HIDDEN COSTS OF
HIS BRAND OF CONVENIENCE?
THOSE ARE SOME OF THE QUESTIONS
BEHIND THE NEW FRONT LINE
DOCUMENTARY, AMAZON EMPIRE, THE
RISE AND REIGN OF JEFF BEZOS.
A TWO-HOUR DOCUMENTARY EXPLORING
THE GLOBAL IMPACT OF AMAZON'S
RACE TO THE TOP.
HERE'S A PREVIEW.
>> WHAT IS YOUR CLAIM TO FAME?
>> I'M THE FOUNDER OF
AMAZON.COM.
>> THE WORLD'S MOST CUSTOMER
OBSESSED COMPANY EVER.
>> BIG THINGS START SMALL.
>> THIS FEBRUARY --
>> EVERYTHING THAT IS ADMIRABLE
ABOUT AMAZON IS ALSO SOMETHING
THAT WE SHOULD FEAR ABOUT IT.
>> BROOKLINE INVESTIGATES
AMAZON.
>> NO ONE SHIPS MORE THAN
AMAZON.
>> HOW MUCH OF THE MARKET SHARE
DOES AMAZON WANT?
ALL OF IT.
>> IS IT A MONOPOLY?
>> I WOULD SAY IT IS SO DOMINANT
THAT IT WARRANTS ANTI-TRUST.
>> IT IS NOT SIMPLY AN ECOMMERCE
PLATFORM BUT AN INVISIBLE
INFRASTRUCTURE THAT POWERS OUR
EVERYDAY LIVES.
>> WE STARTED WORKING ON THIS
DEVICE.
>> ALEXA.
>> THE DATA COLLECTION IS
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO THIS
BUSINESS MODEL, GETTING PEOPLE
THE KEY EMPLOY SOMETHING LIKE
THIS IN THEIR HOME.
IT'S A BRILLIANT TRICK.
>> FROM THE AWARD WINNING TEAM
OF THE FACEBOOK DILEMMA.
>> WHAT JEFF BEZOS IS AFTER IS
REALLY CREATING A COMPANY THAT
IS INFRASTRUCTURE.
HE OWNS THE INFRASTRUCTURE FOR
HOW COMMERCE IS DONE.
>> FRONT LINE EXAMINES THE
RICHEST MAN IN THE WORLD.
>> RICHEST GUY IN THE WORLD.
>> WE'RE NOT TREATED AS HUMAN
BEINGS.
WE'RE NOT EVEN TREATED AS
ROBOTS.
WE'RE TREATED AS PART OF DATA
STREAM.
JUST GO AND GO AND GO.
IF YOU'RE NOT KEEPING UP, THEY
CORRECT IT RAPIDLY.
?
THESE WORKING ARE BEING WATCHED
AT A LEVEL I DON'T THINK PEOPLE
UNDERSTAND.
>>> DO ANY OF THE CONCERNS ABOUT
POWER RESONATE WITH YOU?
>> WE BELIEVE WE'RE GOOD FOR THE
ECONOMY, FOR THE AMERICAN WORK
FORCE.
OBVIOUSLY FOR CONSUMERS.
>> THE INTERNET IS DISRUPTING
EVERY MEDIA INDUSTRY.
PEOPLE COMPLAIN.
BUT COMPLAINING IS NOT A
STRATEGY.
>> IN WHAT WORLD ARE THERE NO
CRITICS?
BEZOS CLEAR I THINKS HE ANSWERS
TO NO ONE.
>> HE BOUGHT THE "WASHINGTON
POST" TO HAVE POLITICAL
INFLUENCE.
>> IT HELPS US SELL MORE SHOES.
>> WE'RE LIVING IN A WORLD IN
WHICH YOUR DESIGNS ARE THERE.
CAN YOU SEE HOW IT CAN BE XERNG
WE CAN'TMENT ON OUT OF THAT
WORLD AT THIS APPOINTMENT?
>> THAT WORLD HAPPENED WAY
BEFORE RING OR LEXA.
>> SOME PEOPLE ARE ASKING IF
AMAZON --
>> ARE WE OKAY WITH ONE COMPANY
ESSENTIALLY WINNING CAPITALISM?
PRESENTATION. SPECIAL -
>> A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE
QUESTIONING SIZE AND POWER WITH
AMAZON.
>> HOW DID YOU AND JEFF THINK
ABOUT THE CALL TO BREAK YOU UP?
>> SIMPLY BECAUSE THE COMPANY
HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL DOESN'T MEAN
IT IS TOO BIG.
>> AMAZON EMPIRE.
>> IS AMAZON TAKING OVER THE
WORLD OF GOOD THINGS?
>> DOMINATION WAS VERY MUCH THE
IDEA.
>> WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING
ME.
>> SO FIRST, I WANT TO START
WITH THE FACT THAT NO ONE LIKE
JEFF BEZOS COMES OUT OF NOWHERE.
AND DO YOU GO INTO HIS ORIGINS
STORY ABOUT WHERE HE BEGAN AND
HOW HE STARTED AMAZON.
WHAT WAS IT ABOUT HIS INTEREST
IN NOT ONLY TECHNOLOGY BUT DATE
THAT HELPED HIM CREATE THE
BUSINESS THAT WE KNOW TODAY?
>> HIS INTEREST IN TECHNOLOGY
AND DATA WAS SOMETHING HE HAD
FROM A VERY EARLY AGE.
AND CULTIVATED OH THE YEARS.
HE WENT TO PRINCETON.
STUDIED COMPUTER SCIENCE AND
ENGINEERING.
AND THEN WENT TO WORK ON WALL
STREET AT A QUANTITATIVE HEDGE
FUND WHERE THEY USE ALGORITHMS
AND DATA.
AND IT WAS AT THAT HEDGE FUND
WHERE HIS BOSS SAID, WHY DON'T
YOU LOOK INTO THE INTERNET?
IT IS GROWING REALLY QUICKLY.
WE DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT
OF THAT WAS THE CHARGE AT THE
TIME.
HE LOOKS INTO IT AND HE
REALIZES, THERE IS A MAJOR
OPPORTUNITY HERE.
>> OF COURSE AS WE GO THROUGH
THE FILM, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT
BECOMES VERY CLEAR FROM THE
BEGINNING IS THAT AMAZON, THEY
ALL DESCRIBE THEMSELVES AS
OBSESSED WITH THEIR CUSTOMERS.
THE CUSTOMER COMES FIRST.
AND YOU SEE HOW THEY TAKE THAT
NOTION OF THE CUSTOMER COMES
FIRST TO IF YOU WILL, THE NEXT
LEVEL.
IS THAT FAIR TO SAY?
>> ABSOLUTELY.
I MEAN, THEY CALL IT THEIR NORTH
STAR.
THEY CALL, LIKE A MANTRA.
HAVING SPENT A LOT OF TIME WITH
AMAZONIANS AS THEY'RE CALLED
OVER THE PAST YEAR, REPORTING
THIS, EVERYONE REFERS TO
CUSTOMER OBSESSION IS WHAT THE
ENTIRE COMPANY IS BASED AROUND.
AND REALLY, THE IDEA BALTIMORE
BEZOS EARLY ON, IF YOU THINK
ABOUT IT, YOU GO BACK TO THE MID
1990s, THE INTERNET WAS A NEW
THING.
YOU HAD TO FIGURE OUT, WHAT
WOULD BE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
IN THE ONLINE WORLD?
SO HE OBSESSIVELY FOCUSED ON
THAT.
STUDYING HOW CUSTOMERS BEHAVED
ONLINE.
WHAT THEY WANTED FROM ONLINE,
CONVENIENCE, AND THAT IS
SOMETHING THAT GOES INTO THE
THOUGHT PROCESS AT AMAZON EVERY
SINGLE DAY.
>> NOW OF COURSE, THE FLIP SIDE
OF THAT IS THAT SO MUCH OF THAT
FOCUS MEETING IN CUSTOMERS'
NEEDS AS EFFICIENTLY AND QUICKLY
AS POSSIBLE IS THAT PERHAPS THAT
MIGHT HAVE COME AT THE EXPENSE
OF THE COMPANY'S WORKERS.
WE'VE HEARD A LOT ABOUT, YOU
KNOW, AMAZON'S WORKING PRACTICES
AND WHAT IT IS LIKE WORKING IN
THEIR, I CAN'T CALL THEM
WAREHOUSES.
FULFILLMENT CENTERS, IS WHAT
THEY'RE CALLED.
TELL ME ABOUT WHAT YOU LEARNED
FROM PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR AMAZON.
>> THE MAIN COMPLAINT, THE MAIN
THING PEOPLE TALK ABOUT IS THE
GRUELING PACE OF WORK.
THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED THE
RATE.
THE RATE AT WHICH EMPLOYEES HAVE
TO PICK AND PACK THE ITEMS.
AND WE AS CUSTOMERS OR
CONSUMERS, WHEN WE CLICK AND
EXPECT IT WITHIN A DAY OR TWO.
THERE ARE HUMAN BEINGS THAT ARE
DOING A LOT OF PICKING AND
PACKING THAT TO MOST OF RUSS
INVISIBLE AND THOSE ARE REALLY
GRUELING JOBS.
AND THEY'RE WORKING ALONGSIDE
THESE AUTOMATED SYSTEMS AND
ROBOTS.
AND OBVIOUSLY, THE INCENTIVE FOR
AMAZON IS TO BE AS EFFICIENT AND
PRODUCTIVE AS POSSIBLE.
SO A LOT OF THESE PEOPLE BURN
OUT QUICKLY.
ON THE OTHER HAND, THESE JOBS DO
PAY BETTER THAN A NUMBER OF
OTHER JOBS IN THE WAREHOUSE
INDUSTRY.
AMAZON LIKE TO SAY, THEY DO
DOUBLE THE MINIMUM WAGE, $15 AN
HOUR.
AND THEY GIVE BENEFITS TO A LOT
OF THESE GO WORK ORDERS DAY ONE
OF EMPLOYMENT.
THAT SAID, A LOT OF WORK WE
DESCRIBED IS A SITUATION THAT
THEY DON'T WANTS TO STAY IN FOR
VERY LONG BECAUSE IT IS SO
GRUELING.
>> OF COURSE.
THERE ARE SO MANY THREATS THAT
COME OUT OF THIS.
AS WE AMERICAN AMAZON IS IN SO
MANY DIFFERENT THINGS.
ONE OF THE BIG THINGS, THE
THEMES IN THIS DOCUMENTARY IS
DATA.
THE UBER IMPORTANCE OF DATA TO
AMAZON AND THE FACT THAT THAT
SEEMS TO BE MORE THAN ANYTHING,
WHAT IS DRIVING ALL OF THE
COMPANY'S OTHER BUSINESS
DECISIONS.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
WE TALKED ABOUT HOW DATA WAS IN
BEZOS' MIND FROM THE BEGINNING.
HE WHO HAD THE DATE IN THE 21st
CENTURY COULD WIN.
SO FOR INSTANCE, DATA ON HOW TO
ENHANCE THE CUSTOMER'S
EXPERIENCE AND GIVE PEOPLE WHAT
THEY WANT.
DATA ON WHAT BUSINESSES WERE
DOING, THAT WERE SELLING ON
AMAZON.
THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS
THEY'VE BEEN CRUNCHING THE DATA.
AND NOW, OF COURSE, DATA
GATHERING WHEN IT COMES TO
TRAINING ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
LIKE ALEXA, THE 100 MILLION ECHO
DEVICES THAT HAVE BEEN SOLD, AND
YOU HAVE A LOT OF DATA COMING IN
BECAUSE OF.
.
>> SO THAT WAS ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT ALSO, YOU START TO QUESTION
AS YOU WATCH THIS FILM.
HOW MUCH ARE WE AS CONSUMERS
CULPABLE IN ALL OF THIS?
GETTING FEMALE PUT ALEX DID A IN
THEIR HOME, ALTHOUGH THE COMPANY
DID SAY, THEY ARE ONLY LISTENING
WHEN YOU TURN ALEXA ON, THE FACT
THEY COULD GET A LISTENING
DEVICE LITERALLY IN PEOPLE'S
HOMES SEEMS AMAZING.
>> IT IS AMAZING.
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S
DIFFERENT IS THE TRUST THEY'VE
ENGENDERED WITH ALL OF THIS.
IN SHORT, IT IS AS A RESULT THAT
YOU CLICK A BUTTON AND SOMETHING
GETS DELIVERED.
WE KNOW WE LIVE IN A WORLD WITH
A HELL OF A LOT OF DYSFUNCTION.
SO YOU GET SOMETHING DELIVERED
AND SOMEONE IS DELIVERING ON A
PROMISE ALL THE TIME.
THAT ENGENDERS TRUST.
BUT IT WILL BE INTERESTING GOING
FORWARD TO SEE, THAT'S HOW THEY
COULD IN SOME WAYS ENTICE FEMALE
BUY THESE AMAZING DEVICES THAT
YOU CAN TALK TO, ASK QUESTIONS
TO, GIVE COMMANDS TO.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME, THE FILM
IS TRYING TO POINT OUT, YOU'RE
ACTUALLY GIVING OVER EXTREMELY
VALUABLE DATA AND WE DON'T KNOW
HOW THEY'LL USE IT IN THE
FUTURE.
IT IS SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT.
>> IT IS INTERESTING THAT YOU
BRING TIM WORD DYSFUNCTION.
THERE IS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT
AMAZON'S INFLUENCE IN WASHINGTON
AND HOW THEY ARE ATTEMPTING TO
INFLUENCE THE WAY PEOPLE
REGULATE THE TRUST LAWS, ET
CETERA.
NOT ONLY HOW INFLUENTIAL AMAZON
IS IN WASHINGTON BUT WHAT KIND
OF TRACTION THEY'VE BEEN ABLE TO
GET.
>> IT'S INTERESTING.
BEZOS HAS REALLY RAMPED UP THEIR
INFLUENCE IN WASHINGTON OVER THE
PAST SEVERAL YEARS.
DURING THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION,
THAT'S WHEN IT REALLY STARTED
WAS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT, OKAY,
WE'RE GETTING REALLY BIG AS A
COMPANY.
AND REGULATORS MIGHT TAKE AN
INTEREST IN REGULATING US AND
ANTI-TRUST ENFORCERS MIGHT START
THINKING ABOUT WHETHER THE
COMPANY IS BECOMING A MONOPOLY
OR NOT.
SO YOU SEE A QUINCE DENTAL
WRAPPING UP OF LOBBYING AS WELL
AS BEZOS IS DOING MAJOR THINGS
WASHINGTON LIKE BUYING THE
"WASHINGTON POST" AS WELL AS
BUYING THE LARGEST PRIVATE Z
RESIDENCE IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
WHICH HE NOW THROWS VERY LAVISH
PARTIES FOR MAJOR PLAYERS IN
WASHINGTON.
SO YOU SEE A BIG INFLUENCE
CAMPAIGN.
I THINK UNEQUIVOCALLY, YOU HAVE
TO SAY HIS OWNERSHIP OF THE
"WASHINGTON POST" HAS BEEN A
GOOD THING.
HE DOESN'T INTERFERE IN THE
COVERAGE.
THEY'RE DOING GREAT WORK.
AT THE SAME TIME, HE DOES OWN
THE HOME TOWN NEWSPAPER IN THE
NATION'S CAPITAL AND HAS REALLY
RAMPED UP HIS INFLUENCE AND THE
COMPANY'S INFLUENCE THERE.
THEY'RE PUTTING THEIR SECOND
HEADQUARTERS THERE.
>> AGAIN, GOING DEEP ENTIRE ALL
THE PLACES AMAZON HAS A HOLD ON,
ONE OF THEM, I DIDN'T REALIZE
MYSELF WAS CLOUD COMPUTING.
SO MUCH OF WHAT WE ALL DO EVEN,
I UNDERSTAND, PBS WHICH I DIDN'T
REALIZE, CLOUD COMPUTING IS
THROUGH AMAZON'S COMPANY.
>> THAT'S CORRECT.
PBS, OUR DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE
IS HOUSED ON AMAZON WEB
SERVICES.
AS ARE MILLIONS OF OTHER
COMPANIES AND ORGANIZATIONS AND
ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS.
AND ESSENTIALLY, THE NUMBERS
SHOW ABOUT 30 OR SO, A THIRD OF
ALL CLOUD COMPUTING HAPPENS ON
AMAZON'S SERVERS.
INCLUDING A LOT OF OUR
GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS,
INCLUDING, WELL, THERE IS A
PRIVATE CLOUD THAT THEY BUILT
FOR THE CIA.
AND IT IS A TESTAMENT TO HOW
GOOD THEIR CLOUD COMPUTING
SERVICES ARE.
HOW WELL THE HEALTH COMPANIES,
INSTITUTIONS, MANAGE DATA BUT AS
UP, IT IS SOMETHING THAT MOST OF
THE PUBLIC ISN'T REALLY AWARE
OF.
AND IT IS SOMETHING THAT HAS
BEEN INCREDIBLY LUCRATIVE FOR
THE COMPANY.
$35 BILLION IN REVENUE LAST YEAR
FROM CLOUD COMPUTING.
AND HAS REALLY ENABLED BEZOS TO
EXPAND INTO SO MANY OTHER
DOMAINS IN THE ECONOMY.
>> OF COURSE, NONE OF THIS COMES
WITHOUT ANY PUSHBACK.
WE OF COURSE SEE THAT BEZOS HAS
MANAGED TO MAKE SOME ENEMIES WHO
ARE CURRENTLY IN THE WHITE HOUSE
RIGHT NOW.
PERHAPS SOME OF THEM ON THE
CAMPAIGN TRAIL.
BOTH WHO HAVE BEEN INCREDIBLY
CRITICAL OF HIS COMPANY AND HIS
PRACTICES.
MORE SO, I WANT TO FOCUS NEW
YORK CITY.
WE CAME VERY CLOSE TO AMAZON
SETTING UP SHOP AS A
CO-HEADQUARTERS HERE IN NEW YORK
CITY AND IT WAS ACTUALLY CAN
CITIZENS WHO SAID NO.
AND THAT SEEMED TO BE THE END OF
IT.
>> YEAH.
THERE WERE CITIZENS SAYING,
RAISING A RUCKUS ABOUT THE IDEA
OF GIVING BILLIONS IN SUBSIDIES
OR TAX BREAKS TO A
TRILLION-DOLLAR COMPANY.
THE NUMBERS ARE DEBATABLE
WHETHER AMAZON'S INVESTMENTS IN
NEW YORK WOULD HAVE FAR
OUTWEIGHED THE SUBSIDIES THEY
WERE GETTING BUT STILL IN
PRINCIPLE, PEOPLE WERE REALLY
UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE IDEA OF
GIVING THEM ANYTHING TO COME TO
NEW YORK CITY.
AND WHAT IS REALLY INTERESTING
IS THAT A LOT OF CONVENTIONAL
WISDOM ABOUT AMAZON PULLING OUT
OF NEW YORK WAS THAT SOMEHOW A
BUNCH OF PROTESTERS OR AOC
KILLED THE DEAL IN SOME WAY.
THAT'S NOT WHAT THE REAL, THAT'S
NOT WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.
AMAZON PULLED OUT OF DEAL
BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T LIKE THE
POLITICAL CONVERSATION THAT WAS
HAPPENING.
WASN'T BECAUSE ANYONE IN NEW
YORK CITY POLITICS ACTUALLY
KILLED THE DEAL.
>> SO IS THAT ONE OF THE FIRST
TIMES THAT THIS COMPANY HAS HAD
NOT ONLY THAT KIND OF PUSHBACK
BUT PERHAPS FELT SOME SORT OF, I
GUESS, HEAT ABOUT THEIR PRESENCE
IN THE COMMUNITY?
>> YEAH.
I THINK THAT THERE IS BEEN, IN
SEATTLE, THERE IS A BIT OF A
CONTENTIOUS RELATIONSHIP AS
WELL.
WHICH IS WHERE AMAZON WAS
FOUNDED.
THEIR HOME TOWN.
THEIR FIRST HEADQUARTERS.
UNFORTUNATELY, WE DIDN'T HAVE
TIME INCLUDE SOME INTERVIEWS WE
HAD DONE IN SWEELT SOME LOCAL
CITY KOINGS PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN
TRYING ON GET FOR INSTANCE,
AMAZON TO PAY WHAT IS CALLED THE
HEAD TAX.
THEY HAVE AN AFFORDABLE HOUSING
CRISIS IN IF SEATTLE.
AMAZON HAS BROUGHT IN A LOT OF
HIGH PAYING JOBS THERE, WHICH IS
GOOD ON ONE HAND BUT A LOT OF
PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DISPLACED
BECAUSE THE CITY HAS BECOME SO
EXPENSIVE.
SO SOME PEOPLE HAD SOME
PROGRESSIVE IDEAS TO TAX AMAZON
AND OTHER BIG COMPANIES TO
PROVIDE AFFORDABLE HOUSING.
THAT WAS CONTENTIOUS.
THERE HAS BEEN CONFLICT IN OTHER
PLACES.
CERTAINLY THE MOMENT THAT AMAZON
CAME TO NEW YORK AND WANTED TO
SET UP SHOP THERE IN NEW YORK
CITY FERVOR THAT DEVELOPED,
OKAY, NOT SO FAST, EVERYONE.
TYPICAL NEW YORK.
AND IT WAS REALLY A TURNING
POINT FOR THE COMPANY.
ABSOLUTELY.
IT ALSO COINCIDED WITH THE
BIGGER DISCUSSION ABOUT WEALTH
AND EQUALITY IN THIS COUNTRY.
AND BEZOS HAD BECOME THE
WEALTHIEST PERSON IN THE WORLD
AND WASN'T REALLY APPROPRIATE TO
ESSENTIALLY BE SUBSIDIZING HIS
COMING TO NEW YORK.
>> OF COURSE.
THE FILM DOES OF COURSE LEAVE
WITH US HIS FUTURE PLANS, WHICH
DON'T INCLUDE US ON EARTH
ANYMORE.
HE'S DEFINITELY A STAR GAZER.
THAT BRINGS US FULL CIRCLE BACK
TO THE YOUNG MAN THAT BEZOS WAS
AS A CHILD WATCHING STAR TREK,
CORRECT?
>> ABSOLUTELY.
BEZOS FROM A VERY EARLY AGE WAS
KIND OF IN LOVE WITH A COUPLE OF
THINGS.
ONE WAS THE NOTION OF SCI-FI.
HE WAS A HUGE STAR TREK FAN.
AND THE OTHER IS THAT HE WAS
CAPTIVATED BY AN IDEA THAT AT
ONE POINT, THIS PLANET WOULD RUN
OUT OF RESOURCES AND THAT WE
WOULD NEED TO LIVE IN OUTER
SPACE.
AND HE HAS HAD THIS IDEA SINCE
HE WAS A TEENAGER.
HE READ ALL ABOUT IT AT THAT
TIME.
AND IT IS REALLY HIS PLAN, A
BILLION DOLLARS OF HIS PERSONAL
FORTUNE EVERY YEAR INTO FIGURING
OUT HOW TO BUILD WHAT HE CALLS A
HIGHWAY TO SPACE SO THAT ONE DAY
WE MAY BE ABLE TO MOVE, WHAT HE
THINKS WILL BE A TRILLION PEOPLE
OFF THIS PLANET IN ORDER TO LIVE
IN SPACE COLONIES.
IT SOUNDS LUDICROUS ON THE FACE
OF IT.
BUT SO DID THE IDEA OF STARTING
AN ONLINE BUSINESS IN 1994 THAT
WOULD BE THE EVERYTHING STORE
WHERE WE WOULD ALL BE SHOPPING
ONLINE ONE DAY.
SO WHO KNOWS?
>> OF COURSE.
EXACTLY.
WHO KNOWS?
I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR
JOINING US ON THE PROGRAM.
AND OF COURSE, FOR TAKING THE
TIME TO MAKE THIS DOCUMENTARY.
IT WAS DEFINITELY INCREDIBLY EYE
OPENING TO THE GIANT BUSINESS
AND CULTURAL ENTERPRISE THAT IS
AMAZON.
SO THANK YOU.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH.
TAKE CARE.
>> FOR MORE INFORMATION ON FRONT
LINE'S INVESTIGATION ON THE
AMAZON EMPIRE, VISIT US AT
METROFOCUS.ORG.
>>> WITHOUT A NET, THE DIGITAL
DIVIDE IN AMERICA NOW RATED BY
ACADEMY AWARD WINNER JAMIE FOX.
THE FILM CASTS A LIGHT ON
AMERICA'S PUBLIC EDUCATION
SYSTEM THAT RECORD INEQUALITY
THAT'S KEEP UNDERPRIVILEGED
STUDENTS SOMETIMES IN DIGITAL
DARK KNOW.
CAUSING AN EMOTIONAL AND
ECONOMIC STRAIN ON OUR NATION'S
YOUTHFUL LET'S TAKE A LOOK.
>> THE WAY THAT OUR ROBOTS WORK,
WE HAVE CODE ON A LAPTOP THAT WE
CAN THEN DOWNLOAD ON TO THE
BRAIN OF THE ROBOT HERE.
>> TODAY IN SCHOOL, I DON'T
THINK I WILL USE A POW COMPUTER
ALL.
OUR HOMES FOR THE FUTURE ARE
VERY TECHNOLOGY DEPENDENT.
>> NOT HAVING INTERNET HAS BEEN
DIFFICULT BECAUSE MOST
EVERYTHING IS INTERNET BASED.
SO THERE IS A LOT MORE STRESS ON
THE STUDENTS TO FIND A WAY TO
ACTUALLY DO THEIR HOMEWORK.
>> IT IS JUST EXCITING KNOWING
THAT I'M GOING TO GO TO COLLEGE
LIKE MY DREAM IS COMING TRUE.
>> WE GREW UP LIVING POOR.
WE WANT TO SEE WHAT IT IS LIKE
TO HAVE A CHANCE.
>> I'M JOINED NOW BY THE FILM'S
DIRECTOR, ACADEMY AWARD WINNING
NOMINATED.
>> GREAT TO BE HERE.
THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
>> YOUR FATHER ROBERT KENNEDY
WAS SO FOCUSED ON THE NOTION OF
EDUCATION AND EQUALITY IN
EDUCATION.
WHAT DREW YOU THEN TO THIS
SUBJECT FOR THIS FILM?
>> WELL, THANK YOU.
I THINK THAT MY FAMILY HISTORY
PROBABLY HAD SOMETHING TO DO
WITH IT FOR SURE.
AND MY FAMILY'S COMMITMENT TO
SOCIAL EQUALITY.
AND THE ISSUES CONNECTED TO
EDUCATION.
SO I THINK IT WAS FOR ME A GREAT
OPPORTUNITY TO SHED LIGHT ON NOT
JUST ON THE DIGITAL DIVIDE IN
AMERICA BUT KIND OF THE LARGER
ISSUES THAT IT SPEAKS TO.
THE INEQUALITIES, PARTICULARLY
FROM POOR ECONOMIC GROUNDS FACE.
>> YOU LOOK AT HOW WE'RE
APPROACHING THE DIGITAL
EDUCATION WORLD IN OUR COUNTRY
COMPARED TO OTHER COUNTRIES.
>> THESE KIDS ARE BEING LEFT
BEHIND.
WE'RE FINDING THAT IT NOT ONLY
AFFECTS THOSE INDIVIDUAL
CHILDREN AND LEAVING THEM IN THE
DARK.
AND MAKES THEM ILL EQUIPPED TO
BECOME PART OF THE JOB CYCLE.
BUT IT IS ALSO LEAVING OUR
COUNTRY BEHIND.
>> IF YOU LOOK AT THIS ISSUE,
PEOPLE MIGHT BE TEMPTED TO TAKE
A FAIRLY SIMPLISTIC APPROACH TO
IT IN TERMS OF THE SOLUTIONS.
OKAY, ALL WE HAVE STOOD GET
COMPUTERS IN EVERY SCHOOL.
MAKE SURE EVERY KID HAS A LAPTOP
AND WE'RE DONE.
THAT WILL GET US WHERE WE NEED
TO BE.
YOU TELL AN INTERESTING STORY IN
THE FILM ABOUT A SCHOOL WHERE
JUST THAT HAPPENED.
>> WHATTH I ISSUE, WE
HAVE TO DO IT IN A WHOLISTIC
MANNER.
THAT MEANS WE HAVE TO GIVE THE
KIDS THE EQUIPMENT, THE
COMPUTERS, IN OTHER WORDS, SO
THAT THEY CAN WORK BUT YOU NEED
TO MAKE SURE THEY'RE CONNECTED
TO THE WI-FI, AND THAT THE WI-FI
IS ADEQUATE.
I THINK WE'VE ALL EXPERIENCED
THOSE VERY FRUSTRATING MOMENTS
WHERE YOU GET ON THE COMPUTER
AND THE LITTLE CIRCLE GOES AND
THE COMPUTER WON'T WORK AND YOU
WANT TO THROW THE COMPUTER OUT
THE WINDOW.
AND THIS HAPPENS DAY IN AND DAY
OUT IN THESE CLASSROOMS.
YOU FEEL THIS MESSAGE BEING SENT
TO THE KIDS.
WE'RE NOT INVESTING IN YOU AND
WE DON'T CARE ENOUGH ABOUT YOU
TO BE CONNECTED.
IF THEY DON'T HAVE THE
CONNECTIVITY, THEY DON'T HAVE
THE HARDWARE, THE THIRD PIECE OF
THE PUZZLE IS, TEACHING THE
TEACHERS AND TRAINING THEM
ADEQUATELY TO USE THE EQUIPMENT.
>> LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THAT IF
I CAN.
I WAS STRUCK BY A PART OF THIS
NARRATIVE WHERE IT SAID THAT
SOME, PERHAPS, 60% OF TEACH
HERE'S ARE ASKED SAID THAT THEY
DON'T FEEL THAT THEY HAVE THE
ADEQUATE TRAINING AND THE
PREPARATION TO JUMP, TO BE ABLE
TO HELP THEIR STUDENTS.
WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THAT?
>> I WAS.
IT WAS DISCOURAGING.
THAT'S PART OF THE REASON WHY WE
MADE THIS FILM.
TO HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE
SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM.
THAT'S BIG A ISSUE.
EVEN IF YOU HAVE THE COMPUTER,
EVEN IF YOU HAVE WI-FI.
IF THE TEACHERS WHO MIGHT BE IN
THEIR 50s, OR 60s, HAVEN'T BEEN
TRAINED IN HOW TO USE THAT.
ONCE YOU TRAIN THEM, THERE'S
HUGE OPPORTUNITIES.
>> LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.
IN LOOKING AT THE FILM, YOU'VE
CLEARLY, AS I SAID BEFORE.
YOU'VE JUST PUT YOUR LENS.
YOU FOCUS ON THE PROBLEMS THAT
WE'RE HAVING HERE.
SO THE QUESTION THEN BECOMES,
ALL RIGHT, WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
YOU MENTIONED BEFORE, MOVING
FORWARD.
WHAT DO WE NEED TO BE DOING TO
MOVE FORWARD SO THAT WE CAN
SHRINK THIS DIGITAL DIVIDE?
>> YEAH.
WELL, THANK YOU FOR ASKING THAT.
I THINK THERE ARE A LOT OF
THINGS.
WHEN WE DO PROFILE FILM, MODELS
THAT ARE WORKING.
SO THERE'S A RANGE OF SOLUTIONS.
SOMETIMES YOU KNOW, IT IS
INNOVATION ON THE COMMUNITY
LEVEL FROM THE TEACHERS, AND THE
PARENTS, AND THE SCHOOL BOARD.
THEY SAY WE'RE GOING TO INVEST
IN THIS.
IT DOES COME DOWN TO MONEY IN
MANY RESPECTS.
GETTING THE FOUNDATIONS INVOLVED
AT THE LOCAL LEVEL MAKES A HUGE
DIFFERENCE.
WE NEED OUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
TO SAY THIS IS A PRIORITY.
>> WELL, YOU HAVE CREATED A FILM
THAT IS REVEALING, IT IS
TROUBLING, AND IT IS
PROVOCATIVE.
ONCE AGAIN, IT IS CALLED WITHOUT
A NET.
THE DIGITAL DIVIDE IN AMERICA.
ROARY KENNEDY, IT IS ALWAYS A
PLEASURE TO TALK TO YOU.
TAKE CARE.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH.
GREAT TALKING TO YOU TOO.
>>> BEFORE WE LET YOU GO
TONIGHT, LET ME TELL BUT A
WONDERFUL EXTENSION ON
"METROFOCUS."
OUR PODCAST WITH ME AS YOUR
HOST.
ON IT WE'LL GET TO EXPLORE
INDEPTH XOFRGSS ARE A LITTLE
LESS FILTERED THAN THEY ARE ON
TELEVISION AND A LOT MORE
INTIMATE.
ON THE PODCAST, I'LL TALK TO AN
ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SET OF GUESTS
WITH AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT
ATTITUDE.
THE PRICE OF JOINING THIS
PODCAST COMPLETE WITH NEW
YORKERS FROM THE STREETS TO CITY
HALL, AND FROM WALL STREET TO
BROADWAY?
ABSOLUTELY FREE.
SO HEAD ON OVER TO iTUNES OR
SOUND CLOUD TO JOIN ME IN THIS
ECLECTIC MIX OF PERSONALITIES
WEIGH EXPLORE OUR CITY WITH A
UNIQUE METRO FOLKS.
I'LL SEE YOU THERE.
>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY
JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,
ROSALIND P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,
AND BY --

§

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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