METROFOCUS: FEBRUARY 18, 2020

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. 

TRANSCRIPT

> 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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