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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Trump Tweets that Obama Wire Tapped Him, Offers No Proof; Controversy over Trump Inner Circle Connections with Russia; What should be done about North Korea's Nuclear Ambitions?; Will Trump's Immigration Plan Save Billions or Cost Billions?; Looking at the Canadian Dream; Effect of Digital Footprint. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired March 5, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the Global Public Square. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.
ZAKARIA (voice-over): We'll begin today's show with the latest on the swirling allegations about Trump's inner circle and its relations with Russia. What is going on? Plus North Korea, China, ISIS, all that with two former national security advisers Tom Donilon and Stephen Hadley and the president's immigration plan. He told Americans it would save billions of dollars. Really? We'll crunch the numbers.
Also, has the storied American Dream been taken over by the Canadian Dream? Author Scott Gilmore claims that the dream has moved up north and he has the figures to back it up. Then, big data and the elections, did all that information that sites like Facebook collect about you, help Donald Trump win the election. We'll explore.
ZAKARIA: And now, here's my take. The first time I met General David Petraeus, he said something that surprised me. It was the early days of the Iraq War and I asked him whether he wished he had more troops. Petraeus was too politically savvy to criticize the Bush administration's Light Footprint Strategy. So he deflected the question answering it in a different way.
"I wish we had more Foreign Service officers, aid professionals and other kinds of non-military specialists," he said. The heart of the problem the United States was facing in Iraq, he noted presciently, was a deep sectarian divide between the Shiites and the Sunnis, Arabs and Kurds. "We need help on those issues. Otherwise, we're relying on 22-year-old sergeants to handle them. Now, they are great kids, but they really don't know the history, the language, the politics."
President Trump is a proposing a $54 billion increase for the Defense Department, which would be offset by large cuts in the State Department, foreign aid and other civilian agencies. Trump says he wants to do this so that "nobody will dare question our military might again." But no one does. The U.S. military remains in a league of its own. The American defense budget in 2015 was nine times the size of Russia's and three times that of China's.
None of the difficulties the U.S. has had over the past 25 years have been any way been because its military was too small or weak. As then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates noted in a 2007 lecture, "One of the most important lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that military success is not sufficient to win." To achieve "long-term success," he explained, requires "economic development, institution- building and good governance." Therefore, he called for "a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security," including diplomacy and foreign assistance.
Trump says, "We must do a lot more with less." But the obvious target for this effort should be the Pentagon, which is the poster child for waste in government. The Pentagon is now the world's largest bureaucracy, running a cradle-to-grave quasi-socialist system of employment, housing, health care and pensions for its 3 million employees. A recent report from its defense business board concluded that it could easily save $125 billion over five years by removing operational inefficiencies. Senior officials, of course, quickly buried the report. Those savings alone would fund the entire State Department plus all foreign aid programs for two and a half years. Gates used to note, "We have more people in military bands than we have Foreign Service officers."
Trump railed in his address to Congress, as he has in the past, about the $6 trillion that the U.S. has spent in the Middle East. That figure is exaggerated, but he's right. When the Pentagon goes to war, costs go through the stratosphere. In just one example, ProPublica tallied up the audits of the special inspector general for Afghanistan and found that the military had wasted at least $17 billion on a variety of projects.
Rosa brooks, who served as a civilian adviser at the Pentagon under President Obama, has written a fascinating book. "How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything." It describes how U.S. policy has been contorted by a military that keeps expanding while all other agencies wither.
[10:05:05] One of the blurbs on the back of the book says, "One of the most thought provoking books I have ever read. It's as if we have been sleepwalking into this new world and Rosa has turned on a flashlight." The commendation comes from it Jim Mattis, now the Secretary of Defense. Perhaps he should give the book to his boss. For more, go to cnn.com/Fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week and let's get started.
There's so much to talk about from a presidential tweet storm to that growing controversy over connections between Trump's inner circle and Russia. We'll try to get to the rest of the world as well. Joining me now, two former national security advisers, Tom Donilon was President Obama's national security adviser and also worked in the Clinton and Carter administrations. He's now vice chair of the law firm O'Melveny & Myers. Stephen Hadley was George W. Bush's national security adviser for the president's entire second term. He's now principal of the strategic consulting firm RiceHadley Gates.
Tom, let me start with you because we do have this allegation made by the President of the United States about your former boss President Obama. He says that Barack Obama essentially tapped his phones. What is your reaction to that?
TOM DONILON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER (2010-2013): Well, good morning. My reaction is that it's exceedingly inappropriate comment to make by a President of the United States in an offhanded way like this with no evidence provided, no backup, and indeed over the course of the last 24 hours. The White House has been asked about it repeatedly and hasn't been able to provide any evidence supporting this. I think it betrays a misunderstanding of how these operations work in the government. The President of the United States cannot -- undertake to surveil a U.S. citizen. It would have to go to either FIS court or Title III Court.
But most importantly, I think Fareed. This is what it underscores to me. It underscores the necessity and indeed, the inevitability of an independent investigation into this whole matter. What we know from the election, based on a public intelligence report on January 6th is that the Russians attempted to interfere in the U.S. election. That's the core of what needs to be investigated. An independent investigation on Capitol Hill in the Executive Branch -- should be put together immediately. That is the message to me.
ZAKARIA: Steve Hadley, -- what Tom Donilon said seem right too that the President of the United States actually cannot ask for the surveillance of a U.S. citizen. There would have had to have been a court?
STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER (2005-2009): That is correct. And you know, I think the question here is one, was there some kind of illegal wiretap, which would be very troublesome. In terms of a legal wiretap, you know "The Wall Street Journal" -- ran an op-ed, actually an editorial on Friday, which said that there were allegations floating around, that political appointees in the Obama administration had authorized surveillance of folks associated with the Trump campaign. No basis for that. We do know that the Obama administration was very concerned about the contacts between Trump folks and also the Russians.
And I think the question is were they so concerned about those contacts, that they were concerned there might be collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian authorities to try to throw the election to Trump. If that was the case, that would be the basis, I think, for a probable cause to go to a court and try to get a wiretap. And I think the question is, did that occur, was that justified and again, it's one of those things that needs to be looked at. I think the proper sequence here is, let the FBI complete their investigation. Let the Senate and House Intel Communities review that. And then decide whether we need some kind of independent further investigation.
DONILON: Fareed, can I add -
ZAKARIA: Yes. DONILON: Let me add on to Steve's point just for a moment here, kind of in bigger point. One, we do have this bigger issue of Russian interference in the Democratic process both here and by the way, in Europe as well. But between us, Steve and I worked for the last seven U.S. presidents. Every U.S. president faces crises. And this president will face a crisis whether it be, President Clinton faced the Oklahoma City domestic terrorism, bombing or President Bush for the - facing 9/11 and President Obama facing the financial crisis.
And at that point, the President of the United States words matter. And his credibility matters. And the administration should be building towards a point where people can rely because they are going to have to rely on what the president represents to him. They're going to have to rely on this sense that the government is confident. They can handle these things. And they're going to go forward in an honest and forthright in confident fashion.
[10:10:05] That's what the administration needs to build towards. And as you undermine the value of presidential statements, presidential words, you really undercut yourself in the future when you face that inevitable crisis. That's a really concerning point for me.
ZAKARIA: Steve, when I look at this, can I just ask you -
ZAKARIA: It does strike one that this is now part of a pattern. That whenever there is inconvenient, uncomfortable news for President Trump, he's somehow latches on to some tangential allegation and then hypes it up and essentially seems to try to change the subject. There are so many cases now where this happens. Is it too cynical to view this as just some kind of an elaborate distraction from the news about Jeff Sessions and the fact that the attorney general of the United States did seem to have misled Congress -- under sworn testimony?
HADLEY: Well, I hope we come back to the Jeff Sessions point because I think Tom and I both have some views on that. Look, I think it did change the subject. It tried to get the tension off of the Jeff Sessions matter. He tried to put some question with respect to the activities of the Obama administration. It is a distraction, but you know, one of the problems is, as important as getting to the bottom of all this is, it is a huge distraction for the government in trying to do what the people sent the president and members of Congress to Washington to do, which was to deal with some of the many national security and foreign policy and domestic policy problems that this country faces. And this is a huge distraction from getting going and moving forward on the business of government. It's really quite unfortunate.
ZAKARIA: All right. Hold on both of you. We will get to the Jeff Sessions business. But I also have to ask you guys about something else. North Korea is on the path to be able to perhaps hit the United States with a nuclear missile at some point. Does the Trump administration face a choice, bomb North Korea or talk to it? All when we come back.
[10:16:30] ZAKARIA: We are back with two former national security advisers, Tom Donilon, who served under President Obama and Stephen Hadley, who served under President Bush. Tom, you also served under Bill Clinton when we were told that perjury, that is -- giving misleading testimony under oath was an impeachable offense. Should Jeff Sessions resign?
DONILON: Well, I've not examined the text of his testimony and the kind of detail you would need to do to make a kind of judgment. I do think that it was appropriate to recuse himself from all the matters related to the 2016 election and have to with respect to the matters around Russia and the communications that might or might not have taken place between the administration or the campaign and Russia. It was an appropriate response for him.
You know, the root of this, I think, Fareed though, is a couple of fold. One is, an approach to Russia, which has been uncritical. The recusal to criticize Vladimir Putin personally and the recusal to underscore and kind of -- a number of the steps that the Russians have taken, really in what's been a pattern of active hostility in United States. And it's been unexplained. There's never been a presentation on this, with respect to why the administration and the campaign was in this direction.
Secondly, you've got kind of this cascading side of new disclosures and inconsistent explanations, which goes to the point we're making earlier, which is it needs to be - there needs to be an accounting. And it needs to be investigated and addressed. Otherwise, as Steve said earlier, it's going to be a continuing distraction from the work of the administration.
ZAKARIA: Steve, is that a fair point that the puzzle of their attitude toward Russia. No one would, I think, find it objectionable if they had admitted that they had some contacts with Russia. Though, it would also still be kind of odd that so many administration officials seem to have had during the campaign contact with Russia. I don't see a similar pattern, for example, of contacts with Great Britain or with Germany. There does seem to be something with this manner for whether it's Sessions, whether it's Flynn. That they are all -- both have had contact with Russia and then the curiosity of the president who thinks every other country in the world is out to screw the United States except Russia.
HADLEY: Well, you know, we have had a lot of focus on the contacts between Trump associates and Russia. We have not looked at Trump contacts between Trump associates and other countries. It may be they are extensive as well. On the Russia piece tough. At this point, I think, there is no reason to think that Jeff Sessions should resign. You know, the oldest rule in Washington is, "It is not what you do that gets you in it trouble, it's how you respond when it begins to become public."
And I think the reason Jeff Sessions, at this point, given what we all know should not resign is there is nothing wrong in having contacts with the Russian ambassador and there seems to have been nothing wrong with what he said. The problem is, I think, he muffed the answers to the questions in his confirmation hearing. He was being asked about campaign contacts. And then, I think, what he will say Monday when he offers a public statement explaining his testimony. I think what he will say and what he's indicated so far is, he didn't see himself talking to the Russian ambassador as a campaign official rather as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
You can just cite how you feel about that explanation. But I think what we ought to do is wait and see what he says on Monday. He's already said that he thinks he should have disclosed during hearing the contacts he had and then explained why he did not - why they were not inappropriate. I think that's exactly what he should have done. Hopefully, he will explain that on Monday. But at this point, I don't think this is a resignation issue.
[10:20:12] DONILON: -- But the course of events really does raise the bar significantly high for the independence of the next state of investigation here in order to assure the American people that in fact, it's going to be looked at closely and independently.
HADLEY: Well, he has of course done that. He's recused himself from any investigation having to do with the campaign. And that was the right thing to do.
ZAKARIA: So let me ask you guys about North Korea. Because there is this very troubling, long piece in "The New York Times," very well reported, I think. And it seems to suggest honestly, that both your administrations were not successful in what was clearly a stated goal, which was to deter North Korea from acquiring the capacity to build an intercontinental nuclear missile. That is one capable of hitting the United States.
So, at this point, Tom Donilon, what is the path forward? Is sanctions haven't worked as the most sanctioned country in the world. Pressure on China hasn't worked. You spent hundreds of hours talking to the Chinese. What do we do? Do we bomb - does the United States bomb North Korea or does it talk to it and try to set up some kind of negotiation?
DONILON: Fareed, it's the most serious security situation in Asia and one of the most - serious security situations and challenges that President Trump and the new administration faces. My own judgment is that almost all the indicators are going in negative directions, whether they it be North Korea's progress on testing nuclear weapons and developing nuclear weapons.
They have claimed that they are working on miniaturization. We have had over the last year a couple of dozen missile tests which is basically, a program towards trying to achieve a missile that can reach the United States in a continental ballistic missile. You have seen a significant deterioration in the relationship between North Korea and China, I think over the last year. So, it's a serious challenge. And maybe the first crisis - real crisis this administration will face.
What to do? I think that we need to look at the sanctions regime. I would recommend looking at a regime that gets to the level that we've got to, for example, with Iran where they were regime threatening sanctions. Second, this is a real test for the U.S./China relationship in terms of our ability to work together with them on a serious security issue, which -- we have not been fully aligned with to date. Some are not fully aligned. Third, we need to continue to put in place the kind of defensive measures that we need to have in the region. And at that point from a position of strength, you'd want to have a negotiation get underway that would address the program. But this is very serious problem.
ZAKARIA: Steve, I hate to do this to you, but you have one minute to solve the North Korean problem.
HADLEY: We tried negotiations. We had an agreement in the Clinton administration and in the Bush administration for North Korea to give up their weapons. They didn't. We have to enhance deterrence. We have to put in place missile defense. We need to take away as much as we can the option of North Korea to threaten South Korea. Only then, I think, will China reconsider its position and maybe put the kind of pressure on North Korea that is required to solve this problem.
ZAKARIA: Would you talk to them, Steve?
HADLEY: I wouldn't talk to them until I'd enhanced deterrence, until I had got the common strategy with our other allies, until they have given some indication that indeed, talking is going to work. We have tried it under Clinton administration. We tried it in the Bush administration and it didn't work either time.
ZAKARIA: Gentlemen, pleasure. Thank you so much. Next on GPS, Donald Trump claims his immigration policy will be good for the economy. But will it? We crunch the numbers.
[10:27:50] ZAKARIA: Now, for our "What in the World" segment. During his address to the Joint Session of Congress last Tuesday, President Trump reiterated that immigration reform would be at the core of his domestic policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars and make our communities safer for everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: I was intrigued by the president's insertion that his policy would be an economic boom to America. So we took a closer look following in the footsteps of a powerful editorial in "The New York Times." Let's just take the budgets of the border patrol and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency or I.C.E. According to a report from the American Immigration Council, their combined budgets have ballooned from $9.2 billion in 2003 to $19.3 billion in 2016. That's an increase of almost 110 percent and it is bigger than the total combined budgets of the EPA and the Department of Commerce.
The number of I.C.E. officers, customs and border protection officers and border agents has grown by more than 60 percent since 2003 from 31,000 to its current level of 50,000 making it larger than the New York City police force. Yet the president wants to hire even more agents. John Kelly, his Homeland Security Secretary has authorized the hiring of an additional 15,000 border patrol agents and I.C.E. officers, which is an increase of more than 31 percent from existing levels. UPI reports those additional agents and officers could cost between $1.4 billion to $1.5 billion annually.
And then, there's the cost of the 2,000-mile long, very high wall stretching from the pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. President Trump seems determined to build this wall which he said would cost around $10 billion. "The Times" cites a report by the MIT Technology Review which says that the actual cost of the wall would be closer to $40 billion.
And as for Trump's promise to have Mexico pay for the wall, well, we know that's not going to happen. So adding it all up, that's about $20 billion a year to run the deterrence deportation system, plus tens of billions of dollars to build the wall.
[10:30:10] And beyond the direct costs, there's also a deeper cost to the economy. Undocumented immigrants work in all sectors of society, from are retail businesses, restaurants and hotels to manufacturing and farm work. One example: According to the findings of two Queens College economics professors, the mass deportation of approximately 11 million undocumented workers would immediately reduce the nation's GDP by 1.4 percent and ultimately by 2.6 percent, and reduce cumulative GDP over 10 years by $4.7 trillion.
What makes this all the more baffling is that the number of Mexican immigrants in the United States is on the decline. I have often pointed out on this program that an important and comprehensive study from the Pew Research Center shows that, from 2009 to 2014, more immigrants have actually returned to Mexico than came to the United States from Mexico. In other words, we are fighting the last war, at a staggering economic and human cost.
Next on "GPS," have America's neighbors to the north stolen the American dream? Is it now the Canadian dream? That's what my next guest argues, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: The American dream: The concept was born in 1931, the brainchild of a man named James Truslow Adams. He described it as the dream of a better, richer and happier life for all our citizens. But has that dream now traveled north?
Is the American dream a dying dream and the Canadian dream a thriving one?
That's what my next guest, Scott Gilmore, asserts. A former Canadian diplomat, Gilmore is now a contributor for The Boston Globe and a columnist for the Canadian magazine Maclain's.
GILMORE: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: So you have a fascinating collection of data here. You point out that, when you look at college degrees, 46 percent of Americans have them, but 59 percent of Canadians do. When you look at home ownership rates, 63 percent American, but 68 percent Canadian. When you look at life expectancy, 78.7 years in America but 81.2 years in Canada. So high life expectancy, high home ownership, high college degree, and even more vacation days.
So everything looks better in Canada. Why?
GILMORE: Well, it's a bit of a puzzle for us as Canadians because, you know, we look to the United States as being the land of opportunity, like most people do. But when you start poring through the numbers like you suggested, no matter how you cut the American dream or no matter how you describe the American dream, whether it's life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or a car, a job and a degree, it's now become easier in Canada.
And I think there's some obvious reasons, the health care system, for one. We don't have people going bankrupt because of health care costs, so our poorer parts of the society continue to thrive. Access to education is easier. There are cheaper degrees. We don't have the student loan problem that you have in the United States.
We have our problems, but overall, we seem to be muddling through and doing a little bit better.
ZAKARIA: You know, one of the things that you don't talk as much about here, but I'm sure you know about, is the social mobility indices that people look at; that is, if you were born into the lower strata of income in Canada, you now have a much greater chance of moving up in one lifetime than you have in the United States.
GILMORE: That's right. I mean, the American dream was based on this idea that you could pull yourself up by the boot straps; you can go rags to riches. But in fact, that's actually happening less and less in the United States compared to a lot of Western countries.
And in Canada, like you said, you can go from the lowest quintile of income to the highest quintile twice as likely. And another related statistic is that the correlation between your family, or your parents' income and your income is half as strong in Canada. So regardless of what your parents do, you can have a better chance of making it.
ZAKARIA: That's a very important one. Because what it strikes at, it seems to me, is, in large part, education. Rich people's kids in America get a better education because our public education system is funded by local property taxes...
GILMORE: That's right. ZAKARIA: ... whereas in Canada, you know, no matter whether you're rich or poor, you're going to get a school that's about as good and is very high quality.
GILMORE: We would like to think that some of our best universities compare to Harvard and Yale and Princeton. I don't think they're quite at that level. But, nonetheless, across the board, our universities nationally, which are very accessible, are world-renowned, good institutions. And you can go through it without going broke.
ZAKARIA: Right. So -- but at the primary level, I think your system is incredibly equal and high quality, right? That's, to me, the big difference, whereas the American K-12 system is really one where rich kids are in one universe and poor kids in a completely different world.
GILMORE: Yeah, that's absolutely true. But I hesitate to be too glowing about it. Because, in Canada, our indigenous community, our First Nations community, our Inuit, or Meti, are doing horribly, according to those numbers. They don't have the same access to health care; they're not having the same access to universities and schools. And a lot of their...
ZAKARIA: What percentage of the population are they?
GILMORE: It's 5 percent.
ZAKARIA: Now, what's striking to me is people might think, ah, this is a case for the -- you know, the social welfare paradise; this is a kind of -- the argument of left-wing types.
Now, you're a conservative.
GILMORE: I am.
ZAKARIA: And you point out that, compared to Canada, America isn't even the land of the free anymore, that by the Cato Institute's Human Freedom Index, Canada ranks much higher than the U.S. It's sixth in the world, whereas America limps in at 23. The Heritage Foundation and other conservative think tanks ranks Canada much higher for economic freedom. And, of course, Reporters Without Borders scores Canada much higher on press freedoms.
I think this is partly a product of the reality that the Canadian economy is -- is quite free and quite open. But there have been a whole series of reforms over the last 15 or 20 years in Canada, right?
GILMORE: There has. There are some indicators that show that Canada has had this freedom going back a lot farther than that, but under the previous conservative government and, frankly, the new liberal government, there is a recognition that the overall welfare of the society is driven by a healthy private sector. And so a lot of effort is put in to try to figure out how can we create a level playing field for everybody but one where people can prosper?
But, you know, when you talk about freedom and the American dream, the statistic that I find the most troubling is that, in the United States, your average American is six times more likely to be incarcerated, in prison or in jail, than your average Canadian, or European, for that matter. And I don't think that's something that Americans realize, how the prison system and the justice system here is so different from the rest of the Western world.
ZAKARIA: And we have an attorney general who says he thinks the problem in America is there aren't enough people in -- in prison.
GILMORE: That's right.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about two things Donald Trump has talked about, focus in on them. During the campaign -- this is something he would not like to remember, but he once pointed out that universal health care systems do seem to work sometimes pretty well, single- payer systems. And he pointed specifically to Canada.
So you're a conservative, great free-market advocate. You think the Canadian system overall works better?
GILMORE: Objectively, it does. The Canadian system has problems and, I would argue as a Canadian, huge problems. But nonetheless you can see it in all of the outcomes, whether it's life expectancy, infant mortality, or just overall healthiness, Canadians are doing better. And I think it's...
ZAKARIA: And at a much lower cost, right?
GILMORE: At a much lower cost.
ZAKARIA: What do you spend as a percentage of your GDP?
GILMORE: I couldn't say that, but I know that it's about one-half of what is spent in the United States.
ZAKARIA: So is this reality of a Canadian dream leading to the very un-Canadian phenomenon of arrogance?
GILMORE: Oh, my goodness, yes -- particularly since the election in the United States. Canada has reacted with fascination and horror and not a little bit of smugness at what we've seen unfold here compared to politics in Europe and politics in Canada. It's something that it's hard for us to understand.
ZAKARIA: Well, pleasure to have you on.
GILMORE: My pleasure.
ZAKARIA: Thank you.
Next on "GPS," what do big tech companies know about you, based simply on your digital footprint?
The answer is more than your spouse know, perhaps, and that information might have helped sway the election. How? we'll explain when we come back.
ZAKARIA: The American dream: Big data is believed to have played a big role in the 2016 election. How big?
Well, my next guest is well placed to answer that question. He is the man who pioneered the model that can determine your most intimate personality traits based on your digital footprint. Taking just 68 of your Facebook likes, Dr. Michal Kosinski's model can accurately predict your skin color, sexuality, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, or a Trump supporter. Add a few more and, based on 300 Facebook likes, the model is set to know you better than you know yourself.
What does this have to do with Donald Trump's victory, fake news and targeted social media?
Here to discuss, Dr. Michal Kosinski from Stanford Business School.
So let's start with the Trump thing. As you know, there is this theory out there, partly fueled by the Trump campaign, that it had this very clever analysis of big data, helped by a company called Cambridge Analytics, and that that was -- allowed them to -- that's what allowed them to identify Trump voters, you know, find ways to get them more active and ultimately, the argument goes, to win the election. What do you say?
KOSINSKI: Well, both sides were certainly using big data and targeted marketing to win over voters, but I think we should remember that it's not big data that wins the election at the end of the day; it's candidates and what they have to say and what's the mood of the voters at a given point of time.
ZAKARIA: But the underlying theory behind that argument is the theory that, you know, you really have helped pioneer, which is that using a certain number of things that we all do on the Internet, what songs we buy, what Amazon books or products we look at, you can predict things that are much deeper and don't seem necessarily associated, right? Explain some of that.
KOSINSKI: Yes, that's correct. So, actually, computers are very good at predicting our intimate traits. Sometimes they are better than our close ones, and I would argue that they are often better than we are ourselves -- very often.
And it's really simple, really. If you look at my Facebook profile or my Twitter profile, you would probably not have much trouble figuring out what my political views are or what my personality is. Now, a computer can do the same thing. Basically, by analyzing large amounts of data from your Twitter profile, your e-mail, your playlists, your Facebook profile and so on, it can create a very accurate and intimate psycho-demographic profile of yourselves, of you and other people.
And now this information can obviously be used in marketing and specifically in political marketing. If I have a detailed knowledge of psycho-demographic profiles of a large number of people, I can use this information to craft individual messages and speak individually to each of those people and try to make this message as convincing and relevant to them as possible.
ZAKARIA: And to be clear, all this is widely available, and companies like Facebook and Google and Amazon will sell this data to anyone who wants to buy?
KOSINSKI: Well, I think it's a bit more complicated than that, but definitely companies like Facebook or Google provide platforms that can be used by marketing companies to target people based on the interests, political affiliations and so on.
ZAKARIA: Are are some of these things, you know, things that human beings can't do?
Because one of the things that computers are very good at doing is analyzing massive amounts of data and massive correlations, so that I may have certain preferences and you may look at them and say, yeah, that probably means, I don't know, if he likes Simon and Garfunkel, he has this kind of politics or something. But then the computer can look at millions and millions of people and millions and millions of patterns?
KOSINSKI: Exactly. So not only a computer can look at millions or billions of people and in a very short time create their detailed psycho-demographic profiles, but also, a computer can utilize, can use information that perhaps, for humans, would not be very informative, right?
So if you see me following Obama or Bernie Sanders on Twitter, it's not a complicated task to figure out what my political views would be. But, now, if you see that I listen to Lady Gaga or Simon and Garfunkel, that's a piece of information that humans would struggle to interpret simply because both Republicans and Democrats listen to Lady Gaga.
Now, what a computer can do, a computer can go and look at this data in much more detail. It can look at millions of people, and I bet that there would be a small difference between how likely the Republicans are to listen to Lady Gaga and how likely Democrats are to listen to Lady Gaga, something that, for a human being, is not perceptible.
Now, does it mean that, if you listen to Lady Gaga, you're a Republican or Democrat? Not at all. It's there's just this little, tiny, bordering on insignificant, amount of information in each digital footprint like that.
But now, the algorithm can aggregate information from thousands or millions of crumbs of information and then create a very accurate prediction.
ZAKARIA: What are the ethical dilemmas of wading into these waters?
KOSINSKI: Well, we have to remember that governments, companies and organizations can use the very technology that can be used for your good; they can turn it against you.
Now, how they can turn it against you? Well, they can, behind your back, without you knowing, try to infer your intimate traits, such as your political views, your sexual orientation, your personality and intelligence.
And, now, actually, in a country as free and open-minded as America, it's probably not a big issue today. Maybe you'll get some creepy marketing. But we have to remember that the same technologies are being used by governments in way less liberal countries, where revealing your political views or revealing your religiosity or your sexual orientation can be really a matter of life and death.
ZAKARIA: That's a very important point. So you're saying that, I mean, the Russian government, which is very media-savvy and tech- savvy, as we know, can probably determine who -- where its political -- the opposition to it lies without anybody ever saying anything, without anybody ever publishing an op-ed or attending a demonstration?
KOSINSKI: Exactly -- just based on your music playlists or the books that you have read. Even if you have never read anything directly related to politics, computer algorithms can turn these seemingly innocent data into very accurate predictions of your intimate traits.
Michal Kosinski, pleasure to have you on.
KOSINSKI: Thank you, sir.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," some frequent fliers have mastered the art of traveling light and never checking a bag. But in a moment I'll tell you about one world leader and the 500 tons of gear being flown around the world on his or her behalf.
ZAKARIA: Are you an overpacker? Well, one world leader has you beat, and it brings me to my question of the week. Which of the following world leaders brought more than 500 tons of belongings on a trip this week: Queen Elizabeth, King Salman, Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin?
Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
Once more, instead of a book, a newsletter. You can now get your global public fix six days per week. My colleagues and I recently launched a "GPS" newsletter, Fareed's Global Briefing. You can go to cnn.com/fareed to subscribe. Every weekday you'll get what the "GPS" staff and I believe are the best insights and analysis about the world today. It's basically a cheat sheet of all the best stuff to read that day. And on Sundays you'll get a short update with what's coming up on the show that day. I think you'll find this daily dose of "GPS" very helpful in this crazy and complicated world.
The answer to my "GPS" challenge question this week is B. King Salman of Saudi Arabia arrived in Indonesia for a less-than-two-week trip and reportedly brought over 500 tons of luggage and cargo with him. For reference, that is the weight of more than 300 hippopotami. The haul included two Mercedes Benzes, two electric elevators and the luggage of his 1,500 travel companions. Let's hope there were no baggage fees.
Of course the American president doesn't travel light himself. The Washington Post points out President Obama brought 56 support vehicles on his sub-Saharan African tour in 2013.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.