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Tim Cook Supporting Privacy Laws Around the World; The Career of Alan Alda. Aired 23p-12m ET
Aired December 26, 2018 - 23:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, AMANPOUR: Hello everyone and welcome to Amanopour. During the holiday season, we're dipping into the archive and
looking back at some of this year's highlight, so here's what's coming up.
My exclusive conversation with Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, the world's first trillion dollar company in a candid and wide-ranging talk, we discuss his
surprising support of privacy laws around the world, responsibility and the privilege he feels as an openly gay leader; and the danger posed by what he
calls the data industrial complex.
Plus, our Michel Martin talks to an American Legend, award-winning actor writer and director Alan Alda on finding meaning in the a creative life
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. A Titan of America's tech world stands before a room full of European
government regulators and calls for comprehensive privacy laws in the United States and around the world.
Why? Apple CEO Tim Cook says that we have a crisis on our hands. And if we don't rein in technology's dark side now, problems will soon be too big
Since the 2016 U.S. election, we've been aware of the danger posed by the abuse of our private data and Cook also paints a dark portrait of society
riven under unbridled tech influence.
So this week, just before a spate of mail bombs unsettled America, Tim Cook delivered a landmark speech to the European Parliament and asked what he
calls a fundamental question which is, "What kind of a world do we want to live in?"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: Our own information from the everyday to the deeply personal is being weaponized against us with military efficiency, taken to
its extreme, this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Apple's extraordinary size, and its global influence means that Tim Cook has the unique power to influence solutions, not just to privacy
and surveillance challenges, but also in the wider cultural realm of gay rights, migrant rights, climate change -- these were all on his radar as we
sat down for an exclusive interview at where else? But the Apple store in Brussels right after his speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: Tim Cook. Welcome to the program.
COOK: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So here we are at the Apple store in Brussels. And you have just given a major speech on privacy. This probably is the era where we're
so concentrated on privacy, trust surveillance. In brief, what was your message to the audience today?
COOK: My message is that we need to deeply look inside ourselves and ask us what kind of world we want to live in. The fact is, now you have more
information on your devices than you do in your own homes. And this is a major change over the last several years.
And so we're trying to raise the level of awareness and to ask countries all around the world to begin considering legislation over what companies
can do and what they can't do.
AMANPOUR: Well, look, that's really interesting, because it's an issue of great controversy, especially in the United States, not so much here in
Europe, where they have a whole new data protection regulations. There's a lot more regulation here, presumably, of all your content than in the
United States. Where do you see the parameters of regulation?
AMANPOUR: Because you've called for a Federal regulation, right?
COOK: Yes, you know, usually I'm not a big pro regulation kind of person, I believe in free markets. But I think we have to admit when a free market
doesn't work and take an action. And in this case, it's clear that the amount of things that can be collected about you, without your knowledge,
maybe with your consent, although it's a 70-page legal piece of paper, just isn't reasonable.
And these things can be used for such nefarious things. We've seen examples of this over the last several years and we think it's time now to
take this thing and put it under control because if we don't, the problem gets so large that it may be impossible to fix.
AMANPOUR: You actually were quite blunt in your speech today just on this issue, you're talking about profiles, people profiles -- your profile is
run through algorithms that can serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions.
And then you say, "We shouldn't sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance." That's pretty -- that's pretty controversial.
COOK: Well, it's the truth, and I always get back to that is -- what is the truth? And I do see it as a crisis. I see -- I see privacy as one of
the top issues, the top few issues of this century. I mean, it's to that level. And because of the number of nefarious things that can happen and I
advocate to put the user in control, completely in control of their data in a very transparent manner.
And, you know, and there's a lot more behind that than that. But that's the spirit of it.
AMANPOUR: And you said --
COOK: Your data is yours, it's not mine.
AMANPOUR: And if we don't get a grip, and you're saying the tech industry doesn't get a grip, if the market doesn't get a grip, then either it can
get out of control, or others can impose regulations at some point.
COOK: Well, just to be clear, though, I'm sorry to interrupt. No, I'm not saying this to the tech industry. This is broader than the tech industry,
because many, many firms out there are collecting data. And so -- and there's a whole data industry called the data broker kind of industry,
right, that the sole objective is to gather data on people. And so I'm -- I made a broad speech about a very key policy element that I think is
critical to every country in the world and our future as a society.
AMANPOUR: And I'm going to get into that in a second, but I mean, obviously the big content providers have been under the microscope, whether
it's Facebook, particularly with the Cambridge Analytica, I mean, tens of millions of people's data being shared and monetized without their
knowledge or their permission.
So it's a big deal and I wonder how you think, at least those platforms, those parts of the industry will take what you said, because the other
thing you said again, was very blunt, you've talked about the fantastic opportunities provided by this technology.
But you said, "At the same time, we see vividly painfully how technology can harm rather than help platforms and algorithms that promise to improve
our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies, rogue actors, even governments have taken advantage of user trust, to deepen divisions,
incite violence, and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false."
I mean, this is the opposite of a brave new world. This is really a dark - -
COOK: It's a crisis. It's the realization that a lot of things that have been created have some downside to them. And now, they have -- and as a
part of the technology, there's an amplification affect. And so, I talked about gossip in the speech. You know, gossip has been -- it has existed
since man was created. But it's a little different if it's you and I gossiping versus if I can go on something and all of a sudden, the world is
in on this.
And you have things like cyber bullying and a lot of other things that really affect deeply people. And so, this is my concern, and I'm not
speaking to one or two companies, I'm speaking to all of us, the broader worldwide community, because it's not just one or two companies that are
collecting data, it's everyone and we have to realize that data is precious and should be treated as such and we've got to ask ourselves, do we really
need all of this?
AMANPOUR: Many of the companies who you might be including in your speech use content as their profitability -- that is what it is, you click, you
sell, you get money. That is what data is often used for. It's not the case really with Apple. So, perhaps you could stand up there and say that
and it wouldn't affect your bottom line as much as it might affect some of the others. Is that a valid point?
COOK: No, because it's a valid point that our business model is different, yes. But you have to -- and cause and effect is very important here. So,
why is it different, it's because we've elected our values, tell us to go in a certain direction. And those value have always been -- this is not in
the last year or so. We've also been very deeply committed to people's privacy. We've always viewed it as -- in the United States, we viewed as a
fundamental civil liberty.
I mean, these things our guaranteed to us -- and because our forefathers had the vision to know how important this was. So, that it's -- to us,
it's a basic human right.
AMANPOUR: So, you just decided not to share, sell or otherwise, disseminate data?
COOK: Yes. And so -- that's right. And so, we made that decision, it was against our values and therefore, that drives a different business model.
Now, I'm not saying the -- I want to be clear on this.
COOK: I have no personal issue and Apple has no issue with digital advertising. Digital advertising can be good. We may find something that
we want. That is good. It's the formation of a deep detailed profile that knows more about you than you may know about yourself because it has
information about all of your browsing, perhaps all of your purchases, maybe some of your health information and maybe who your friends are, maybe
who their friends are, maybe the messages that you have sent, maybe what you talked about.
I mean, these things -- I mean, think about all of this information that is out there, it is too much. This is too much. This should not exist.
AMANPOUR: You say it's too much but you have ...
AMANPOUR: ... also said that you thought you were quite disciplined in your screen use, in your device usage, but then, you've developed a new
app, right, Screen Time.
COOK: Screen Time. This is very important. You know, for us, we have never wanted people to spend all their time on a device. We want people to
live. And you really live if you're always in a digital world. I mean, I get more out of our dialogue here than I'll ever get out of reading
something online, it's that human interface that I think is so valuable.
And so, we developed something called Screen Time because we knew that people were getting uptight about both themselves and maybe more
importantly their kids and how much time they were spending.
So, now, this started shipping in the fall and this bills on all the parental controls we've had in for years. Now, you can monitor what your
kids are going, you can get a report, every week, you can check it more often if you want, to see where they're spending their time, how much time
they're spending, you can control certain apps from them not having access too, they can -- you can give them a budget for how much time they can
spend the day. And if they hit that amount, in order to spend more, they have to come back to you and ask you for permission.
Now, I think -- that was job one, to do focus on kids. But frankly, what I have learned and I think many of your viewers will learn too, is that they
spend too much time, too.
COOK: Adults, because as I looked at my information, we're -- we tell you how many times you pick up your iPhone every day, we tell you how many
notifications you get, we tell you how much time you are spending on your phone.
And for me, the number of times I picked up my phone and the number of notifications I got were unacceptable. I mean, it just didn't make any
sense at the end of the day when I backed up and said, "Do I -- is this how I should be living my life?"
AMANPOUR: Did you change your habits?
COOK: I whacked it. Yes. And I hope everybody takes a hard look at their habits. And it's something -- there's something about having this moment
of truth. You can't kid yourself, "Oh, I'm only getting a few minutes a day." Because the facts are right there. It's powerful.
AMANPOUR: So, let's get to the Trump era.
COOK: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: You know, there's a lot of upheaval, disruptions, some say chaos, a lot of business leaders have approved of his tax reforms, like
yourself, I believe you like the fact that the corporate tax and being able to bring money back to the continent of the United States.
How have you dealt with President Trump and this administration to your advantage? For instance, you were able to get him to exempt sort of
tariffs on technology that Apple uses like Bluetooth when it comes to China and all the rest of it.
COOK: Well, I do believe the corporate portion of the tax cut that came out in January is great for the U.S. economy. Because I think you are
already seeing people invest more in the U.S., I think it is creating jobs and I think it does have a long tail to it, it's not a short kind of sugar
high. And so, I applaud them for doing that. And I think that people will see more and more returns from that.
In terms of how do I deal with it, I believe in engagement. I believe in in engagement. I believe in engaging with everyone, whether I agree or
disagree. I think you should engage even more when you don't. I think that's one of the issues with our society today, is people tend to go in
their silo and they only talk to people that agree with them, and I never see that.
So, I engage on everything. I engage because there are some policy things that are being discussed that are incredibly important to Apple like DACA
is an example of this and immigration more broadly. I think, you know, fundamentally, in human rights issues. We talked about tax, environmental
issues, this privacy regulation that I'm talking about.
COOK: And so, there's these enormously large important things and I do feel both an obligation, both personally as an American and as the head of
Apple to represent us in these policy discussions.
What I don't do is, I don't participate in politics. I disdain politics. And so, I steer clear of that. What I focus on is the policy. And in terms
of trade, to just add a little bit on this, is I think these -- you know, when I back up and look at this, the trade that is going on between two
countries, particularly U.S. and China, you have two very large countries, very complex arrangement between the two, the agreement had not been
touched in a long period of time. It does need to be updated. There's no doubt about that.
There's some big topics that need to be addressed. I am not a fan of tariffs because I did -- I don't see the issues as tariff related. And so,
this is an area of divergence in ...
AMANPOUR: Are you concerned because the President talks about another round of tariffs, even higher than the previous ones? Are you concerned
that that -- that maybe some Apple products and things that you depend on might get caught up in the next round?
COOK: I would encourage the administration not to do that because I don't think it would be good for the United States and I don't think it would be
good for China either, by the way. And I think the reality is, as I see it, my experience says, that in order for the world to do well, the two
largest economies have to do well, and that's the United States and China.
And so, I think there's this mutuality about the destination of these two countries and I think it's inescapable that that is the case. And so, what
I am hoping for is more dialogue, significant dialogue, the issues being discussed and addressed and moving forward.
AMANPOUR: You had mentioned, I think, something about it in regard to this and President Trump sort of tweeted back, you know, "Build more plants here
now. Bring -- you know, stop doing business with -- as much business with China and building so much there and manufacturing so much there, bring it
back to the United States." That was a little skewer.
COOK: Yes. Here is the -- here is what we do today, is the iPhone is really not really made anywhere, it's made everywhere. That's the truth.
It's developed in the United States, there's many components that come from the United States, like the -- a lot of the different silicon, the glass of
the iPhone comes from Kentucky, the face ID module is coming from Texas, there's technology from France and Germany and the U.K., and there's
technology from Korea, there's technology from China.
And so, we are using things from all the different countries. So, everybody is gaining from iPhone. And in particular, it's been a job
engine in mobile app development. And so, if you look at the total number of jobs Apple has created in the U.S., its two million. I mean, this is
huge. We're a job engine. And we have also created a lot in many of the countries, including the European countries that are represented here
And so, I'm a believer in, you know, finding the best around the world and utilizing those skills and know-how and technology, because we make global
AMANPOUR: You talk about a lot of European countries that are based here ...
AMANPOUR: ... and you talk about quality of life and economy and jobs, not just in the United States but globally as well. And, you know, Tim
Berners Lee who created the World Wide Web, he's very concerned with the growing inequality that ...
AMANPOUR: ... technology seems to be exacerbating. So, I guess I wanted to ask you, because you are right here in Brussels now, you are one of the
biggest taxpayers in the United States. But the Europeans want you to start paying taxes to Ireland, for instance, where you brought a lot of
people and business. Both you and the Irish government are challenging that. Why?
COOK: Because the law in the past was very clear, that that tax revenue, which is on essentially the intellectual property that Apple has created in
the United States, that tax should be paid to the United States. That was the law and is the law. And until that law changes, I -- we will follow
Now, I understand there's a lot of emotion around it and a lot of points of view that are valid points of views that perhaps the allocation should be
different for multinational companies, and we embrace that conversation by the way, and are actively constructively participating in those.
COOK: But I think it's important that companies today follow the law and pay taxes where it's due. And also, you know, fundamentally participate in
the discussions about how the tax system may change going forward.
AMANPOUR: Are you concerned, given all the privacy issues and the security issues around your technology, are you concerned about this rather
controversial report that was in Bloomberg that suggested based on a number of anonymous sources that the Chinese military, a special unit of the
Chinese military, had infiltrated little chips into servers that were used, among others, by Apple and Amazon? Is there any evidence to that? I know
that you have pushed back on that very strongly.
COOK: Yes. I want to be unequivocal on this, that article, the part about Apple is 100 percent a lie. It is completely inaccurate. There is no
truth behind it. We never found a malicious chip in any servers, we never reported something to the FBI like that, the FBI never contacted us about
anything like that.
And so, I think that cast down on the broader story, but that's for someone else to look at. Amazon has also made comments, as you can see. And my
view is, they need to retract that article. Because this is not doing anybody any good to have fake information out there. It doesn't do them
any good, it doesn't do the cause any good. Cybersecurity is an important topic, a really important topic, and we should put all of our energies into
protecting, you know, the companies, the country, but not chasing a ghost.
AMANPOUR: Is it something that you were ever concerned about? Is it something that Apple ever looked into or would continue to look into? Has
it ever been a concern?
COOK: You see I sleep with an eye open. I sleep with an eye open. And so, in that world, in the cybersecurity world, you want to employ people
there that are so skeptical of everything in life that they are always thinking, because in this world, you have to stay a step ahead of all of
the hackers. Hackers used to be the guy in the basement, you know, doing some stuff. Now, hackers are sophisticated enterprises.
And so, it's like running on the treadmill and you keep running or you fell off the back, and we need to keep running toward real topics not fake ones.
AMANPOUR: Let's get to -- you mentioned DACA. Obviously, one of the ...
AMANPOUR: ... areas of disagreement you have with the Trump administration and the President is on immigration. And last month, we saw
a really quite alarming article, a report, about how the immigration crackdown is harming hi-tech community, hi-tech job and even low skilled
jobs. People on both ends of the spectrum, employers, cannot recruit enough people, workers, to fill their jobs. How dire a situation is it?
COOK: Well, I'm a deep believer in the power of the United States. One of the great things -- many great things about our country, but one of those
is that we are accepting people from everywhere and they are all come together and they have the opportunity to, you know, build their business
or do whatever they want, and we give them the freedom to do that. And that's always been a power.
And so, that's the world I would love to continue for the country. I think on DACA, I'm very emotional on this, we have 300 folks in Apple that are
here on DACA and these guys are living one court order away from a problem. And I'm deeply worried about it. I continually push on this and talk about
I believe, based on my conversations that the vast majority of people in both parties want to address this. It hasn't been addressed yet. I'm
optimistic that it will be. But I'm going to be pushing until it's done. You mentioned inequality earlier, and I just want to comment a bit on that.
I am deeply worried about inequality as well. And I do believe globalization has created more inequality. And so, I'm not one of these
guys that say, "I'm not involved in this." I think it has created more.
And I think it's up to us -- us, that had benefitted. You and I had benefitted from globalization in a big way. I mean, your whole show is, in
a way, would not exist without globalization.
AMANPOUR: That's so too of hundreds of millions of people around being lifted out of poverty by globalization.
COOK: Yes. That's absolutely right. And I am happy to have participated in that.
COOK: But when I look in the mirror, what I see back is that some people haven't. And it's not just that they haven't, it's actually been hurt by
it. And so, I think it is incumbent on all of us to help address that issue. And to me, that is about education.
So, I look at my own life. In my own life, I came from a very lower middle-class family. And the way you moved through society, it was
education, and you counted on having a great public school down the road with teachers that really cared deeply for you, with access to enough stuff
that you could really learn and take the next move and the next move.
And I'm deeply worried that we're not providing that for lots of people today. And that should not be the case in a country as wealthy as the
United States and many other countries around the world as well.
AMANPOUR: And to the specific issue that the administration tends to say, the more foreigners we have, the less jobs Americans have, the less good it
is for Americans, et cetera. But this report seem to suggest that not being able to recruit workers is harming the GDP of this country, is
harming the economy of this country.
COOK: What I think is that many people coming in, that have immigrated in, are creating jobs, because they have ideas to create a new company or
they're entering a company like Apple and participating on the next big thing that creates more jobs.
And so, what I see is there's a lot people with significant skills coming into this country that add to GDP. And so, I think not only from a
humanity point of view, which I feel deeply but from a shared business point of view, immigration is an add to GDP.
Yes, it's very true that the border has to be controlled, right. And so, I'm not at all saying come one, come all. There has to be a control and a
way of doing it. But the truth is, the United States needs large immigration to continue to grow. I mean, people like me, at some point, or
the baby boomers are retiring and we need more people working.
AMANPOUR: You talked just a moment ago about growing up and you described it as a lower middle-class environment. You are gay and you came out very
proudly. It's quite rare, it's quite brave for CEOs, especially in Silicon Valley, it doesn't happen much.
What do you make of -- do you believe the environment has become better, more tolerant for gay people, let's say just in your industry? And
secondly, what do you think of the current debate by the administration over how to redefine transgender? They're saying, "Forget what we thought
a year ago, now we're going to say -- only identified by the sexual organs with which you are born."
COOK: Yes. The -- my strong view is everybody should be treated with dignity and respect. And that's the way I look at everyone regardless of
their sexual orientation, regardless of their religion, their gender, their ethnic, history, regardless of their gender identity, anything, right. And
so, that's the way I look at things.
I was public because I began to receive stories from kids who read something online that I was gay and they were going through being bullied,
feeling like their family didn't love them, being pushed out of their home, very close to suicide. I mean, just things that really just pulled my
And I started saying, you know, I am a private person and so I have kept me to -- to my small circle and I started thinking that is a selfish thing to
do at this point. I need to be bigger than that. I need to do something for them and show them that you can be gay and still go and do some big
jobs in life, that there's a path there. And so that is the reason I did it. I did not do it for other CEOs to come out. It wasn't even in my
mind. I was the first which is kind of shocking that I was the first. Now I think ...
AMANPOUR: So you're proud of it?
COOK: I'm very proud of it. I am very proud of it. Yes, absolutely. To me, it is God's greatest gift to me because in doing so, I learned what it
was like to be in a minority and all minorities are not the same, everybody has their own experience. But the feeling of being in a minority gives you
a level of empathy for other people who are not in the majority and you begin to look at life a little differently.
It also, for me and this is very good for being the CEO of Apple because I take a fair amount of shots from different people along the way, is having
thick skin which comes out of being gay as well, was actually pretty beneficial for this role.
AMANPOUR: Did you face the same kinds of bullying and hardship that you describe seeing from other people actually when you were growing up?
COOK: I was fortunate to be in a loving family.
AMANPOUR: And they knew?
COOK: And -- at different points in time. I wouldn't want to go into exactly when and that sort of thing but -- and so I never had the situation
of kids that I've now met and talked to personally that are being pushed out of their homes. I've never had that.
And so personally I can't say I have an experience there. The bullying part, of course. Of course, this happens to almost 100 percent of people
out there and not just gay people. It's basically anyone in the minority in some way.
AMANPOUR: Anyone who's a little different?
COOK: Yes. And we had to get beyond this as a society. These are relevant differences in people that really don't matter.
AMANPOUR: It is extraordinary to look in and see how huge a cultural debate the transgender issue is. I mean just bathrooms. It's almost like
it swayed an election. I mean I'm exaggerating but it's huge.
It's a huge, huge topic and I wonder whether that caught you by surprise or/and what you make, as I said, of the potential for this administration
to decide, to declare, and define transgender as the sexual organs you were born with.
COOK: It doesn't surprise me, unfortunately, because I grew up and I saw discrimination my whole life, right? I saw it with African-Americans and
their fight for their rights. I've seen it with women and you know it was only 100 years ago that women were given the right to vote.
And so -- I mean you think about this and you go, "What? Women weren't allowed to vote? Who came up with that?" I mean -- and so I think each
generation has a responsibility to increase and expand the definition of human rights and I feel that.
And I think that what I can do is not only for the gay community and the transgender community but I want to help women. I want to help African-
Americans. I want to help Hispanics. I want to help immigrants. I want to help religious minorities.
Because at the end of the day, the problem comes down to one thing, treating people with dignity and respect. At the basic, that is what it
is. I look at that and go, "Oh my God. If in one day somebody could declare everyone treat everybody else with dignity and respect, the world
would be totally different." Wouldn't it be great?
AMANPOUR: You mentioned Steve Jobs in your speech and he's obviously the lode star and that will never end. His legacy is all over the place. I
wonder what you think your legacy is, even though you're not about to retire, but what would you say that you have done that's legacy?
COOK: The truth is that I don't think about that. That is the honest to goodness truth. I think if you focus on that, you begin to fixate
internally and be focused on yourself. And I just -- first of all, I'm not good at it and I don't believe I should be doing that. I think I should be
focusing on other people and so I don't really think about it. I just do stuff. And I hope --
AMANPOUR: You do stuff?
COOK: I hope that some of the stuff that I do winds up helping other people. And if I do that and somebody says at my funeral that he was a
good man, a good and decent man, then I feel like that's a good life.
AMANPOUR: You know his widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, is addressing a very key issue of our time which is the press and how to support the press and
she's used a lot of her money to buy "The Atlantic" and to try to revive that. And we see Jeff Bezos has done that with "The Washington Post." How
do you assess that?
COOK: Well, I love Laurene and I love Steve and I applaud all the work she's doing with Emerson Collective which is the sort of [23:35:00] her
She's working on everything from climate change, to education, focusing on the news as you just said and so many other things that are immigration
that are so important to our times. And I applaud her for doing that.
AMANPOUR: Now I could end it, Tim but I want to ask you one more question.
AMANPOUR: Apple Park, huge, wonderful, new, shiny, glassy building. I've read that it's being very heavily integrated with designers at every level
of the operation there.
In fact, Jony Ive, the designer and chief just gave an interview and described it. And he was asked whether this might be used as a precursor
or the incubator for a future Apple product, the autonomous driving system. What can you tell us about that?
COOK: Well, I can tell you that we love Apple Park. I moved in there in January and I have such high expectations for it but it's exceeded all of
those. The thing I didn't appreciate before I moved, I knew it was going to be fantastic but I didn't know it was going to make the company seem
But when you're all in one building or a significant number of people are in one building, you see so many more people during the course of the day
and all of the sudden, you feel really small again. And I think there's a privilege in doing that.
AMANPOUR: And the autonomous driving system?
COOK: We're working on autonomy. We are working on autonomous systems on the software side of it to be very clear. And because we think autonomy is
a core technology, but it can be used in many different ways, right?
It's people automatically think about it in the car sense but the autonomy itself can be used in so many different ways. I wouldn't want to give you
the list but it can be used in a lot of different ways and it turns out that autonomy is the -- probably the mother of all machine learning
projects. And so you also build a lot of skills in working on autonomy that can be used across the company.
AMANPOUR: Tim Cook, thank you very much indeed.
COOK: Thank you for inviting me.
AMANPOUR: And now we turn to a famous actor who's communicating a powerful message of his own. Many of you will know Alan Alda as the star of the
classic hit TV show M-A-S-H, playing the lead role of Hawkeye Pierce.
What you may not know is that Alda, now in his 80s, has spent the past decade channeling his creativity into the art of communication, teaching
students at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. And our Michel Martin sat down with him to talk about his work which is coaching people
how to communicate complex ideas, especially relevant for these divisive times. Here's that conversation.
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Alan Alda, thank you so much for joining us.
ALAN ALDA, ACTOR: Thank you.
MARTIN: Gosh, you've done so many things in your life. I mean the people, of course, know you for Hawkeye Pierce and appearing on "M-A-S-H," which is
still, you now, one of the most watched -- the final episode, one of the most watched TV episodes of all time.
Many people may not know that you also wrote many of the episodes. But you have this whole other life as a student of communication, as a person who's
actively trying to help other people communicate better, particularly in the scientific room but beyond that. So how did that desire to understand
the roots of it start for you?
ALDA: It began in my roots as an actor because as an actor, you have to relate to the other person. I mean I learned that as time went on. In the
beginning, it was performing. It t was doing something to amaze an audience and get them to pay attention to you and like you.
And then I began to realize it doesn't really happen. They don't really get engaged with what's going on, unless you're engaged with the other
And you mentioned "M-A-S-H." When we were on "M-A-S-H," we would sit around in a circle and talk and laugh and make fun of each other and we got
such a connection as regular people. And when we went on the set, a couple minutes later, we still had that connection.
Then so I started the Center -- I helped start the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University because I thought if we teach scientists
to make this connection, then whether they're talking to a live audience or writing for them, they'll be aware of the audience as they're the other
player in the conversation.
And that to me, is the basis of communication, is what's going on in your head, not what's going on in my head so much.
MARTIN: One of the things that I found intriguing about the center at Stony Brook University is that you used some of the techniques you learned
as an actor to help scientists to communicate better. Will you talk a little bit about that?
ALDA: We teach them improvisation exercises. A lot of people think improvisation is comedy improvisation but that's not what we teach. We
teach exercises that were embedded [23:40:00] first maybe 70 years ago by Viola Spolin who was the mother of Paul Sales who started second city.
So it became eventually comedy but it's not really -- that's not why we teach it. We teach it to establish a connection. And all the exercises
that we do are to maintain that connection with the person you're playing with in the games. And then when you turn to an audience, you make that
same connection with them.
MARTIN: This is obviously a passion project for you. But was there something in particular that sparked your hunger to help people communicate
ALDA: I don't know if there was. It was kind of a rolling discovery. I never expected I'd be teaching communication, writing a book about it.
There were 30 people at the Center for Communicating Science who were teaching all over the United States and in five other countries around the
world. I never expected that but I realized that I had something to offer. And to me, that's the best feeling.
MARTIN: Your podcast, you've got a podcast called "Clear and Vivid" that you just started this summer. I understand that it grew out of your work,
with your foundation, with the work that you're doing on helping scientists to communicate better. Tell me about what is the goal other than it's hip
to have a podcast these days. I know you want to be hip.
ALDA: I know. There's a wonderful cartoon from the New York that it says -- two people talking, one says, "I'm thinking of stopping a podcast."
It's about this whole subject we've been talking about. The podcast "Clear and Vivid" is about relating to other people and communicating.
And although it grew out of trying to teach scientists to communicate better, one of the things we found out from the scientists themselves was
that it was applying to everybody, not just scientists. At least one scientist said, "You know, this training is saving my marriage." Because
if you listen better and communicate better, things go a lot more smoothly.
So we found there's almost an endless supply of people, interesting people to talk to, some famous, some not so famous, about relating and
communicating in so many different ways. For instance, the most striking example to me is talking to, on the program, talking to a hostage
negotiator who said, "You know, these same techniques I use to get a hostage released is very good in a marriage between spouses." It has to do
with listening. Over and over, they talk about the importance of empathy.
MARTIN: One of the things that a lot of people have talked about on the current political moment is that people don't want to talk to people who
don't already agree with them.
ALDA: Yes, that's true. But we're -- I'm talking to people. Look, I talked with Lady Paul Grugen (ph) who has taken groups of women from
Israel, who has groups of women together, who has groups of women from Palestine and they have gone places together and shared experiences and
learned from one another.
I talked with George Mitchell who brought peace in Northern Ireland and in both cases they did it by introducing people to other people who they
MARTIN: I actually have a clip. Do you want to play it? I can play a clip from George Mitchell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. GEORGE MITCHELL, (D) TEXAS: I said listen, we're going to be here. We don't know how long but these are long days and nights. We're going to
eat our meals together. And what I'm asking you is during the meals, don't talk about business.
They said, "Well, what are we going to talk about?" I said we'll talk about your kids, talk about your wives, talk about your dogs, talk about
your vacations. What do human beings talk about when they're not involved in negotiations or trying to end a war? It was awkward at first but then
it kind of worked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALDA: And it's over and over again. The funny thing is, it doesn't just work with people you hate. It works with people you love.
MARTIN: Let's talk about people you hate, though. I mean because I've been listening to our conversation so far and I'm thinking I can see easily
where this works in your family circles or in community.
ALDA: We are in a time of tremendous polarization. And just as in George Mitchell's clip, if all we do is stick to talking about things that divide
us, what he called the business, when they sat down at dinner they couldn't talk about business, they had to talk about their children, their dogs,
things where they had an emotional attachment to them. They had an everyday human experience that they could share with the other person as a fellow
Maybe that's a clue for family dinners. Maybe it's a clue for members of Congress. Maybe it's too soon to ask them to go back out and have a beer
together after work.
But to stop in the hallway for a minute and [23:45:00] talk about something that has nothing to do with business but just who are we as people, it
actually will help us talk to one another regardless of the position we take. You don't have to change the world. You just have to respect the
other person as a person.
MARTIN: I want to play a clip from a conversation you had with Sarah Silverman, the comedian. She's got a program where she's going out and
trying to connect with people who she doesn't necessarily agree with.
But one of the things you talked about in your conversation with her was an exchange she had with a troll. For people who aren't familiar with that
term, somebody who connects with you or reaches out to you on social media for the purpose of being mean.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SILVERMAN, COMEDIAN: I happened to see somebody, she just called me the C-word.
ALDA: And just that one word that was the whole tweet.
SILVERMAN: Yes, simple.
SILVERMAN: I saw his tweets and they were so filled with rage but not about anything in particular, just rage. And them among them was a tweet about
his severe back pain and I saw that he was just in pain which is a lot -- most of -- maybe all of rage comes from pain, you know, physical or
emotional. And so I just tweeted a loving gesture towards him.
ALDA: Do you remember what you said? I remember something like you must have been terribly hurt at some point in your life. Did you say that?
SILVERMAN: Yes. Just something like this is rage that is thinly, very thinly masked pain and my heart breaks for you. But he immediately opened
up. I mean I think he didn't have people in his life that were concerned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: There's a lot there, isn't there?
ALDA: You know what she ends up doing is he said, "I can't show any love that was ripped out of me by an abuser when I was a child." And she helped
him find a place where you get therapy for free, therapy for people who had suffered that same kind of abuse.
And I interviewed her in her kitchen, and she told me, "Oh, just an hour ago I was communicating with this guy again." They're friends now. I
think she took a real risk doing that. I think it shows real courage, but look what you can get if you're lucky and you have that kind of courage.
MARTIN: You've obviously chosen the people you spoke with, with intention, and because you want to us to learn from something. And I'm trying to
figure out now, let's say going back to Charlottesville, Virginia, and the demonstration there and these hundreds of guys, mostly men, with these
torches marching around saying, "Jews will not replace us."
And you can see people looking at that and thinking, "I'm afraid of these people. They don't want me to exist. They don't want my children to exist
or they only want me to exist in a subservient place in their lives. They don't want to understand me. They just want to rule me."
ALDA: Right. It doesn't seem possible. We're not going to meet each other halfway because they don't want us to exist.
But just yesterday, I interviewed Christian Picciolini who was a skinhead for about five years, beat people up mercilessly, believed in the
philosophy of those people marching in Charlottesville. He had a flash of empathy a couple of times and realized that the people he was beating up
were fellow humans and he didn't want to do it anymore.
Little by little he got himself out of the movement and then has spent the rest of his life helping other people get out of the Neo-Nazi movement. He
has helped 200 people get out but you don't collect 200 people in a room and talk to them. It's a person-to-person experience.
MARTIN: And what's your message to the people who feel afraid of people like him? What would you say they should do?
ALDA: Well, I think we have to be cautious about those people. I think that whole movement, and it's in the hundreds of thousands when you look
worldwide. It's a very dangerous movement. We fought a war over that.
But before we fight the war, again, people like Christian Picciolini can make a concerted effort. He has a whole organization that works on this
one by one, person-to-person, [23:50:00] to find out how you can bring them to human awareness and then introduce them to the people they think they
MARTIN: What's your suggestion for how we should practice that? Like I walk out of here today, what should I do?
ALDA: Well, what I do -- you have to do what you want to do, but what I do is I try to figure out what people are going through. I happened to have a
brain problem called prosopagnosia which is face blindness, so I don't remember faces. But therefore, it's interesting to be the study of face
and try to really see the person I'm talking to.
And the more I do that, I think the better able I am to know what they're going through. And the more I know what they're going through, therefore
the more empathy I have. And therefore maybe, if I really want to, I can be more compassionate but you have to want to. I don't think empathy makes
I found, and I think I see it in other people, that when you are more empathic, you not only know more about the other person, but you're more
available to things that come up from the back of your head, yourself. You're more aware of your own emotions, your own creative thoughts. I
don't know why that should be but I find it I'm more in touch with myself and not just with the other person.
MARTIN: I noticed that you share a lot about your life and have over the years. I know you shared about growing up with a mom who was struggling
with mental illness and therefore the whole family was. And I noticed that you shared even now that Parkinson's is something that you're living with.
And I wondered as a person who is so well-known, I was thinking about this that social media kind of allows us all to do what celebrities have had to
do which is to be known in some way. On the other hand, sometimes it feels like a trap. Like I don't necessarily want people to know these things
about myself. How do you handle that?
ALDA: Yes, I think there's a difference. There's a distinction to be made. And the distinction between personal and private I think is good. I
didn't mention to anybody I had Parkinson's for three and a half years and then I realized people were going to notice that I had a tremor.
When the first story came out about it, I wanted to make sure that it wasn't the sob story, it wasn't maudlin. Because one of the problems that
I think that people who get diagnosed with it have is that there's the tendency on the part of the whole culture to think the world has come to an
end with that diagnosis but it hasn't.
And as a matter of fact, that feeling, that worry that the world has come to an end and you have to keep it a secret even from yourself and just hope
it goes away, you might postpone doing something that can help like an exercise program and that can hold off worse symptoms for a long time. I
wanted to help get rid of the stigma but I don't want it to be my identity.
MARTIN: I was going to ask exactly. Yes. You don't want to be the poster child.
ALDA: So I don't talk about it. I have to talk about it if somebody asks me.
MARTIN: I cannot help but notice that you and your wife have been married for a long time.
ALDA: Sixty-one years.
MARTIN: Sixty-one years. And congratulations.
ALDA: Yes. Thank you.
MARTIN: I have to give you congratulations and my admiration for that because it is an achievement.
ALDA: It wasn't that hard, believe me.
MARTIN: Well, see, that shows you've been married for a long time. I wonder if your study of communication is something that you attribute in
part the longevity to that. Is it part of your --
ALDA: Well, it gets better and easier the more I think I learn about communication. Arlene's always been great at it. There may be two of most
male/female relationships but I think the basis of this is really that we really do love each other.
So when people say, "What's the secret?" I say well we really love each other. Have you tried that? But she has a whole other take on our long
marriage. Arlene says the secret to a long marriage is a short memory. So maybe I benefited from that.
MARTIN: Alan Alda, thank you so much for talking with me.
ALDA: Thank you. You didn't look at those pages. I loved that. It's so nice.
MARTIN: Well, thank you.
AMANPOUR: Indeed, that was a conversation you could get your teeth into. And what amazing insights into Alan Alda's life.
Tomorrow, we'll look back at my wide-ranging talk with Hillary Clinton on why she thinks America's democracy is in crisis, America's shrinking role
in the world, the Supreme Court, and a lot more.
But that is it for now. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast. See us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.