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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Boris The Brexiteer Begins As British Prime Minister; Robert Mueller's Congressional Testimony On Russian Interference; Will The U.S. Economy Help Or Hurt Donald Trump In 2020?; Trump: I Could Wipe Afghanistan Off The Face Of The Earth; A.I. Making Huge Inroads In Medicine. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired July 28, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you can't say that that is not a strategy.
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"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.
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.
Today on the show, a new day dawns in Britain as Mrs. May exits and Mr. Johnson takes center stage. The former foreign secretary promises to take Britain out of the European Union in fewer than 100 days.
I have a great panel to talk about Boris Johnson and what promises to be a wild ride ahead for Britain, Europe and the world. Then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE: If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: That comment sent shockwaves through Afghanistan. I'll talk to the Afghan ambassador to the United States about what her government has called Trump's unacceptable remark.
Also, from the opium wars of the 1800s to the roiling protests that have been rocking Hong Kong for weeks. How did we get here? What makes Hong Kong such a flash point? I'll explain.
But first, here's my take. Britain has a new prime minister. And Donald Trump approves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He's tough and he's smart. They say Britain Trump. They call him Britain Trump. These people are saying that's a good thing. They like me over there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: In fact, only 28 percent of Britons have confidence in Trump, compared to 79 percent who had confidence in Obama. But the bigger issue is that Boris Johnson's rise to 10 Downing Street is bad for Britain, for Europe and even for the United States.
Johnson has assured the House of Commons that Britain will be out of the European Union in fewer than 100 days. How he can manage this sweeping withdrawal without sharp dislocations to the British economy remains a mystery. But it's clear that were Brexit to happen, it would accelerate the decline of Europe as a global actor on the world stage.
Britain has always been an organizing force in Europe. It was the British government that took the lead making the Marshall plan work in organizing the coalition that became NATO. Britain took a while to enter the European economic community but once it joined in 1973, it became perhaps the most influential member.
What is often forgotten in all the talk of the European Union's rules and regulations is that its central project for decades was the creation of a single market, harmonizing taxes, eliminating tariffs, eliminating barriers. That vision was articulated and urged most aggressively by Britain's free market prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Washington's former ambassador to the E.U. Stewart Eizenstat explains that Britain was always America's closest ally on substantive issues within Europe. He writes, "With Brexit, the United States would lose a major supporter on a range of important trade and regulatory issues whether U.K.'s more free market approach mirrored ours more closely than most E.U. member states." On U.S. sanctions regimes against Iran, Russia and other countries, on data privacy, and anti-trust matters, on counter-terrorism and on national security issues.
Britain is poised to withdraw from Europe at a time when Europe is withdrawing from the world. The continent was once led by figures like Thatcher, Mitterrand, Delors, and Kohl who all believed Europe had to play a pivot is role in global affairs. They built a single model, navigating the collapse of the Soviet Empire, welcomed in the countries of Eastern and Central Europe, and projected Western values on to the post-Cold War world.
Today European leaders are consumed with Europe's economic strains, populist politics and anti-European backlashes. Germany's Angela Merkel is in caretaker mode. France's Emmanuel Macron wants a stronger Europe but is bedeviled by domestic troubles. And Britain, long the voice for energy and activism on the world stage, is busily preparing for an exit. The main challenge to global stability and order is obvious. It is
the assertiveness of powers like Russia and China. In such a world, Europe which has an economy second only to that of the United States, could play a crucial role in helping to preserve the rules, norms and values that have been built up since 1945.
[10:05:13] But Europe would need to harness its power and act with purpose. In fact, it's moving in the opposite direction. We are watching the shriveling of a group of nations that have defined and dominated the international stage since the 17th century. And Brexit will only accelerate the sad slide.
For more, go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week, and let's get started.
You are looking at Boris Johnson at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday with the Queen. When Elizabeth II asked Johnson to form a new government, he officially became the British prime minister, the 14th to serve under her as PM. Her first was Winston Churchill. More recently, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron and May.
Let's bring in the panel. Zanny Minton Beddoes joins us from London, where she is the editor-in-chief of "The Economist." Niall Ferguson is in Providence. He is an author and historian and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and a college contemporary of Boris Johnson. Richard Haass is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former director of policy planning at the State Department.
Niall, let me start with you. You're a historian, you're a great biographer. And you also know Boris Johnson personally and have known him for decades. Paint a picture of the man for us.
NIALL FERGUSON, SENIOR FELLOW, STANFORD'S HOOVER INSTITUTION: Well, you know, Marx famously said that history repeats itself first as tragedy, then as (INAUDIBLE) had Napoleon I and Napoleon III in mind. It's hard not to think of Boris as the farcical Churchill and this is a kind of Monty Python version of the movie "Darkest Hour."
I've known Boris for more than 30 years. And it never ceases to amaze me how he survives crises, fiascos and scandals, any one of which would destroy a normal person's career. And so I've come reluctantly to the conclusion that he must have something more than the farcical qualities that I just mentioned to have got to the very top which was after all his sole reason for backing Brexit in the first place despite all that has gone wrong in the course of his career, despite actually more recently his being quite a disastrous foreign secretary suggests that he does indeed have that strange super power that makes for political success.
So, while I share some of your skepticism, Fareed, about the difficulties that he faces, I, as one of his critics and not a close friend, at times I think even a frenemy, I have to admit he's got something. Otherwise he simply wouldn't have got to the top of the greasy pole.
ZAKARIA: Zanny, how do you -- how does it look like in Britain? What is it -- what is the mood look like there?
ZANNY MINTON BEDDOES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE ECONOMIST: Well, it's been quite a week. We have a prime minister who is not just radically different in style than his predecessor, I mean, you could not imagine a more different prime minister to Theresa May than Boris Johnson. But we also have a wholly new team, a new policy and effectively a new government.
And the striking thing about what's happened, you know, within hours of him becoming prime minister was the scale of the calling he did in the cabinet. More than half of Theresa May's cabinet was sacked, a whole new load of people brought in who basically shared two characteristics. One is that they were fiercely loyal to Boris Johnson and that the second they bought into the idea that we are leaving the European Union by October 31st, no ifs or buts.
And that is now absolutely the policy of this government and the other bit that I think is very, very clear is that this is a campaigning team. Not only did he bring Dominic Cummings, who is the mastermind behind the vote leave campaign into Downing Street as chief adviser, they clearly, I think, are a team that is getting girded up for a very election very soon. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if we don't have an election in October or before.
ZAKARIA: Richard Haass, when you look at it from the outside, in order to get out by October 31st, it would seem like the Europeans would have to make some compromises. Now first of all, it's basically August and nobody in Europe is working. So I don't quite see how in 100 days, in the middle of the summer, you're actually going to get some kind of negotiated exit.
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: You wouldn't get a negotiated exit in the middle of winter either. The Europeans are not going to cut a sweet deal with the British. There's no fondness for the new prime minister or those around him. There's no chance the Europeans would set a precedent that might encourage others to follow suit.
[10:10:04] If they wanted to be -- if it's going to be Brexit, it's going to be punitive from their point of view. It will be bad for Europe. It will be I would argue even worse for the United Kingdom. Indeed I think it puts in jeopardy the fact whether it remains united.
But taking a step back, looking at it from the American point of view, we lose a powerful partner on the continent that can't really use its voice anymore with Europe and to some extent it puts not in jeopardy but it's part of a larger pattern that we're seeing in international releases where the post-World War II order is beginning to come apart.
And Europe was an amazing success. You had the project of NATO and the project of Europe. And we're seeing both are coming under enormous pressure. It's -- again, it's further evidence that we now have a disruptor-in-chief in the United States and now he has a partner at 10 Downing Street.
ZAKARIA: Niall, does it strike you that there is a possibility for a second referendum as Tony Blair keeps urging. Zanny talks about essentially an election which presumably would be a referendum on Brexit. I think everybody is sort of moving for this kind of option because they can't quite imagine Britain simply crashing out of Europe.
FERGUSON: I agree with Zanny. The goal here is pretty clearly to go for an early election. I think what Boris Johnson is going to do is to go through the motions of negotiating with the Europeans, not expecting to get anywhere for the reasons Richard Haass just gave. I think he has to be very careful in the House of Commons where, remember, he's inheriting a wafer-thin low single-digit majority from Theresa May. That's an extraordinary vulnerable position and he has to make sure he doesn't lose control of this process to a parliament that's full of people that don't want to do a no deal Brexit.
I think there comes a moment when he's going to say, right, that's it, I'm not getting anywhere. We need an election and it's an election on Brexits by all means or any means. And the goal will be a polarizing election on that one issue.
This is a high-stakes gamble because -- and this is the critical point, to answer your question, he could lose and he could lose because the Liberal Democrats under a new leader pick up a bunch of seats from the Tories and the Labour Party has essentially embraced the idea, albeit reluctantly on the part of Jeremy Corbyn, of another referendum.
If Boris loses, if this gamble misfires, we could find ourselves within a remarkably short space of time with Jeremy Corbyn in Number 10 Downing Street in a coalition of Labour plus Liberal Democrats plus the Scottish Nationalists, maybe even committed to two referendums, another one on Europe and another one on Scottish independence, which I think was what Richard Haass was alluding to when he said there was a possibility this could blow up not just the European Union but the United Kingdom itself.
ZAKARIA: Zanny, very quickly, does that -- that's a pretty dark scenario that Niall Ferguson just described. Boris Johnson serving as the shortest serving prime minister in Britain. Britain breaking up.
MINTON BEDDOES: Look, he could be. But for me the thing that is really deeply worrying and under-appreciated is this whole policy is predicated on an idea that crashing out or a clean Brexit or whatever you want to call it is somehow the end of the road and plucky Britain will then go -- you know, go its own way in the world. But that's just simply not true because the -- Europeans remain our biggest trading partners. And if we crash out on October 31st or whenever we do if we do, then we still have to come crawling back to get some kind of a trade deal.
It's not as though the game is then over. And so I think we're on for a wild ride in the next couple of months. The outcome -- anybody who tells you that they can predict the outcome I think is completely mistaken. It's really unclear. And at the end of that, we still have the question of Brexit which won't have gone away whatever the outcome. ZAKARIA: We have a terrific panel. Stay with us. We are going to
move beyond Brexit.
Next on GPS, Robert Mueller's testimony this week. He said Russia was trying to interfere with the 2020 election already. What can be done to be deal with Russia? I will ask the panel that and more when we come back.
[10:18:01] ZAKARIA: And we are back with Zanny Minton Beddoes, Niall Ferguson and Richard Haass.
Richard, Robert Mueller. So much has been said about it but what I'm struck by is it's all about Mueller, whether -- you know, what it means for Trump. The central point of the report which was in some ways the central point of his testimony was the Russians remain very actively trying to influence American elections.
HAASS: Absolutely. And he's not alone in saying that. A few weeks ago I interviewed Christopher Wray, the head of the FBI, at the Council on Foreign Relations, and he said what happened in the previous election was simply a warmup for 2020. So this is not going away. And if you're Putin, why would it go away? This has been enormously successful. Very low cost. The price he's paid is quite modest.
And, you know, Russia is not a great power in many ways anymore. It's got nuclear weapons, it has conventional force, we've seen that in Syria, we've seen that in Ukraine. But this is their other big tool now. It's their ability to cyber related tools to influence political outcomes to weaken their -- what they see as their enemies and their adversaries.
So this is real. The question is, what sort of defensive measures are we going to take? And in addition, are we prepared to do things that would make Mr. Putin think twice before he does this again be it here or perhaps, you know, connecting to the previous conversation, in the next British election or in any number of European elections?
ZAKARIA: Let me switch gears here, Zanny Minton Beddoes, because you are the editor of "The Economist," and you guys had -- I think last week, a cover on the American economy. So Trump now has seen -- seems to have in some way dealt with the Mueller inquiry. He is presiding over the longest expansion of the American economy in history. Is it likely that that expansion will continue into the 2020 election?
MINTON BEDDOES: Well, I think that has to be one of the single biggest questions facing him. I -- my sense is the economy is slowing. It's very clearly slowing. And we're seeing the impact of the trade war amongst other things.
[10:20:01] But what we're also seeing is central banks around the world, particularly the Fed and today -- and the European Central Bank, making clear that they are going to loosen policy. And so we're seeing central bankers acting precipitously or relatively early compared to in the past to try and head off that slowdown.
So I suspect we will see a slowing economy. Whether it will be dramatically slower or let alone a recession that some people fear is not clear to me, but it's definitely going to be slower. But will it be slow enough to be a real drag on 2020 is not yet clear to me.
ZAKARIA: Niall Ferguson, what do you think?
FERGUSON: Well, there's a little question mark over what exactly the Federal Reserve is going to do this year. Because markets got very excited at the prospect of more than one rate cut. And yet, if you look back over the last couple of weeks, there have been signals of uncertainty including an extraordinary correction of the head of the New York Fed John Williams by his own staff.
So I think there's a possibility that we might get a little bit of a fright if the Fed seems to change its mind or disappoints markets. But I broadly agree with Zanny. The big story here is that all the major central banks are moving on to preemptive ease mode. It's really as if that great debate on secular stagnation that Larry Summers started back when he didn't get the Fed job, the Fed chair job, has been won and the central banks are saying yup, does look like we're facing secular stagnation. We better get rates down towards zero.
And remember, in parts of Europe we're talking about negative rates in the bond market. So this of course plays to Donald Trump's claim that he's making America great again if the economy does keep going, if he avoids the nightmare of a recession in 2020, I think he's going to have an extremely strong argument to make that he is delivering on the economy. And let's face it, that tends to be the thing that really drives the outcome of U.S. presidential elections.
ZAKARIA: The one thing that could spoil this is U.S.-China trade. I mean, a serious trade war.
HAASS: And we're beginning to see a slowdown of global economic growth. One of the principal reasons for that is we're seeing a slowdown in the rate of trade and trade growth. It's probably what, you know, several percent below what it was as recently as two years ago.
So Donald Trump in a funny sort of way is emerging as the biggest threat to Donald Trump if as Niall said, and I think he's right, that economic growth is his principal claim to getting re-elected, his trade policy and to some extent his immigration policy and so forth are working against him.
And so the question -- at some point he's going to have to choose, which way is he going to go, what's going to be his defining issue.
ZAKARIA: Fascinating. Thank you all.
Next on GPS, what do the opium wars of the 1800s have to do with the great unrest in Hong Kong today? We will make the connection when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[10:26:32] ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. The tiny and prosperous territory of Hong Kong has become the unlikely venue for a tense struggle over democracy and dictatorship in the world's most populist country. Many have made gloomy predictions about the end of Hong Kong's liberalism and autonomy. But what's astounding is that Hong Kong has managed to exist as part of the largest modern authoritarian regime in the world and still retain any degree of autonomy in the first place.
The root of this contradiction lies further back than you might think. A war between the British and the Chinese that began in 1839. You see, in the years leading up to it, Chinese cities were effectively closed to international trade except for the city of Canton, what is now Guangzhou, where British merchants flocked to buy tea.
As the historian Steven Platt explained to NPR, they exchanged it for the only commodity that the Chinese wanted from Britain, opium, which flooded China even though it was illegal. Eventually the Chinese emperor noticed the dug scourge and his emissaries seized and dumped all the opium in Canton in the river. In response, the United Kingdom sent in its warships. The Opium War ended in 1842 with a victorious Britain establishing a new colony on the under-inhabited island of Hong Kong that would allow British traders to access the Chinese market directly from right next door.
In 1898, Hong Kong expanded when the British leased part of the mainland and adjacent islands from China for a period of 99 years. For a century and a half, the British ruled Hong Kong. It had its own legal system, open markets, a stock exchange, a free press and impartial judiciary. And while the Communist Revolution was transforming the mainland in the 20th century, Hong Kong experienced a revolution of its own, astronomical economic growth.
It became a hub for global finance, but finally in 1997, the lease expired and Britain returned all of Hong Kong to China. The latter agreed to govern it under the curious policy of one country, two systems. This established Hong Kong's own mini-constitution, it ensured that Hong Kong would have its freedoms for 50 years while becoming an inalienable part of China.
The historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom points out it was shocking how little Beijing interfered with Hong Kong at first. The territory was an economic powerhouse. Some were hopeful that Hong Kong might even make the mainland more democratic. That obviously hasn't happened. As China's economy grew, so did the strength of its political system. The leverage that Hong Kong once had to hold on to its freedoms has shrunk as the size of its economies relative to China's slid from 20 percent of the mainland's in 1997 to just about 3 percent today.
Shanghai began to rival Hong Kong as a financial center and now creeping Chinese control is visible. In recent years, Beijing has attempted to interfere in matters of security and school curricular and other things. In 2014, Hong Kong erupted in months of demonstrations known as the Umbrella protests. They were calling for universal suffrage, a crackdown followed. The protests failed.
And this year a court handed down sentences to three organizers. Today's protesters' focus has transitioned from a now shelled extradition law to the idea of democracy itself.
For Beijing, these protests on the small island could have seismic repercussions. After all if Hong Kong should be governed democratically, why not China? The two sides are locked into positions with little room to compromise. Whatever happens, we are seeing a drawn-out process of Hong Kong not entirely willingly cleaving its history, fate and national character to the mainland after a century-and-a-half apart. That process will not be easy.
Next on GPS, Trump threatened this week that he could win in Afghanistan by killing ten million Afghans, but he doesn't want to do that. Remember, this is a country that America has spent 18 years trying to stabilize, rebuild and make prosperous. We will get the Afghan Ambassador's response to Donald Trump when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don't want to kill 10 million people. If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: President Trump made those remarks on Monday. They set off a firestorm in Afghanistan. Afghan officials called the remarks unacceptable.
And CNN sources say that in the wake of the remarks, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held a tense and confrontational meeting with Trump's envoy. Even the Taliban weighed in, calling the comments irresponsible.
Joining me now, an Afghan official, Roya Rahmani is Afghanistan's Ambassador to the United States, she is the first woman to hold that post.
Ambassador, what is the reaction in Afghanistan? What do people make of this?
ROYA RAHMANI, AFGHAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Thank you. You saw the statement that was put out by the Afghan government through which we requested clarification. We have a much deep-rooted and multifaceted relationship with the United States and our soldiers are fighting shoulder to shoulder next to the American soldiers. What we also heard, and I am just coming from a meeting from White House right now, in terms of some of the clarification was that the President was really concentrating on the -- or focusing on the fact that he really wanted a peaceful settlement to end this conflict. He wanted to end the military intervention.
ZAKARIA: So let's say, to be charitable, the President always likes to flatter the person who is in front of him. He was trying to flatter Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. But that too is a bit of a puzzle because the President's last dealings on Pakistan were to essentially brand it a terrorist state, uncooperative. He suspended aid.
He was very tough on Pakistan Because Pakistan, by many accounts, is the principal reason why the war in Afghanistan has not been won, because Pakistan gives aid and comfort to the Taliban and to various terrorist organizations associated with the Taliban.
Has any of that changed? Why do you think the President was -- have changed his view -- seemed to change his views on Pakistan?
RAHMANI: What I understand is that the President is giving a chance to Pakistan recognizing the very important role that they will be playing in a successful peace process for Afghanistan. Of course, it is not deniable and the Prime Minister of Pakistan himself admitted that in the past 40 years, the militancy has been housed there, supported there and have been created, they are, in fact.
So to that effect, the explanation and the understanding I have is that the U.S. government recognized that important role. And as they are resolved to finding a political settlement for the conflict in Afghanistan, they wanted to take this chance and work with Pakistan and ask them for sincere and practical cooperation. And I'm hearing that that is now being put into test.
ZAKARIA: Meanwhile, the President's envoy is negotiating with the Taliban, Ambassador Khalilzad. Do you know whether they're close to a negotiated deal and would the Afghan government accept such a deal?
RAHMANI: Whether they are close to finding a solution, I am not sure because we are, again, as you know, still not on the table. We do want a peaceful settlement to be reached, a peaceful settlement that would be acceptable to all Afghans, Otherwise, it wouldn't be doable. And, of course, if it is not a doable settlement, it would have grave consequences for all sides.
We also know that Ambassador Khalilzad at the same time is working together with the government of Afghanistan right now and Afghanistan trying to work it out in a way that it would be acceptable for all sides. We believe that he recognizes that the only way for a peace deal to succeed is that it has to be accepted by the people of Afghanistan, it has to be negotiated by the government of Afghanistan.
And for that to sustain, there must be full buy-in and support. It must be a deal that is supported by the national collective vision. Otherwise, it would not hold. ZAKARIA: Ambassador, thank you very much, a pleasure to have you on.
RAHMANI: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Up next, Artificial Intelligence threatens to put many workers in many industries on the unemployment line. But my next guest says it will not put doctors out of work. It will make them better. How so? Find out when we come back.
Don't forget if you miss a show, go to CNN.com/fareed for a link to my iTunes podcast.
ZAKARIA: A Brookings study released in January found that 25 percent of American jobs face high exposure to automation and Artificial Intelligence. That means some 36 million workers in the U.S. may lose their jobs to robots or computers in the future.
One industry where such technology is already making huge inroads is medicine. In terms of research, busy doctors may have time to read the latest study on a given ailment. But Artificial Intelligence can digest every study on that illness ever published. In terms of scans, many radiologists are skilled at finding the tiniest or most obscure abnormalities.
But I asked Eric Topol, a doctor and author who has written a new book called, Deep Medicine, if A.I. might be even better at searching for trouble.
DR. ERIC TOPOL, AUTHOR, DEEP MEDICINE: Absolutely, Fareed. The key is that machines can be trained with deep learning to see better than humans, to see things humans can't even see. So with scans, 30 percent of radiologists will miss something on a scan, whereas machines can be trained to get that rate down to less than 1 percent. So it's really important and it's not just medical scans and slides and all the things that we are looking at with the data, we can get augmented help from machine algorithms.
ZAKARIA: Now, you made this point often that it's not that the machines will replace the human beings, that they'll augment them. But when I hear that business about the scans, I think to myself, well, why do you need a radiologist if the machine is doing a better job?
TOPOL: Well, for lots of reasons, because you don't want to entrust a machine with a human life. Moreover, the machine has no contextual capability. All it can do is say, I saw this nodule or whereas the human factor, which is the oversight, that backup is so important to put it in perspective for that patient.
ZAKARIA: Correct me if I'm wrong, but you see the machines doing a lot of what we train doctors to do now is kind of highly analytic, pattern recognition. But you're saying the machines can do that better than the humans. So humans -- the doctors need to be more life coaches, empathy. So explain what you see as the doctor of the future.
TOPOL: Right, you nailed it. In fact, if machines get better, and it's happening fast, humans need to get more humane, they need to have that compassion. Why did people go into medicine in the first place? And here at this juncture, we're dealing with the worst burnout and depression ever in the clinical world.
So here is an opportunity, this gift of time to off load so many of these things to get help from machines and get back to the human bond, the human touch, the human factor. So that's what's so exciting here. If we work on this, it won't happen by default, that is the squeeze will just continue, which got us into this bad state. But if we stand up for patients and if we use the efficiency, productivity, the work flow, the accuracy, the speed, we can get back that human touch. And I'm excited about that opportunity.
ZAKARIA: Do you think doctors are being trained like that? I think doctors still think of themselves as these hyper rationale, hyper analytic and that the bedside manners, that's old fashioned medicine. They're meant to be these brainiacs.
TOPOL: Well, that's one of the problems, we've been selecting brainiacs. But we won't need the brainiacs and their grade point average and admission test scores. We need the people that are going to exude compassion, so emotion intelligence is going to become a much more precious selection criteria.
ZAKARIA: One very fascinating point is that when looking at mental illnesses, you think that people might be more honest and expose their vulnerabilities more to a machine than to another human being, and there's good data to the back this.
TOPOL: Yes, it's actually fascinating. Who would ever have thought that you would disclose your inner most secrets much more likely to an avatar than to a person? And this is very helpful because with the shortage we have of mental health professionals, this could be -- it's already starting to be used to help support people. And so that's actually a welcome and surprising fact.
ZAKARIA: So at the end of the day, you are very hopeful about the application of A.I and computers to medicine?
TOPOL: Well, I know what can be achieved in the near term, which is this efficiency and productivity story, without question. That's what machines are made for and deep learning.
What I'm more worried about is will we seize this opportunity, because we may not see it for generations, if ever, again, where we have this ability to get the gift of time and turn that back inwards for patients and to bring back the patient/doctor relationship, which has eroded so much to bring it back to the way it was 30, 40 years ago.
ZAKARIA: A pleasure to have you on.
TOPOL: Thank you so much, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back.
ZAKARIA: Last week, President Trump's re-election campaign raised hundreds of thousands of dollars by selling plastic straws emblazoned with his name at the low, low price of $15 for a set of ten. Meanwhile, the President himself warned the nation that we have bigger problems than plastic straws, like wrappers and plastic plates.
And it brings me to my question. According to a new scientific study, what is the ubiquitous manmade pollutant, plastic straws, cigarette butts, plastic bags or food wrappers? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.
My book of the week is Shari Berman's, Democracies and Dictatorship in Europe: From the Ancien Regime to the Present Day. This is a superb historical study of the forces that produce democracy and threaten its survival.
Berman writes with insight and historical perspective on some of the key issues we are all debating today. It is a model of academic scholarship.
And now, for the last look, Wire.com proclaimed the death of predictability. As the climate crisis changes our weather patterns in unforeseeable ways, making more severe everything, from heat waves to wildfires, floods to droughts.
But a new study published in the Journal of Science presents an arboreal avenue to fixing the problem, plant trees, a lot of trees, about a trillion should do the trick. You see, trees absorb carbon dioxide to make energy and then turn the carbon into wood, where it stays for a long, long time.
The study's authors told National Geographic those trillion new trees could cut atmospheric carbon levels to a point not seen in nearly a century. And they've already identified hundreds of millions of hectares of unoccupied land all over the world where those new forests could flourish without disrupting agriculture or encroaching on cities and towns.
In an odd bit of good news, Matt Ridley points out in the (INAUDIBLE) that over a 30-year period, we have seen a 14 percent increase in global green vegetation caused ironically in no small part by the increase in atmospheric carbon.
For the authors though, the continued release of large amounts of carbon has a clear net negative effect, exacerbating the climate crisis. They believe that their plan's real upshot is just to buy time as we transition toward a greener economy.
But the best part of this plan is anyone can do it. In 2015, a crew of 100 Bhutanese volunteers planted 49,672 trees in just one hour.
Think you can do better? Well, get some neighbors together and go try. I dare you.
The answer to my GPS challenge this week is B, cigarette butts. According to a study in the Journal of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, that is an actual word, some 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are tossed out around the world each year. Discarded cigarette butts can release toxicants into the environment from nicotine to formaldehyde. And the filters are made of a kind of plastic that will persist in the environment for years, possibly decades.
To make matters worse, these pollutants aren't just unsightly. The study found that they actually reduce plant growth, so even more reason to plant those trees and not to smoke.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.