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Quest Means Business
C.D.C. Says Vaccinated Sufferers can still Spread Delta Variant; New Delta Study Upends Return to Office Plans for Companies; Amazon Shares Fall after Earnings Miss; Israel Accuses Iran Of Attacking Tanker In Arabian Sea; Australia Sets Vaccination Targets To Ease Restrictions. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired July 30, 2021 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS HOST: An hour to go on the last trading day of the week. The Dow's losses have grown deeper as the day has progressed. The
big board is down 140. We're off the lows, but I guess, anything could happen between now and four o'clock. We are under 35,000.
The markets are unhappy, all the three, the big indices are lower. That's the way the markets are looking, and the main event.
A pivotal decision and finding from the United States C.D.C. Vaccinated COVID sufferers can spread the delta variant as much as if they had been
Amazon shares are having their worst day in months after its earnings missed the mark.
And Disney is seeing red over Scarlet Johansson's "Black Widow" lawsuit.
We are live in New York, a very busy day. It is Friday, July 30th, so the weekend is upon us. I am Richard Quest, and before the weekend, I mean
Good evening. Tonight, living with COVID, the delta variant. A new C.D.C. report is laying bare how the delta variant has changed the nature of the
fight against COVID around the world. Unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with delta can transmit the virus.
Let's pause and read that again and think about it. Unlike other viruses and other variants, vaccinated people infected with delta can transmit the
virus. Simply put, delta is one of the most transmissible viruses ever discovered, and the viral load is so high, even vaccinated people can pass
In the next hour, we'll explain how this report is causing business leaders in every industry to rethink plans as they were hoping to return to normal.
Vaccine passports, new mandates for workers, and customers. We'll look at the return to work and how the end of the working from home, WFH, perhaps
not yet. And pandemic travel just as travel industry was starting to have a scintilla of hope, these setbacks.
Let's join our CNN health reporter, Jacqueline Howard, joins me from Atlanta. The C.D.C. report is a game changer in a sense it is causing us to
rethink how we handle COVID as we were just starting to believe we've got it beaten, so to speak.
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: That's right. It is definitely a game changer. It is telling us the war against COVID-19 has changed. We're
seeing a shift. And it really comes down to, like you said, Richard, the delta variant.
We've known that the delta variant is more transmissible, but the data in the C.D.C. report really put that into perspective. So for instance, the
C.D.C. report says that if someone is infected with the original strain of the coronavirus, that sick person may transmit -- or spread the virus to
about two to three people on average. But if someone is infected with the delta variant, that person can spread the virus to about five to nine
people, and that's a huge difference.
I mean, the delta variant is now being described as almost similar to chicken pox, which if someone has chicken pox on average, data suggests,
you can spread that to about eight to nine people. So, that is why, Richard, we're seeing now that this changes the game.
QUEST: Right. But we have now got to work through the implications because the prevailing wisdom had been, if you were vaccinated, delta couldn't do
you -- it could make you ill and it might make you very ill, but wasn't going to kill you. Now, that doesn't seem to have changed. There is still
no real cases of vaccinated people dying from delta.
HOWARD: Right. So, even though we do have these new data telling us about the delta variant, it is still important to say that the vaccine will still
reduce your risk of getting severely ill or dying. So, the C.D.C. report also sheds light on that.
The document says that vaccines reduce the risk of severe disease or death tenfold and reduce the risk of infection threefold. The takeaway here, yes,
we have more data on how the delta variant is more transmissible, but vaccines are still a benefit right now.
QUEST: So pull that together for me, finally, pull it together. If I am in a room of fully vaccinated people and one of them is infected, then
according to this new C.D.C. report, there is a very high probability or possibility that the rest us will be infected as well, but we're not going
to get dangerously ill as a result. So, why is this significant for vaccinated people who might just say, well, I'll get it and it will be like
having the flu.
HOWARD: Well, the difference here, Richard, for one, you know, it also sheds light on why it is important to still wear masks. What is significant
is, even if you are vaccinated and you do get a mild illness, you could still spread the virus to those who are vulnerable. Those who might be
immunocompromised or children who are too young to receive the vaccine right now. They're not eligible right now.
And then also, Richard, think about how healthcare systems have been overwhelmed. The more people we see sick, the more stress it is on the
healthcare system as well.
QUEST: Yes. Thank you for putting that out. I was thinking about myself, but you're quite right to remind me, it is other people I should be
thinking about. Thank you.
Entire industries as a result of this will now grapple with how to operate in the light of the latest findings. The key to opening up, we've talked
about it a dozen times, if not more on this program has been vaccine passports and COVID certificates. The variant, the delta variant raises the
question about whether those measures are good enough, and if they're not, what do you do?
For instance, on Broadway, theater owners say proof of vaccination will be needed to attend a show. Audiences would also be required to stay masked,
and there is eating or drinking in a designated area.
Live theater only returned to Broadway after a year-long closure.
Dr. Carlos del Rio is the Executive Associate Dean at Emory University School of Medicine, the doctor is with me.
So, we're all agreed, I think, that this changes the outlook, the vision, if you like, that we have. Does this mean we have to rethink the way we're
going to do business?
DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Richard, I think it probably does. We just don't know enough,
right? This is moving incredibly fast and I think we're all trying to figure out what to do. I think what businesses will realize is that the
most important thing is to get as many people vaccinated as possible, and that's why many organizations, you see Google, many others including the
Federal government if you're in the United States, are going to require employees to be vaccinated, because at the end of the day, the more people
you have vaccinated, the better you are protected.
QUEST: Okay. So, let's extrapolate from that. Take what you've just said. Now, let's layer on top of that the C.D.C.'s new data suggests. Those
vaccinated people can still infect others. Therefore, do we need to rethink, for example, reopening stadia? Shops? Subways? Back to a mask
mandate to break the chain of transmission?
DEL RIO: I think as long as there is a lot of transmission happening like we are currently having right now in the United States, where the C.D.C.
says there's substantial or high level transmission, the answer to that is yes, masking is required.
I think if we can bring the level of transmission back down to low level transmission, by doing those things, you may be able to drop a mask mandate
while you still try to get people immunized. So, this is going to be a little bit of playing a chess game, right, in which you may do a couple of
things right now, and then you wait and you do something else.
I don't think we are going to be able to say -- I can tell you what we need to do now, I'm not sure I can tell what you we need to do in six months.
QUEST: Isn't the danger here that we see the numbers of infections go up as indeed the United Kingdom did, although it is coming down, but we see the
numbers going up. We don't really see a massive uptick in hospitalizations or deaths because so many people are vaccinated, and we all just think,
well, let's get on with it. Let's just deal with it. I mean, nothing we can do about it. It is there.
Australia has shown, it is going to end up on your door step whether you like it or not, so let's just live with it and get on with it.
DEL RIO: Well, I think that's one of the approaches that people are starting to think that it may be necessary. As long as there is a global
pandemic, this is going to be the case. We are going to go through periods of up and down, masking and unmasking. And maybe that at some point, we
just get on with it.
But I think it is going to change how we approach different things. I see increasingly life being difficult if you're not vaccinated. You know, there
may be businesses, you said Broadway shows, you may not be able to travel, so at the end of the day, the populations that have more people vaccinated
are going to be able to do more things than those that don't.
DEL RIO: And in that respect, Richard, my biggest concern is that around the globe, in most low and middle income countries, very few people are
still vaccinated. So, this can cause actually a significant global division in which people may be living in Africa or Latin America may not be able to
travel to Europe or they may not be able to travel to North America because they are not vaccinated.
So, we need to be sure that global vaccine equity happens if we don't want to exacerbate the normal -- the enormous differences between those that
have and have not.
QUEST: Right. Doctor, this is -- the global inequities, we've talked a lot on this program. We've spoken to people about this. I mean, it is here, it
is there. I mean, it is already here and it is worsening, but to take your point, this global inequality or inequity of vaccine distribution is now
going to be made worse if, for instance, the U.S. and others in the E.U., the developed world, now thinks it needs to boost vaccines in the autumn,
like Israel is starting to do with the over 60s.
If they need more vaccines in the developed world, that is going to be less that will be donated to COVAX. This is a situation that is going to get
DEL RIO: Undoubtedly, that's going to be the case, and I suspect that because of this delta variant and because of the breakthrough infections
we're seeing, I suspect in the not too distant future, we will start seeing recommendations from the F.D.A. and other regulatory agencies about the use
QUEST: Doctor, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
As we consider all the implications of this, the C.D.C. data, the new data upends plans to bring workers back into the office. Loads of companies have
told their employees to be back at their desks at the end of the summer. Our own company, WarnerMedia has done exactly the same thing.
The Morgan Stanley chief executive put it rather quaintly, "If you can go to a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office," is how he
put it. Now, the work from home era might last longer. Google has pushed back its return date to mid-October. Lyft is now looking at February. And
Twitter is only just now reclosed its offices in San Francisco and New York and will let people work from home indefinitely.
Paul La Monica is here. Paul, I am just guessing it is only a matter of time until other companies, our own included, change their return to work
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes. I'm not going to speculate on what CNN and WarnerMedia plan on doing, but you're definitely right,
Richard. We've already seen "The New York Times" saying that they are going to push plans to have people come back. That was supposed to be in early
September, and now, they're saying indefinitely people can work from home.
I think there are legitimate concerns about this delta variant, even for those that are already vaccinated, and let's be brutally honest, Richard,
all of the worst case fears about people working from home and lost productivity, I'm talking to you on live TV right now from my living room,
thanks to Skype. Would it be easier and more convenient and also more fun to be in Hudson Yards right now? Yes. But I'm able to manage somehow.
QUEST: And the way it is moving, I mean, particularly Wall Street. They're going to long rather silly in a sense because they made such a fuss about
the significance of people coming back into the office. It will be very hard for them not to change their policy though, won't it?
LA MONICA: I agree. I mean, the comments from Morgan Stanley's CEO James Gorman, which have gotten a lot of attention could be perceived as being a
bit tone deaf. You've seen Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase really pushing to have people come back to the office.
But there are other banks, Citigroup is one under new CEO, Jane Fraser, that really have been trying to promote this flexible work policy and that
has been advantageous being able to help them lure workers. So, I wouldn't be shocked if the big banks that are saying you've got to be here in
September, come hell or high water, they are going to soften that stance. They are going to have to.
QUEST: And finally, who is leading in all of this? I mean, in the old days, it used to be salaries, and things like that. It was always the banks that
would be leading, and maybe they still do lead on salaries.
But on workplace cultures and ethics, workplace practice, I should say not ethics, practices -- all those companies of Facebook, Netflix, Google, the
big ones, are they the ones showing the way and others are following?
LA MONICA: I think they are very much very much so. You continue to hear about that tension, particularly for MBA students getting out of school, do
they really want that cut throat job on Wall Street? Or a happier, more laid back cooler job in Silicon Valley? I think they're increasingly
thinking Left Coast as opposed to here in New York.
QUEST: Paul La Monica, I look forward to the day when we are both in the same room at the same time, but for the moment, your Skype line is
excellent, and we've been able to speak to you from home. Thank you, sir.
The third leg of our discussion tonight, later in the program, I am going to speak to the head of the company responsible for a revolution in robot
technology, and how they made this one dance to BTS.
QUEST: Amazon is on track for its worst day since March after a double whammy of bad news. Shares down just over seven percent last night, it
reported quarterly revenues which fell short of expectations. Then on Friday, it revealed a record penalty from E.U. regulators of $900 million
for allegedly breaking Europe's Data Privacy Law.
Clare Sebastian is in New York. Clare, just a hunch. This fall in the share prices isn't the result of the European privacy rules. It is all to do with
the change of CEO and the poorer numbers. It is a bit overdone, seven percent.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it is a little froth coming off the top, Richard. It hasn't been a huge run-up this year,
but over the past sort of year and a bit since the lows of March of 2020, Amazon stock price has just about doubled. And I think, look, this is a
fairly significant slowdown in growth that they're now guiding to.
This quarter was 27 percent sales increase. Before that, over the course of the pandemic, we've been used to number in the range of 35 to 40 percent.
Next quarter, or the current quarter, Amazon is forecasting between 10 and 16 percent, and they are saying that we're basically already there. They
saw that number hit the teens in mid-May. The reason this is really concentrated in Amazon's retail business, the slowdown.
They are saying that as people are getting back out there, they're doing more offline shopping. They have less time at home and less time to brows
online combined with the sort of unfavorable comparisons of last year when we saw that surge in shopping.
This is really what they are saying is going to be the new picture for them. But having said that, Richard, other parts of the business are going
gang busters. AWS is reaccelerating, that was 13 percent of sales, but 54 percent of operating income and their burgeoning advertising business,
Richard, was up 87 percent year-on-year.
QUEST: You see that's the bit I don't get with the market reaction. The profitable bit of Amazon is not the bit that delivers my kitchen roll. It
is the bit that is running AWS.
QUEST: And I just look at this price, and I think seven percent, I can understand -- I can see what's happening. How much of this is the new CEO?
People are saying, oh, he has only been there a couple of weeks and he is not Jeff Bezos.
SEBASTIAN: You know, I think there's not too much concern around Andy Jassy, Richard. He was really one of the key lieutenants of Jeff Bezos. He
has been there for a very long time. He is actually the man who built AWS, the real profit engine of Amazon from the ground up, and he is seen by many
as a continuity candidate.
I think this is more just a reassessment of price by the market, given that we're looking at slower growth rates from Amazon going forward. The retail
yet is not the most profitable one, but it is the core business and I think that they are not going to see those kinds of growth rates, coupled with
the fact that Amazon says this is a higher cost moment for them, they are still building out a fulfillment network. They're looking at intense wage
pressure, that might come as a shock to you.
So, all of those things together I think have contributed, but I wouldn't be surprised if some people come back in looking for a bargain.
QUEST: Down 11 percent, who wouldn't? Thank you, Clare Sebastian.
A bounce back in retail. Healthy E.U. economy growing more than 13 percent in the past quarter year-on-year, but remember what growth, it sounds
great, but look at the numbers that you're comparing it to.
Sales are coming back to pre-pandemic levels, which is good news for the luxury fashion house, Zegna. The company was founded more than a century
ago as a wool mill in Northern Italy. Now, it is going public in a more modern fashion. It is emerging with a SPAC, a fun set of -- specifically, a
blank check SPAC as well, to take private companies to the market.
This one is run by the former Chief Executive of UBS. Gildo Zegna is the CEO of the Zegna Group. He now joins me via Skype from Milan. Hello, good
to see you. I appreciate your time. Why did you choose this --
GILDO ZEGNA, CEO, ZEGNA GROUP: Good afternoon, Richard.
QUEST: Why did you choose this particular vehicle? Why a SPAC? And the reason -- I mean, because what the analysts say of course is, it has
allowed the family to keep majority control at over 60 percent. Was that a factor?
ZEGNA: Yes. Hello, Mr. Quest, nice to be with you. We could have gone on private for another hundred years to be honest with you, because we had a
vision, we had a clear strategy, but Mr. Bonomi, the head of Investindustrial, a good friend of mine came along and he created a SPAC in
Wall Street and he asked me to be part of that.
And we felt that, together, we can go for a long journey and we can take advantage of the challenges of the luxury business, and I think there are
many opportunities that we can cash together. As a matter of fact, the family, our family, we stay in full majority. I will stay CEO and Chairman.
So I think, it is the right time just to become, you know, stronger in what we are doing already, not bad.
QUEST: The idea, and the way in which it has been constructed, consolidation within the luxury goods area. Now, I know you don't want to
become -- I know you don't want Zegna to become sort of a conglomerate of luxury brands and titles. You're shaking your head so I can see you're
agreeing with me. You don't want it to become an LVMH, anything to everybody.
But what do you want it to become? Where will you expand?
ZEGNA: Yes. First of all, we don't want to become a conglomerate, but we want to see collaboration with other partners, so to make an example, we
just bought a very fine cashmere spinning company in Italy, Mr. Bertelli, the CEO of Prada to take advantage of the trend of knitwear, precious
knitwear will become a very important business in luxury, whether it is women, whether it is men. And so I think that we are going to take
advantage of that, so that is a good example.
The second example I can make in going for organic growth is to create a textile luxury laboratory platform, by which in the past couple of years,
we have bought specialties, made in Italy, of unique knowhow to utilize the best knowhow for our brand.
You know, we own also the Tom Brown brand that we acquired a few years ago, and so we make all of these fantastic resources, and the best of knowhow
that Italy can offer for the Zegna brand, for the Tom Brand and for other luxury brands. So I think it is a way to grow organically.
And plus, we have several projects in the pipeline, and to be honest with you, if other opportunities come along, we will consider them.
QUEST: Right. I just want to quickly ask you, before we leave you, the latest news on the delta variant and the way in which that is causing
people to rethink things for instance like going back to work, the shops that you own, the mask mandates that you may have to -- the vaccine
passports or vaccine mandates, are you in the process of having to rethink as a result of worsening situations.
ZEGNA: Well, listen, I think that we unfortunately got used to this pandemic in 2020. In 2020, I would say, our company reacted very well.
Number one, in order to protect the health of our associates. The most important thing. We've been close in our plants, but what we did, we
created a small group of people that volunteered to produce masks and to produce hospital suits, our territory. That was a fantastic way to help and
to give back and to be a contributor.
I must say that we reduced dramatically OpEx, the cost, we were able to collaborate with landlords just to reduce the rent, and we just lowered the
argument points, so this year as things get better, surely we see the next half a year with positive mind and hopefully, if things move along, I think
we're going to go for a very, very interesting 2022.
QUEST: 2022, I look forward to it. Something in pinstripes, I hope. Thank you, sir for joining us, I appreciate it. Good to see you. Thank you.
ZEGNA: Thank you very much.
QUEST: The travel industry was supposed to bounce back this summer. Instead, many tourists have postponed their plans. And now, delta and the
C.D.C., look, people are making it up as they go along at the moment. And what is it likely to be? In a moment, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. A lot more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS on this Friday. We'll discuss what the new CDC warning on the Delta variant means
for the future of international travel just as things were getting better, and the CEO of Boston Dynamics on how his animal-like robots can help fight
COVID. We'll get to all of that after I've updated you with the news, because this is CNN and as you know, here, the news always comes first.
Israel is accusing Iran and attacking a tanker in the Arabian Sea near Oman. Israelian company that manages the ships says two crew members were
killed, one British, one Romanian. It says the tanker is sailing to a safe location with the U.S. Naval escort. A man says the incident happened
outside of its territorial waters.
Australia's Prime Minister has outlined a four-phase roadmap out of COVID lockdown. He says the country would start easing restrictions once 70
percent of adults are vaccinated. It will gradually reopen borders once 80 percent have been inoculated. That means a long way to go. Right now in
less than 20 percent of Australian adults are fully vaccinated.
Israel has begun rolling out the third dose of the -- of the vaccine for people over the age of 60. President Isaac Herzog received his third dose
at a hospital near Tel Aviv today, saying the booster vaccination will help allow Israelis to return to normal life as soon as possible.
In QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight we're bringing you the implications of the alarming new report from the CDC. Bluntly, it says vaccinated people with a
breakthrough infection if Delta variant can spread it has easily has unvaccinated people. Well, that's dire news for industries all over the
world. It's particularly bad and hard for the travel industry. Look at the share prices. Share prices of Hilton, Delta, and Royal Caribbean are down.
Those are the three airlines, big airlines Delta, American and United. Royal Caribbean has just revealed six COVID cases on board. One of its
ships, four of them involving vaccinated passengers. Lily Girma is the global tourism report at skiff? She joins me from Punta Cana in the
Dominican Republic. It's good to have you. We need your expertise. So everybody had been moving towards reopening.
We had the green passport, the green pass in the -- in the E.U. You've got the U.K. opening up to the U.S. and to the E.U. with vaccinated. Will this
cause a rethink in many countries do you believe?
LILY GIRMA, GLOBAL TOURISM REPORTER, SKIFT: Well, I think, Richard, it actually has already started happening before the CDC came out with this
report. We had noticed at Skift that a number of European destinations had been increasing their restrictions, you know, within the country in terms
of requiring that passport to take part in activities but also, you know, regionally so now you're seeing a complete fragmentation of roles.
Germany's now requiring tests for people to come in even though they're vaccinated. The U.K. has a different quarantine requirement for French
travelers. So yes, it's certainly spelling trouble in it. And it's been coming we've been expecting that.
QUEST: Do you expect it to get worse in the sense of more restrictions will be put in? Because if Delta is already there and all these countries, which
it is in large numbers. I'm not sure what, what purpose, the greater restrictions are, but you are expecting more restrictions?
GIRMA: Well, I - we expect more restrictions internationally. I think that for the U.S. however, the implications won't be as dire. In fact, the
airlines have said that they've not seen, you know, bookings declining in the U.S. as far as domestic travel goes, it's still a hot back summer. We
might see that tapering off sort of late August. And we might also see more states sort of imposing restrictions from the -- more unvaccinated areas of
QUEST: What -- I'm looking now on share -- I'm looking at share prices. Royal Caribbean down four percent, Hilton down two, Delta down three. And
the implications though, for tourism, an industry that was clobbered. So -- I mean, 2020 was a disaster calamity. There's no adjective strong enough.
2021 had been hoped to be better, but it's just not going to get there, is it?
GIRMA: No, it's not. I mean, it had expected to be better. But to be honest, Richard, we've always known that it was going to be an uneven
recovery, that we're nowhere near where we need to be and it would require another two to three years and that's what we're seeing. Particularly with
the, you know, unequal vaccine distribution. Just a huge issue as well that we're looking at going forward because of the, you know, the inequities
there with folks heading overseas.
GIRMA: And now we know for sure you know from the CDC that vaccinated folks can indeed transmit to unvaccinated areas.
QUEST: What does the industry do? I know, that's a grand question on a large scale. But when I think of the WTTC and the UN WTO. And I think of
all the organizations responsible, it's almost impossible to continue to tell everybody go away, have fun, wear a mask, when everybody knows that
this situation is going to get worse.
GIRMA: I think they need to address it head on in terms of being more involved as an industry, particularly the tourism industry, in advocating
for, you know, the vaccine equity and also education. You know, there's a lot of hesitancy in numerous countries around the world. And I think the
tourism industry has a particularly important role to play here in terms of, you know, helping giving access to vaccines, as well as educating on
the benefits of it, rather than just sitting around and waiting for restrictions to lift.
QUEST: No, no, that's an excellent point. The actual industry itself could do more in those countries where people go to and come from. Thank you for
joining us. Have a good weekend. I appreciate you.
GIRMA: Thank you so much, Richard. You too.
QUEST: After the break, I'll speak to the CEO of the company that's leading a robot revolution. The products, oh, I love these pictures. They're so
clever. I mean, not the pictures, the robots are changing -- well, how they're changing. After the break. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
QUEST: Spotted on the streets of Honolulu in Hawaii this week. Robot dogs helping police fight COVID-19. Boston Dynamics spot is performing
temperature checks at the city's homeless shelters. Spot, scans your eye to make sure you don't have a fever. The latest innovation for Boston Dynamics
which first began gaining global attention with viral videos like these. Now early prototype showed clunky models with more rigid movements.
The evolution has been dramatic. The latest robots can run, jump and even dance as proved in this dance battle video with the pop group BTS. Now
Boston Dynamics was recently acquired by Hyundai. They've signed deals to work with NASA BP and others including collaboration with MIT, to make it
easier for doctors to see patients without face to face conflict -- contact.
QUEST: The chief executive of Boston Dynamics Robert Playter is with me now. Robert, I love these -- I love the videos because when I see these
things, I really realized that we're at the beginning of something very big. And if we look at the improvement from the clunky, early to now, to
where we're going to go, now you're with Hyundai, how does it change?
ROBERT PLAYTER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, BOSTON DYNAMICS: I don't think the mission changes at all, in fact -- well, Richard, first, let me thank you
for having me on the show. We're excited about having Hyundai as investor. And part of the reason why they were interested in Boston Dynamics was they
were interested in our mission, which is really to launch our next generation of mobile robots and build products around them.
QUEST: The -- whenever we talk about robots, I always have a certain -- the promise and the vision and how far we are away from realizing it. I do not
doubt that we are going to have robots doing everything, probably after my lifetime. But how far do you think we are along this road?
PLAYTER: Well, we've crossed an important milestone in building mobile robots like Spot. It's the first robot that can really go out in the world
and really go anyplace a human can go. And that's going to unlock I think, huge business opportunities and growth in this industry. So you know, it's
no longer just a promise, I think we're starting to see it.
QUEST: Right. But when, but when -- but as the CEO, where do you take it? I mean, when you are deciding your R&D priorities here, now, obviously,
COVID-19 probably required you to see the hour, we can do quite a lot here with X, Y, and Z. You shift a certain mentality, but overall, where are
PLAYTER: Well, first, it was on mobility, that's sort of the core value of your company. And Spot is the first mobile robot that's -- we're using it
on places like construction sites, and utilities. We're also now beginning to add manipulation to that. So, if I can have a robot that can go
anywhere, and it can start seeing and perceiving the world and manipulating it, then I think I can apply robots to a variety of industries. So we're,
we're adding manipulation and vision on top of that mobility capability.
And the ability to add A.I. which is crucial to do -- to doing this. I understand it's crucial, but what so far, have you tested to the
limitations of robotics and A.I.?
PLAYTER: The way we're using A.I. enables the robot to see something and recognize what it is. So then it can pick it up, for example. We have a
machine stretch that we just announced at the beginning of the year. And we use an A.I. algorithm that lets the robot see and understand boxes of maybe
even boxes it hasn't seen before. So it can move and pick and place boxes anywhere in the warehouse.
So right now, the A.I. is mostly limited to sort of division system and try to understand the context of the environment of the robot.
QUEST: But of course, again, I come back to my first question. It's a case of where we were versus where we are versus where we're going to be. And
I'm guessing somebody like use finally has to really push hard to get people to imagine.
PLAYTER: Well, actually, no, because Hollywood's been helping people imagine it for a long
QUEST: Good point.
PLAYTER: Yes. And so, we actually have the opposite problem. The expectations for robots are actually much higher than can be realized
today. And there's a lot of misunderstanding built around that. I think that the opportunities for robots are great. The fears, on the other hand,
are driven by a misunderstanding that I think is informed by Hollywood.
QUEST: The good and the bad, you got to take both with it, sir. You're enjoying the benefits. You have to take the price with it as well. Robert,
good to see you. I appreciate your time. From the robots of Boston Dynamics to real life -- well, they're real life as well. But let me show you some
examples of how technology is truly adapting and improving on a giant scale. In Dubai, the port is testing a different kind of technology.
It speeds up the movement of containers in a dramatic way. It will make the region's busiest ports safer and more efficient. Eleni Giokos has our
version of episodes of Think Big.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new day at the Jebel Ali port in Dubai.
GIOKOS: Thousands of boxes, thousands of containers but how to find and pick up the right one quickly?
PATRICK BOL, HEAD, PORT EXPANSION AND SPECIAL PROJECTS: Hello, hello. How's it going?
GIOKOS: That's the daunting challenge for Patrick Bol.
BOL: he next big idea in the port industry is what you see here behind me that's the BoxBay, container high bay store.
GIOKOS: Port's operator D.P. World is piloting a project his speed and automated logistics in Dubai Ports. The first of its kind.
BOL: It put containers into a racking system. And see it as a -- as a bookshelf but we can access every container directly on both sides to stack
the containers up to 11 storeys high.
GIOKOS: The goal here is to find the containers without reshuffling, saving time space and energy.
BOL: We save about 60 percent, 70 percent of the timing because we only handle productive moves. Conventional systems gives you let's say eight to
nine productive per hour. And here we do 19 to 20 containers per hour per stacker crane.
GIOKOS: D.P. World says BoxBay can reduce the terminal footprint by up to 70 percent. But the team also likes the added safety features.
BOL: And in a normal situation this will be all 100 percent automated. No hands, no controls. But if the system for some reason fails, the engineer
can take over and take manual control of the stacker crane.
GIOKOS: Global trade is recovering from the coronavirus economic downturn, and technologies like BoxBay could help D.P. World which handles around 10
percent of global container traffic. Keep up with the growing global demand for goods.
SULTAN AHMED BIN SULAYEM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, DP WORLD: If you ask me one thing that keeps me awake at night is technology. Technology today is a
key for success. Key to be able to fulfill the needs and the changing needs and requirements to handle (INAUDIBLE)
GIOKOS: But adopting developing tech comes with high costs added isn't without its challenges.
SULAYEM: The issue, of course, is always how high you can go, what is the optimal. The higher you go, the more weight you're going to put. Sometime
the cost are going much higher will override the benefit.
GIOKOS: From this to this. BoxBay is already giving a glimpse of how D.P. World's 64 ports and marine terminals around the world might work in the
future. Eleni Giokos, CNN.
QUEST: Now what happens -- what happens when you take one of the most popular actresses on the planet and you put them against one of the most
powerful studios in the world? Disney and Scarlett Johansson. What happens? You ended up in court, in a moment.
QUEST: On the one side of this battle is Disney trying to survive through a deadly pandemic. On the other side, Scarlett Johnson trying to settle the
score. The kind of epic battle which needs a proper movie trailer to do it justice.
SCARLETT JOHANSSON, AMERICAN ACTRESS: We have unfinished business. We have to go back to where it all started.
QUEST: Unfinished business. Where it all started? Well, that was Miss Johnson's contract. She says her salary for this summer's Black Widow was
largely contingent on its performance at the box office. She gets a percentage of it, not streaming numbers. And she believes Disney breached
his contract by releasing the film in theaters and on Disney Plus at the same time because that detracted from box office numbers.
She's suing Disney. The company that did not take a line down. She says -- the company the lawsuit is distressing and has no merit -- there's no
merit. It's distressing and sad, callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of COVID. And now Brian Stelter is with me. Brian,
two things here. Two things this, first of all, do her claim and they will do Disney's response. Her claim is valid.
If she -- forget the COVID aspect, if she has a contract, that does not include streaming, and Disney changed the rules and made it streaming
without a theatrical window. Well, they can see her point.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: She feels like the rules changed in the fourth quarter. And she had no notice. And no, it will address that. Of course, it
was the middle of the pandemic. And so it's notable that Disney fires back and says, you know, she's not showing sympathy. She's being callous. Well,
in the last couple hours, Richard, Scarlett Johnson's agent, one of the most powerful agents in Hollywood says, hey, Disney, you're attacking my
Of course, she cares about the pandemic. So, this is getting really personal, really fast. But ultimately, it's about tens of millions of
dollars that are at stake.
QUEST: And what I'm -- and on that, if we look again at what Disney said, because that's interesting, that's the other side. Scarlett Johansson may
have a perfectly legitimate legal claim to the money or there's a strong argument one way or the other. But for her -- for them to then suggest,
they even mentioned $20 million. And for them to suggest that there's a COVID callousness. Why would they do that, Brian? Why?
STELTER: I think they're trying to stop other stars from following Scarlett Johansson's lead, because this is a bellwether for the industry. This
lawsuits going to be watched by every star and every one of these star because the rules of Hollywood aren't changing. They're changing right in
front of our eyes. Netflix does very different deals than Disney. They pay you a lot of money up front, but then you don't --
QUEST: Oh, well, Brian was certainly up front there, but it seems to have gone. Brian's gone. Has he gone? He's gone. This weekend started early.
Just having a good discussion. Before we go tonight, we want to celebrate the life of the former Senator Carl Levin who passed away. He was a
congressman -- he was in Congress for 36 years. And why we celebrate his life tonight. You might be asking, well, throughout his tenure, he was a
constant thorn in the side of Corporate America.
And the Wall Street bosses who he hauled before him for testimony. His questions were unrelenting, often forced out rather revelations on shadowy
tax schemes, conflicts of interest in consumer fraud, years before they became popular and generated viral moments. It was Senator Carl Levin who
is the most feared man in Washington for chief executives accused of wrongdoings.
CARL LEVIN, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: How about the fact that you sold hundreds of millions of that deal after your people knew it was a
(INAUDIBLE) deal. Does that bother you at all?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't recall selling hundreds of millions of that deal after that.
LEVIN: How much of that deal did you sell to your clients after June 22, 2007? Is there not a conflict when you sell something to somebody and then
are determined to bet against that same security and you don't disclose that to the person you're selling it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the --
LEVIN: Do you see a problem?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the context of market making, that is not a conflict.
LEVIN: You think you're going to be convicted in a Swiss court? Is the Swiss government going to prosecute you? If you comply with our laws and
turn over those names? Are you going to be prosecuted? Is that your fear?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LEVIN: That's your fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's my fear. Absolutely.
LEVIN: Of this government?
QUEST: Senator Carl Levin was 87.
QUEST: Tonight's profitable moment. Remember that famous phrase we talked about recently? When the facts change, I changed my mind. Why so? What do
you do? There's no -- I don't know whether it was Churchill or whoever it was who said it? John Maynard Keynes, I believe. But the reality is that
the facts have changed with COVID-19 because of Delta. As the CDC says, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can
transmit the virus.
And that changes everything. For instance, here at the office building, we were told you can come in if you're vaccinated because you can't pass it
on. Now, what does it mean? It means if an asymptomatic vaccinated person who has had a breakthrough vaccine infection comes into an office or a
movie theater, or a restaurant or a cafe, they can pass it on to other people. And so therefore, we are going to be looking at going back to masks
in large numbers.
And there will be questions of whether or not traveled in the way we'd envisaged it. And we're hoping and moving towards. For instance, a
passenger who arrives, who has been vaccinated will now need to do more tests. That's almost going to be the de rigueur norm is similar to the way
the United Kingdom is doing it at the moment. These are major changes that will take place and there will be a lot of resentment and lots of anxiety
because of it.
But it's inevitable. Just think about it. They're making it up as they go along. Because the facts keep changing. New research keeps coming along.
And as I started at the beginning, when the facts change, I change my mind. Why so? What do you do? And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. Down
there on the markets for obvious reasons. I'm Richard Quest in New York. Whatever you're up to in the weekend ahead, I hope it's profitable. Have a
good one and remain safe.