#135 What's Ahead in 2018: Richard and Jim's Forecast

2018 is certain to bring surprises. In this episode, Jim and Richard bravely venture out onto the high diving board of ideas and plunge into the pool of predictions. We also asked listeners and "How Do We Fix It?" guests for their forecasts of the year to come.

Well-known author and skeptic Michael Shermer says "2018 will be the best year in the history of humanity as measured by health, longevity, medicine, technology, science and culture."

Disruptive marketer and communications designer Geoff Colon tells us that "people are tired of how noisy the world has become. So I see more people deleting apps from their phones and spending less time in the Twitter-verse."

Jim and Richard give their predictions on the 2018 mid-term elections and the new tax code (they go out on a limb here). Both forecast troubled days ahead for Facebook, Google and other giant internet firms, as they run into a buzz saw of criticism over their business practices. 

On the international stage, Richard predicts the U.S. will continue its recent retreat from diplomacy and be weaker as a result.  China's strength will grow. Jim says U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will be a shining star in the Republican party.  

What are your predictions? Go to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Tell us what you think, using the hashtag #FixItForecasts. Our Twitter i.d. is @fixitshow. Find us at "How Do We Fix It?" on Facebook and Instagram.

#133 Facebook and YouTube Threats: Zeynep Tufekci

Billions of people use Facebook and YouTube. But do social media platforms threaten our privacy and our freedom?  The problem goes well beyond hate messages and other forms of inappropriate content, or fake news and "dark posts"— targeted ads not visible to the public.

"The crucial problem here is we have no protections about the data that's collected," says our guest, Professor Zeynep Tufekci. "We have no protections about how that data is used and we have a business model where we are the product and not the customer."

Zeynep is the author of the critically-acclaimed book, "Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest." At the University of North Carolina, she teaches a class: "Big Data, Algorithms and Society."

"They have all our data...They control all the gatekeeping," Zeynep says of Facebook and other internet giants. "The threat that I fear is that we're building the infrastructure for a sort of soft authoritarianism."  

Much of the information these companies have collected on us is "sold to the highest bidders whatever they may be peddling.

The ability of tech firms to spy on us, while nudging and seducing users into different forms of behavior, is constantly changing. "The past five years have been mind-blowing. We are growing a form of machine intelligence," says Zeynep. Unlike the past "this one is learning itself and we don't understanding how it's doing what it's doing." 

"How Do We Fix It?" is a solutions podcast. This episode examines potential remedies, including the need for greater corporate transparency, sunsetting data, government regulation and voluntary actions by Facebook and other big tech firms. Those of us who use social media sites should inform ourselves about how they work. This show is a good place to start.

#131 Why Migration is Good: Leonard Doyle

What do you think of when you hear the word “refugee” or “migrant”? If over-crowded rafts or vast tent encampments come to mind, you are not alone.

But there’s a very different— and much more positive side to migration. Across the world, record numbers of people are on the move in search of new opportunities and a better life.

One solution to the vast increase in global migration is to gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges resulting from a more deeply connected world.

Former journalist, Leonard Doyle, head of Media and Communications at the UN Migration agency IOM, is our guest. 

This episode discusses immigration reform, the surprising impact of Facebook and other social media platforms in promoting migration and the great contributions many migrants and refugees make to the new societies they join.

#129 Fixes for Manufacturing: Krisztina "Z" Holly

This week we dismantle the myth that American manufacturing is in a death spiral. It’s not. Our guest is MIT-trained engineer and tech entrepreneur Krisztina “Z” Holly, host of the podcast, “The Art of Manufacturing."

Even as factory jobs have declined, manufacturing growth has surged during the past three decades. Manufacturing production grew 2.9% in October compared to 2016, according to the Federal Reserve. From construction equipment to food products and semiconductors, manufacturers are riding a tide of business optimism.

This episode looks at new innovations in manufacturing and how the future could be brighter.

In addition to her popular podcast, Z is Founder & Chief Instigator of LA Mayor Garcetti’s "Make it in in LA" manufacturing initiative.

#128 Solutions for America's Opioid Epidemic: Sam Quinones

America’s opioid epidemic is an addiction crisis like no other the country has ever faced. Deaths outnumber car crash fatalities.

Since 1999, 200,000 people have died from overdoses related to Oxycontin and other prescription painkillers.

The scourge is the result of a terrible double whammy: The relentless marketing of pain pills and the ruthless efficiency of drug pushers from one small Mexican town, who deliver heroin like takeout pizza.

Our guest, Sam Quinones, author of the highly praised book "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic," is our guide to this complex tragedy. We look at the roots of the epidemic and possible solutions. 

From innovative treatment programs in Kentucky jails to drug courts in Buffalo, New York that offer help for addicts, but also demand accountability, there are ways to reduce the immense pain, suffering and damage.

"This issue allows us to come together as Americans," says Sam.  "Every addict cannot go it alone. They need to be surrounded by services and people who can offer help."

"We've destroyed community in this country in a million different ways and heroin is what you get when you do that."

#127 The Threat to Democracy: Reed Galen

One year after the election of Donald Trump, American democracy is under threat. Our civic life is in a shambles.

Our guest, Reed Galen, says America is a “dual-civilization society,” with each side viewing the other with suspicion, disgust and disdain.

The guardrails of democracy are banged up. Some dents were made years ago — the result of dysfunction In Washington D.C. Others are the result of the President’s sustained attacks on Congress, the judiciary and a free press.

In this episode we look at ways to narrow the gap — from non-partisan redistricting commissions and curbs on gerrymandering, to encouraging more independents to run for office.

Political strategist Reed Galen was deputy campaign manager for Senator John McCain's Presidential campaign and worked in the George W. Bush White House. Earlier this year, Reed left the Republican Party and is now Chief Strategist at Serve America Movement.

He works actively to narrow the great political divide and boost citizen involvement in civic life.

#126 Using Data To Predict the Future: Rebecca Costa

Can data be used to prevent mass shootings, dramatically reduce opioid addiction and tell elderly people that they about to fall? Our guest, Rebecca Costa, says it can.

In this episode we look at why predictive analytics may be the most profound technological change in the past 15 years-- even more important than smartphones.

In her new book, “On The Verge,” and on this podcast, Rebecca says we now have the power to predict the future, adapting in advance to changing conditions.  She also tells us about the ideas raised on the popular radio show, “The Costa Report” and in her bestselling book, “The Watchman’s Rattle.”

Predictive analytics depend on the ability to collect massive amounts of data, using algorithms to analyze seemingly random bits of information. We explore why all this is coming together now. One example being used by doctors today is predictive healthcare.

Rebecca says that foresight and “fore action”will help human beings “assume our rightful place as aspiring Masters of the Universe.”

#125 The Harvey Weinstein Sex Scandal: What Next? Anne Thompson

The public downfall of film boss, Harvey Weinstein raises deep questions about the culture of Hollywood and its longstanding tolerance of sexual misbehavior by powerful men.

Rumors about Weinstein's outrageous behavior had been an open secret in Hollywood for years. But Weinstein, a king of independent film, was able to cow the media, and had the power to break the careers of any women who dared go public with complaints.

All that changed recently when a New York Times investigation uncovered dozens of allegations that Weinstein had engaged in rampant sexual harassment. A deeply reported article in The New Yorker included additional accounts of coercive behavior and sexual assaults on the part of the studio chief.

Anne Thompson, Editor-at-Large for the movie-news site, Indiewire, is our guest. Anne is a veteran entertainment journalist who has worked for the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and Entertainment Weekly. She's the author of the book, "The $11 Billion Year: From Sundance to The Oscars."

This episode looks at why so many women spoke out now and outlines ways that the entertainment business—and other industries—can become less tolerant of abuse. We look at the explosive growth of the #metoo movement on social media and examine tools victims can use to fight back. Thompson argues that it is possible to change Hollywood's abusive culture and that the Weinstein scandal provides an opportunity for change.

#124 Russia's Threat to U.S. Democracy: Amy Knight

How should the U.S. and other Western nations deal with Vladimir Putin and well-documented threats to democracy from the Russian government? What are the most effective ways to push back against hacking and other attacks?

Ever since Vladimir Putin came to power, his critics have turned up dead on a regular basis. According to our guest, Amy Knight, this is no coincidence. In her book "Orders to Kill" and during this episode of "How Do We Fix It?", she exposes a campaign of political murder during Putin's reign that includes terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

Called "the West's foremost scholar of the KGB” by The New York Times, Amy Knight traces Putin's journey from the Federal Security Service (FSB) in the late 1990's to his rise to absolute power in the Kremlin. 

In this episode, we also explore President Trump's defense of Putin and his denial that the Russian leader has murdered opponents. 

Amy Knight explains how human rights groups in the west and Putin's brave and outspoken critics in Russia could weaken the Kremlin.

Web Extra: Listen to Amy Knight explained why she was interviewed by the KBG when she was a young college student.

#123 Affirmative Action for Conservatives? Michael Roth

Are free speech rights threatened at universities? Is Attorney General Jeff Sessions correct when he says political correctness has run amok on college campuses?

Conservatives point to the angry scenes at Middlebury College, where Charles Murray was shouted down, and demonstrations at University of California, Berkeley, which led to the cancelation of Free Speech Week, as alarming examples of intolerance.

Liberals push back, saying that protests against neo-Nazis, racism, and those who denigrate other cultures are part of a proud tradition of resistance to hate.

In this episode, Richard speaks with Wesleyan University President, Michael Roth, who wrote a recent article for the Wall Street Journal: "The Opening of the Liberal Mind: Affirmative action for the study of conservative ideas."

Professor Roth makes a powerful argument in defense of free speech, especially for unpopular views. In the days after controversy erupted over President Trump's scathing criticism of NFL player protests during the national anthem, this debate has special resonance.