Jakob Lazzaro, Justin Curto and David Gleisner Can't Let Go of the future of realistic fake video, Migos’s massive amount of weed, images of Britain, a broken backpack, Tinder, and friends. Stories featured in this episode hail from The Atlantic, WCNC-TV, and The Mirror.
[Music: Little Lily Swing]
Jakob Lazzaro: Hey, welcome back to Can't Let Go, the NBN podcast where we discuss both the news and the personal stories from the past week or two that we can not get out of our heads. I'm your host, Jakob Lazzaro, and first off I just want to apologize – it’s been the first time you’ve heard from me on this podcast for a while. I know, last episode, back in December, I said I’d do it when I was at Medill on the Hill, but I ended up being super, super busy – it did just not work out. But, hey, it’s all right because I'm back now with two great guests. One is a completely new guest to the podcast, one has been here before a few times but it's his first time here in this capacity. So, first I have Justin Curto, who is here for the first time as Editor-in-Chief of North by Northwestern, which is pretty exciting.
Justin Curto: Hi.
Jakob: And we also have David Gleisner, who is – David, what is your roll at NBN?
David Gleisner: I'm a managing editor.
Jakob: And David missed out on being on in the first...fall quarter when I did this podcast because he was on study abroad in Santiago, Chile, which is pretty cool.
Jakob: So, you happy to be here today?
David: I sure am.
Jakob: Okay, great. So we’re just going to jump right into it. Justin, do you want to go first for your news story for this week?
Justin: I would love to. So I am scrolling through Twitter, Facebook, something. And I see this story pop up: Migos Vehicle Search Leads to Felony Drug Charge.
Jakob: Oh no.
Justin: So, Migos like the rap group, like “Bad and Boujee.”
Justin: Shit like that. But the kicker is I see in the Facebook post about the story that they found 420 grams of marijuana. How serendipitous, right? No one from Migos got charged.
Jakob: Oh, good. Good.
Justin: It was just other people. One of them was a felony charge. I actually saw some people on Twitter talking about like, race and drug charges and shit like that, which I guess is a way you could spin this – an important conversation we need to have – but I was still just shook that it was 420 grams of marijuana.
Jakob: That’s a sizeable amount, correct? Like, that’s…
Justin: I don’t know.
Jakob: Like I'm not very good at conceptualizing weight in space, but I feel like that’s a lot.
Justin: I just know 420 is a number for marijuana.
Jakob: So my news story from the past week or so is a little less lighthearted. So it’s actually from The Atlantic. It’s called The Era of Fake Video Begins. Basically, it’s a very long article – it’s about our terrifying future. Because, I mean you guys have all heard of fake news and all that, especially with what’s been going on recently with Facebook. You know how right now we have Photoshop for manipulating images, and there are people who fall for fake images all the time – it’s been happening ever since the internet was invented. There was one recently where one of the Parkland shooting survivors – there was a photoshopped thing of them tearing up the Constitution – it got a ton of traction – which was not a real photo, photoshopped.
Justin: Can I jump in?
Jakob: Yeah, sure.
Justin: Did anyone see that photo of like, they said it was Emma Gonzalez hitting an NRA person–
David: Yes! It was Britney Spears!
Justin: It was Britney Spears when she shaved her head! See, there is like fake news and Photoshop, but some people are just stupid.
David: That was something put up as a joke and then some conservative people were like “Emma Gonzalez!”
David: And it was like no, this is 2008 Britney Spears.
Jakob: I mean, I agree some people are stupid but fake news is an issue. The scary thing about this article was that it talks about the future of technology regarding fake news. You take an existing video clip, and you run it through a computer algorithm a bunch of times. The more video you have the better, because you’ll be able to create basically a mask, a more accurate mask. And then once you’ve done that, the computer’s built the mask, you can get anybody to sit in front of a camera and basically puppet the mask and it will look like – right now it looks a little uncanny valley, but in a few years it’s going to look exactly like the person speaking. Which sounds pretty freaky, but it gets even worse because there’s the same technology for audio.You do the same thing basically – you take a clip of someone speaking, you know? And it runs through a similar algorithm and the computer can create audio that sounds like it’s coming from your mouth if you, like, edit it in a word document.
Justin: It’s sort of like those videos that were on YouTube of Obama sings “Call Me Maybe.”
David: But scary.
Jakob: Yeah, it’s like that but instead of being a bunch of cuts it’s like him actually doing it. Like, what are we going to do? We’ve already got people – like we were just talking about earlier – falling for fake news. And now it’s going to be video evidence, which I think people are even more inclined to believe actual video evidence. But anyway, future – not looking good.
David: Yeah, that’s fun.
Jakob: David, what news story are you thinking about?
David: Yeah, mine is basically about the same level of seriousness. It’s Meghan Markle’s dad. So, just like Justin, I was scrolling through Twitter this week. And what do I see but a picture of Meghan Markle’s dad – our Northwestern future princess – and her dad’s sitting in his local Starbucks reading a picture book called Images of Britain.
David: Look at that.
David: He’s just digging in to those images of Britain, and that made me really happy because I really, really like Meghan Markle. I'm not much of a tabloid reader or anything like that. I don’t keep up with celebrity gossip.
Jakob: This is in The Mirror, by the way, which is one of those U.K. trashy tabloids.
David: Yeah, I just really like Meghan Markle.
Justin: I don’t know like trash.
Jakob: I mean… I mean…
Justin: Gossip journalism serves an important purpose in our culture. Anyway.
Jakob: Cool. Well, I mean…
Justin: There’s been scholarship done on it.
Jakob: Please. Send me…
Justin: I will!
Jakob: OK, OK. Geez!
[Music: Little Lily Swing]
Jakob: OK, it’s time to move on to the personal stories half of the show. David was just saying that he wanted to go first. So David, what amazing thing happened in your life this week that you just can’t let go of?
David: You know what, like as you introduced me at the beginning of the show, I was on study abroad in the fall and you were on Medill on the Hill in the winter, as were a lot of my friends. So this week – first week of spring quarter – all my friends are back from their various things, whether that be San Francisco or Washington, D.C. or New York or wherever, and...
Justin: Or Evanston. I was here.
Jakob: Justin was part of the Medill on the Evanston program, very selective.
David: Justin was here. Justin and I were like the only two people here. And so now, everyone’s back and it’s been really great getting together. Yeah, Thursday. We all hung out, and one of our friends, Maggie – who is the Executive Editor at NBN – we hung out in her apartment, and it just makes me really happy to have everyone back and be talking and laughing with all my friends again.
Jakob: Good vibes.
David: And be surrounded by so many good people.
Jakob: You know, sometimes I worry that all my friends are in NBN, but then I'm like “nah, it’s fine.”
Justin: Plus Tony and Jane were there.
Jakob: That’s true, they’re not in NBN.
Justin: Where do I start! Some background.
Jakob: Oh no.
David: Get ready and buckle in.
Justin: Yeah y’all, it’s going to be a ride. No shade, no tea – it’s going to be positive vibes only.
Justin: I'm single now. I had been dating someone for a while and we broke up a week or so ago. And that went fine – he’s a good guy, everything’s good. Hi, if you’re listening. But so, now that I'm single and I still have another quarter at this goddamn university, I'm like what am I gonna do? So...
Jakob: I just want to say you’ve got more than one quarter, but uh…
David: And a few more years after that.
Justin: No no no, but yeah. I have a quarter, and then summer in Kansas City, and then fall in Paris.
Justin: Yeah. Anyway, so pretty recently I downloaded Tinder again. So I'm back on that. It’s a lot like – y’all gays at Northwestern left it in better condition then I remembered. Right? Like there are some very fine men on there. Y’all don’t think this is good, because David doesn’t support me in this.
David: Kind of no. I think you need to give it time.
Jakob: Listen, I'm going to go back to what I said a week ago when all this happened for the first time. Justin asked us when he could download Tinder, and I was like “ You know, you can download Tinder and be going on hookups, other dates, whatever, when you feel like you’re ready.”
David: I feel like we need to decide your life decisions for you.
Justin: Yeah. I feel like it is spring, spring is a time of growth, spring is a time of rebirth. No qu– uh, what’s the phrase, I said it wrong. New quarter, no man, new me is how we are living this quarter.
Jakob: My story is a little sad, just short and sad.
Justin: Why is everything sad?
David: Positive vibes only! Spring quarter.
Jakob: Okay, okay, let me rephrase that. It was short and sad but also a happy ending, because a friend came through for me. So I was walking around my room last night, as I do when I'm trying to say out a story I need to write in my head before I actually sit down and type it out. And I'm waltzing around the room and I step on my backpack – which i’ve had for like, I don’t know four years, five years – and I step on the strap area, which i’ve done many times before, and I hear this snap. And I'm like, what was that? And I look down, and the plastic is broken, which means that the strap is like…
David: Oh no!
Jakob: The plastic had, the little fastener thing had broken when I stepped on it, so my backpack is unsalvageable. And it was like, 6 p.m. and I was like, I need a fuckin backpack for tomorrow. So I go online, I do like Target.com, the big Target in Evanston on Howard Street has tons of them in stock. So I reach out to my friend Maggie, who’s been on the show before – she has her car on campus this quarter. And I'm like, “Hey, could you do me a solid. Could you run me to the Howard Street Target because of this whole backpack issue?” And she’s like, “Yes.” Great. Thank you so much. She picks me up around 7:45, we drive over there, I look at their wide selection of backpacks, pick out one that was not outrageously expensive and relatively well made, check out, go back home, and I have a new backpack now. And it’s nice to get new things every once in a while – this was just an unexpected thing.
David: True. Is that the backpack, the blue one?
Jakob: It is. It’s in the room right now, folks.
David: It’s stylish! I like it.
Justin: The backpack should be a guest.
[Music: Little Lily Swing]
Jakob: That’s going to wrap things up for this week. Can’t Let Go and all other NBN podcasts are always available on iTunes and the Google Play store. And that’s where you can go and subscribe to them – you’ll get a notification whenever there is a new episode, and you definitely want to turn those on because we’re doing lots of great audio content here at NBN. So I know this is the first episode of the quarter, but we’re probably going to kick it back instead of weekly to biweekly because I’ve got some other projects I'm interested in pursuing, audio-wise and non-audio wise with NBN this quarter. Anyway, our theme song is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon which we use under a wonderful Creative Commons Attribution License. I'm your host, Jakob Lazzaro.
Justin: I'm Justin Curto.
David: I'm David Gleisner.
Jakob: This is NBN Audio.
[Music: Little Lily Swing]
Justin: I feel like this episode of Can’t Let Go – I was coming into this and I didn’t know if it was problematic or what – but it’s like the bros club episode.
Jakob: That is true.
Justin: I feel like, I realized as I was on my way over here. You need to get more diversity on this show.