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A tech editor, a VC, and a founder go bobsledding: Welcome to Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech

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On this week’s episode of Fortune‘s Leadership Next podcast, co-host Michal Lev-Ram is joined by Fortune‘s Deputy Tech Editor, Alexei Oreskovic, to fill listeners in on some of the key takeaways from Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2023. The Park City, Utah, event featured conversations with former Vice President Al Gore, Signal President Meredith Whittaker, Flow Founder Adam Neumann, and Dr. Arati Prabhakar, Director, White House Office of Science and Technology. Co-host Alan Murray is on vacation.

Listen to the episode or read the full transcript below.


Transcript

Alan Murray: Leadership Next is powered by the folks at Deloitte, who, like me, are exploring the changing rules of business leadership and how CEOs are navigating this change.

Vice President Al Gore: So every night on the television news is like a nature hike through the book of Revelation. This is insane. And we have to stop it. The good news is that largely because of improvements in technology, particularly information technology, we have seen the emergence of new sustainable approaches that are cheaper, cleaner, better in every single way.

Michal Lev-Ram: Welcome to Leadership Next, the podcast about the changing rules of business leadership. I’m Michal Lev-Ram.

Alexei Oreskovic: And I’m Alexei Oreskovic.

Lev-Ram: Okay, so you may recognize that voice at the top of the episode. Not ours, but Vice President Al Gore talking about what has been his public platform since the release of An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. The climate. Besides being a former Vice President, Mr. Gore is also a founding partner of Generation Investment Management. He was just one of many esteemed guests we hosted at this year’s Brainstorm Tech conference, which took place in Park City, Utah, just last week. We’re going to hear more about green tech from Vice President Gore later in the episode. But first I want to introduce my special guest co-host, Deputy Tech Editor Alexei Oreskovic, who’s joining me while Alan is on vacation. So hi, Alexei.

Oreskovic: Hey, how’s it going? I’m glad to be here on this, on the show.

Lev-Ram: Well, we’re glad to have you, and we were very glad to have you with us at Brainstorm Tech last week. We just got home from Park City a few days ago, and it was a whirlwind. It was three days just packed with programs, speakers, breakout sessions, activities. Every year the Brainstorm Tech conference brings together CEOs, investors and founders and all sorts of other thinkers to discuss what’s happening in the tech industry. But Alexei, what was the conference like for you? What were the big takeaways? 

Oreskovic: Well, the biggest takeaway was the dizzying experience. I had bobsledding starting off the event.

Lev-Ram: Very key to the conference. Yes, please tell us about it.

Oreskovic: I was crammed in. I had a founder, a startup founder, who was a guest. He was crammed between my thighs right in front of me. In front of him was a VC. So a tech reporter, a VC and a founder. It sounds like the premise for a joke. But we were all crammed into this little bobsled. We made it down safely and unsoiled and it was really quite an experience.

Lev-Ram: It’s a good metaphor for Brainstorm Tech and what we aim to do. It’s a bit of a pressure cooker for like, all of these different parties within the tech industry, including us journalists. I’m glad you survived it, Alexei. We did have some more serious programming. We do start with outdoors activities, which has always been a hallmark of Brainstorm Tech. But in today’s episode, we’re bringing you some of the more interesting insights and the controversial statements that we heard at the conference. A little bit of background first about the conference’s locations since we have said we had it in Park City this year. For the past 21, years Brainstorm Tech has happened mostly in Aspen. That’s where it started actually in 2001. But we’ve also hosted in a couple of other cities, like Half Moon Bay, California. And this was our first year hosting the conference in Park City, which has earned the nickname “Silicon Slopes.” There’s a silicon everything, as we know. But Park City and you know the greater Utah area—Provo, Salt Lake City—is really kind of on the map now, because it’s the ninth most tech-centered workforce in the country, with tech workers making up about 7% of the state’s workforce. Any other takeaways from you on techies that you spoke to from the area or just what you’re seeing out there?

Oreskovic: I was really surprised just to see kind of the the variety of companies that are that are out there, startups and more established companies. Our colleague, Phil Wahba, moderated an entire session on day one with four Utah-based business leaders about the growth of the tech industry in the state. Phil started the session by asking the panelists what Utah offered to the tech industry that Silicon Valley doesn’t. Here’s Aaron Skonnard, the CEO of Pluralsight: 

Aaron Skonnard: And I think one of the things that’s made Utah so great during this time is the fact that it wasn’t the Bay Area. We didn’t have access to the capital. We didn’t have access to a lot of the influential pioneers in tech. So we kind of had to find it ourselves. And so like a lot of the companies that started here started without outside capital. They bootstrapped for five even 10 plus years before they raised outside money. And you know, I think that has made Utah just a really strong community of of entrepreneurs. 

Lev-Ram: What made this panel really interesting and honestly kind of spicy, which I was not expecting, was the perspective of Matthew Prince, the CEO and co founder of Cloudflare. Prince was born and raised in Utah. He returned a few years ago to care for his ailing father. And he’s mostly running the company from Park City where he now lives. The company is still based in San Francisco and is actually fairly distributed. And he was extremely vocal about some of Utah’s challenges despite all of the uptake in activity.

Matthew Prince: I think Utah has some real challenges. It’s a place that I love but also as a place that still has the highest LGBT teen suicide rates in the country, has an incredible challenge around some still very misogynistic practices. It can be a very exclusionary place. And the reason I agreed to be on this panel is because I think we actually have to say that out loud. But there’s still some attitudes here, which are really hard. I’ll give you an example. In Park City, this is a service based economy. And one of the challenges is that they don’t have really good early childhood care. And so the city applied for a grant in order to get money for early childhood care. I was in the room listening, as members of the legislature sat down and said, Well, why don’t the women just stay at home and take care of the kids. And then that has been a blind spot that the greater Utah community has had. And for this to be a true tech hub, we absolutely need to put in place the infrastructure that supports a more diverse community. And we do not have that yet.

Oreskovic: Wow. Yeah. Well, I also was really surprised by how frank this panel got. It was really interesting to hear kind of a contrarian voice over there, bringing up some of the very real issues in that scene and in the community, but then also to hear some of the positive aspects, I guess, that Matthew Prince also mentioned about working in Utah.

Lev-Ram: Also on the panel, we had Facebook alum and CEO of Utah-based company Ancestry, which, by the way, has been around for decades. It’s one of the oldest companies there in the tech industry, that is. So Deborah Liu, Deb Liu, she said ancestry has introduced some initiatives to combat some of these challenges that Matthew Prince brought up, like, recruiting diverse talent and adopting hybrid work to make life easier for working moms. But what really struck me about her response was the questions she raised for Utah’s tech industry to consider if they want to retain top talent, which she reflects on through her experience as an Asian American woman.

Deb Liu: I grew up in the state of South Carolina, where 1% of people look like me. And, you know, now with people being able to move all over the country, do people want to opt into your state? What is the value proposition of your state? Do they see themselves and their family as a part of that community? And you know, I told my kids, we’ve considered moving here. And one of my kids was like, Absolutely, I want to go live there. One of them’s like, Absolutely not. And the other one was in the middle. And, and it was just they had such different experiences here. And when I think Silicon Valley did that, for so long, it was high growth, high opportunity. And so I do see that same energy here. And the question is, can we make it so appealing that everybody wants to come and the families want to be here and be a part of this community?

Oreskovic: Although we were physically in Utah, the conversation we just heard is actually only part of a much larger discussion about how the capital of the U.S. tech industry is shifting away from the Bay Area to smaller cities around the country.

Lev-Ram: Yeah, Utah was just one of several burgeoning tech hubs that wasn’t just talked about on stage but also scrutinized a bit at Brainstorm Tech. So we had another session very aptly named “Welcome to Miami.” We don’t have to sing it, don’t worry. But this was probably the most talked about moment of the entire conference. It really made some waves. We had the mayor of Miami and presidential hopeful Francis Suarez and Keith Rabois of Founders Fund. They joined investor Terry Burns on stage to talk about what makes Miami an attractive tech hub and, of course, about Mayor Suarez’s presidential run. But the conversation turned political, inevitably, of course, when our colleague Phil Wahba asked the following question…

Phil Wahba: So, Miami has a lot going for it. But it’s also in the state of Florida. So my question is, you know, the governor of Florida has expressed some views, some of his ads, some of the policies, for example, with regard to the LGBTQ community. So the question first for Keith is, Do you ever fear that that could be seen as a disincentive for some companies and people to want to move to Florida? And for you, Mayor Suarez, as far as is, is there an opening for you to differentiate yourself from the governor who is also running for president?

Keith Rabois: I will say very clearly my husband and I are significant supporters of the governor and all of his policies. We think like what he’s doing for Florida is the recipe that should be copied in every state, period without exception. 

Oreskovic: And when Terry Burns asked him to elaborate on whether LGBTQ+ tech workers would want to live in Florida, he also said this. 

Rabois: Well, if they visit, they will stay because they’re safe. So one of the easiest ways to get people to move to Miami is you tell them to come visit for a week. And then they walk outside and they’re safe. They’re not accosted by homeless people. They don’t see drugs on the street. They don’t, if there’s crime, the police respond.

Lev-Ram: Listen, there were a lot of digs on San Francisco and the Bay Area in this conversation. But I think more importantly, what he said about the politics in the state of Florida and his agreement with current laws there, this really hit a lot of people. I heard a lot of very strong feedback to this, as you can imagine, and it really became one of the most talked about conversations at Brainstorm Tech. A lot of techies have moved to Miami and a lot of them don’t agree with the local politics. So I don’t know. What did you hear, Alexei?

Oreskovic: I thought it was pretty remarkable for him to, you know, to say that. That’s his opinion. But yeah, I don’t know if I necessarily buy what he was saying that like, you know, a lot of members of the LGTBQ community have moved to Miami and are totally cool with kind of DeSantis’s policies.

Lev-Ram: Yeah. So it’s certainly not what I was hearing at the conference. Not not a lot of agreement with him there, at least from our audience. But, you know, Mayor Suarez, by the way, he chose to differentiate himself from what Rabois said. And here’s his answer to that same question.

Francis Suarez: My answer is yes and yes. Yes, it’s impacting the state negatively. And yes, it is an opportunity for me to differentiate myself at some level. Look, I’ve gotten the calls, right, from people who have decided not to come here. Obviously, the fight with Disney, a variety of different issues. I’ve talked about it publicly. We’re very different people. Miami is a different place than the rest of the state of Florida. We’re extremely welcoming to all communities.

Lev-Ram: So Mayor Suarez touched on something here that we talk about all the time on Leadership Next, and that’s how companies are responding to politics. Obviously, Disney is like the poster child of this debate right now. And what Mayor Suarez is referencing here, of course, is DeSantis’s legal battle with Disney over allegations that the governor is retaliating against the company for speaking out against his LGBTQ agenda. 

Oreskovic: Yeah. And it seems clear that Suarez is trying to position himself and his city as a friend to business and progressive tech workers rather than an antagonist. It was kind of interesting that Rabois did not endorse Suarez himself when asked about it. He kind of like dodged that question, but I don’t know. What are your thoughts on all this, Michal?

Lev-Ram: Yeah, I thought that was very interesting, too. But back to Mayor Suarez, I actually spent some time out in Miami meeting with founders earlier this year and it is amazing how much outreach he has done to the tech community. And it’s not just you know, business friendly policies in the city. But it’s also like personal outreach. We hosted a dinner with a bunch of founders there back in March. And it was just amazing to see pretty much every single founder I spoke to had, like personally met with Mayor Suarez. He’s really well known for his like coffee hours with founders and visiting them and inviting them in one on one. So he’s done a lot of work on that. Obviously, that’s harder to scale for a presidential run. Can’t meet with everybody one on one in the in the business or tech community, but really interesting approach there, which clearly has worked for at least the city of Miami.

Oreskovic: Right. Yeah, that’s that’s a great point. And we also had another attention-grabbing conversation on stage about where work can be done, although it was lively for very different reasons. This was one of the panels I was most excited about for the conference. Michal, you interviewed Adam Neumann, the founder of WeWork, about his new business venture, Flow.

Lev-Ram: Yes, I did. It was a really interesting conversation. You know, we started out just kind of more reflecting on the past. Obviously, still a lot of interest in WeWork’s very spectacular rise and very spectacular fall and some of the learnings from that. But we also talked a lot about Flow, which like you said, is Adam’s new business venture. For those of you who don’t know, Flow has already raised a spectacular, I have to use the word again, $350 million from Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz. But it’s still kind of unclear what Flow is beyond the fact that, according to Neumann, it’s a consumer facing residential company that’s going to focus on solving loneliness by turning people’s homes into the one place where they can get work done remotely.

Oreskovic: He also made a big claim that Flow will either compete with WeWork or partner with it once his non-compete and non-solicit agreement with WeWork expires in October, which was something you got out of him onstage, Michal. And on a more concrete but still controversial note, he did share something he learned from the failure of WeWork.

Adam Neumann: As an entrepreneur, there are many things you don’t control. One of the only things you control is who you surround yourself with. I think at WeWork, we’re surrounded by very smart people. But moving forward, what I surround myself with is not just very smart people, but also people who are very comfortable telling me what they think. So my first lesson, surround yourself not only with the best people and smartest people, but also the ones who are going to tell you what they think.

Lev-Ram: I think people were looking for, you know, a moment of humility, of a recognition of mistakes. Obviously, you know, you can’t pin everything that happened with WeWork on one person. It’s an ecosystem, there are investors, there’s, you know, all sorts of other things going on and pressures, but Adam Neumann was the co-founder and very much the CEO, but you know, he, he was there, and he got on stage, and he addressed the questions. So I don’t know, what did you think, Alexei?

Oreskovic: I think at one point, it was funny, he mentioned he, he got he gets a little bored of these conversations, but he indulged everyone and you know, kind of like shared some of his learnings. And it was interesting to get that perspective.

Lev-Ram: Yeah. And I think it was also interesting, you know, to hear about Flow, because there have been a lot of questions about this new business. And he did share quite a bit about just sort of what was the, you know, the original thinking behind it. Why did he start it? Why is he at it again? You know, I asked him about why do you think Marc Andreessen is investing so much money in you? And, you know, he said, Well, you’d have to ask Marc Andreessen that question, but I thought he was also really pretty thoughtful about, you know, just addressing the fact that not everybody gets a second chance, and definitely not a second chance at this level. You know, he said, there are probably people who deserve this even more than me, and so I appreciated that answer.

[Music starts]

Murray: Jason Girzadas, the CEO-elect of Deloitte US, is the sponsor of this podcast and joins me today. Welcome, Jason.  

Jason Girzadas: Thank you, Alan. It’s great to be here.

Murray: Jason, our ideas about work, where we work, when we work, how we work, all of those have continued to evolve since the pandemic. Is that a problem for business? Or is it an opportunity for business?

Girzadas: It’s a massive opportunity. Although I think the answer is less clear, it is a profound set of challenges, to be sure. But in the end, it’s an opportunity to create a workplace, particularly in the face of more long-term systemic talent-workforce constraints and limitations that brings out the best of a workforce so people can be their genuine self at work, can have heightened levels of productivity and feel supported in all that they do. But I don’t think the models are clear. And we’re seeing lots of experimentation, whether that’s around hybrid and what does it mean to actually co-locate and what degree of colocation matters. It’s also a function of how does technology get embedded into the workplace such that employees and workforces feel supported and enabled. Then also the cultural elements related to diversity, equity, inclusion and feeling supported to be your genuine self at work? It’s the combination, Alan, of all those factors that leading companies will innovate around and find novel ways to bring together, that will be highly desirous of leading talent and will be a differentiator in terms of businesses using their workplace and their work processes to win in new and different ways.

Murray: Jason, thanks for your perspective. And thanks for sponsoring Leadership Next

Girzadas: Thank you. [Music ends]

Lev-Ram: So in the first half of the episode, we heard a lot about where tech innovations are happening, but we’re going to shift a little bit now and talk about what tech innovations are actually in the works, along with a host of opportunities and challenges that they present.

Oreskovic: Michal, we can’t talk about tech innovations in 2023, of course, without talking about A.I. There was a number of sessions about A.I. at the conference, but one that stood out to me was the conversation between Dario Amodei, the CEO of Anthropic and Fortune’s Jeremy Kahn.

Lev-Ram: Yeah, Dario is a really interesting figure in the A.I. world. In 2020, he and his sister, Daniela, left OpenAI, reportedly because of concerns that OpenAI’s deal with Microsoft would increase pressure to release products quickly at the expense of safety. And then he founded Anthropic whose chatbot, Claude, which is a name I love is a constitutional A.I. It’s trained with a more human-centered approach that establishes principles for Claude to choose the least biased and safest responses.

Oreskovic: Dario is someone who thinks a lot about the riskiness of A.I. So I appreciated that he clearly laid out the technology’s potential risks without being super alarmist, and he let us know how quickly different risks will become realities.

Dario Amodei: I think in terms of short-, medium- and long-term risks, short-term risks are the things we’re facing today around things like bias and misinformation. Medium-term risks, I think, you know, a couple years as models get better at things like science, engineering, biology, you can just do very bad things with the models that you wouldn’t have been able to do without them. And then as we go into models that have the key property of agency, which means that they don’t just output text, but they can do things, whether it’s with a robot or on the Internet, then I think we have to worry about them becoming too autonomous and it being hard to stop or control what they do. And I think the extreme end of that is concerns about existential risk. I don’t think we should freak out about these things. I mean, my my guess is that things will go really well. But I think there is there’s a risk, maybe 10 or 20%, that you know, this will go wrong, and it’s incumbent on us to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Lev-Ram: So I appreciated his candor 10 to 20% I don’t know, Alexei, about you it’s pretty scary. But yeah, he Dario laid out some of the risks that are inherent in the growing influence of A.I. And I think many of us have been wondering, on that note, is anybody regulating this technology? So Fortune’s editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell spoke with Dr. Arati Prabhakar, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology, about how the federal government is stepping in and to start, Dr. Prabhakar, summarized the function of the blueprint for an A.I. bill of rights that the White House released in October of 2022.

Arati Prabhakar: What does it mean, in practical terms? Number one, a lot of the harms that people have identified from A.I. are things that happen to be illegal already, so committing fraud or cyber crime These are things that we already have laws and regulations to deal with. Something that I think we keep talking about is how opaque this technology is, how hard it is to know why you got the answer that you got. And if we’re going to have safe and effective A.I., that’s the goal. That’s what we’re trying to navigate to. We’re going to need tools and methods for assessing, evaluating, testing, benchmarking this very powerful technology. And that is an area where definitely companies are going to be involved with that’s an area that I think we need to take some important government responsibility for as well.

Oreskovic: And Alyson asked Dr. Prabhakar her thoughts on another concern for many people in the tech industry.

Prabhakar: I don’t see a fundamental trade-off between regulation and innovation. If you get regulation right, and that’s exactly what we’re working on right now, that’s what’s actually going to unleash the power of this innovation. Because if you step back and you look at where A.I. is today, there’s great excitement, but there is also great trepidation. And it’s not until people really come to trust this technology, that’s when we’re going to get the full power of what what A.I. can bring.

Lev-Ram: I’m going to pivot us from talking about the risks of A.I. specifically to talk about a more general tech-based danger that’s top of mind for a lot of people. And that’s what happens to all the data tech companies are collecting? We’ve been talking about it for quite a few years now. But if anything happens on our phones, that’s really private, you know, where does it go?

Oreskovic: Meredith Whittaker of Signal [Foundation] laid out what she sees as the heart of the privacy conversation.

Meredith Whittaker: This is not a matter of individual choice. You know, we can’t get a job without having an account on different platforms. It is a flag in certain sort of algorithmic profiling software if you don’t have a social media account. That’s considered suspicious, right? You can’t go to work and do your job oftentimes without being surveilled. So we’re talking about sort of socially significant infrastructure that if you wanted to opt out, truly, if you cared enough to do something, you’re living in a cabin in the woods with no contact with people, right. So again, we’re talking about a collective issue.

Lev-Ram: For those of you who don’t know, Whittaker is a former Google employee who founded the company’s open research group. And she’s been a really vocal critic of big tech for years, both when she was working for big tech and now of course. She’s one of the core organizers of the Google walkout in 2018. And she resigned from the company in 2019. She also testified before Congress that same year about the ethical implications of A.I. And clearly she had a lot to say about this. 

Oreskovic: Yeah, so it feels like it was a logical next step for her to join Signal, which is an encrypted messaging service. And in her role as president of Signal she has been working to make it clear to governments around the world just how important end-to-end encryption is in online communication. Here she is in a spirited discussion with Bloomberg Beta’s Roy Bahat about consumer privacy and data.

Roy Bahat: So it sounds like what you see your role as and correct me if I’m wrong is you’re trying to stop that first domino of a socially acceptable regime implementing some form of surveillance that you find unacceptable. 

Whittaker: Yeah, I wear many hats. That is one of them. 

Bahat: Okay, yeah, one of those hats. And so let’s talk about who you’ve made common cause with because if I think about companies that have been accused of surveillance as a business model, you hear Meta… 

Whittaker: Meta is the core of the surveillance [hard to hear].

Roy Bahat: …or others, okay? And yet you’ve made common cause with them.

Whittaker: Nah nah nah nah nah. What common cause? What do you mean by common cause? We [hard to hear] of convergence. There’s two circle [intersecting in a] Venn diagrams, not two circles. There’s a little narrow sliver in the middle where we do agree. 

Bahat: What is that sliver? 

Whittaker: WhatsApp uses the Signal protocol to encrypt the contents of their messages. Meta is moving to apply the Signal call to messenger messages in Facebook. This protects people and their privacy. We have a case right now in Nebraska, where a mother has been now convicted of a felony that will, you know, she’ll serve at least two years in prison for helping her daughter access criminalized reproductive care right after Dobbs passed. She’s now going to prison. And why did that happen? How did that happen? What evidence established her guilt? That was Facebook turning over Meta, the DMs between the mother and daughter? 

Bahat: Neither Meta wants that nor Signal? Is that the…

Whittaker: I don’t care what Meta wants. I know what is right, and what is right is we don’t let one massive corporation with very little oversight determine the surveillance society we live in, in collaboration with governments, right? We’re talking about you know, what happens when a librarian in Florida hands a book that is banned to a child, right? Are we scanning those messages? Like this is very close at hand and it’s not a game. 

Bahat: Right. 

Whittaker: Like so I don’t know if this is common cause or not. I don’t know if this is a trick question. What I’m talking about is this is the right thing to do. And if we have to, you know, if perilous times call into being strange coalitions, so be it.

Lev-Ram: Okay, wow. So yeah, that got a little spicy. I have to say I really appreciated her real world example. I think it’s actually really helpful for us to think of it in these terms. And while some of the conversation, you know, maybe some people thought it was a bit alarmist, it’s a really, really important one to have on stage at Brainstorm Tech.

Gore: We’re seeing the emergence of a sustainability revolution, which we at Generation [Investment Management] believe has the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution coupled with the speed of the digital revolution. This is opening up profit making opportunities in the transition to sustainability.

Lev-Ram: All right, Alexei, we’re going full circle. We’re going to wrap up with Vice President Gore. As I mentioned earlier in the episode, he’s been publicly advocating, screaming really for climate solutions for almost 20 years, and he co-founded the Generation Investment Fund in 2004, along with his co-founder Lila Preston. It’s a sustainability focused public and private equity fund.

Oreskovic: In 2022 Generation introduced its $1.7 billion Sustainable Solutions Fund IV for which is meant to be invested in high-growth companies with clear environmental and social goals. Generation partner Lila Preston explained how the fund chooses which companies to invest in in the form of a series of questions they ask to potential fundies.

Lila Preston: When you get to the company, we ask, well, what are you selling? And as you sell more of those units, your software, your services, what is the contribution that your company is making towards planetary health, people health, financial inclusion, or more broadly, a sustainable livable future? And how will we know that you succeeded in five years and 10 years? And so that’s sort of the impact of the products and services: the what. But equally as important and often, I think this got forgotten in the first wave of kind of tech, is how do you operate? How do you build a sustainable organization beneath those products and services so that you can continue to pump them out to drive revenue and then ultimately pull through profits?

Lev-Ram: Beyond the investing side, Vice President Gore also had some thoughts on what the current administration is doing to address climate change and, specifically, the climate initiatives in President Biden’s inflation Reduction Act. 

Oreskovic: For context, the bill invests $369 billion over the next decade in low-emission forms of energy, making it the biggest federal investment ever dedicated to the fight against climate change.

Lev-Ram: And Mr. Gore had some praise and some critiques which he called warts, for the climate initiatives included in the bill.

Gore: It is indeed by far and away, the largest and most effective best designed climate law that any nation has ever passed. There are some warts on it, from my point of view, there’s some things in it that I don’t like. The really extravagant subsidies for carbon capture and sequestration. I understand totally and I favor research to see if we can get some kind of breakthrough there. But in the political economy, the the legacy power of the fossil fuel industry is largely responsible for driving the funneling of hundreds of billions into their chosen hobby horse. The moral hazard is a feature not a bug, that they want the impression that this is going to make it possible to keep on burning more and more fossil fuels and just capture the emissions.

Lev-Ram: I just want to say, Alexei, I’m really proud of the fact that we’ve put climate tech and just climate in general front and center at Brainstorm Tech. That’s new, you know, this was not top of mind for most of our tech audience, up until really the last few years.

Oreskovic: Right, yeah, it’s great to kind of like dig a little more into this and talk about some of the pluses and the warts that Al Gore brought up. And I guess we probably missed out on a big sponsorship opportunity with Preparation H?

Lev-Ram: Yes, that would be a great partner for future Brainstorm Tech. Very closely aligned brand wise. But no, what I really appreciated about this session was that it actually ended on a somewhat hopeful note, believe it or not. Hopeful at least if businesses, government and pretty much every single one of us commit to healing our planet, but hopeful nonetheless.

Gore: If we stay a true net zero and half of the human-caused emissions come out, that would mean fewer record rain bombs and floods. Fewer deep, long lasting droughts. We could slow the ice melt and sea-level rise and rich sharply reduce the 1 billion climate immigrants across national borders that are now projected for the balance of this century under business as usual. The world can’t handle that. We’ve got to solve this. And the good news is we can.

Oreskovic: Well, now, that’s a wrap on another successful Fortune conference. I know that we’re only able to highlight a fraction of the conversations that happened over three days.

Lev-Ram: We talked about geopolitics. A.I. I felt like, you know, touched on every single thing. We talked about the music industry. We talked about, you know, just so many of the different industries, the things that we do our work, our play, our, you know, home, all of it and how technology is touching that. And there were some controversial speakers for sure. I think that has a place at Brainstorm Tech. I think we need to hear opposing views, whether we agree with them or not. We need to have that dialogue. And I’m happy that we were able to provide a format for it. And I’m also happy that you got to go bobsledding so, there’s that.

Oreskovic: Well, thanks. That was definitely a memorable experience and a highlight.

Lev-Ram: Awesome. All right, well, we will keep our listeners up to date on these trends as tech and every other industry continues to evolve. See you next week on a new episode of Leadership Next

Leadership Next is edited and produced by Alexis Haut. Our theme is by Jason Snell. Our executive producer is Megan Arnold. Leadership Next is a product of Fortune Media.

Murray: Leadership Next episodes are produced by Fortune‘s editorial team. The views and opinions expressed by podcast speakers and guests are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of Deloitte or its personnel. Nor does Deloitte advocate or endorse any individuals or entities featured on the episodes.



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