749 episodes

Decoder is a show from The Verge about big ideas — and other problems. Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel talks to a diverse cast of innovators and policymakers at the frontiers of business and technology to reveal how they’re navigating an ever-changing landscape, what keeps them up at night, and what it all means for our shared future.

Decoder with Nilay Patel Vox Media Podcast Network

    • Business
    • 4.1 • 3K Ratings

Decoder is a show from The Verge about big ideas — and other problems. Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel talks to a diverse cast of innovators and policymakers at the frontiers of business and technology to reveal how they’re navigating an ever-changing landscape, what keeps them up at night, and what it all means for our shared future.

    How the FBI built its own smartphone company to hack the criminal underworld

    How the FBI built its own smartphone company to hack the criminal underworld

    Today, I’m talking with Joseph Cox, one of the best cybersecurity reporters around and a co-founder of the new media site 404 Media. Joseph has a new book coming out in June called Dark Wire: The Incredible True Story of the Largest Sting Operation Ever, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s basically a caper, but with the FBI running a phone network. For real. 

    Joseph walks us through the fascinating world of underground criminal phone networks, and how secure messaging, a tech product beloved by drug traffickers, evolved from the days of BlackBerry Messenger to Signal. Along the way, the FBI got involved with its very own startup, ANOM, as part of one of the most effective trojan horse operations in the history of cybersecurity. Joseph’s book is a great read, but it also touches on a lot of things we talk about a lot here on Decoder. So this conversation was a fun one. 

    Links: 

    Dark Wire by Joseph Cox | Hachette Book Group


    How Vice became ‘a f*****g clown show’ | The Verge


    Cyber Official Speaks Out, Reveals Mobile Network Attacks in US | 404 Media


    Revealed: The Country that Secretly Wiretapped the World for the FBI | 404 Media


    How Secure Phones for Criminals Are Sold on Instagram | Motherboard


    A Peek Inside the Phone Company Secretly Used in an FBI Honeypot | Motherboard


    The FBI secretly launched an encrypted messaging system for criminals | The Verge


    Canadian police have had master key to BlackBerry's encryption since 2010 | The Verge



    Credits:
    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.
    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright.
    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 42 min
    Google's Sundar Pichai on AI-powered search and the future of the web

    Google's Sundar Pichai on AI-powered search and the future of the web

    Today, I’m talking to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who joined the show the day after the big Google I/O developer conference. Google’s focus during the conference was on how it’s building AI into virtually all of its products. If you’re a Decoder listener, you’ve heard me talk about this idea a lot over the past year: I call it “Google Zero,” and I’ve been asking a lot of web and media CEOs what would happen to their businesses if their Google traffic were to go to zero. In a world where AI powers search with overviews and summaries, that’s a real possibility. What then happens to the web? 

    I’ve talked to Sundar quite a bit over the past few years, and this was the most fired up I’ve ever seen him. I think you can really tell that there is a deep tension between the vision Google has for the future — where AI magically makes us smarter, more productive, more artistic — and the very real fears and anxieties creators and website owners are feeling right now about how search has changed and how AI might swallow the internet forever, and that he’s wrestling with that tension.

    Links: 

    Google and OpenAI are racing to rewire the internet — Command Line


    Google I/O 2024: everything announced — The Verge


    Google is redesigning its search engine, and it’s AI all the way down — The Verge


    Project Astra is the future of AI at Google — The Verge


    Did SEO experts ruin the internet or did Google? — The Verge


    YouTube is going to start cracking down on AI clones of musicians — The Verge


    AI is killing the old web, and the new web struggles to be born — The Verge


    How Google is killing independent sites like ours — HouseFresh


    Inside the First 'SEO Heist' of the AI Era — Business Insider


    Google’s Sundar Pichai talks Search, AI, and dancing with Microsoft — Decoder



    Transcript: https://www.theverge.com/e/23922415

    Credits:
    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.
    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright.
    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 44 min
    TikTok's big bet to fight the ban bill

    TikTok's big bet to fight the ban bill

    Last week, TikTok filed a lawsuit against the US government claiming the divest-or-ban law is unconstitutional — a case it needs to win in order to keep operating under Bytedance’s ownership. There’s a lot of back and forth between the facts and the law here: Some of the legal claims are complex and sit in tension with a long history of prior attempts to regulate speech and the internet, while the simple facts of what TikTok has already promised to do around the world contradict some its arguments. Verge editors Sarah Jeong and Alex Heath join me to explain what it all means.

    Links: 


    TikTok and Bytedance v Merrick Garland (PDF)

    TikTok sues the US government over ban | The Verge

    Senate passes TikTok ban bill, sending it to President Biden’s desk | The Verge

    The legal challenges that lie ahead for TikTok — in both the US and China | The Verge


    Why the TikTok ban won’t solve the US’s online privacy problems. | Decoder 

    Biden signs TikTok ‘ban’ bill into law, starting the clock for ByteDance to divest it | The Verge


    Credits:
    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.
    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright.
    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 46 min
    Why Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen is confident we'll all adapt to AI

    Why Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen is confident we'll all adapt to AI

    Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen has been at the top of my list of people I’ve wanted to talk to for the show since we first launched — he’s led Adobe for nearly 17 years now, but he doesn’t do too many wide-ranging interviews. I’ve always thought Adobe was an underappreciated company — its tools sit at the center of nearly every major creative workflow you can think of — and with generative AI poised to change the very nature of creative software, it seemed particularly important to talk with Shantanu now.

    Adobe sits right at the center of the whole web of tensions, especially as the company has evolved its business and business model over time. And now, AI really changes what it means to make and distribute creative work. Not many people are seeing revenue returns on it just yet and there are the fundamental philosophical challenges of adding AI to photo and video tools. What does it mean when a company like Adobe, which makes the tools so many people use to make their art, sees the creative process as a step in a marketing chain, instead of a goal in and of itself?

    Links: 


    How Adobe is managing the AI copyright dilemma, with general counsel Dana Rao 


    Adobe Launches Creative Cloud (2012)


    What was Photoshop like in 1994? 

    Photoshop’s Generative Fill tool turns vacation photos into nightmares - The Verge

    New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, and others sue OpenAI and Microsoft - The Verge

    The FAIR Act: A New Right to Protect Artists in the Age of AI | Adobe Blog

    Adobe’s Firefly generative AI tools are now generally available - The Verge

    This Wacom AI debacle has certainly taken a turn. - The Verge


    Transcript: 
    https://www.theverge.com/e/23917997

    Credits:
    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.
    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright.
    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 1 hr
    Why the tech industry can’t crack the smart home

    Why the tech industry can’t crack the smart home

    Today, we’re going to talk about the smart home — one of the oldest, most important, and most challenging dreams in the history of the tech industry. The idea of your house responding to you and your family, and generally being as automated and as smart as your phone or your laptop, has inspired generations of technologists. But after decades of promises, it’s all still pretty messy. Because the big problem with the smart home has been blindingly obvious for a very long time: interoperability. 

    Yet there are some promising developments out there that might make it a little better. To help sort it all out, I invited Verge smart home reviewer Jen Tuohy, who is one of the most influential reporters on the smart home beat today. Jen and I break down how Matter, the open source standard, is trying to fix these issues, but there is still a lot of work to do. 

    Links: 

    Matter is now racing ahead, but the platforms are holding it back — The Verge


    2023 in the smart home: Matter’s broken promises — The Verge


    Smart home hubs: what they are and why you need one — The Verge


    My smart kitchen: the good, the bad, and the future — The Verge


    How bad business broke the smart home — The Verge


    The smart home is finally getting out of your phone and into your home — The Verge



    Credits:
    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.
    Today’s episode was produced by Kate Cox and Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright. Our supervising producer is Liam James.
    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder. 

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 40 min
    Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath on life after Volvo and weathering the EV slowdown

    Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath on life after Volvo and weathering the EV slowdown

    Today, I’m talking with Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath, whom I first interviewed on the show back in 2021. Those were heady days — especially for upstart EV companies like Polestar, which all seemed poised to capture what felt like infinite demand for electric cars. Now, in 2024, the market looks a lot different, and so does Polestar, which is no longer majority-owned by Volvo. Instead, Volvo is now a more independent sister company, and both Volvo and Polestar fall under Chinese parent company Geely. 

    You know I love a structure shuffle, so Thomas and I really got into it: what does it mean for Volvo to have stepped back, and how much can Polestar take from Geely’s various platforms while still remaining distinct from the other brands in the portfolio? We also talked about the upcoming Polestar 3 SUV and Polestar 4 crossover, and I asked Thomas what he thinks of the Cybertruck.

    Links: 

    Can Polestar design a new kind of car company? — Decoder


    The Polestar 3 isn’t out yet, and it’s already getting a big price cut — The Verge


    The Polestar 4 gets an official price ahead of its debut — The Verge


    Polestar makes the rear window obsolete with its new crossover coupe — The Verge


    Volvo and Polestar drift a little farther apart — The Verge


    Polestar gets a nearly $1 billion lifeline — The Verge


    Car-tech breakup fever is heating up — The Verge


    Polestar is working on its own smartphone to sync with its EVs — The Verge


    Polestar’s electric future looks high-performing, and promising — The Verge


    Electric car maker Polestar to cut around 450 jobs globally — Reuters




    Transcript: https://www.theverge.com/e/23912151

    Credits:
    Decoder is a production of The Verge, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.
    Today’s episode was produced by Nick Statt and was edited by Callie Wright. Our supervising producer is Liam James.
    The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 1 hr 4 min

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5
3K Ratings

3K Ratings

developernamedchris ,

nilay is a legend

homie is the most thoughtful thinker in the game. he’s open minded and inspired/inspiring but also ruthlessly critical at the same time - you can tell he takes a lot of care and time to wrestle with that balance. all the vergecast folks do this too tho. anyways much love

Tkd27 ,

One of the most informative and entertaining podcasts out there

Decoder is a must listen for me. I'm especially interested in episodes on law and AI, and especially when those two intersect. But really, every episode is so well made, informative, and entertaining.

Zraja101 ,

A well done, fair and balanced discussion.

Great podcast on the pitfalls of idol worship, and the downfall of a company that ran out of ideas.

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