Episode #23: Can We Predict The Next Big Earthquake? (transcript)
Quinn: Welcome to Important Not Important. My name is Quinn Emmett.
Brian: I am Brian Colbert Kennedy.
Quinn: Teddy is not joining us today. He declined to come to work.
Brian: Sick day. We're not paying him for this, right?
Quinn: I think it's more of a personal mental health day.
Brian: That's fine. Take what you need Ted.
Quinn: Yep. This is episode 23 with Josh Bashioum and we asked the question, assuming it hasn't happened by the time this publishes, which fucking entirely possible, can we predict the next big earthquake, Brian?
Brian: Well, you'll have to listen to find out-
Brian: ... because his answer was actually very interesting.
Quinn: More complicated than we thought. Right?
Quinn: I liked the part where he told us we were going to be roasted like marshmallows.
Brian: He did. He said it a couple of times. Also the phrase crushing death was said a lot.
Quinn: As if that's a specific, I guess that is probably specific terminology.
Brian: It just sounds so terrible.
Quinn: Add that to our vernacular. Elevators. You know, here's the thing, take the stairs. Great for your heart.
Brian: So good.
Quinn: Great for your legs. You're not stuck in a box with your farting coworkers, you're also not stuck in a box being roasted like a marshmallow.
Brian: Your melting coworkers. Yeah.
Quinn: It could save your life in an earthquake in so many ways.
Brian: I honestly take the stairs all the time unless I'm going somewhere very, very tall I choose it.
Quinn: I can see that from your athletic fitness.
Brian: Thank you very much. This is a really good one.
Quinn: Yeah. I hope so because it might have been our last one.
Brian: Might have been our last one.
Quinn: I'm kidding.
Quinn: This is our last one together before I split to the East Coast, which is how we did our first few, right?
Brian: That is true.
Quinn: Which I'm never listening to those. No.
Brian: No, they were fine.
Quinn: Anyway, I won't see you for a couple months. I won't see you.
Brian: A couple months here. It happens every year.
Quinn: I won't see Teddy.
Brian: I hate it.
Quinn: It makes me feel a little unhinged but hey, your life is good. Everything is fine.
Brian: Come on, you're going to have a great time.
Quinn: It will be good.
Brian: We'll Skype. We'll Google hangout. I just want to see your face.
Quinn: Fucking Skype. Hey, by the time this comes out, we're probably well past the primaries in California.
Quinn: Number of scientists, [inaudible 00:02:19] and doctors and others were possibly still running for office. California's weird election system, man, sending good vibes your way. Hopefully some of them left.
Quinn: We are talking about the future but hopefully.
Brian: All the best vibes.
Quinn: Speaking of elections and earthquakes and places to live-
Brian: I know where this is going.
Quinn: It's a great segue. One positive of living on Asgardia, in Asgardia, undefined, wherever that might end up both being-
Brian: On and in work-
Quinn: Well, no earthquakes.
Brian: No earthquakes. Impossible.
Quinn: Well, that's what I mean by hasn't been defined. I mean, on a space station, sure, you're straight. If you guys settle on some sort of moon or planet, who fucking knows.
Brian: Absolutely but Asgardia is an orbiting satellite-
Quinn: That's 100% established?
Brian: I will double check. I will double check on that.
Quinn: Where is it orbiting? What planetary body?
Brian: Currently in its beginning stages its orbiting Earth.
Quinn: Beginning theoretical stages. [crosstalk 00:03:27] nothing.
Brian: Beginning theoretical stages but once complete, Asgardia, it will never be landing anywhere. It will be in space. There are no plates smashing into each other onto the ground. We have to watch our for alien attacks obviously.
Quinn: I was going to say, other threats, go.
Brian: Certainly I would say number one is, well number one is probably just like collapse of the society. That was probably poorly constructed.
Quinn: Sure. Maybe something to do with their fabled monetary system not working out.
Brian: Yes, that's going to be a tough one. Then sort of more excitingly is alien attacks for sure, I would imagine. But we, citizens of Asgardia, are going to have some sort of anti-alien defense system with lasers and-
Quinn: Maybe build a wall?
Brian: There will be some walls. There will be some walls. Come on man. I haven't looked at the website for a while, I'm not sure what's up.
Quinn: This is sounding basically I think season four Battlestar, I think you're just describing what happened.
Brian: Got it.
Quinn: That's great.
Brian: I'll keep you guys abreast.
Quinn: Thank you. Hey folks, we're doing pretty well man. We are somehow a fucking top 100 podcast-
Brian: So insane.
Quinn: ... some of the time which is crazy. We're top 10 science and medicine. We don't like to toot our own horn but hey if it helps more people find us, we can send some more action and activate folks like you out in the world, fuck yeah man. We are bootstrapped here. We don't have a big or any-
Quinn: ... any advertising budget. We should get Teddy a T-shirt for when we walk him.
Brian: That would be so great.
Quinn: Have you ever tried to put a shirt or a sweater on a dog? First of all, don't because it's dumb.
Brian: It seems like a terrible idea.
Quinn: Second of all, a lot of times they just stand there because they don't know what to do.
Brian: I was going to say, yeah. My experience is with cats but it's the same thing. They just don't move, as if somehow all their limbs are unmovable now.
Quinn: You know what would be great is if all cats were immovable. [crosstalk 00:05:20]
Brian: You're a monster for saying that. A monster.
Quinn: Anyway, we are growing entirely because listeners like you are sharing us with your friends, not in a sexual way, I would have remembered that.
Brian: I would have remembered that.
Quinn: Yeah. What I mean is share us with your friends, forcefully if you have to.
Brian: Take their phones out of their hands.
Quinn: Take them right out. They can click on it, you can click right on an Apple podcast, nothing is weirder, PS, side note, even like my wife. You take someone else's phone and you are confronted by their home screen and how they've arranged their apps and your first thought is always, "This is madness."
Brian: Specifically for you though, because you are the most OCD person I know.
Quinn: Oh it's not good. I'm just like, "Why would you do this?"
Brian: I saw yours today and I was blown away-
Quinn: It's upsetting.
Brian: ... because all, it's too much.
Quinn: It's organized in a very systematic way. Anyways, here's the key though, which most people don't do. They fucking flip through the screens, they dig into a folder, pull down or cut to the left, search box. Podcast or if you use cast box or pockey cast or over cast or stitch or whatever the fuck, search Important Not Important-
Brian: We're everywhere.
Quinn: Just click on subscribe and to be clear, just remember we're still talking about you holding your friend's phone. You took it, maybe they went to the bathroom or something else. Then Brian, when they're like, "Hey man, what are you doing with my phone?" "It's a security update." [crosstalk 00:06:42]
Brian: ... for your safety.
Quinn: Hey Dave, you're welcome.
Brian: Stop being such a dick, Dave.
Quinn: You're welcome. It's a security update and I'm trying to protect you because Russia.
Brian: It's always Dave, he always thinks you're doing weird shit with his shit. We're just helping.
Quinn: I'm trying to take care of you. Right?
Brian: Seriously, do that. It would be so great.
Quinn: Anyways, make him feel bad about it. It works every time.
Brian: Every time.
Quinn: Okay. Speaking of feeling both really good about yourself, he's so positive.
Brian: Yeah, he really was. It's because he's trying to make a really good change in the world.
Quinn: Yeah, that guy. Let's go talk to Josh.
Brian: Smash and bash 'em?
Quinn: Yeah, let's go. Our guest today is Josh Bashioum. Together, we're going to ask kind of a crazy question about earthquakes, assuming he doesn't come right now, are we maybe going to be able to predict the big one? Josh, welcome.
Josh Bashioum: Hey, thanks for having me Quinn. I appreciate it.
Brian: Very glad to have you. Josh, tell us real quick who you are and what you do.
Josh Bashioum: Sure. I'm founder at Early Warning Labs and principal investigator on our official partnership with the US Geological Survey, which is part of the Department of the Interior.
Quinn: Very cool man. How did you come on that? What made you go fuck earthquakes man?
Josh Bashioum: That's a great question. It really comes from my passion in disaster preparedness and emergency management. I was involved as a volunteer for over seven years teaching a curriculum called the Community Emergency Response Team through FEMA and then later the Citizen Core. It was through the federal government. It was official federal program where we actually train and qualify volunteer search and rescue teams to become federal assets in the event of disasters. I just learned so much about disaster preparedness and mitigation. Morbidly, where to find bodies in earthquakes and things like that. I realized the value of being able to know that an earthquake is about to happen, even if its just a minute or so.
Quinn: Man that's wild.
Brian: Sure. It makes you, I assume go, "Well wait a minute. Could we crack this thing?"
Quinn: Yeah, shouldn't we be trying?
Josh Bashioum: Exactly. We were very fortunate to be introduced to the smartest minds in earthquakes. The US Geological Survey, CalTech and UC Berkeley. They had been working for almost 30 years to try and find a way to implement an earthquake early warning system here in America. We just happen to get in touch with them right as they were ready to commercialize it.
Quinn: That's awesome man. We're going to dig into that for sure.
Brian: Yeah, let's get it going here. Let's set up our conversation for today. Our listeners are action oriented people. They get shit done. We want to make sure that we're asking questions that aren't just super interesting but also provoke action. We'll do that throughout the whole conversation today so that we can build to some specific steps that they can take to stop earthquakes with their bare hands.
Quinn: Exactly. That's what you do. From what I understood, that's where we're going.
Brian: I assume that's what we'll get the answer to at the end of this.
Quinn: Perfect. Josh, we start with one important question, the heart of why you're here today. Instead of saying, "Tell us your life story" like everybody else, we make things difficult on ourselves and a little bit on you. We'd like to ask, Josh why are you vital to the survival of the species?
Josh Bashioum: In the next big earthquake, the big one, anywhere from 10 to 20,000 people could die. There could be 50,000 injuries. With earthquake early warning properly implemented, we can prevent roughly half of that.
Josh Bashioum: If, in this career, I save just one life and make one less person that our first responders, whether volunteer or professional have to rescue or save, then it's worth it.
Quinn: Wow. That continues the streak of people on the podcast that are better people than us. Way better. Jesus. Unbelievable better.
Brian: I mean, come on. We've got to stop asking this question.
Quinn: One time I'm just going to ask Brian and see what happens.
Brian: Oh man.
Josh Bashioum: That was deep. It was very deep.
Quinn: Well, you know what?
Brian: That was a great answer.
Quinn: We don't want to put you on the, it's funny man. We've gotten a lot of really awesome constructive criticism and input from some really great conversationalists in America, which we feel honored and lucky to have. You know they vary on how to build your questions and when to ask them and what kind to ask when and how to ease a guest in versus kind of jump starting things. This one I just feel like we've had some fun with.
Josh Bashioum: Yeah, great question.
Quinn: We've had answers ranging from, I'm not to you're an idiot to one like that, which is so composed and makes me feel like I've got to look at the man in the mirror and make some changes. [crosstalk 00:12:20]
Josh Bashioum: You know what, Quinn? One of the biggest challenges that we have right now is public education. Any opportunity we can have discussions like this on whether it's a news story or a podcast, you're doing a big part of getting people just familiarized and know that this technology is there so they can actually do something with it. You're an integral part of this. I appreciate that.
Quinn: All right, easy. [crosstalk 00:12:44]
Brian: Give yourself a big thumbs up.
Quinn: There's a reason, Josh asked if this was a visual podcast video. I was like, good God no. Nobody wants to see the video of me just going to town on this croissant over here right now. All right. As described to you before we get going, we're going to set up some context for this question. That means it's time for a segment because we're not original, we've titled Context 101 with Professor Brian. This one will be, sometimes they're super factual or historic or really nerdy, sometimes they're a little more philosophical. Today earthquakes, I look forward to being proven wrong. I can only assume most of Brian's earthquake research is based on repeated viewings of Christopher Reeve flying around the world in the original Superman movie.
Brian: It's so good.
Quinn: It's still the best comic book movie, to be clear.
Brian: It's incredible.
Quinn: However wrong the science may have been.
Brian: It doesn't matter. It's fantasy.
Quinn: Easy. Okay, get going.
Brian: Okay. Here we go. Earthquake, they're the worst. Fuck them. Am I right?
Quinn: Sure. Good start.
Brian: All of the rest of the natural disasters we seem them coming, right? They're certainly awful.
Quinn: Yes. To an extent.
Brian: To an extent. Hurricanes, fires, tsunamis, volcanoes, tornadoes, we have some sort of warning. It totally varies, hurricanes, a week to a day depending on how they change course down to tornadoes which come up almost out of nowhere and bail right down the goddamn block but there's a few minutes at least. They're horrible and they kill a ton of people.
Quinn: Right, it sounds like your whole thing is just a caveat so far, which is, I'll jump on which is yes, they're all nightmares and many of them are getting much more frequent and worse.
Brian: But earthquakes man, first of all they come from in the earth, inside the earth.
Quinn: This is like expert level seventh grade science class.
Brian: I'm just saying, doesn't that give you a primal fear?
Quinn: Yeah. Yes. I mean, look, anything that comes from inside the earth or I guess from the sky or from space, like Armageddon is still my favorite movie but it's complicated.
Brian: Very complicated.
Quinn: There's a lot going on there. But other things that give me primal fear, like peeing on a moving vehicle, like a plane. I don't mean on it but like, in a bathroom when you're on it. There's just so many strangers. Anyway-
Brian: I feel the same way about that by the way.
Josh Bashioum: Is he presenting a diorama as well just like in seventh grade?
Brian: I know.
Quinn: Like I said, we're so lucky this isn't video, Brian-
Brian: We're working on the visual aspects.
Quinn: Continue, this is going great.
Brian: All right, anyway. It just makes me feel so small. Here we go. Here's how an earthquake works, as far as I can tell. This is going to be good. There's these giant plates, they're sitting on top of Earth's mantle and they're constantly moving around super slow.
Quinn: Super slow. Josh, I heard one it was like the speed a fingernail is growing or something, right?
Josh Bashioum: Right. They vary but in general that's a good benchmark.
Brian: That is insane. How is that possible?
Quinn: That's what we want you to explain Brian.
Brian: Oh yeah, right. Anyway, they're either pushing against each other really slow or sometimes away from each other really slow or just rubbing side to side. That's what causes an earthquake.
Quinn: That's how I made my third baby. But you love them so much. I do. Sometimes even the most of all of them.
Brian: Oh. You. Okay, earthquakes are going to happen on fault lines, like the San Andreas, which I'm 10,000% sure is right under our feet here in LA.
Quinn: Do you remember when we had the earthquake during the one podcast? Teddy the wonder dog didn't even fucking wake up?
Brian: So weird and scary. Very scary.
Quinn: Yeah right. Anyways-
Brian: We're on it.
Quinn: I don't think it's right under us, I think it's a little further up the mountains but regardless, you're fucking motorcycle is going to drop right down in that baby.
Brian: Thanks dickhead.
Quinn: Anyways, continue.
Brian: Yeah. Very helpful.
Quinn: Right. It's not here.
Brian: But close.
Quinn: California is worried about it all the time but are they everywhere?
Brian: Well, you know, listen it depends on where you are. Not everybody is worried about earthquakes, thank God.
Brian: The worst area is the Ring of Fire, which is Chile up through South America to the West Coast under our feet sort of out to Japan, Alaska, et cetera. Not cool. Then number two is from Indonesia, the Hvar Islands and it goes through the Himalayas through the Mediterranean through the Atlantic.
Quinn: I think the plates pressing together is actually what causes mountains and such too, right? Like the Himalayas, that's why they're so big?
Brian: That's how mountains are made. All right, anyway, then there's a third major one in the mid-Atlantic range, kind of self explanatory. Anyway, point is, earthquakes, they're the things of nightmares and we need to be prepared. Feel one coming, get under a desk or something, don't go outside.
Brian: Or what if ...
Quinn: Ah right. [crosstalk 00:17:42]
Brian: What if we knew they were coming? That's the question. The game changer. I mean, I know I would feel a lot better.
Quinn: All right. With that for some context, I cannot wait to hear Josh just destroy that whole thing. Let's double down and dig into our question of the week which is, Josh man, is there a chance we can predict the big one? Have I guess you, not we, specifically-
Brian: Don't include us.
Quinn: Brian didn't, job interview failed. Have we cracked these things?
Josh Bashioum: There's a caveat there. I want to define prediction. Prediction, we can't predict earthquakes. Really, what we are doing is early detection. Similar but different. Prediction implies that we know that it's going to happen before it happens. Really what we are doing is detecting these earthquakes so fast we can actually outrun them. That's what we've been able to figure out and technology has allowed us to be able to detect these earthquakes. It's post-earthquake, pre-shaking. Just like you-
Quinn: Oh got it.
Josh Bashioum: ... see lightning before you hear thunder, this is the same theory. We're actually detecting these sound waves and before, we're detecting them at the speed of light. They're moving at the speed of sound. If we can detect these earthquakes at the speed of light and we can send that warning ahead of the earthquake faster than it's propagating, that's early warning. That's exactly what we're doing.
Quinn: That's amazing and you are already doing the thing that we tried to do, which is again I always hate to use the word dumb it down for our audience and for Brian but more take it down to its basic level. We can start with, again, the context of what these things are. You said an important thing. You said there's the earthquake and then the shaking. Like lightning and thunder. Again, using the Superman analogy-
Brian: Yes please.
Quinn: ... or the rock flying around this helicopter in San Andreas, guess he's a pilot too. The earthquake is not what is splitting open under our feet, or is it?
Josh Bashioum: The earthquake is actually, we're talking about the slow creep of these faults and then that's what the San Andreas is doing. What the earthquake is, is the plates are moving but where they're actually touching they're not moving. It's building up this resistance, like in a rubber band and finally all of a sudden it releases and it is unzipping California theoretically.
Quinn: That's fucking dark.
Josh Bashioum: With no happy ending.
Quinn: Oh wow. I like that, well done. Wow. Okay.
Josh Bashioum: Well you joked about your dog just being lazy and not knowing anything. We hear about animals and dogs in particular going just freaking nuts before an earthquake. What's funny is they're actually hearing these P waves. They're sensing these P waves. That's what these sensors, the 900 or so sensors we have on the West Coast right now, are listening to the same thing. Theoretically dogs and animals, to some degree, have been doing earthquake early warning their whole lives.
Quinn: Teddy clearly hasn't been.
Brian: You think maybe some cats too? Probably dogs and cats. Probably cats too, I'll just take a guess there.
Brian: Why haven't we been able to not predict but early detect these things before? What makes earthquakes so different if the root, if the cause is moving so slow?
Quinn: Obviously again, to caveat, we realize they're inside the earth. Unlike hurricanes, we can't see them either with our eyes when they're coming or with satellites, again asking the dumbest question, why don't we have something like radar under the crust, in the crust? I'm not trying to sound stupid but I want to dial it down to understand how far you've come.
Josh Bashioum: Yeah. It's cost prohibitive. There's only so much that they can spend and only so many resources that the federal government has allocated and universities and also private funding. The Gordon and Betty Moore foundation were a huge piece of building the preliminary proof of concept system that we had running seven years ago. Ultimately, it's both funding and just the general resources and the support behind the network.
Quinn: Let's take it back even further. You talked about they can only put so much in and Brian and I have been discussing all morning, one of my biggest peeves in reading about how much the US has spent in natural disaster damage funding over the past 18 months versus what we spend proactively but at the same time, we'll get to that. Let's back up. Tell us exactly how this system works. Literally, what is in the ground and where is it sending a signal and how does it send it, how do we react, how does it get to your system? Tell us that.
Josh Bashioum: Sure, yeah. When an earthquake happens, that happens at the epicenter. That can be close to the surface, it can be super deep. At the epicenter, that's measures as magnitude. We always hear that. We always hear 4.7, it was a 6.7, north ridge, it's an 8.0. Something like that. That's what people are very familiar with and how we measure the size of an earthquake at its source. Now when that earthquake happens, we talked a little bit about this, it releases the P waves and the S waves. They're traveling roughly the speed of sound, P waves are faster than the S waves. The P waves are emitted first and those reach the sensors first. Those 900 or so sensors on the West Coast are actively listening for those P waves. Three of those sensors have to detect those P waves. With that, they can estimate the size of the earthquake, they can estimate how bad the shaking is going to be, those S waves that are following the P waves, how bad those are going to be. They can triangulate where the earthquake is, they can roughly say how deep it is. With that data, that in itself is sort of the earthquake early detection piece. That's then shared with Early Warning labs, with us, we actually model out how bad the shaking is going to be not at the epicenter.
Josh Bashioum: We care about where our users are. Whether it's our app users, our commercial users, buildings, high rises, we have this installed in. We can tell them exactly how bad the shaking is going to be, when the seismic waves reach their location and we can tell them within a second or two how long they have until those strike their location. Now, I mentioned magnitude before because I wanted to bring up intensity. Modified Mercalli Intensity scale, MMI, it's a scale of 1 to 10. That's the number that is how bad the shaking is going to be estimated at the end users location.
Quinn: That's the number we always hear about.
Josh Bashioum: No, sorry. The magnitude is what you hear.
Quinn: Oh okay.
Josh Bashioum: MMI is the new earthquake early warning number that you would see and you can set thresholds at. That's a scale of 1 to 10.
Josh Bashioum: While you guys are at Studio City, right?
Josh Bashioum: Let's say there could be an 8.0 down by the Salt and Sea and you guys could get let's say 40, 50 seconds of warning but your intensity could be anywhere from who knows, 5, 6, 7. It's unrelated to the-
Quinn: Is that going to be confusing for folks since they've grown up their whole lives hearing anything about a 6 or 7 is going to be pretty decent, above a 9 we're all toast, below a 5 don't get out of bed.
Josh Bashioum: That's a great question. The answer to that is, we've dumbed it down as much as possible.
Brian: Thank you.
Josh Bashioum: With the Modified Mercalli scale, it actually has a verbal description for each level. It goes from weak to strong to violent to extreme. People can get sort of a sense of how bad the shaking is going to be.
Brian: When you send out an alert, does it just have the number or does it have both of those things?
Josh Bashioum: It has the number, it has that, it has the countdown.
Brian: Got you.
Quinn: That's great.
Brian: That's real interesting. You talked about funding, of course, allows for all of these things. What has changed though, technology wise. What has changed? I don't know the time frame technology wise for how this has evolved to be able to develop a system like this, for someone to finally say we could start to roll this kind of thing out and actually work.
Josh Bashioum: The past few administrations, sort of the funding for these programs has been roughly the same. For currently, there was an ask for a significant amount. It was proposed to actually completely cut the system, however we had the representative support and the proof of concepts and the implementations to show the success of the system. To date, actually with the Omnibus bill that was passed, the funding for the shake alert, the earthquake early warning system is actually doubled from last year. Now we have state and local cities and states forking over millions if not tens of millions of dollars to support and sort of match the federal funds. We've really been building up momentum the last three years on the government side to continue to expand this network across the rest of the United States and continue to increase the sensor saturation up in the Pacific Northwest and of course, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, the next states to come on board. It's been kind of in this slow burn, consistent development over seven years or so. Now it's production ready and it's group like us, partners with the US Geos are actually making this commercially available to hospitals, high rise buildings, schools, things of that nature.
Quinn: You have a public/private partnership which is always, I think helpful. There are so many people that are like, "Oh NASA should do everything." There's people like, "SpaceX, NASA's dead. SpaceX should do it" and don't realize how much the two depend on each other [crosstalk 00:28:30] and how much that will continue to be the case going forward because private companies, I guess a lot of them are public, SpaceX is a public company, that's different than a public partnership where it's a state or federal government or local, where in most cases when the big numbers come about its really only a federal government that can pony up that kind of cash. I'm curious, let's just say, let's start here. I do want to shift because it's important to do so but what is your number? What is the funding number to blanket the West Coast, for you to not sit back, it sure doesn't sound like you're the kind of guy that sits back and rests on his fucking laurels, but to go, "All right, West Coast covered." What kind of funding number are we talking about? I realize it's probably a more complicated question but I'm super curious.
Josh Bashioum: We're at 20 plus million for the next year. That's double of what was hoped for, which is great.
Josh Bashioum: It's still short of the total amount that we want to have the Rolls Royce of this system. Let's just say we're getting a brand new Ford F150, which is going to get the job done and it's going to work really well. The build out, it's a big process and it's a long process but the good news is, we have really good sensor density in the populated areas. We can actually have some really good success with the earthquake early warning. The solid number is something that the USGS is managing and dealing with and doing a great job. I think they're happy with the funding that they have. It could always be more but thank gosh it's not less. We're in a really good spot.
Quinn: Okay, that's interesting. Again, if you had your druthers and you can say this you can say this to NIH, to anybody, if you were like, "Look we could roll this out if we had the dough to do it, we can make all those people who read the New Yorker article" that was two years ago now, feel just a little bit better, what kind of funding are we truly talking about to really roll that out?
Josh Bashioum: The specific number I don't know offhand, to be completely honest. I know it's roughly 57 million to have the ideal roll out.
Quinn: Okay, that's what I mean. For myself, part-time super nerd and out listeners, we just didn't have any context. That's just important for folks when they're looking and thinking how they can activate and ask their congress people for these types of things.
Josh Bashioum: Yeah. 100%.
Brian: 57 million.
Quinn: 57 million. Here's where I want to, we've got listeners in 64 countries. Not everywhere can afford a system like that. American hasn't even put forth the money to do it. It's all newish of course and there's so many competing venues for that money and very legitimate need but I mean, unlike a satellite for a hurricane that can turn a couple degrees and look at a different part of the planet, these systems need local, regional build out right? That's often where they need the most. China, Indonesia, these are all very different countries but the point is, they're not a wealthy country like this. China is in some respects, in some ways not at all. China, Indonesia, Syria, good lord, Haiti, Iran, Pakistan, some of the most deadly earthquakes with little resources if any to build a system like this.
Quinn: Aside from Haiti and Indonesia, those are basically where the worst disasters have been body count wise. Most of those go pretty far back though. But at the same time, aside from Haiti and Indonesia, obviously which are both in the past, Indonesia is 2004, 15 years or so. But even since then populations have exploded. Body count would theoretically rise. If it costs almost 60 million dollars to cover West Coast US, which is a large land mass, how do we, I don't even know the question to ask. I guess what is the method for looking at these countries and finding a proactive way to build them out there? Is there international funding and appetite for this sort of thing?
Josh Bashioum: That's a great question. We've been involved with the United Nations, the UNISDR and UNESCO. We've participated, we've spoken at some of their global events. They have an earthquake early warning, I'm sorry a hazard early warning working group. We've been sharing this, the concept and the information together with Mexico and Japan, they're other two of the major countries that have some sort of an earthquake early warning system. We've been working on kind of spreading that message and helping people understand how it can be implemented on the global scale. UC Berkeley has done some really cool research and development with [inaudible 00:33:54] Telecom where they've actually created a cool application which can do crowdsourced earthquake early warning using the accelerometers on phones.
Quinn: It went from look at this cool game where you can pick out the differences in the pictures to you can flag a car, do an Alzheimer test and crowdsource earthquake advanced notice.
Josh Bashioum: We're very fortunate to have Berkeley as one of the collaborative universities. The US can afford to have 20, 30,000 sensor sites in each location. It can be as expensive at that.
Quinn: How much ground, I'm sorry to interrupt again, it's so fascinating. Again to paint a picture, how much ground does a sensor cover? What kind of area are we talking about?
Josh Bashioum: It's a good question. I don't know the answer to that question. That would be something that I'd have to ask CalTech and the scientists that are 10 times smarter than I am.
Brian: 100 times smarter than me.
Josh Bashioum: Again, that's another great part about the public/private partnership. We came into it with the software, the technical, the hardware, the commercialization expertise, the tech expertise that theoretically they didn't have but they have the smartest scientists, which we would never be able to get. That's one of the really cool things about this public/private partnership that you kind of talked about earlier. But kind of in general with the seismometers, they need to be spread out along the fault lines. They need to be within proximity to detect the earthquake soon enough to be able to get an early warning to the populated areas. Typically, you'll see more sensor density in the populated areas and as you kind of get out just strategically placed by the faults to be able to pick up those P waves. Distances can really vary. You can have sensors, we have sensors in the US that pick up earthquakes in Mexico. [crosstalk 00:36:03] the border.
Quinn: I'm trying to picture one of these sensors.
Brian: What does it look like?
Quinn: Is it a pencil in the ground, is it a cell phone tower? What does this thing look like?
Josh Bashioum: It's funny we were actually just looking at some decommissioned ones this morning. They can be anywhere from the size of- [crosstalk 00:36:23]
Quinn: Please say a dinosaur.
Brian: If it could be shaped like a dinosaur that would be great.
Josh Bashioum: Fortunately much smaller than that. A size of like a can of soup to like the size of a football.
Quinn: Got it. You're not really running into eminent domain issues then with these things necessarily. Like the cell phone towers with people like, "I have shitty cell phone service" and people going, "But you're not putting it in my backyard." "Can I put this can of soup and save your life?"
Josh Bashioum: Well that's, I wish we could just say, unfortunately we have to have all the telemetry, the power, the IP, we have to have a small culvert. It has to be somewhat underground to be shielded from just surface trucks driving by and people plowing their fields and stuff like that. A big portion of the expense is just getting it underground in a good spot with the right telemetry. Getting it in basements of buildings and things like that is great but one of the biggest challenges that we've learned is, even if it's just on federal land is a lot of the environmental approvals that need to happen to be able to get this. Even the USGS has some challenges with that. That's a hurdle. It's a measurable hurdle that they have to deal with, even as part of the Department of the Interior, they still have to deal with a lot of regulations just to get this life saving tech into the ground.
Quinn: Sure. I'm going to use a buzz word because that's annoying. Is one of the ways that we've been told autonomous cars are going to be so much more reliable and safe in the future is that they are networked together and constantly learning so if your car brakes short, every other Tesla on the network is going to apply that situation and store it in its bank. Right? I mean, that's how machine learning works, you train it on a series of images and it learns from them and can apply itself. Is there anything like that going on with these systems at all? Are they smart at all? Is there anything that they can be learning along the way that can constantly be improving itself or are they relatively, I don't want to say dumb because clearly not but you understand what I mean, not networked, not necessarily learning.
Josh Bashioum: You know, in a way they're doing that. They have algorithms that are processing the seismic data, the wave form data. It's fairly standard, they'll test it back over all sorts of wave form data and see, okay that was an explosion or that was seismicity from an earthquake across the earth that has actually traveled through the center of the earth and they can identify those types of wave forms and are able to filter that out. From my understanding I don't believe there is any machine learning type processing that's happening right now but as with other technologies, I mean I can see that being applicable to earthquake early warning in, hopefully in the near future.
Quinn: Wow. That's cool. Just send the royalties my way once we get all that [crosstalk 00:39:37].
Josh Bashioum: Exactly.
Brian: From where we are now, how much can we realistically expect a system like this to continue to improve in response time in the next 5, 10, 20 years and so on?
Josh Bashioum: Great question. There is a scientific limit to where we can get this. There's a top end of warning time that just we physically can't exceed because the earthquake is happening. We can only detect it so fast, we can only send an early warning so fast. There is a top end there. There's room for us to improve this with more sensors, a little bit faster telemetry, faster computing. The computing on our end is about as fast as its going to get. Maybe we can shave off tenths of seconds, which really isn't, there's no benefit to having 20 seconds or 20.01 seconds.
Quinn: There's no way to really, like you said, it happens and then we can send the signal, we can compute it and run that algorithm and send the signal as fast as it can but there's no way to keep stepping back from before it happens. Like you said, because it's a build up in the rubber band, there's no way to start encroaching on that tension is there, to say where they're always like, "Oh the big one in Los Angeles, San Francisco is way overdue" to make that much more specific as it builds up. There's not like rates of tension where we can be like, "It is definitely coming in the next 12 years" type of thing.
Josh Bashioum: Yeah. They've tried to figure out ways to do that. A couple years ago, I remember there was an earthquake warning issued because of some increased seismic activity. There was a lot of debate about that as to whether that was a legitimate warning to have. The only reason that went out was because there was a slightly higher likelihood that we were going to have a big earthquake due to some seismicity and that's factual. If we have a big earthquake, there is a higher risk of that possibly being a fore shock. As time goes by, it's like days the chance of that just drops drastically. There's kind of some correlation there but being able to predict it still hasn't been a feasible science and the consensus is it's impossible at least right now. Maybe that could, machine learning, it could be applicable there to try to see if there's a way that we can somehow predict it.
Quinn: Right. Something that we just, again this is a really shitty and lazy application of machine learning where everyone goes, "Oh keep learning it will fix everything." It's like, no that's not how it fucking works. It can play go and it cannot drive a car. It can drive a car, that one cannot play go. These things do not cross bounds, that's why we do not have general AI and we may never not. Whoops, that's a double negative. Coffee is working. [crosstalk 00:42:53] But at the same time you do look at this and go, "But there is data in this and there is" even if there isn't an earthquake or a big one at any point, that tension is there. One of the benefits of machine learning as far as we can understand is it is built to train itself on reams of data that is just beyond our ability, our bandwidth and our comprehension. Sometimes that gets to, as it is with [inaudible 00:43:24] and go to black box that as where we don't know how or why it did that, just that it did and we like the answer but I am just curious if there's some way to just gather that and apply it in some way to almost back gate it before these things happen.
Josh Bashioum: Right, big data, looking at the seismicity before our last couple big earthquakes, trying to process that and look at maybe some similarities and things like that, even just backlog of data-
Josh Bashioum: ... that's just been stored. [crosstalk 00:43:58] Anything.
Quinn: Like you said, even if it tacks three seconds on it, that's three seconds man. That's a baby out of a crib. I'm just curious. It's almost like health records, they're their own nightmare because doctors handwriting and lack of standardization and things like that, earthquakes don't have doctors handwriting.
Brian: Yeah, what is that about?
Quinn: But the analogy is that you've got 50 years of health records and the idea is, assuming they were all legible and standardized, you push those into machine learning. Then you're also taking, it's learning everything that's ever come out in every medical journal so it can find the patterns there but you're also giving it the live data. Everybody that's coming into a hospital at any given time, any new journal article, so that it can cross reference all of those things to say, "Oh you've got cancer." This works for [crosstalk 00:44:51] people with your genetic makeup in this part of the country that's been exposed to these environmental impacts. I just, I don't know. It's putting too much faith in technology, which is always not a mistake but it's an easy panacea. I'm just curious. You know?
Josh Bashioum: It's possible. It's absolutely possible. Until we try we really don't know.
Quinn: Sure, but again that requires a lot of resources and its entirely theoretical.
Brian: Got to happen.
Quinn: You're clearly doing your part Josh, [crosstalk 00:45:26] just a little bit. Are there, what are things these other countries that don't have tremendous resources like ours, need to be doing in the meantime? Is it housing, education? Are there, do these countries have Josh Bashioums?
Brian: Earthquake retrofitting, can we clone you? Do these guys learn from their disasters, unlike us?
Josh Bashioum: I'll unpack that question a little bit. It's like, what can they do if they don't have the resources and kind of what are they doing? Dr. Lucy Jones, super brilliant, way smarter than I am, she was part of the USGS, she's kind of coined Earthquake Lady. She's moved on and she's doing some other fantastic things with her foundation-
Quinn: Is she a different lady? Not Earthquake Lady?
Josh Bashioum: Well-
Quinn: How many monikers does she have?
Josh Bashioum: She plays the cello I think. [crosstalk 00:46:17]
Brian: Cello lady?
Quinn: It's too much. These people.
Josh Bashioum: Very smart. I couldn't play a musical instrument to save my life.
Josh Bashioum: She brought up some really good points when she was speaking on behalf of the USGS and she still talks about the kind of earthquake hazards today. These other countries that have some semblance of an earthquake early warning system, they actually built them and invested in them because they had a shit ton of people die in an earthquake. The United States is actually the first place being proactive and building this system without losing hundreds if not tens of thousands of people's lives. We're very fortunate about that. Mexico, you know they lost a lot of lives in some big earthquakes and that's why they created their system, same with Japan. Building codes are also very important. Something very interesting about the codes at least in California, they're not really designed to protect injuries and crushing deaths per se from falling building stuff inside. Stuff is a very technical term if you haven't noticed. [crosstalk 00:47:28]
Quinn: You used the Brian term.
Josh Bashioum: The building codes are actually designed to just prevent a collapse of the building. There can be huge, tremendous, crazy damage, panels can fall, internal walls can collapse. AC unit can come through the ceiling and crush you while you're sleeping. The mirrors can fall down and just cut you. The windows can be blasted out.
Quinn: This is great.
Josh Bashioum: As long as the building doesn't collapse, code worked. [crosstalk 00:47:56]
Quinn: There's something we could work on.
Josh Bashioum: ... super important even with the crazy good building codes we have here, the seismic codes we have here and the retrofit rules. It's still going to prevent roughly half the injuries through some of these academic studies that they've done. That's what they've determined, which is huge. Even with the crazy good building codes we have. If you look at other countries, which don't have either the resources or the government infrastructure to enforce and check and do all these building codes, that's like a double whammy. It's tough. Where do you spend your resources? It would be great if we can prevent the building from collapse because that prevents a lot of the death, crushing death but how do they allocate the resources? It's a tough question. Definitely a tough question. That's where kind of this technology that Berkeley was working on is really fascinating because everyone's got a smart phone. I mean, the proportion Android to Apple is actually more Apple, it's higher proportioned to Apple in the United States but overseas it's the Android is pretty-
Quinn: Not even close.
Josh Bashioum: ... significant. That's really what their technology works on the Android stack much better. You know, you could roll this out. If you bake this into the phone and it's just part of the phone, boom. You have the millions of sensors. It's not nearly as accurate, it's not as much warning time, there's a lot of challenges with it but-
Quinn: Sure but it's something.
Josh Bashioum: It's something. Exactly.
Quinn: That's what they've done. Apple, in rolling out their health kit and the research kit stuff over the past few years and they're doing these studies with Stanford and they've now enabled it so other, with the kits with the frameworks that other [inaudible 00:49:45] can roll out their own studies, you have these research scientists and doctors maybe, one of the big ones is Parkinson's. Another one is heart studies, going my studies, the way I grew up and the way my lab is always run is if we can get 100 people, it will cost a few million dollars. I have to get those people here, it's incredibly isolated and all of a sudden, I mean not all of a sudden, Jesus. With years of behind the scenes work on these systems and hiring an infinite number of professional scientists, people who understand both the technology and the medical science, all of a sudden they give a speech on stage and say, "Hey when you download this software tomorrow, there's a billion devices that can be used to run a test to see if you might be prone to Parkinson's. It's the same thing. Maybe not as accurate but holy shit, the data that by the way, it's almost free. It's incredible. It's just a game changer.
Josh Bashioum: It is fascinating and you're getting a good, through that collection of data they're getting all sorts of different data points- [crosstalk 00:50:58]
Quinn: Much broader swath.
Josh Bashioum: Yeah, like in a clinical study it's that snapshot in time when they're there and being analyzed. This is crowdsourced and multiple times in the day. It's really fascinating.
Quinn: Yeah. Okay. Let's turn this to our listeners. Let's quickly review what should we have no early warning system we need to do when we feel an earthquake coming.
Josh Bashioum: Okay. I want to make sure I heard that right. What should they do without an early warning?
Quinn: Yeah. Assuming they've got no early warning system because again, it's not everywhere by any stretch, no early warning system. A regular person, you feel an earthquake coming, what are the three things they should do?
Josh Bashioum: Statistically the very best thing you can do and what's sort of industry standard is to drop, cover and hold on. It's to get underneath a sturdy piece of furniture and to hold onto it and really just ride out the shaking. That's the best thing you can do. One of the more dangerous things that you shouldn't do is run outside. Every time we have a big earthquake people are killed by falling debris, whether it's glass, 50 pound window pieces of glass popping out of the windows to bricks and façade and gargoyles falling off of buildings. People are killed all the time with that.
Quinn: Who has gargoyles?
Brian: I lived in a building that has gargoyles. They were cool man.
Josh Bashioum: In my world, Quinn.
Quinn: Where do you live man? Santa Monica is so weird. Jesus.
Brian: I spend a lot of time in Santa Monica Josh and I like it.
Quinn: You would.
Brian: Wait, I have a question real quick. That sounds a lot like what you should do if you're in a pretty, I don't know a city for example. If you live somewhere where you're on a lot of land, there's not a lot of buildings around, would it make more sense to get out of the first floor of your house and be in the open so that your house doesn't fall on you? You know what I mean?
Josh Bashioum: That's a great question. [crosstalk 00:53:00]
Quinn: Brian you're assuming there is no debris to fall on you, you're saying.
Brian: Yeah, like here I could see there's tall buildings everywhere, that makes sense.
Quinn: Some creepy place where you're surrounded by no buildings, no trees, no power lines.
Brian: It's not creepy, it's just not a city. I have friends who live in these places.
Brian: I'm curious.
Josh Bashioum: This kind of goes back- [crosstalk 00:53:17]
Brian: He said it was a great question.
Josh Bashioum: ... seven years ish that I was teaching this CERT curriculum. One of the big things was kind of talking about different types of buildings, a safe place to be for an earthquake, et cetera. You might be surprised to know that actually one of the safest structures to be in during an earthquake is a single family wood frame home. That wood actually moves and flexes with the earthquake, depending the house doesn't bounce off the foundation, which typically they do but they typically stay in one piece and they're just kind of tweaked. You don't want to live in it afterwards but they don't collapse and crush you to death. We try to have a catch all piece of advice is to drop, cover and hold on to have the greatest good, the greatest benefit.
Josh Bashioum: Different scenarios, if you are in an unreinforced masonry building that's not up to code that isn't designed to not collapse, you have other stuff to worry about. Is that building going to collapse on you. We don't want to tell people to run outside because you may have 10 seconds, 5 seconds or a minute or warning, it just varies per event. It's tough to say. Now I can say, I live on a top floor of a building and that's by design. If this building does collapse, I have the ceiling on me, the roof and not five stories of the building on top of me if I was on the first floor.
Quinn: That makes sense. Okay. Let's assume we do get an alert. We're in one of your fancy system. First of all, I mean, I know it totally changes depending on distance and how strongly things are, how much time might I have?
Josh Bashioum: Time and distance, really sort of the algorithm for that. It varies. If you were downtown LA and we had the San Andreas, quote unquote the big one happen where it ruptures down by the Salt and Sea, you get roughly 57 seconds of warning. You guys are in Studio City, your warning time would probably be a little bit less but roughly around the sub-50ish seconds of warning.
Quinn: What about somebody in San Francisco or somebody in Portland or Seattle?
Josh Bashioum: They actually released, good timing for that question. They released something called the Haywire Scenario, which is their big one in Northern California. For that scenario, San Francisco, it looked like they were getting 20 seconds of warning for the [inaudible 00:55:35] fault rupture.
Quinn: Okay. With that much of a warning, which doesn't sound like much but again-
Brian: Yeah that's wild.
Quinn: ... you can get a baby out of a crib. Should I do anything different than get under the table? Or am I still just using that time more efficiently?
Josh Bashioum: Two pieces of that answer. First piece is, no you do exactly the same thing. Drop, cover and hold on. In fact our mobile application, when we release that hopefully before the end of the year to the public that it literally, if it's over a certain intensity, it will actually show on the screen, drop, cover, hold on.
Quinn: Got you. That's helpful.
Josh Bashioum: Where we're actually saving more lives and preventing more catastrophic damage is [crosstalk 00:56:16] we and death, we're actually, we have our commercial side of this where we actually integrate with an entire high rise. We actually put that building in safe mode. We slow and stop the elevators, we open those doors to the closest floor. In San Francisco, the stat was about 20,000 people will be stuck in the elevators. Unfortunately after big earthquakes, what follows that is the fire storms. Fire. You're just a smoked piece of meat at that point if you're stuck in an elevator.
Josh Bashioum: We're preventing hopefully about 20,000 people getting stuck in elevators. We open vehicle gates, we open fire station doors to prevent fire station trucks from getting stuck inside and the building collapsing on them, which they had happen in North Ridge. We are slowing and stopping all LA Metro trains. We are-
Quinn: Wait, is that actually built out?
Josh Bashioum: Yeah.
Quinn: Wow. The three subway cars that go around LA you're actually integrated with them?
Brian: There's going to be more.
Josh Bashioum: All of them. [crosstalk 00:57:18]
Quinn: That's fascinating. I had no idea. I mean, because right now, that's the sort of thing. I mean, people, app will come out, everybody will get it. But that's the sort of things where I feel like people will actually get off their ass and we're going to get to this in one second actually. I think that makes this very compelling is to call their building or call their congress person or their local councilman and be like, "Hey, motherfucker, integrate this thing and save this many lives so they're not a kebob"
Josh Bashioum: Exactly. When you mentioned earlier-
Brian: Running piece of meat.
Josh Bashioum: ... you wanted actionable items that people can do, the best thing your listeners can do is if they live in an apartment building, a condo tower or if they work in a high rise, is to ask management, ask whoever deals with infrastructure and the fire alarm and all that stuff, "Why don't we have earthquake early warning?" That will get it in their building. I guarantee it.
Quinn: Okay. We're going to get really specific here. When their building owner is like, "You want me to fix your air conditioning, you want earthquake-"
Brian: That's exactly what my building owner sounds like. It's wild.
Quinn: "Your lights don't work" and he waves you off and is like, go fuck yourself, do you have a specific piece of paraphernalia to give those people that is angled to them? Literally, where can our people print these things out or email this to your landlord type of thing? Do we have that? Can we create that?
Josh Bashioum: Yeah absolutely. We can get you basically a one-pager that they could send out.
Brian: That would be so great.
Quinn: That would be tremendous. What sort of, assuming we have a few landlords that are right now like, "What the fuck? Why don't you just hit me with a bus?" What is it going to, obviously it's different per building or subway, whatever. What are we looking at cost wise and integration wise to do something like that?
Josh Bashioum: Depending on the size of let's say it's an apartment or a condo or like a floor of an office building, it can be dollars to tens of dollars a month for that unit. It's very low cost to get it set up for a facility. It's very cost effective. Once management understands that and actually see, I mean we have, ABC did a special on us a few months ago. They actually found there was this woman walking through that lived in the building. They said, "Hey, you have earthquake early warning. Why do you guys like this in your condo building?" She said, "I left a competing building, I sold my unit and I bought this unit here because they had earthquake early warning." We're talking million dollar units, thousand dollar HOA. This is a very nice building. People are starting to actually use that as a decision factor for where they are. If you have 200 employees on the floor of a high rise and you're looking for new space, shit employees would love to have an office that has earthquake early warning. That may be a deciding factor.
Quinn: It stops and opens the elevators, what else does it do?
Josh Bashioum: It plays audible warning throughout the building speaker system. We can get that drop, cover, hold on benefit.
Quinn: Can it be like, "Alexa can you get Samuel L Jackson to be like, run motherfucker run?"
Josh Bashioum: I would love to have a celebrity voice for this.
Brian: I want it customizable in my building.
Quinn: Right. When did the LA Metro thing roll out?
Josh Bashioum: That's been live for over two years.
Quinn: Fascinating. What about BART in San Francisco? Anything like that?
Josh Bashioum: With CBS Morning News, if your viewers just want to Google it, see LA Metro earthquake warning CBS, we had a helicopter, we had all sorts of crazy stuff. We did a full scenario for CBS where we actually slowed and stopped all the trains in LA with our system, which is pretty cool to see.
Quinn: Boy Brian, if you'd done your research, we could have found out all of this.
Brian: Hey, Context 101 with Professor Brian was very informative.
Quinn: I know it takes a lot out of you. Well, shit. That is really compelling man. Besides their specific selfish needs in their own building and subway trains and elevator cars, what can everyday folks do to support building this greater early warning system in their region?
Josh Bashioum: They can talk to their representatives, they can say, thank you if they voted yes to increase the funding and if you didn't you need to follow up next year make sure that the funding levels at least stay the same or are increased on the federal level. With city and state representatives, same thing. Say, "We want this earthquake early warning. We worry about our kids, we worry about them in school." That is, aside from asking for it at work or where they live, telling representatives, "I want you to support this. You work for me, I want you to support this funding for the earthquake early warning system." Us, as Early Warning Lab, we get none of that federal funding. We're privately funded. We're not getting any of that money. This is just helping us get that data from our partners and to be able to then pass it on to end users.
Quinn: Everybody wins, basically.
Josh Bashioum: Yep, everybody wins.
Quinn: But your commercial side, that's interesting. Do you guys do schools or anything like that? That's where people, I feel like are going to be like, "Yeah whatever the dollar is."
Josh Bashioum: Yeah. We have a great project that we're working on, we're doing it for LA Unified School District. We're helping them roll out to a couple of their schools in the hopes that we can find some outside funding to get all 1200, it's like 1275 schools equipped with this. Personally, myself as a first responder, I worry about the kids a lot. I want to see this in schools. We're working with them, covering the cost to do that and hopefully we can find some grant funds or some private funds to help us roll out to the rest of those schools in need. We're working different avenues of this and just try to get it out there as much as we can.
Quinn: That's awesome. We might have to talk more offline about that.
Brian: Thank you. Yeah.
Quinn: Just to sort of quickly summarize with our listeners and people who don't want to die in an earthquake can do in general and that is to get down, get cover and hang on if they feel it coming. If they do get an alert and do download your app or they are in one of these buildings or subway cars or elementary schools do the same damn thing. You just have 10 more seconds to do it. It is talking, if you are in one of these potentially affected areas, to your local folk, your local representatives about saying, "Have you supported the funding?" You can do your research and find out if they have but if not, ask them. Depending on what their answer is, funding should at least stay the same if not more. It is always better to be proactive than reactive. These things, like you said, they're going to happen. We're not going to stop them but it would be great if you-
Brian: Nice to be ready.
Quinn: ... fewer people fell down the hole or were crushed or were turned into kebobs. Then privately, there's commercial systems like this, like yours out there that can be integrated into buildings and schools and subways and things like that. Really cool to hear that sort of progress coming forward. I think that's it. Did I miss anything?
Josh Bashioum: No, that was it. Right on point. I appreciate it.
Brian: Sounds pretty good. All right, we have a last few questions we'd like to ask everybody, sort of a lightning round if that sounds good, Josh.
Josh Bashioum: Sure, let's do it.
Brian: All right cool.
Quinn: First one, we'll fix this at some point, it's not a lightning round question.
Brian: The lightning round starts after this question.
Quinn: Son of a ... When was the first time in your life when you realized you had the power to change or the power to do something meaningful?
Josh Bashioum: The first day I walked into a disaster, the CERT training program I thought, "Wow. I just need to donate a little bit of my time and I could save someone's life." That was huge for me.
Quinn: That's awesome. By the way, again, doing nothing to contribute to humanity like you are but you can get that feeling as simply taking a CPR course or a first aid course guys. Especially if you have kids. It's so easy. They're free in a lot of places. It's a couple hours out of your day. You might never use it but man, if you could, even if it's not a disaster. Anything like that, it just makes a difference to have people better informed and better prepared.
Josh Bashioum: Yes. 100%.
Quinn: All right, next one. Who is someone in your life who has positively impacted your work in the past six months? You can't say Brian.
Brian: As bad as you want to Josh, you can't.
Josh Bashioum: You know, my family. It's just anytime it's a rough week, a rough day, a rough year in the tech community it's always up and down, it's a rollercoaster but the one constant I've had is my family. It's always been there for me to help support, listen, words of encouragement. I became an uncle and got to hold my nephew a couple weeks ago, [crosstalk 01:06:43], see my parents be grandparents. That was just amazing. That just gives me excitement to move forward.
Brian: That's incredible man.
Quinn: I love that man.
Brian: Congrats on being an uncle.
Josh Bashioum: Thank you. [crosstalk 01:06:57] everyone should do it.
Brian: I'm an uncle. I love it.
Josh Bashioum: Awesome. It's really awesome actually. [crosstalk 01:07:01]
Brian: I appreciate that. Josh, how do you take in your news?
Quinn: I mean more, not like on the toilet, like what vehicles do you use to deliver-
Brian: If you want to tell us where, that's fine.
Quinn: How do you read the news?
Josh Bashioum: That's a good question. I cut the cable probably two years ago.
Josh Bashioum: My consumption of the news has gone drastically lower than what it normally would have been, just having news on in the background.
Quinn: You know what's happened in the past two years though, right?
Josh Bashioum: Of course.
Quinn: [crosstalk 01:07:41] this podcast isn't going to end the way I thought it was going to end. Oh man, I don't want to break it to him.
Josh Bashioum: The Apple news feed is great. I scroll through that. I have a couple just news sites, aggregators that I kind of thumb through but I honestly have tried to, I have enough to worry about just trying to live my life. It's much lower than it used to be.
Quinn: Sometimes not a bad thing.
Brian: Probably not a bad thing.
Quinn: Stay informed but don't go crazy.
Josh Bashioum: Yeah, the Apple news I've found that to be a pretty good way to aggregate news. I read that in the morning over coffee.
Brian: Yeah. If you could Amazon Prime a book, one book, to Donald Trump, who by the way is our president now if you haven't been keeping up with the news.
Josh Bashioum: Right.
Brian: What would that be?
Josh Bashioum: If I was going to send him a book.
Brian: Yeah, we actually have a list on Amazon Prime and we're going to throw your recommendation on there. People can actually send it to the White House.
Quinn: If people go on there, they click a button and it two day ships it to the White House.
Josh Bashioum: They must have a garage full of books.
Josh Bashioum: That's a good-
Quinn: We've gotten such a wide range from the Constitution to the Little Prince, people's own books, some really awesome, compelling stuff.
Josh Bashioum: You know what? I would send him Dr. Lucy Jones's newest book. I think that would provide some real science and some factual basis and it would educate him on earthquake early warning. It's a little selfish for my cause but I would absolutely do that.
Brian: It's a pretty good cause. Your selfishness is fine.
Quinn: There's selfish and there's selfish. What is that book called?
Josh Bashioum: Lucy Jones's new book, I mentioned it-
Brian: It is called The Big Ones?
Josh Bashioum: ... for some reason I forgot. The Big One.
Brian: The Big One.
Quinn: There we go. Awesome. We will put that in the show notes as well and on the link, it's right on our website, Trumps book club. Great fun. Great fun. Just causing havoc wherever we go. All right, this has been so great, last one. How would you like to use this podcast to speak a little truth to power. Anything left you want to say that we didn't get to?
Josh Bashioum: Oh man, you guys did a great job. I think we really covered everything. You have the action points for people to help out and find ways to make change. I mean, I think one last thing I would just say do that. Ask if its at your kid's school, if its in your office building and make sure you voice your support to the representatives who can actually do something about it. That's it. You hit it right on the head.
Brian: Sounds pretty good. We've got elections coming up here so that would be a good thing to look into while we're thinking about who we should put into office.
Quinn: That's right.
Josh Bashioum: There you go.
Brian: Can our listeners follow you online somewhere?
Josh Bashioum: Absolutely. Twitter, early warning lab because with the S it's over their character limit for a name.
Brian: Oh we're very familiar with that situation. [crosstalk 01:10:54]
Quinn: Ours is Important Not Imp. It's just like, gah.
Josh Bashioum: So close.
Josh Bashioum: @earlywarninglab and we have, I don't know if anyone knows what this is but it was called Facebook, we have a Facebook page.
Quinn: I'm fairly sure I think they turned that off.
Brian: Yeah that doesn't work anymore.
Josh Bashioum: Okay. Well, why don't you get on MySpace- [crosstalk 01:11:24]
Quinn: Bad things, it did bad things. Look it's all MySpace's fault it didn't throw a fucking election.
Brian: Yeah, right.
Josh Bashioum: Oh but actually you know what? Actually that does remind me, I did forget to mention something. Your listeners can actually go to our website, they can, EarlyWarningLabs with the S .com. They can actually sign up on there to be one of the first people invited when we actually do do this wide launch of the app. There is an early access list.
Josh Bashioum: They'll be able to get kind of the first round of invites for that. Make sure they go there, sign up. There's a little annoying popup that will pop up, they can put their email. If they don't see that, they can go to mobile app on the upper right and they can also enter their name there too.
Quinn: Awesome. Awesome. What do we think the timing is for that?
Josh Bashioum: We're hoping by the end of the year. We have a lot of moving parts. We have USGS, universities, cities, states that are all-
Brian: Enough with the complaints Josh. It's like, the whole time that's all it's been.
Josh Bashioum: We hope at the end of the year but timelines can change. It could be earlier but it's possible it could bleed into next year. We really, we're pushing hard to have it towards the end of the year.
Quinn: Big one is coming Josh.
Josh Bashioum: It's coming.
Quinn: Maybe stop doing podcasts and get back to work. Everybody says it's overdue. Hey man this was great. Thank you so much for your time Josh.
Brian: Thanks so much.
Josh Bashioum: Yeah thank you guys.
Quinn: For all that you do, you're not far away. We'll connect here at some point.
Josh Bashioum: Sounds good.
Quinn: For sure. Awesome. Brian, anything else?
Brian: I guess not. See you around Santa Monica.
Josh Bashioum: Yeah for sure.
Quinn: Have fun guys.
Brian: If I see you I'm just going to say smash 'em, bash 'em. [crosstalk 01:13:01]
Quinn: All right I'm getting off line. Thank you so much.
Brian: Thanks Josh.
Josh Bashioum: All right bye guys.
Quinn: Thanks to our incredible guest today and thanks to all of you for tuning in. We hope this episode has made your commute or awesome work out or dish washing or fucking dog walking late at night that much more pleasant. As a reminder, please subscribe to our free email newsletter at ImportantNotImportant.com. It is all the news most vital to our survival as a species.
Brian: You can follow us all over the internet. You can find us on Twitter @ImportantNotImp.
Quinn: So weird.
Brian: Also on Facebook and Instagram at ImportantNotImportant. Pinterest and Tumbler, the same thing. Check us out, follow us, share us, like us, you know the deal. Please subscribe to our show wherever you listen to things like this. If you're really fucking awesome, rate us on Apple Podcasts. Keep the lights on. Thanks.
Brian: You can find the show notes from today right in your little podcast player and at our website ImportantNotImportant.com.
Quinn: Thanks to the very awesome Tim Blane for our jamming music, to all of you for listening and finally, most importantly, to our moms for making us. Have a great day.
Brian: Thanks guys.