Episode #4 is light on actual Thunderbird talk, and more focused on Mozilla as an organization, the current state of the internet, and the future of AI. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed discussing it!
Have a question or comment for us? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org!
- (00:00) - Intro
- (00:28) - The All-Hands Hangover
- (03:10) - The Thunderbird Team IRL!
- (09:42) - moz://a beyond the products
- (13:36) - Tackling AI & web issues
- (19:24) - The "just build a browser" argument
- (21:46) - Alex changes his mind about AI
- (23:38) - Building AI tools for good
- (33:09) - Fighting for the soul of the internet
- (40:11) - Thunderbird and AI?
- (47:16) - Warm fuzzy feelings
- (52:51) - Outro
Creators & Guests
What is ThunderCast?
An inside look at the making of Mozilla Thunderbird, and community-driven conversations with our friends in the open-source software space.
Welcome to the fourth exciting episode of
We're fresh back from all hands.
The Mozilla all hands.
And we've got Jason, Alex and yours truly on
the mic today.
Ryan Sipes And this is going to be a fun
So all hands for anyone who doesn't know it
is a global gathering of the entire Mozilla
organization gathered in Montreal or I think
it was a five day yeah, five day event.
And it it, it touched so many aspects of who
like what Mozilla is.
And I don't even I'm still a little bit I've
been telling people I am overwhelmed.
In the most positive way by by all hands,
because you go from being part of a 26 person
team. To seeing a thousand of your, you
know, a thousand of your Mozillians out there
that, you know, just I don't even know what
I'm not doing very well so far, but this is
You're doing great. Actually.
Maybe we should give a little disclaimer to
everybody listening here that we're still a
little bit foggy from Montreal.
Like we came back two weeks ago.
Some of us, like mostly me, didn't recover
from the time zone and the talking a lot
every day and meeting hundreds of people
So this is going to be an awesome episode.
We're so like perfectly in tune.
We know what to talk about.
Everything's going great.
I do. I do have to call out.
One of the funniest things I heard on on day
one or a day Zero.
I think it was Ryan.
I think it was Alex had had Ryan and Alex
had gotten together with some people before I
got into into town.
And I just remember Ryan saying something
like, That's what you guys look like from the
Yeah. You know.
Most of the Thunderbird team has never seen
each other because, you know, the first time
we even thought about planning something,
just the Thunderbird team was right before
Covid and Covid struck.
And. And we never got we never got back to
it, you know, after kind of not.
Is there an after? I don't know.
But like as the world kind of came out of
that no travel period.
And so yeah, this is the first time I saw
pretty much everyone with maybe a couple of
exceptions outside of a zoom window.
And what a difference that is.
I um I have a bit of a confession.
I, I kind of swore to myself I will never
work in an office again.
Um, because I've grown so comfortable with
the remote working lifestyle, you know, the
flexibility and the hours and the location
But honestly, now, if if we actually had an
office where, you know, where the Thunderbird
team could report to, I would want to do
that 2 or 3 days a week because.
It really took me by surprise, but I enjoyed
so much the camaraderie and the energy that
was felt by by having the same conversations
And there's there's so much more productive.
Than they are in a video conference.
Yeah, it changes a little bit.
It changes a lot, actually.
I think like in general, the hybrid model is
the best model because you have the freedom
and flexibility to work from home.
But meeting in person, especially when
defining things from the ground up, when
And that's what we did a lot during the all
hands in our sessions.
We brainstorm, we prototype, we thought
about the future implementations of
Thunderbird and what we're planning to do,
like being face to face and having also the
amazing thing of being everybody in the same
room from people that technically is very,
very difficult to have a conversation with,
like for time zone reasons, for lifestyle
reasons. There are some colleagues that
don't get the chance to sit in the same
meeting and having them in the same room and
sharing expertise and sharing knowledge.
It was like it was beautiful.
There's nothing else.
It was. It was beautiful. Beautiful.
Beautiful is a good word. I mean, we're
collectively from Canada, from the US,
Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand, UK,
Yeah, we're from all over the place.
And what I've what I said going into it and
during it, it just proved to be true, is that
super high bandwidth setting you can just
cover so much ground.
It seems like Zoom would be the same, but
it's, it's just not something about being
with somebody. And I don't know, maybe it's
body language, maybe it's just everything.
Something about it makes it so that so much
more comes through.
And I feel like I, I it was like, I mean,
time wise, it certainly wasn't thousands of
Zoom meetings, but that's what I feel like
it was the equivalent to is like, um, it was
so just high bandwidth, you know, and you,
you get to know people, I guess, you know,
you never know what people are like in those
moments when the zoom meeting.
Is it happening?
You know what I mean? Like before and even
after a conversation, like we never really,
truly greet each other.
Um, and so, like, we just say hi.
And when you first meet someone on Zoom,
you're like, Yeah, I'm from wherever and blah
blah, blah. Um, but to see people's
greetings, is it a hug?
Is it a handshake? Is it a, you know,
Was like I think lots of hugs in our.
Case. Oh, I forced everybody to hug.
Like, I don't. I don't care.
Some people's like, no, don't, don't hug me.
I'm a bit sweaty.
I'm like, I don't care. Come here.
I miss you and things.
So we were all.
Sweaty because Montreal is so humid all the
I just okay, so I just wanted to remark that
I appreciated that we all discovered more
layers about each other.
Yeah. You know, I realized in that room we
were going around at the very beginning and
we were kind of doing like an introduction,
like we were meeting each other for the first
time. And like, half of our team are
Didn't know that.
Um, didn't know, for example, that someone
does like classical ballroom dancing as a
hobby, which is extraordinary.
And you know, and other people have these,
these, these fantastic hobbies or pursuits or
passions. Um, and yeah, just those little
things like seeing, seeing the humanity
behind your coworker.
And what our, what our users should know or
our users and fans of the Thunderbird Project
should know is everybody works on
I came away and you guys heard this the last
day I came away thinking how great it was
that everybody on the team is an
authentically good person.
Um, I've, you know, we've all worked places
where you can't say that about your entire
team, but. And I guess that's why you end up
working on you know, open source software
that is not about profit or about, you know,
insert all these different things here.
But like, like we don't mind data all the,
all the things we say every time.
But I like to remind folks listening but
like that attracts a certain type of person
who just wants to produce things that are
good for the world and wants to and wants to
leave a positive mark on the world.
And so that's what I kept being blown away
by, is thinking how good everybody was.
Yeah, we're praising ourselves a lot during
This is going to be like a wholesome podcast
Everybody like love each other, hug each
No real information here.
It was awesome.
And this is great. We love everything.
Well, just the celebration.
Like for me, it was it was it became a
celebration of Mozilla's culture.
And I wasn't I wasn't keyed in to just how
amazing Villa as an organization is.
Yes. Because I have met a total of basically
people from Mozilla.
And those three people are all on the
Um, no, but like being able to just.
Gosh, I don't even know where to.
I don't even know where to start with it.
It's. It's being, being aware of being made
aware of all of the, the projects that are
underway for the good of the world, for the
good of the Internet that are just ethically
awesome, that are trying to, you know,
remove bias and push boundaries and increase
inclusion. And so many things that I, I
didn't think of.
Yeah. You know, I'm not I'm not a person who
thinks that Mozilla is just Firefox, but.
I didn't see Mozilla beyond the products and
now I see it as the like hundreds of humans
who kind of like Ryan said, like are just
authentically good people trying to make the
Yeah, The what fascinated me was, you know,
everybody knows kind of or a lot of folks
because I hear it know the social aspect of
Mozilla, the social good that it's trying to
do in the world around privacy.
And and what I was surprised about, though,
is the technical prowess that was displayed
that goes into creating the things that
promote the social good, the AI black box
work, and trying to make it not a black box,
trying to hack, trying to build tools that
make it so that you can see and and test and
I don't know, I guess just sanity test.
Yeah. The different parts of an AI model are
actually like truly important.
Yeah. And what one of the examples was like
trying to figure out what layer the answer
came from, you know, that you got from the
We all know ChatGPT sometimes you get
untruthful answers, sometimes you get, you
know, hallucination, true, real big
Sometimes you get, um, not so much.
Chatgpt is pretty good about this, but
sometimes you get bias that it picked up from
whatever source, Reddit or whatever.
And having seeing that Mozilla was building
tools to let people inspect the layers of
those models and then fix them is like a
truly technical innovation and something
that, you know, all these startups and even
these bigger companies are just trying to
build the most robust models, but not so
worried about like all of the stuff that's
hiding in that model that could be harmful.
And I was also struck by kind of the pan
Mozilla and I say pan Mozilla meaning all the
Mozilla organizations, how much they were
actually in sync around values.
We're we're we work on Thunderbird
exclusively you know we're different than
MoCo that works on Firefox and some of those
other products and the foundation Mozilla
Corporation sorry Moco shorthand and the
Mozilla Foundation that is working on kind of
like the the stuff that that that you can't
that isn't a product so you know policymakers
you know they want to know if they want
someone's opinion about a piece of
legislation that isn't Google or Microsoft
who have usually an inherent they have a bias
towards like protecting their monopoly over
their respective markets that, you know, it's
good to have Mozilla in the room to say well
but you know this doesn't really benefit the
end user for X, Y and Z reasons because, you
know, frankly, we live in a world of
monopolies right now in tech.
I'm struck by one conversation I had with
one of their AI fellows.
She is working on all sorts of interesting
things in in AI.
But I was I was struck by.
How nuanced her thinking was about like,
okay, you know, most policymakers, most.
Consumers. Most people using the technology
they don't actually know, like all the layers
involved in this.
So my job is to help explain when where
these models are useful, where they fall
short, why they fall short.
What is the you know?
How are they built? What is what?
An intrinsic like problems do they have and
how does the world need to think about
accounting for those and fixing them?
Or doing so that we don't have like major
And I and this is a person, you know, I
don't actually know if she has a master's or
PhD, but she's she knows like this stuff.
Through and through and through and thinking
about not about how to raise another round of
money or, you know, mind people's data to
build a model.
But trying to think about how am I going to
explain to the world.
Both the good which he was really intent on
saying like there is good both the good and
the bad of this technology and how how can
we educate people so that we can maximize the
good and minimize the bad and someone with
that kind of background can go somewhere and
make a lot of money, a lot, a lot more than
working for the non-profit Mozilla Foundation
and utilize those skills to maximize
But you have talented folks like that in
Mozilla who are there to promote the mission.
I'll say one more because I have a really
good examples talking to the web
compatibility team, working on Gecko and
trying to make sure that it's everything just
works. Those are people too, who could go
work on the blink.
Yeah, extremely talented and smart people
that are beyond normal engineers.
And facing incredible problems.
You know, not everybody is familiar with
this, but I've seen a number of articles
about now, years after the fact, about
certain browsers who are also owned by
companies, own popular websites and
engineers, breaking those websites on other
browsers in order to convince users to use
their browser instead.
So, you know, you go to your favorite search
engine, for instance, and something doesn't
work, right? And it says, Oh, this works
great in insert browser here.
And, and so that's, that's reporting that
I've seen you know is it engineers cop to
doing that and that's really terrible but
they're like yeah but it's the best way to
get somebody to convert.
Even if the website does work fine in the
browser, if you make it work crappy on
another browser, then at that moment the
pain is high enough that they'll make the
switch. The Web compatibility team spends a
lot of their time fixing all sorts of web
In a world where there's an extreme monopoly
around browser engines.
Google's Chrome engine being the the largest
and by an incredible degree.
Even browsers that aren't Chrome, many of
them are using the Chrome engine.
And so Google has a high degree of say over
the future of Internet standards, which
sometimes is really not great, especially
when it comes to privacy, as folks might
imagine, to be fighting an uphill battle
like that every day and to be trying to
retain competitiveness, but doing it the
right way, like how Google does.
It might not be the right way or Apple, you
know, but to to meet those people who have an
incredibly difficult job in the environment
that they that they have but are doing it and
they all I'm like of course I asked them, I
was like, why are you guys doing this?
Because you're talented.
You could go work at one of these places.
And of course, it was for the same reason.
You know, they don't they think a web ruled
by Google is or insert another monopoly.
Any other Internet monopoly here would be
And so they want to ensure that it's not
just one company that decides what the
Internet is and isn't.
The great thing about Mozilla is I never
heard have heard anything like we're doing
this for, you know, because we think that
it's worth a lot of money or, you know, like
there's talk of sustainability, like, you
know, you want to generate some revenue so
that you can continue to work on the things
that are good.
But it's always about like, how is this
How is this improving the Internet, How is
this improving people's lives?
Like that's what people talk about even all
the way up to, you know, the exec, some of
the members of the executive team that I
met, like it's of a the foundation and the
corporation, they're always talking about
how is this good for everyone?
How does this improve lives?
How does this make the Internet better?
It's interesting. One thing that I heard a
lot in the past week in Montreal was Mozilla
is not a tech company.
It is a people company that happens to work
on technological issues.
But at the core is a people company and we
care about the people and we care about the
ethical aspect of what we do and what we
produce because it affects people.
I wasn't part of Mozilla in the past and
I've been affected by the perception of what
Mozilla is and that perception has been
destroyed in the past week because I was
exposed to all the things that Mozilla is
doing and all the projects and all the teams
that are moving forward, like the most
common criticism is like Mozilla, just just
do a browser, just focus on a browser, just
fix Firefox, make it better and things like
that. The problem is that Mozilla and at the
core of the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla
manifesto, those are the core rules that we
abide in order to guarantee an open ethical
internet. And for Mozilla to say let's just
make a browser, let's just do a browser, just
focus on that it opens up or it leaves
monopoly space to everything else.
It leaves monopoly for the ad system, leaves
monopoly for the social media.
It leaves monopoly for the AI.
So my reply now to the criticism is why not
Mozilla, why Mozilla shouldn't be in those
spaces and as they're doing for the browser
where they offering an ethical and fair
alternative that drives web accessibility
and web standards and open internet for
everybody. Why the same core values
shouldn't be applied to all these other
monopolies that, as we are seeing in the
past year, it was like more obvious than not
that they're completely destroying people's
lives and they're affecting your ability to
work. They're affecting your ability to
produce anything valuable.
You're affecting your livelihood.
Like all these companies, large
corporations, they just don't care.
They're just care about the bottom line.
And to ship the most groundbreaking super
cool product, it doesn't matter if it
actually doesn't work.
And the thing that excited me a lot.
So first of all, I should be honest and say
that at the beginning, before going to
Montreal, I looked at the plenary and looked
at all the speed, like all the talks and
everything and the core.
There was a lot about AI and I'm very
skeptical about AI.
I think it's not ready for the masses, I
think is a hyped word that is just used to
get more investors and venture capitalists.
It's just it right now for me, AI is the
same level of nfts and it shouldn't be
around. It should be just used as like, I
don't know, treat it as a radioactive
material. So I was very skeptical in seeing
all this conversation about AI happening at
the Montreal all ends.
But then as you said, Ryan, all the
conversations were actually about how do we
destroy the black box aspect, How do we
actually show the users and empower the users
to see what's going on, reach the conclusion
if this is a good thing or is a bad thing,
remove all the barriers of Oh, these things
Don't worry about it.
The result is legit.
It's fine. Like there's no validation,
there's no moderation, there's nothing.
Just create solutions for all these problems
that are those problems that are affecting
people. Plus, how do we actually use the
good that comes from large language models
and machine learning to create tools that
can help the people, actually?
And one of the few projects that really were
exciting to me are like, how do we make these
LMS as small as possible?
Like very, very small.
And. Lean very focused on one task so they
can run in client, they can run locally, they
don't need to run on someone else's server.
I was really it's maybe a small example, but
I was really impressed by better
representation of underrepresented countries
like Nigeria in large language models.
You know, like, like if someone were to ask
like, Well, what's my history as a Nigerian?
Like there's no results because they're not
represented by the corporation who is doing
the training, you know, who's building the
Like little, little things like that are are
so important and you don't really think about
them in the conversation.
Yeah. And the crazy thing about that one was,
you know, what was the core problem like the
data sets that are out there, even though
the language that was used, it's used by some
insane amount of the world population, even
though as a percentage of the population,
it's like I don't remember how much a lot.
The representation on Wikipedia for
articles, for instance, was like
exceptionally low, like very, very low
versus languages that have much less speakers
in other parts of the world, especially
Europe, that have much, much higher
representation on Wikipedia and other forums
and stuff where these eyes crawl, the or the
researchers crawl for data and and feed that
into the LMS.
It's just a missing piece of humanity that
does that's representation in the models,
doesn't match its actual representation in
the world and as a world population.
And so a good point, Jason.
I had forgotten about that one, but.
It's yeah, it's wild, right?
Like, it's not I mean, I don't think people
look at Mozilla and go, Oh yeah, that's
something Mozilla does.
Yeah, I have some data actually.
So the language is Kiswahili and the
Kiswahili is an African language that is
actually used like in Tanzania, Rwanda,
Kenya, Uganda, like almost everywhere.
But also there's a large population in the
UK and it's a total like 100 million speakers
worldwide that speaks Kiswahili.
But the actual article and online resources
are something around like the 0.01% compared
to a language like Italian that has much,
much fewer speakers in the rest of the world.
Because they because they don't have the
influence that they need at the at the at the
corporate table or whatever.
Yeah, yeah. And that's the problem with these
large language models.
They get trained on publicly available data,
so they get trained only on the data that the
Western society just considers the standard.
They only get trained on English, they only
get trained on white people pictures.
They only get trained on all these bias.
And that's how you get like AI bias that
don't reflect the actual population and make
these tools that might be extremely useful,
not accessible to 75% of the world, which is
Yeah, it is insane.
And and they also have the Common Voice
project, which my background touches this a
little bit because I actually spoke to the
folks who who started that project way back
when, which is just another layer to this,
which is when you talk to Alexa, you
know, or any other of these AI assistants,
I, I use air quotes for that.
In these, they, they speak back to you in
your language and it sounds pretty good.
And that's another thing where we have lots
of data in English, for instance, to create
these text to speech models that sound
But for languages like that one and that you
mentioned, Alex and others, you you can't
have text to speech, which is sometimes very
helpful, especially in in some parts of the
world where illiteracy is a problem.
So if they're trying to use a tech tool, you
know, most of our tech tools are very what's
the word like text.
So we still have text interfaces.
And if you're trying to learn information
but you're suffering from illiteracy or
something, it's very hard to to gain any of
Now, if you're able to talk natural
language, talk to a device and then have it
talk back to you.
You can gain access to that information, but
If the text to speech model can't actually
speak your language.
And that's where we saw a demo of a of an
application that that shares some farming
information that's being used actively.
And I don't remember where and I feel I feel
bad for that, but I can't recall exactly
where the application is, is in use.
But essentially you, you ask it a question
about farming practices and it shares back
with you in audibly in, in that language the
information just out of personal experience.
When I was working on a the same type of
tool that the open source Amazon Echo before
Amazon Echo was around, we often got that
feedback that there were there were folks who
were excited about it, but they were like,
It can't speak my language, you know, my my
mother tongue, I guess, and asking if we
could support that language.
And the answer at the time was, that's very
difficult because the data we have access to
doesn't include examples of that language.
So we can't train a model without the data.
And it was very hard to track that data
And Mozilla has done that clearly with at
least a few of these uncommon languages.
And you can actually see that work in their
Common Voice project where they have asked
many, many people to record that data so
that they have it.
Did you did you both come out of It's going
to sound like we were at an AI summit the
whole week or something, but that's not the
But it did it did make an impression because
I think we all came out of all hands feeling
Yes. About the future of AI and more, you
know, more hopeful.
Yeah. It's that AI is not all about just.
Just crunching data to, you know, to sell
advertisements or to sell products or to
You know, there's there's so many things
that can be done for the good of humanity,
That's what I felt at the end of the week.
I always consider like the current state of
technology is like the accelerated capitalism
of technology where something new, new
something that appears to be new, comes out
and then is digested in three months and
it's exposed to the users, gets to the top of
the hype, and then it collapses and it gets
completely annihilated because all the major
corporations tried to monetize it before it
was ready and before it was actually useful
And in the past ten years, we saw the these
hype cycle how potentially very good ideas
and good solutions were completely destroyed
by the fact that this needs to be finished
and monetized and shipped to the public and
consumed and now it's not ready and now it's
creating problems. So it goes like it
completely gets tainted, the reputation gets
tainted, and now nobody is using that.
As soon as you mention it, it's just, oh
Like the core concept of the blockchain was
a good concept.
And now, like everything is attached to
crypto bros and scams and it.
Has been tainted.
And we will see these happening already is
happening with AI.
Chatgpt is just getting worse and worse
because now it's training all the absolute
trashy data that no one is had any like
moderation about on top of that.
So I was very pessimistic about this whole
But seeing how the pragmatic approach of
Mozilla and how let's take things slow, let's
treat these as what are the goods, what are
Okay, these are the bad.
Let's try to fix the bad and expose the
issues and find solutions.
And then the good parts.
Let's actually use them for the good and the
betterment of the world.
And even the simple thing that Mozilla
allows you to submit your data to train these
model and you retain the ownership of the
data, we don't track your ID, we don't just
digest or steal anything.
It's all ethical and in the open things that
no one, all these large corporations that
they're shipping, these AI tools they even
thought about or they cared about it.
It just see the internet as an open bucket.
They can just grab and just use anything and
anything is available for everybody.
Just already that simple thing of
establishing some rules to allow users to
retain their data and use it if they want to
train a model and help is it's great.
It just gives gives a little bit of hope and
I want to bring this around the Thunderbird.
I've got a question for you, Ryan.
As you know, as the guy who is kind of
responsible for thunderbird's long term
vision and the prolonged sustainability of
I'm wondering if you came out of all hands
with a slightly different perspective on
Thunderbird's future, what Thunderbird's
future should be, if anything, any of the
conversations you had or any of the meetings
that you did, if that altered in any way the
direction that you want Thunderbird to go
in, if that makes sense, or gave you ideas
for future features or anything like that.
You know, I'm different than you two in that
I had a lot more visibility into the rest of
my life. I'm very fortunate that I've gotten
to have a lot of conversations with a lot of
different teams who presented work there.
And so and I'd love to see more of that for
for everyone on the team and frankly, for the
world. You know, the world should see more
of what of what they're doing and understand
more of what they're doing.
Being introduced to the work before all
hands had changed me a little bit at all
hands. It just reinforced.
A feeling of we can do this.
I felt that way about us specifically.
You guys all know that I have a high degree
of faith in the Thunderbird team and and know
that we can execute on the things we want to
do and know that we all have the right values
that guides how we do our work.
So I don't have to worry if somebody is
doing something shady because I just know
that we're all values aligned on on, you
know, privacy and these other core pieces.
You know, I, I need to find a positive way
to say this, but I'll say it the, the reverse
positive way, which is like so many
applications, they talk about stickiness and
I talk about it sometimes, too.
But when you talk to folks who are at these
startups about the stickiness of an
application, they're always talking about
how do we get the user to stay in the app
just any way?
And usually that results in dark patterns
like how do we we need notifications, we need
all this stuff jumping in front of their
face so that they're just like glued to it.
Because if we can show that a user is on this
four hours, five hours a day, we can raise
more money, we can sell that to advertisers,
etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
We don't do that, you know, and we that's
not even in our universe of like
considerations. So anyway, the point is, is
that everyone on the team avoids those type
of dark patterns and we stick to like our
core values too.
So there's two pillars, you know, make up
the Thunderbird team.
What I saw in the other teams and in my
conversations with the with the members of
those teams was the same kind of the same
You start talking to them and they're they
know what they're doing.
They know how they're going to do it.
And like, I felt like there was a real
chance of impact.
Why has Mozilla fallen behind?
Why is Firefox?
Why? Why do we not have the 30% market share
that we had in the early 2000?
It's not a lack of trying.
You know, there have been market forces.
There have been the ability to leverage
monopolies in order to take over people's
experience of the Internet platforms.
I was just saying today in Windows, I don't
know what they call it.
It's some kind of pain on the left hand
It has the weather.
When you click it, you see like news and
blah, blah, blah blah, blah.
It does not respect any of my defaults.
If you click something to send an email
there, it opens outlook.
If you click something that opens a web page
there, it opens edge.
Even though my defaults are of course
Thunderbird and Firefox, that's something
that Mozilla as a whole is fighting and will
continue to fight.
But what Alex is saying, there are other
fights for the soul of the internet.
And talking to folks, I was convinced that
there's not only like a a good that can be
done there, but there's also opportunities
to make a difference there and to do things
for the good of Mozilla.
What I came away convinced of is that there
are actually opportunities for us to show the
world that there can be a better Internet
and those are achievable.
Like we can actually make a difference
We can. We can.
There are moments and we're living in a
moment where social and I especially are two
places we could we could improve the
landscape and produce tools that people find
useful and that are good for them.
Social is probably my big takeaway is I was
aware of what was going on in social.
And of course, you know, I'm not sharing
anything out of that that shouldn't be
shared. Like The Verge has reported that
Mozilla is looking into social instance on
the Mastodon network on the Fediverse sorry.
So on the Fediverse, there's Mozilla social
right now and it's in a closed beta seeing
the work that that team was doing and seeing
the competence and the professionalism they
were bringing to that work.
I was thinking this is actually both good
for the Internet and a good product.
It looks like a really great product and I'm
excited to like encourage family members of
mine who have grown tired of the world of
meta and x x.
The social platform formerly known as
The that there's there's going to be an
alternative that's approachable and focused
on on good interactions and not be blanketed
with ads for like for me it's like weird ads
that I have no interest in on on x.
So sorry folks, if anybody loves X who's
listening to this, but like they're all like
things I have never expressed interest in on
the internet, it's like survival pack.
The world's coming to an end.
You need a knife, a gun or a crickets that
you can eat.
Like how did they decide that, that this was
what you needed?
But anyway, I didn't answer your question at
Jason That's okay.
Does it does it influence my idea of where
Thunderbird should go other than wanting to
take some of that expertise from other parts
of Mozilla and incorporate it into the
Thunderbird product? Because there are
things they know.
Other parts of Mozilla know how to do
better, like especially the AI stuff.
Mozilla I there's all these integrations
going into Firefox protecting folks from
scams and other things on the internet.
I would love to leverage that expertise and
help make something good in Thunderbird.
Overall, I just came away feeling like
Mozilla can be healthy and have an impact on
the world, which I think is.
When that's the case, that's a better world
that we can live in.
There are a couple of things that I want to
add to that in terms of like the same
question that you asked Jason, I there have
been discussion around for the past few years
about, hey, what don't we integrate some AI
tools into Thunderbird to help speed up your
inbox or help translations and things like
And I was always the first one to say, no,
We're not going to don't even mention it.
We're just going to destroy our reputation
because of all the problems that I've been
exposed by these large corporations.
They're heavy, unreliable.
They're always they need a remote server.
So your all your data, you just send it.
You don't know where it goes.
You don't know who reads it, how it's used
in which bucket it ends.
If it's going to be used for other training
sessions, who knows, right?
Like it's all a massive black box, but now
with the conversation that we had and all the
products that Mozilla is doing and the
effort that Mozilla is putting into these
into these these section, I have the
confidence that we can actually do useful
things. Even the simple exploration of let's
make a model the smallest possible target and
only on one single thing that can do right
and can be run in client.
And it's so small that it doesn't destroy
Hell yeah, let's absolutely do it.
That opens up so much for Thunderbird in
terms of what kind of feature, what kind of
extra things that we can do that yes, our
competitors will have because they will do,
but they will not never be able to claim
that they do it as good as we do in terms of
ethical respecting and privacy approach for
They'll never be able to claim that it's not
a black box.
Exactly. Yeah, we are.
We will be able to show the user this is
what's happening behind the curtain.
If you want to see your we're reading your
email to give you a summarization or give you
The data stays in your computer, the data
stays in your client.
And if you close it or uninstall it, it just
goes away forever.
Like we don't keep any record of it.
No one will be able to even remotely claim
any of that because it's not in their
interest. They only need to make money, so
they need more data.
That's the only thing.
I feel like that's that's really at the core
of most people's privacy concerns is, you
know, whatever kind of product we're talking
about or whatever kind of software or
service. The core problem is always my data
going out into the cloud.
I'm using air quotes for the cloud.
You know, it's really going to into a server
and not having full control over.
What happens to it and not really not
and privacy agreements and things like that.
Not even understanding like I think I think
So Mozilla has a blog called Privacy not
Included where they review, you know,
products and services to to analyze its.
Well normally analyze its lack of privacy
and raise some raise some red flags and
warnings and things like that.
And I think the most recent newsletter they
sent out said something to the effect of, you
know, we asked nine privacy experts about
as it as it relates to AI.
And none of these experts understood it.
So how do you stand a chance of
This is truly different because a lot of
these companies are using these the data that
they collect through interactions with you
and your data.
So when you talk to an LM, when you interact
with whatever data that AI model is touching,
it's your data.
Oftentimes there's a clause in there like we
reserve the right to use any of this data in
order to train future models.
And sometimes for other reasons.
And so and that's that's the core
difference, isn't it?
You know, we went to all hands and what we
learned about the rest of Mozilla's is that
we all carry that as a core tenant, which is
like it's just kind of a no brainer, like.
Hey, you use this product, you use this
software, you interact with us in this way.
We still don't own your data.
We don't own you.
You are not the product.
The I was very encouraged by the fact that
there was an acknowledgement of not only do
we need to make these things, but we need to
make them impactful.
We need to actually get them in front of
people and get and show there's something
different. There's another option because I
think normal people, they're past this at
this point. They're like, the options are
You know, I don't have any other options, so
I'm just going to I'm just going to stop
thinking about that. I'm going to stop
thinking about Facebook, Instagram.
Are they grabbing all of my data?
You know, we know how many permissions they
All of them.
From all these.
Yeah, exactly. And we know from I don't
know, I wouldn't call them leaks, but reports
on Facebook data usage that it's all used
like it's used, it's all sold.
Like you've got the Facebook app on your
It's tracking where you're going and it's
selling that to advertisers.
You may not think about that, but that's
what it's doing.
So like, yeah, people just accept it because
they have to accept it because they, they
feel like it's the there's no other product
in that space that they can use.
Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.
So I was excited by the fact that I thought
all these efforts we heard about are grounded
in like, reality and have a chance to shape
the market and people can use them.
So nobody liked the Montreal All Hands.
Basically. It was like it was awful.
It was awful. Yes, it was.
Another confession, I guess if you want to if
you want to categorize it as such.
I don't feel like I'm working in a silo
Yes, I and I don't mean that in terms of I'm
over here doing my marketing and
communication thing and you guys are over
there doing your engineering and your UX and
you know, but I mean, I came out of there
wanting to devote some of my time to
promoting other Mozilla projects besides
Like I feel really part of.
I'm really inspired now to, to try to affect
some change and some education and just try
to make a difference beyond just, you know,
our work here at Thunderbird.
Like the, the larger picture.
Um, I just felt, yeah, I don't know, it's
just warm fuzzies.
That's going to be the name of this episode.
Yeah. All hands, warm fuzzies.
It felt the overall week.
It felt invigorating, refreshing.
And it gave me I think it gave everyone a
more hopeful view of the future.
Currently, the Internet looks more like a
dumpster fire every day.
There was there was a comment made at one of
The session was called AI Boot Camp.
And, you know, he made a good point.
The presenter, he he says that we tend to
look at things like AI from the lens of, you
know, post-apocalyptic world.
And Yes. And, you know, all of the negative
negative outcomes because as as humans.
We tend to our technology, our creations
tend to mimic the fiction.
That we read and most of the science or that
we create, you know, movies, whatever.
And most of the science fiction revolving
around AI is super negative, but it doesn't
have to be.
So I didn't go to that talk, but I
remembered you telling me about that Jason
and it shifted me a little bit.
Just hearing kind of that take in some of
the examples you gave of that session.
It's good to remember that technology is
neither good nor bad.
Usually it's both in its, in its
implementation, in its, in how it's rolled
out into the world. And that's because you
have people leveraging it who have both good
and bad intentions.
And so we shouldn't shy away from a
technology that is.
You know, coming of age and that that has
good applications because we know that so
many people are going to use it for bad or
overhype it or oversell it.
Like the blockchain is like neutral.
Like it's a great way to have a distributed
ledger, you know, And if you can look at it
like that and not think about, you know, the
good and the bad ways in which it's used, you
can just say like, Oh yeah, that's a great,
interesting piece of technology that might
have some purpose, which, you know, with AI,
if we can save people time around managing
their inbox, if we can provide essentially
democratized like the an executive assistant
who helps you sift through all the email and
figure out what's worth the most time, what's
needs your attention, that's good.
That's good. That's a good application of AI
if it actually works, if it's not just hype,
if it's actually is able to surface things
that need your attention, if.
It's, you know, if it's under your control
and it's running locally and and it's
personalized, personalized for you.
I will admit I wasn't going to admit this in
the podcast, but I'll admit it.
I went in with some level of skepticism just
in general, like like Alex, I saw some of the
talks. It's not that I didn't believe
Mozilla could do make a positive impact in
these spaces. I kind of had a cynicism
around the fact that I, I was worried no one
could make a positive impact in these
And as I watched and met these people, I
realized, you know what, Actually, I think
they can. I think we can, you know, because
it's very clear eyed.
I don't you know, without sharing too much,
I think everyone in the in the whole event
was very clear eyed about where Mozilla can
actually make a difference.
And things that are just because of the
players in the space are maybe too big to
have an impact right now.
You know, I think there was a really just
like I said, clear eyed view of like where we
can have impact and where we can make a
And and I'm so glad I'm so glad that my
cynicism and skeptic skepticism was just
eroded. And now I'm just like you, Jason.
I'm just excited and want to tell people
about all the cool stuff that I saw.
I think this is the perfect note to end this
episode, I guess.
Yeah, I think. I think so.
I think positive and warm.
No negativity, Warm fuzzies.
So yeah. So that's going to do it for episode
four of the Thunder cast.
Thank you as always for listening and thank
you for tolerating our tangents and rabbit
holes and enthusiasm.
Yeah, because you know, it's not always
about talking about Thunderbird.
Sometimes it's about embracing.
The culture of the company we work for are
just talking about issues that matter to
people like you, people like me who want to
see the the internet become a better place.
If you want to keep up with us, if you want
to see what we're up to, you can visit our
blog blog at Thunderbird dot net.
You can follow us on a whole bunch of
different social platforms like Mastodon, and
we have matrix channels.
If you need some community support or if you
just want to hang out and talk to the
community about whatever you want to talk
If you have a question for us or have a
suggestion for the podcast, you can send an
email to podcast at Thunderbird dot net and
I think that's going to do it.
And oh, do we want to tease anything for the
Well, I think there's some fun stuff to tease
for the next episode.
I talked about our future plans, which some
Thunder Cast listeners will be familiar with.
Some of those plans that we've announced.
And and we have even more in the works
trying to make email better in the world and
stay tuned for that.
I hope by next episode we have some some
really good details to share on that.
Otherwise I would encourage folks to, if
they haven't already updated to Supernova to
go and grab Supernova, you can download
Net next time.
I think we should spend some time talking
about what was good about ye old internet.
We've touched on it before, but that's my
Submission is like we should talk about.
Okay. Yeah. Oh yeah.
I have like Italian internet experience so
that's going to be a culture shock for
Perfect. I look forward to it.
Yeah, so me too.
Alex Ryan, thank you so much.
And everybody out there listening.
Enjoy your day, enjoy your week.
Take care and take care of each other.
We'll see you next time.
Thanks for listening.