CONDUIT 001: Ashton Kutcher’s Thorny Issues and More

Oh hey, we’re back with a brand new show. This is Conduit, a mostly sometimes occasionally weekly show where we share what’s interesting us lately in the world of culture and futurism. Today on the show we talk about new phones, snooping cars, galactic war crimes, and celebrities behaving… like celebrities.

This Week’s Top Stories That Matter

  1. Wake Up Babe, New iPhones Just Dropped: Apple’s 2023 event introduced the iPhone 15 with USB-C charging and enhanced camera features. The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 5x tetraprism zoom lens, and the iPhone 15 offers satellite-based roadside assistance.
  2. Musk, Star-fink: Elon Musk denied Ukraine’s request to use Starlink for a surprise attack on Russian forces. This has led the U.S. military to reconsider contract terms with commercial vendors like SpaceX.
  3. I’m afraid I can do that, Dave: Modern cars are collecting vast amounts of personal data. Mozilla’s research shows that all 25 car brands they studied pose significant privacy risks.
  4. Jonathan Major Controversy: Majors faced backlash for a PR stunt where he appeared to intervene in a fight between two teens, right before his domestic violence trial.
  5. Hot Strike Summer: Unionized auto workers from GM, Ford, and Stellantis went on strike demanding higher wages amidst the industry’s shift to electric vehicles.

Deep Dive: Ashton Kutcher sucks actually

  • Discussion on Ashton Kutcher’s involvement with Thorn, an anti-child predator company, and controversies surrounding his defense of Danny Masterson, a convicted rapist.
  • Kutcher’s claims about Thorn’s achievements and the actual data from various sources are… contrasting.
  • The episode also touches upon Kutcher’s past actions and statements, raising questions about his credibility and intentions.

Transcript Link

A transcript of this episode can be found at the end of this post.


I misspoke during the deep dive and at one point said 300 instead of 300,000. I think in context it will be obvious, just in case, here’s a correction 🙂



Oh, hey, we’re back with a brand new show. This is Conduit, a mostly, sometimes occasionally weekly show. We share what’s interesting us in the world of culture and futurism. Today on the show, we talk about new phones, snooping cars, galactic war crimes, and celebrities behaving like celebrities.

Let’s get into it.

Alright, so for our first show, I want to talk about the most important thing to me, the new iPhone. I don’t like to be that Apple fanboy, but I am. It is what it is.

At Apple’s 2023 event, the company unveiled the iPhone 15, which features USB-C charging, replacing the previous lightning connector.

The iPhone 15 Pro boasts enhanced camera capabilities, including the ability to capture spatial video coming later this month, and it can also shoot in a super high resolution.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max getting a five times tetraprism zoom lens. Additionally, the iPhone 15 offers a satellite-based roadside assistance feature, allowing users without cell service to call for help, which we all know Apple loves pretending like they’re saving the world one iPhone at a time. So, good for them.

In our next story, Elon Musk denies The Ukraine request to use Starlink for a surprise attack on Russian forces in Crimea, which has prompted the US military to re-evaluate contract terms regarding wartime use of purchased services.

While SpaceX wasn’t under a military contract during the Crimea incident, the Pentagon’s increasing reliance on commercial vendors like SpaceX has highlighted the need for clearer terms in future agreements.

The US military’s growing investment in space has raised concerns about the obligations and liabilities of commercial vendors when supporting military operations. With the shoddy workmanship that Musk is known for, it’s no wonder the UAPs are finding it super easy to stop by unannounced.

Modern cars have become significant threats to privacy, with every single one of the 25 brands researched by a Firefox company, Mozilla, earning the “Privacy Not Included” warning label. These vehicles, often touted as “computers on wheels,” have transformed into powerful data collecting machines, gathering extensive personal information from drivers.

Despite the vast amount of data they’ve collected, most car brands offer little to no control over personal data, and many share or even sell this information, including standard age, race, gender stats, but also when and where you’re driving to and from, your literal genetics and your sexual activity.

76% of car makers say they can sell this data and 56% say they can share your information to the government and law enforcement. So when the far right get their way, all the gender traitors can thank their Subaru for getting them arrested for their THOT crimes.

Get it?


Like she’s a THOT?

Alright, moving on.

Jonathan Majors faced criticism for what many deemed the worst PR stunt of the century when a video surfaced of him seemingly intervening in a fight between two teenage girls, just before his domestic violence trial.

Critics speculate about the timing and authenticity of the video, questioning its coincidental emergence. The incident has sparked discussions about the lengths celebrities go to in managing their public image.

Major’s next trial date in the alleged beating of his then-girlfriend is set for October 25. While there is a lot of evidence in supporting his likely innocence, stunts like these really don’t help.

No joke to end this one, just facts.

And lastly, another fun car-related story.

Nearly 1 in 10 of America’s unionized autoworkers went on strike at Detroit’s three major automakers, General Motors, Ford and Delantris to demand higher wages amidst the industry’s shift to electrical vehicles.

The United Auto Workers Union’s simultaneous strike, a first in its history, targets three assembly plants, with workers seeking a 36% wage increase over four years.

The strikes, supported by President Joe Biden, come at a pivotal time in the auto industry when concerns about the transition to electric vehicles and the future of unionized labor in the sector.

The strike coincides with other strikes such as the Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild of America, what seems to be like a new push for organized labor.

Much like how I organized these five little baby stories. No, that was terrible. I’m so sorry. All right, I’m going to be right back with our kind of deeper dive story.

[music] Ashton Kutcher has spent the last decade turning himself into a tech bro and positioning himself as a Silicon Valley-esque venture capitalist, as the co-founder of A-grade Investments and several others over the years, including the anti-child predator company, Thorne.

Thorn was created by Ashton Kutcher and then-wife Demi Moore as DNA Foundation, a self-glorifying play on their names Demi and Ashton. Thorn began after the couple had seen a news report, because that’s the kind of thing celebrities can do.

Thorn’s primary efforts focused on working with technology partners to facilitate child safety and to prevent sexual trafficking. Ashton Kutcher recently stepped down from this role in the organization after it was it was revealed that he’d written a letter in defense of his That ’70s Show co-star, Danny Masterson, who has been convicted on two counts of rape.

According to CBS News, the letter called Masterson a “role model and an honest and intentional human being who set an extraordinary standard around how you treat other people.” Kutcher, who again, heads a child sexual abuse prevention company, then went on to say that Masterson a convicted rapist was not an ongoing harm and that he would trust him to be alone with his own children.

I want to highlight a specific response that I read in an article on the Mary Sue where Kate Hudson, not that one, wrote “Raping and drugging women is the antithesis of respectful and kind.” And I think that sums it up perfectly.

In Kutcher’s resignation, he spouts many of the same note-zap apology points all celebrities make when they’re held accountable for their words and their actions. Heartfelt apology, days of listening and learning, and so on. But the controversy has opened up criticism of other points in Kutcher’s past.

One example that comes to mind is the conflict of interest for a leader of a foundation regarding technology to also be a massive investor in numerous technology companies.

In 2017, Kutcher testified before the U.S. Senate on behalf of Thorne. He claimed that Thorm had helped to save over 6,000 sex trafficking victims in the previous year, 2,000 of which he claimed were children. But data from the FBI suggests that only an average of 175 minors were identified.

In 2015, a total of 672 sex trafficking victims in total were identified, with another 744 state-level offenses being opened in the same year. There’s likely overlap between a lot of these numbers.

In 2011, Kutcher claimed on CNN that there were between 100 and 300,000 child sex slaves in America. You’re likely going to find this quote a lot.

It originates in a report from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001 based on data from the 1990s. The report actually stated that over 300 children were at risk for commercial sexual exploitation.

Further, according to the Washington Post, the researchers started by compiling the number of youth in 14 different categories, such as foreign children, children in public housing, or female gang members.

But many of these categories could overlap, such as a female foreign-born child in public housing who was part of a gang. That one person would count as all three, according to the Washington Post.

The 300,000 figure also involved a shit ton of guesswork and assumptions. That part was not written by the Washington Post. That was all me.

Even the author states that the guesswork was based on a completely different time and that a more current study is needed than his own study.

In reality, in 2011, there had been about 800 yearly arrests for underage prostitution. In 2021, there were over 17,000 reports of child sex trafficking, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

I’m kind of conflicted, because I do think overcompensating these numbers might inspire more action, which essentially could save more kids from being trafficked.

For me, the problem comes when these numbers are being puppeted by someone who benefits from his services being used.

Lastly, I want to pull up an interesting anecdote in Ashton Demeolo’s own words on the Rosie O’Donnell Show. Take a listen.

[Kutcher] You know what’s funny is when she was 14 when we started the show, I was like 19, right? And they’re like, okay, you guys are going to be making out in this scene. And I’m like thinking like, wait, this is like slightly illegal, right?

[O’Donnell] I was going to say, that’s probably your first kiss ever, right?

[Kunis] It was my first kiss.

[O’Donnell] Why does someone bet you made with Danny about our first kiss?

[Kutcher] No, it wasn’t the first kiss.

[Kunis] first kiss.

[Kutcher]It was like a second or third kiss.

[Kunis] It was the first, it was like the first week.

[Kutcher] No it was not the first week.

[Kunis] Whatever, let me tell you what happened.

[Kutcher] No, let me tell you what happened.

[Kunis] No, no, no. I’ve never kissed a guy. I was so, I mean you know Ash was attractive and I was a 14 year old little girl and I was extremely scared for my life.

[O’Donnell] Sure.

[Kunis] And he was very nice about it. He was like, oh don’t worry. So I was like, okay. Then Danny goes and goes, dude I’ll give you $10 if you French kiss her. What do you want me to stick my, stick your tongue in my mouth or some?

[Kutcher] What? No, no, no, no.

[Kunis] For $10.

[Kutcher] You’re You’re making it sound like it was like really bad, okay. We had a little side bet. Which was whether or not, you know, like you know, you’re just on the show or boyfriend and girlfriend! Yeah, you would use tongue right, Rosie?

[O’Donnell] I mean you would you depends what kind of an actor you are.

[Kutcher] Absolutely, Right? Yeah, so Danny bets me like 20 bucks that I wouldn’t do it. I’m like yeah sure what do I do?

[O’Donnel] And then the cops showed up and he got arrested pretty much.

[Kutcher] They should have!

[Kunis] But he never did it.

[Kutcher] I so did!

[Kunis] He claims to this day he did it. I swear, I swear.

[Kutcher]Mila, I so did it.

[O’Donnell] He never did it?

[Kunis] I didn’t let him. I think he tried, but I think I kept my mouth shut.

[Kutcher] No, come on.

[O’Donnell] Yeah. You did the old teeth block?

[Kunis] Yes!

[O’donnell] You did the old teeth block.

[Kunis] Yes, I, he never got his tongue in my mouth.

[O’Donnell] No, no, you didn’t. You didn’t, Ashton. Just admit it.

[Kunis] Dad, I swear.

[O’Donnell] She’s 14, she didn’t, you stopped it.

[Kutcher] She would, no, that was not the first… She would know that was not the first, you had turned 15 by then.

[O’donnell] No, she was 12, but I know it.

[Kutcher] There’s a big difference. That one year makes the whole world change.

[O’Donnell]All right then.

[End of Clip]

[Jacob] But that’s not all. Here’s another clip from Punk’s, his very own show, speaking about Hilary Duff.

[Next Clip]

[Kutcher] She also has an album out. She’s going to be in a movie called Cheaper by the Dozen. And she’s one of the girls that we’re all waiting for to turn 18. Along with the Olsen twins. Any 15 year old!

[End of Clip]

[Jacob] 15 certainly seems to be a favorite number of his. Spoken like a true advocate.

Now obviously I focus on Kutcher here and the video makes me very sad for his now wife and co-star Mila Kunis, but I do want to mention before we go that she did also write in Masterson’s defense, saying that he has innate goodness and a genuine nature, and that he’s proven to be an amazing friend, confidant, and outstanding older brother figure to her, and went on to quote “wholeheartedly vouch for his exceptional character and tremendous positive influence.” I doubt his victims feel the same.

It’s also important to me to mention that other co-stars like Deborah Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith also wrote letters in support, while Topher Grace, Wilmer Valderrama, and Laura Prepon did not write letters in support. However, I do want to say Valderrama has a pretty shitty history with women, such as a Howard Stern interview where he claimed to have taken Mandy Moore’s virginity and said that sex with Mandy was so good, but it wasn’t like warm apple pie.So take with that what you will.

This whole story kind of just culminates in like an icky feeling. You just can’t trust any celebrities, even the ones who are out here like trying to save lives are still gross. And I just don’t know how, I don’t know what we do with that. But if you have any ideas, I don’t know, hit me up on Instagram.Maybe I can talk about it later.

I don’t know. Anyway.

Thank you guys so much for listening to this episode. It was pretty short, which I like. All right. Um, tune in, uh, sometime, whenever I record next, maybe next week, maybe the week after maybe next month. Who’s to say, just make sure that you’re subscribed and then, then you’ll know about it.

All right. Thanks guys.