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The Creator of ChatGPT on the Rise of Artificial Intelligence
David Remnick sits down with Sam Altman, the C.E.O. of OpenAI, which created ChatGPT, GPT-4, and other artificial-intelligence programs. A.I. is a tool, Altman emphasizes, that streamlines human work and quickens the pace of scientific advancement. But he claims to empathize with concerns about the emerging technology. “Even if you don’t believe in any of the sci-fi stories,” he tells Remnick, “you could still be freaked out about the level of change that this is going to bring society and the compressed time frame in which that’s going to happen.”
Despite examples of GPT-4 declaring love or longing to escape to the real world, Altman avoids projecting sentience or goals onto it, and he describes it modestly: “What this system is is a system that takes in some text, does some complicated statistics on it, and puts out some more text.” And, though he acknowledges that the tool can be misused, he added, “I don’t believe we’re on a path to build a creature.” Altman, who testified before Congress last month, describes a recent meeting at the White House led by Vice-President Kamala Harris, and he passes the buck to the government to regulate A.I. technology to avoid monopolization and increased income inequality. The economic disruption and job losses that are certain to come could be managed through policies such as universal basic income, he feels, despite the fact that those policies are politically unpalatable.
Is the Debt-Ceiling Deal a Template to Fix Washington, or a Mere Blip?
Policymakers have avoided a financial catastrophe just days before the “X-Date,” when the U.S. Treasury would have run out of money to pay its bills. Despite some opposition from members of both parties, the House and Senate chambers passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act, a compromise by Speaker McCarthy and President Biden that will raise the debt ceiling until January of 2025. While the Hill was consumed by these negotiations, the judiciary continued to hold insurrectionists accountable for their roles in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, was sentenced to eighteen years in prison for seditious conspiracy, which the sentencing judge called one of the most serious crimes an individual in America can commit. The sentencing was a victory for democracy, but also a reminder of the anger that still courses through the country and fuels our political system. The New Yorker staff writers Susan B. Glasser, Jane Mayer, and Evan Osnos analyze these two recent events and consider whether the political center can hold in such a rage-filled America.
How “Succession” Captured the Trump-Era Hangover
On Sunday, after four seasons, the HBO series “Succession” came to a close. More than good TV, it was an artifact of Donald Trump’s Presidency, and of the lingering feelings that have extended into the Biden era. Within the structure of a family drama, the show satirized corporate power, skewered the ultra-wealthy, and critiqued the media. And, notably, it successfully fictionalized Trump—or perhaps it imagined a kind of candidate who could ascend in a world in which Trump’s views had become more widely accepted. Following the finale, Naomi Fry joined Tyler Foggatt to discuss what made the series such an effective rendering of the current political climate.
E. Jean Carroll and Roberta Kaplan on Defamatory Trump
Earlier this month, E. Jean Carroll won an unprecedented legal victory: in a civil suit, Donald Trump was found liable for sexual abuse against her in the mid-nineteen-nineties, and for defamation in later accusing her of a hoax. But no sooner was that decision announced than Trump reiterated his defamatory insults against her in a controversial CNN interview. Carroll has now filed an amended complaint, in a separate suit, based on Trump’s continued barrage. But can anything make him stop? “The one thing he understands is money,” Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, tells David Remnick. “At some point he’ll understand that every time he does it, it’s going to cost him a few million dollars. And that may make a difference.” Carroll acknowledges that Trump will keep attacking her to get a laugh—“a lot of people don’t like women,” she says simply—but she is undaunted, telling Remnick, “I hate to be all positive about this, but I think we’ve made a difference.” “This is his moment of comeuppance?” Remnick asks her; “I think it just may be.”
How Do You Interview Donald Trump?
Donald Trump has always presented a problem for journalists. His years as a reality-television star taught him to outmaneuver facts and control narratives. Now as Trump’s second Presidential run gets under way, these skills are proving useful yet again. At CNN’s recent town hall, Trump answered questions in front of a live and sympathetic audience—a situation that played directly to his strengths as a performer. For Jelani Cobb and Steve Coll, New Yorker writers and Columbia Journalism School faculty members, the town hall raised some questions: Where is the line between coverage and promotion? And what is the role of news organizations in the age of political polarization? Cobb and Coll join Tyler Foggatt to discuss the dilemmas that journalists face when reporting on the former President and his 2024 campaign.
Join The New Yorker’s writers and editors for reporting, insight, and analysis of the most pressing political issues of our time. On Mondays, David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, presents conversations and feature stories about current events. On Wednesdays, the senior editor Tyler Foggatt goes deep on a consequential political story via far-reaching interviews with staff writers and outside experts. And, on Fridays, the staff writers Susan B. Glasser, Jane Mayer, and Evan Osnos discuss the latest developments in Washington and beyond, offering an encompassing understanding of this moment in American politics.