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Interview with Governor Mark Gordon (R-WY); Interview with State Senator Penry Gustafson (R-SC); Interview with "In the Rom with Peter Bergen" Host and CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen; Interview with Khan Academy Founder and CEO Sal Khan. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 26, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. And welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the largest conservation agreement in the history of the Colorado River.
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GOLODRYGA: A landmark deal to stop the Colorado River from running dry and protect water access for millions of Americans. But experts warn, it likely
won't be enough. Governor of Wyoming, Mark Gordon, tells me about how his state is trying to save this vital resource.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill is not perfect. We want to see it get closer to the time a woman is pregnant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do not have the right to make decisions for someone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: As a divisive six-week abortion limit is signed into law in South Carolina, I speak to Penry Gustafson, one of the female senators
fighting against the New York total ban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN OF JOINT CHIEFS: Paying troops, the morale of troops, weapon systems, contracts, all of that would be impacted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: What would a U.S. debt default do to national security? I asked journalist and security analyst Peter Bergen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAL KHAN, FOUNDER AND CEO, KHAN ACADEMY: You can take the average student and make them an exceptional student.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Could A.I. revolutionize how kids learn? Walter Isaacson talks to founder and CEO, Sal Khan, about his A.I. powered tutoring platform.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
We begin in the western U.S. where a landmark deal to protect one of the country's most important waterways has finally been reached. The Colorado
River serves more than 40 million Americans across multiple states. But it's drying up at an alarming rate. This is what its largest reservoir
looked like last year. Drought, overuse, and climate change are largely to blame.
Now, in the new deal, the lower basin states, Nevada, California and Arizona, will temporarily cut their water usage. In exchange, they'll get
over a billion dollars' worth of federal grants. It is a significant reduction, about 13 percent of their total demand. But experts are already
warning that it's not a long-term fix.
Wyoming is one of the upper basin estates, which should also see the benefits of this deal. And Wyoming, Governor Mark Gordon joins me now from
Kaycee, Wyoming to talk about this and much more of the news today. Governor, thank you so much for joining us. So, I'm sure this deal is a big
relief for you. Tell us exactly what it means for the state?
GOV. MARK GORDON (R-WY): Well, it's very positive news. I will say, we don't know the details yet. There's still a lot to be worked out. So, we're
analyzing what this means. As you pointed out, it's really a lower basin state issue, and they are working through the details. And it's a little
bit uncertain with the debt ceiling topic coming up in Congress, whether the pay for reduce use is actually going to happen.
But I think the point you made early about how we've had a two-decade long drought, and that has really put challenges for the system, it's very much
important -- an important part of this conversation.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, you mentioned the debt ceiling, I was going to get to that. But since you went there, let's talk about it, because would you support
funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, which is where this would come from, to help support part of this deal? Because the federal government, in
a sense, as I noted in the intro, said that in exchange for the state's cutting their water usage, they would get federal funding. Would you
GORDON: Yes, absolutely, we would. I have to say, it's a very complicated agreement. And the nuances of consumptive views and how we judge that, the
modeling exercises, all of that has to be updated. And I think this buys us a little bit of time. It's been a great winter, I think, for a runoff, but
it has not changed the long-term challenge that we have.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, a great winter. Maybe you've won a couple of months, perhaps a year, but this deal isn't the panacea either because it would
expire in 2026. Give us some other insight into longer term solutions that, maybe the private sector there in your state or federally, are working on
that you are inspired by perhaps.
GORDON: Well, I think our states, all seven of them, have a long tradition of working to gather.
And it is known by all states that there is less water coming into the system than we originally modeled the agreement in 1922 after. And so,
there is a lot of work to be done, and it is very encouraging that the lower basin states have reached this initial agreement. There's a lot of
good conservation work that's being done. One thing that I really want to stress is that there is no real silver bullet in this process. It's going
to take a lot of negotiation.
In Wyoming, we've been looking at demand management. There are curtailments that are being considered. There are still upper basin reservoir water that
has been used to make sure that we keep power -- what is called the power pool in Lake Powell and Lake Mead still viable. And that's the real
challenge, is what happens if we run out of those upper basin reserves. And that's, I think, what we're all very happy. We have the time to look at
this again more carefully but there is still a lot of work to be done.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, it is commendable that these seven states were able to reach an agreement, nonetheless. And I'm curious just to get your thoughts
on connecting that to what we're seeing transpire in Washington, D.C., and that is the negotiations over the debt limit.
It's coming down to the wire. I mean, unfortunately, this is not a big surprise given the political climate today. But it does appear that there
is somewhat of a deal, at least in reach. I've -- latest reports suggest that there's a difference of about $70 billion, but nonetheless we'll
believe it when we see. The deal reportedly under discussion now. Caps nondefense discretionary spending over two years.
Now, that is considered a win for Democrats. Republicans had been looking at 10 years. But you know more than 30 percent of that spending goes to
states and localities, like you, like your constituents. Are you concerned, are you ready to tell your constituents that they should anticipate some
cuts from the federal government in terms of funding?
GORDON: Well, I think Wyoming is a very conservative state, and we have dealt with real challenges before from the federal government. We have to
stop spending as much money. Our delegation has been making sure that people understand where Wyoming's position is there, and we'll continue to
work on that. But your point about payments in lieu of taxes, your point about what happens to towns and communities, that is a substantial hit.
Wyoming has been very forward thinking in making sure we have adequate reserves, but those can only last for so long.
What we really need to do is to make sure that this country gets back on track with energy production. You know, we have not seen leasing on federal
lands that's been done in any kind of productive way over the last several years. And that means reduction and payments are coming to the state from
private companies that go through the federal government. It means the reduction in minimal royalty grants, and those, I think, are significant.
And it is a way that we can increase revenue, both to states and to the federal government.
GOLODRYGA: I know that you've been a skeptic and quite critical of green energy investment by this administration. Now, the president has been
linking this to the economy, into generating new jobs, jobs of the futures, and also connecting it to climate change, which goes back to the initial
topic that we started this discussion with, and that is what happening with the rivers in this country and the water supply, somewhat attributed to
climate change. Why are you so against investment in green technology?
GORDON: Well, what I'm against is mandates like ESG, because I think they - - you know, our investment strategy is for the best benefit of the beneficiaries. And look, for Wyoming, we're the first state to lean into
climate. We said we want to be climate negative, not climate neutral, not a renewable portfolio, but actually removing carbon dioxide from the
Wyoming has a tremendous amount of energy resources. We have some of the best wind. In fact, it has only taken 15 years to get this done. But the
largest domestic wind farm is starting to come -- to be constructed now in Wyoming, in Carbon County. We just had Bill Gates out to Southwestern
Wyoming to talk about a new type of advanced nuclear reactor, which is going to be necessary to have dispatchable and dependable electricity. And
we've also taken a lead, for the last two decades on carbon capture and sequestration.
It's one -- you know, when you look at the west, we all aren't somewhat aligned. In fact, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Governor of New Mexico, and I
have had a couple of opportunities to talk about what transition actually means. Are the jobs the same? Do they pay the same? Our communities are
So, I think, what we really need to have is an honest discussion about energy production. Wyoming is an all of the above. There is a balance. Many
of our companies actually have put a tremendous amount of effort into environmental stewardship, wildlife management, et cetera. So, my problem
is, when we have the simple, sort of, calculus that ESG is good, we often miss some of the really excellent work that's being done at the expense --
GOLODRYGA: ESG you mean --
GORDON: -- of beneficiaries.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, we should just let our viewers know.
GORDON: Environment, social and --
GOLODRYGA: Environmental, social, and -- yes, and corporate governance.
GOLODRYGA: While I have you, I want to ask you about your abortion restriction laws in the country, because they are some of the toughest. And
I'll be speaking with the Republican legislator from South Carolina in just a moment after our conversation, who's opposing the state's six-week
abortion ban, that just now we're getting word, has been temporarily put on hold by a judge there.
You signed the first state ban on mifepristone, that is the abortion medication, despite the fact that it has been legally approved for over 20
years in this country and is proven to be safer than Viagra and even penicillin.
You also signed a total abortion ban, currently blocked in the courts right now. Here's how one Republican state senator, a female who I did not -- not
one of the women I will be speaking with shortly. But here's how she interpreted these bans. She said that once a woman becomes pregnant, she
becomes a property of the State of South Carolina. What do you say to the women of Wyoming? Is that how they should be interpreting these bans?
GORDON: Well, in Wyoming, I am a pro-life governor, and we have a very pro- life legislature. That case, and in fact, the chemical abortion bill is also being brought into that. So, I have to be somewhat circumspect about
how we talk about an ongoing legal case.
But what I would tell you is that what we have focused on here in Wyoming, is making sure that as a pro-life state, we provide resources to young
mothers. We provide better educational opportunities. We provide, you know, the full support network underneath young parents. It is important that we
broaden this discussion to talk about mothers' needs and the support that we can provide for mothers as they move forward.
GOLODRYGA: What about women's rights, though, in general, and women's rights to choose what to do with their bodies? I mean, I know in South
Carolina, the issue is a matter of weeks. Is it at 22 weeks? Some people have proposed 12 weeks. And these are people who are against abortion. They
just don't think that this law should be enacted, and that women should be told and dictated by their state appointed and elected officials as to what
they should be doing with their bodies.
GORDON: Well, I think that's the very substance of the cases before the Wyoming courts, at this point, the district courts. And I'm sure it will be
fully exercised, and that discussion will happen. But from my point of view, we love children. We want to make sure children have a good start. We
love families. Wyoming is a very family friendly state. And we want to make sure that young families, young mothers, have all the resources they need
to make sure their children have the great opportunity to start life.
GOLODRYGA: Governor, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it today. Mark Gordon of Wyoming, thank you.
Well, as we mentioned, the South Carolina judge has just temporarily blocked the state's new abortion restrictions. 24 hours after it went into
effect, the legislation was signed into law by Governor Henry McMaster yesterday. It bans most abortions after a heartbeat is detected, that's
usually around six weeks and before many women know that they're pregnant.
There are exceptions though when an abortion is needed to save a patient's life or if there are fetal -- fatal fetal problems. There are also some
exceptions for victims of rape and incest up to 12 weeks. The five female senators in the South Carolina Senate who have become known as the sister
senators all voted against it. They say what this law is really about is controlling women.
State Senator Penry Gustafson is one of them and she joins us again. Senator Gustafson, thank you so much for joining us. I don't know if you
were able to listen to my conversation now with the governor of Wyoming when I asked him the points that you have been making, and that is the
rights of women. His answer seemed to always refer to the rights of children and babies. I'm just curious to get your response to what you just
heard, and then we'll follow up with this news that just came out from the judge blocking the bill.
STATE SEN. PENRY GUSTAFSON (R-SC): Well, thank you for having me back. I contend and have always supported the rights of the baby and the rights of
the mother. Balancing these rights out, that's where the conundrum is, that's where the biggest difference, schism lies is between those two. And
we have to have a balance because both the rights are very important. They're both important. They both have to be considered.
GOLODRYGA: Your reaction to the judge now -- state judge, temporarily blocking this six-week abortion ban. I mean, you and the sister senators,
as you have become known, were famous for that filibuster that put off that bill from initially coming forward. It was signed yesterday, and now we
have this news from the judge. Your reaction.
GUSTAFSON: It is very expected. The bill that actually was passed was not the original bill that the Senate came up with and wrote. The South
Carolina house changed quite a bit, adding whereas, and fact-finding causes which were the very thing that hurt us with S1. And it was deemed
unconstitutional by South Carolina Supreme Court.
So, I'm not surprised at all that there is an injunction against this law. And it's just very unfortunate because we know, we know that there's causes
for a problem, yet the house, you know, put them back in there, reinserted them. And that's -- that was one of the main reasons why I voted against
it, because I don't think it can be upheld. And the longer we extend this debate, and the more that this legislation is put off, truly the more
abortions will take place.
GOLODRYGA: Your --
GUSTAFSON: Knowing there is going to be -- you know, I've -- I was just very upset about that.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, we should let our viewers know, do you do not support abortion and yet you become the face that many have come to recognize in
the country, not just in the state, of people who are opposed to this bill. Can you explain why?
GUSTAFSON: Well, I'll tell you. I am a Christian woman, I am a mom, and I am a Republican. I have always stated I'm pro-life, I'm pro-mother, I'm
pro-women. But what I haven't been as an abortion activist, in any way, I don't like them and don't support them as it -- as they exist, but they do.
And -- how do I put this? Can you rephrase that question just a bit?
GOLODRYGA: I'm just curious how, given that you are not a proponent of abortion, of women's rights to -- I mean, the last time I had you on, you
were against one of the other sister senators who was calling for 12-week ban, and you did not support that. And I'm just curious what it feels like
to be the face of this movement now, at least in your state, to be against this particular bill.
GUSTAFSON: I think it's very important that we do have female leaders who can talk calmly and respectfully to the issue. And to also address the
elephant in the room, so to speak. Be able to speak above a stigma and be heard. So, that is the great thing that's come out of this, is we have this
wonderful voice, and I'm very aware of what I'm saying. And I'm trying so hard to do the right thing and keep the discussion balanced and going, and
not divide anyone in the process.
And I do think that's possible to do. That's what I'm trying to show people everywhere. That you can lead and you can be a politician without trashing
everyone in your wake.
GOLODRYGA: The last time I spoke with you and your fellow sister senators, I was really struck by what Senator Katrina Shealy said in terms of why she
was being so outspoken about protecting women's rights and giving women a platform to speak. Here is what she said to me that shocked me so much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KATRINA FRYE SHEALY (R-SC): We introduced a 12-week abortion ban with all the exceptions, and they wouldn't even hear our bill in medical affairs
because they said, a woman shouldn't introduce it. That they needed a man to introduce it for it to get heard. And I thought that was just the utter
insult to women.
That we couldn't introduce the abortion bill or a ban bill, because we were women and they didn't think we would get the respect we needed on the floor
to introduce a bill that had something to do with our bodies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Now, Senator, there are few things that surprise me at this point when it comes to politics and our country, but that just shocked me.
It is 2023, and the ridiculous notion that men may think that women cannot introduce legislation, specifically legislation that affects women more
than anyone else, is just shocking. What is the response that you heard?
GUSTAFSON: Ma'am, I'm shocked too. Oh, I was completely shocked and found out, kind of, after the fact that it happened. I knew we had introduced a
bill and it wasn't taken up, but I did not hear the rest of that conversation until fairly recently. It's shocking, it really is. I don't
know another word, startling.
And it's just time. It's just really time that we have more than five women in our state Senate, 46 members, only five of us our women. And the
discussions and the debate and everything else will not really display our perspective until there are more of us there.
And, you know, having 14 percent of the general assembly be women, and that's all, we need to do better, and we need to support our good female
candidates, not just any female candidates, but good ones. And I am committed to doing that in the future. I have helped some people in the
past. But to think that a bill wouldn't be taken up based on sex alone in 2023, like what you said, it's awful.
GOLODRYGA: State Senator Sandy Senn, another one of the sister senators there who voted against the bill said, fellow Republicans, many of whom are
running for re-election next year would face a reckoning at the ballot box for their vote in support of the ban. And I'm just wondering if you agree
with her sentiment there, especially given what we've heard from your male counterparts, who some think that women don't even the right or authority
to bring bills forward.
GUSTAFSON: Well, we can bring bills forward, but as long as they're kind of within a certain dynamic or structure, evidently. The women of South
Carolina are going to show up and vote. This issue has woken up a bunch of people. Maybe some people walked away because there was so much craziness
that went on with our last couple of presidential elections, and they're going to come back, and they're going to be voting.
And I think it's a mistake to underestimate any peoples, especially women, you know. So, I do think there is going to be a lot of people voting this
upcoming year, and I'm happy to hear that. And probably a lot more women that, at the same time, four out of five of our Senate Republican women are
being challenged in a primary by House Republican male members. If you can believe that. Four house members in our South Carolina house are
challenging four women in the Senate.
And we need good government. We cannot be dividing ourselves and dividing - - and further dividing within parties, within groups. It just doesn't make for good government. We need good people to run and we need more women,
that's for sure.
GOLODRYGA: You talk about state elections, I'm just curious, we know, in terms of presidential elections, Former President Trump has suggested that
in his view, abortion is a losing issue, though he hasn't given a definitive stance on where he stands on it and any legislation that he
would put forward. But we do know that two other candidates who have entered the race, and that is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Tim
Scott have offered their views. Here's what they've had to say on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm 100 percent pro-life conservative. As president of the United States, I would sign the most
conservative legislation -- pro-life legislation that can get to my desk.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Dobbs returned the issue to the elected representatives of the people. And so, I think that there's a -- there's
role for both the federal and the states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Will those hardline takes help or hurt Republicans in the presidential election, in your view?
GOLODRYGA: All I know is abortion is one of the most dividing issues of our generation. And whatever view that one takes, it needs to be done with some
empathy and kindness wherever you stand.
Senator Scott, I think he's trying to find consensus and middle ground with our South Carolinians in his stances. I know Former Governor Nikki Haley
has made a formal opinions and statements about abortions, so has Nancy Mace, our Congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina.
I have said, previously, the federal government needs to stay out of this since Roe versus Wade was overturned and made those decisions go back to
the states. I still contend each state has a right to do our own decision- making, and that's what the Supreme Court of the United States has called us to do.
So, I'm not sure. I'm not sure how that's going to work out with the federal government, with the federal mandate about restrictions or
parameters. And then again, agreeing, coming to some consensus seems to be really, really tough.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. State Senator Penry Gustafson, never a dull day. We'll continue to follow this case in South Carolina as we noted just moments
ago, temporarily blocked by a state judge. We appreciate your time today, thank you.
GUSTAFSON: Thank you. Could I possibly add one more thing?
GOLODRYGA: Of course.
GUSTAFSON: Oh, thank you. I just want to do -- to say a quote from our Ronald Reagan, President Reagan, who all Republicans and conservationist
(ph) revere. The person who agrees with you, 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally, not a 20 percent traitor. We have got to keep our
common ground, and work from that point. Thank you so much for having me.
GOLODRYGA: Thank you so much for joining us.
Well, America maybe just days away from defaulting on its debt. The White House and Republican lawmakers say they're getting close to a deal which
would raise the U.S. debt ceiling and include major cuts to discretionary spending. But as negotiations continue in Washington, top defense experts
are warning of the dangers of playing politics with America's blank balance.
Peter Bergen is an esteemed national security analyst and journalist. And in his new podcast, "In The Room with Peter Bergen", he's digging into one
of some of the toughest choices for U.S. security with the people who helped make them. And Peter joins me now from Washington.
Peter, it's always good to see you. So, let's start with this debt ceiling crisis. As mentioned, it looks like a deal is somewhat within reach, but
we've already seen some of the consequences. I mean, we've been here in the past, but once again we've seen President Biden cut short a G7 trip. The
world is watching. And on the podcast, you talked to foreign affairs and foreign policy experts who were really focused on what this could mean for
our standing in the world. What are the some of the things that you are hearing?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST AND HOST, "IN THE ROOM WITH PERTER BERGEN": Well, certainly -- Bianna, thank you for having me on.
Certainly -- well, China and Russia are always observing our domestic politics. But I think, you know, often American rivals mistake our very
contentious politics for weakness. And, you know, I've lived in Washington for three decades and I've seen this movie many times before. And I look
back and I see that, you know, since 1960, whether Republicans are in charge of Congress or Democrats, the debt ceiling has been raids like 78
So, you know, it's in no one's interest for this to, you know, not to work. From a national security point of view, I mean, one of the immediate
effects is veterans benefits and other benefits to civilians, $12 billion is due to be paid on June 1st. So, you know, do we really want to be
harming our nations veterans with -- by not making the decision on this? So, I mean, I'm optimistic that a deal to be made, because not making a
deal would be so stupid.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, and we're cutting it very close. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that this could be something where as soon as days from now,
June 1st, where the country can't pay its bills. I was struck by many of the conversations, we don't have enough time to get through all of your
podcasts, but I really enjoyed your conversation with former CIA Director General David Petraeus. And he talked a lot about China, and we'll get to
Russia as well.
But in the context of China, he compared the U.S. to a plate spinner in the circus. And said, China was the biggest plate of all. I was curious to hear
him phrase it that way. And what was your take from his interpretation of how the U.S. seems to be balancing or maybe not balancing so well, all of
the challenges that it's facing, specifically from China?
BERGEN: Yes. So, David Petraeus was on our podcast "In The Room" audible is putting out the podcast. And, you know, General Petraeus, you know, has
done a lot of thinking and he's now at KKR, the big investment company. And so, he gets to speak to a lot of people and think about these issues. And
he said, you know, China is the big one. He hopes that there isn't a decoupling.
He's now taking on the big investment company. And so, he gets to speak to a lot of people and think about these issues. And he said, you know, China
is the big one. He hopes that there isn't a decoupling.
You know, but one of the things, I think, that's striking is, Bianna, if you look at the Trump administration, you know, took a much more skeptical
approach of China, you know, for all the reasons that you know well, stealing of all intellectual property, not having a fair playing field for
American companies in China, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And, you know, the Trump administration put up the tariffs, they have more freedom
of navigation exercises in the South China Sea.
But the Biden administration has really kept that policy in place. The tariffs are still there, a kind of more aggressive posture in general. And
in Washington, D.C., where I'm sitting, you know, there's not a lot of common agreement, but there quite is a lot of common agreement on China.
I mean, the big problem, of course, is we don't -- we -- no one wants a conflict with China. I mean, Xi has said that the People's Liberation Army
are actually prepared to take Taiwan by 2027. We've a four-star American general say that, you know, we may be in conflict with China in 2025.
Obviously, that would be very, very bad.
Now, this -- you know, when we had the Cold War, the Soviets, their economy was, you know, effectively, you know, flatlining here. We're first largest
economy in the world and also the second. So, you know, whatever the tensions are, there's a lot of reasons for us to try and make sure nothing
GOLODRYGA: From your conversation with General Petraeus and others, do you get a sense that China is, perhaps, more deterred from any conflict with
Taiwan, given what is transpiring right now in the Ukraine and the -- not only United States, but the western alliance's very strong response in
support of Ukraine, or do you think, perhaps, that this could leave President Xi in a position where he feels he has to act sooner rather than
BERGEN: Well, I think if I was the Chinese, I would take away -- one big takeaway is, you know, the United States and NATO took a long time. Look at
just the F-16 decision just came down. So, if they can get out inside our collective decision cycle, meaning if they can quickly take the island or
much of the island, you know, in say a few days, I think that would be their goal.
Now, on the other hand, another lesson they may have learned is, you know, it didn't go well for Russia and Ukraine, and Taiwan is rather a different
matter than Ukraine. I mean, here is Putin crossing a lamb border, they would have to cross 100 miles of water, one of -- it's hardest military
thing you can do is mount a kind of an invasion from the water.
So, you know, it might cut both ways. They might sort of say to themselves, look, that's a pretty tough knot, we should be very careful. On the other
hand, they might say to themselves, look, if we could do this relatively quickly, the West won't get its act together and the United States won't
get its act together sufficiently quickly to kind of challenge what will essentially be a fated (ph) complete.
GOLODRYGA: And China's military hasn't really been tested significantly in decades as well. So, there is that. Vladimir Putin was very bullish on his
military until we saw what took place over the last year or so in Ukraine, and perhaps President Xi is also helping having second doubts. Who knows?
I was also interested in your conversation with General Petraeus over the future of the battlefield, in particular, A.I. it's a subject that we are
talking about quite frequently these days on a number of platforms here. But I'm curious, in terms of warfare, your response to his take on it.
Let's play it for our viewers and then, we can get you to respond to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERGEN: At the point where it is machine on machine, and the slowest machine loses. And if you have a human in the loop at the final moment,
your machine is going to lose because it's going to be slower than the machine that is enabled by A.I.
And so, what you have to do is you say that you have the human in the loop becomes not the human who's going to pull the trigger, but the human who
designs the algorithm that sets the conditions for enabling the machine to take action on its own when you do actually give it the authority to do
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Peter, do you get a sense of how soon that could be the new reality of warfare? And I'm asking it as we're watching a real-time war
play out in Europe that, in many ways, as being described as a war of the past.
BERGEN: Well, in Ukraine the war with the past trench warfare, but also, you know, it's- been enabled by Palantir, which is an American, you know,
defense contractor that is very cutting edge and using machine learning and A.I. So, some of these tools are already being deployed, in the sense, on
But the point of which machines are going to fight machines, you know, the Chinese are already in this space in the sense that they have shown that
they have autonomous swarms of drones governed by A.I. and, you know, the United States -- we hear a lot about in the United States about the issue
of A.I. generating misinformation or, you know, possible loss of jobs.
But I think, you know, from my point of view, you know, think about the question of the launch of nuclear weapons where A.I. might be involved. You
know, A.I. is, you know, generally speaking, going to make faster, better decisions than humans for many things. But, you know, it's a kind of
dystopian future when A.I. might be in the decision loop on something as serious as launching nuclear weapons. And it's already in the decision
loop, I think, for things like armed drones. It used to be somebody -- an actual human to make a decision to kill another human being. I think we're
already at the point where that is kind of being overtaken by events.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. That is for sure, but you're right to describe it as dystopian as well. Finally, I have to ask you, what made you interested in
devoting an entire episode to UFOs?
BERGEN: Well, you know, this was before the Chinese balloon came across the United States. But, you know, the Pentagon has had a very sort of
schizophrenic approach to UFOs. So, sometimes it's been used for to kind of promote them because they disguise secret Pentagon programs, like the --
you know, the SR-71 or stealth aircraft.
Sometimes the Pentagon has also been a source of information about UFOs, and we're about to get a new report from the Pentagon, the 650 unexplained
sightings that they're looking into, mostly by U.S. navy or U.S. military pilots. And they've set up a new office in the Pentagon to investigate all
So, you know, the Pentagon is taking it seriously. And, you know, those are natural security, even if you don't believe in aliens, which I -- coming to
visit us, which personally I don't. You know, if unidentified flying objects are in our airspace, that's a national security problem and it's a
very good reason for the Pentagon to explore every sighting and get a better understanding of what these sightings are.
Many of them still remain unexplained. I mean, the most recent, they looked at 500 cases. In 177, they couldn't give a good explanation for. Some of
the explanations were balloons, trash, you know, some kind of foreign enemy activity. But --
GOLODRYGA: Well, it is -- yes. We're short on time here, but it was one of my favorites of all episodes, and I'm like you, a skeptic. But having
listened to some of the people you've talk to, I don't know. Maybe I can be convinced after all. Fascinating conversations, as always. Peter Bergen,
thank you so much. Congratulations on the new podcast.
BERGEN: Thank you, Bianna. Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Well, as we've been discussing, from deepfake images to voice scams, the danger of artificial intelligence has prompted global calls for
regulation. But our next guest also sees an upside, and says A.I. is potentially the biggest positive transformation that education has ever
Sal Khan is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Khan Academy. An online tutoring service that recently piloted a tutor and teaching assistant
powered by A.I. He tells Walter Isaacson how he thinks A.I. can supercharged world-class education.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Sal Khan, welcome back to the show.
SAL KHAN, FOUNDER AND CEO, KHAN ACADEMY: Thanks for having me.
ISAACSON: We hear a whole lot about the problems and the peril of artificial intelligence, but one of the amazing things that it seems to be
doing, and you're leading the way on this, is creating a personal tutor so that every kid, every kid on the planet, could have a personal tutor that
can tutor them in math, in writing, in history and everything else. Explain to me how you're trying to do that.
KHAN: Yes. Educators have known for millennia that one-on-one tutoring, working with the students at their own time and pace is the best way to
learn. That's what Alexander the Great had with Aristotle. You fast forward to about two or 300 years ago, we had a very utopian idea, mass public
education, but we had to compromise. We couldn't give every student a personal tutor. We didn't have the resources. So, we batch students
together in groups of 30. We'd have some lecture at the front of the classroom, and that's what we've been doing and it's done a lot of really
But over the last many decades, there's been tons of efficacy research that it's great to have 30 kids in a classroom, but it would be even better if
you could have one-on-one tutoring. That if you do that, you could take the average student and make them an exceptional student. You could take a
below average student and make them an above average student.
And a lot of folks in technology over the last several decades have thought about, how could we use technology to emulate what a one-on-one tutor would
do? Arguably, that's what all of us at Khan Academy have been doing for the last 15 years or so, we're not-for-profit mission, free world class
education for anyone anywhere.
But when OpenAI reached out to us last summer, and we were under an NDA until only a few weeks ago, and they showed us the technology and they
said, look, we want to do some positive used cases with it. We immediately said look, we think this is ready to actually hit that holy grail of
education, which is, can we create an artificial intelligence tutor for every child? And we launched, as part of the GPT-4 launch in March, and
what we started piloting is something we call Khanmigo, it's our artificially intelligent tutor that is power by GPT-4.
And what it does, there's a lot of new news about using ChatGPT to cheat, this does not allow you to cheat. If you ask it a question, it'll say, hey,
I'm here to be your tutor, how would you approach it? It acts like Aristotle or Socrates would with their students. And so -- and it works
across every subject that Khan Academy does. It has all the context that the student would normally have on Khan Academy and it also acts as a
teaching assistant for teachers.
ISAACSON: Well, give me an example of it would do, let's take history. Supposed it's an American history course you have I have done some together
for Khan Academy. How would it help us figure out how the constitution was written?
KHAN: We did some user testing with the students at -- actually, with many students. We have a lab school, Khan Lab High School. We also have another
online school, Khan World School, and we did some user testing with these students, and one of the students was looking at a part of AP U.S.
government on judicial review -- or judicial confirmation, Senate confirmation.
And so, she just asked the A.I. -- she watched a video of it on Khan Academy and then, she asked the A.I., you know, why is this relevant to
right now? This was a question that she generally had as a high school student. And it immediately brought it up, some of the recent confirmation
hearings, and it brought up the whole Merrick Garland situation and all of that. And the student immediately said, wow, this just brought it to life
in ways that I could never have imagined.
It also allows students to do things that would have looked like science fiction, even a year ago, where they can actually talk to simulations of
historical characters. So, you can actually debate federalism with Madison or Ambleton (ph).
ISAACSON: You know, school boards around this country are being rattled by all sorts of controversies about what's getting taught, about inclusivity
or diversity or history or reparations or sexuality or gender issues. How do you think a tutor, an A.I. tutor like this, would deal with such
KHAN: You know, I might be naive, but I actually feel that 90, 95 percent of Americans are actually reasonably consistent on a lot of these issues,
and a lot of the polarization happens based on hearsay. Based on, I heard that that's happening in a classroom or I heard that that's happening in
the -- and it gets folks triggered, it gets folks angry.
One of our strategies has always been to just be hyper transparent. If someone tells you that there's a Khan Academy video that's biased in some
way or that Khanmigo, our artificial intelligence, is biased, show us, show someone else. It's not like it's some secret. You can -- it's there for
anyone to try and be transparent on and then we will adjust if we feel that there is a bias or if we feel that it's trying to give a point of view that
might not be fair.
I know the folks at OpenAI and Google and other places, they're trying really hard to make the underlying engines as unbiased as possible, and
we're trying to take our DNA -- you know, we've had -- actually, some of the content that, Walter, you and I have done together, we've had
conservative -- there's appellate court judge who was skeptical of Khan Academy coming out of California. And he looked at our content on the
constitution and he said, yes, that's the way it should be taught. This is the constitution.
And I had another civil rights leader who was like, well, OK, have you all papered over certain aspects of history? He also looked at some of our
content and said, no, this is a full treatment of American history. And I think when both sides can see it in its totality and they say, yes, this is
fair, this is academic, it's not biased. I think most folks actually get behind it.
ISAACSON: Well, let's talk about math for a second. You know, when somebody gets a math problem wrong, there are 100 different ways they could have it
wrong. I mean, let's just say some piece of algebra, where you don't understand the distributive process or something, how does a one-on-one
tutor help you with math in that way?
KHAN: Yes. And this is what's really been interesting, because as many folks know, these A.I.s that have been coming out, the GPT and others,
these are large language models. And so, a lot of people have been skeptical about how good are they going to be at mathematics. And even when
we saw some of the first examples with GPT-4, it was doing really well in the humanities, it was doing really well in science, conceptual knowledge,
but it wasn't doing so well in math.
So, we've been doing working very closely -- well, we've been spending a lot of time internally, but also working with researchers at places like
OpenAI to try to get the math right. And so, when you go to Khanmigo people are actually surprised how good it is at math. I won't say it's perfect.
It's still going to make mistakes, but if a student just asked how to do the problem, it won't tell you how to do a problem, it'll ask socratically
(ph), what do you think is the next step?
And if the student, let's say, to your example, does distribute a property incorrectly, it's actually -- we have this concept called A.I. thoughts
where it, on its own, thinks about how it would have approached the problem or how the student could have approached the problem. It doesn't share that
with the student, but then it compares the student's response to that. And really, if you think about it, this is what a good tutor would do too. It
would think about it.
And if the student did something different than what the A.I. thinks a reasonable path, the A.I. will often say, well, I got something a little
bit different than you, can you explain your reasoning? Which is a very good pedagogical thing to do. And then, when the students explain the
reasoning, the A.I. can understand it that much better. And in a lot of ways, this is what a great tutor would do. Hey, I got something different
than you. Instead of saying you're wrong or instead of saying, this is how you do it, say, explain your reasoning.
And when the student explains the reasoning, 80 percent of the time, the student might say, oh, I see where I messed up. But 20 percent of the time
the A.I. might say, oh, actually, that was a better approach than the way I approached it.
ISAACSON: Well, for it to be transformative it's got to be equitable, and it can't help increase the divide between rich and poor. So, how do you
think about that and to what extent do you hope and envision that it might be free for every kid on this planet?
KHAN: This is the core issue. As we know, one of the major sources of inequity in the education system is you might have two students who go to
the same classroom, but one student whose parents are college educated, who understand the system, who have access to resources, they might actually
get real tutoring when they go home or they might -- their parents might tutor them while the other student might not have access to those types of
So, the whole idea of having a scalable artificially intelligent tutor is to try to level that playing field as much as possible. We think already,
even with the computation costs, that it's far more accessible than traditional tutoring. And then, if the cost curve keeps going the way that
it looks like it will, we think in upcoming years it will truly be something that we could give to every student as a tutor and every teacher
as a teaching assistant.
ISAACSON: You talk about the personalization. That fascinates me because, obviously, when Aristotle was tutoring Alexander the Great, it was all very
personalized. He knew what Alexander the Great was having trouble with, what he had difficulties with a year ago. To what extent will this thing
remember you throughout your entire school career and be personalized directly for you?
KHAN: That's what we are literally working on as we speak. Right now, if you were to us Khanmigo, it represents it represents -- it remembers the
conversations you're are doing, it also remembers some of the work that you have been doing on Khan Academy, the more traditional work. But we're
hoping that by back to school, it will actually remember its conversations that it has had with you, it will remember if you've told it, hey, I prefer
this type of tone, or it knows your reading level, it's going to be able to really fine tune to that.
So, this isn't some science fiction, you know, even three, five, 10 years out, this is more like three months out, that's going to be there. And
then, we're just going to continue to just make it more and more personalized so that -- and we're going to be running advocacy studies.
We've obviously done a ton of efficacy studies on the core of Khan Academy, but now, we're going to, in this coming school year, see how adding the
layer of artificial intelligence to your traditional Khan Academy can really accelerate student, not just in the learning, but likely their
engagement as well.
ISAACSON: I mean, that sounds really awesome. But there's one possible dark side to it remembering everything about you and being totally personalized,
which is your privacy. I mean, do you have some guardrails so that I can't subpoena or nobody will be able to get the private data it has?
KHAN: Yes. I mean, that is core of who we are. You know, back 15 years ago, when I set up Khan Academy as a not-for-profit, and I didn't even envision
that generative A.I. would advance this quickly, one of the reasons why we were not-for-profit is we recognize that student data, even pre-A.I., is a
very sensitive thing and we wanted, amongst many other things, our true north to never use that data for anything that could be counterproductive.
It should only be used to improve the learning experience for the student, personalize it more, or actually improve the efficacy of the platform.
So, these are things we're taking very seriously. Even the current A.I., we are not using that information to train the artificial intelligence and
some of the questions that you bring up. You know, I think for students, there's a different context. We are making it so that -- and this is one of
the safety mechanisms, that everything a student does is monitorable by the teacher and by the parent.
We also have a second artificial intelligence that's monitoring the conversation with the student, and the first artificial intelligence to
flag any conversations and then notify parents or teachers. So, we do have some of those safety mechanisms.
But to your point, we definitely, over the coming years, especially as the A.I. starts to have this longitudinal narrative of the student, make sure
that it's only used for positive used cases.
ISAACSON: Recently, we had one of the godfathers of A.I., Geoffrey Hinton, on this show. And he told Hari Sreenivasan that there could be sort of an
existential threat of A.I. What is your perception of that?
KHAN: I think it's not for any of us right now to predict exactly what's going to happen. But the thought experiment that I run in my mind is
there's the more conservative stance on A.I. We say, hey, we don't know where this is going. Let's slow it down. Let's regulate it before we
actually see it cause problems. And the problem with that is the only people who are going to follow that are the good folks, are that rule
The people -- the criminal organizations, the authoritarian states, they're not going to slow down one bit. And in my mind, the most dystopian scenario
is one where authoritarian governments and criminal organizations have better artificial intelligences than that rule followers. So, I actually
don't think that that's a viable path to just act with fear and try to slow things down.
I think the other path, you will have a lot of folks say, oh, this is all going to work out, kind of like the industrial revolution. It's somehow
going to create more jobs than destroy jobs. Maybe. But I don't think it's enough to just hope, use hope as a strategy, so to speak. I think it is
important for actors like Khan Academy and many, many others in every domain to be very proactive and say, all right, what are the risks here?
How do we mitigate them? And then, what are the benefits? And how do we maximize them so that A.I. net, net becomes a massive positive for humanity
as opposed to a negative?
ISAACSON: How do you envision 10 years from now education?
KHAN: I actually think you're going to be able to talk to a tutor, an artificially intelligent tutor, much like we're having a conversation right
now. And it might even happen in five years. And it's going to be able to draw things out. So, it's almost like a real-time personalized Khan Academy
videos. It's going to be able to happen in any language. You might sometimes engage with it on your phone on, on your laptop or through
virtual reality. So, you feel like you are in the same room with it. So, I think it's going to be pretty immersive.
I think you are also going to see changes to other parts of the system. Traditional assessment, the only thing you can grade in a very scalable way
were your traditional Scantron multiple choice, and because of that, that's what the education system got focused on, things that you could actually
assess in a reasonably low-cost way.
Now, artificially intelligence can assess your writing, it can assess your thoughts. You have a simulation with it, you can have a dialogue with it.
You can essentially have an oral exam with it, which is, you know, the gold standard for a Ph.D. thesis defense, you can now do that on demand.
So, I think in five or 10 years, assessment is going to be -- is going to look a lot richer. I think the teacher's role in this artificially
intelligent world, so to speak, a lot of their administrative tasks are going to be taken away, hopefully by Khanmigo, and they're going to be able
to focus on the one-to-one personal attention. And -- but they're always going to have that artificial intelligence there to help advise them.
We are actually -- we have another nonprofit called Schoolhouse.world focused on peer-to-peer tutoring. We're already leveraging artificial
intelligence to give the tutor feedback on how they could tutor better based on the transcript. And then, we think we're about a year away of --
in real-time, being able to give the tutor feedback on, hey, you haven't called on this student lately or I think this is what they are actually
asking. Here's an example problem that you could work through.
So, it's really going to be something where it's not humans versus artificial intelligence, it's really going to be artificial intelligence to
allow the humans to be more human.
ISAACSON: Now, I want to ask you, should colleges, when they decide to admit students, should they be -- should you be allowed to submit all of
that so a college can say, OK, this is how this person learns? And what about job applications? Is that something that's too much of an invasion of
privacy, or is that something that would be really useful so college admissions would be more fair?
KHAN: I think anything is reasonable as long as the people who are affected by it are bought in to it. So, I could imagine a world where a student
interacts with Khanmigo over many, many years, maybe their entire K-12 experience, and then when they apply to college, they could ask Khanmigo to
write a recommendation for them. And it would say but once again, this is the student asking for it. I wouldn't want to do that behind the scenes
without the student's actual permission.
I wouldn't be surprised if university admissions, going back to your future of education question, University of Admissions, they have to sit through
30,000 applications. They have all of these readers. It's got to be inconsistent because, you know, depending on whether some are in a good
mood, et cetera, they are, in 10 years, going to be using this type of technology.
But as long as people know how they are using it, they're testing it as much as possible for a bias, nothing is going to be perfect, but as long as
it is more perfect than what we are doing today, then I think it is a step in the right direction.
ISAACSON: Sal Khan, thank you so much for joining us.
KHAN: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: An optimistic take on the future of education.
And finally, we want to end this week with this very sweet moment from a friend of the show. Serena Williams, who, of course, needs no introduction,
sharing some very big news with her five-year-old daughter, Olympia. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERENA WILLIAMS, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: We went to the doctor and it turns out I'm not getting fat. But I have a baby in my belly.
OLYMPIA OHANIAN, SERENA WILLIAMS' DAUGHTER: Are you kidding me?
ALEXIS OHANIAN, SERENA WILLIAMS' HUSBAND: You're going to be a big sister.
WILLIAMS: You're going to be a big sister.
O. OHANIAN: Yes.
WILLIAMS: Do you want to see?
O. OHANIAN: Yes.
WILLIAMS: Want to see momma's belly?
O. OHANIAN: Oh, my God. I'm so excited.
A. OHANIAN: Yes. We thought you've be excited.
O. OHANIAN: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Yes, she is excited. I love that. Are you kidding me? Such a special moment in any family. And we congratulate all of them.
Well, thank you so much for watching and goodbye from New York.