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CNN International: Across The Americas, People Are Looking Up As A Total Solar Eclipse Journeys Through Mexico Towards The United States And Onto Canada; Israelis Passed The Six-Month Mark Since The October 7 Attack by Hamas, A Terrorist Rampage That Killed 1,200 Israelis And Saw Hundreds More Kidnapped; In A Painful Development Over The Weekend, The IDF Recovered The Body Of One Hostage Who Was Killed In Captivity. Aired 11a- 12p ET

Aired April 08, 2024 - 11:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, "AMANPOUR": Hello, everyone, and welcome to Amanpour. Here is what's coming up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The day America goes dark, as a total eclipse travels across the United States. What makes this one different, with physicist

Brian Green? Then --

SHARONE LIFSCHITZ, FATHER HELD HOSTAGE IN GAZA: I'm here because these hostages must come home now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six months since Hamas attacked Israel, six months of agony for hostages and their families, I'm joined by Sharone Lifschitz,

whose father is still being held captive. And six months of killing, starvation and destruction, as Israel goes off to Hamas in Gaza. We have a

special report. Also ahead --

DAVID AUTOR, FORD PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, MIT: This is a case where the technology may compete a little more with the elite and enable more people

to do valuable work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could artificial intelligence help rebuild America's middle class? MIT Economics Professor David Autor tells Walter Isaacson how

AI could create opportunities for workers.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.

And across the Americas, people are looking up as a total solar eclipse journeys through Mexico towards the United States and onto Canada, a

celestial event where the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, covering it, darkening the sky, and chilling the air. Here is the path of

the eclipse, and weather permitting, it should be visible to 32 million people in the so-called path of totality, across more than 10 U.S. states.

The next one is due in 2044, two decades from now. Today's is set to become a huge communal event across what can only be described as a bitterly

divided country.

And joining me now to talk about what makes this eclipse so special is Physicist, Mathematician, and Author, Brian Greene. Welcome to the program,

Brian Greene. I mean, for somebody like you, this must be just the most amazing gift, the most amazing drama.

BRIAN GREENE, PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS AND MATHEMATICS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Yeah. It's absolutely wonderful, the excitement of people looking up.

Right? We often get so engulfed by the things that happen here down on the surface of planet Earth that we take the universe for granted, and how

wonderful is it to have a celestial event, a cosmic event that focuses our attention away from everything here and on the bigger things that happen

out there in the cosmos.

AMANPOUR: Indeed, indeed. Now, tell us, though, some people, scientists, may be, or social commentators, call this, I believe, a beautiful

coincidence, the idea of what we're about and what we're witnessing today.

GREENE: Yes. A huge cosmic coincidence. It just so happens that the Sun is about 400 times larger than the Moon, but it's also 400 times further away

than the Moon. And those two effects cancel each other out, making this Sun and the Moon appear to roughly be the same size in the sky, which means, on

occasion, when the orientation of everything is correct, the Moon can completely block out the Sun, and when it does, we have this incredible

phenomenon, this total solar eclipse, which those of you experienced it say today or in the past or maybe in the future, it's an emotional experience

to feel the universe undergoing this momentary change that we rarely ever experience. And to me, the first one I saw was in 2017, and it had this

real profound impact on me and everybody was around me. It was really wonderful.

AMANPOUR: What was the impact? I mean, I've heard it written and that this is an event so far outside the realm of normal human experience that you're

not prepared for it. What was the emotion? What was the impact on you as a scientist?

GREENE: It's a feeling of awe and wonder. I mean, look, I spend my working days calculating things about the universe on the small scales. The big

scale is trying to understand how things work. But, that is largely cognitive. Right? It's something that happens up in our cerebral cortex.


But, when you experience this phenomenon where the sky goes dark and you can see the planets during the day and some stars come out, it's emotional.

And that emotional connection to the cosmos is something that many of us don't get to experience that frequently. And I feel that if we all could

have that emotional connection to this wider reality more frequently, the world would simply be a better place.

AMANPOUR: Yeah. I want to repeat what you said, you said this, but it's worth reading it out again. "It may sound naive, but it feels to me that if

more people nightly experienced a brilliant sky full of stars, in some small way it would make the world a better place. It would make the world a

place where we'd recognize that (SIC) we're part of a much grander hole." And we sort of started the introduction to you saying that, in this

bitterly divided country and world of ours, this is an experience that is causing, I mean, millions, tens of millions of people certainly in the

Americas to unite.

GREENE: Yeah. A communal happening. Right? I mean, it's like the Woodstock of the cosmos or something. Right? We're all coming together to witness

something. And look, it would be naive to imagine that what happened in 535 BC, during that solar eclipse, you had these two warring factions in

today's Turkey, the Libyans and the Medes, I believe they were called, they're in battle, and the solar eclipse unexpectedly happens. And what do

they do? They say, we probably shouldn't be fighting. That's why the sky is going dark. They put down their weapons, and they came to a truce.

Now, how wonderful would it be if that were to happen here on planet Earth, but I'm not so naive to imagine that. But, if we can feel together part of

something larger than the issues that divide us here on the planet, how wonderful would that be? I mean, that's really what these kinds of cosmic

phenomenon are all about, at least in my mind.

AMANPOUR: Yes. And as you're speaking, we have some pictures of people preparing for this, and it's a lot of over New York. There is some Niagara

Falls pictures. It hasn't -- they haven't seen it yet. But, now, the statistics apparently are, that across 10 U.S. states, there is a path of

totality in which 32 million people live and will look up and will -- so, explain to us what those in the path will see, those 32 million first

beyond the bigger crowd (ph).

GREENE: Yeah. Well, totality for an eclipse is radically different from a partial eclipse, I hate to say it, because many people only experience the

partial version. But, when you're in the path of totality, to see the Sun completely disappear and then to just catch the glimmering edge of the Sun

behind the Moon and for the temperature to drop, and for you to start to hear some of the nocturnal animals come alive to be able to see planets out

there during the day, it's just a very different kind of experience than blotting out 90 percent or even 95 percent of the Sun, which still leaves

this guy very, very bright. That's how bright the Sun is.


GREENE: So, those who experienced totality are really getting the full experience of what this is all about.

AMANPOUR: And of course, everybody is being advised to be very careful about protecting their eyes, wearing the correct eyewear --


AMANPOUR: -- and to be very clear of what they're buying, and not just some little piece of darkened paper. They have to be super careful. What happens

if you look at it without the correct protection?

GREENE: Not good. It is -- the Sun is incredibly bright, and you can get captivated by what's happening up there and you can damage your eyes. And

you're absolutely right. There are these fly-by-night companies that care more about their profit margin than they do about your retina, or your

eyes, more generally. And so, you have to be careful to make sure that it is a certified eclipse glasses in order to protect yourself, and definitely

don't do what the former President did in 2017, look at it directly. That's just crazy.

AMANPOUR: And apparently, if it does really strike you in the retina, it's incurable. I mean, it's a situation that --

GREENE: Can be.

AMANPOUR: -- yes, can be. So, let's talk about the -- OK. So, 32 million people are established residents in the path of totality. But, it's

estimated that half of the United States population, some 175 million may be able to see something --


AMANPOUR: -- and that far exceeds the number, well, exceeds the number of people who watch the Super Bowl.


So again, this communal, wondrous event, what will they see? People who are not in, what if they see in outside the path of totality?

GREENE: So, a partial eclipse is still a dramatic happening. I mean, our forebears used to interpret it in the early days as perhaps some dragon

coming along and starting to eat part of the Sun. You see this black disc, which is the Moon, partially cover the Sun, and it thereby cuts out a

little piece of the Sun leaving a crescent Sun. We don't ever see a crescent Sun. We're familiar with crescent moons. But, to see a crescent

Sun is still a deeply unusual phenomenon and one that's all inspiring. So, yes, even if the partial eclipse is all that you have access to, that is

still a wondrous experience.

AMANPOUR: And Brian Greene, what science can be achieved? Is there anything further from this particular event, because there have been total eclipses

that NASA or people like yourself are looking at to learn something, and how does that compare with the previous ones?

GREENE: Not from the point of view of fundamental science, we understand the orbital mechanics pretty well. Perhaps we can glean something about the

details of the chromosphere, or the corona in this sort of circumstance. But, there are studies, and in fact, there are citizen science studies

where I believe that NASA and others have asked people to --


GREENE: -- observe the life around them to the insects or the birds or the other animals to see how they respond to say being within the path of

totality. The path of totality only experienced for a couple of minutes. So, it's not as though you can, as a scientist, go out and measure this

repeatedly whenever you want. So, if you can have people around the country --


GREENE: -- along that path of totality report on what's going on, yes, there can be some great insights that emerge.

AMANPOUR: That's great, the idea of citizen scientists, because we live in an era where in some quarters science is debunked. It's subject to

conspiracy theories, fake news and all the rest of it. At the same time, NASA wants to repopulate or revisit the Moon, talking about eventually

parts of Mars, etc. How does this play into, I guess, citizens' imaginations, the sort of public opinion towards doing those kinds of --

that kind of space travel?

GREENE: Well, I think it's absolutely vital. For many people, science is this distinct separate thing that maybe they studied in school, but then

they left it behind when they no longer had to take the next exam or take the next class. But, that's not what science is about. Science is about

understanding our place in some larger cosmic order. And yes, going to the Moon and going to Mars and beyond, vital to that mission. And if people

feel connected to what's happening out there, and that's what this solar eclipse can do, then they're going to be more interested. They're going to

follow it. They're going to support it. They're not going to somehow say we don't want to waste money on going to the Moon and going to Mars. They're

going to feel part of that drama. And that's the main point.

Science is a human drama of discovery. It's for all of us. And this event is for all of us, and it allows that focus on science to really shine


AMANPOUR: Indeed, and I think one of the previous one is refined or completed the proof of Einstein's theory of relativity. And I want to ask

you about timings, because you saw the last one in 2017. That's approximately seven years ago. Right? The next one is in two decades. There

seems to be no rhyme nor reason to this beautiful coincidence.

GREENE: Well, there is rhyme or reason. It's just subtle. It's in the mathematics. So, it's hard to have an intuition about it. But, you're

right. Over the continental United States, you're going to have to wait until the 2040s, I think 2044 to see it in Alaska, a little early, I think

in the 2030s. And you're absolutely right. Back in 1919, there was a solar eclipse that two teams of astronomers used to confirm a prediction of

Albert Einstein from his new general theory of relativity. So, yes, there has been deep scientific insight coming from these eclipses, and who knows

going forward what we may be able to go glean.

AMANPOUR: Brian, if there was one thing that you take away from this day and this incredible event, what would it be? What is it?

GREENE: That we can still generate a communal excitement about something that's not Democratic. It's not Republican. It's not left. It's not right.

It's cosmic. It's real. It is part of the reality that we are all part of, and that's really to me what this event is about.

AMANPOUR: Thank you so much, and you'll be watching it, right, with your eyes and you have --

GREENE: Got my glasses right here ready.

AMANPOUR: OK. Good. Good, good, good. Brian Greene, thank you so much.


GREENE: My pleasure.

AMANPOUR: Now, as we said, of course, much of the world remains deeply and bitterly divided, locked in combat, cycles of killing and revenge,

terrifying destruction. Israelis passed the six-month mark since the October 7 attack by Hamas, a terrorist rampage that killed 1,200 Israelis

and saw hundreds more kidnapped. In a painful development over the weekend, the IDF recovered the body of one hostage who was killed in captivity. Now,

133 people are still being held hostage amid mounting anger and demonstrations by their families against their own government's failure to

bring the rest of their people home. Negotiations continue. And Egyptian state media is reporting there has been quote, "significant progress", we

have heard this before, though, towards a ceasefire and hostage release.

Now, ahead of this gruesome six-month date, I spoke again with Sharone Lifschitz, who joined me on set in London where she lives. Her mother,

Yocheved, was one of the first hostages freed back in October, but her 83- year-old father, Oded, remains captive in Gaza.


AMANPOUR: Sharone Lifschitz, welcome back to the program. It is actually extraordinary that we're sitting here talking again, and it is six months.

LIFSCHITZ: Yes. It's unbelievable. It's a failure.

AMANPOUR: What do you mean?

LIFSCHITZ: I -- even before -- I don't need to say who has caused this failure. But, if a 134 people are still held hostage after six months of

war, we, as the hostage families, have not managed to press upon whoever it is to bring them back home and how important it is.

AMANPOUR: Do you think that attempt, that movement by the hostage families is gaining momentum now? Do you think -- we see, for instance, families

storming the part of the Knesset. We see these protests that have risen much, much more in recent weeks as the ceasefire and hostage release

negotiations seem to be stalled.

LIFSCHITZ: The hostage families come from all walks of life in Israel. There are so many of them, and they have different opinion and they're

exercising their democratic rights within Israel. Many do not feel that enough is being done. We're desperate. We have fought so hard for six

months. We never imagined that our loved one will still be there. And for us, every day, every moment, we are with them there. We are underground. We

are in the hospital where they are lying. We are called with them. We are desperate with them.

AMANPOUR: We know, and I said your mother, fortunately, was one of the first to be released, and that was in October, shortly after she was taken

captive. But, your 83-year-old father, Oded, remains hostage. Have you in these six months heard anything about him?

LIFSCHITZ: My mom came back and told us, and we must remember, she came back without a deal, she told us that our dad was dead. The hostages that

came back later told us that he was seen in Gaza. He was seen in Al-Nasser Hospital on the first day. And one of the hostages was with him in the same

room for a period. After that, we have no knowledge of him. So, we assume he is still out there. We assume he is suffering tremendously because he is

very, very frail. He is 83. He has got medical conditions. And --

AMANPOUR: And was he injured when he was captured?

LIFSCHITZ: He was injured. A bullet that came through the door injured him. He was beaten. He was lying --


LIFSCHITZ: Yes. And he was lying unconscious outside the house. That's the last my mom saw of him after 63 years of marriage.

AMANPOUR: And she said, because I heard in a recent interview, that she couldn't even -- she was grabbed in her nightclothes, put onto a

motorcycle. She couldn't even tend to her husband of 63 years. You've been back, obviously since she is released, and you've been spending time with

her and your family. How is she doing? How is your (inaudible) doing?

LIFSCHITZ: My mom is a strong woman. I don't feel that she is broken as a person. Her beliefs remain as they were. She have seen a lot of the world

and she have been through the most enormous ordeal. She is also part of a community that is really broken. We have lost. We are a community of 400.

40 are dead and buried. 10 of them are still held hostages that are dead. 27 live hostages are still being held by Hamas.


We are devastated. We're broken. And as a small community, we do a lot to try and support each other through it.

AMANPOUR: The community you're talking about is near Oz, yes, the kibbutz that they found it along with their friends. Is there anything remaining of

that? Will that ever be home to anybody again?

LIFSCHITZ: I believe it would be. I believe that we will come back. We are working on it. Some people are working on it. Some people will not come

back but maybe others would. I feel that the ideas that this community stood for, these ideas deserve to continue.

AMANPOUR: One of the ideas that this community stood for was actually being part of the peace camp, the Israeli peace camp, and actually trying to help

Palestinians who needed inside Gaza, and maybe even on the occupied territories. I don't know. But, your mother has also said that it's not

bombs and aircraft and tanks that are going to bring back, Oded, your dad and the others. It is a diplomatic solution. Do you have any hope, a, that

your Government will create some kind of a solution, and b, are you scared that this horrendous, consistent bombing, and we've seen how many

Palestinian civilians have been killed, puts your family and others in danger?

LIFSCHITZ: I think they are in danger every day. Obviously, they're in danger from the bombing. But, they -- we know, and we've seen last week the

reports about women being raped there. We know that they're treated in a really horrible way, many of them. And so, we are petrified for them every


AMANPOUR: In every way.

LIFSCHITZ: In every way.

AMANPOUR: Your mother, what did she tell you about how she was treated? Everybody saw her release and her saying Shalom to the -- one of the

captors. It was a human moment. What did she say about how she was treated, violently, badly?

LIFSCHITZ: My mom was taken on a motorbike. She is 85-year-old, and she was put like a carpet on a motorbike. She was taken through the field after she

just saw my father lying and thought he is dead. She could see the place on fire. And hundreds of civilians were running towards her with sticks and

with knives, and they were shouting "Itbah Al-Yahud" and "Allahu Akbar".


LIFSCHITZ: Kill the Jews, and God is great. After that, she met people, and my mom believed in shared humanity. She is the person who truly believe in

people, and she herself was able to distinguish between people. That person she talked to, who was a paramedic, spoke to her kindly, and she respond in

kindness. She has also seen horrendous, horrendous things.

AMANPOUR: I was struck by the fact that she says -- she thinks she saw in a tunnel or in one of the rooms in which she was captured, Yahya Sinwar, the

mastermind of all of this, and that she confronted this person who she thought was Sinwar. I mean, it's remarkable to hear her tell it.

LIFSCHITZ: I think she speaks truth to power, wherever it is. She is -- she was unafraid. She felt that the worst has happened. And she didn't know

what the future holds. But, she held on to her truth, and that's something we all have to learn from.

AMANPOUR: And she said --

LIFSCHITZ: And she said -- well, she told him, why us? I don't believe anybody deserve what will happen to us. So, while she said it, because she

was a peace activist, I don't feel any civilian deserve the atrocities of the seventh of October.

AMANPOUR: And did he respond?

LIFSCHITZ: No. I don't think he is the kind of person that respond.

AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about your father, because even before he had written many times about Israel, about the situation, and he had had

written also about the state of security or non-security. In an OpEd in Haaretz in 2019, he said about Netanyahu. He is not Israel's defender,

saying that his image, as protector, the ultimate security man, was misguided, and that Bibi had already failed in his promise for security of

the Iran nuclear program and the northern border and other such thing. And he said, and this is a quote, "When Gazans have nothing to lose, we lose

big time." Can you reflect on what he said in 2019 and whether it's still relevant today?

LIFSCHITZ: I think it's absolutely relevant today, Christiane.


I think that the whole point of, even if you believe in military activity, is to reach long-term agreements, and this is why I'm here as well. I'm

here because these hostages must come home now. That's the best way of reaching a ceasefire, and it's the best way of then building towards the

work that my parents have spent their life doing, which is reaching long- term agreements with our neighbors. It's not easy. Work of peace is not an easy work. It's dirty, and it's gray, and it's imperfect and you have to

give up on a lot.

And I think that we forget it. We feel that it's a white dove, and I feel that it's a dirty, dirty dove. But, it gives us the hope that our children

and grandchildren might have a place that my parents will recognize. And I think that my father, I can't speak for what he thinks now. I don't want

to. But, everything he ever taught us was that if you don't get -- make peace, which is the hard work, you get war, which is the failure of it. My

father believed in peace. He believed that we have partners to do peace with. He hated Hamas. He would be horrified that how often Hamas is missing

from the equation of what is happening in Gaza. For him, an organization is a place itself in hospitals and schools. And most would be -- will be the


He knew who Hamas was. He had friends in Gaza that had to escape because Hamas took over. And we have to make peace with these people, with the

people that came to our community and murdered. And the whole world is looking at us and saying, why are you doing that? And I don't want to

answer that. I'm not a militant -- a military person. I'm not a political strategist. But, I do believe in humanity and I believe that we will have

to reach deal with these people in spite of all of that, and that both sides will have to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

When people in Gaza talk about us as if we are all the same. We are not all the same. There is many people in Israel fighting now for this long-term

solutions. Israel is not all the same. And we are not able to say about Hamas. All of Gaza is Hamas. We are asked to make a distinction between

civilian and non-civilians, even after those hundreds of civilians entered our kibbutz and did what they did.

AMANPOUR: Do you think then that, given what you say, do you think that Israel and Israelis are still so traumatized that they're not actually

seeing the fact that Palestinians are not being distinguished in Gaza, that they are being bombed and they are being starved and they are being killed

and they're mounting up? It's like 33,000 dead, including thousands of thousands of children. You are wearing your -- your hostage, I can just

see, you're wearing your ribbons and things. Are you expected, and can you and can the others feel their pain as well? And I wonder what you think

that will leave as a backlash.

LIFSCHITZ: I think that on the seventh of October, the pendulum has swung harder than I ever imagined possible. We, in Israel, we are very

traumatized. We are deeply traumatized. And I think some people do not see the pain of the other side. I can speak for myself that I demand of myself

to see the pain of the other side. And I want to believe in our shared humanity. It is very hard to see the pain that others in Gaza are

suffering. And I hope very much that we both end up with leaders that tell us the truth, that lead us to a sensible existence on both sides. This

truth is badly missing. It's missing from Gaza and it's missing from Israel.

AMANPOUR: And it seems to be reaching a pinnacle, again, of just violence with no view into a more peaceful future. So, I wanted to end, because we

have some beautiful imagery of your father playing the piano, and he was a musician and is a musician, and I just wanted to play it and just have you

reflect on some of the joy that you experienced as a family. We're going to listen to a little bit.




That's Oded. He is somewhere in captivity right now.

LIFSCHITZ: Yeah. I hope they're treating nice and I hope he will come back to us. He is a remarkable person. He really believed that we should both

write letters to the leaders of the world to tell them how to solve the problem of the world. He wrote to Obama several times. And he believed that

we should help our neighbors. And he spent his retirement driving Palestinians from the border to hospitals when they were ill. And I would

ask him, what did they say? And he will talk to them. He spoke good Arabic. And I hope that he knows we love him.

AMANPOUR: I'm sure he does. Sharone Lifschitz, thank you.

LIFSCHITZ: You're welcome.


AMANPOUR: So, that was in London just before this grim anniversary, and to hear the victim, the family of somebody who is still hostage, insist that

everybody's humanity is taken into account and insist that you don't make friends or you don't make peace with your friends, but you have to make

peace with your enemies, is a really important message right now, because Israel's vow to destroy Hamas has taken a catastrophic toll on the people

of Gaza. More than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in the six months since October 7, most of them women and children, according to health

authorities there.

In a new development, some are slowly returning to Khan Younis in southern Gaza after the Israeli military withdrew its forces. But, an IDF official

says troops are quote "far from stopping operations in Gaza." Amid all of this, starvation, the real threat of famine, stalks the blockaded enclave.

Correspondent Nada Bashir reports, and of course, this is too -- this too is so difficult to hear and to watch.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Celebrating a graduation, full of hope for the future, this was life in Gaza for Um Ihab's family before the

war. Now, Um Ihab is one of almost two million Palestinians that have been displaced. We never needed anything from anyone before the war, Um Ihab

says, but now, we're in a situation where I'm forced to beg for a loaf of bread just to feed the children.

In this makeshift shelter, without access to adequate food supplies or medical care, Um Ihab's husband became severely malnourished and later

died. The hardest thing was losing my husband, the way in which he died, she says. We're all going to die one day, but every death has a reason. He

died from hunger, from oppression. He had no food and no water for 55 days. It's very difficult for me to accept this.

Satellite images show the scale of the destruction in central Gaza, buildings, roads, completely destroyed by Israel's relentless bombing

campaign. Israel says it is targeting Hamas. But, six months on and the death toll has now surpassed 33,000, the vast majority, civilians. Each

week has brought with it yet more horror, more bodies pulled from beneath the rubble of destroyed homes, more funerals, survivors forced to flee from

one battleground to another. And now, more children left emaciated by a hunger crisis which is threatening to push Gaza deeper towards famine.

UN experts have accused Israel of intentionally starving the Palestinian people by restricting access to aid, with dire shortages leading to deadly

desperation. What few hospitals remain in Gaza are overrun and desperately lacking in essential supplies. Gaza's largest medical facility, Al-Shifa,

now turned into a graveyard by Israel's bloody 14-day siege on the complex. In just six months, this war has become the deadliest conflict for

children, aid workers and journalists.

Foud Al-Maani has worked through multiple wars in Gaza. But, he says he has never seen anything like this before. His son, a fellow paramedic, was

killed by an Israeli airstrike while responding to an emergency call. Others have lost 10s of family members, Foud says, but losing my son, it

feels like I've lost the entire world.


Desperate to escape Israel's near constant air assault in Gaza, more than a million people have sought refuge in the southern border city of Rafah,

where Israel says it is preparing for a ground incursion, a move the UN warns would lead to unimaginable disaster. Israel's actions in Gaza have

triggered a genocide hearing at the International Court of Justice, allegations Israel denies, and a UN Security Council resolution calling for

an immediate ceasefire. But, hopes for peace remain elusive. The beach makes me forget our pain, our sadness, our martyrs, Um Ihab says. Every

time I come, I complain to the sea, hoping that God will respond and finally take us away from this pain.


AMANPOUR: Nada Bashir reporting there.

Next to the future of work here in America, where artificial intelligence is taking hold and fears of unemployment are growing. Elon Musk called it

the most disruptive force in history. And 75 percent of Americans, adults, think AI will lead to job losses, according to a recent Gallup poll, that

is. But, MIT Economics Professor David Autor says this fear is actually misplaced. He joins Walter Isaacson to discuss the opportunities AI will



WALTER ISAACSON, CEO AND PRESIDENT, THE ASPEN INSTITUTE: Thank you, Christiane, and Professor David Autor, welcome to the show.

AUTOR: Thank you very much for having me.

ISAACSON: You're a labor economist. You've looked at how technology affects jobs. And you have a new piece out about artificial intelligence, saying

that AI could actually help rebuild the middle class. But, before we get to that, let's do a little bit of a walk through history. For a long time,

whether it's back in the Luddites in the early 1800s, they felt technology would destroy jobs. The followers of Ned Ludd smashed the looms of England.

Has there ever been a case where technology decreases the total number of jobs?

AUTOR: It doesn't normally decrease them, but it does change them a lot. And the Luddites were not off base. Their artisanal skills were devalued by

power looms. And the transition from the artisanal era, where people made things by hand with tremendous expertise from start to finish, to the early

industrial era was wrenching for labor. It displaced a lot of skilled, valuable skills, people who were tailors and blacksmiths and wheel rights

and so on. And a lot -- what we ended up with initially was a lot of unmarried women and children working indentured servitude, in dangerous

factories, using very few skills, and getting paid very little.

And the first five decades of the Industrial Revolution were not a good time for labor. Wages didn't rise, even though productivity rose. And why

was that? Because expertise, what was needed, was not scarce. You just needed people, physical bodies, who could tend (ph) machines. Now, that

changed over time as industry advanced. The machines became more complex until the industrial era eventually gave rise to a period of what I'm going

to call demand for mass expertise, people who could do those skilled tasks on assembly lines, but also in the offices. Right?

You can think of early 20th century offices being like an assembly line for information. And although that set of skills was quite different, not like

the artisans, they weren't making cars from end to end, one person at a time, but the ability to operate a lathe or to install a wheel, or to

proofread and typeset a document, those were valuable skills. They were made very productive and efficient by automation, by the Industrial

Revolution, by this new way of organizing work. And that led to a lot of economic growth, both for consumers and for workers that powered us from

really the late 18th century all the way up through the 1980s.

ISAACSON: So, in other words, productivity growth, new technology, ends up helping the economy, creating a whole new set of jobs, but it ends up being

wrenching and leaving people behind. Is that what you're saying?

AUTOR: Absolutely. And when it creates valuable jobs is when it rewards human expertise. What is expertise? Expertise is the specific know-how to

do something valuable. So, just to give you an example, think of the job of air traffic controller and crossing guard. These are basically the same

job, actually. It's a job to prevent people and machines from colliding with one another or machines and machines colliding. And yet, air traffic

controllers get paid more than four times what crossing guards get paid. And the difference is not social value. If we had to spend a lot of money

to prevent our children from being run over on the way to school, we would spend that money. Right? It's a question of expertise.

It takes several years of flight traffic control school and then hundreds to thousands of hours of apprenticeship to become a credentialed air

traffic controller.


To become a crossing guard requires no training or credentialing in almost any state. And therefore, the people who can do it are abundant. And so, it

pays low wages. And that was true of early factory work as well. So, it's never been a question in the United States, certainly, of the quantity of

jobs, but it has been about the quality, and quality means using human expertise.

ISAACSON: You wrote a seminal paper about 10 years ago called "Why are there still so many jobs? And it really came out of a period in the 1960s

when everybody said automation would totally put us out of work. What was your point in that story, and what did we get wrong about leaving people


AUTOR: The main point of that article is that we had entered a different industrial era with the computer revolution, and that actually competed

with the expertise of workers in factories and offices who were carrying out these literate, numerous tasks. They were skilled tasks, but they

followed well understood rules and procedures. And so, that actually caused this pushing -- workers to be pushed out of middle skilled jobs, out of

production jobs, out of office jobs, administrative support, and clerical jobs, and it created a bifurcated labor market.

On the one hand, if you're a professional or a technical or a managerial worker, you're a decision maker. And computing is a great input into

decision making. It gives you data. It gives you analysis. It gives you all the information you need. You still have to do the hard work of deciding,

how do I care for this cancer patient? How do I design a building that people want to live in? How do I architect a piece of software? How do I

contract and re-engineer a house, right? So, those are hard decisions. Computing is really valuable. It makes that work better. It makes people

more valuable in doing that work.

For those people, however, who are not fortunate enough to have a college education, which is more than half of the workforce, many of them as they

were moved out of middle skilled jobs, they ended up in services that use relatively generic expertise, food service, cleaning, security,

entertainment, recreation, home care. And again, those jobs are socially valuable, but because they don't require specialized skills and expertise,

they pay poorly. And so, the computer revolution, it didn't reduce employment. We have high unemployment to population ratios.

What it did was it bifurcated the labor force and kind of cut out the middle rungs of the ladder that weakened the middle class, reduced economic

mobility, and created a big divide between more educated and less educated workers. And that's really what we'd be contending with for the last four

decades. From approximately 1980 to approximately 2020, we've been really feeling the effects of this polarization of employment.

ISAACSON: So now, let's go to the era of artificial intelligence, the era of AI. We've gone through 50 years since the advent of the personal

computer. And as you've explained, it's hollowed out sort of the middle class, the middle worker in favor of those with high-end expertise. Will AI

change that?

AUTOR: It has the potential to change that if we use it well. So, let me say, what is AI? What makes it even different from traditional computing?

So, traditional computing followed rules. It follows what we call inductive logic. It just does the steps until it gets to an answer. Artificial

intelligence is the opposite. It learns inductively and it learns from examples. It learns from looking at unstructured data and drawing out

patterns and recognizing regularities that are useful for making decisions, for predicting what's going to come next.

And in fact, it's an irony. It's actually the opposite of traditional computing. If I told you the world's frontier computer technology can't do

math and can't keep facts straight, you'd say that sounds doesn't sound like a very advanced technology, but that's what AI is. Right? It's really

good at learning from example and extrapolating from example. And so, that makes it potentially a very good decision support tool, because it

recognizes patterns and regularities like we do when we're making a judgment about how to care for a patient or how to build a building, or how

to do research or even how to teach.

ISAACSON: Well, wait. So, how is that going to help the middle skilled workforce?

AUTOR: Sure. Let me give you an example that I think is motivating. It's actually, it has nothing to do with AI specifically. Let's take the job of

the nurse practitioner. So, nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have an additional master's degree in training, and they do things that

nurses were not allowed to do some decades ago and doctors were exclusively allowed to do, which is to diagnose, to prescribe medications, and to

treat. And they are essentially a kind of a middle class of medical professional. Now, there are several hundred thousand in the United States.

It's a well-paid job, better than registered nurses.


Now, it came about, not because of technology, it came about because of social movement, that nurses, primarily women, recognized they're underused

and they fought like hell against the American Medical Association to carve out a new field and a credential and a scope of practice. But, at this

point, they're very heavily supported by technology, electronic medical records, diagnostic software, prescription software, and that enables them

to do a broader scope of work. And so, not only has this created a valuable job, it creates a valuable patient service. You don't have to wait as long

to see a doctor. And it's not as expensive to do so. And so, it broadens the availability of care.

And it's not hard to imagine a future where people with additional medical training or even nurse practitioners could do a broader set of activities

without having to bring in the most expensive professional in the room. And that matters, because most of these elite professions that we're speaking

of, they require a bachelor's degree, plus a master's degree and a PhD or a JD or MD, or an MBA, and nurse practitioners are also highly credential,

but they're not at that same level. And this example is just an example. It could be true. You can imagine a contractor who has better tools to scope

out what are the viable kitchen designs. What are the -- what are certifiable engineering designs so that the building will stand etc.?

You can -- yeah. So, I could -- or even in law, right, people who are not - - do not have as much -- many years of legal experience could potentially still do more valuable work. So, they -- so, the good scenario, right, as I

mentioned earlier, six out of 10 U.S. workers do not have a four-year college degree. Most of them are found in these low paid services that

aren't using specialized skills if more of those workers with additional supporting training could do medical care, could do legal services, could

do design.

And so, we will know if we're succeeding with this technology if we enable people without four-year degrees to do more valuable decision making work,

to open up the field of expertise, such that it's not to say to eliminate the -- I'm not saying we're going to get rid of doctors and lawyers and

computer programmers, but now enable more people to do that work at some level.

ISAACSON: So, what you're saying is that somebody with a high school diplomas, but not a college degree, who probably lost out a bit in the

information and computer revolution, they can be empowered to do things that now take experts to do,

AUTOR: Right. Again, with the right training, right? You wouldn't just say, hey, I've got this tool for you. Go, take care of this patient, and do it,

and let me say, perform some procedure, insert a catheter or something. That will be a terrible idea. Right? Something is going to go wrong and the

patient is going to -- there'll be an emergency and the person won't know what to do. But, it's -- but, it could be. It's quite plausible that I

would say, hey, you have a two-year medical certificate in X-ray technology, or you're a physical therapist, and so on, and here is -- you

can do a broader range of procedures now that you have the judgment and you have the foundational knowledge, you have a better tool that allows you to

go further with that knowledge.

ISAACSON: Previous technology revolutions throughout history generally hurt those with less skilled -- less skills, less education. This one perhaps

will disrupt jobs of the most educated. Which jobs are the most threatened?

AUTOR: I think the jobs that have the most opportunity for being substantially automated are ones that are kind of mid-level decision-making

tasks and managerial work, for example, but simultaneously, we could also see greater assay (ph) for more people to do that type of work. So, there

is a number of experiments where we see what computer -- what AI does is it kind of levels the productivity differences between more and less

experienced workers. We see that in writing tasks. We see that in customer support tasks, like technical customer support tasks. We see that in even a

bunch of consulting and analytic tasks that often -- the tool complements judgments, enables people to do better work. And if that's true, then

potentially it can lower the barriers to entry.

Now, there is a counterargument to this or there is probably many, but one of them, he will say, well, OK, let's say it makes your nurse practitioner

five percent better or 20 percent better, but it makes the best doctor 100 percent or 1,000 percent better. Doesn't that make the nurse practitioner

no longer competitive? Right? And I would say the answer to that is, no. And the reason is, because doctors have capacity constraints. Right?


If the best doctor in the world gets 100 times better, I'm still never going to see that doctor. Right? That's not relevant to me. So, many, many

services are -- they cannot be dominated by one expert. Right? There is too much -- you need too much one on one, whether that's a legal case, whether

that's education, whether that's medicine, whether that's design, right, whether that's our research. And so, you're going to have to -- a lot of

people will have to be involved. Healthcare is the best example. Right? There is infinite demand for labor there, and that's not going to go away.

ISAACSON: But, you're talking about democratizing expertise.

AUTOR: Yeah.

ISAACSON: Couldn't it happen, though, that that just makes some of the experts redundant at a certain point, instead of a great teacher? I'll have

Khan Academy's Khanmigo as a personal tutor. And likewise, even for most legal work or medical work, those can be replaced by great AI in five or 10


AUTOR: In some cases, it's going to create more competition. Right? It's definitely going to create more competition at the top. And in a way,

that's good. Right? The problem we face is a lot of our inequality is driven by very, very high wages for highly educated workers. I'm not saying

they're not working hard. They haven't earned that money. But, that scarcity actually is a problem for the rest of us. Right? So, if you and I

were professionals, it's great. If we pay for healthcare and it's expensive, we say, well, great, I'm being rewarded well as a professional.

Good for me. But, if I'm an auto worker or I work at Walmart, I still pay the same price for healthcare and for education. I'm not on the upside the

equation, only the downside. Right?

So, if we could actually -- if it was possible to make some of those services less expensive, more accessible, it's true. We made -- the premium

salary paid to the mostly professionals may go down a bit. But, if that creates a lot more jobs for others that enables people without as much

formal training to still do really good work, I don't mean no training, I just mean the right level. And it lowers the prices of those services for

others, makes education more affordable, more accessible, actually more interesting, if it makes healthcare more available to more folks, if it

means that -- software is actually less expensive to create. So, you can create customized applications for your business or for your home. Right?

There is a lot of benefit to that.

So, I'm not arguing that everybody always wins. In all these cases of technological change, they've always created winners and losers. Right? The

artisans lost out. It took 50 years for the workers, the industrial-era workers to start to benefit. Computerization benefited professionals a

great deal. It really was not good for middle skilled workers. It was not good for office workers. It was not good for production workers. It just

made a lot of their skills redundant and increased aggregate wealth. But, the distributional consequences were pretty crappy. Most of the time,

technology is good for the elite, and not so good for everybody else. This is a case where the technology may compete a little more with the elite and

enable more people to do valuable work. So, I'm willing to take that trade if it's offered.

ISAACSON: Professor David Autor, thank you so much for joining us.

AUTOR: Thank you so much for inviting me.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, our planet offers many wonders today, not only the eclipse, Europe's largest active volcano, Mount Etna, is

captivating tourists and residents in Sicily by blowing near perfect smoke rings across the blue skies, like a giant puffing on a cigar. This too is a

rare phenomenon caused by a new crater opening on Aetna summit, and it is not smoke and mirrors. It is real. Abba has turned 50, and Mamma Mia, the

musical, has turned 25. Join us tomorrow for my conversation with the woman who convinced Abba to put that music on the stage, visionary producer Judy

Craymer. A world tour and two hit films later, the musical has been seen in over 450 cities across the globe.


And I joined Judy on her West End stage to talk about the old woman creative team who made such an enduring and beloved phenomenon.


JUDY CRAYMER, CREATOR/PRODUCER, "MAMMA MIA": Right from the beginning when I learned -- loved those Abba songs and when it takes it all was my

inspiration, that song, that woman song, I felt -- it compelled me that there should be a stage musical but it should be an original musical. I

really do love the term jukebox that people have used because it's putting popular music on stage. It's more a pop musical, if anything.


But, the songs had to earn their place. And Catherine Johnson's story did that. She put those wonderful Abba songs into context, so you could laugh,

you could cry. They became a dialogue.


AMANPOUR: And that is it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. And remember, you

can always catch us online on our website and all over the social media.

Thanks for watching, and goodbye from New York