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DeSantis to Launch Run on Twitter; Netflix Crackdown; Using AI and Brain Scans to Communicate. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 24, 2023 - 08:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the Republican field will expand by one when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announces his bid for the 2024 Republican nomination. It's going to be a very unconventional launch. He's expected to have a live conversation with Elon Musk on Twitter Spaces. I should note it's going to be audio only. Users can participate. Musk publicly confirmed tonight's conversation at a "Wall Street Journal" event.


ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA AND TWITTER: Yes, I will be interviewing Ron DeSantis. And he has quite an announcement to make. And we'll be - it will be the first time that something like this is happening on social media and with real-time questions and answers, not scripted.


HARLOW: Musk still says he is not endorsing a candidate yet, so this isn't an official endorsement, lest you be confused. He did last year, though, tweet this. If DeSantis runs against Biden in 2024, then DeSantis will easily win. He doesn't even need to campaign.

Joining us now are the - a "Very Serious" newsletter writer, Josh Barro, and CNN political commentator and former White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin.

Good morning, guys.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: I think we should note that that's the name of it because otherwise it just sounds like Poppy is saying you're very serious.

BARRO: It's -

HARLOW: I know.

BARRO: Well, it's - it's the name and it's a description. It's two in one. COLLINS: Exactly. Just to be clear.

HARLOW: All perfect things (ph). But you're not allowed to smile if you're Mr. Very Serious. Rein it in.

BARRO: Well, I - I get too decide.

HARLOW: Yes, you get to decide.

All right, guys, good morning.

We talked a lot about the Twitter of it and who that's unique to say the least. But DeSantis' wife put out this hype video of him, saying, you know, America's worth it. You were inside the Trump White House, inside the Trump orbit. What does this mean?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, this has -- this is going to go one of two directions and nothing in between. Either disastrous or be brilliant. Ron DeSantis has made sort of a name for bypassing traditional media. As we all know, everything is heading towards streaming. And this is going to still be covered in mainstream media. But the attacks also kind of write themselves by Trump.

Twitter is a platform Donald Trump understands. I think Dan Scavino, his digital guy, is chomping at the bit for how they can disrupt this, what they can, you know, use their army of trolls to try to distract from this launch. So, it's a gamble. It's - if it were advising DeSantis, I think it's too big of a gamble because the first day of the launch is the easiest day of a campaign, straight down the middle, like, no screw-ups is kind of what you're going for. And I also expect to see Trump recycle kind of the Biden attack of like he's in the basement. He's not on camera. He's not out talking to media. So, there is some attacks that write themselves.

COLLINS: Yes, but then he'll be on Fox just a few hours after that.


COLLINS: So, we'll see. Yes, there are questions. As Donie was noting earlier, Twitter has not been running its best always lately and so we'll see if there's any glitches there.

But to the announcement in and of itself, long anticipated. I think there is a question among some Republicans, though, of whether waiting cost him because we've seen how in the months since he had that, he soared to re-election. He has sunk in the polls. Something that Trump points out every chance he can.

BARRO: Well, and Trump has been campaigning during that period, whereas Ron DeSantis has been governor in Florida and has, obviously, the shadow campaign. But I think there's been a disadvantage that he is not out there forthrightly making the case for why he ought to be the Republican nominee for president.

I'm going to be very interested to see. I mean, you know, he - he is not the frontrunner in this race. Donald Trump is the frontrunner in this race. And so at some point he's going to have to make the forthright case about why Donald Trump should not be the Republican nominee. He's been sort of oblique about that and he talks about I'm a winner without really saying Trump's a loser, even though that's supposed to be the implication. So at some point, you know, he has to make the argument, why not nominate Donald Trump again.

There is a way to do that without attacking him from the left. And I don't think we've really seen that attack tried out.


I mean basically I expect he'll try to make Anthony Fauci Donald Trump's running mate, basically say all the stuff you didn't like during Covid, that stuff started in 2020 on Donald Trump's watch when I was doing something different. So, I think, you know, we'll see the extent to which that case resonates. I don't think we've seen him make it full yet.

HARLOW: You talked about a shadow campaign.


HARLOW: I assume you're talking about all of the bills that he's recently signed?

So, Alyssa, if we go through what he's trying to do to run to the right of former President Trump, sign that six-week abortion ban, ended a concealed weapons permit, banned transgender affirming care for trans youth, restricted drag shows, block AP African American studies, prohibited vaccine mandates. I could go on and on. Expand the so-called "don't say gay" law.

Now is the test of that. Now the test is, is that what the Republican Party wants?

GRIFFIN: Well, and let's keep in mind the platform he's choosing which is Twitter. Only about 20 percent of Americans are on it. We say it all the time, Twitter's not real life. And I sort of wonder if some of these early steps in the primary are also not in touch with what the broadest swath of conservatives want to see.

Ron DeSantis, I think, would have been wise to focus on no income tax, great jobs environment in Florida, we got your kids back in school, you know, when other states were still locked down, the free state of Florida. Instead, he went very heavily into the wedge culture war issues. And this is going to be a real test if that resonates.

Now, those are unquestionably powerful with the base, but I don't know that that's the full swath of primary -- Republican primary voters.

COLLINS: And I think abortion, obviously, will be one of the biggest ones because it certainly helps in a primary. Does it help in a general that you've signed this six-week ban into law?

The other thing that DeSantis was making an argument the other day that I found interesting was talking about the Supreme Court. Obviously, that is a big part of what helped Trump get elected.


COLLINS: And so whenever he was saying basically, I would not only be in office for one term, I could potentially have two, talking about there could be two vacancies on the Supreme Court and how he would want those to look like, Justice Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, that seemed to be another argument to try to make that to just a bigger swath of Republican voters.

BARRO: I'm not sure (INAUDIBLE) is a differentiator. I mean any Republican who becomes president is going to appointed conservatives to the Supreme Court.

HARLOW: But he has eight years.

BARRO: Right, but I -

HARLOW: He -- if he wins both.

COLLINS: Saying he has more time.

BARRO: I assume Donald Trump will say, I'm going to pick a great running mate and I'm going to set that person up really well. I mean it's - I - we've never had this situation where somebody sought a second term as president ever since the - a second non-consecutive term as president, ever since we had the constitutional amendment creating the two-term limit. So, this is the first campaign ever where you're going to have someone who is up against this limit where they only have one term. I haven't seen anyone make that issue yet, but it's still kind of a bank shot. I mean Sonia Sotomayor is 68. I don't think it's very likely that she's going to leave the court involuntarily in the next ten years under a Republican president. So, I mean, maybe. Maybe, you know, maybe you get an extra term because you have the - because you have the ability to run for re-election and maybe she dies. I mean, frankly, that's the morbid thing we're talking about here.

But I think it's - it's - it's -- it's a contingency on top of a contingency and all of the Republicans, if they are elected, will appoint essentially the same kind of judges.

GRIFFIN: I did think one line of attack that DeSantis had that actually has broken through, and it wasn't directly from him it was from his -- his PAC was to say that Donald Trump has now spent more money attacking him in the primary than he did to boost Republicans in 2022. That actually, I think, resonates with primary voters who are like, wait, he's not fighting for all of our guys. It's about him and it's about, you know, fighting his grievances. So they should lean more into that.

I would agree that I'm not sure this is as strong. He's actually taking it from the Trump playbook. I remember advising him on putting out a list of potential Supreme Court nominees in 2020. And any Republican is going to go for conservative justices.

COLLINS: Yes. We'll see what it actually looks like. I mean everyone -- all eyes will be on the launch but also these two (ph).

HARLOW: What it sounds like. We don't even get to see them.


HARLOW: Audio lunch first, right?

COLLINS: Back to audio.

HARLOW: Back to audio.

Thank you, guys.

BARRO: Thank you.

COLLINS: Thank you, guys, so much. Alyssa Farah Griffin, Josh Barro.

Also this morning, speaking of not just audio, visual as well, Netflix cracking down on users who share passwords. Harry Enten is here with the data on how much you may now have to pay up.



COLLINS: All right, the days of using your parents, or, in my case, your sister's Netflix account might be behind us. I hope my siblings are watching this. In 2017 Netflix tweeted, quote, love is sharing a password. Six years later, though, the company has a very different message. Now telling subscribers, quote, your Netflix account is for you and the people you live with, your household.

Seems a little judgey, but here with this morning's number is CNN's senior data reporter Harry Enten.

Harry, what is this morning's number?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: All right, so let's take a look. This morning's number is $7.99. I was hoping that that two dollar bill, I rounded up to eight before the commercial break. That's the new monthly charge if you want to share your account with someone outside of your household.

And give you an understanding of why Netflix is doing this. So, this is Netflix sharing globally. Households who share, 100 plus million according to Netflix. And that is out of 233 million households that subscribe. So, a large portion, in fact, do share those passwords.

And here's another reason why they're doing it. They're seeing some - their subscriber growth is shrinking, right? So it was up only 5 percent this past quarter from a year ago, 7 percent it was last year, 14 percent, 23 percent. So, this is not the trendline Netflix wants to see. So they want to get more subscribers. And they figure if they crack down on the sharing of the passwords, perhaps they could get some more subscribers.

HARLOW: Would they lose subscribers for charging more to share an account?

ENTEN: Yes, so this to me sort of gets at what's going on. What is the top reason you subscribe to a streamer? Cost is number one at 37 percent. Thirty-five percent, because of specific shows. The ability to log in share is just 2 percent. It's number eight on the list of top reasons why.

But what I will point out in terms of sharing your streaming log-ins, 50 percent say charging for sharing is a reason to, in fact, drop a streamer. And 39 percent say they would actually pay for being able to share those passwords if they split the cost.


So, I'm not sure they're going to gain folks but I'm not sure they're necessarily going to lose that many folks either.

COLLINS: Yes, certainly not.

HARLOW: They're watching.

COLLINS: They're watching "The Crown." So --

HARLOW: Love "The Crown."

Thank you, Harry.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Thanks, Harry. Get your new password.

HARLOW: Groundbreaking medical technology powered by AI could give those who could no longer communicate a voice again. Our Donie O'Sullivan tried to out. We'll tell you how close it got to reading his mind.


HARLOW: Coffee. Thank you!

COLLINS: Nice shoes.

O'SULLIVAN: What's your Netflix password?

COLLINS: I don't even know.


HARLOW: Mind reading may not only be a thing for psychics and mentalists, soon it could be the work of artificial intelligence.

COLLINS: That's because scientists in Texas are now training artificial intelligence to read brain scans and then spit out a partial transcript of what that person was thinking during the scan. The research could have major implications obviously for people with certain disabilities. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan took a firsthand look at what this technology

could do.



DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're reading people's minds.

ALEXANDER HUTH, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UT AUSTIN: So, we don't like to use the term mind reading.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): These neuroscientists at the University of Texas in Austin say they've made a major breakthrough. They've figured out how to translate brain activity into words using artificial intelligence.

HUTH: These are different images.

O'SULLIVAN: Earlier this month they published a paper explaining how they had research volunteers listen to audio clips while having their brains scanned by an FMRI machine. Over time, AI algorithms, the very same tech that's behind ChatGPT, were able to figure out what the volunteers were listening to just by watching their brains.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): It is just crazy you can watch how blood flows through the brain and using AI and GPT and everything else translate it into words.

HUTH: Yes, it's wild that this works when you put it that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thumbs up, Donie.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): To test it all out, Professor Alexander Huth and I had our brains scanned while listening to parts of "The Wizard of Oz" audio book.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I only had a brain.

HUTH: Big brain. Like obnoxiously big.

Hi, Donie. We have a picture of your brain.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): I have a brain.

HUTH: Yes, it looks good.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): I was scanned first, followed by Professor Huth, capturing images of the changes in our brain's flood flow as we listened to the words from the audio book and showing how our brains interpreted those words.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When she had finished her meal and was about to go back to the road of yellow brick, she was startled to hear a deep grown nearby. JERRY TANG, PHD STUDENT, UT AUSTIN: You can see that there. We're

getting recordings every two seconds while he's listening to a story. We will feed this data through our decoder and try to predict the story that he's currently listening to.

O'SULLIVAN: The next morning the results were in.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): OK, so it's been 24 hours since we got our brains scanned. You can confirm I have a brain.

HUTH: Absolutely.

O'SULLIVAN: Brilliant.

HUTH: So, we were able to decode some stuff from my brain, not so much from yours. So, this is one from my brain. This is from "The Wizard of Oz." So on the left side is the actual words that I heard. When she had finished her meal and was about to go back to the road of yellow brick, she was startled to hear a deep grown nearby. And the decoded version of this is on the right. It's, I was about to head back to school and I hear this strange voice calling out to me. So it gets some things right, this like, was about to go back, was about to head back. It completely misses some things, like the road of yellow brick versus school. But then it gets this - this nice kind of example. So, she hears something and then instead of a deep grown nearby it said a strange voice calling out to me. It means something related, even if it's not exactly the right words.

O'SULLIVAN: Sure. Still pretty incredible to think that was about to head back and something that just by scanning your brain.

HUTH: Yes. I think that's one of the things that's really surprising to us about this. It can get things like that. It can get these entire phrases of exact words.

OK, so here's this same segment for you.

O'SULLIVAN: Now, so we expected mine not to be great.

HUTH: Because we haven't trained the model on you. The whole day I'd be fine but she wanted me to make it to her place. First I got a little excited about it.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): The reason it wasn't able to decode my brain was because the technology currently needs people to sit in the FMRI machine for more than 16 hours so the AI models can train on specific people's brains.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Are we going to live in a world where, you know, I can walk by somebody on the street and they'll be able to hold something up to my head and they'll know what I'm thinking?

HUTH: Currently we're very far from that. That might also never be possible. We can't completely rule it out, but as far as we know that certainly won't be possible in the next few decades.

The real potential application of this is actually helping people who are unable to speak without them needing to get neurosurgery.

TANG: Now we have this like snapshot of the brain.

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): Jerry Tang explained how they used OpenAI's GPT large language model to help decode the brain. The GPT model is made up of millions of pages of text from the internet that the AI trains on and learns how sentences are constructed and how people talk and think.

TANG: GPT basically made our predictions a lot better.

O'SULLIVAN: But it doesn't just work listening to audio. Professor Huth showed us what happened when he watched a movie with no sound while his brain was scanned. Watch as the technology is able to decode what his eyes are seeing.

HUTH: She then took my hand and held it to her lips. She kissed it. I smiled. And she pulled me in for a hug.

O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Oh, my God.

HUTH: I got her back for about hours. I had to stop the bleeding and gave her my shirt to put over it. It's pretty good. I don't know, it's a pretty good description of what was happening here.

O'SULLIVAN: That's - wow.

Should we be scared by the work people like you are doing?

TANG: We think it's really important to continually evaluate the implications of brain decoding and also to start thinking about enacting policies that protect mental privacy and regulate what brain data can be used for.


O'SULLIVAN: So, yes, you heard the term there, mental privacy, which is the most dystopian thing -

HARLOW: Certainly caught my attention.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, most dystopian thing I have heard in a while.


So, look, it was unable to read my brain, but we did confirm I - there's something in here. But, look, this only works right now on very controlled environments. But as he said there, this one day could progress in a way that it actually can read your thoughts.

But really, really important potential and even last when we debuted this story last night heard from somebody who has a loved one who can -- can't communicate after a stroke. This kind of technology could be life changing.

COLLINS: Yes, and it's important to talk about because while it's far from finalized, you know, we always talk about the dangerous side of AI what that could look like with lawmakers.


COLLINS: It's important to note there could be a lot of potential good here.

O'SULLIVAN: A lot of potential good but also, you know, a lot of potential -- do we want to know what you hear -

COLLINS: Do I want to know your thoughts, Donie?

O'SULLIVAN: Do I want to know your thoughts, Kaitlan Collins? I don't know.

COLLINS: I feel like I'm pretty blunt with my thoughts, but I don't know about yours as well.

All right.

HARLOW: It was - what a piece.

O'SULLIVAN: I - yes, I hide - I hide my darkness.

HARLOW: What a piece.

Donie, thank you very much.

COLLINS: Thank you, Donie.

All right, happening right now, we are also tracking the strongest storms in decades that is now hitting the U.S. territory of Guam. We'll get the latest for you on the ground ahead.


COLLINS: Truly one of the greatest movies of all time. We watch that every Christmas.

HARLOW: "Christmas Vacation."

COLLINS: Yes, it's so good.

All right, it's not that scene in particular, but kind of looks like it.


Because for your "Morning Moment," a baseball game turned into a scene basically out of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" when this squirrel started running on the outfield wall at the Yankees/Orioles game on Tuesday, completely not at all freaking out some of those fan - those guys that are sitting there. Eventually the squirrel jumped down the 8-foot 5-inch wall and flew - and through the air onto the field. The Yankees, though, not distracted, making a 6-5 comeback win over the Orioles. Except for the squirrel, that stole the show there.

HARLOW: The highlight of the show for me.

COLLINS: Not a sports person. You'd rather see that.

HARLOW: No, but I like the squirrel.

We'll see you tomorrow.

COLLINS: Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

"CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right now.

HARLOW: Look at that beautiful day out there. Love that shot of the Hudson.