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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Actors Demand Studios Address AI Technology; Shopify Calculates How Much Unnecessary Meetings Cost; India Making Second Attempt To Land Spacecraft On Moon. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 14, 2023 - 05:30   ET




RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, and here is today's fast- forward lookahead.

Iowa's governor expected to sign a six-week abortion bill into law today. This is despite Democratic backlash and a legal challenge. The state's Republican-controlled legislature advanced it in a special session on Tuesday.

And in just a few hours, Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to reporters from Jakarta. It will follow a trilateral meeting with Japan and South Korea at the Southeast Asian Nations Forum. This comes after Pyongyang's intercontinental ballistic missile test fire on Thursday.

And nearly five million children in eight states may lose out on extra funding for food this summer unless officials sign up for a federal relief program today. It gives an extra $120 in free meals to children who qualify.

Well, first it was the writers striking in Hollywood; now, it's the actors. Among the sticking points, actors want higher compensation and residuals from streaming. But they're also worried that studios want to use AI to replace actors.


Clip from Lucasfilm's "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.



SOLOMON: For example, in the new Indiana Jones movie they used de- aging technology on Harrison Ford, making it seem like the footage was shot 40 years ago.

So how does this technology affect the future of the industry? Let's bring in David Gunkel. He is a professor of media studies at Northern Illinois University. He is also the author of "The Machine Question: Critical Perspectives on AI, Robots, and Ethics." David, good morning and thanks for waking up early to be with us.


SOLOMON: So take a listen to what the national executive director of SAG-AFTRA had to say at a news conference yesterday about AI and then we'll discuss.


DUNCAN CRABTREE-IRELAND, NATIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SAG-AFTRA: They proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get paid for one day's pay. And their company should own that scan, their image, their likeness, and to be able to use it for the rest of eternity in any project they want with no consent and no compensation.


SOLOMON: So I think it would be really helpful to just explain for us and viewers at home what exactly are we talking about here in terms of the industry using AI to, in theory, replace actors?

GUNKEL: So we've already seen, for a number of years now, computer- generated backgrounds and computer-generated extras and things like this. But artificial intelligence allows us to basically do exactly what was described -- to scan a human actor and then be able to manipulate that scanned image in ways that provide different poses, different displays of their visage in a film, and basically replace an actor with an avatar like you have in the video game.

And this is something that is seen as being a great advancement in computer-generated content, but it also is seen, as you can tell, as a threat to actors who rely on their performance as a means of livelihood.

SOLOMON: And you also have to wonder for the actors who no longer have control over how their image or their brand, or their reputation is being used if this is then used in future projects and such.

David, you know and understand AI better than most people, certainly. How valid do you think the concerns are from SAG-AFTRA about the way AI being used and could be used?

GUNKEL: I think it's a valid concern. We talk about deep fakes outside of the realm of Hollywood and the way in which we can now basically simulate any kind of performance by any public figure or emulate their voice, et cetera, and make them say things they've never said before. This is just deep fake technology applied to the performance of actors in fictional settings like a film or television program.

So the technology has evolved very rapidly in the last couple of years and it will only get better as these large models that we use to generate these images get to be more robust and more capable. SOLOMON: I wonder, has the law also evolved to keep up with this type of technology? And I wonder, from your perspective, in terms of the law as it currently stands, who is better shielded from misuse of AI or use of AI in terms of the writers or the actual -- of the talent in front of the camera?

GUNKEL: Yes, that's a good question.

So the technology is advancing at a very rapid pace. Law and regulation evolve much more slowly and as a result, the current challenges that are being faced by both writers and actors are using laws that were written for previous forms of technology. Copyright laws and contract laws that were in place for decades prior to this and don't necessarily scale very well to some of the new opportunities and the new challenges that they're facing.

SOLOMON: On the flip side, some would argue that AI does make filmmaking easier, doesn't it?

GUNKEL: Yes, of course, it does.

One of the reasons why the studios are looking at this technology and seriously considering using it is that it has a way of economizing a film and video production. It's expensive to make these productions and if you can save on your costs by employing some new technology you would obviously like to adopt that.

So you can see the sort of push-pull here. The studios, on the one hand, are looking to create content at a cheaper and the actors are wanting to retain their opportunities for employment, even though this new technology is pressing on both fronts.

SOLOMON: David, I want to step back a bit because obviously, we're talking about Hollywood for obvious reasons. But I think prior to this, the feeling had been that AI threatened industries where perhaps automation was a key part of what you were doing. But this is a creative industry, right? We're talking about writers. We're talking about actors.

And I don't mean to be dramatic but AI -- I mean, is any industry safe, from what you can see?


GUNKEL: So there's very little industries that are safe right now. We used to think that automation was coming for the jobs that were dull, dirty, and dangerous, like mining or cleaning up toxic waste dumps, and things like this. But we're finding out that the AI are coming for the jobs that are the routine intellectual kinds of work that we often associate with good-paying positions, like screenwriters, like actors.

So this is a shift in how we think about technological unemployment and who is in the crosshairs of these new invasions.

SOLOMON: It's certainly something we will be discussing for many months if not years to come. David Gunkel, great to have your insight today. Thank you.

GUNKEL: Thank you.

SOLOMON: All right. Turning to sports, the women's final at Wimbledon is now set after an emotional semifinal between a pair of unseeded players.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning. Happy Friday.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Happy Friday to you.

A fascinating conversation about AI.

SOLOMON: Thank you.

MANNO: Thank goodness these performances that are inspired can't be replicated, at least.

SOLOMON: Touche. The one industry, perhaps.

MANNO: Yes, we'll wait and see.

But this one took about an hour and 15 minutes. It was so gritty. It was incredible. I mean, you could root for Marketa Vondrousova or Elina Svitolina on center court yesterday -- take your pick. I mean, both of these players had magical runs. In the end, somebody had to pack up their locker and go home.

And this one went to Vondrousova. The 24-year-old from the Czech Republic just too much for Svitolina -- excuse me -- Svitolina. Too much for Svitolina to handle.

She won in straight sets. She used a mix of speed and spin, and power to become the first unseeded women's finalist at Wimbledon since Billie Jean King in 1963. So she's going to face number six seed Ons Jabeur tomorrow.

Just a year ago, Vondrousova came to the All England Club with a cast on her arm to watch her best friend play in the qualifying rounds.


MARKETA VONDROUSOVA, SEEKING FIRST MAJOR TITLE: I didn't play for six months last year. And yes, you never know if you can be at that level again. And I'm just so grateful to be here and to be healthy -- to place tennis again.


MANNO: Meantime, the crowd gave Svitolina a standing ovation as she left the court. The Ukrainian who became a mom last October said that she was playing for her daughter and also for her homeland. She fought back tears as she reflected on the past two weeks. ELINA SVITOLINA, TWO-TIME GRAND SLAM SEMIFINALIST: Massive support. I got a lot of messages from different people, and it's unbelievable that they have been there with me all the way and hopefully they continue.


MANNO: That was an incredible run that she went on.

Elsewhere, back stateside now, Northwestern has fired baseball coach Jim Foster after allegations of misconduct within the program. According to the Chicago Tribune, Foster oversaw a toxic culture and engaged in bullying and abusive behavior that prompted a human resources investigation by the university. He spent just one season as the Wildcats coach.

This comes just three days after football coach Pat Fitzgerald was dismissed because of a hazing scandal. Fitzgerald has maintained that he was unaware of the hazing.

Northwestern confirmed to CNN that defensive coordinator David Braun is going to serve as the interim head coach in the meantime, and an official announcement on that is expected later today.

And some of the world's top golfers getting ready for next week's British Open, the final Major of the year, by playing the Scottish Open. All eyes on Rory McIlroy after his stellar six-under 64 in the first round. He's just three strokes off the lead heading into Friday.

And after his round, he was asked about the recent Saudi-backed proposal that came to light, which included both him and Tiger Woods taking ownership of LIV Golf teams. To that, he was quoted telling reporters, "If LIV Golf was the place to play golf on Earth, I would retire. That's how I feel about it." He's been pretty consistent in that regard.

And you can take Steph Curry out of the game but you can't take the game away from Steph Curry. Steph, playing in a celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe, could not resist that long shot over the gallery. I'm actually not sure which is better here -- the bucket itself, the celebration, wearing a bucket hat, which seems tailor-made for Steph. But he's always game to have a good time.

SOLOMON: I'm going to go with option C -- all of the above.

MANNO: How great is that?

SOLOMON: Bucket hats are back, Carolyn. I wouldn't know because I can't pull them off, but Steph Curry can.

MANNO: No. I don't think it's something that I should try to pull off. I was aware that they were back, but buckets have always been there for Steph. It was fun.

SOLOMON: Touche.


SOLOMON: Great job. Thanks, Carolyn.

All right. Coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" former President Trump's son-in-law testifying before Jack Smith's grand jury. What could Jared Kushner say about January 6?

And next, right here, a source of frustration at the office -- many offices. You know what we're talking about. Too many meetings and not enough work.

We'll be right back.



SOLOMON: Welcome back.

And looking at markets around the world, Asian markets are mixed with Tokyo up fractionally. And Hong Kong is up about one-third of a percent. The Shanghai Composite up fractionally.

European markets also mixed with the Frankfurt off about, let's call it a fourth of a percent. Paris, London both up slightly.

Let's take a look at U.S. futures and see how Wall Street is looking the last day of the trading week. The Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P all off, but fractionally. But yesterday, on Thursday, U.S. stocks continued rallying on investor optimism that inflation is calming in the U.S. and that the Fed is near the end of its aggressive interest rate hike campaign.

Another key inflation reading, the June Producer Price Index or PPI. That rose less than anticipated with its smallest annual increase in nearly three years. The data marks 12 straight months of declines.

OK, have you ever wondered why a meeting couldn't have just been an email? Yeah, we've all been there. Shopify just rolled out a meeting cost calculator showing companies how much unnecessary meetings really cost to try to help companies reconsider how time is spent by getting rid of just three meetings a week per person. Shopify found that a company can save 15 percent in overall costs.


Let's bring in Jessica Kriegel. She is the chief scientist of workplace culture at Culture Partners. Jessica, good morning. Thanks for being with us.

So, how -- first of all, how did we get here? How did we get to this place of so many meetings?

JESSICA KRIEGEL, CHIEF SCIENTIST OF WORKPLACE CULTURE, CULTURE PARTNERS (via Webex by Cisco): Oh, it's terrible. We went into COVID, we lost the ability to run into each other in the hallway, and so we went into meeting overload mode where suddenly, we had to have a meeting every single minute of the day in order to stay connected. And what it's done is it's burned people out and it is not the effective way to actually build personal connection and keep the culture alive.

I mean, I've had days where I'm on Zoom calls back-to-back from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. And I would imagine many of your viewers have times where they join a Zoom call and the first thing someone says is oh, hold on, I've got to go take bio break. It's because we're overloaded. And I love what the Shopify CEO is doing.

SOLOMON: So what should a manager watching this -- what's the first step if you think -- I mean, OK, maybe I don't enjoy meetings as much either but things have to be communicated. What's the first step in determining where you can cut back on some of these meetings?

KRIEGEL: Well, I think it's time for a meeting apocalypse. What if we took every single recurring meeting -- every single meeting on our calendar for the next month and just wiped it out? Then we could thoughtfully, intentionally add the meetings back that were actually worth it. That's what we need to do because right now we don't even realize how overloaded we are. It's become the norm.

One of the things I'm doing as a second tip is every time someone sends me an email asking for a meeting I'm just going to respond with just call my cell. So many of these 30-minute meetings could just be a simple, casual conversation, which is really where that interpersonal connection and empathy is found anyway.

SOLOMON: I think it's important to point out that Spotify is a tech company, right, and so we do tend to see the tech companies sort of lean into making their corporate culture a bit more relaxed. But do you think that traditional companies could also benefit from maybe cooling it a little bit on the meetings?

KRIEGEL: Yes, absolutely. You know, it's interesting. We're releasing our State of Culture report this week and we found that across the industry, executives have a much higher view of their culture than individual contributors, and even managers, which means there's something disconnected. And a lot of that has to do with the daily crash of meetings and calls -- non-stop being on the phone.

So executives need to be aware of what is burning out their employees and how they can up those numbers in order to create a better environment to drive more results.


Jessica Kriegel -- look, I would love to sit here and chat with you more but I actually have to get ready to jump on a meeting, so we're going to end it -- we're going to end it here. But this was great food for thought, hopefully, for a lot of people watching. Jessica, thank you. Have a great weekend.

KRIEGEL: You, too.

SOLOMON: All right, turning overseas now. India just launched a mission to the moon.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four, three, two, one, zero.


SOLOMON: That's India's second attempt at executing a controlled landing of a spacecraft on the moon and if successful, will make India only the fourth country to do so.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout live in Hong Kong with more. So, Kristie, how did the launch go?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Rahel, we had liftoff. It went successfully -- the Chandrayaan-3. It means moon vehicle in Sanskrit. It launched earlier today -- Friday afternoon. And as the name suggests, this is India's third lunar mission and it's part of the country's greater ambition to be a space power.

And during the last mission that was in 2019, the rover crashed after a hard landing. So with this one, they are trying to land the rover near the moon's unexplored South Pole and that's due to take place on August 23.

Now, after the landing, scientists are going to deploy the rover. They're going to conduct experiments, including analyzing the chemistry of the lunar soil, measuring the temperature of lunar surface, and scanning the area for moonquakes.

Now, on launch day, earlier today, we heard from India's prime minister who tweeted from Paris where he was just awarded France's highest honor. And he said, quote, "This remarkable mission will carry the hopes and dreams of our nation."

Success in this mission would be absolutely huge for India, Rahel because so far, only three countries have successfully soft-landed a craft on the moon -- the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China. So India has a lot resting on what's going to happen next.

Back to you, Rahel.

SOLOMON: And Kristie, if you might, it comes at a time that India sort of is front and center. I mean, it has the world's most populous nation. It's becoming one of the most important economies. I mean, this comes at a time that India is really sort of gaining more attention.

STOUT: Yes, and it also has a reputation for low-cost space missions. In 2014, India became the first Asian country to reach the Red Planet. And that unmanned Mars mission -- it cost only $74 million -- less than the budget of the Hollywood movie "Gravity." So a lot of analysts are saying this is where India has space leverage. It could shoot for the moon and do it on a budget.

[05:55:06] Back to you.

SOLOMON: Kristie Lu Stout live for us in Hong Kong. Thank you, Kristie.

All right, our top of the morning, the top songs in America.




SOLOMON: All right, "Favorite Song" remix featuring Khalid number one on the YouTube charts.

And here is number two.


OLIVIA RODRIGO, SINGER: Singing "Vampire."


SOLOMON: That would be Olivia Rodrigo's "Vampire."

And number three.


LIL DURK, RAPPER: Singing "All My Life."


SOLOMON: "All My Life." That would be Lil Durk featuring J. Cole.

And history is being made in Hollywood as actors are set to join the writers today on strike. So what this means for your favorite movies and TV shows, ahead.

And Americans sweltering as temperatures soar across the Southwest. How much longer they'll have to endure this dangerous heat coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING."