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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Interview With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Interview With The COVID Crisis Group Director Philip Zelikow. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired April 30, 2023 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria, coming to you live from New York.
ZAKARIA (voice-over): Today on the program, as Israel celebrates 75 years since its founding, I talk to its longest serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
With a resurgence in Israeli-Palestinian violence, can Israel continue to make peace with Arab states? How will it handle an Iran that could reportedly make a fissile material for a nuclear bomb in just two weeks?
And the court crisis. How to heal the country's divisions, Israel's greatest existential threat according to its president.
Also, Washington has declared that America's COVID national emergency will end in a matter of days. So what lessons have we learned from a pandemic that took more than a million lives in the United States alone? I'll talk to Philip Zelikow whose COVID crisis group just released its report.
ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. Visiting India this week, I was struck by how different the mood was there compared to much of the world. While people in the United States and Europe are worried about inflation and a possible recession, Indians are excited about the future.
India is now the most populous country on the planet and is projected to be its fastest growing large economy as well at 5.9 percent this year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said recently India's time has arrived.
My worry is that I've seen this movie before. I remember going to the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2006 and being bombarded with billboards plastered all over the small Swiss town, saying incredible India, proclaiming it to be the world's fastest-growing free market democracy. In fact those years India was growing even faster than now, at more than 9 percent. The Indian trade minister confidently predicted to me that Indian economy would soon overtake China's.
It didn't quite work out that way. After a few years, growth petered out, economic reform stalled, and many foreign businesses that had entered country with great enthusiasm were disappointed. Some left altogether. As for beating China, despite its slowdown, the Chinese economy today is about five times the size of the Indian economy.
And yet I came away from the trip bullish about India. While the enthusiasm in the mid-2000s you did not fully translate, the country did continue to make progress. It has been the second fastest growing large economy after China for 20 years. But in recent years, it has been able to accelerate growth because of a series of revolutions. The first was the Aadhaar Revolution, giving every Indian a unique 12- digit I.D. that is verified by fingerprints or an iris scan.
It sounds simple but it is in Nobel Laureate Paul Rommer's words the most sophisticated I.D. program in the word. Today 99.9 percent of adult Indians have a digital I.D. that can be used to verify instantly who they are, and thus set up a bank account in minutes, literally. I've seen this done. Or it can be used to transfer government payments to recipients directly and with little skimming or corruption.
Aadhaar enrollment is open to all and free, but its most distinctive feature is that it is publicly owned and operated. Unlike in the West, where digital platforms like Google or Facebook are private monopolies that can share your data to make a profit. Entrepreneurs can even build businesses on Aadhaar. And when you use the platform, you don't pay those persistent fees that are ubiquitous in the West.
The second is the Jio Revolution. Mukesh Ambani, India's biggest and most ambitious business leader, made a staggering $46 billion bet that by offering very cheap phones and data packages, he could get most Indians on the internet.
It worked. With most using smartphones as their computers over 700 million Indians now use the internet. India's usage of data is larger than the next two countries, China and the United States, combined.
The third is an infrastructure revolution which is readily apparent to anyone visiting India. Spending on roads, airports, train stations and other such projects has exploded. Government capital spending, CAPEX, has risen fivefold since fiscal year 2014. The average construction of national highways has roughly doubled, as have sea port capacity and the number of airports. Mumbai is finally building an extensive set of bridges, roads, tunnels and metro lines that could truly connect all parts of India's leading economic center.
These three revolutions could this time truly transform India, but they can do so best by helping in the country's greatest challenge. Bringing in hundreds of millions of Indians who are still on the margins economically, socially and politically. As of 2019, about 45 percent of Indians, more than 600 million people live on less than $3.65 a day. Nandan Nilekani, the visionary architect of Aadhaar, describes how to
create jobs in a novel bottom-up way. Rather than the Chinese style top-down approach of building a hundred new factories that employ tens of thousands of workers, he envisions using Aadhaar to get loans to the millions of small businesses scattered throughout the country. He said to me, if 10 million small businesses get loans, that let them each hire two more people, that's 20 million new jobs.
The even larger challenge of inclusivity is around India's women who are still pressured in various ways not to work outside the house. Female labor force participation in India is low and stunningly has been falling over the last two decades from around 30 percent to 23 percent. Of the G20 countries, not even Saudi Arabia's is lower.
Bloomberg Economic estimates that closing the gap between women's and men's participation would increase India's GDP more than 30 percent over the next three decades.
A focus on inclusivity would also transforms India's religious tensions, bringing into the fold India's Muslims, roughly 200 million people, a seventh of the country who face persistent persecution. It would also be in character for a country that is open, pluralistic and a democracy where the majority of the population are Hindus, a religion almost defined by its pluralism and tolerance.
India has the potential to be admired not just for the quantity of its growth, but also the quality of its values. And that would truly be an incredible India.
Go to CNN.com/Fareed for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
On Wednesday, Israel celebrated 75 years of statehood with flyovers, flags, and messages from powerful friends. But the joyous celebrations on a momentous anniversary masked a deep division in that nation. Indeed, Israel's president Isaac Herzog said a week ago that the greatest existential threat to Israelis comes from within, from polarization and alienation.
The biggest issue dividing the nation is a plan by the Netanyahu government to overhaul the judicial and weaken it significantly in the process. That plan is on hold at least for the moment. But the division has not disappeared.
Joining me now is Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Welcome, Prime Minister.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, good to be with you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Prime Minister, you have been prime minister many, many years. Many times. You have never brought up these kind of judicial changes before. Your critics say that the reason you're bringing them up is that you need the support of a couple of minority parties, tiny parties. Is it worth the stability of the nation, the constitutional framework of the nation being altered so much just to placate these few -- these really two tiny parties?
NETANYAHU: I think that's completely not only wrong, but also misinformed. There is a very broad segment of the Israeli public, 2.5 million people, the majority who voted for me and my government, who are eager to see a restoration of the balance between the three branches of government.
In Israel, you know, all democracies are based on the balance between the will of the majority and the rights of the minority and individual rights. That balance is assured by the balance between the three branches of government, the executive, the legislative and the judicial.
In Israel, over the last 20 years, the judiciary has become increasingly powerful and has dominated, both -- well, actually overriding decisions by the democratically elected legislature and executive. So people want to bring it back in line.
On the other side, hundreds of thousands of people showed up in a demonstration, a day after Independence Day, hundreds of thousands, who are supporting this reform. On the other side, people are saying, well, if you tilt the pendulum to the other side and have the legislator have overriding -- unrestricted overriding power over the Supreme Court, you will impinge on his individual rights.
So there has to be a happy middle here. And what I decided to do about a month ago is to, well, press the pause button and allow for an attempt to reach a consensus on something that I think is important for Israeli democracy. But one thing I guarantee you, at the end of this process, Israel was democracy, is a democracy, will remain as robust a democracy, and you could see that by the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are demonstrating for or against this -- and against this judicial reform in peaceful demonstrations in ways that are not possible within an enormous radius.
And when you have that, as you have in France or protests in France or protests in the United States, it's not a sign of the collapse of the democracy, it's a sign of the robustness of the public debate which I'm sure, and I hope, and I'm working to resolve by as broad a consensus as I can.
ZAKARIA: But, Prime Minister, the issue is not a democracy, it is what kind of a democracy Israel will have. Will it have a kind of liberal democracy or an ill-liberal democracy? And, you know, you talk about three branches of government. But in Israel, you have a parliament democracy so the executive branch and the legislative branch are fused, you control both, you don't have a constitution, you don't have an upper house of parliament, you have no Senate.
You don't have state governments so when you look at American system there are all those checks and balances. The Supreme Court is the only check on an elected government in Israel. And that is why so many constitutional scholars around both in Israel and the United States, diehard supporters like Alan Dershowitz are all opposed to this plan. Are you willing to compromise and withdraw those elements of the
NETANYAHU: Well, first of all, Alan Dershowitz has said that if Israel actually went with the original proposal, as proposed by the justice minister, it wouldn't be an ill-liberal democracy. Instead it would resemble New Zealand, Canada and the United States. So understand that there is a lot of hype and a lot of exaggeration.
But I'll tell you one thing that I've already said, and I think people now understand it and accept it on my side of the spectrum, that we cannot move the pendulum from one side of the most activist judicial branch on the planet that arrogates the will of the majority, again overriding the decisions of the elected government to the other side, where you'll have the parliament essentially overriding with a simple majority the will of the -- or the decisions of the Supreme Court.
Israel has been thrown off balance. The big challenge, it's a big one, is to bring it back to a balance that is accepted in most democracies between the three branches of government without going to a side that would indeed remove checks and balances on the part of the majority. I have no problem with that. And as you know, I was educated in the United States. I am fully conversant with the "Federalist" papers. I actually read them more than once. And I think that what we're trying to do is put this system into balance.
And by the way, in most parliamentary democracies the executive and the legislative are mixed. So you really have two polls. And if it swung to one side, bring it back to the center, don't swing it to the other side, and I'm going to ensure that that's not going to happen. By the way, most of the supporters of judicial reform that are now encompassing the vast majority of the public.
Not the details, but the need for judicial reform agree that it should be somewhere in the middle, which is always a hard task. You know, it's hard to achieve that balance but that's what democracies are about. You argue, you fight verbally, you negotiate, and hopefully you find a consensus.
ZAKARIA: Do you worry that some of the most prominent Israeli citizens, people who are the heart of the tech industry, the heart of start-up nation, are saying that they would actually move their companies and move themselves if the changes go ahead?
NETANYAHU: Truthfully, no. I'm not worried. Because Israel is a fount of technology, is a fount of innovation. Some of them who said they'd move the money out lost the money. I don't know if they put it in the Silicon Valley Bank, but Israel is a safe place. It's got a -- I think we're very proud of the fact that we've built here a real robust and responsible free market economy.
And because Israel -- the worry that I think was reflected in the beginning and is hyped up as though the independence of the judicial will any way be compromised, that's false. It's not going to happen, there is a difference between an independent judiciary, which Israel must always have, and an all-powerful judiciary, and I think that people are beginning to recognize, when I look at the -- what is happening, they recognize that Israel's future economically, including in the high-tech sector, is going to be secure.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, will Israel's burgeoning peace with its Arab neighbors be hurt by this month's breakout of new violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians? I ask the prime minister about that when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Three weeks ago, Israeli forces stormed one of Islam's holiest sites, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The raid came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Israeli police said they took the action after, quote, "hundreds of rioters and mosque desecrators barricaded themselves," unquote, inside. The raids prompted a major uptick in violence including rocket fire from Lebanon, Gaza and Syria, and Israeli airstrikes in response.
Back now with more of my interview earlier today with Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Prime Minister, when we last talked before you were prime minister just a few months ago, you had hinted that you thought there was going to be some movement on relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. You of course managed to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates, with Bahrain. But we are hearing reports here that the Saudis, the Emiratis, are all concerned about the rising level of violence between Israeli government and Palestinians.
Is that going to put a freeze on your plans which were, I think, to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia?
NETANYAHU: Well, first, we're doing everything to make sure that the forces that are basically financed and equipped and pushed by Iran, that are trying to foment this violence around our borders and within our borders, do not succeed. But what we hear from -- what we hear from our Arab neighbors, of course, is something else. I think they have no illusions about the danger of Iran and Iran sponsored terrorism and aggression in the region and they also have no illusion about the fact that Israel is a force for stability, for peace and for security.
And that's why the relations are actually, well, they're improving. We just signed a free trade agreement with the UAE. We've just expanded the semi-normalization, well, the baby steps normalization that we've had with Saudi Arabia. You know, we've been flying over Saudi airspace, hundreds of thousands of Israelis, actually that began two years before the historic Abraham Accords. That was done obviously with Saudi acquiescence to say the least.
Now recently, under my government, we opened up the route to fly to India and Asia through Oman, again going through Saudi airspace. So I think that there is -- I'm very hopeful and I believe this is not pie in the sky, that we will actually expand the historic Abraham Accords to -- in a quantum leap because I think that peace with Saudi Arabia, normalization with Saudi Arabia is in the interest of peace in the Middle East, is in the interest of both of our countries.
And I think it's possible. When I spoke about the Abraham Accords, and you may remember this because we've been talking to each other many years. But when I spoke about it a lot of people poo-pooed it. They didn't think it was possible. And they said they raised the Palestinian issue, and they raised other issues, and I said, no, no, it's not only possible, it's going to happen. And people had a problem seeing the impossible turn into the inevitable.
Well, I'm saying now that peace with the major Arab countries is not only possible, I think it's likely and I'm doing everything that I can, not everything above surface, to advance it because I think it will change history. It will be a pivot of history. It will end the Arab-Israeli conflict and will advance the solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about your relations with another ally. President Biden has publicly criticized the proposals that your government is making for judicial changes. He pointedly and said he was not going to have you at the White House at a point where it seemed as though he was going to.
What is the state of your relations with Joe Biden?
NETANYAHU: Well, he's been a friend of Israel and a friend of mine for 40 years. Doesn't mean we don't have our occasional disagreements. We've spoken on the phone several times including a few weeks ago. His main -- the main figures in his security administration, the secretary of Defense, the National Security adviser, Secretary Blinken have all been here, and we've had important conversations about our common concern with Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.
I think the alliance between the United States and Israel is strong. It has strong bipartisan support. You know, the two leaders of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, majority leader, and Mitch McConnell, minority leader, were here within a few days. A few days later we had Hakeem Jeffries, the minority Democratic leader in the House, and tomorrow we're going to have Kevin McCarthy, the majority speaker in the House.
I don't know of many countries that have within a few days the leaders, the Democratic and Republican leaders of both sides of the aisle coming to Jerusalem. And I think -- and supporting Israel. And 400 and more congressmen, congressmen and congresswomen, signed a legislation strongly supporting the Jewish state on its 75th anniversary. So I'm confident about the strength of our alliance.
Yes, President Biden did say that he had hoped we'd have a consensus, seeking a consensus here on judicial reform. It's an internal matter but I happen to agree with him and that's what we're trying to do right now. ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, next week will mark five years since President
Trump announced he was unilaterally pulling the United States out of the Iran deal. Is Israel safer or more vulnerable because of that? We'll be right back with Bibi Netanyahu.
ZAKARIA: America's top military officer chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley warned last month that Iran had the capability to produce enough fissile material for nuclear weapon in less than two weeks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often warned that a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat to Israel. Here is more of my interview with him.
ZAKARIA: Prime Minister, you very famously oppose the Iran nuclear deal. When it was put in place, the IAEA and almost all intelligence agencies I know have said Iran was more than a year away from having the fissile material to produce a bomb.
Now with the Iran agreement abrogated, Iran is by most intelligence agencies accounts two weeks away from having the fissile material to produce a bomb. Isn't that prima facie evidence that your opposition to the Iran deal was misguided that it was -- it was keeping Iran much farther away from nuclear weapons status than it is currently?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: According to our estimates, Fareed, the efforts that we made, which are many folds, some in the operational side, some in the economic and the political side, have made Iran basically lagged, lagged behind its original plans. They thought they would be where they are now about 10 years ago. But we were able to slow them down. But not able to stop them completely.
To complete a weapon, they have to make a decision to cross the line into 90 percent enrichment. And the second thing they need is a weapon, the bomb itself, which is different from the fissile material at the heart -- at the core of the bomb. And the third thing they need are missiles.
The deal that is being discussed would have paved their way with gold to achieving all three because it doesn't stop the development of the missiles. It doesn't stop the development of the weapons. It doesn't even address these two things. And it doesn't enable them to continue developing the centrifuges that would have brought them to a point where in two years -- in one year they would have the approved ability, approved by the international community to enrich uranium at an unlimited rate.
What this means is this. If you want to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power, the only way -- a military nuclear power -- the only way that you can stop them is with a credible military threat. This is what worked against Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapon program in Iraq. That was done by us.
This is what worked against Bashar al-Assad's nuclear military plans in Syria. That was done by us. This is what worked against Gaddafi's Libya's military nuclear plan. It was stopped by a credible military threat on your part. It didn't work in the case of North Korea and now they have a nuclear arsenal which threatens half of Asia and perhaps the West Coast of the United States, and perhaps soon all of the United States.
Iran has been slowed down because of a credible military threat. And I can tell you that it hasn't stopped. I'd grant you that. But we have a job to do. The jury is still out on all of this to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons.
Because if it does, all of the Middle East will go nuclear. And I think that we cannot assure that Iran will act as a nuclear power with this Islamist -- Islamist I would call it theological thuggery that controls it. We don't know that they will act in an irrational way and this could change history in a negative way.
I think we -- the onus is on all of us, Israel, the United States, the free world and many of our Arab neighbors to do everything in our power to prevent Iran from becoming a military nuclear power, and this is certainly something I'm committed to. And in many ways this is why I came back and was reelected.
You know, there have to be other reasons to join the -- you know, the rosy path of Israeli politics. This is the most important one.
ZAKARIA: Prime Minister, it is always a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you very much. I hope we can continue this conversation soon.
NETANYAHU: I hope so too. Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, lessons on COVID. What did America learn from more than a million deaths in this country, when we come back.
ZAKARIA: Official Washington is sending a clear signal on COVID.
The emergency has ended. As of April 10th, it is to longer a national emergency. And another major piece, the public health emergency will sunset on May 11th.
So if politicians decide it is over surely they made certain that America learned as much as it could from the COVID response, right? Wrong. Congress failed to pass legislation that would establish a commission to study what happened but into that void stepped private foundations and the COVID Crisis Group was born. After two years of work, its report was published this week in a book title "Lessons from the COVID War: An Investigative Report."
Philip Zelikow headed the group just as he did the 9/11 Commission. He joins me now. Philip, pleasure to have you on.
PHILIP ZELIKOW, DIRECTOR, COVID CRISIS GROUP: Great to be here, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: First, why do you think contrast to the 9/11 Commission, there really was no appetite on either side of the aisle for -- to look at -- I mean, here we have this massive pandemic, over a million Americans died. And nobody seems to want to ask, did we handle it well?
ZELIKOW: Well, part of what happened is each side had its blame story. So, on the Republican side, it has blamed China, blamed Tony Fauci. On the Democratic side it has blamed Trump. And since each side kind of had their political narrative, they didn't really want to complexify that. So there wasn't as much of a partisan push for it.
In the administration, there was at first a reluctance to be distracted by an investigation, then they realized the investigation would investigate them, too. But the bottom line is, I think people didn't want a commission because they didn't realize what a commission could tell them. They didn't realize what a commission could help them do, because they themselves internally didn't really understand what happened and how to fix it. So, they didn't have a vision of how to use the commission to do that fix.
ZAKARIA: So, what to you is the central lesson that comes out of the COVID war?
ZELIKOW: The central lesson is preparedness and what preparedness really means. Preparedness is not kind of, well, you should protect people or you should protect the economy. Those are abstractions. Preparedness is, OK, what do we actually do? And if we're confronted with a giant emergency, what do we do?
And then when you think about that a while, OK, then we have to know what to do, not what should be done abstractly, but what exactly to do. We have to train people to do it. We have to have the capacity and equipment to do it. And you have to make those preparations in advance.
So what happens in a crisis is really fairy quickly folks really didn't know what to do. And the public could kind of tell that people were flailing. And into that void of people flailing and not really knowing what to do or being ready, inflows the toxic politics.
ZAKARIA: And, you know, it seems to me that what you're describing is a particularly difficult test for America. Because a public health emergency unlike a national security emergency is one where it is not just the federal governments that has to act, it is the federal government in coordination with the state governments, in coordination with local governments. There were thousands of public health authorities within the U.S. and this is something that we are very bad at. ZELIKOW: And this is a big point that is in our report, and the private sector, and private firms. The government in peace time just doesn't have the capacity to do stuff so you have to partner with the private sector. And take the example of tests. Everyone remembers that there was a big testing fiasco in 2020.
So, we didn't design a very good test. But even if we had designed a very good test, we hadn't prepared with the private sector to make millions of them. Even if we had prepared with the private sector to make millions of them, we didn't have any plan of what to do with the tests. Exactly how should we use them? Should we use them to protect nursing homes, to reopen schools, to have 10,000 drive-through sites for anxious citizens, to do biomedical surveillance, then you'd have to coordinate that nationally.
That is what we mean about preparedness. It is kind of this unglamorous stuff that actually isn't really a partisan story. The main function of our report is when you go through it, you say, oh, I see. I see, you know, what it is we needed to do and then we weren't ready to do those things.
ZAKARIA: What should we have done with schools? Because it seems to me that in retrospect, that might have been one of the biggest errors.
ZELIKOW: Yes. And one of the --
ZAKARIA: Closing the schools was a bad idea.
ZELIKOW: Yes. One of the interesting things in the report is we actually compare America's school closures with school closures in other affluent countries around the world. I think a lot of your viewers may not recognize that America closed its schools about twice as much as they did in places like Germany or Israel.
Why did they get their schools open much more? It is because they figured out the toolkits to how to reopen the schools. And then they applied those toolkits with policies.
You see the whole goal of public health is not to lock people in. It is to help people go about their daily lives and feel safe. It is -- so the whole idea is, how do you reopen schools? What is practical?
Think, for example, in the case we could have -- I think -- and our report says, we could have started reopening schools in a big way by the fall of 2020 if we had perfected toolkits about things like ventilation. Understanding that good air circulation really diminishes the risk of disease with -- combined with things like high quality masking, smaller classrooms.
There are a lot of tools we could have used to make it safe to go back to school and make teachers feel safe. In the absence of those tools, basically people crouched and you're paralyzed and then you stay away -- and your schools end up staying closed a school year longer than what was the case in much of the developed world. ZAKARIA: And we have so far learned really none of the important lessons?
ZELIKOW: Sadly. Because folks don't really understand truly why things went so wrong. They haven't really done anything fundamental to fix it and we're as vulnerable to a pandemic today as we were at the beginning of 2020.
ZAKARIA: Wow. A very important book to read. Philip Zelikow, pleasure to have you on.
ZELIKOW: Thank you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back.
ZAKARIA: And now for the last look. Back in 2011, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen declared, "Software is eating the world." By that he meant software companies were infiltrating large swaths of the physical world and conquering analog industries.
Netflix disrupted movie theaters and video rentals. Apple and Spotify rendered CDs obsolete. Amazon, despite shipping physical goods from warehouses, was fundamentally a software company dislodging traditional retail. Even cars had increasingly become software on wheels.
More than a decade later, venture capitalists Paul Kedrosky and Eric Norlin asked in a recent blog post, "Why software is taking so damn long to finish eating." They argue software could be much more widely deployed if it weren't so expensive to produce.
Along comes ChatGPT, made by OpenAI. It is a cheap powerful software that could disrupt a host of industries. It can answer all kinds of questions and write everything from marketing materials to news articles to legal documents. It can also supercharge existing software.
For example, Salesforce has integrated ChatGPT into its Einstein assistant tool. When a sales rep is put on a new account, the chatbot can provide an overview of the company, find content information for the right people and compose a personalized email. Then make the email less formal if needed.
Instacart has debuted ChatGPT function that suggests a recipe, turns it into a shopping list and prepopulates the items to add to your shopping cart. Simply put, ChatGPT is an amazingly versatile software. Anyone could use it, though it often takes some skill to craft the perfect prompts. That is why a new job has sprouted up called prompt engineer, for people who are adept at writing prompts.
These may be English majors rather than computer scientists but they are a new kind of tech wizard. The wizardry reaches a whole other level when you consider the chatbot software can be used to create other software. After all, chatbots generate writing. Computer code is a kind of writing. So, now someone can build their own software simply by feeding prompts to ChatGPT.
Tesla's former head of AI, Andrej Karpathy, who also helped found OpenAI proclaimed, "The hottest new programming language is English." The implications are huge. Kedrosky and Norlin argue, "A software industry where anyone can write software, can do it for pennies, and can do it as easily as speaking or writing text, is a transformative moment."
They compare this to the moment microchips and internet access started to become widely available unleashing astounding innovation. Software development using ChatGPT is in its infancy. But people have found it can make simple programs that highlight words or randomize a list of names. One developer wrote a program using ChatGPT to interface his smart home with ChatGPT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just noticed that I'm recording this video in the dark in the office. Can you do something about that?
AI ASSISTANT: Turning on the lights for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Of course, at this early stage, chatbots have major limitations and make mistakes all of the time. And some programming tasks may always be too complex or creative for AI to handle. So think about how the world might change if anyone can build a simple app by writing a few prompts in plain English rather than hiring expensive software engineers. It is the ultimate democratization of software.
And even if you do need humans to write some pieces of software, you'll need fewer of them. In June of 2022, GitHub and OpenAI introduced Copilot, an AI tool that works alongside programmers. It suggests code the way your phone suggests the next word or your email service suggests a reply. According to GitHub, developers are finding Copilot so helpful that it is writing an average of 46 percent of their code.
Programming is quickly becoming a lot easier which means cheaper, which means much more plentiful. In 2017, the CEO of chip maker Nvidia said, "Software is eating the world, but AI is going to eat software." That future is starting to come into view. And it could transform society in ways we cannot even fathom today.
Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.