Thursday, February 22, 2024

This transcript was created using speech recognition software. While it has been reviewed by human transcribers, it may contain errors. Please review the episode audio before quoting from this transcript and email transcripts@nytimes.com with any questions.

kevin roose

Casey, I want to talk this week on the show about a technology that is dangerous and that I believe the government should intervene to regulate.

casey newton

What’s that?

kevin roose

Uh, Dots.

casey newton

Dots?

kevin roose

Yes.

casey newton

The Halloween candy?

kevin roose

Yes.

casey newton

I mean, from what I understand, they’re made out of recycled plastic, so I don’t know why they’re feeding them to children. Have you ever tasted one of those things? Good Lord.

kevin roose

I sure did. So as we were getting ready for trick-or-treaters this year, my wife picked up some Dots. It was — I wouldn’t say it’s like a top-tier candy in my estimation.

casey newton

Was all the other candy gone at the store?

kevin roose

Literally, yes. It was the only thing remaining at Target. So we bring home these Dots, and I’m testing the candy, as one does. So I bite into a Dot, and a tooth comes out.

casey newton

(LAUGHING) Wait. That’s, presumably, not out of the Dot.

kevin roose

Uh, it’s sort of jumbled in with the Dot. I feel this hard thing in my mouth, and I realize that I have just broken my tooth —

casey newton

No!

kevin roose

— on a Dot.

casey newton

Dot?

kevin roose

Yes.

casey newton

Is it because it’s so hard and sticky?

kevin roose

Yes, it took off the crown on my molar.

casey newton

No!

kevin roose

And so I had to spend Halloween at the dentist’s office, getting emergency dental work done.

casey newton

That is horrible.

kevin roose

And I went trick-or-treating with half of my face numb. [CASEY LAUGHS] It was very spooky.

casey newton

You know, I could recommend, actually, a lot of good costumes for that — Phantom of the Opera comes to mind. Really, anything with a mask that covers at least half your face.

kevin roose

Yes, who is this strange, drooling man accompanying a toddler? So yeah, that was not a pleasant way to spend my Halloween.

casey newton

You know what’s so funny about this is that every year, there is a panic around Halloween candy. You know, it’s like, well, you’d better open up every single wrapper and make sure nobody’s stuck a razor blade in that. And we always laugh. We say, oh, you people need to calm down. You bit into candy and had to go to get emergency dental work done.

kevin roose

Yes. Yes. It was very bad. And these Dots — they’re too sticky. We got to do something, and I’m calling on the Biden administration to step in and outlaw Dots.

casey newton

Where’s the executive order on that —

kevin roose

Yeah.

casey newton

— Mr. President?

kevin roose

I’m Kevin Russo, tech columnist for “The New York Times.”

casey newton

I’m Casey Newton from “Platformer.”

kevin roose

And this is “Hard Fork.”

casey newton

This week, I visit the White House to talk to the Biden administration about its new executive order on artificial intelligence. Then, copyright expert Rebecca Tushnet joins to discuss some big developments in the legal battle between artists and AI companies. And finally, an invigorating round — Hat GPT.

kevin roose

Casey, anything big happen to you this week?

casey newton

Kevin, I went to Washington, DC, this week to get some answers about what’s happening in this country related to artificial intelligence.

kevin roose

Yeah, so you got a very exciting invitation this week to go to the White House to actually talk to some officials there about this new AI executive order. And my first question, obviously, was where’s my invite? But my second question is, what was it like?

casey newton

Because here are the things — I went to the White House once when I was a child, part of a school tour. Very exciting. Remember very little of it. But here are the things I know about the White House. I know it’s where the president lives.

kevin roose

That’s right.

casey newton

I know there’s something called the Oval Office and something called the West Wing. I also know that until recently, there was a dog at the White House, named Commander, who bit people.

kevin roose

[LAUGHS]: There’s a portrait of Commander at the White House, and I took a picture of the portrait, just because it tickled me.

casey newton

Did you get a bite, just like a commemorative dog bite?

kevin roose

[LAUGHS]: I was — let me tell you. From the moment I walked onto the grounds, my head was on a swivel. I’m saying, where is that dog? Because I wanted to meet him and pet him. Because what could be better for the podcast than if I’d been bitten by the President’s dog?

casey newton

Did you bring some treats?

kevin roose

[LAUGHS]: No. But it’s funny you mentioned treats. Because we went on the Monday before Halloween, so Monday of this week. I walked down with our producer, Rachel. We kind of took in the sights and the sounds. And as we walk onto the grounds of the White House, there are children in costumes everywhere.

kevin roose

Aw.

casey newton

So I do not see a dog, but I do see a LEGO, a Cheeto, a Tyrannosaurus, a Transformer, a lot of Barbies. And everywhere we went throughout the executive office building, the offices of the staffers had been transformed into some sort of, you know, Hollywood intellectual property is, I guess, what I would say. There was a Barbie room. There was a Harry Potter room.

kevin roose

Wow.

casey newton

The hosts in the White House digital office had transformed their office into something called the Multiverse of Madness. And when you took a left, you were standing in Bikini Bottom from the SpongeBob Squarepants Universe. There were bubbles blowing everywhere.

casey newton

And I’m setting this scene, because you have to understand, I am there to listen to the President talk about the most serious thing in the world. And while we were interviewing his officials about the executive order, we’re literally hearing children screaming about candy. So it was an absolute fever dream of a day at the White House.

kevin roose

So amid all of the shrieking children and the costumes and the Multiverse of Madness, there was actually, like, a signing ceremony with the President where he did put this executive order into place.

casey newton

That’s right. Yeah. So after we had some interviews at the executive office building, we walked over to the East Room of the White House, which was very full of people from industry, people who work on advocacy around these issues. And not only did the President come out, but the Vice President came out. Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, was there.

kevin roose

Yeah, it was a big deal. So before we get into what you

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