Pres. Obama talks AI copyright lawsuits with Nilay Patel on Decoder

The Decoder podcast’s Nilay Patel scored an interview with President Barack Obama.

President Obama on copyright lawsuits and broader questions


The thing that will stop AI in its tracks in this moment is copyright lawsuits, right? You ask a generative AI model to spit out a Barack Obama speech and it it will do it to some level of passibility. Probably C plus, that’s my estimation C plus.

Pres. Obama

It’d be one of my worst speeches. But it might sound sort of.


You fire a canon of C plus content in any business model of the internet, you upend it. But there are a lot of authors, musicians now. Artists suing the companies saying, “This is not fair use to train on our data to just ingest all of it. Where do you stand on that? Do you think that, as an author, do you think it’s appropriate for them to ingest this much content?

Pres. Obama

Set me aside for a second, ’cause you know, Michelle and I, we’ve already sold a lot of books and we’re doing fine. So, I’m not overly stressed about it personally, but what I do think President Biden’s executive order speaks to, but there’s a lot more work that has to be done on this, and copyright is just one element of this. If AI turns out to be as pervasive and as powerful as its proponents expect, and I have to say, the more I look into it, I think it is going to be that disruptive, we are going to have to think about not just intellectual property, we’re gonna have to think about jobs and the economy differently.

And not all these problems are going to be solved inside of industry.

So, what do I mean by that?

I think with respect to copyright law, you will see people with legitimate claims, financing the lawsuits and litigation, and through the courts and various other regulatory mechanisms, you know, people who are creating content, they’re gonna figure out ways to get paid and to protect the stuff they create. And it may impede the development of large language models for a while, but over the long term, I don’t think that’ll just be a speed bump.

The broader question is gonna be what happens when 10% of existing jobs now definitively can be done better by some large language model or other variant of AI? And are we gonna have to reexamine how we educate our kids and what jobs are gonna be available? And you know, the truth of the matter is that during my presidency, there was I think a little bit naivete where people would say, you know, the answer to lifting people out of poverty and making sure they have high enough wages is we’re gonna retrain them and we’re gonna educate them and they should all become coders,

’cause that’s the future. Well, if AI is coding better than all, but the very best coders, if ChatGPT can generate a research memo better than the third, fourth year associate, maybe not the partner, you know, who’s got a particular expertise or judgment,

you know, now what are you telling young people coming up? And I think we’re gonna have to start having conversations about how do we pay those jobs that can’t be done by AI. How do we pay those better, you know, healthcare, nursing, you know, teaching, childcare, art, things that are really important to our lives, but maybe commercially, historically have not paid as well. Are we gonna have to think about the length of the work week and how we share jobs?

Are we gonna have to think about the fact that more people choose to operate like independent contractors, but where are they getting their healthcare from and where are they getting their retirement from, right?

Those are the kinds of conversations that I think we’re gonna have to start having to deal with. And that’s why I’m glad that the, you know, President Biden’s EO begins that conversation. Again, I can’t emphasize enough, because I think you’ll see some people saying, “Well, we still don’t have tough regulations. Where’s the teeth in this?

We’re not forcing these big companies to do X, Y, Z as quickly as we should. That I think this administration understands. and I’ve certainly emphasized in conversations with them. This is just the start. And you know, this is gonna unfold over the next 2, 3, 4, 5 years. And by the way, it’s gonna be unfolding internationally.


You know, there’s gonna be a conference this week in England around international safety standards on AI.

Pres. Obama

Yeah, the Vice President Harris is gonna be attending. I think that’s a good thing, because part of the challenge here is we’re gonna have to have some cross-border frameworks and regulations and standards and norms. You know, that’s part of what makes this different and harder to manage than, you know, the advent of radio and television. Because the internet by definition is a worldwide phenomenon.


“I think we’re going to have to start having conversations about: how do we pay those jobs that can’t be done by AI? How do we pay those better?” said Obama on addressing AI’s impact on the future workforce. #ai #automation #obama #chatgpt #jobs #economy

♬ original sound – Decoder with Nilay Patel

The interview lasted 45 minutes. Here’s an index of topics:

0:00 Intro

0:30 Biden’s executive order on AI

05:38 Tech regulation & avoiding mistakes of social media

11:30 Why AI companies are asking for regulating

14:52 Silicon Valley’s pushback against regulation

17:35 AI rules and who’s responsible for following them

19:43 Should tech platforms be treated as common carriers?

22:57 Regulating around the First Amendment; copyright law

25:08 Red Lion v. FCC & the Fairness Doctrine

28:26 The rise of AI-generated social feeds

33:41 AI copyright lawsuits & labor effects

39:47 Obama’s experience using AI chatbots

41:39 Obama’s homescreen apps

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