Jon Stewart Finally Tackles A.I. After Apple Banned Him From Broaching the Topic

Apparently, Apple didn’t want Stewart to take on tech monopolies who abuse their power at the expense of the workforce and the consumer
Jon Stewart Finally Tackles A.I. After Apple Banned Him From Broaching the Topic

When Apple launched The Problem with Jon Stewart, they had no idea that Jon Stewart would become the problem.

Back in October, the once-and-current Daily Show host abruptly announced that he would be leaving his Apple TV talk show just weeks before it was scheduled to begin shooting its third season. Stewart informed his staff on The Problem that he had been clashing with their parent company over his desire to use the single-issue current affairs comedy show to discuss issues related to China and the growing threat artificial intelligence poses to the human workforce, and that he was unable to reconcile his artistic integrity with Apple’s corporate interests. 

Additionally, as Stewart revealed during last night’s Daily Show in an episode that was almost entirely devoted to the issues surrounding A.I., Apple prevented him from interviewing FTC chair and anti-monopoly expert Lina Khan. Comedy Central, on the other hand, was more than happy to oblige Stewart’s wish to do an in-depth discussion with Khan on the corporate misinformation surrounding A.I. and the misbehavior of the market-cornering mega-companies who hide illegal behavior under the promise of “innovation.” 

You don't need an A.I. to figure out why Apple wouldn’t want this conversation happening with their logo in the corner.

In an earlier segment of last night's Daily Show, Stewart dissected the talking points of the many A.I. evangelists who make claims that the invention of A.I. is “more profound than fire or electricity,” as Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, or, that “addressing climate change will not be particularly difficult” using A.I., like OpenAI CEO Sam Altman asserted. Stewart found a certain clip of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg using A.I. to operate a toaster especially tickling, remarking of the technologys supposedly hyperbolic potential, ”I can make toast!”

Critically, Stewart focused on how the heads of tech companies have already begun to decimate their work force and replace tasks previously performed by human beings with A.I. processes, criticizing the callous tone some such power brokers have taken in discussing their massive layoffs. Stewart hit Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky especially hard for his praise of A.I.'s supposed ability to provide “productivity without the tax of more people.” Stewart snarked, “Ah, the ‘people tax,’ formally known as ‘employees.’”

But the part of last night's Daily Show episode that was, presumably, the most troubling to Stewarts former bosses was his 20-minute conversation with Khan, who spends her days heading the FTCs efforts to crack down on monopoly powers that misuse tools like A.I. to illegal ends. Stewart expressed as much to his guest, telling her, “I wanted to have you on a podcast, and Apple asked us not to do it. They literally said, ‘Please don’t talk to her.” Stewart then joked that the pushback from his former bosses had “nothing to do with what you do for a living, I think they just — I didnt think they cared for you, is what happened.”

“They wouldn’t let us do even that dumb thing we just did in the first act on A.I.,” Stewart told Khan, asking, ”What is that sensitivity? Why are they so afraid to even have these conversations out in the public sphere?"

Khan answered, “I think it just shows the danger of what happens when you concentrate so much power and so much decision making in a small number of companies.” She later said of the importance of staying vigilant of the tech giants heading the wave of A.I., ”The first thing we need to do is be clear-eyed that there’s no A.I. exemption from the laws on the books. We see, sometimes, businesses try to dazzle enforcers by saying, ‘Oh, these technologies are so new, they’re so different, let’s just take a hands off approach.’”

If Apple took a similarly “hands-off” approach with Stewart, maybe we’d be watching the most ironic interview in streaming history right now — imagine someone going on Apple TV and suggesting that mega-corporations aren’t above the law.


Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?