Utopian or dystopian? CEOs are split on what ChatGPT means for their business

Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE, speaks in an interview with journalists from the Deutsche Presse-Agentur on Jan. 16, 2023.
Kay Nietfeld—picture alliance/Getty Images

Good morning.

I got some pushback last December when I wrote that ChatGPT was the most important news story of 2022. After all, it was a big year for news: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine upended the world economic and geopolitical order.

But three months later, my prediction holds up pretty well. The world is reeling as people contemplate the implications of this new technology. And I’m not just talking about the fact that the wily chatbot tried to separate Kevin Roose from his wife. (If you missed that one, see here.) Utopian and dystopian scenarios abound. Consider yesterday’s news: 

Bank of America said the “adoption rate of this technology so far is unprecedented,” putting us on the verge of another “iPhone moment,” and predicted the economic impact would be $15.7 trillion by 2030. That’s trillion, folks.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he would create a new “based” A.I. to counter what he says is increasingly “woke” A.I., leading Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, to conjure up “the idea of a fragmented A.I. universe, like we have a fragmented social media or network news universe. I think that’s bad for all of us.” Amen.

–Closer to home, the CEO of media company Axel Springer, Mathias Döpfner, said he foresees disruption to media as big as the disruption that the internet caused for newspapers, and provided this mind-spinning quote: “Artificial intelligence has the potential to make independent journalism better than it ever was—or simply replace it.” Huh?

I spoke yesterday with former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, who said the introduction of ChatGPT “is a perfect example of why we have to introduce these technologies in a way that creates trust in them. We all have a responsibility to manage the upsides and the downsides.” But that’s easier said than done at a time when velocity of technological change is so much faster than the speed at which people and society can adapt.

More news below. By the way, I spoke to Rometty because she has a book coming out next week. More on that Monday.

Alan Murray



GM layoffs

General Motors is reportedly cutting hundreds of executive and salaried jobs to reduce expenses and streamline operations in 2023. Although the exact number of job reductions was not confirmed, a GM spokesperson said the cuts would affect a "relatively small" percentage of the company's 81,000 global employees. The move is part of GM's $2 billion cost-cutting plan, announced in January. Fortune


Major U.S. financial firms, including BlackRock, Blackstone, KKR and T. Rowe Price, have expressed concern in their annual reports about ESG backlash, warning that it could hurt their financial performance. Some U.S. states are investigating BlackRock and State Street over their ESG policies while others are introducing or considering laws requiring government pension funds to divest from managers that consider the climate or racial equity in their investing. Financial Times

EV demand fades

Electric vehicle startups in the U.S. are experiencing decreasing demand for their newer products. Reports from several firms indicate that potential customers are holding off on purchases or seeking better deals, which experts attribute to the availability of cheaper EV models from established automakers and price reductions by market leader Tesla. Lucid, Rivian, and Nikola are among the companies feeling the pain. Reuters


Salesforce has disbanded the board’s mergers and acquisitions committee, an abrupt sign that Marc Benioff’s string of multi-billion deals is finished by Kylie Robison

Starbucks is dealing with a white collar rebellion as corporate workers sound off over the return-to-office mandate and allegations of union busting by Josh Eidelson and Bloomberg

The A.I. revolution is here. Here’s how leaders can prepare employees for the new workforce by Paige McGlauflin

Delta pilots lock down a new contract and 34% pay raise as a major labor shortage makes airlines shell out big money to keep workers by Prarthana Prakash 

World’s ultra-rich suffered $10 trillion hit last year—but now is the time to be greedy, wealth report advises by Christiaan Hetzner

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Jackson Fordyce. 

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