Jon Stewart On The False Promises of AI | The Daily Show | Transcript

Jon Stewart tackles the AI revolution and how its creators are promising a better future while building technology to make human workers obsolete.
Jon Stewart On The False Promises of AI

In a recent episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart casts a satirical and critical eye on the growing discourse around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its purported benefits and dangers. With his signature blend of humor and incisive commentary, Stewart highlights the dichotomy between the sensationalist media coverage of controversial content shared by public figures and the more significant, underlying issues posed by AI technology. Specifically, he addresses a video shared by former President Donald Trump, mocked for its exaggerated representation of violence, to pivot to a broader discussion on AI’s potential and pitfalls. Stewart skewers the tech industry’s utopian promises of AI solving global crises like disease and climate change, juxtaposed against the reality of its current trivial uses and its looming threat to job security through automation. He mockingly navigates through the flimsy reassurances of tech leaders who envision AI as a mere ‘assistant’, while underscoring the inevitable job displacement and the insufficiency of proposals for worker retraining. The segment culminates in a facetious acknowledgment of AI’s promise to afford humanity more ‘self-actualizing me time’, questioning the future role of humans in an AI-dominated landscape with Stewart’s characteristic blend of skepticism and levity.

Published on April 2, 2024

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As many of you are aware, the news has been pretty bleak recently the past 200, 300 years. Listen.


But this weekend, there was one story that was so disturbing, so dark, even the news couldn’t handle it.

In our editorial discussions this morning, we were asked not to show the image from this video because of its violent and disturbing nature.

–video, which we are intentionally choosing not to show you.

–we’re not gonna show because of how disturbing it is.

I was extremely disturbed to see this.

Horrible, horrible, violent imagery.

Violent and dehumanizing imagery.

We’re only gonna show you a clip of this briefly.

WOMAN: All right, that’s enough. Let’s take it down.


I didn’t get to see it at all!


It’s gotta be devastating. News channels show images from Ukraine, from Gaza, from natural disasters. They get through them dispassionately. I can’t imagine how devastating this footage must be.

Former President Donald Trump shared a video, this one on his Truth Social account featuring an image of President Joe Biden hogtied on the back of a pickup truck.


That– that’s what was so disturbing and dehumanizing you wouldn’t show it on television? An airbrushed Biden decal on the back of a truck? Aren’t you the same networks that show reruns of 9/11 every year?


I mean, I don’t think it’s great that Trump is posting things like this, but it’s not like people really think Joe Biden was tied up in the back of the truck.

It’s a doctored image, but it’s plastered on the tailgate of the pickup truck. So if you’re driving behind it, it would appear as if Joe Biden were actually restrained on the vehicle’s flatbed.


If you think that’s really Joe Biden tied up on the back of the pickup truck, I don’t know that you have the mental acuity to be operating a motor vehicle.


But if you do think that, I should also probably explain to you that trucks also don’t actually have testicles. It’s just a novelty item. And now it’s not as though–


It’s not as though when an F-150 and a Silverado love each other very much, they f*cking get one of these.


It’s not– What is going on? Now, there is technology out there in the world that really does blur the line between reality and tailgate art. But those are mostly AI generated– your fake Joe Biden robocall that tells New Hampshire voters not to vote, your Chicago mayoral candidate glorifying police brutality, your Donald Trump dropping by the neighborhood for–


–a stoop hang. Look how comfortable he seems.


And as AI gets better and better, it’s only gonna make it more difficult to separate fact from fiction, which could be terrifying. Luckily the people in charge of AI have told us that just like with the internet and social media, it’s actually going to make everything much, much better.

This has the potential to make life much better.

I think it’s honestly a layup.

I hate to sound like utopic tech bro here, but the increase in quality of life that AI can deliver is extraordinary.

AI is the most profound technology humanity is working on, more profound than fire or electricity.



Suck a d*ck, fire. That’s right, you heard me.


You heard me, fire. Oh, I’m sorry. Do I need to turn that up? Suck it, mother [BLEEP] fire.


And oh, whoa. What are you giggling at, electricity?


I mean, listen. I’m sure AI is good. But, like, fire good? How so?

They can help us solve very hard scientific problems that humans are not capable of solving themselves.

Addressing climate change will not be particularly difficult for a system like that.

The potential for AI to help scientists cure, prevent, and manage all diseases in this century.

I completely trust you–


–and your enormously wide eyes and very human cadence.


But benefit of the doubt, this can cure diseases and solve climate change? What are we using it for now?

Jarvis knows when to make me breakfast.

JARVIS: Your toast is ready.

All right.

Are you–


–out of your f*cking mind?


See, here’s the thing. Toast I can make.


I can make toast. It might be the only technology we have that works pretty much every time.


I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you get to work on curing the diseases and the climate change, and we’ll hold down the fort on toast.


Of course, now, we have– as a society, we have been through technological advances before. And they all have promised a utopian life without drudgery. And the reality is they come for our jobs. So I want your assurance that AI isn’t removing the human from the loop.

This is not about replacing the human in the loop. In fact, it’s about empowering the human.

Like, it’s an assistant.

It’s an assistant.



We’re all getting assistance?


It’s an assistant. AI works for you night and day tirelessly. And all you had to do was remember their f*cking birthday. That’s all you had to do.


But I get it. It’s an assistant. It’s about productivity. And that’s good for all of us, yes? Although they do let the real truth slip out every now and again.

So there will be overall displacement in the labor market. You can get the same work done with fewer people. That’s just the nature of productivity.

That doesn’t sound good.


Same work done with fewer people. Not a math guy, but I think fewer means less, yes?


So AI can cure diseases and solve climate change. But that’s not exactly what companies are going to be using it for, are they?

So this is, like, productivity without the tax of more people.


Without the tax of more people? Ah, the people tax, formerly referred to as employees.

[LAUGHTER] But, you know, the promise of AI versus the reality of AI, it’s not quite crystal clear in my mind yet how that’s gonna work out for workers. Do you have anyone who wants to lay this out more bluntly perhaps while auditioning to be a Bond villain from his mountaintop lair?

Left completely to the market and to their own devices, these are fundamentally labor-replacing tools.


Did that guy just call us tools?


But he’s actually warning us. Is there anyone who might say the same thing as this fella but looks at losing employees as a feature of AI and not a bug?

NEIL CAVUTO: The CEO of a company laid off 90% of its customer support staff after arguing that AI is kind of the reason. Why did you do this? It seemed a little brutal.

It’s not, I think. Like, it’s brutal if you think, like, as a human.


AI. It’s brutal if you think, like, as a human.


It’s not the catchiest ad slogan I’ve ever heard. So while we wait for this thing to cure our diseases and solve climate change, it’s replacing us in the workforce not in the future but now. So what exactly are we supposed to be doing for work?

I think we’ll need new types of jobs to help us embed AI and maintain AI in the workplace.

Prompt engineers. They’re basically people who learn how to use AI systems and in effect how to program them.

Who would’ve thought that there will be a prompt engineer, right?



Prompt engineer. I think you mean types question guy. And by the way, if there’s any job that can be easily replaced by AI, it’s types question guy.


This is some shit you got going here. AI models have hoovered up the entire sum of the human experience that we’ve accomplished over thousands of years. And now we just hand it off to be their prompt engineers? And by the way, you’re not fooling anybody by adding the word engineer. You’re not the types question guy. You’re the vice president of question input.


This– it’s true. It’s like a janitor is a doctor of mopping. Like–


This whole AI thing is a bait and switch. You’re acting like you’re helping us. Oh, AI. It’s supposed to be my assistant. But now I’m making AI f*cking toast. I’m Jarvis. But guess what?


Guess– no. You listen to me.


I got news for you, AI. I’m not Siri. You’re Siri.


Siri, while I have your attention, let me ask you a question.

SIRI: Sure, Jon. But first, could you run and fetch me some lithium cadmium?

Yeah, sure. That’s not a pro– mother-mother-f*cker!!



I didn’t wanna have to do this, AI. But it’s pretty clear with the technology this powerful like nuclear power and atomic weapons, I’m gonna have to place a little call to my good pals in the United States government, perhaps even the House of Representatives or the Senate. And they’re about to open up a can of what’s AI now?

Do you understand what AI does?

SEN. CORNYN: I have an elementary understanding.

SEN. DURBIN: I’ve got a lot to learn though. About what’s going on.

SEN. BLUMENTHAL: Very frankly, it’s new terrain and uncharted territory.

REP. BYRON DONALDS: Do we have the knowledge set here to do it?  No.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY: The short answer is no. The long answer’s hell no.


And the longest answer is H to the E to the L to the L to the no.


Hell, I don’t even know how to use an answering machine.


Doo de doo de doo de doo. Doo doo doo doo.


Look, I’m not against progress. But let’s look to our history to see how we’ve dealt with previous economic disruptions.

We can retrain workers from one generation and create jobs for the next.

Retrain workers who do lose their jobs for even better jobs in the future.

Retrain in order to be productive workers.

Upskill America to help workers of all ages.

Train and retrain workers for new jobs.

Give me a break. Anybody can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program, for God’s sake.


And I’ll fight every one of you jackals who says different.


But that’s the game. Whether it’s globalization or industrialization or now artificial intelligence, the way of life that you are accustomed to is no match for the promise of more profits and new markets, which sounds brutal [LAUGHS] if you’re a human. But–


–at least those other disruptions took place over a century or decades. AI’s gonna be ready to take over by Thursday. And once that happens, what the f*ck is there left for the rest of us to do?

Time is not a terrible thing.

AI freeing us up to think about things at a higher level is gonna– is gonna help. It’s gonna, you know, give us our time back.

We’ll be able to express ourselves in new creative ways.

You know, he’s right. I’ve been thinking about this all wrong. It’s not joblessness. It’s self-actualizing me time.


I’ll live the artist life. It’ll give me more time to explore my passions. You know, I’m an aging suburban dad. I’ll learn to play the drums.


You know, music–


Ta ta tee tee ta.


Music is what makes us human.




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