Axios Closer

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Thursday βœ…. Welcome to today's Closer, with a focus on AI.

Today's newsletter is 699 words, a 2Β½-minute read.

πŸ”” The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed up 0.7%.

  • Biggest gainer? Paramount (+7.3%), on a report from CNBC's David Faber that deal talks with Skydance Media have intensified.
  • Biggest decliner? Globe Life (-53.1%), the insurance holding company, following a short-seller report that alleged multiple instances of insurance fraud ignored by management.

1 big thing: Terminator creator talks AI

Director James Cameron with Axios' Hope King. Photo: Axios

Filmmaker James Cameron has writer's block.

Why it matters: He's challenging himself to create the next "Terminator," but there's no script yet for a seventh film.

The big picture: Cameron's depiction of AI gone horribly wrong has helped shape the public's fear of the technology since the first "Terminator" was released 40 years ago.

  • But now, as AI has spread, reality and imagination are merging.

What he's saying: "It's very difficult to write science fiction when you're living in a science fiction world," Cameron told me yesterday in New York.

  • Some of the social issues stemming from generative AI, including job displacement, will get "worked out," he predicts.
  • However, "the actual kind of existential threat to the human species β€” that's not quite here yet. But it's close. It's adjacent."

While he says he's still "exploring the type of story" he wants to tell, he also says that because he's "innately kind of optimistic about the human spirit ... thematically, that will be there."

  • How much he has to say remains to be determined. "We may look at a multifilm arc, or we may just do one," he said.

The intrigue: Earlier yesterday Cameron told Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost that if he were "a newly aware super intelligence," the last thing he would do is start a nuclear war.

  • "All those electromagnetic pulses would really mess up all my cognitive capability."
  • Still, Cameron warns against putting AI "in charge of weapon systems."

Read the full story

2. Charted: Staring at the sun

Meta advertising click-through rate in regions that experienced a partial or full eclipse
Data: Tracer; Chart: Axios Visuals

The sun stole eyeballs Monday.

  • New data shows just how much less attention people gave to their phones during the solar eclipse's path of totality.

Between the lines: Advertising click-through rates dropped 14% on the day and a little more in regions that experienced full totality, according to data from intelligence platform Tracer shared first with Axios.

Context: Christmas last year, Dec. 20–25, saw a drop of 20% in CTR.

  • The Fourth of July saw the same 14% drop as the eclipse.

3. What's happening

⚾️ Shohei Ohtani's former translator allegedly stole more than $16 million from the Los Angeles Dodgers star to cover gambling debts. (CNBC)

✏️ Harvard plans to require SAT or ACT for admission again, after other Ivy League schools reinstated standardized test scores. (Bloomberg)

4. Amazon's 3-layer generative AI strategy

Photo: Ric Tapia/Getty Images

Amazon's generative AI strategy is like Neapolitan ice cream, except not at all edible.

  • "[T]here are three distinct layers in the GenAI stack, each of which is gigantic, and each of which we're deeply investing," CEO Andy Jassy wrote in his annual shareholder letter this morning.

Between the lines: The "bottom layer" of Amazon's strategy is to help developers and companies train models and produce predictions. The company says having its own custom AI training and inference chips will bring down costs for customers.

  • A "middle layer" serves companies that want to use their own data to customize existing foundational models and gain security and other features to build and scale GenAI applications.
  • The "top layer" is where Amazon builds applications for its consumer businesses. For example, there's Rufus, Amazon's AI-powered shopping assistant, and the Amazon Web Services Amazon Q.

Context: The company expects to report earnings later this month. The letter is likely a good primer on what the messaging will be.

Go deeper

5. Is it cheating to use AI?

Greenhouse president and co-founder Jon Stross with Hope. Photo: Steven Duarte on behalf of Axios

Using generative AI to build a resume or cover letter? Nothing wrong there, says Jon Stross, the co-founder and president of hiring platform Greenhouse.

Between the lines: For those who learned English as a second language, for example, it can be a "huge advantage," he told me during an Axios event yesterday.

  • "People say, 'Oh, what if it lies?' Well, people lie on their resume all the time without AI, so if it helps you write a better document, I don't really have a problem with that."

On the flip side: A candidate during a Zoom interview typing into a GenAI program is not OK, says Stross.

  • Companies will at some point define when they will permit the use β€” for example, on take-home tests.

6. What they're saying

"We have 100 million things for sale on Etsy. Talk about tyranny of choice."
β€” Etsy CEO Josh Silverman, to Axios' Ryan Heath yesterday, making a case for AI helping consumers find products β€” while some people online disagreed.

Today's newsletter was edited by Pete Gannon and copy edited by Sheryl Miller.

πŸ’‘ Mark your calendars: Our next Axios BFD event will be in San Francisco on May 14. Karen DeSalvo, chief health officer at Google; Katie Haun, founder and CEO of Haun Ventures; and Steve Young, co-founder of HGGC and former NFL quarterback, are among our guests.