Episodes

  • A.I.-generated art has flooded the internet, and a lot of it is derivative, even boring or offensive. But what could it look like for artists to collaborate with A.I. systems in making art that is actually generative, challenging, transcendent?

    Holly Herndon offered one answer with her 2019 album “PROTO.” Along with Mathew Dryhurst and the programmer Jules LaPlace, she built an A.I. called “Spawn” trained on human voices that adds an uncanny yet oddly personal layer to the music. Beyond her music and visual art, Herndon is trying to solve a problem that many creative people are encountering as A.I. becomes more prominent: How do you encourage experimentation without stealing others’ work to train A.I. models? Along with Dryhurst, Jordan Meyer and Patrick Hoepner, she co-founded Spawning, a company figuring out how to allow artists — and all of us creating content on the internet — to “consent” to our work being used as training data.

    In this conversation, we discuss how Herndon collaborated with a human chorus and her “A.I. baby,” Spawn, on “PROTO”; how A.I. voice imitators grew out of electronic music and other musical genres; why Herndon prefers the term “collective intelligence” to “artificial intelligence”; why an “opt-in” model could help us retain more control of our work as A.I. trawls the internet for data; and much more.

    Mentioned:

    “Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt” by Holly Herndon

    “xhairymutantx” by Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst, for the Whitney Museum of Art

    “Fade” by Holly Herndon

    “Swim” by Holly Herndon

    “Jolene” by Holly Herndon and Holly+

    “Movement” by Holly Herndon

    “Chorus” by Holly Herndon

    “Godmother” by Holly Herndon

    “The Precision of Infinity” by Jlin and Philip Glass

    Holly+

    Book Recommendations:

    Intelligence and Spirit by Reza Negarestani

    Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

    Plurality by E. Glen Weyl, Audrey Tang and ⿻ Community

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Annie Galvin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing by Aman Sahota. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Rollin Hu, Elias Isquith and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. And special thanks to Sonia Herrero and Jack Hamilton.

  • “The Jetsons” premiered in 1962. And based on the internal math of the show, George Jetson, the dad, was born in 2022. He’d be a toddler right now. And we are so far away from the world that show imagined. There were a lot of future-trippers in the 1960s, and most of them would be pretty disappointed by how that future turned out.

    So what happened? Why didn’t we build that future?

    The answer, I think, lies in the 1970s. I’ve been spending a lot of time studying that decade in my work, trying to understand why America is so bad at building today. And James Pethokoukis has also spent a lot of time looking at the 1970s, in his work trying to understand why America is less innovative today than it was in the postwar decades. So Pethokoukis and I are asking similar questions, and circling the same time period, but from very different ideological vantages.

    Pethokoukis is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of the book “The Conservative Futurist: How to Create the Sci-Fi World We Were Promised.” He also writes a newsletter called Faster, Please! “The two screamingly obvious things that we stopped doing is we stopped spending on science, research and development the way we did in the 1960s,” he tells me, “and we began to regulate our economy as if regulation would have no impact on innovation.”

    In this conversation, we debate why the ’70s were such an inflection point; whether this slowdown phenomenon is just something that happens as countries get wealthier; and what the government’s role should be in supporting and regulating emerging technologies like A.I.

    Mentioned:

    “U.S. Infrastructure: 1929-2017” by Ray C. Fair

    Book Recommendations

    Why Information Grows by Cesar Hidalgo

    The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey

    The American Dream Is Not Dead by Michael R. Strain

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Rollin Hu. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, with Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing by Aman Sahota. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin, Elias Isquith and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. And special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

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  • The international legal system was created to prevent the atrocities of World War II from happening again. The United Nations partitioned historic Palestine to create the states of Israel and Palestine, but also left Palestinians with decades of false promises. The war in Gaza — and countless other conflicts, including those in Syria, Yemen and Ethiopia — shows how little power the U.N. and international law have to protect civilians in wartime. So what is international law actually for?

    Aslı Ü. Bâli is a professor at Yale Law School who specializes in international and comparative law. “The fact that people break the law and sometimes get away with it doesn’t mean the law doesn’t exist and doesn’t have force,” she argues.

    In this conversation, Bâli traces the gap between how international law is written on paper and the realpolitik of how countries decide to follow it, the U.N.’s unique role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from its very beginning, how the laws of war have failed Gazans but may be starting to change the conflict’s course, and more.

    Mentioned:

    “With Schools in Ruins, Education in Gaza Will Be Hobbled for Years” by Liam Stack and Bilal Shbair

    Book Recommendations:

    Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law by Antony Anghie

    Justice for Some by Noura Erakat

    Worldmaking After Empire by Adom Getachew

    The Constitutional Bind by Aziz Rana

    The United Nations and the Question of Palestine by Ardi Imseis

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Annie Galvin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing by Aman Sahota and Isaac Jones. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Rollin Hu, Elias Isquith and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Carole Sabouraud.

  • Drug policy feels very unsettled right now. The war on drugs was a failure. But so far, the war on the war on drugs hasn’t entirely been a success, either.

    Take Oregon. In 2020, it became the first state in the nation to decriminalize hard drugs. It was a paradigm shift — treating drug-users as patients rather than criminals — and advocates hoped it would be a model for the nation. But then there was a surge in overdoses and public backlash over open-air drug use. And last month, Oregon’s governor signed a law restoring criminal penalties for drug possession, ending that short-lived experiment.

    Other states and cities have also tipped toward backlash. And there are a lot of concerns about how cannabis legalization and commercialization is working out around the country. So what did the supporters of these measures fail to foresee? And where do we go from here?

    Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University who specializes in addiction and its treatment. He also served as a senior policy adviser in the Obama administration. I asked him to walk me through why Oregon’s policy didn’t work out; what policymakers sometimes misunderstand about addiction; the gap between “elite” drug cultures and how drugs are actually consumed by most people; and what better drug policies might look like.

    Mentioned:

    Oregon Health Authority data

    “Why are there so many illegal weed stores in New York City? (Part 1)” by Search Engine

    “Why are there so many illegal weed stores in New York City? (Part 2)” by Search Engine

    Book Recommendations:

    Drugs and Drug Policy by Mark A.R. Kleiman, Jonathan P. Caulkins and Angela Hawken

    Dopamine Nation by Anna Lembke

    Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas De Quincey

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Annie Galvin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, with Kate Sinclair and Mary Marge Locker. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing by Aman Sahota and Efim Shapiro. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Rollin Hu and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

  • Ultimately, the Gaza war protests sweeping campuses are about influencing Israeli politics. The protesters want to use economic divestment, American pressure and policy, and a broad sense of international outrage to change the decisions being made by Israeli leaders.

    So I wanted to know what it’s like to watch these protests from Israel. What are Israelis seeing? What do they make of them?

    Ari Shavit is an Israeli journalist and the author of “My Promised Land,” the best book I’ve read about Israeli identity and history. “Israelis are seeing a different war than the one that Americans see,” he tells me. “You see one war film, horror film, and we see at home another war film.”

    This is a conversation about trying to push divergent perspectives into relationship with each other: On the protests, on Israel, on Gaza, on Benjamin Netanyahu, on what it means to take societal trauma and fear seriously, on Jewish values, and more.

    Mentioned:

    “Building the Palestinian State with Salam Fayyad” by The Ezra Klein Show

    “To Save the Jewish Homeland” by Hannah Arendt

    Book Recommendations:

    Truman by David McCullough

    Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch

    Rosalind Franklin by Brenda Maddox

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Claire Gordon and Rollin Hu. Fact-checking by Kate Sinclair, Mary Marge Locker and Kristin Lin. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing by Efim Shapiro and Aman Sahota. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin and Michelle Harris. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Lydia Polgreen, Dalit Shalom and Sonia Herrero.

  • A decade ago, I was feeling pretty pessimistic about climate change. The politics of mitigating global warming just seemed impossible: asking people to make sacrifices, or countries to slow their development, and delay dreams of better, more prosperous lives.

    But the world today looks different. The costs of solar and wind power have plummeted. Same for electric batteries. And a new politics is starting to take hold: that maybe we can invest and invent and build our way out of this crisis. But some very hard problems remain. Chief among them? Cows.

    Hannah Ritchie is the deputy editor and lead researcher at Our World in Data and the author of “Not the End of the World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet.” She’s pored over the data on this question and has come away more optimistic than many. “It’s just not true that we’ve had these solutions just sitting there ready to build for decades and decades, and we just haven’t done anything,” she told me. “We’re in a fundamentally different position going forward.”

    In this conversation, we discuss whether sustainability without sacrifice is truly possible. How much progress have we made so far? What gives her the most hope? And what are the biggest obstacles?

    Mentioned:

    “What was the death toll from Chernobyl and Fukushima?” by Hannah Ritchie

    “Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers” by Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek

    “Future demand for electricity generation materials under different climate mitigation scenarios” by Seaver Wang, Zeke Hausfather et al.

    Book Recommendations:

    Factfulness by Hans Rosling

    Possible by Chris Goodall

    Range by David Epstein

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Rollin Hu. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, with Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing by Isaac Jones. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin, Kristin Lin and Aman Sahota. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

  • Salman Rushdie’s 1988 novel, “The Satanic Verses,” made him the target of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who denounced the book as blasphemous and issued a fatwa calling for his assassination. Rushdie spent years trying to escape the shadow the fatwa cast on him, and for some time, he thought he succeeded. But in 2022, an assailant attacked him onstage at a speaking engagement in western New York and nearly killed him.

    “I think now I’ll never be able to escape it. No matter what I’ve already written or may now write, I’ll always be the guy who got knifed,” he writes in his new memoir, “Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder.”

    In this conversation, I asked Rushdie to reflect on his desire to escape the fatwa; the gap between the reputation of his novels and their actual merits; how his “shadow selves” became more real to millions than he was; how many of us in the internet age also have to contend with our many shadow selves; what Rushdie lives for now; and more.

    Mentioned:

    Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

    Book Recommendations:

    Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, translated by Edith Grossman

    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

    The Trial by Franz Kafka

    The Castle by Franz Kafka

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Annie Galvin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing by Isaac Jones. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Rollin Hu, Kristin Lin and Aman Sahota. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. And special thanks to Sonia Herrero and Mrinalini Chakravorty.

  • In our recent series on artificial intelligence, I kept returning to a thought: This technology might be able to churn out content faster than we can, but we still need a human mind to sift through the dross and figure out what’s good. In other words, A.I. is going to turn more of us into editors.

    But editing is a peculiar skill. It’s hard to test for, or teach, or even describe. But it’s the crucial step in the creative process that takes work that’s decent and can turn it into something great.

    Adam Moss is widely known as one of the great magazine editors of his generation: He remade The New York Times Magazine in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and during his 15 years as editor in chief of New York magazine, shaped that outlet into one of the greatest print and digital publications we have. And he’s now out with a new book, “The Work of Art: How Something Comes From Nothing.” It’s a curation of 43 conversations with artists about the marginalia, doodles, drafts and revisions that lead to great art. It’s a celebration of the hard, human work that goes into the creative act. It’s a book, really, about editing.

    In this conversation, we discuss what musicians, writers, visual artists, sandcastle-builders and others have in common as they create; how editing is an underappreciated and often misunderstood step in the creative process; how creativity morphs in different stages of our lives; and trusting your own “sensibility.”

    Mentioned:

    “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby” by Kara Walker

    “Miss Gleason” by Amy Sillman

    Ezra Klein Show episode with George Saunders

    “Mother and Child on Blue Mat” by Cheryl Pope

    Ezra Klein Show episode with Maryanne Wolf

    “Fidenza” by Tyler Hobbs

    “In a River” by Rostam

    Book Recommendations:

    Interviews with Francis Bacon by David Sylvester

    Faux Pas by Amy Sillman

    The Sketchbooks Revealed by Richard Diebenkorn

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Annie Galvin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing by Isaac Jones. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Rollin Hu, Kristin Lin and Aman Sahota. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. And special thanks to Sonia Herrero, Rachel Baker and James Burnett.

  • There is so much we need to build right now. The housing crunch has spread across the country; by one estimate, we’re a few million units short. And we also need a huge build-out of renewable energy infrastructure — at a scale some experts compare to the construction of the Interstate highway system.

    And yet, we’re not seeing anything close to the level of building that we need — even in the blue states and cities where housing tends to be more expensive and where politicians and voters purport to care about climate change and affordable housing.

    Jerusalem Demsas is a staff writer at The Atlantic who obsesses over these questions as much as I do. In this conversation, she takes me through some of her reporting on local disputes that block or hinder projects, and what they say about the issues plaguing development in the country at large. We discuss how well-intentioned policies evolved into a Kafka-esque system of legal and bureaucratic hoops and delays; how clashes over development reveal a generational split in the environmental movement; and what it would take to cut decades of red tape.

    Mentioned:

    “Colorado’s Ingenious Idea for Solving the Housing Crisis” by Jerusalem Demsas

    “The Culture War Tearing American Environmentalism Apart” by Jerusalem Demsas

    “Why America Doesn’t Build” by Jerusalem Demsas

    Book Recommendations:

    Don’t Blame Us by Lily Geismer

    The Bulldozer in the Countryside by Adam Rome

    A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Kristin Lin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris with Kate Sinclair. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin, Rollin Hu and Aman Sahota. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

  • Back in 2018, Dario Amodei worked at OpenAI. And looking at one of its first A.I. models, he wondered: What would happen as you fed an artificial intelligence more and more data?

    He and his colleagues decided to study it, and they found that the A.I. didn’t just get better with more data; it got better exponentially. The curve of the A.I.’s capabilities rose slowly at first and then shot up like a hockey stick.

    Amodei is now the chief executive of his own A.I. company, Anthropic, which recently released Claude 3 — considered by many to be the strongest A.I. model available. And he still believes A.I. is on an exponential growth curve, following principles known as scaling laws. And he thinks we’re on the steep part of the climb right now.

    When I’ve talked to people who are building A.I., scenarios that feel like far-off science fiction end up on the horizon of about the next two years. So I asked Amodei on the show to share what he sees in the near future. What breakthroughs are around the corner? What worries him the most? And how are societies that struggle to adapt to change and governments that are slow to react to them supposed to prepare for the pace of change he predicts? What does that line on his graph mean for the rest of us?

    This episode contains strong language.

    Mentioned:

    Sam Altman on The Ezra Klein Show

    Demis Hassabis on The Ezra Klein Show

    On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt

    “Measuring the Persuasiveness of Language Models” by Anthropic

    Book Recommendations:

    The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

    The Expanse (series) by James S.A. Corey

    The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Rollin Hu. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin, Kristin Lin and Aman Sahota. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

  • The internet is in decay. Do a Google search, and there are so many websites now filled with slapdash content contorted just to rank highly in the algorithm. Facebook, YouTube, X and TikTok all used to feel more fun and surprising. And all these once-great media companies have been folding or shedding staff members, unable to find a business model that works.

    And into this weakened internet came the flood of A.I.-generated junk. There’s been a surge of spammy news sites filled with A.I.-generated articles. TikTok videos of A.I.-generated voices reading text pulled from Reddit can be churned out in seconds. And self-published A.I.-authored books are polluting Amazon listings.

    According to my guest today, Nilay Patel, this isn’t just a blip, as the big platforms figure out how to manage this. He believes that A.I. content will break the internet as we know it.

    “When you increase the supply of stuff onto those platforms to infinity, that system breaks down completely,” Patel told me “Recommendation algorithms break down completely. Our ability to discern what is real and what is false breaks down completely. And I think, importantly, the business models of the internet break down completely.”

    Patel is one of the sharpest observers of the internet, and the ways technology has shaped and reshaped it. He’s a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Verge, and the host of the “Decoder” podcast. In this conversation, we talk about why platforms seem so unprepared for the storm of A.I. content; whether an internet filled with cursory A.I. content is better or worse than an internet filled with good A.I. content; and if A.I. might be a kind of cleansing fire for the internet that enables something new and better to emerge.

    Mentioned:

    Help us win a Webby Award

    “Scenes from a dying web” by Casey Newton

    “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Walter Benjamin

    “257 CES gadgets in 3 minutes — CES 2015” by The Verge

    Book Recommendations:

    The Conquest of Cool by Thomas Frank

    Liar in a Crowded Theater by Jeff Kosseff

    Substance by Peter Hook

    Everything I Need I Get From You by Kaitlyn Tiffany

    Extremely Hardcore by Zoe Schiffer

    Beyond Measure by James Vincent

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Claire Gordon. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, with Kate Sinclair and Mary Marge Locker. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing from Isaac Jones and Efim Shapiro. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin, Rollin Hu and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

  • There’s something of a paradox that has defined my experience with artificial intelligence in this particular moment. It’s clear we’re witnessing the advent of a wildly powerful technology, one that could transform the economy and the way we think about art and creativity and the value of human work itself. At the same time, I can’t for the life of me figure out how to use it in my own day-to-day job.

    So I wanted to understand what I’m missing and get some tips for how I could incorporate A.I. better into my life right now. And Ethan Mollick is the perfect guide: He’s a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania who’s spent countless hours experimenting with different chatbots, noting his insights in his newsletter One Useful Thing and in a new book, “Co-Intelligence: Living and Working With A.I.”

    This conversation covers the basics, including which chatbot to choose and techniques for how to get the most useful results. But the conversation goes far beyond that, too — to some of the strange, delightful and slightly unnerving ways that A.I. responds to us, and how you’ll get more out of any chatbot if you think of it as a relationship rather than a tool.

    Mollick says it’s helpful to understand this moment as one of co-creation, in which we all should be trying to make sense of what this technology is going to mean for us. Because it’s not as if you can call up the big A.I. companies and get the answers. “When I talk to OpenAI or Anthropic, they don’t have a hidden instruction manual,” he told me. “There is no list of how you should use this as a writer or as a marketer or as an educator. They don’t even know what the capabilities of these systems are.”

    Book Recommendations:

    The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Robert J. Gordon

    The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell

    Blindsight by Peter Watts

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Kristin Lin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, with Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing from Efim Shapiro. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin and Rollin Hu. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

  • Donald Trump can seem like a political anomaly. You sometimes hear people describe his connection with his base in quasi-mystical terms. But really, Trump is an example of an archetype — the right-wing populist showman — that recurs across time and place. There’s Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Boris Johnson in Britain, Javier Milei in Argentina. And there’s a long lineage of this type in the United States too.

    So why is there this consistent demand for this kind of political figure? And why does this set of qualities — ethnonationalist politics and an entertaining style — repeatedly appear at all?

    John Ganz is the writer of the newsletter Unpopular Front and the author of the forthcoming book “When the Clock Broke: Con Men, Conspiracists, and How America Cracked Up in the Early 1990s.” In this conversation, we discuss how figures like David Duke and Pat Buchanan were able to galvanize the fringes of the Republican Party; Trump’s specific brand of TV-ready charisma; and what liberals tend to overlook about the appeal of this populist political aesthetic.

    This episode contains strong language.

    Mentioned:

    “Right-Wing Populism” by Murray N. Rothbard

    “The ‘wave’ of right-wing populist sentiment is a myth” by Larry Bartels

    “How we got here” by Matthew Yglesias

    Book Recommendations:

    What Hath God Wrought? by Daniel Walker Howe

    After Nationalism by Samuel Goldman

    The Politics of Cultural Despair by Fritz R. Stern

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Annie Galvin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing from Efim Shapiro. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Rollin Hu and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

  • We’ll be back on Friday with a new episode. In the meantime, we wanted to share one of our favorite recent episodes from our sister podcast, “Matter of Opinion.”

    Why does the economy look so good to economists but feel so bad to voters?

    The Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman joins the hosts on “Matter of Opinion” to discuss why inflation, interest rates and wages aren’t in line with voters’ perception of the economy. Then, they debate with Paul how big of an influence the economy will be on the 2024 presidential election, and which of the two presumed candidates, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, it could benefit. Plus, Ross Douthat’s lessons on aging, through Michael Caine impressions.

    Mentioned:

    “Believing Is Seeing,” from Paul Krugman’s newsletter

    “The Age of Diminished Expectations,” by Paul Krugman

    “The Trip” scene: “This Is How Michael Caine Speaks”

  • American policy is uniquely hostile to families. Other wealthy countries guarantee paid parental leave and sick days and heavily subsidize early childhood care — to the tune of about $14,000 per year per child, on average. (The United States, by contrast, spends around $500 per child per year.) So it’s no wonder our birthrate has been in decline, with many people saying they’re having fewer children than they would like.

    Yet if you look closer at those other wealthy countries, that story doesn’t entirely hold. Sweden, for example, has some of the most generous work-family policies in the world, and according to the most recent numbers from Our World in Data, from 2021, their fertility rate is 1.67 children per woman — virtually identical to ours.

    Caitlyn Collins is a sociology professor at Washington University in St. Louis and the author of “Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving.” To understand how family policies affect the experience of child-rearing, she interviewed over a hundred middle-class mothers across four countries with different parenting cultures and levels of social support for families: the United States, Sweden, Italy and Germany. And what she finds is that policies can greatly relieve parents’ stress, but cultural norms like “intensive parenting” remain consistent.

    In this conversation, we discuss how work-family policies in Sweden frame spending time with children as a right rather than a privilege, how these policies have transformed the gender norms around parenting, why family-friendly policies across the globe don’t increase birthrates, how cultural pressures in America to be both an ideal worker and an ideal parent often clash, why many American parents feel it’s impossible to have more than one or two children, how cultural discourse has led younger women to “dread” motherhood and more.

    Mentioned:

    “Parenthood and Happiness: Effects of Work-Family Reconciliation Policies in 22 OECD Countries” by Jennifer Glass, Robin W. Simon and Matthew A. Andersson

    “Is Maternal Guilt a Cross-National Experience?” by Caitlyn Collins

    If you're interested in this topic, we also recommend checking out this series from the New York Times Opinion:

    “Would You Have Four Kids if It Meant Never Paying Taxes Again?” by Jessica Grose

    “Are Men the Overlooked Reason for the Fertility Decline?” by Jessica Grose

    “If We Want More Babies, Our ‘Profoundly Anti-Family’ System Needs an Overhaul” by Jessica Grose

    Book Recommendations:

    Competing Devotions by Mary Blair-Loy

    Mothering While Black by Dawn Marie Dow

    Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Annie Galvin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing from Efim Shapiro. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Rollin Hu and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Jessica Grose and Sonia Herrero.

  • For a long time, the story about the world’s population was that it was growing too quickly. There were going to be too many humans, not enough resources, and that spelled disaster. But now the script has flipped. Fertility rates have declined dramatically, from about five children per woman 60 years ago to just over two today. About two-thirds of us now live in a country or area where fertility rates are below replacement level. And that has set off a new round of alarm, especially in certain quarters on the right and in Silicon Valley, that we’re headed toward demographic catastrophe.

    But when I look at these numbers, I just find it strange. Why, as societies get richer, do their fertility rates plummet?

    Money makes life easier. We can give our kids better lives than our ancestors could have imagined. We don’t expect to bear the grief of burying a child. For a long time, a big, boisterous family has been associated with a joyful, fulfilled life. So why are most of us now choosing to have small ones?

    I invited Jennifer D. Sciubba on the show to help me puzzle this out. She’s a demographer, a political scientist and the author of “8 Billion and Counting: How Sex, Death and Migration Shape Our World.” She walks me through the population trends we’re seeing around the world, the different forces that seem to be driving them and why government policy, despite all kinds of efforts, seems incapable of getting people to have more kids.

    Mentioned:

    “Would You Have Four Kids if It Meant Never Paying Taxes Again?” by Jessica Grose

    “Are Men the Overlooked Reason for the Fertility Decline?” by Jessica Grose

    “If We Want More Babies, Our ‘Profoundly Anti-Family’ System Needs an Overhaul” by Jessica Grose

    Book Recommendations:

    Extra Life by Steven Johnson

    The Bet by Paul Sabin

    Reproductive States edited by Rickie Solinger and Mie Nakachi

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Rollin Hu. Fact checking by Michelle Harris, with Kate Sinclair and Mary Marge Locker. Mixing by Isaac Jones. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Jessica Grose and Sonia Herrero.

  • President Biden gave a raucous State of the Union speech last Thursday, offering his pitch for why he should be president for a second term. It’s the clearest picture we have yet of Biden’s campaign message for 2024. But while he listed off all kinds of proposals, it’s not as easy to parse what a second Biden term might actually look like. So I sat down with my editor Aaron Retica, who had a lot of questions for me about the speech itself and what Biden would be likely to accomplish if he got another four years in the job.

    We discuss how my argument for Biden to step aside holds up after he gave such a deft, high-energy performance; what a second Biden administration would likely do when it comes to abortion rights and foreign policy; the issues that didn’t receive much attention in the speech but would likely play a huge role in a second Biden term; the strongest 2024 campaign message that I’ve heard so far; and whether this is a Locke election or a Hobbes election — and what that means.

    Book Recommendations:

    Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century by John A. Farrell

    A Nation Without Borders by Steven Hahn

    The Field of Blood by Joanne B. Freeman

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Rollin Hu. Fact checking by Michelle Harris, with Kate Sinclair and Mary Marge Locker. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing from Efim Shapiro. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

  • When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, it scrambled the landscape of abortion access in America, including in ways that one might not entirely expect. Many conservative states made the procedure essentially illegal — that part was predictable. But there’s also been this striking backlash in blue states, with many of them making historic efforts to expand abortion access, for both their residents and for women living in abortion-restricted states.

    And this has created all kinds of new battle lines — between states, and states and the federal government — involving travel, speech, privacy and executive power. It’s an explosion of conflicts and constitutional questions that the legal historian Mary Ziegler says has no parallel in modern times. She’s the author of six books on reproductive rights in America, including “Roe: The History of a National Obsession,” and the Martin Luther King Jr. professor of law at the University of California, Davis. “We’re seeing, from conservative and progressive states, moves to project power outside of their borders in ways we really haven’t seen in a really long time,” she told me.

    In this conversation, Ziegler explains the bifurcated abortion landscape that has emerged since the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe. We discuss the different political and legal strategies conservative and progressive states are using to pursue their opposing goals; why the abortion rate has gone up, even as 14 states have implemented near-total bans on abortion; and how a second Trump administration could try to restrict access to abortion for all Americans, no matter what states they live in.

    Mentioned:

    “Harsh Anti-abortion Laws Are Not Empty Threats” by Mary Ziegler

    Book Recommendations:

    The Family Roe by Joshua Prager

    Tiny You by Jennifer L. Holland

    Defenders of the Unborn by Daniel K. Williams

    “Before Roe v. Wade” by Linda Greenhouse and Reva B. Siegel

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Claire Gordon and Kristin Lin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, with Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing from Efim Shapiro. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin and Rollin Hu. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.

  • Marilynne Robinson is one of the great living novelists. She has won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Humanities Medal, and Barack Obama took time out of his presidency to interview her at length. Her fiction is suffused with a sense of holiness: Mundane images like laundry drying on a line seem to be illuminated by a divine force. Whether she’s telling the story of a pastor confronting his mortality in “Gilead” or two sisters coming of age in small-town Idaho in “Housekeeping,” her novels wrestle with theological questions of what it means to be human, to see the world more deeply, to seek meaning in life.

    In recent years, Robinson has tightened the links between her literary pursuits and her Christianity, writing essays about Calvinism and other theological traditions. Her forthcoming work of nonfiction is “Reading Genesis,” a close reading of the first book of the Old Testament (or the Torah, as I grew up knowing it). It’s a countercultural reading in many respects — one that understands the God in Genesis as merciful rather than vengeful and humans as flawed but capable of astounding acts of grace. No matter one’s faith, Robinson unearths wisdom in this core text that applies to many questions we wrestle with today.

    We discuss the virtues evoked in Genesis — beauty, forgiveness and hospitality — and how to cultivate what Robinson calls “a mind that’s schooled toward good attention.” And we end on her reading of the story of Israel, which I found to be challenging, moving and evocative at a time when that nation has been front and center in the news.

    Book Recommendations:

    Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by John Foxe

    The Vision of Piers Plowman by William Langland

    Theologia Germanica

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Annie Galvin. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Kate Sinclair. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing from Efim Shapiro. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin, Rollin Hu and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero and Alex Engebretson.

  • Joe Biden’s presidency has been dominated by two foreign policy crises: the wars in Ukraine and Gaza. The funding the United States has provided in those wars — billions to both Ukraine and Israel — has drawn backlash from both the right and the left. And now, as the conflicts move into new stages with no clear end game, Biden’s policies are increasingly drawing dissent from the center.

    Richard Haass is an icon of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. He served as the president of the Council on Foreign Relations for 20 years and currently writes the newsletter Home & Away. He’s recently been making the case that our foreign policy is insufficiently independent — that we’ve become captured by allies that have interests that diverge from our own. His view of this moment is a signal of larger shifts that could be coming in the U.S. foreign policy consensus.

    In this conversation, we discuss why he thinks America’s current strategy on both Ukraine and Israel is untenable, what he thinks the north star for our strategy in both cases should be, the Republican Party’s 180-degree turn from internationalism to isolationism, what America’s biggest national security threat really is and more.

    Mentioned:

    “The Two-State Mirage” by Marc Lynch and Shibley Telhami

    Book Recommendations:

    The World That Wasn’t by Benn Steil

    Sparks by Ian Johnson

    Diplomats at War by Charles Trueheart

    Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at [email protected].

    You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.

    This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Rollin Hu. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris with Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld, with additional mixing from Efim Shapiro. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team also includes Annie Galvin and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.