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What was 60 Minutes thinking in their recent interview with Geoff Hinton?
By Gary Marcus  |  Feb 06, 2024
What was 60 Minutes thinking in their recent interview with Geoff Hinton?
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In an interview with Geoff Hinton, a so-called ‘godfather of AI,’ journalist and CBS news anchor Scott Pelley did not exactly do his homework. Though a missed opportunity, it also offers useful lessons, asserts Gary Marcus, a best-selling AI author, entrepreneur, and professor.


This article has been adapted from the original version, which can be found on Gary Marcus' Substack.

60 Minutes is known for its investigative journalism - and bless it for allowing me to call the outputs of generative AI (GenAI) “authoritative BS” on network television. Unfortunately, some of their interviews do occasionally miss the mark. 

Its recent interview with the so-called ‘godfather of AI’ Geoff Hinton is a case in point - while some positives emerged, way too many softballs were thrown and essentially zero effort expended to press Hinton on any of his alleged facts. Even in its title - which I call out in the postscript - CBS gave Hinton more credit than he deserves. One would be hard-pressed to imagine a political interview this soft and weakly researched, with nary a thought as to what an alternative perspective might make of the interviewee. While such disappointments do happen, my jaw literally dropped about halfway through - an astonishing editorial lapse that I call out below. The good news is that this gaffe is actually very much a teachable moment.

This is a clear example of misleading advertising - see postscript - for an interview that does not seem to have been well researched.

One last preliminary: As a literary device, I have written the below as a three-way conversation that never quite happened, inspired by a recent email I received from my friend Harry Shearer with the subject header “60 Minutes. Your thoughts on Hinton Sunday night? Want to rebut?”

I certainly would! I have annotated the transcript of the interview below - tongue slightly in cheek - as if I had been in the room. Every word that H

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