The daily business briefing: March 30, 2023
Tech leaders, including Musk, call for pausing more AI rollouts, the feud between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis intensifies, and more
Musk, other tech leaders call for pausing further AI rollout
Elon Musk and more than 1,000 other tech leaders and artificial intelligence experts, released an open letter Wednesday calling for a pause in rollouts of systems more powerful than the GPT-4 chatbot introduced this month by OpenAI, which Musk co-founded. The group said the delay would buy time to put "shared safety protocols" in place to avert "profound risks to society and humanity." The tech leaders wrote in the letter, organized by the nonprofit Future of Life Institute, that AI developers are "locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one — not even their creators — can understand, predict or reliably control."
Disney-DeSantis feud escalates
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) feud with Disney grew more intense this week. DeSantis' handpicked board overseeing Disney World's government services said that before it took over last month, the outgoing board quietly approved binding agreements that stripped the current board of much of its power, tying its hands for the next 30 years. The new board, renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District in legislation DeSantis pushed through the GOP-led state legislature, threatened a legal fight. Meanwhile, Florida newspapers reported that Disney World will be the location for what is being advertised as "the largest LGBTQ+ conference in the world" this September, in a sign the company continues to push back against DeSantis' rollback of diversity programs and gay rights.
FDA approves overdose-reversing Narcan for over-the-counter sale
The Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that it has approved the drug Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses opioid overdoses, for sale without a prescription. Public health officials have long urged the government to make Narcan — the brand name for the drug naloxone — more widely available to help save lives as the nation continues to struggle with an opioid epidemic that kills tens of thousands of Americans each year. Emergent BioSolutions, which produces Narcan, said it hoped to make Narcan available in stores and online retailers by late summer. It didn't immediately say how much over-the-counter Narcan will cost.
Stock futures up after Wednesday's big gains
U.S. stock futures rose early Thursday, putting Wall Street on track to add to Wednesday's gains. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up 0.5 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were up 0.4 percent. The Dow rose 1 percent on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 1.4 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively. Markets have been volatile recently, buffeted by concerns about rising interest rates and banks' financial troubles. Tech stocks fueled Wednesday's gains, with Amazon rising 3 percent, and Facebook parent Meta and Netflix rising more than 2 percent. Regional banks also rose.
Senate panel says Credit Suisse helped rich clients dodge taxes
The Senate Finance Committee said in a report released Wednesday that troubled Swiss bank Credit Suisse helped super-rich U.S. clients evade taxes by hiding hundreds of millions of dollars. The report said the bank transferred more than $100 million into offshore accounts for one family, without notifying the Justice Department as required in a 2014 plea agreement. The committee said its findings show "that these tax cheats often hide their assets with the willing assistance of bankers at foreign financial institutions." UBS Group, a rival that recently acquired Credit Suisse under pressure from Swiss regulators amid concerns about its financial stability, said it is bringing back Sergio Ermotti as CEO to handle the integration of the two companies.