PBS News Weekend full episode, Feb. 25, 2023
LISA DESJARDINS: Tonight on "PBS News Weekend," with artificial intelligence on the rise, new concerns about conditions for the people that power this growing industry. Then, short supply. Parents still struggling to find baby formula now face other shortages, like baby Tylenol. We look at what's happening. And the story of a trailblazing Air Force pilot who helped pave the way for NASA's black astronauts.
JERMAINE FOWLER: So he's always getting this push back. People questioning if he's there only because he's black and he's under immense scrutiny. (BREAK) LISA DESJARDINS: Good evening and hello. I'm Lisa Desjardins. John Yang is away.
Some interstates out west remain shut down. And today, Yosemite National Park announced it will be closed until midweek due to the snow, wind and freezing winter weather that is still packing a wallop. Los Angeles iconic. Hollywood sign was shrouded in fog and snow as the storm made its way across California. At higher elevations, there were blizzard conditions in some places.
To the east, Michigan was thawing out after a massive ice storm. Almost 400,000 people are still without power there. President Biden has ordered federal teams to go door to door in East Palestine, Ohio, making sure families there have what they need in the wake of the toxic train derailment that happened three weeks ago.
Last night, hundreds of worried residents packed a local high school auditorium to hear activists and attorneys, including Erin Brockovich raise potential dangers and litigation. Africa's largest democracy in Nigeria held its presidential election today. From the start, there were reports across the country of delayed poll openings, stolen ballots, and even violence. Ali Rogin reports. ALI ROGIN: Across Nigeria today, voters worried that an election delayed would mean democracy denied. NAFISAT ALIYU, Teacher: Yeah I'm really disappointed because they said it would start at 8 AM and up 'til now, I think it is 12 PM, we have not started casting our votes.
ALI ROGIN: Many polling places opened late. Others came under attack. This Associated Press camera was filming shooters opened fire at this location in Lagos and then fled with ballot boxes. NO NAME GIVEN: Can you see what is happening now? They want to make sure they suppress others from voting. This is unfair. This is madness.
This is not civilization. ALI ROGIN: Nigeria's Election Commission had touted new measures this year to reduce election fraud and corruption. They said polls would stay open late to make up for the delays. Amidst the chaotic scenes, some optimism remained, especially among young voters. ODINKO IJEOMA, Voter: Many people came out, they want to take back their country.
That's so they all turned off to vote. For me, I was excited. Like, I woke up this morning, I was so excited. I was like, okay, history is going to be made today. ALI ROGIN: Nigeria hasn't had an election this competitive since it became a democracy in 1999.
Bola Tinubu represents the current ruling party. And Atiku Abubakar is the candidate for the primary opposition party. Both men are in their seventies and are seen as all old guard politicians. Then there's Peter Obi, a former state governor who has mobilized young people and is the first 3rd party candidate who stands a chance at victory. PETER OBI, Labour Party Presidential Candidate: It's an existential election. The country is going through a very difficult time.
ALI ROGIN: Those difficulties include cash and fuel shortages, sky-high unemployment, and instability fueled by terrorists and violent insurgents. The election results were already expected to take several days, but today's chaos likely means Nigerians will have to wait even longer to know who will serve as their next president. For "PBS News Weekend," I'm Ali Rogin. LISA DESJARDINS: In the U.S. concern about suicide in the military has risen so much
that an independent government committee is recommending the Pentagon launch new rules around guns. The committee, appointed by Congress last year recommends waiting periods for purchasing firearms on military property, raising the minimum age for purchasing guns and ammunition to 25, and requiring anyone living in military housing to register all privately owned firearms. 66% of all active-duty military suicides involve the use of firearms. It may soon be easier to test for the flu and COVID-19, the FDA has approved the first combination test for both diseases that can be used at home.
Nasal swab results appear in about 30 minutes, and the kits will not need a prescription. And a passing of note. The country's first Arab American Senator, James Abourezk died last night at his home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Raised by Lebanese parents on an Indian reservation, Abourezk served single terms in the House and Senate in the 70s. While in office, the Democrat fought to prevent the separation of Native American families and was an outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. James Abourezk was 92 years old. Still to come on "PBS News Weekend," what's causing the shortages of some kids medicines and baby formula? And the pioneering pilot who first tried to break NASA's racial barrier? (BREAK) LISA DESJARDINS: Artificial intelligence comes in many forms, and whether you realize it or not, it is now woven into things we see and touch every day.
Things like Googling anything or tagging a friend on Facebook, filing your taxes, using TurboTax, and even using your phone's speak to text feature. AI also is all over the headlines these days as societies confront the growing technology. This week, the U.S. Copyright Office ruled that AI images cannot be legally protected.
China launched a crackdown on the popular AI program ChatGPT. And the New York Times recently published a rant by Microsoft's new AI chat feature, which tried to convince the writer to leave his wife. Thought by many to be powered only by computers, AI often relies on a massive human workforce, and there are significant questions about the treatment of those workers. Joining us now to discuss is Sonam Jindal with Partnership on AI, a nonprofit coalition committed to the responsible use of artificial intelligence. I want to start with just understanding the basics here.
What are these jobs exactly that people are doing that keep artificial intelligence working? SONAM JINDAL, Program Lead, Partnership on AI: Yeah, absolutely. Well, artificial intelligence products and models require massive amounts of data. So to make it very simplistic, a computer system or an AI algorithm doesn't know on its own whether or not something is a cat or a dog. It needs to be told what is a cat or a dog? So there are people who go through images and label them cat, cat, dog, dog and over time, the algorithm can understand it.
And that is true of all AI models. All of them require data and humans to look at that data and classify it. LISA DESJARDINS: Can you help us understand where these people work? I thought maybe this would be call centers, but it's not. What parts of the world and what kind of workplaces are we talking about? SONAM JINDAL: Yeah, this work is done across the globe, but a lot of this work is done in the global south, because, frankly, there's cheaper labor there, and a lot of this is done over digital platforms. So, people are doing this work sometimes in their own homes, sometimes they go in-person, but a lot of it is digitally arbitrated. LISA DESJARDINS: What do we know about the actual content that these workers are sifting through and trying to get a computer to understand? SONAM JINDAL: Yeah, so it really depends on the AI model that companies are trying to build.
So, for example, if you have a healthcare company trying to build an algorithm, an AI model, to understand whether or not someone has breast cancer based off of their images, people might be looking at radiology images to understand if someone has cancer or not, and then train the model so that the AI algorithm can actually understand and make predictions based off of the images. But people have to look through that data first. A lot of the work that people have to do sometimes means that they have to interact with toxic content.
So, one of the reasons why search and social media are usable is because we see information that we want to see, but that requires people looking through information that we don't want to see. LISA DESJARDINS: Talking about the conditions then for this industry, am I right that there's really no standards for how these workers are treated? And what about the pay? How does that work? SONAM JINDAL: Yeah, I think part of the problem is that we -- when we think about artificial intelligence, we get really excited. There's technology involved, and it's automated, and there aren't people involved. I think part of that narrative is that we forget that humans are central to this work.
Oftentimes they face very low pay. Sometimes this work is done for pennies. They have uncertainty of whether or not they're going to get paid, and there's really not a lot of power to contest those decisions. LISA DESJARDINS: These workers are almost in sort of an isolated intellectual factory of sorts. You know, part of the thing in my mind is often we think AI that means machines taking over human jobs.
What do we know about how many jobs that actually AI could provide, how important this area could be in terms of labor around the world? SONAM JINDAL: Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, as AI becomes a bigger part of our economy, these are the jobs that are going to enable AI to be built. And I think that's like one of the biggest takeaways in this is that what we call artificial intelligence is not really artificial intelligence.
It's human intelligence that we're putting and embedding into data so that we can all benefit from that collective intelligence. And so it's really important that we start valuing that intelligence for what it's worth. This is a labor force that's going to grow, or the demand for this labor is going to grow. And it's important that we recognize the important contributions that these workers are making so that we can develop better AI. LISA DESJARDINS: Briefly, do you see a path toward figuring out standards or figuring out how to establish even basic workplace rules for these workers? SONAM JINDAL: Yeah, absolutely. I -- so one of the things that my organization, Partnership on AI does is try to work with different stakeholders across the industry, academia and civil society to figure out how do we actually improve conditions for these workers? What are the guidelines that we should be following? And ultimately, it's important that becomes regulated and codified and mandated, and there are formal protections for this class of workers.
But in the meantime, we have a set of guidelines and resources available for any AI developer to start using today so that they can start incorporating considerations for workers into their day-to-day practices as they're setting up their projects. Sonam Jindal in the Partnership for AI, we certainly have benefited from your human intelligence today. Thank you. SONAM JINDAL: Thank you. LISA DESJARDINS: From formula to medicine, parents of infants and school age kids are being battered by a wave of shortages. Ali Rogin is back with more on what's missing on store shelves and how it's impacting families.
ALI ROGIN: To name a few, the baby formula shortage is now in its second year. Supplies of children's Tylenol and Motrin are still recovering from a brutal flu season, and the antibiotic Amoxicillin is also in short supply. And Adderall, the medication primarily used to treat ADHD, is increasingly hard to find.
Parents and caregivers are going from store to store, calling pharmacy after pharmacy to find these things that their children urgently need. For more on what is causing these shortages, we turn to Chabeli Carrazana, she's the economy reporter for The 19th, a nonprofit newsroom that covers gender, politics and policy. Chabeli, thank you so much for joining us. Let's start with the baby formula shortage. It started about a year ago after a major recall and a factory closure. So where do things stand now? CHABELI CARRAZANA, Economy Reporter, The 19th: At this point, we are seeing supply of formulas start to come back to shelves.
But if you're a parent in most parts of the country and you're finding that those shelves are still pretty bare, and what we're seeing is sort of this mix match of pockets of the country where that shortage is more acute and other areas where it has come back significantly. Just this week, we saw some more formula recalled from Enfamil, which the FDA is saying, will hopefully not worsen the situation significantly, but it's definitely still a huge problem. ALI ROGIN: There's also the issue of children's Tylenol and Motrin.
There have been shortages of those medicines since at least December of last year. What's the latest with that and why is it happening? CHABELI CARRAZANA: So, with those, we hear that it's really demand driven, right? We have heard from Johnson & Johnson, who's the main manufacturer of these medications, that this cold flu COVID-19 RSV season from the fall really ramped up the demand for these medications. We had people who were buying them proactively, and so now we are seeing parents buying alternatives, generics, different forms. I think that situation is getting a little better, but it's still definitely with us as well. ALI ROGIN: And the antibiotic amoxicillin is also in short supply. That, of course, treats bacterial infections, not viruses.
What's behind that? CHABELI CARRAZANA: What's happened with the amoxicillin is, again, we're seeing a demand driven shortage. And again, we are seeing that pediatricians are switching to different antibiotics to help kids, but what that's causing is a cascade effect. And so that is really just layering and layering on top of all of these other shortages that are happening at the same time. They're all affecting really sort of the same group of people, right? Kids and caregivers. ALI ROGIN: Yeah, absolutely. And I want to get to the effect on caregivers in just a second.
But the last individual shortage that we want to talk about today is Adderall. Are there any similar factors that go into that shortage? CHABELI CARRAZANA: There are. There's a lot of through lines here, right, with all of these. With Adderall, it's really interesting because we saw throughout the pandemic some relaxed rules around prescribing a controlled substance like Adderall. So if you were seeing a doctor through telehealth, you could get Adderall through a prescription on telehealth, which previously you were unable to do.
We also had people at home who were more aware of each other, parents who were realizing, wow, maybe my child has ADHD. Let me get this checked out. And, of course, supply chain issues, which I should also say is part of this, also happened with Adderall.
And so we again have a situation where there's many more prescriptions of Adderall, and there's only a set number of medications that are available each year because it's a controlled substance. ALI ROGIN: And Chabeli. Lastly, you've been talking to parents about how they've been dealing with these things. What are they telling you and what are some of the things they're doing to deal with it in their own homes? CHABELI CARRAZANA: I think the tenor of the conversations with parents is really one of desperation, right? You know, when we talk about formula specifically, that is an item that has no alternative. This is the only food that some children have access to. And so, really, it's been a lot of desperation.
We've seen a lot of parents helping each other across the country. There's Facebook groups that have popped up formula and for other things as well, where they're essentially sending each other these items across the country when they find them into total strangers. So these parents are just kind of cobbling it together, driving to store after store, after store, after store, sending family members to drive to stores and trying to find it. And I should say that there are families that are able to do that, and there are also low income families for whom that option is not available. So, it really is an untenable situation and one that just doesn't necessarily seem to be ending anytime soon.
ALI ROGIN: Chabeli Carrazana with The 19th, thank you so much for your time. CHABELI CARRAZANA: Thank you. LISA DESJARDINS: And finally tonight, the last in our series Hidden Histories. Space exploration has long fascinated humans from the fantasy of the ancient Greeks to the reality of the moon landing the last century, venturing into space is about pushing into new frontiers, but not just the technological.
Tonight, we bring you the story of pilot and astronaut candidate Ed Dwight. JOHN YANG: Ed Dwight had sky high dreams from the time he was growing up in the Midwest. JERMAINE FOWLER, Author, "The Humanity Archive": Dwight's first love with art actually. He drew and trace cartoons in newspapers from a small child.
But his second passion was airplanes. JOHN YANG: Jermaine Fowler is the author of The Humanity Archive. JERMAINE FOWLER: He hung around his local hangar, and so he begins cleaning out airplanes when he's five and six years old.
JOHN YANG: Being around this all-white group of aviators piqued Dwight interest in flying. But in segregated Kansas City, Kansas, it was hard to imagine a future for himself in the air. JERMAINE FOWLER: One day's delivering newspapers, and he saw Air Force pilot Dayton Ragland, a black man from Kansas City, on the front page of a black newspaper called The Call. This is kind of when the light bulb went off, like I could be a pilot, too. JOHN YANG: After earning an associate's degree in engineering, Dwight joined the U.S. Air
Force and trained to become a test pilot. He was stationed in Texas, Missouri, and Arizona, and on the side earned his bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering. Michael Cassutt is an author and space historian. MICHAEL CASSUTT, Space Historian: The Air Force at its test pilot school started creating what they call a space school that would allow you to be more qualified to fly for NASA.
JOHN YANG: Through it all, Dwight had one goal in mind, to become America's first black astronaut. JERMAINE FOWLER: There was one time in 1962 where Dwight, he's flying this F-104 Starfighter nicknamed the Chrome javelin, and this is a supersonic aircraft that reaches the edges of the earth's atmosphere, and it's very dangerous up there. You could black out, you could crash, you could die. And, you know, he's ready for this thrill. He really wants to become this astronaut. JOHN YANG: It was the early 60s, America was roiled by the civil rights movement and captivated by the space race with the Soviet Union.
White House officials had a stake in Dwight joining NASA's all-white astronaut corps. MICHAEL CASSUTT: The Kennedy administration had made it clear to the higher ups of the Air Force that they were interested in having a black Air Force officer not only go through the school, but then become a candidate to be a NASA astronaut, to be part of the apollo program. ED DWIGHT: To the onlooker, I suppose you could say that this is definitely a sign of progress for the negro in the country. I personally think that -- I would like to think as an individual rather than me being a Negro. JOHN YANG: Dwight was thrust into the media spotlight. MICHAEL CASSUTT: Ebony and other magazines and newspapers talking about him while he was probably just trying to keep his head down and do a good job as a student.
JOHN YANG: NASA was not immune to the nation's racial tensions. JERMAINE FOWLER: Chuck Yeager who ran the Edwards Air Force Base, he did not want him there from the very beginning. So he's always getting this push back, people questioning if he's there only because he's black and he's under immense scrutiny.
JOHN YANG: Still, Dwight persisted. He completed the rigorous training and with a recommendation from the Air Force, applied to become a NASA astronaut. NO NAME GIVEN: I guess you all know why you're here today and why we're here. We'd like to introduce the new group of 14 astronauts. JOHN YANG: Future Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean and Eugene Cernan were among those selected. Dwight did not make the cut.
MICHAEL CASSUTT: He left a year later, signed his commission and went on to business and a new life. JOHN YANG: Dwight retired from the Air Force, moved to Colorado, and turned to a childhood passion he'd left behind. JERMAINE FOWLER: He didn't make history as an astronaut, but he makes it in the form of art. So he has all these great historical monuments all across the country, from Atlanta to Denver to Washington, D.C. JOHN YANG: It took until 1983 for a black American to go into space, when Guion Bluford was a space shuttle Challenger mission specialist.
Nine years later, Mae Jemison became the first black woman in space aboard the shuttle endeavor. Dwight paved the way for both of them, even though his own dream of space flight was never fulfilled. For "PBS News Weekend,' I'm John Yang. LISA DESJARDINS: And that's our program for tonight.
I'm Lisa Desjardins. For all of us at "PBS News Weekend," we are grateful to spend part of our Saturday with you. We'll see you soon.