Conversation with a Bot – The Editor-in-Chief’s Recap

artificial intelligence (AI) will start a revolution. It will change the way we work, communicate and live. It opens up infinite possibilities for progress and efficiency, but we must ensure that it is used ethically and responsibly.

these are not my words rather they are the words of ChatGPT, a chatbot I just asked to write an introduction to this newsletter.

The race for the best language systems is in full swing. With LaMDA, Google is also preparing its own rival to ChatGPT. And the Facebook group Meta also has its own systems in the test run.

I’ve been wondering for a long time how such bots will change journalism. Let’s have a look at ChatGPT: “AI is changing journalism by automating routine activities, processing large amounts of data and personalized content,” the bot writes in response to my question. “This allows for faster and more thorough reporting, but also the risk of misinformation and unethical decisions.”

There must be something to it. Of course, the software still makes bizarre mistakes. At the same time, however, it will take over much of the more generic news business, current reports on sporting events or movements on stock markets, for example, and later also more complex reports. Machines will soon be able to write information that is already available faster than humans.

The US news platform Buzzfeed announced this week that it intends to hand over the first tasks to the chatbot in the future, such as creating entertaining quizzes. After the news broke, Buzzfeed’s stock price doubled. The US tech portal CNET had started using AI-generated texts months ago. However, the errors were so bad that the portal stopped the experiment for the time being.

It is the next disruption that is coming to the media. But one thing is certain: AI will not be able to replace the core of journalism, namely bringing new information into the world. In-depth research, trusting collaboration with informants, checking sources, completely new thoughts – the chatbot cannot do all of that. Much else, however, which becomes increasingly clear when chatting with ChatGPT, will change.

Because the language model on which the current version is based is just the beginning. The new version will be available in just a few months. And it will be many times smarter.

Incidentally, the art market is also facing the greatest upheaval in decades. AI systems create award-winning images, create stunning films and even symphonies. Susanne Schreiber and Stephan Scheuer describe some of the fascinating works that are moving the art world.

Refik Anadol “WDCH Dreams”: AI creates moving images from archived videos on the surfaces of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

(Photo: Studio Refik Anadol)

What else kept us busy this week:

1. After much hesitation and international pressure, the German government finally decided to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Shortly thereafter, the USA also decided to send Abrams main battle tanks into the war zone. “Once again, Biden is saving Germany,” commented US correspondent Annett Meiritz. Washington had made enormous concessions to Berlin in the tank dispute. But that doesn’t mean “that the employment relationship between Germany and the USA is perfect,” she writes. In response to the tank deliveries, Russian hackers have announced plans to attack German targets in Western Europe.

Reichstag in Berlin: Pro-Russian hackers have called for cyber attacks against targets in Germany.

2. After the Leopard decision, Wolfgang Ischinger, the former head of the Munich Security Conference, has to think about the double-track NATO decision of the 1980s. “If Helmut Schmidt were still alive,” Ischinger writes, “his advice to his Social Democratic successor in the Chancellery would certainly have been something like this: Don’t shake, don’t show weakness, but demonstrate leadership, strengthen nuclear coupling, strengthen the deterrence network and first offer negotiations on this basis.”

3. Relief everywhere. Gas storage is full and prices are falling. However, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Fatih Birol does not want to join the general euphoria. Many governments are happy about the relatively mild course of the crisis so far, he said in an interview with the Handelsblatt. “But I’m afraid they’re a little too happy.” He’s particularly worried about the coming winter. The reason for this is the surprisingly quick opening of China.

4. Amazon, Facebook, most recently Microsoft: The big US tech companies have announced huge layoff programs in recent weeks. This wave is now reaching Germany: SAP also wants to lay off 3,000 employees and at the same time is putting the online market research subsidiary Qualtrics up for sale. If you look at the waves of layoffs, it sounds like big numbers. But if you look closely, the number of employees at many tech companies is still much larger than before the pandemic.

5. An exciting report came this week from our Brussels office: Carsten Volkery impressively traced how the port of Antwerp became the most important hub for cocaine in Europe. One number in particular stuck in my mind: Belgian customs confiscated almost 110 tons of cocaine in the port in 2022.


Even Southeast Asia and Australia are supplied with the fabric from there. The global container boom gave smuggling a decisive boost. The result: the offer wasn’t that big for a long time. The street price for a gram of cocaine has therefore fallen drastically – one coke is now almost cheaper than a cocktail.


6. With 352 billion euros from overpriced acquisitions the 40 Dax companies are burdening their balance sheets more than ever. The sum is about goodwill, the so-called goodwill, from acquisitions for which there is no material equivalent. This worries auditors, who see companies as more vulnerable to crises than they have been since the financial crisis.

7. The turbulence on the real estate market also offers opportunities. Potential home buyers can now negotiate significant price reductions. Julian Trauthig spoke to key experts on the best way for buyers to proceed.

8. It sounds like collective burnout. A McKinsey study shows that 41 percent of top executives in Germany observe symptoms of exhaustion in themselves. And in times of multiple crises, their jobs are in many cases more demanding than ever before. We spoke to numerous managers and entrepreneurs about their strategies for dealing with the stress. For this purpose, VW boss Oliver Blume gave us a look at his calendar. Celonis co-founder Alexander Rinke is trying to gain clarity through data. And Kerstin Hochmüller, head of the drive specialist Marantec, has not even commissioned an assistant with her appointment calendar. “Otherwise I would be under external control, and I hate that,” she says.

Kerstin Hochmüller, Alexander Rinke, Fränzi Kühne, Oliver Blume, Tobias Silberzahn, Sylvia Eichelberg, Stefan Schaible: The top managers all have their own strategy for dealing with the pressure.

9. Christian Graz knows the situation only too well. As a specialist in psychiatry at the Max Grundig Clinic in the Black Forest, he has already treated many top powers in the German economy after their collapse. In an interview, he explains why many executives have a problem with weakness, which is where every therapy begins – and why it’s so important to have fun again and again.

So, have a little fun this weekend and rest well!

Sebastian Mathes
Editor-in-Chief of the Handelsblatt

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