Morning news brief
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
In Gaza, access to food, sanitation and clean water is scarce as the war between Hamas and Israel rages on.
ASMA KHALID, HOST:
The World Health Organization warns disease may eventually kill more people than actual combat if the health system is not fixed.
MARTÍNEZ: We've got NPR's Ari Daniel here to walk us through what's being done to try to stay ahead of an outbreak. Ari, first off, can you give us a snapshot of infectious disease in Gaza right now? What's it looking like?
ARI DANIEL, BYLINE: Sure. It's bad, and it may well get worse. The WHO says rates are, quote, "soaring." Here's one example, A - more than 100,000 cases of diarrhea, with rates among children that are 25 times higher than before the war. Our producer Anas Baba spoke to pediatrician Tahrir Al-Sheikh, who's seen some brutal cases of diarrhea...
TAHRIR AL-SHEIKH: (Through interpreter) I treated a 4-month-old baby who had 20 bowel movements in a day.
DANIEL: ...Along with a torrent of respiratory diseases.
AL-SHEIKH: (Through interpreter) I've had cases that didn't respond to any treatment.
DANIEL: The WHO says there are also numerous cases of meningitis, rashes, scabies, lice and chicken pox.
MARTÍNEZ: Wow. Now, we hear how hard it is to treat people who are hurt and sick right now. Ari, what combination of conditions created this situation where an infectious disease disaster could really be right around the corner?
DANIEL: Well, Gaza's health infrastructure has really crumbled amidst Israel's bombardment and ground offensive. The WHO says more than half of Gaza's hospitals are no longer functioning. And that's because Israel has accused Hamas of harboring fighters and weapons in and around those hospitals and under them in tunnels, putting them in the line of fire. Plus, the conditions inside Gaza are a perfect storm for the spread of infectious disease. There is intense overcrowding, colder winter weather and a lack of clean water, sanitation and proper nutrition, which are services that are difficult to secure under Israel's near-total siege of Gaza. Here's Amber Alayyan, deputy program manager for Doctors Without Borders in the Palestinian territories.
AMBER ALAYYAN: It's just sort of a cauldron of possibility of infectious disease. This really just is an infectious disaster in waiting.
MARTÍNEZ: And that brings us back, I suppose, to the World Health Organization's prediction that disease could endanger more lives than military action.
DANIEL: Exactly. And it's why global health groups are racing to ramp up disease surveillance efforts.
MARTÍNEZ: What did that look like in Gaza before the war?
DANIEL: Pretty good, actually, despite the Israeli blockade. But the war has compromised all that. Here's Dr. Al-Sheikh again.
AL-SHEIKH: (Through interpreter) We used to culture bacteria in Gaza, prescribe medication based on the results. Now we can't do cultures or anything, and the infections are spreading.
MARTÍNEZ: So then what are public health professionals doing to try and catch an outbreak before it even takes off?
DANIEL: Well, a WHO official recently traveled to Gaza with rapid tests for hepatitis and cholera. They want to resuscitate one or two of the local laboratories that used to do pathogen screening. Negotiations are also underway to bring a mobile lab into Gaza or ferry specimens out to Egypt for testing. For now, Rick Brennan, a regional emergency director with the WHO, told me it's fortunate that terrible diseases like measles or cholera haven't yet surfaced.
RICK BRENNAN: To be honest, I'm grateful that we've got to this point - we've got increased rates, but we haven't had a deadly outbreak yet.
DANIEL: Whether that good fortune lasts isn't certain, but early detection will be critical to keeping potential disease outbreaks contained before they lead to further suffering.
MARTÍNEZ: That is NPR's Ari Daniel. Ari, thank you.
DANIEL: Thanks so much for having me, A.
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MARTÍNEZ: The New York Times is taking ChatGPT to court.
KHALID: The paper filed a federal lawsuit yesterday alleging that OpenAI - that's the creator of ChatGPT - made the chatbot powerful by using millions of Times articles without permission and without payment. It's the latest copyright infringement case filed against OpenAI in recent months.
MARTÍNEZ: We're joined now by NPR tech correspondent Bobby Allyn. So The New York Times, Bobby, is the first major media publisher to sue OpenAI. Microsoft was also named. They're a big backer of OpenAI. What's The New York Times want to get out of this lawsuit?
BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Yeah, A, well, let's start at the beginning here. Lawyers for The Times say OpenAI fed ChatGPT millions of stories from The Times website. Now, OpenAI did this because that's how ChatGPT works, right? It swallows vast amounts of text from the internet and uses that as data to make ChatGPT smarter. The problem is that some of that text is copyrighted, and for months, OpenAI and The Times have tried to hammer out some kind of licensing deal where OpenAI would pay the paper for use of its articles. But those talks have collapsed over how much money OpenAI should pay to the newspaper.
MARTÍNEZ: Now, this isn't the first copyright lawsuit OpenAI has seen. What have they said in response to this one?
ALLYN: Yeah. An OpenAI spokesperson said the company was, quote, "surprised and disappointed" by the lawsuit. The company says it respects the rights of content creators and is committed to making sure they benefit from new AI technology. Now, in the past, OpenAI executives have defended the company's massive scraping of the internet under something that is known as fair use doctrine. It's basically a legal theory that says in certain circumstances, like in academic research or commentary or parody, copyrighted material can be used without permission. But The Times says fair use does not apply here. In fact, The Times says OpenAI has become a direct competitor of The Times' website since people can ask ChatGPT a question and be served up answers that lift huge chunks from The Times' stories. And the lawyers point out that ChatGPT is often citing The Times incorrectly, claiming the paper reported things it never has reported, which, of course, is a huge problem for the paper's credibility and reputation.
MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, Bobby, this sounds like it could be a massive game changer. I mean, how could this lawsuit maybe reshape the world of digital publishing?
ALLYN: Yeah, it's fair to say the entire digital publishing industry is on edge about generative AI tools like ChatGPT that, you know, can create something new based on these big datasets. There are fears about job loss, fears over AI turbocharging misinformation online and a concern that AI companies like OpenAI are becoming popular on the backs of copyright holders. Prominent writers, comedians and Getty Images have all sued AI companies over this, and some publishers like the Associated Press and German media giant Axel Springer have gone the opposite way and hammered out licensing deals with OpenAI. But The Times has chose another path, and this legal fight could have repercussions for, you know, both the AI industry and online journalism.
MARTÍNEZ: Oh. How so?
ALLYN: Yeah, well, The Times is asking for ChatGPT's enormous dataset to be destroyed since it contains copyrighted material that the paper says was used illegally. OpenAI could then be forced by the court to try to recreate these huge datasets using only work it is authorized to use. And for tools like ChatGPT, A, the data is everything. I mean, data is gold, right? That's how it generates all its responses. So this would be an incredibly disruptive, if not impossible task for the company. Other AI companies with similar business models will be watching this lawsuit closely, as will other publishers whose work has been harvested without permission by ChatGPT.
MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Bobby Allyn, covering the tech world for us. Bobby, thanks.
ALLYN: Thank you, A.
MARTÍNEZ: We want to note that Microsoft is a financial supporter of NPR.
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MARTÍNEZ: Scientists think that when it comes to global heat, 2023 will be one for the record books.
KHALID: Temperatures around the world were extremely hot this year. So will it be the hottest year ever recorded?
MARTÍNEZ: Lauren Sommer from NPR's Climate Desk is here with the answer. Lauren, I'm on the edge of my seat. Where does 2023 rank?
LAUREN SOMMER, BYLINE: Yeah. So there are a few days of December left, of course, but it's virtually certain that 2023 will be the hottest year on record. That's in the last century and a half where humans have measured the temperature, and it's likely going back the last 125,000 years where scientists have reconstructed the temperature record. You know, the second half of 2023 had some really hot months globally, like September, that pushed it over the top. And this caps what's already a really hot decade. The past eight years have been the hottest eight on record.
MARTÍNEZ: So is this something that scientists expected, or is it something about climate change that's somehow speeding up?
SOMMER: Yeah, you know, it's something climate scientists are watching closely. Some say it could be accelerating, but others say, you know, there needs to be more data, more information from future years to say that. I talked to Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at Berkeley Earth, which is a nonprofit that analyzes climate trends, and he says a year like this one has a clear link to all the fossil fuels that humans are burning.
ZEKE HAUSFATHER: We know why this is happening. You know, this - a year like this would not have occurred without the trillion tons of carbon that we've put into the atmosphere over the last century.
MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, we've seen what the world looks like and feels like at these kind of temperatures this year - a lot of disasters. I remember Arizona - Phoenix, Ariz., was so hot at one point where it was just insane how hot it was there.
SOMMER: Yeah, yeah, that was record breaking. You know, over the summer, Phoenix spent 31 days above 110 degrees. More than 500 people died in the area from heat-related causes. But it wasn't alone. You know, China, Southern Europe, Mexico all saw extreme heat waves. And Kristie Ebi, who is a scientist at the University of Washington who studies heat, says, you know, that should be a wake-up call.
KRISTIE EBI: The major lesson is how unprepared we are, that there are places with heat wave early warning and response systems. They certainly saved lives. They didn't save enough.
SOMMER: You know, there were also heat waves in the ocean. In July, the water off Florida hit 100 degrees, which is, you know, hot-tub level basically. Corals really can't survive that temperature, and there was a major die-off on the reef there.
MARTÍNEZ: OK, so that's 2023, which is almost over. Can we start a clean slate, Lauren, for 2024, or is 2024 going to take over the top spot?
SOMMER: You know, there's a decent chance it might take the top spot, because right now an El Nino climate pattern is beginning. It basically means a whole bunch of heat that's been stored in the ocean gets released into the atmosphere. So El Nino years are hot years, and this is a strong El Nino. But even if next year doesn't take that top spot, you know, scientists say this trend will continue, like Tessa Hill, who is a marine scientist at the University of California, Davis.
TESSA HILL: If we don't change things, if we keep going on the trajectory we're going, we will look back at 2023 and think of it as, you know, remember that year that wasn't so bad.
SOMMER: She says, you know, every little bit that humans can do to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the use of fossil fuels will help slow this trend, and there is still time to do that.
MARTÍNEZ: That's Lauren Sommer from NPR's Climate Desk. Lauren, thanks a lot.
SOMMER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.