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    If A.I. Can Do Your Job, Maybe It Can Also Replace Your C.E.O.

    Chief executives are vulnerable to the same forces buffeting their employees. Leadership is important, but so is efficiency — and cost-cutting.As artificial intelligence programs shake up the office, potentially making millions of jobs obsolete, one group of perpetually stressed workers seems especially vulnerable.These employees analyze new markets and discern trends, both tasks a computer could do more efficiently. They spend much of their time communicating with colleagues, a laborious activity that is being automated with voice and image generators. Sometimes they must make difficult decisions — and who is better at being dispassionate than a machine?Finally, these jobs are very well paid, which means the cost savings of eliminating them is considerable.The chief executive is increasingly imperiled by A.I., just like the writer of news releases and the customer service representative. Dark factories, which are entirely automated, may soon have a counterpart at the top of the corporation: dark suites.This is not just a prediction. A few successful companies have begun to publicly experiment with the notion of an A.I. leader, even if at the moment it might largely be a branding exercise.A.I. has been hyped as the solution to all corporate problems for about 18 months now, ever since OpenAI rolled out ChatGPT in November 2022. Silicon Valley put $29 billion last year into generative A.I. and is selling it hard. Even in its current rudimentary form, A.I. that mimics human reasoning is finding a foothold among distressed companies with little to lose and lacking strong leadership.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Start-Up Founder Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Fraud

    Manish Lachwani, who founded the software start-up HeadSpin, is the latest tech entrepreneur to face time in prison in recent years.Another start-up founder is going to prison for overstating his company’s performance to investors.Manish Lachwani, who last year pleaded guilty to three counts of defrauding investors at his software start-up, HeadSpin, was sentenced to one and a half years in prison on Friday. He will also pay a fine of $1 million.Government prosecutors said Mr. Lachwani, 48, deceived investors by inflating HeadSpin’s revenue nearly fourfold, making false claims about its customers and creating fake invoices to cover it up. His misrepresentations allowed him to raise $117 million in funding from top investment firms, valuing his start-up at $1.1 billion.When HeadSpin’s board members found out about the behavior in 2020, they pushed Mr. Lachwani to resign and slashed the company’s valuation by two-thirds.Mr. Lachwani is at least the fourth start-up founder in recent years to face serious consequences after taking Silicon Valley’s culture of hype too far. Other founders currently in prison for fraud include Sam Bankman-Fried of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX and Elizabeth Holmes and Ramesh Balwani of the blood testing start-up Theranos.Trevor Milton, a founder of the electric vehicle company Nikola, was sentenced to prison in December for fraud. Michael Rothenberg, a venture capital investor who was recently convicted of 12 counts of fraud and money laundering, is set to be sentenced in June. And Changpeng Zhao, who founded the cryptocurrency exchange Binance and pleaded guilty to money laundering last year, is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.Carlos Watson, the founder of the digital media outlet Ozy Media, and Charlie Javice, founder of the financial aid start-up Frank, have pleaded not guilty to fraud charges and face trials later this year.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Will A.I. Boost Productivity? Companies Sure Hope So.

    Wendy’s menu boards. Ben & Jerry’s grocery store freezers. Abercrombie & Fitch’s marketing. Many mainstays of the American customer experience are increasingly powered by artificial intelligence.The question is whether the technology will actually make companies more efficient.Rapid productivity improvement is the dream for both companies and economic policymakers. If output per hour holds steady, firms must either sacrifice profits or raise prices to pay for wage increases or investment projects. But when firms figure out how to produce more per working hour, it means that they can maintain or expand profits even as they pay or invest more. Economies experiencing productivity booms can experience rapid wage gains and quick growth without as much risk of rapid inflation.But many economists and officials seem dubious that A.I. — especially generative A.I., which is still in its infancy — has spread enough to show up in productivity data already.Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, recently suggested that A.I. “may” have the potential to increase productivity growth, “but probably not in the short run.” John C. Williams, president of the New York Fed, has made similar remarks, specifically citing the work of the Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon.Mr. Gordon has argued that new technologies in recent years, while important, have probably not been transformative enough to give a lasting lift to productivity growth.“The enthusiasm about large language models and ChatGPT has gone a bit overboard,” he said in an interview.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    The Trustbuster Who Has Apple and Google in His Sights

    Shortly after Jonathan Kanter took over the Justice Department’s antitrust division in November 2021, the agency secured an additional $50 million to investigate monopolies, bust criminal cartels and block mergers.To celebrate, Mr. Kanter bought a prop of a giant check, placed it outside his office and wrote on the check’s memo line: “Break ’Em Up.”Mr. Kanter, 50, has pushed that philosophy ever since, becoming a lead architect of the most significant effort in decades to fight the concentration of power in corporate America. On Thursday, he took his biggest swing when the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple. In the 88-page lawsuit, the government argued that Apple had violated antitrust laws with practices intended to keep customers reliant on its iPhones and less likely to switch to competing devices.That lawsuit joins two Justice Department antitrust cases against Google that argue the company illegally shored up monopolies. Mr. Kanter’s staff has also challenged numerous corporate mergers, including suing to stop JetBlue Airways from buying Spirit Airlines.“We want to help real people by making sure that our antitrust laws work for workers, work for consumers, work for entrepreneurs and work to protect our democratic values,” Mr. Kanter said in a January interview. He declined to comment on the Google cases and other active litigation.At a news conference about the Apple lawsuit on Thursday, Mr. Kanter compared the action to past Justice Department challenges to Standard Oil, AT&T and Microsoft. The suit is aimed at protecting “the market for the innovations that we can’t yet perceive,” he said.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    U.S. Economy: Has an Era of Increased Productivity Returned?

    Thirty years ago, the U.S. entered an era of productivity gains that enabled healthy growth. Experts are asking if it could happen again.The last time the American economy was posting surprising economic growth numbers amid rapid wage gains and moderating inflation, Ace of Base and All-4-One topped the Billboard charts and denim overalls were in vogue.Thirty years ago, officials at the Federal Reserve were hotly debating whether the economy could continue to chug along so vigorously without spurring a pickup in inflation. And back in 1994, it turned out that it could, thanks to one key ingredient: productivity.Now, official productivity data are showing a big pickup for the first time in years. The data have been volatile since the start of the pandemic, but with the dawn of new technologies like artificial intelligence and the embrace of hybrid work setups, some economists are asking whether the recent gains might be real — and whether they can turn into a lasting boom.If the answer is yes, it would have huge implications for the U.S. economy. Improved productivity would mean that firms could create more product per worker. And a steady pickup in productivity could allow the economy to take off in a healthy way. More productive companies are able to pay better wages without having to raise prices or sacrifice profits.Several of the trends in place today have parallels with what was happening in 1994 — but the differences explain why many economists are not ready to declare a turning point just yet.The Computer Age vs. the Zoom AgeBy the end of the 1980s, computers had been around for decades but had not yet generated big gains to productivity — what has come to be known as the productivity paradox. The economist Robert Solow famously said in 1987, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    American Firms Invested $1 Billion in Chinese Chips, Lawmakers Find

    A congressional investigation determined that U.S. funding helped fuel the growth of a sector now viewed by Washington as a security threat.A congressional investigation has determined that five American venture capital firms invested more than $1 billion in China’s semiconductor industry since 2001, fueling the growth of a sector that the United States government now regards as a national security threat.Funds supplied by the five firms — GGV Capital, GSR Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Walden International — went to more than 150 Chinese companies, according to the report, which was released Thursday by both Republicans and Democrats on the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.The investments included roughly $180 million that went to Chinese firms that the committee said directly or indirectly supported Beijing’s military. That includes companies that the U.S. government has said provide chips for China’s military research, equipment and weapons, such as Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, or SMIC, China’s largest chipmaker.The report by the House committee focuses on investments made before the Biden administration imposed sweeping restrictions aimed at cutting off China’s access to American financing. It does not allege any illegality.In August, the Biden administration barred U.S. venture capital and private equity firms from investing in Chinese quantum computing, artificial intelligence and advanced semiconductors. It has also imposed worldwide limits on sales of advanced chips and chip-making machines to China, arguing that these technologies could help advance the capabilities of the Chinese military and spy agencies.Since it was established a year ago, the committee has called for raising tariffs on China, targeted Ford Motor and others for doing business with Chinese companies, and spotlighted forced labor concerns involving Chinese shopping sites.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Hottest Job in Corporate America? The Executive in Charge of A.I.

    Many feared that artificial intelligence would kill jobs. But hospitals, insurance companies and others are creating roles to navigate and harness the disruptive technology.In September, the Mayo Clinic in Arizona created a first-of-its-kind job at the hospital system: chief artificial intelligence officer.Doctors at the Arizona site, which has facilities in Phoenix and Scottsdale, had experimented with A.I. for years. But after ChatGPT’s release in 2022 and an ensuing frenzy over the technology, the hospital decided it needed to work more with A.I. and find someone to coordinate the efforts.So executives appointed Dr. Bhavik Patel, a radiologist who specializes in A.I., to the new job. Dr. Patel has since piloted a new A.I. model that could help speed up the diagnosis of a rare heart disease by looking for hidden data in ultrasounds.“We’re really trying to foster some of these data and A.I. capabilities throughout every department, every division, every work group,” said Dr. Richard Gray, the chief executive of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. The chief A.I. officer role was hatched because “it helps to have a coordinating function with the depth of expertise.”Many people have long feared that A.I. would kill jobs. But a boom in the technology has instead spurred law firms, hospitals, insurance companies, government agencies and universities to create what has become the hottest new role in corporate America and beyond: the senior executive in charge of A.I.The Equifax credit bureau, the manufacturer Ashley Furniture and law firms such as Eversheds Sutherland have appointed A.I. executives over the past year. In December, The New York Times named an editorial director of A.I. initiatives. And more than 400 federal departments and agencies looked for chief A.I. officers last year to comply with an executive order by President Biden that created safeguards for the technology.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber?  More

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    Microsoft Tops Apple to Become Most Valuable Public Company

    The shift is indicative of the importance of new artificial intelligence technology to Silicon Valley and Wall Street investors.For more than a decade, Apple was the stock market’s undisputed king. It first overtook Exxon Mobil as the world’s most valuable public company in 2011 and held the title almost without interruption.But a transfer of power has begun.On Friday, Microsoft surpassed Apple, claiming the crown after its market value surged by more than $1 trillion over the past year. Microsoft finished the day at $2.89 trillion, higher than Apple’s $2.87 trillion, according to Bloomberg.The change is part of a reordering of the stock market that was set in motion by the advent of generative artificial intelligence. The technology, which can answer questions, create images and write code, has been heralded for its potential to disrupt businesses and create trillions of dollars in economic value.When Apple replaced Exxon, it ushered in an era of tech supremacy. The values of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Google dwarfed former market leaders like Walmart, JPMorgan Chase and General Motors.The tech industry still dominates the top of the list, but the companies with the most momentum have put generative A.I. at the forefront of their future business plans. The combined value of Microsoft, Nvidia and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, increased by $2.5 trillion last year. Their performances outshined Apple, which posted a smaller share price increase in 2023.“It simply comes down to gen A.I.,” said Brad Reback, an analyst at the investment bank Stifel. Generative A.I. will have an impact on all of Microsoft’s businesses, including its largest, he said, while “Apple doesn’t have much of an A.I. story yet.”We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber?  More