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Google's AI is giving questionable advice...
May 25, 2024 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew


Good morning, and Happy National Wine Day. Finally, an excuse to drink wine on a Saturday.

Speaking of relaxing, tomorrow you’ll receive a special deep-dive edition of the Sunday newsletter (topic is a surprise, but you’ll love it), and then on Monday, the Brew is off for Memorial Day.

Have a wonderful long weekend and safe travels if you’re hitting the road.

—Molly Liebergall, Sam Klebanov, Matty Merritt, Abby Rubenstein, Neal Freyman














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*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 10:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Tech stocks partied their way into the long weekend, pushing the Nasdaq to a new record high. Hot off its impressive earnings report, Nvidia just kept climbing, gaining 15% for the week.


NCAA finally OKs revenue sharing for D1 athletes

UConn Huskies celebrate NCAA basketball win Tyler Schank/Getty

Your alma mater’s campus celebrities might soon swap Gatorade showers for Veuve Clicquot baths. This week, in a landmark first, the NCAA and the five richest athletic conferences in the country agreed to a nearly $2.8 billion settlement that capitulates to student athletes’ long-standing demands for a cut of the money they rake in for universities.

This is a huge shakeup. For 118 years, the NCAA adhered to its founding principle that college athletes are amateurs, not professionals, and therefore shouldn’t be paid for playing.

Here’s how the proposed settlement—which stems from a 2020 class action lawsuit from former athletes—would change that:

  • The NCAA and the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and Southeastern Conferences agreed to give $2.77 billion in back pay over 10 years to ~14,000 current and former college athletes who said they lost out on earnings due to the association’s restrictions on brand deals (which it lifted three years ago).
  • The second part of the agreement is a proposal (but not a requirement) that schools pay student-athletes 22% of their athletic department’s average annual revenue, up to $21 million. Anyone who has played a Division I sport since 2016 is eligible, but most of the money would probably go to the biggest revenue generators, which tend to be football and men’s and women’s basketball.

Some schools aren’t happy. The NCAA is on the hook for 41% of the settlement, which it will cover with savings and new revenue…and by giving schools less money. That’s worrying for members of smaller conferences—some of which don’t even have football—who rely on NCAA funds.

Looking ahead…the agreement still needs a federal judge’s approval and likely wouldn’t go into effect until at least the fall of 2025. But the NCAA’s turnaround on revenue sharing marks a new age for college sports—one in which athletics-heavy universities may need to pay players in order to stay competitive.—ML



Secrets from the back office


Rippling surveyed more than 1,200 HR, finance, and IT leaders (from managers to executives) to learn about the challenges they’re facing and uncover insights you can’t find anywhere else. What did they find?

The State of the Back Office Leader report digs into how each department prioritizes their goals—and the obstacles in their way. The biggest overlap across departments? Everyone wants to protect their time and resources.

Across all functions, teams agree they’re spending too much time on administrative tasks and managing superfluous tools. Feel familiar? In each category, leaders agree their tech is failing them:

  • 91% with HR tech
  • 83% with fintech
  • 72% with IT tools like MDM

Find out why in the full report.


Tour de headlines

The judges of the International Court of Justice Nick Gammon/Getty

Top UN court orders Israel to halt Rafah offensive. In the latest international rebuke to Israel, the International Court of Justice issued an order yesterday saying Israel must “immediately halt its military offensive” and any other action in Rafah that may “inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” However, the court has no means of enforcing its orders, and the head of Israel’s National Security Council said it is already taking precautions against such destruction. The court’s order comes as part of South Africa’s suit accusing Israel of genocide, something Israel has denied.

They found another thing Ozempic can do. A new study by Novo Nordisk found that semaglutide, the compound that’s taken the world by storm as a weight loss drug in its blockbuster products Ozempic and Wegovy, also slows the progression of chronic kidney disease. It was also found to reduce the risk of kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, and death in Type 2 diabetes patients. The findings from the long-term study, which yielded such good results that the company stopped it early, may revolutionize how doctors approach kidney disease.

The UAW wants a new vote at Mercedes-Benz. The United Auto Workers’s quest to conquer the American South suffered a blow when employees at an Alabama Mercedes-Benz plant voted against unionizing last week, but now the union is asking the NLRB for a new vote. The union claims the vote wasn’t fair because Mercedes acted with “wanton lawlessness” in discouraging employees before the election. It claims the automaker forced workers to attend anti-union meetings, fired UAW supporters, and appealed to racial prejudice. Mercedes denied wrongdoing and said the election showed its employees “are not interested in being represented by the UAW.”


Google’s AI says you should eat pebbles

Gas on spaghetti Alex Castro

Eating small rocks is good for digestion, glue belongs on a pizza, and gasoline goes well with spaghetti, according to the AI now embedded into Google Search. The gastronomic gaffes were among the bizarre assertions that users noticed in Google’s AI Overviews, the automatically generated summaries of search results.

After its launch last week, the feature, which is supposed to “do the Googling for you” and keep the search engine relevant in the AI era, was caught falsely stating that:

  • Barack Obama is Muslim. (He’s not.)
  • No African country starts with the letter K. (It forgot Kenya.)
  • Thirteen US Presidents went to the University of Wisconsin–Madison. (None did.)

More concerningly, a Redditor claimed the feature told them one way to deal with depression is by “jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge,” citing a Reddit post for the advice.

What is going on?

The confabulations stem from the AI using dubious sources, misinterpreting what it’s being asked, conflating people with the same name, and making math errors, according to Ars Technica’s analysis of its faults. It also seems to take humor at face value: The rock-eating “wisdom” was lifted from a satirical Onion article, while the glue-on-a-pizza suggestion came from a Reddit jokester.

Google’s humans are saying…they’ve made adjustments and the slip-ups are for “generally very uncommon queries, and aren’t representative of most people’s experiences.”—SK




Breaking news. What do CEOs and West Wing staffers have in common? They all read Puck, the platform for smart and engaging journalism. Puck’s Bill Cohan is a former investment banker turned all-star journalist. Read his work—including an interview with disgraced billionaire Leon Black—and everything else Puck covers, from Wall Street to Washington + Hollywood, for free. Check ’em out.


Morgan Spurlock, ‘Super Size Me’ director, dies

Morgan Spurlock headshot Neilson Barnard / Getty

Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker behind one of the most memorable health class movies, died Thursday from cancer at age 53. Spurlock directed and starred in the Oscar-nominated documentary Super Size Me, which helped spur the anti-fast food sentiment of the 2000s.

Super Size Me followed Spurlock as he ate only McDonald’s for 30 days straight, always “super sizing” his meal when prompted by a cashier. He claimed the experience made him gain 25 pounds and gave him severe liver damage.

  • The film, which was made on a $65,000 budget, grossed over $22 million and propelled Spurlock’s career. He made nearly 70 documentaries in his lifetime, tackling issues like the war on terror and the advertising industry.
  • McDonald’s discontinued the super size option six weeks after the film’s premiere, although the fast-food chain said the decision was unrelated.

Later in life, Spurlock retreated from the public eye. In 2017, he stepped down from his production company after confessing in a social media post to sexual harassment and assault allegations. The post also included an admission of his dependence on alcohol since age 13, which brought into question his claims that eating fast food for the film caused his liver damage.—MM



Key performance indicators

Kabosu, the Shiba Inu who inspired the doge meme, in her owners arms Philip Fong/Getty

Quote: “I think she was the happiest dog in the world.”

Wow much sad. Kabosu, the Shiba Inu who became a meme and lent her visage to dogecoin, has died at age 18, her owner said yesterday. The Japanese pup began her rise to viral fame in 2010 when Atsuko Sato, a kindergarten teacher who had adopted her two years prior, posted a photo of Kabosu with her eyebrows raised. The quizzical snap soon became one the internet loved to write on and was then used as the emblem of the cryptocurrency beloved by Elon Musk. “The impact this one dog has made across the world is immeasurable,” the Dogecoin account posted on X yesterday.

Stat: Even if you’ve never heard of Megan Boni, better known as TikTok’s Girl on Couch, you might be aware that she’s “looking for a man in finance, trust fund, 6'5", blue eyes.” Her sing-songy clip has 2+ million views on TikTok and 300,000+ streams on Spotify. The endlessly remixed bop is now giving “Espresso” and “Lunch” competition for song of the summer. The success of the 19-second clip hasn’t netted Boni a quarter-zip-wearing boyfriend, but it did get her a deal with Universal Music Group that let her quit her day job, per Bloomberg.

Read: Why clothes cost so much right now. (The Cut)


What else is brewing

  • Families of the Uvalde school shooting victims have filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the AR-15 rifle used in the shooting, Meta, and the makers of Call of Duty, claiming they worked together to market the weapon to minors.
  • Two American missionaries were killed by gang violence in Haiti.
  • Boeing now plans to launch its first Starliner rocket on June 1, despite a helium leak in the propulsion system.
  • Sean Kingston and his mother were arrested in California on fraud charges after a SWAT team raided his Florida property.
  • Sean “Diddy” Combs is facing another lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault.
  • Lucy Letby, the British neonatal nurse convicted of murdering seven babies, had her request to appeal denied.
  • Pope Francis has recognized a second miracle from Carlo Acutis, an Italian teenager known as “God’s influencer” who used his tech skills to raise awareness about the Catholic Church, putting him on track to become the first millennial saint.


Saturday To-Do List graphic

Today, ICYMI, we’re bringing you the most-clicked links from the Recs section this month.

Straight to the middle: Here’s how much money you need to be middle class in each state.

Read: The NYT names the best books published since 2000.

Drink: The best beers in the world, according to almost 300 experts.

On the up and up: Type in your zip code and see how much home prices have gone up in your area.

Save $50k: With lifetime access to Dollar Flight Club for $129, enjoy up to 90% off every flight for life (think round-trip to Europe from $261). Offer ends at midnight!*

*A message from our sponsor.


The puzzle section

Brew crossword: Good things come in threes, as this rock trio-themed puzzle shows. Play it here.

Open House

Welcome to Open House, the only newsletter section that has retired to the picturesque countryside. We’ll give you a few facts about a listing and you try to guess the price.

Ontario home in countryside with two, double-story barn and pond.Zillow

Today’s home is in Lincoln, Ontario, a city on the coast of Lake Ontario and only about 25 miles…err, 40 kilometers from Niagara Falls. The estate includes a small pond and is surrounded by wineries and orchards to gallop through on a white steed while you’re playfully chased by a secret prince. Amenities include:

  • 5 beds, 4 baths
  • Two-story barn (x2)
  • Pool in case the pond grosses you out

How much for the magical Canadian property?


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C$2.9 million (~$2.1 million)

Word of the Day

Today’s Word of the Day is: visage, meaning “face, countenance, or appearance.” Thanks to Diana from Burlington, VT, for facing up to the suggestion. Submit another Word of the Day here.


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