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DealBook Summit 2023 Takeaways: Elon Musk, Kamala Harris, Israel’s Herzog

Vice President Kamala Harris, President Isaac Herzog of Israel, Elon Musk and other leaders in business and politics spoke on everything from artificial intelligence, economic tensions between the United States and China, and Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks on Israel at the annual DealBook Summit in New York on Wednesday.

The event, hosted by The New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, has taken place since 2011.

Here are the takeaways:

Elon Musk, the owner of X, used an expletive to dismiss a move by big brands to pull their advertising from the platform after he endorsed antisemitic remarks. He apologized for the post but accused the companies of “blackmail,” and said the public would blame them if the platform died because of the lost revenues. His blunt directive added to the challenges facing Linda Yaccarino, X’s chief executive who was in the audience. She has been tasked with wooing advertisers back to the platform after many were spooked by Mr. Musk’s erratic posts.

[For select interviews from today’s DealBook Summit, follow and listen to our limited podcast series.]

Vice President Kamala Harris defended the Biden administration’s economic record, as polls show that the president trails Donald J. Trump in battleground states ahead of the 2024 election. Ms. Harris said President Biden has done more to tackle inflation “than most advanced economies” but more work was needed to convince voters.

Isaac Herzog, Israel’s president, said on Wednesday that discussions about extending a cease-fire with Hamas were continuing, as it seeks to bring more hostages home. Mr. Herzog said that Israel was doing “whatever we can to increase and upgrade the humanitarian aid to Gaza,” where local health officials say at least 13,000 people have been killed during the Israeli military response. “But we have to do the job, and get Hamas out of there,” he said.

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the former Republican Speaker of the House, did not commit to running for re-election next year after being pushed out of the position last month. But he said that if he were to step back from electoral politics, he would like to focus on artificial intelligence. Mr. McCarthy said he would support Mr. Trump for president, and questioned President Biden’s ability to govern at his age.

Jensen Huang, chief executive of chipmaker Nvidia, said that it will be a decade before A.I. companies achieve so-called artificial general intelligence, or A.G.I., the state at which a computer could approach tasks the way a human brain does. Mr. Huang also said that his company wasn’t worried about competition in the industry.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, said the bank would “punch back” over Texas’s 2021 efforts to restrict the state’s business with financial firms that embrace environmental, social and governance policies. Texas passed two laws in 2021 that limit the state’s work with banks that regulators determine restrict their work in the energy and firearms industries.

Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, said that she does not expect any imminent invasion from China because of the mainland’s economic troubles. Ms. Tsai also said that she was not worried that plans by the United States to bolster its domestic semiconductor industry could threaten Taiwan’s chip-making sector.

David Zaslav, chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, defended unpopular decisions made to bring down the colossal debt inherited from Warner Media. Those decisions included canceling the release of the movie “Batgirl” and letting go executives and personalities at CNN. “When we took over the company, we said there are no sacred cows,” Mr. Zaslav said.

Bob Iger, chief executive of Disney, denied that any of the company’s media assets were up for sale after publicly speculating about potentially trimming the company’s portfolio. Mr. Iger said he “did not want to get accused of being an old media executive” who was afraid to make bold decisions.

Lina Khan, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission, elaborated on her antitrust-enforcement philosophy. Agencies, she said, have to ask, “is it better to get it wrong in the direction of acting, or is it better to get it wrong in the direction of not having acted?” After the government’s long-term hands-off approach, Ms. Khan said people were realizing that “bias in favor of inaction” had “enormous costs across our economy.”

Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, said he was working on finalizing a deal with its Saudi-backed rival, LIV Golf, before the end of the year. Mr. Monahan took a leave of absence a week after a tentative deal was reached, and on Wednesday shared that he was struggling with mental health issues at that time.

Shonda Rhimes, the creator of shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Bridgerton,” described the transition from network TV to the streaming giant Netflix, saying the latter has given her more creative liberty and resources. When asked about the recent writers’ strike, she said the labor action “wasn’t complicated at all,” adding, “I consider myself to be a writer first and foremost.”