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Hillary Clinton says the U.S. isn’t ready for the impact of AI

The former secretary of state says millions will lose their jobs.


Phillip Tracy


Published Nov 23, 2017   Updated May 22, 2021, 10:15 am CDT

It appears there’s one thing that keeps both Elon Musk and Hillary Clinton up at night: super-intelligent robots.

The former secretary of state warned the U.S. is “totally unprepared” as it races “headfirst into a new era of artificial intelligence” that will change “how we live, how we think, [and] how we relate to each other.”

Speaking to radio host Hugh Hewitt to promote her new book, Clinton cited job automation and surveillance as the two areas where she believes AI could have a devastating impact on society.

“What are we going to do when we get driverless cars?” she said. “It sounds like a great idea. And how many millions of people, truck drivers and parcel delivery people and cab drivers and even Uber drivers, what do we do with the millions of people who will no longer have a job? We are totally unprepared for that.”

Clinton joins the ranks of prominent figures who have expressed anxiety over the creation of intelligent machines.

“A lot of really smart people, you know, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, a lot of really smart people are sounding an alarm that we’re not hearing,” Clinton said. “And their alarm is artificial intelligence is not our friend.”

While Musk has spoken negatively of AI in the past, it’s important to note that he’s one of the biggest advocates for self-driving vehicles. Researchers believe fully autonomous vehicles could save up to 1.5 million lives over a 50-year period.

However, Musk said there’s a “pretty good chance” that robots will take over jobs, and society will be forced to turn to a government-funded universal basic income. A recent study by research firm PwC says nearly 40 percent of jobs in the U.S. could be replaced by robots in the next 15 years.

But Hawkins and Musk are more concerned about the AI singularity, a hypothesis that superhuman computers will evolve to take over human civilization (think Terminator or I, Robot). In 2015, Musk co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit research company created to establish guidelines for building friendly AI. In other words, Musk wants to prevent the robot apocalypse. Hawkins similarly believes the creation of super-intelligent AI has the potential to be the “worst event in the history of our civilization.”

Clinton said if she’d been elected president, she would have set up a commission to let Americans decide the country’s policy on artificial intelligence.

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*First Published: Nov 23, 2017, 10:27 am CST