Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin recently publicly dismissed the potential job loss impacts of emerging technologies associated with artificial intelligence (AI), saying that such possibilities remain 50 to 100 years away and that its “not even on (his) radar”. Mnuchin may have been talking about artificial general intelligence (AGI) — i.e. robots with intelligence that meets or exceeds that of humans. If so, then his statements may bear out over time — much remains disputed the timing and possibility of developing AGI.

Artificial narrow intelligence (ANI), however, which uses AI-related technologies to carry out specific tasks through robots or software, is already here and its potential opportunities as well as its risks are well documented by numerous business reports, evidence in global markets, and even the actions and findings of Secretary Mnuchin’s former firm, Goldman Sachs.

If Mnuchin’s opinion indicates a broader lack of U.S. policy understanding and anticipation of these issues, it will create significant risks to U.S. economic competitiveness and potentially social stability.

AI and its related technologies present immense opportunities for our society — of which we are already reaping the benefits of on an increasing, everyday basis. But we must be clear-eyed about the overall picture as well, and pro-active about managing the potential downsides.

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