‘Bomb in a China Shop’: AI to Wipe Out Jobs, Create Election Uncertainties, Congress Hears

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WASHINGTON—Artificial Intelligence (AI) will drive massive disruptions in the American job sector and contribute to much more fraught election cycles as new platforms allow for increased manipulation of voters, Congress has heard.

The explosion of popularly available AI tools like ChatGPT will profoundly affect society as early as next year, experts and senators said during a May 16 hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law.

Subcommittee Chair Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) referred to the proliferation of AI as a “bomb in a China shop,” warning that the “looming new industrial revolution” could displace millions of American workers and dramatically undermine public safety and trust in key institutions.

“[These dangers] are no longer fantasies of science fiction. They are real. They are present,” Blumenthal said.

“Sensible safeguards are not in opposition to innovation.”

To that end, Blumenthal said the hearing’s purpose was to “demystify and hold accountable these new technologies” and “intended to write the rules of AI” before it was too late.

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Blumenthal began his opening remarks with a theatric flair, playing the first half minute of his speech via an audio recording that argued “too often we have seen what happens when technology outpaces regulation” and lambasted the “proliferation of disinformation.”

After the audio clip concluded, Blumenthal revealed that the speech had not only been written by ChatGPT to mimic his style, but was actually spoken by an AI voice cloning software trained to imitate his speeches.

The result, he said, was an immediate recognition of just how dangerous the deepfake technologies—which are increasingly accessible to the public—could be to the public discourse and even international events.

“What if I had asked it [to] endorse Ukraine’s surrender?” Blumenthal said of the speech that ChatGPT wrote.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) agreed that AI presented a profound threat to national security and stability, and that its sudden proliferation in the public sphere was a revolution that would only continue to be dwarfed in coming years just as smartphones have dwarfed the clunky mobile phones of 30 years ago.

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