clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

AI might take jobs, but we can take steps to limit that, says U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker

"I'm a believer in the human being,” Pritzker said on the latest Recode Decode.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Discusses Trans-Pacific Partnership Alex Wong / Getty

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker elaborated on a recent White House report that predicted both positive and negative consequences of the rise of artificial intelligence.

"Artificial intelligence is not a good or a bad thing," Pritzker said. "It could advance social goods. It could help you protect people. It can help to make our lives safer. On the other hand, it could supplant jobs. That’s a challenge that we face."

So, what can be done to minimize the number of jobs that will be impacted by AI and automation? And will some jobs be eliminated entirely?

"I think that, as the President said, we’re not going to put technology back in a box," Pritzker said. "What we need to do, I believe, to address this challenge, is about education and workforce training. We’ve got to continue to evolve, to be able to work with machinery."

She noted that there are currently 5.9 million jobs open in the U.S., and that they’re not being filled because America doesn’t yet have enough workers who have been trained in the needed skills. Nationwide, there’s currently a shortage of 200,000 cyber security workers, Pritzker said.

"I’m a believer in the human being, at the end of the day," she said. In 20 to 25 years, she added, jobs would entail "working in teams, and working with machinery and our digital tools. We have areas of massive under-investment in our country, [like] infrastructure. Machines aid our ability to do that, but they don’t do that work."

You can listen to Recode Decode in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher. And don’t miss this week’s first Decode, in which Kara Swisher interviewed actor-turned-investor Ashton Kutcher.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge's Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

This article originally appeared on