Wikileaks: Why Hillary Clinton May Be Worried About Facebook's Artificial Intelligence

Today, there was another interesting, yet underreported revelation from Wikileaks. In an email between Clinton herself and her campaign manager Robby Mook, Clinton appears concerned about Facebook's plan to open source their artifical intelligence. Specifically, she asks "Does this affect our plans?" So what does she mean?

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Hillary Clinton Asks About Facebook Artificial Intelligence

In her email, Hillary Clinton links to this New York Times article. The article discusses Facebook's artificial intelligence (AI) technology and how Facebook was planning to provide the source code (computer programming code) for anyone to view and use. She appears to have concerns about this:

> On Jan 18, 2015, at 3:28 PM, H wrote:

> > Does this affect our plans?

> > http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/bits/2015/01/16/facebook-offers-artifici...

Clinton discusses "plans" that may be affected by Facebook making its code viewable/open. The response from her campaign manager is this:

With Teddy right now! He thinks no but is going to look more closely and give us an answer. He thinks AI may be more 2020 than 2016.

Teddy appears to be Teddy Goff, who according to his biography is the "Chief Tech and Digital Strategist for Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential Campaign," so he would likely have input about what Facebook is working on technologically, and how it's related to what she may be doing.

What makes this really suspicious is the "2020 more than 2016" part.

Here is what Wikileaks had to say about the email:

What is Hillary Clinton Concerned about? What are her plans?

To determine that we first need to understand what Facebook was working on. According to The Facebook AI Research Blog, what they are working on is this:

Today, we're open sourcing optimized deep-learning modules for Torch. These modules are significantly faster than the default ones in Torch and have accelerated our research projects by allowing us to train larger neural nets in less time.

This release includes GPU-optimized modules for large convolutional nets (ConvNets), as well as networks with sparse activations that are commonly used in Natural Language Processing applications. Our ConvNet modules include a fast FFT-based convolutional layer using custom CUDA kernels built around NVIDIA's cuFFT library. We'll discuss a few more details about this module lower in this post; for a deeper dive, have a look at this paper.

What does this mean? They have come up with some algorithms to perform certain machine learning techniques much faster than before, and they want to make it available to everyone.

Essentially, what the email is saying, therefore, is that Clinton is worried for some reason that Facebook's open-sourcing their AI code may affect her "plans", but she is comforted because it won't affect anything for 2016 -- only later in 2020.

Based on the years, it very much appears that this has something to do with elections.

So what is in that AI code/what does it allow that may affect the election in 2016 or 2020?

That's the big question.

One possibility is that it may have to do with the NSA spying program -- that it may have to do with Facebook's open sourcing something that either contained code of concern or that may affect the NSA's ability to spy. Since Facebook did end up open sourcing that code, and there was nothing noticeably questionable about it, it's unlikely that there's any code of concern. The second option -- that it may affect the NSA's ability to spy -- makes some sense, although this would not affect an election in any way.

A second possibility is that Clinton may have at some point heard of the idea of using AI to target voters/do election data analysis (voter/election data analysis is a big market, and is heavily used by campaigns). Given that Clinton is not particularly computer-literate, she may have had a plan to use the nebulous "artificial intelligence" concept to do this.

In this case, when she heard about Facebook releasing their AI code she may have been concerned that a rival campaign could use the code to do data analysis against her. Or she could have been asking whether her campaign could take advantage of the code for their own data analysis.

A third, more sinister possibility is that Clinton and her team (or business interests) were working on something AI related that she didn't want to make available. This possibility is bolstered by other emails from around the same time -- especially emails relating to former Google head Eric Schmidt.

What does ex-Google head Eric Schmidt have to do with this?

Eric Schmidt (long-time Google head), wrote about business he had with Hillary Clinton:

The Daily Caller summarized this email (bold added):

In another email released Sunday by WikiLeaks, Tina Flourney, Bill Clinton's personal chief of staff, said in February 2015 that Schmidt asked to meet with President Clinton and that they would do so on that Friday.

Flourney later wrote in the email chain, "it is about the business he proposes to do with the campaign. He says he's met with [Hillary Clinton]."

Podesta responded, "Yup. I've talked to him too. Robby is in touch with his team. I see no harm in [Bill Clinton] seeing him." Flourney replied, "FYI. They are donating the Google plane for the Africa trip."

What is the business Eric Schmidt had with Hillary Clinton? There's another email that alludes to it:

Clinton was "desperately trying to get [Mikey Dickerson, engineer] to lead the Eric Schmidt project." But what's really strange is this:

[Dickerson was] a little worried about how legit [the project] is and what it means for later on...Mikey is low key so I'm not worried about him blabbing if you tell him it's a confidential conversation. Cheryl, adding you on here in case HRC may want to meet with him to discuss Obamacare website...that would REALLY help us make the case to him!!

A confidential plan that he may blab about (and he's worried it's not "legit")? Seems very strange.

What do you think they're talking about? Tweet us and let us know.

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