WASHINGTON -- In his annual lecture at Georgetown University on Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton took the long view, laying out the challenges the world will likely face for decades to come.
"What has happened in technology to this day will look like child’s play in 20 or 30 years. I think most of you will live 90 years or more," Clinton told a gathering of students, university officials and former White House aides crammed into his alma mater's Healy Hall. "I think that you will live in a time where the technological revolution will extend into artificial intelligence and you’ll be able to do things you never imagined before."
Clinton said he believed the next generation "will be given one final chance to figure out how to avoid calamitous consequences of climate change. And I think there will be even more economically efficient ways to do it than there are now."
And he predicted that the historic drought gripping California and other portions of the American Southwest was only the beginning of the challenges that humanity will face managing the earth's natural resources.
"I think California’s a canary in a coal mine. I think you’ll have to worry about how to feed a planet of 9 billion people," he said.
As for the security threats playing out around the world, the former president said, "I think that it is unlikely that these ideologically driven conflicts we’re having now with non-state actors will be fully resolved. I hope and pray that we will leave behind a system where we can say with some confidence that we can keep bad things from happening."
Clinton abstained from commenting specifically on his wife's newly announced presidential campaign, saying that "for obvious reasons, I don't intend to talk much about electoral politics." But he spoke about the ideas that propelled him and his family toward public service, urging young people to take up the cause of the needy and less fortunate.
"I was raised not to quit. We're not big on quitting in my family. You may have noticed that," he said to laughter.
"I loved being in public life," he added later. "It was like peeling an onion that had no end."
During his prepared remarks, he did not address allegations in a new book about donations made by foreign entities to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. When The Huffington Post asked him afterward whether he was worried about the book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, the former president initially ignored the question.
A few moments later, as he continued his way down a long rope line of students hoping to shake his hand, Clinton turned back to the Huffington Post reporter and said, "I'm proud of this foundation."