Gerald Rich

My 6 Big Things: Chelsea Handler shares her quirks, life hacks

Once a month, as a Saturday treat, Axios checks in with the world's most interesting and consequential people on their passions, quirks and life hacks.

Today, with the help of my colleagues Evan Ryan and Molly Mitchell, our breakfast conversation is with comedian and activist Chelsea Handler, whose "Chelsea" talk show drops on Netflix on Fridays @ noon PT. See "My 6 Big Things" from Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom.


Who might be the next Uber CEO

Following months of controversies, Uber's search for a COO has now grown to a hunt for a new CEO following Travis Kalanick's resignation on Tuesday. Here are some of the names that have been floated as possible candidates, and the list will surely shift as the search continues:


The Uber drama's cast of characters

Uber on Tuesday disclosed the findings of a months-long investigation into its myriad workplace issues and announced CEO Travis Kalanick would take a leave of absence.

The investigation, led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, was sparked by an ex-employee's published account of sexual harassment and discrimination she experienced during her year working at Uber. It would include around 200 interviews and a detailed document review. The investigation findings cap a chaotic saga resulting in several executive departures, multiple rounds of revelations about the company's brash and fratty culture, and continued questions about Uber's future.


Montana special election — results

Republican Greg Gianforte defeats Democrat Rob Quist in special election for the Montana House seat previously held by Ryan Zinke, now Secretary of the Interior.

In case you missed it: Gianforte allegedly body-slammed a reporter on the eve of the election. Read more about that.

Note: An estimated 60% of the vote came in early, prior to Wednesday's incident.


What to expect from Trump's first overseas trip

President Trump jets off today on his first foreign trip — and it's a doozy. Over nine days, he's tackling five countries, three major world religions, and two core American alliances. Here's a quick look at the biggest items on the itinerary:


GOP members whose voters have a lot to lose on Obamacare replacement

Dozens of Republicans in both the House and the Senate have publicly said they either oppose or are unsure about the House health care bill championed by Speaker Paul Ryan. While some of these members are hardline conservatives who say the bill is just Obamacare-lite, others represent states and districts that have seen the largest decreases in the uninsured rate under Obamacare.

We've mapped out the drop in the uninsured rate on both a state and county level between 2013 and 2016, or from the year before Obamacare was implemented until last year. We then looked at how this decrease in the uninsured rate compares with detractors (we used an excellent list compiled by the Washington Post). While there are some conservative exceptions, most of the wavering Republicans represent voters who could have a lot to lose.

Data: Enroll America, Civis Analytics; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon, Gerald Rich / Axios

Quick observations:

  • Many of these Republicans — especially in the House — oppose the House bill on ideological principle, saying it isn't conservative enough. This includes members of the House Freedom Caucus and Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.
  • Many states that have seen the largest drop in the uninsured rate expanded Medicaid. This could help explain some members' qualms about the House bill's Medicaid expansion phaseout and per-person funding cap.

Here's where jobs will be lost when robots drive trucks

Truck drivers will be some of the first people to lose jobs as automation technology spreads.

A push by companies like Uber to automate heavy trucks through a combination of artificial intelligence and robotics raises questions for millions of drivers brought into the profession by the promise of a steady job. Will they be employed behind the wheel five years from now? Or will robots be doing it instead?

And if you think this is a niche problem, think again. The impact of self-driving trucks would be felt in communities around the country — especially Trump country.

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How it could play out:

  • It could start with 'platooning:' One entry point to significant truck automation could be to have a second, autonomous truck travel behind a lead truck driven by a human — a concept known as platooning.
  • Long-haul goes first: Drivers who only cover short distances might be safe for now. "You're not going to have a robot that can sort of get out of the back of the truck and unload things and all that stuff, or back the truck up into a little zone," said Information Technology and Innovation Foundation President Rob Atkinson, "That's just really, really hard to do." But it's easier for automated trucks to drive along highways for hours.
  • The change starts with an individual company or technology: It could be that the first round of major automation is prompted by a single company — think Walmart — adopting the tech en masse, according to Kristin Sharp, the executive director of the New America Foundation and Bloomberg's Shift Commission on the Future of Work, Workers and Technology. Or certain types of trucks could be automated first to test the waters. Sharp described this as a "key question" on the issue.

Why truck drivers may not need to panic just yet:

  • The shift won't happen overnight: "Issues around regulation and the business model" will delay full automation even after the technology is ready, said Princeton professor Ed Felten, who worked on this issue while serving as Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer in the Obama White House. Automaker Daimler, for example, estimated in 2015 that it could take 10 years to bring truck automation technology to market.
  • The technology could make jobs easier, rather than kill them: "I think technology will assist in our jobs; I don't think technology will take over our jobs," said a driver named Brian during a focus group conducted by the Shift Commission, according to a transcript.
  • Automation could create new opportunities: For example, mechanics may find jobs servicing trucks that run for longer periods of time and over longer distances when the vehicles are no longer limited by the range of a human driver.

The players:

  • The developers: Uber-owned Otto is creating kits to retrofit trucks for automation. It recently made its first shipment, over 120 miles. Peloton Technologies is a startup working on platooning technology. And it's not just upstart companies. Volvo showed a concept truck last year that could be used in mines, while Daimler has tested self-driving trucks in both the United States and Europe.
  • The carriers: The industry generated more than $700 billion in freight revenue in 2015, according to the American Trucking Association. The trade association has said it doesn't expect drivers to be entirely replaced by automation. "What we're really talking about is not displacing drivers: I think you're always going to need drivers in trucks in the cityscapes to do the pickups and deliveries," said its president, Chris Spears.
  • The drivers: The Teamsters, the labor union that represents almost 100,000 people in the trucking sector, has pushed the importance of human drivers for safety reasons. Sam Loesche, a government affairs representative for the union, said the organization thinks policymakers "need to understand that this is a monster industry and the livelihoods of millions of workers need to be taken into account at all times."

What the industry can do about it: Companies that know they will play a role in automation could identify cities that will experience significant displacement and focus a response there, such as programs to retrain workers, said Sharp.

What government could do about it: Government could help fund training programs to help drivers transition to other jobs or take on new roles in a more-automated trucking industry. The issue is on the radar of federal lawmakers. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune told Axios last week that policymakers "ought to take into consideration, figure out and plan in advance knowing full well that there are going to be some potential impacts on the labor market if this technology becomes fully operational and fielded."

The bottom line: Automation is a fact of life across the economy: ATMs replaced bank tellers, switchboards replaced telephone operators and industrial robots have become fixtures in factories. The trucking industry's transformation is coming, and drivers around the country will have to grapple with what it means for their futures.