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Mnuchin: Losing human jobs to AI "not even on our radar screen"

Stef W. Kight / Axios

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin joined Axios' Mike Allen this morning at the debut of his News Shapers event series to talk about his new role in the Trump Administration.

On AI supplanting human jobs: "it's not even on our radar screen.... 50-100 more years" away. "I'm not worried at all" about robots displacing humans in the near future, he said, adding: "In fact I'm optimistic."

Other big ticket items:


  • Trump's stamina: "He's got perfect genes. He has incredible energy and he's unbelievably healthy."
  • Trump's diet: Mnuchin claimed Trump no longer eats KFC or McDonald's, as the White House food is "great."
  • The dollar bill: "I think we should look at putting President Trump on the thousand dollar bill."
  • Trump's views evolving: "He's the negotiator-in-chief... he wants big deals."
  • Trump's leadership style: "He has an open door. People are coming and going, and he thinks about something and calls somebody on the phone... this is not a formal, scheduled president."

Tax reform:

  • "Much simpler" than health care reform, saying the Trump administration will do it comprehensively. Not going to break it up into more passable pieces.
  • Corporate tax rate: Mnuchin declined to reiterate Trump's goal of a 15% corporate tax rate, vs. Ryan's 20% plan.
  • Carried interest loophole: Mnuchin said the loophole will be closed in our tax plan. But that's for hedge funds. No commitment on real estate, etc.
  • Border adjustment tax: It has certain aspects that are VAT-like, which much of the rest of the world uses.
  • The focus of tax cuts: Mnuchin said the Trump administration's focus is on tax cuts for the middle class, not upper.

The global economy:

  • Renegotiating trade deals: "So long as we can renegotiate [trade] deals that are good for us, we won't be protectionist. Otherwise we will."
  • The one bad thing: We don't know how to predict the next bad thing.
  • Trump's big objective: Keep people safe, per Mnuchin.
  • Does Mnuchin worry about who is calling Trump? "No. Do you?"

On Silicon Valley, tech and jobs:

  • Valuations: "I don't understand these valuations."


  • Infrastructure finance: "It's clear he wants to do something very significant," Mnuchin said, referenced Trump's wish list. He added it wouldn't be deficit-financed.
  • The big problem: Regulations, not the money.
Steve LeVine 3 hours ago
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Self-driving lab head urges freeze after "nightmare" fatality

Uber self-driving car in Pittsburgh. Photo: Jeff Swensen / Getty

Carmakers and technology companies should freeze their race to field autonomous vehicles because "clearly the technology is not where it needs to be," said Raj Rajkumar, head of Carnegie Mellon University's leading self-driving laboratory.

What he said: Speaking a few hours after a self-driven vehicle ran over and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, Rajkumar said, "This isn't like a bug with your phone. People can get killed. Companies need to take a deep breath. The technology is not there yet. We need to keep people in the loop."

Palestinian president calls U.S. ambassador "son of a dog"

Abbas speaks in Ramallah. Photo: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas personally attacked U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman today, calling him a "son of a dog" during a speech at his Fatah party meeting. The U.S. State Department has condemned his rhetoric as "outrageous and unhelpful."

Why it matters: This is another escalation in Abbas's rhetoric against the U.S. since President Trump's Jerusalem announcement. In another speech two months ago, Abbas went on a personal attack against Trump himself and told him to "go to hell".