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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin riled the tech community this morning when he told Axios' Mike Allen that displacement of jobs by artificial intelligence and automation is "not even on my radar screen" because the technology is "50-100 more years" away. Mnuchin also said he is "not worried at all" about robots displacing humans in the near future. "In fact, I'm optimistic."

The reaction from the tech community was harsh and swift.

  • "Personally I'm dumbfounded," said Amy Webb, futurist and author who runs the Future Today Institute. "If Mnuchin had done any previous reading or learning about #AI, he couldn't have uttered those ridiculous words this morning."
  • DJ Patil, former U.S. Chief Data Scientist, pointed out the Obama Administration's report on artificial intelligence and said "Read to see why we need to get ready now."
  • "This is actually kind of frightening, particularly the dismissal of the impact of AI and machine learning on jobs," tweeted Larry Irving, a former Clinton Administration official who works with tech companies. "Has he talked to anyone in the tech (or any) industry recently?"
  • Writer Scott Sentens tweeted, "That's like dismissing a boy as crying wolf when half your village is being eaten by a pack behind you."
  • Mark Cuban simply tweeted, "Wow."

Go deeper

38 mins ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

1 hour ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

2 hours ago - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.