Jun 29, 2017

White House considers effects of automation "a policy challenge"

Jens Meyer / AP

A top White House aide on tech issues said Thursday "we have a responsibility" to figure out what happens to workers who lose their jobs to automation or technological change, whether that's at the federal, state or local level.

"So, I think that's a real policy challenge," said Matt Lira, Special Assistant to the President for Innovation Policy and Initiatives, at an event sponsored by the Internet Association. "Both things like these potential new technologies, but also just the nature of the modern economy, is going to require the evolution of horizontal pathways where someone who's 35, 45, 55 has a credible path from column A to column B that can be done at scale."

But, but, but: Lira also noted that there have been instances where the threat of automation has been overhyped. He said that while ATMs mean there are fewer bank tellers per branch, they've led to more bank branches, all of which need employees, because each one is cheaper.

Why it matters: The threat that automation poses to the economy is top-of-mind right now. But it has not been totally clear how much it's a priority for Trump, even as he focuses on jobs lost to outsourcing and trade. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said at an Axios event in March that the issue is "not even on our radar screen" — but he later walked those comments back.

Go deeper

The pandemic shows why we're never ready for the big one

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases passed 1 million on Friday, two words sum up the U.S. response to the coronavirus: not enough. Not enough hospital beds, not enough ventilators, not enough protective equipment. Not enough preparation.

Why it matters: COVID-19 has demonstrated our normal defenses aren't enough in the face of a low-probability, but high-consequence catastrophe.

U.S. coronavirus updates: New York reports record 630 deaths in 24 hours

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York reported 630 new deaths in 24 hours, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday — an "all-time increase" that beat the previous day's record of 562 deaths in a single day.

The big picture: As expected, COVID-19 death tolls are rising in the U.S., killing more than 7,100 people in total, and over 1,000 in 24 hours alone. The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread, marking a significant change in messaging from the Trump administration.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 9 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: Spain tracks more cases than Italy

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Spain overtook Italy in its number of coronavirus cases on Saturday, as the global death toll surpassed 60,000, per Johns Hopkins data.

The latest: About half the planet's population is on lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis. Fatalities are exponentially increasing across Europe, with roughly half of deaths worldwide located in Italy and Spain.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 11 mins ago - Health