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The Trump administration doesn’t think robots will take your jobs soon

In an eye-popping interview, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says mass changes from AI are quite far away.

Drew Angerer / Getty

Labor experts fear that artificial intelligence could reshape entire industries as algorithms and robots replace humans — and leave untold numbers of U.S. workers without jobs.

So is the Trump administration fearful of such change? “I’m not worried at all,” said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin when asked Friday morning at an event hosted by Axios about the short-term effects of AI on the U.S. economy.

Trump built a winning electoral coalition by promising to revitalize American manufacturing, which is ripe for great disruption amid the arrival of automation. Yet Mnuchin said that AI is “not even on our radar screen,” before noting that it’s “50-100 more years away.”

Contrast that with President Barack Obama’s administration. In the final months of the now-former White House, Obama’s top aides commissioned a report on the effects of artificial intelligence. While they found in October that AI wouldn’t exceed humans in the next 20 years, they said the nascent industry could replace some low-wage jobs, “potentially increasing economic inequality.”

In his final interview as president, Obama himself highlighted the potential risks.

“We, I think, probably have to be more creative about anticipating what’s coming down the pike,” he said. “Automation is relentless and it’s going to accelerate.”

“You saw just what happened to retail store sales this past Christmas,” Obama added. “Amazon and online sales is killing traditional retail, and what’s true there is going to be true throughout our economy.”

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