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

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin shared the following during an interview by Axios' Mike Allen:

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."

One of the most likely industries to be disrupted by artificial intelligence is the trucking industry. When people think of self-driving technology, they first think of it in cars. However, despite the rapid advances in technology, adoption in cars will be slowed by people's natural, but irrational fear due to loss of control. That is, the natural tendency for people to dismiss the risks of driving when they are in control of the vehicle, and the reverse tendency to amplify their perception of the risk of riding in a car when they are not driving. The widespread fear of flying is a great example of this tendency in effect.

A similar argument could be made against self-driving trucks. The idea that "people will be scared to see an empty, 20-ton truck hurtling down the road" does resonate. However, trucking is an area where corporations are making the decision about who drives, not your average consumer. And in this case, companies have massive incentives to push these technologies: including reduced costs and reduced accidents.

So, when these self-driving trucks do get on the road, how big will the impact be? This graphic from last year, created by NPR from census data, provides some insight into the answer (spoiler: really big impact):

Going back to Steve Mnuchin's comment, you could argue that he could have reasonably said 5-10 years, but 50-100 years just isn't believable.