Mnuchin: Cybersecurity a bigger concern than AI

US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that cybersecurity is his primary concern and represents the greatest threat to the financial sector.

In an interview given to media company Axios, Mnuchin said that ensuring a “safe and sound financial sector” requires cooperation and investment from the various financial regulators and that he wants regulatory agencies to focus on incorporating cybersecurity in all oversight responsibilities.

He added that in his meetings with foreign leaders since the Trump administration took office have also focused largely on combating money laundering and other illicit activities.

Last October, the US federal banking agencies issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on enhanced cyber risk standards for certain large financial institutions.  While it represented a move nearer a coordinated approach to cybersecurity regulation among financial regulators, it is unclear whether the ANPR will progress to a formal proposal under the Trump administration.

A three-month period for responses to the cybersecurity ANPR was extended for a further five weeks to run to February 17 2017.

In the interview, Mnuchin also dismissed fears that artificial intelligence (AI) could be about to make many US jobs redundant and that it could take 50 to 100 years before this became a real concern

“I think that is so far in the future – in terms of AI taking over American jobs – I think we’re so far away from that that,” he said. “Not even on my radar screen.”

However, a report issued by the outgoing Obama administration last December forecast that AI-driven automation is likely to transform the US economy as intelligent applications replace human labour in sectors such as transportation, healthcare, finance and defence.

The report cited an estimate by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that 9% of US jobs are at risk of being entirely displaced by AI.

“If these estimates of threatened jobs translate into job displacement, millions of Americans will have their livelihoods significantly altered and potentially face considerable economic challenges in the short-and medium-term,” the report’s authors noted.

A more recent report issued this month by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) suggested that within the next 15 years, close to 40% of US jobs could be lost to automation.


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