SpaceX & Tesla CEO Elon Musk as well as Uber Co-Founder and CEO Travis Kalanick are joining Donald Trump’s advisory council as point men for technology, it was reported Wednesday.
PepsiCo CEO Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi is also joining the team, which already includes Facebook board member Peter Thiel, Reuters reported. They will be part of the “Strategic and Policy Forum,” a group of major business leaders who will advise the White House on economic policy and likely be in a strong position to lobby the president to take certain positions. Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Oracle CEO Safra Catz were also expected to attend the meeting today.
The additions come in the wake of reports that Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook were joining Trump for a major meeting on technology in New York today.
The addition of Musk and Kalanick to the team might raise a lot of eyebrows in Silicon Valley, but in a good way. The surprise might be a big deal for the continued advancement of self-driving cars and the integration of AI into the new economy, topics on which no one of repute thinks Donald Trump has a clear understanding.
This could potentially be a boon for NASA if Musk advises the continued funding of space projects and how it benefits private industry, similar to ESA’s approach to European innovation.
The major issue the Trump Administration will wrestle with given these appointments is likely to be American manufacturing. While SpaceX and Tesla are huge employers in that respect for the United States, their technology will continue to integrate more automation. That goes double for Uber, to say the least.
The demand on cars in an automated industry is predicted to be intense, demanding more replacement vehicles that would have to be manufactured more efficiently in an automated manner, as well as pile demand on American mechanics to keep up with repairs that machines might be better suited to meet.
With Trump’s electoral victory won on the backs of the Rust Belt’s economic problems, voters in places like car capital Detroit and across the northern central United States may not welcome changes that kill those same jobs Trump implied he could bring back.
The potential undermining of American blue-collar drivers by Vehicles as a Service offered by self-driving cars is immense. Uber announced today that it had extended its autonomous car pilot to San Francisco. In addition to Pittsburgh, Uber’s first trial city, AI company nuTonomy is operating its own pilot testing in Boston.