Denis McDonough worked as an aide to the US Congress’ House Foreign Affairs Committee, before moving on to work for different senators. He served as senior foreign policy advisor during Barack Obama´s 2008 election campaign. After Obama´s victory, he joined the National Security Council, of which he became Deputy Head. He then served as White House Chief of Staff during Obama´s entire second term. In 2017, he joined the Markle Foundation, where he focuses on employment issues.
Denis McDonough used to go on night walks with President Obama at the end of the work day. In the course of one of them, Obama told him about a technology which had struck him during a trip to San Francisco: A new device which could compare one X-ray against millions of others. “It could be more precise and come to conclusions faster and, therefore, would be cheaper than if a doctor examined it,” says a man who, as Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, used to be responsible for 4,000 staffers. “The President said to me that being a radiologist used to be a good job, but that maybe it was going to disappear.” That conversation stuck in his mind. When his time at the White House came to an end in 2017, he decided to focus on the topic of work, an issue he considers key for national security. “Our ability to handle the transition and effectively employ artificial intelligence has considerable implications for national security.”