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Expand chart
Data: Information Technology & Innovation Foundation; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

A common way to measure the use of robots around the world shows that wealthy countries — like Korea, Singapore, Germany and the U.S. — are way ahead of the curve, while China flounders behind unlikely characters like Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

Why it matters: Taking wages into account changes the landscape dramatically. When comparing countries’ actual robot adoption to the quantity one would expect based on their wage levels, Asian countries far outstrip Europe and the U.S.

Details: A new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation created baselines for expected robot adoption using manufacturing workers’ pay. Then, ITIF compared each country's baseline to the actual number of robots there.

  • The report's authors argue this measure is more useful than the more standard one: the number of industrial robots per 10,000 manufacturing workers.
  • "That’s not the real story, because robots cost money," ITIF president Robert Atkinson says in a video released with the report. "It makes sense to install more of them in countries with high wages, because they pay for themselves more quickly that way."
  • The new ranking, reproduced above, shows which countries are investing in robots beyond the standard level that ITIF says makes economic sense for that country.

China in particular leapt from laggard to leader in ITIF’s reassessment.

  • As we’ve written before, the country is moving swiftly to become a robotics superpower, both as a consumer and a producer.
  • "We project it will lead the world in robot adoption in less than a decade, controlling for wage levels," says Atkinson.

The countries at the high end of the graph above generally have national strategies or policies in place for investing in robots, the ITIF report says.

  • By contrast, the 16th place American finish "reflects an overall lag in capital expenditures by U.S. manufacturers and an almost complete lack of a national robotics strategy."

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The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

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Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.

The new grifters: outrage profiteers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Republicans lost the Senate and narrowly missed retaking the House, millions of dollars in grassroots donations were diverted to a handful of 2020 congressional campaigns challenging high-profile Democrats that, realistically, were never going to succeed.

Why it matters: Call it the outrage-industrial complex. Slick fundraising consultants market candidates contesting some of their party’s most reviled opponents. Well-meaning donors pour money into dead-end campaigns instead of competitive contests. The only winner is the consultants.

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