Stories by Steve LeVine

Artificial intelligence is giving tyrants a brand new advantage

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Last week, we described the long-term crisis for democracy. But advanced Western economies face another pressure point — artificial intelligence, which is proving to be a new advantage to autocratic government.

The bottom line: Tyrants thrive on centralized power. So the sudden ability to monitor and assess one's subjects 24/7 is a boon for top-down power — and a blow to the more chaotic and dispersed bottom.

The populist tide keeps rising

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The more advanced economies had thought the forces of globalization — ever-opening trade and the free movement of people — were inexorable. 

Instead, they have been overwhelmed by the forces of tribal identity — a feeling across the West of a loss of stature, self-dignity, and power over your own destiny. 

The U.S. straight-arming of China

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

For decades, the U.S. and China have circled uneasily as current and future global superpowers. Now, President Trump's continued escalation of actions against Beijing threatens to push the two powers close to direct conflict.

Driving the news: This week, the U.S. took perhaps its most provocative action yet, springing a trap in Belgium that captured Yanjun Xu, a senior Chinese intelligence operative, and arraigning him in Cincinnati for economic espionage. This afternoon, Xu pleaded not guilty.