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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

America is holding on to a narrow lead in a number of new technologies that will shape the future, but China is rapidly catching up.

Driving the news: Per a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, China is closing the gap — and even edging ahead — as an innovator.

By the numbers: In 2008, China filed a tenth as many patents as the U.S. under the international Patent Cooperation Treaty. But, last year, China nearly closed the gap, filing 81% as many. China is catching up to the U.S. in the development of supercomputers. In 2008, China had a twentieth of the number of supercomputers that the U.S. had, but by 2018, it had twice as many. Over the last 10 years, China's expenditures on R&D grew from 33% of that of the U.S. to 76%.

The bottom line: The lead does appear to be slipping away as the pace of China's catch-up keeps accelerating. On R&D investment, "China could become #1 next year," Harvard professor Graham Allison tells Axios.

  • And for the U.S. to lose its upper hand in these emerging technologies could hurt American national security and economic well-being for decades to come.
  • "The trajectories of both sides transform yesterday’s chances for science and tech cooperation into tomorrow’s flashpoints for conflict," says Allison.

Go deeper

Updated 41 seconds ago - Energy & Environment

Pity the "green" car buyer

Expand chart
Data: IHS Markit Data; Note: Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Americans are more open than ever to trading in their gas cars for electrified vehicles — but they're flummoxed by the confusing array of green options arriving in showrooms.

Why it matters: Getting up to speed on the differences among hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles will be a challenge for car buyers — and salespeople, too — as we transition away from gas-powered vehicles over the next decade.

Updated 55 seconds ago - Technology

America's attention recession

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New data shows that there's been a pullback from the historically high levels of media audience growth — and in some cases consumption — during 2020, pointing to signs of a slight "attention recession" in the past few months.

The big picture: The COVID-19 pandemic drove a once-in-a-lifetime surge in the attention economy online, but the gradual return of normal life in many places — along with media overload and exhaustion — has down-shifted consumption patterns.

Rep. Boebert apologizes for anti-Muslim comments directed at Rep. Omar

Rep. Lauren Boebert listens during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) apologized Friday for suggesting in a video that emerged this week that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was mistaken for a terrorist while riding in an elevator in the U.S. Capitol.

Driving the news: Omar responded to the video when it first emerged, writing on Twitter: "Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny & shouldn’t be normalized. Congress can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation."