Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

XPRIZE, a nonprofit organization that holds grand competitions to inspire innovation, announced this week that it would launch a $5 million contest to help retrain workers who lost employment to automation.

Why it matters: The pandemic has only accelerated the job-destroying effects of automation. As the U.S. looks to put tens of millions of people back to work, truly big solutions will be needed.

How it works: In the new contest, called XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling, teams will take a cohort of people who had been in lower-skilled occupations, attempt to retrain them over a period of 60 days, and then place them in more sustainable new occupations.

  • "We hope this competition is really going to stimulate a conversation about using technology to create a better future for jobs," says XPRIZE CEO Anousheh Ansari.

Background: XPRIZE has run a number of innovation competitions since it was founded in 1995, including the Ansari XPRIZE, which offered $10 million to the first privately financed team that could build and fly a three-passenger vehicle 62 miles into space twice within two weeks.

  • The contest, which was won by Mojave Aerospace Ventures after more than eight years of work, arguably helped kick off the private spaceflight era.
  • Such innovation competitions have a historical pedigree that goes back to the Longitude Prize, which the British government awarded in 1714 to the first person who developed a way for a seagoing ship to measure longitude.

The bottom line: Prize contents can encourage out of the box thinking, which is something the field of reskilling desperately needs.

Go deeper: Coronavirus speeds the way for robots in the workplace

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Competitors ready to pounce on TikTok bans

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Growing security and privacy concerns over Chinese-owned short-video app TikTok have given a lift to alternatives like Byte and Dubsmash, which have seen spikes in downloads from smartphone users recently, according to data from SensorTower.

Why it matters: If TikTok's meteoric rise in popularity among U.S. youth gets slowed by rising tensions with China, or ended by a threatened ban by the Trump administration, American teens will still have to get their hits of meme-laden video somewhere.

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U.S. pushes homegrown drone industry amid China battle

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Alarmed at the prospect of relying on Chinese-made drones for public safety and monitoring critical industries, U.S. investors and the federal government are newly backing a domestic drone industry of hardware and software companies.

The big picture: The moves come as the industry continues to be led by DJI, a Chinese hardware maker — and as concerns grow both in China and the U.S. about reliance on the other country's technology.

Exclusive: The N.Y. Times doubles down on TV and film ambitions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One of the country's oldest and most established media companies is starting to look more like a Hollywood studio than a traditional newspaper.

Driving the news: The New York Times has 10 scripted TV show projects in development, as well as 3 feature documentaries coming out this year and several other documentary projects in development and production, executives tell Axios.