Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sam Jayne / Axios

Over the last decade or so, we've seen ordinarily apolitical topics polarize us into angry opposing mobs, among them vaccines, atmospheric gases, electric cars and Russia. When there has been a super-strong view one way or another, it's been sucked into the hothouse and associated with an ideology. Charges of fake news and a general deterioration of debate have followed.

Checking my emails over the last couple of weeks, I've noticed politics seeping into the subject of the future of work. One technically expert reader, for instance, explained why he sides with the singularity, the theory predicting super-human intelligence, and the Universal Basic Income, the call for a basic stipend for all Americans as an antidote to robotization. Then he wrote: "Trump will do eight years. The Democratic Party is totally obsolete. Something will replace it." A non-sequitur? An identification of issue with party?

Or perhaps we are headed for political cleavage over robots and artificial intelligence.

  • It sounds foolish. But so does fighting over electric cars. Dan Kahan, a professor at Yale University, has studied the question as part of his Cultural Cognition Project. He told me that he found slightly higher concern over the risks of AI the more conservative you are (here's his chart). Generally speaking, however, he thinks AI is a "wild card" and not something to worry about at the moment.
  • But Georgetown's Hans Noel notes: "It's quite likely that any issue could become polarized. ... I think new issues usually get drawn into partisan or ideological debates, or else they remain unexciting to everyone."

And that's the point: Seemingly innocuous if momentous topics suddenly take on wholly unrelated emotional baggage, and before you know it, everyone has lost their brains. Both professors think it's hard to predict — should politics fly in — who would take what side in polarized AI. "Any new policy might have winners and losers on both sides of the political divide," Noel told me.

Bottom line: We can hope we are overlooked by this dimension of our age. But that doesn't mean we will be.

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 hour ago - World

Remote work shakes up geopolitics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The global adoption of remote work may leave the rising powers in the East behind.

The big picture: Despite India's and China's economic might, these countries have far fewer remote jobs than the U.S. or Europe. That's affecting the emerging economies' resilience amid the pandemic.

Trump gives Biden access to presidential intelligence briefings

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Trump White House on Tuesday gave President-elect Biden access to daily presidential intelligence briefings, a source familiar with the matter tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has refused to share the briefs until now, as he continues to challenge the result of the election and declines to concede. The president's acquiescence comes as another sign that the transition to a Biden administration is taking place.

AOC and Ilhan Omar want to block Biden’s former chief of staff

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are boosting a petition against Joe Biden nominating his former chief of staff to a new role in his administration, calling Bruce Reed a "deficit hawk” and criticizing his past support for Social Security and Medicare cuts.

Why it matters: Progressives are mounting their pressure campaign after the president-elect did not include any of their favored candidates in his first slate of Cabinet nominees, and they are serious about installing some of their allies, blocking anyone who doesn't pass their smell test — and making noise if they are not heard.