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Cliff Owen / AP

During a West Coast swing that included visits to Google and Amazon this week, Defense Secretary James Mattis acknowledged in an interview with Wired that the Pentagon isn't keeping up with the tech industry when it comes to putting artificial intelligence to use. "It's got to be better integrated by the Department of Defense, because I see many of the greatest advances out here on the West Coast in private industry," he said.

Our thought bubble: It's pretty common for the federal government's tech efforts to lag behind the tech industry's fast pace of innovation. His predecessor in 2015 opened the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, which aims to foster collaboration between smaller tech companies and the Defense Department. Mattis said he wants to see the organization speed up the deployment of AI in the department. Trump's proposed budget would increase funding for it, but cuts the budget of the National Science Foundation, which supports AI research.

Go deeper

Biden confronts mounting humanitarian crisis at the border

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Pool/Getty Images     

Just over a month into his presidency, President Biden is staring down a mounting crisis at the border that could be just as bad as the ones faced by Barack Obama and Donald Trump, if not worse.

Why it matters: Immigration is an issue that can consume a presidency. It's intensely and poisonously partisan. It's complicated. And the lives and welfare of vulnerable children hang in the balance.

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Vaccine passports were touted early in the pandemic as an important piece of the plan to get people back to normal life. Now they’re becoming a reality.

Driving the news: CLEAR, the secure digital identity app that you see in airports around the world, and CommonPass, a health app that lets users securely access vaccination records and COVID test results, have joined forces.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans who are highly motivated to get vaccinated are traveling across state lines after hearing about larger vaccine supplies or loopholes in sign-up systems.

Why it matters: "Vaccine tourism" raises ethical and legal questions, and could worsen the racial socioeconomic and racial inequalities of the pandemic.