Good morning. After our popular deep dive on China trends, here's a Saturday special on the robot revolution, with reporting and insight by Axios future editor Steve LeVine, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei and me, and other well-wired Axios colleagues.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
We're entering a new, robot-fueled tech boom that is already disrupting the world's balance of power, and is changing how we fight wars, stay alive, drive, work, shop and do chores.
On the other hand ... Robots may actually be super-slow at tasks like taking over Amazon warehouses, because no one still has figured out how to replicate the human hand in terms of dexterity.
The upshot: "Automation anxiety" is likely to trigger popular resistance to robotization, Carl Frey, a leading researcher on the future of work, tells Axios.
Be smart: The race for governments and employers will be to get in front of the disruption to come. Economists and academics differ on how to confront this coming emergency.
Delivery robots (Ints Kalnins/Reuters)
Here’s the thing you need to fear or think about most: A surge of studies predict robots and automation could force so much change, so fast, that humans simply can’t keep up to avoid mass displacement of workers.
The forecast: Karen Harris, managing director of Bain's Macro Trends Group, forecasts that the new automation wave could displace 2.5 million workers a year.
The bottom line ... Wage disparity will increase, according to Brookings' Mark Muro:
Go deeper with Steve LeVine's story, "A long disruption is ahead, with low-paying jobs."
For many of us, the robot revolution will be most visible on the road, with transformative changes coming to trucks and cars — faster than most people realize.
Trucks ... Truck driving is one of the most dominant job categories in America, with the jobs dispersed everywhere around the country — meaning that automation-driven disruption will create pain that's widely seen and felt.
Cars ... Self-driving cars will ultimately be safer and take some of the drudgery out of commuting, but widespread adoption is much further off than some of the credulous news coverage might lead you to believe.
P.S. Two tech giants announced major new investments in self-driving vehicles this week, bringing us closer to a time when autonomous cars are a part of everyday life, AP reports:
A robot we could get behind: an automated lawn mower (Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)
Even before the technologies of the future come to fruition, they're igniting ethical, economic and political debates at the Capitol and around the country. A quick look at the debates ahead:
Be smart: The economic discontent that drove the Trump vote in 2016 could be more inflamed by 2020, when fears about the future could be becoming reality.
Fiat Chrysler robots in Warren, Mich. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Congress and the Trump administration have yet to create a coherent policy response to a widely forecast social and economic tsunami resulting from automation.
But cities and regions are starting to act on their own.
By the numbers in Indianapolis and Phoenix:
Go deeper: Why women are disproportionately affected.
The new age of automation is almost always discussed as a future problem, but a new report says it's already the subtext for much of what ails the West, from stuck wages to populist politics.
Read this quote ... CFR President Richard Haass says in the report: "What is clear is that failure to meet the challenges posed by new technologies will likewise affect U.S. national security."
Go deeper with Steve, "A source of populism: 'You are on your own.'"
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The most successful job training through the decades has been organized by companies finding smart people, then skilling them up for specific positions.
But this tradition is long passé. American companies today are only rarely prepared to spend the money to train their own workers.
What's going on: One person vexed by this paradox is Kim Arnett, a software developer at Expedia. Arnett posted an open letter on LinkedIn to technology companies, tut-tutting them for setting up a potential future crisis by failing to create enough entry-level positions.
Edward Alden, a Council on Foreign Relations fellow, tells Steve that European companies naturally train their own workers but "that hasn't permeated U.S. companies" as yet.
Go deeper with Steve, "Companies: train your own workers."
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Scientists expect people to live routinely to 100 in the coming decades, and as long as 150.
The new permanent students:
Go deeper: "The next great workplace challenge: 100-year careers."
Axios is unfurling a series of plain-English, smarter-faster guides to terms you hear bandied about in conversations about the technologies of the future:
5G: The fifth generation of cellular tech, known as 5G, won’t be available at mass scale for a few years. But when it is, look for blazing speed and uninterrupted connectivity for phones, cars, appliances (the internet of things), and devices that can be worn or implanted.
AI: Artificial intelligence is the ambition for machines to learn and adapt like a human. Big thinkers compare it to fire and electricity in terms of its impact on humanity.
Additive manufacturing: This sounds boring as white paint. But this is the ability to create a physical object from a digital design. It’s the 3D printers you have heard about or possibly seen.
Yes, robots can paint fine art. Artist Barnaby Furnas is using a custom-made robot to help him produce paintings that can sell for more than $100,000 at New York galleries, Reuters' Elly Park reports:
Thanks for starting your weekend with Axios. What did you think of this deep dive, and what other topics would you like us to hit? Just reply to this email, or shoot your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org (my real e-dress). See you all weekend in the Axios stream.