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Taizhou Port, China. Photo: Yang Bo/China News Service/VCG /Getty
For decades, western companies have griped that Beijing is forcing them to hand over tech secrets and source code as a price of access to the Chinese market. Now they have a White House prepared to act forcefully to stop it — starting tomorrow, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports — but the fear is a tit-for-tat trade war, which could be costly in the form of business and jobs.
What's happening now:
The background: For Beijing, the demand for tech secrets is part of its pathway to an advanced economy in order to keep delivering economic growth to the Chinese people, says Mary Lovely, an economics professor at Syracuse University. "Political stability is the key," she tells Axios.
How to fix it:
"The Chinese do fear reciprocity. When you mention it, you can just see them go rigid," Lewis tells Axios.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
One of the most urgent themes in technology is the global rivalry for dominance of the evolving sector of artificial intelligence — geopolitical and economic supremacy is said to be at stake. Experts say the U.S. and China are the top contenders, but other nations, including Russia, are working on AI, too.
Why it matters: "The global spread of a technosystem conceived in, and to an unknown extent controlled by, an undemocratic, authoritarian regime could have unprecedented historical significance," the Economist writes in its latest edition.
With China, the AI race is likelier to have an economic texture, said Andrew Moore, dean of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. "It will be the economic question of who will be the Googles, Amazons and Apples in 2030. There is a good chance they are more likely to come out of China than the U.S.," Moore tells Axios.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
We reported last week that, against the prevailing narrative that China has more or less already won the artificial intelligence race, some experts say there is still very much a contest. They said this is because while China and its companies are spending a lot of money to dominate AI, they continue to be held back by intellectual inflexibility — they cannot or will not pivot as quickly as western researchers, and may always be fated to be behind.
Some FOW readers pushed back: Their take is that China is either already in or is on its way to the catbird seat when it comes to AI. "We do have sustainable differentiation, but China learns fast," Bart Riley, an advanced battery expert, told me.
What we're hearing: In response, I called around for more of this side of the debate.
1. Carnegie Mellon's Andrew Moore, also quoted in the above post, told me that AI is moving along two tracks — research and development. And, if the aim ultimately is to be the greatest AI commercial gargantuan — to create the new Googles and Amazons, as discussed above — it is the latter category where focus is important.
2. Hector Abruña, a professor and battery researcher at Cornell University, said the time is over when China's best students go to the U.S. to study and stay to live there.
Empty storefront in Meriden, CT. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty
Amid a retail bloodbath last year and the first two months of 2018, the U.S. still has far too many shops, and their numbers need to shrink — 1 out of 5 need to close to reach the historical average, according to Costar, a research firm.
By the numbers: Ryan McCullough, senior real estate economist with Costar, said the U.S. has 18% too much retail space when compared with the historical average.
Claire's filed for bankruptcy on March 19. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty
China wants to shape the future of AI (MIT Tech Review's Will Knight)
Seeds of instability — germinating again (WSJ's Greg Ip)
Amazon is corporate America's nightmare (Bloomberg's Shira Ovide)
Lunch with the Emir of Kano, Nigeria's ex-central banker (FT's David Pilling)
Retail execs: Another big year for bankruptcies (Retail Dive's Ben Unglesbee)
The invitation-only MARS conference, held in Palm Springs, Calif., is all about robots, reports CNET's Jennifer Bisset. And by the look of Twitter, much of it was also about Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, who was photographed and tweeted in numerous settings galavanting with robots.
The mechanical dog above, SpotMini, was created by Boston Dynamics.
Slowest fast food. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty
Is it a huge deal whether your burger and fries arrive in a little under three minutes versus four? It does if you care about your rank in QSR Magazine's list of the fastest drive-thru chains in the U.S. — especially if, say, you happen to be McDonald's and your speed somehow dropped a full half-minute since the last sorting.
By the numbers: According to QSR, the fastest fast food is Raising Cane's, a chicken-finger joint based in New Orleans. On average, you got your fingers in 168 seconds. Chick Fil-A was the longest on the list, fulfilling an order in 251 seconds. It took a full 21 seconds longer to be delivered a meal at Burger King, and more than a minute at McDonald's (31 seconds longer than the last list).
But, but but: Some got faster. Taco Bell cut eight seconds off its serving time, delivering its Mexican meals in 212 seconds; and Burger King's showed a 12-second improvement.