Thanks for subscribing to Future of Work. Consider inviting your friends and colleagues to sign up, and if you'd like to tell me what's on your mind, just hit reply to this email or message me at email@example.com. Let's start with ...
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Scientists expect people to live routinely to 100 in the coming decades, and as long as 150. Which also suggests a much longer working life lasting well into the 70s, 80s, and even 100, according to researchers with Pearson and Oxford University.
Quick take: Thinkers of various types are absorbed in navigating the age of automation and flat wages, but their challenge will be complicated by something few have considered — a much-extended bulge of older workers.
What's going on: In researching the future of work, the Pearson-Oxford team began with a question — if a child were starting school today, what skills would he or she ideally learn in order to be ready for a possibly century-long career?
Among their conclusions are:
Go deeper: Click here for the whole post, including the top 10 skills a child born today should learn.
Burton Memorial Tower at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty
Getting back to college during that century-long career will be easier if you happen to be from the graduate business school at the University of Michigan: It's offering alumni lifetime rights to return for refresher classes for free.
Quick take: The idea of the "open loop university," as it's called, was conceived two years ago at Stanford University. Rather than a traditional degree consisting of four consecutive years after high school, students can accumulate six years of Stanford classes as it suits them and their career throughout their lives.
Go deeper: Read the whole post.
Surveillance in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. Photo: Colin McPherson/Corbis/Getty
For all of China's vaunted reams of data and outsized R&D spending, its development of artificial intelligence is only half as good as that of the U.S., according to a side-by-side assessment by an Oxford University researcher.
Quick take: "I think some of the rhetoric about China's AI advances has been overblown," says Jeffrey Ding at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute. He tells Axios:
"The U.S. still has significant advantages in talent and hardware, and it should continue to ensure that talented researchers and scientists want to work and stay in the U.S."
The details: In a long, must-read report, Ding uses an index in order to parse China's AI capabilities. He finds:
Be smart: China's AI experts have carved out one specialized niche: public surveillance, which uses facial and image recognition software. The state has supported a number of companies, such as Alibaba-backed SenseTime, in pushing China ahead in this AI application, Quartz reports.
Between the lines: Watch this video, released this afternoon, in which McKinsey interviews Kai-Fu Lee, CEO of Sinovation Ventures, who says that a relaxed attitude about privacy and greater concern about security has helped the country leapfrog in facial recognition.
Go deeper: Read the whole post.
In Ganyu, China: Busy on Alibaba Singles Day last November. Photo: VCG/Getty
Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce gargantuan, says it isn't in a race with Amazon for U.S. customers, but that it's eager to take U.S. merchandise to its 550 million customers in China.
Why it matters: American politicians and technologists are unusually sensitive to what's often perceived as China horning in on American customers, markets and tech.
But they may be missing a different game — using an elaborately built system, Alibaba is linking U.S. merchants directly to millions of Chinese customers, bypassing Amazon and other American platforms and becoming an essential way station to the Chinese market.
What we're hearing: Brion Tingler, an Alibaba spokesman in the U.S., said the company was selling 7,000 U.S. brands in China as of last year (led by Apple), but wants more. He tells Axios:
"We have no designs on the U.S. consumer but we want to help U.S. companies sell to the Chinese consumer."
How it works: Alibaba's system, called Gateway, introduces U.S.-based merchants, big and small, to the Chinese market. Independent agents linked to Alibaba carry out the necessary tasks for sales, payments and logistics — and then ship the goods directly to the customer in China.
Big Tech's public reckoning (Axios) (chart above)
Finland ends its experiment with universal basic income (CBS/AP)
China's millennial backlash (FT's Yuan Yang)
More evidence: 2016 voters felt left behind culturally (Phys.org)
Earning a cool $1.9 million a year in AI research (NYT's Cade Metz)
Retail is closing at a record pace (CNBC's Lauren Thomas)
The culture of secrecy around Amazon HQ2 bids (Nathan Jensen/NYT)
We have reported projections of a generational rift. Now it's showing itself: A majority of millennials — beset by big college loans, inherited wars, and an uncertain future of work — say baby boomers have made things worse for them. And, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll, a lot of boomers agree.
By the numbers: The poll found that 51% of millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) blame boomers (51- to 69-year-olds) for making things worse for their generation.
Why it matters: If it persists, the generational divide could turn into political rivalry as the generations compete for limited tax dollars — millennials seeking government help as automation takes hold, and boomers insisting on promised levels of Social Security and Medicare.