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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Stuck wages for most U.S. workers looks like more than a blip in the booming economy, and some mainstream economists say the government may have to step in.
What's going on: Wages fell over the last year for ordinary, non-management workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, further evidence that companies are managing to avoid paying amid one of the tightest labor markets in decades.
By the numbers:
Between the lines: When accounting for estimated 2.9% inflation over the last year, the wage numbers become even worse, says Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, an auditing firm.
The big picture: The conundrum of stuck wages has vexed economists for more than a decade, but their underlying assumption had been that as joblessness drops — it's at 4% now — companies will be forced to push up wages to attract and retain workers. Now that that hasn't happened, the feeling is beginning to creep in that this is the new normal.
"It's becoming fairly clear the U.S. economy has a monopsony problem," Brusuelas tells Axios.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The multi-hundred-billion-dollar retail prescription drugs market is the new battleground for Big Tech, relying on its usual brute force in an effort to keep growing.
What's going on: In the U.S. and China, retail drugs are too big to ignore — last year, Americans spent $466.6 billion on pharmaceuticals, and the Chinese forked out $122.6 billion in a market growing at about 9% a year.
In the U.S.:
Go deeper: Read Erica's whole post.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
American tech companies and research institutions — involved in the development of artificial intelligence in both the U.S. and China — face elevated ethical questions as the two superpowers race for dominance in the field.
What's going on: China’s prestigious Tsinghua University recently laid out "civil-military-fusion," a vision for developing AI for military applications, flagging a close relationship between academia, private companies, and the armed forces, Axios' Kaveh Waddell writes.
For U.S. researchers working in China, the speech, by You Zheng, a Tsinghua VP, raises questions about whether their projects could end up bolstering Beijing's goal of dominating global civilian and military AI.
Such partnerships are numerous enough that the U.S. government has considered restricting them, Reuters reported in April.
Google did not respond to requests for comment. But if U.S. labs pull back from China, something might have to give, Elsa Kania of the Center for a New American Security tells Axios.
Go deeper: Read Kaveh's whole post
Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto/Getty
The Russian intel agents behind Guccifer 2.0 (Joe Uchill - Axios)
The future of Chinese basketball (Wayne Ma - WSJ)
A neutrino from the ages is detected (Alison Snyder, Andrew Freedman - Axios)
Amid a shrinking population, rented relatives (Elif Batuman - New Yorker) (h/t Auren Hoffman)
The business of quantum computing (Massimo Russo, Anant Thaker,
Suhare Adam - BCG) (h/t Azeem Azhar)
Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty
AI's brightest minds today earn six- and seven-figure salaries, but the field didn't always command the big bucks.
Kaveh writes: "I was reminded of this last week on stumbling over reactions to a famous 18-year-old Wired essay by computer pioneer Bill Joy, then chief scientist at Sun Microsystems."
"I found it slightly disingenuous for Joy to announce that robotics is the next big threat to mankind, when most people working in robotics and AI are barely scratching out a living. We would all like to found successful companies like Sun and become wealthy philosophers. But the last thing we need right now is more government regulations or the kind of negative publicity that gives pause to our investors. Our small startups are hardly as threatening as nuclear proliferation."
"If a recent grad can get an overall compensation package of 180K for working on AI for web search engines and a comp package of much less than half of that for (say) working for USDA on AI for preventing food-borne outbreaks, then we are going to see public safety and welfare losing out in AI adoption."