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Hopping a ride in Jalandhar, India. Photo: Shammi Mehra / AFP / Getty
Earth will have almost 10 billion people by 2050, according to the United Nations, and yet another billion by the turn of the century, creating a substrate of tension under climate change, aging, and automation.
But Vienna-based demographers say these forecasts overstate the population trend. Instead we are headed for a population plateau and decline — in short, "peak human."
Why it matters: The basis of modern economics is how to manage crisis and progress for a fast-growing human population. But for several years, researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis have been saying that the human population will balloon to 9.5 billion people by 2070, but will peak there, and decline below 9 billion by the end of the century.
What's behind the contrarian forecast: The lead IIASA researchers, Samir KC and Wolfgang Fengler, have said the key difference is educated women.
Reaction: Jesus Crespo Cuaresma, who teaches economics at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, tells Axios that, if IIASA is right, one enormous potential benefit is that per capita wealth can improve without an increase in overall production.
"We can be richer without having to produce more," he says.
Go deeper: Read the whole post here.
Andrew Yang, presidential candidate for 2020. Photo: Yang campaign
A new consensus of analysts assures us that we should not worry as automation dislodges up to hundreds of millions of white and blue collar workers across the planet over the coming years. Virtually all will find new jobs, they say. But Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur and an early candidate for president in 2020, says those new jobs are already late — the dystopian age of automation, he says, is here.
Quick take: Yang is a long shot, but his anti-robot message — coming not from a Luddite but from the tech world itself — resonates, especially when he seems to be tattling on his pals. He tells Axios that while experts and politicians debate the potential impact of robotization, his Silicon Valley friends are already angling to figure out how to make it happen faster so they can cash in.
More: Read this NYT article on Yang.
A memorial to Aaron Feis, the football coach of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who was among the 17 killed there. Photo: Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post / Getty
The 3 high school teachers killed a week ago in Parkland, Fla., made it a total of 14 teachers and staff who have lost their lives in school shootings since 2012, according to a count by Axios using the raw data at Everytown Research. At least 15 others have been injured.
Quick take: Nowhere on the planet has such shootings occurred with anywhere near the frequency as in the U.S. As the country grieves with the families and friends of the school community, a visceral reactive conversation has focused on the concern that this could happen on any campus, on any day.
"No one, even when you get combat training, you are not prepared for an assault on you. No one is going to be prepared for someone walking in with an AR-15 in a school, a church, and what that man did in Las Vegas."
Using Alipay on the Shanghai-Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway in Hangzhou. Photo: VCG / Getty
Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce rival to Amazon, is making its first big push into the American market with a substantial play by its mobile wallet subsidiary Alipay.
Quick take: At home, some 520 million Chinese retail shoppers use Alipay. But last year they also took 135 million journeys abroad, including to Europe and the U.S. Given their payment preferences, shopping has been a stumbling block.
What's next: Alibaba will seek to scale up Alipay's U.S. presence, getting more boutique hotels and individual luxury brands to accept it. And after that, Alipay will try to persuade Americans to embrace its mantra of the "cashless society," says Humphrey Ho, managing director of Hylink Digital US, a Beijing-based digital ad agency.
But, but, but: Attracting American users will be a "huge wall to climb," Ho says.
Bill Gates in Paris in December 2017. Photo: Aurelien Meunier / Getty Images
No raises: an economic detective story (Jonathan Tepper)
Bill Gates' sermon to his Big Tech brethren (Axios)
The job of North Korean hackers (Bloomberg's Sam Kim)
Lunch with a Rockefeller scion (FT's Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson)
AI, job loss and populist politics (Frank Levy)
Preparing for malicious uses of AI (Miles Brundage et al.)
At the Miami Vineyard Community Church in Kendall, Fla., where congregants are encouraged to get out of debt. Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty
A few years ago, Suntrust ran an in-house survey and discovered that its employees were no more financially sound than the average Joe on the street. It reacted by hiring Brian Ford, a specialist on "financial well-being," who encouraged some 20,000 of them to use automated payment systems to pay off credit card debt, build a rainy-day fund, and save for a child's college education.
The big picture: The Suntrust program comes at a time of record American household debt — $13.1 trillion as of the end of 2017, according to the NY Fed.
The bottom line: When Suntrust employees were in a better position financially, "turnover decreased, and productivity increased," Ford tells Axios.