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Situational awareness: Minnesota prosecutors today declined to file charges against Richard Liu, CEO of JD.com, in the alleged rape of a University of Minnesota student in September.
This is the last edition of Future until Monday, Jan. 7. Have a safe and restful holiday. We look forward to seeing you again in 2019.
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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The West has a blind spot when it comes to China’s technological advances.
What it looks like: Whiplash.
The backdrop: Several factors contribute to the trans-Pacific information gap. Unlike military hardware that can be publicly demonstrated, virtual technology like AI and quantum computing is difficult to scrutinize, especially because they are, at their core, difficult to understand.
Combined, these factors and others have often left the West in the dark. MiningLamp, for example, is barely mentioned in English literature but is well known in China, says Joy Ma, a researcher at the University of Chicago's Paulson Institute. As a result, U.S. and European companies and officials don't know how to respond appropriately.
Axios science editor Andrew Freedman writes: Policy decisions made now will determine whether the U.S. successfully competes with China for the lead in scientific and engineering research, or squanders it through a mix of underfunding and poorly crafted legislation.
Dec. 15 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Photo: Robin Utrecht/AFP/Getty
The Yellow Vest movement in France was triggered by a tiny increase in gasoline taxes, but it actually is a more fundamental revolt against some of the main social and economic trends striking the West as a whole.
Driving the news: The uprisings have spread to Belgium and the Netherlands (above), reflecting discontent with economics that bypass large swaths of the population, often living outside of the biggest cities.
In France, Yellow Vests have widened their protests to include blockading a rural mall that has taken away business from Main Street, and overrunning a private tollbooth on a public road, reports the NYT's Michael Kimmelman.
"It is a crisis of dignity. It's a pride movement," said Celia Belin, a fellow with Brookings, speaking to Axios by phone from Paris.
Photo: Getty Images
Can't believe it's Friday? Neither can we. Here's the top of Future this week.
1. AI and the future of research: The end of papers
2. Big Tech infighting: Google and Apple love the Amazon backlash
3. Political AI: Inventors join the raging public debate
4. Staving off a robot apocalypse: What might work
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Holiday shoppers in a pinch trust Amazon most (Karen Weise — NYT)
Autonomous vehicle makers want to set standards (Joann Muller — Axios)
Americans are sleeping less (Rodrigo Pérez Ortega — Science News)
Unusual employee expenses (The Economist)
A Christmas movie written by AI (Karen Hao — MIT Tech Review)
It's been a wild year at Future. We've covered everything from the economics of populism to the automation of science to doormen in the age of Amazon — and we've enjoyed every thoughtful response from you, our readers, along the way.
Kaveh, Erica and I have exciting projects and even more threads of coverage planned for next year, but we want to hear from you, too. Let us know what you'd like to read about!
Until then, Happy New Year! 🥂