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Situational awareness: Rethink, Rodney Brooks' iconic robotics company, is closing. Rethink is the maker of two pioneering robots — Baxter and Sawyer. Brooks did not respond to an email.
Okay, let's start with ...
Jobless blacks are taking full-time work at a higher rate than unemployed whites, amid a more favorable economy for a population whose prospects have historically been dimmer than for other races.
The 3.7% U.S. unemployment rate is at a whopping 49-year low, according to the September jobs report released today by the government. It was the 96th straight month of job gains, a new record.
What's going on: A strong economy does not undo racism, and the same hurdles that make it difficult to find work have not disappeared. But a tighter labor market forces employers to look outside their usual pool of candidates to find workers.
Between the lines: This dynamic — the convergence of the white and black employment-to-population ratios — is occurring despite wages not growing as much as they could be, said William Spriggs, chief economist at the AFL-CIO. Last month, average hourly earnings grew 2.8% from the same month last year.
Another economist agreed.
Axios spoke to a few workers in Harlem about their motivation for taking work. None of their reasons had to do with pay:
Interior view of a self-driving shuttle in Times Square. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty
A union representing Ohio bus drivers is threatening to strike in response to the planned introduction of a low-speed driverless shuttle in Columbus, calling the vehicles dangerous and a threat to jobs.
The big picture: Nearly 3% of the U.S. workforce is employed in driving occupations — some 4 million jobs that stand to be eliminated as AVs hit the roads, writes Mike Greco, a contributor to Axios Expert Voices.
What's going on: State and local governments want to save money, increase safety and attract businesses to smart cities that appeal to younger, tech-savvy workers. Private sector employers likewise stand to gain from automation.
Go deeper: Employers may face striking workers as AVs roll out
Where did the time go? Never mind, here are the top stories from Future over the last week:
1. A triangle of anger: There is no going back to the pre-crisis status quo
2. The 20th century ends, 16 years late: We are only now watching the 21st unfold
3. Forecasting famine: AI as an early-warning tool
4. Argumentative AI: This system can't reason, but it can talk back
5. The last big bookstore: B&N looks to be finally succumbing to outside forces
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
When China rules the Web (Adam Segal - Foreign Affairs)
Tesla falls behind in driverless tech (Joann Muller - Axios)
Planets are larger than the material they come from (Rebecca Boyle - Quanta)
The fish that hides in plain sight (Economist)
Fan Bingbing, a story of celebrity and wealth (Tom Hancock - FT)
Photo: Marc Teyssier et al.
One way to stand out from the masses, as they hold identical, slab-like smartphones made of glass and metal, is to stick a robotic index finger to the bottom of your phone.
Why it matters: Researchers are always looking for new ways of interacting with the machines we surround ourselves with. Some are useful, like pressure-sensitive styluses for digital illustration. Others are, well, creepy, writes Axios' Kaveh Waddell.
The finger idea comes from a team of Parisian researchers, who will present their research at a conference later this month.
Something about the digit — particularly when it’s covered in realistic-looking human skin — is profoundly unsettling.