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In a challenge to the narrative of a declining American advantage in the global tech race, U.S. factories are installing record numbers of robots, and elite universities, endowed with huge new contributions, are adding vast centers to study artificial intelligence.
Steve and Kaveh write: As we have reported previously, China has a massive global lead in the absolute number of new factory robots, and it is pouring large sums into developing AI. But the twin U.S. trend lines — a surge in university research spending and the spike in robots — suggest a still-robust competition to dominate technologies of the future.
Robot-makers shipped 35,880 robots to U.S. factories last year, 7% more than in 2017, according to a new report from the Robotics Industry Association (RIA). And the balance shifted from a heavy dominance of auto-making robots to many more bots in the food, semiconductor and plastics industries.
Add to that Big Education: In a ceremony today, MIT celebrated the creation of a $1 billion College of Computing, anchored with a single $350 million contribution from Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of private equity firm Blackstone. The college was announced in October.
Researchers must keep a clear eye on "keeping technology under control," he said, and not surging headlong into advances and deployments without contemplating the consequences. "Just because it's cool isn't necessarily good enough," Schwarzman said.
But, but, but: Even as U.S. industry and top universities invest in future technologies, China is vastly outpacing the West in national planning and investments in AI and robotics, experts say.
U.S. pedestrian deaths are up about 35% since the introduction of the iPhone, as the American love affair with smartphones and SUVs has profoundly heightened the risks of walking.
Experts have long blamed smartphones for distracted driving deaths, and Kara Macek, an official with the governors association, laid the blame in part on the proliferation of the devices, trucks and SUVs.
One of the fancy parks in D.C. Photo: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty
In yet another example of stark income inequality in the U.S., the dogs of wealthier households live better lives than those with lower-income owners.
Erica writes: Dog parks are getting fancier and fancier, with bright green artificial grass to play on and splash pools to cool off in, but these dream canine playgrounds are only in certain areas.
Why it matters: Areas without dog parks had much higher rates of leash law violations, CityLab found.
The coming climate-related business failures (Sheelah Kolhatkar — New Yorker)
No one reads privacy policies (Kim Hart — Axios)
The massive "Top Doctor" scam (Marshall Allen — ProPublica)
How drivers will fare in Uber and Lyft IPOs (Maureen Farrell — WSJ)
America's cities are running on 1980s software (Romy Varghese — Bloomberg)
Photo: Artyom Geodakyan\TASS Getty
A thief in North Palm Beach, Florida, stole tens of thousands of dollars worth of collectible coins from an acquaintance's office — and then ran them through a coin machine, which returned him a tiny fraction of the coins' face value in grocery store credit.
Kaveh writes: “He easily had $33,000 worth, and he dumped it in a Coinstar machine,” the victim told the Palm Beach Post. What he got back was enough for "a couple of 12-packs of beer," the Post reported.