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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
As the U.S. and China rewrite their rules of engagement, the open exchange of scientific research and talent between the two powers is under scrutiny, Axios' Alison Snyder and I report.
The big picture: Experts warn a "decoupling" of the two global powers — unwinding economic and technological dependencies, as well as raising barriers to collaboration — would destabilize the world and put the U.S.'s innovation edge at risk.
"The openness of the U.S. system has been exploited," says Samm Sacks, a fellow at the New America foundation. "Now the question is, 'Is it possible to maintain that openness in a way that’s resilient?'"
Yes, according to a recent report from the MITRE Corp. outlining the risks that come with international collaboration on research.
What's happening: Lawmakers recently formed two groups to address — and fight — foreign influence in U.S. research.
There have also been proposals to wall off areas of research from foreign students or to restrict who can come to the U.S. to study in the first place.
Meanwhile, China is trying to draw scientists back to the country, and other nations are trying to woo AI talent.
The bottom line: A true decoupling that gives the U.S. no visibility into technological advancement in China could be "really dangerous," says New America's Sacks.
"Gene-editing? AI? These are technologies that are going to fundamentally change society, and if China and the U.S. go down completely different paths here, there could be dire consequences for humanity," she says.
But, but, but: "One reason not to fear imminent decoupling is that, even at its most successful, China’s model of technological development can proceed only so fast," the Economist writes in its latest issue. "When a technology is complex and expensive, progress is slow, as is shown in the manufacture of semiconductors."
By the numbers: St. Louis Fed researchers found that more than 3% of American employees worked primarily from home in 2017, up from 0.7% in 1980.
What they're saying: "The technological substrate of collaboration has gotten shockingly good over the last decade," wrote Stripe CTO David Singleton in May, announcing that his company's fifth engineering hub would be "remote."
My thought bubble: As we've reported, a largely overlooked reason preventing millions of Americans from finding work is that they live too far from open jobs. For some of these workers, the growing acceptance of remote work could lead to new opportunities.
The bottom line: America's self-employed have been working from home for decades. Now full-time employees are beginning to discover the attractions of avoiding the dreaded open office.
Photo: Patrick Pleul/Getty Images
The hottest tractors on the market right now aren't driverless or run by computers. They're 40 years old.
What's happening: Farmers in the Midwest are getting tired of $150,000 futuristic tractors that run on software, and they're opting for the simpler John Deere models from the late '70s, which work fine without all the fuss, the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Adam Belz writes.
Why it matters: Tractors are the latest example of the fight over right to repair, pitting farmers against corporations like John Deere.
The bottom line: Newer and tech-infused isn't always better.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Big Tech struggles to police deepfakes (Sara Fischer — Axios)
Walmart's robot associates (Sarah Nassauer — WSJ)
Why McDonald's is stalling on fake meat (Kelsey Piper — Vox)
The tech that will invade our lives in 2020 (Brian Chen — NYT)
Trump Country's love affair with China (Marrian Zhou — Nikkei Asian Review)
After conquering the plant-based burger, fake meat startups are focusing on perfecting other meat alternatives.
Driving the news: Impossible Foods is now out with Impossible Pork. The company distributed samples at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, and tasters said it closely mimicked real pork, Vox reports.
Thanks for reading!