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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
For more than a year, we have reported exceedingly pessimistic forecasts about the future of jobs — robots and automation, we've written, are likelier than not to wipe out a large portion of current U.S. employment by 2030 or so.
Driving the news: The problem isn't only that companies seem likely to automate at a faster and faster pace, but that the U.S. and other advanced economies are doing little to get prepared. Meanwhile — in a tech race against the U.S. — China is in a headlong push to deploy as much advanced robotics as it can.
But there are ways to both cushion the blow of automation and meet the challenge posed by China. Here are a few of them:
1. Decide to keep humans in the mix with robots:
2. Initiate aggressive, long-term job training and upskilling:
3. Award low-interest education loans, and forgive debt:
4. Aggressively fund research in AI, robotics and quantum computing:
The bottom line: Will many — or any — of these measures be adopted by the government or industry? If so, there is no sign of it today. The current 3.7% jobless rate does not help, lulling policymakers and companies into a false sense of confidence. Action could require a new bout of job market mayhem.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
American quantum scientists have been clamoring for a national funding plan to counter China's government-led program.
Driving the news: In unusual bipartisan action, the House yesterday voted 348-11 to fund a $1.2 billion effort to develop quantum computing, sending it to the White House for President Trump's signature
Axios' Kaveh Waddell and Ina Fried write: Among other things, the National Quantum Initiative Act:
Cosmetology class at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty
The U.S. is moving to ease decades of get-tough prisons policy by, among other things, beefing up training programs so that ex-convicts can get jobs.
Kaveh reports: The First Step bill, sent to Trump today, will also reduce some sentences and give judges more sentencing flexibility. But one of the most pernicious aspects of the criminal justice system is how it has fallen short in allowing ex-convicts to make a fresh start.
Why it matters: By one estimate, barriers to employment for former prisoners caused a loss of at least $78 billion in annual GDP in 2014. Yet ex-convicts usually either cannot find work or are paid low wages, according to a Brookings report.
Daniel Yanisse, CEO of Checkr, a company that runs background checks for hiring, tells Axios that the legislation only begins to address the problem but that "it's a really good first step."
Photo: Castaneda Luis/AGF/UIG/Getty
In new allegations today, the U.S. has demonstrated that it does not regard China as a standard-issue geopolitical rival, but as an actor with an unusual criminal dimension.
Reports Axios' Joe Uchill: In an indictment, the U.S. accused two Chinese hackers of a campaign nicknamed Operation Cloud Hopper, which attacked biotech, health care, space and oil enterprises — more than 45 companies in all. "It's just as if they broke into the companies and stole the data physically," said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Details: In the latest case, the U.S. alleges that the two hackers — Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong — conducted their operations in a dozen U.S. states and U.S. government agencies. The group to which they belong — "APT 10" — is accused of attacking a dozen countries in all.
The bottom line: "Cloud Hopper is one of the most aggressive of Chinese groups," said Ben Read, senior manager for cyber intelligence at FireEye.
Photo: Education Images/UIG/Getty
Photo: Jamie Cooper/SSPL/Getty
Picture an angel without a halo. That’s what Saturn, which is one of the most glorious sights to see in the night sky, is rapidly turning into, Axios’ Erica Pandey writes.
The bad news: Gravity is sucking Saturn’s 100-million-year-old rings into the planet. And while we knew the rings were disappearing, we didn’t know how rapidly it was happening, Axios managing editor Alison Snyder notes.
The good news: “Rapidly” in the context of the history of the universe is still a long time. The rings will be around for 300 million more years.