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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
As the U.S. and China struggle for dominance in artificial intelligence, they are locked in a parallel, behind-the-scenes race to master quantum technology, a contest that could result in lasting military superiority and a possible new industrial revolution.
The big picture: Though still far off, conquering quantum technology could result in uncrackable communications, supercharged radar and more deadly undersea warfare. And as of now, China has some serious advantages, Axios' Kaveh Waddell reports.
A new report from the Center for a New American Security draws on open-source material for a window into China’s quantum progress and aspirations.
How it works: Quantum technology capitalizes on the unusual properties of super-tiny particles to surpass what's possible with normal, or "classical," computing.
Among its applications:
Kania and Costello argue that Chinese progress on quantum cryptography is world-class, demonstrated by the launch of the first-ever quantum satellite in 2016. And while China lags on research into quantum computing, it’s quickly catching up.
What's next? Quantum supremacy — the moment when quantum computers will be more capable than classical ones — is still well out of reach, but researchers in both countries are pushing aggressively in that direction.
Why it matters: Among the spoils of conquering the quantum space are computers that could decipher most of the world’s encrypted data, like the NSA’s store of intercepted communications, and overcome the U.S. stealth technologies on which the military heavily relies.
How they got here: China had a "Sputnik moment" in 2013, igniting a national plan that funnels billions of dollars and top scientists into quantum research, the authors write.
In a series of policy recommendations, Kania and Costello say the U.S. needs to initiate a plan that ensures quantum research is well-funded and attracts top scientists from around the world.
Go deeper: The race to build a quantum economy
Asians tend to be among the best-educated immigrants to the U.S., and they also land in some of the most lucrative careers. But, according to U.S. Census data, the image of privilege is true for only some Asians.
The bottom line: Data shows that income inequality is greater among Asian immigrants than for those arriving from anywhere else, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.
How to read the chart (above), via Axios visual journalist Chris Canipe: The circles represent each country's population in the United States. Those on the lower left tend to have smaller average annual incomes and are less likely to have college degrees. Those in the upper right have the highest average incomes and are more likely to have degrees.
London protestors in April. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty
On the first day of much-awaited hearings before the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, a series of speakers mocked Big Tech critics as populists peddling unmoored theories for guaranteeing a fair market for consumers.
What's going on: Today's FTC hearing came as public and political leaders in the U.S. and Europe are grappling with the sudden recognition of the immense commercial, political and social power held by tech giants like Amazon, Facebook and Google. On both continents, the companies face the potential for stiff regulation.
What they're saying: But most of today's speakers belittled proposals to regulate the companies, with some suggesting that it is not clear that they hold too much market power, or even what a tech business is.
The criticism appeared at least in part aimed at a much-circulated paper by Lina Khan, a recent Yale Law School graduate who recently was hired by the FTC. Khan's paper challenged the underpinning of current anti-trust law and argued that it fails to address unique market challenges posed by Amazon.
The paper helped to galvanize the current debate around regulating the Big Tech companies.
We reported in a caption yesterday that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, triggering World War I, in 2014. It was 1914. We regret the error.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, second from right. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty
"I (along with a lot of other folks) fail to understand why the President hasn't declared a national emergency in regards to cybersecurity and/or Congress hasn't gone on a legislative blitzkrieg in regards to cybersecurity. I would think it reasonable to require ALL internet users to register, and mandate minimum anti-cybercrime security measures for all government agencies, military/national defense organizations, critical infrastructure companies, etc ... along with penalties for non-compliance."
"From the snippets provided, it's clear that an underpinning to his thesis [is] that the U.S. must continue to absorb its outsized portion of the costs of maintaining world order for the sake of democracy.
"Additional insight could come from an Axios interview question that probes Kagan's view of the current-vs-future ability of the U.S. to absorb those out-sized costs indefinitely with no remedy — an economic vice geopolitical question that Kagan must consider for bolstering the legitimacy of his thesis. Failure in that consideration of ability plus remedies really leaves a Pollyanna thesis."
Voting in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty
Technology and tyranny (Yuval Noah Harari — Atlantic)
Red flags over Trump's voting security order (Joe Uchill — Axios)
How China's middle class views the trade war (Cheng Li — Foreign Affairs)
Dan Neil reviews a flying car (WSJ)
You need to know math (Makada Henry-Nickie — Brookings)
Musk needs adult supervision (Liam Denning — Bloomberg)
Green tea matcha powder. Photo: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/UIG/Getty
Amazon has beat out most of its competition with a simple philosophy: endless choice at super-low prices. But now, two new trends could be a warning sign for that model.
Why it matters: Food, clothes and makeup firms are among sellers that are becoming either highly customized or, at the other extreme, one-size-fits-all, says CB Insights' Zoe Leavitt. The common goal — the elimination of choice, and the confusion that can accompany it, thus challenging the very calling card of massive retailers like Amazon and Walmart, Erica writes.
The totally anonymous:
The bottom line: Brands can't compete with Amazon on price or convenience, so some are becoming expert curators, Leavitt tells Axios, promising top-notch quality in specific products and, now, eliminating the burden of choice.