(We realized that some of the links in the first version of this newsletter weren't working so here's a second copy with that problem fixed. Sorry about that!)
Welcome back, and thanks for joining this conversation. If you haven't caught Episode 1 of our "Almost Now" video series, click here for a fun trek through the stop-and-start history of robots (with a Roomba cameo).
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We still like to do some of our own chores:
These are clear messages from the chart above, researched and created by Axios Visuals Editor Lazaro Gamio. Online shopping's headline hiring is impressive on a percentage basis, soaring by 61% since 2003. But it's still only in the hundreds of thousands. Building materials stores employ 1.1 million workers, and have revitalized in recent years; grocery stores employ 2.7 million workers, a number that grew by almost 9% since 2003.
Why it matters: We are starting to get a clearer picture of which traditional stores might survive the shift to online shopping, and who won't: From May 2003 to May 2016, department stores lost some 295,000 jobs. That's in an industry employing 1.3 million people. But, for policymakers, other industries are stepping in to soak up some of those laid off.
Go here to read the rest.
Plunging sales in brick-and-mortar retail will lead more than 8,000 U.S. stores to close this year, analysts say, twice the number killed in 2016. Among the chief victims: workers. Amazon says it's adding 100,000 employees, but, as spelled out in the chart above, a multiple of that number have lost their jobs in recent years. One in 9 Americans work in brick-and-mortar retail, almost 16 million people in all.
Is the bloodletting uncontrollable? We asked five experts. Read their replies here.
GeoQuant's Mark Rosenberg, whose Berkeley-based political scientists use a machine-learning algorithm to assess political risk, makes the surprising argument that we may be headed into a period of political stability. Not calm, mind you, but at least not worse chaos.
Is machine learning any better at forecasting political risk than human beings? We'll find out in the coming months and years as firms like Rosenberg's emerge in a field until now dominated by humans.
A level deeper: ... No impeachment, at least for now: "The Russia investigation and associated (unprecedented) instabilities in U.S. state institutions will continue to weaken the Trump administration's policy agenda, but is unlikely to lead to impeachment given current information."
Read the rest here.
Sci-fi robots, the bipeds we grew up seeing in books and movies, are still largely in our imagination. To the degree they are around, it's largely because of Boston Dynamics, a 25-year-old company that a lot of people call the coolest robot-maker anywhere (see Handle, above).
Which is why it's strange that deep-pocketed Alphabet — one of the most ambitious and prideful companies in the larger artificial intelligence space — last Friday sold Boston Dynamics to SoftBank.
But is Alphabet being short-sighted? The markets seem to think so: Alphabet shares plunged 3.4% on Friday. Softbank's soared 7.4%.
Futurism's Dom Galeon suggests that it's Softbank with the vision this time: The deal fits Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son's aim of prodding along the Singularity, or super-human intelligence, by 2047.
Read the whole post here.
Here are a few stories we liked from Axios and across the Web:
Andrew McAfee, co-author of "The Second Machine Age," says technology has evolved a lot faster than our brains: