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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
In the fall of 2017, Amazon made itself a fêted hero to towns and cities across the United States, celebrated for promising to create 50,000 new jobs paying some $100,000 a year in a lucky place that would host the company's second headquarters.
Why it matters: The stink against bigness is spreading, with scholars, lawmakers and grassroots organizers decrying the same Big Tech companies that were once considered 21st century champions.
"In economic development circles, there's been hand-wringing for years about incentives. That said, I've not seen the sort of public backlash that has made a company think twice. Nowhere near this magnitude."— Adam Kamins, director at Moody's Analytics
The big picture: The friction between Amazon and activists is a sure sign of the times. One of the most powerful corporate behemoths, run by the richest man in the world, has selected a site in a community predominantly occupied by working class New Yorkers of color — and the plot is next to the city's largest public housing project.
What's happening: At a press conference Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called HQ2 "the single greatest economic development transaction in the state’s history," and he said it would be wrong to stop the deal due to some political backlash.
The other side: Despite the very public and very loud opposition to Amazon, the public seems to generally approve of the deal. Per a new Siena College Research Institute poll, New Yorkers support HQ2 by a 20-point margin.
I asked Amazon whether it might have to give up some or all of the New York concessions. It responded with this statement:
"We are excited to work with New Yorkers over the coming months and years to bring a new Amazon headquarters to Long Island City and help support the community. We will create 25,000 corporate and technology jobs directly, as well as tens of thousands of other jobs in construction, building services, hospitality and other service industries for all of Queens. We expect our new headquarters to generate more than $27 billion in new tax revenues for community improvements and the people of New York.”
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
On the heels of a sweeping new U.S. plan to retain dominance in artificial intelligence, the Pentagon has cast Chinese development of intelligent weapons as an existential threat to the international order, Kaveh writes.
A day after the release of an executive order by President Trump that omits naming China, the Defense Department, in a new AI strategy document, speaks in stark terms of a "destabilizing" Chinese threat.
"Failure to adopt AI will result in legacy systems irrelevant to the defense of our people, eroding cohesion among allies and partners, reduced access to markets that will contribute to a decline in our prosperity and standard of living, and growing challenges to societies that have been built upon individual freedoms."— DOD 2018 AI strategy summary
The bottom line: The new document, a public summary of a classified strategy developed last year, calls for the Pentagon to realign itself drastically.
"There remains an obvious tension between the deliberate and sometimes slow processes required to develop ethical principles for AI’s use in military contexts and the kind of rapid iteration and experimentation with 'forward edge' technologies that the strategy also champions," says Charlotte Stanton, a fellow in technology and international affairs at the Carnegie Endowment.
Silicon Valley, not just the old-school military-industrial complex, is a vital audience for the document.
A major challenge for the DOD's strategy will be to develop a plan that works with allies, Stanton and Lewis say.
What's next: Forthcoming ethical guidelines from the Pentagon for military use of AI.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager talks Google. Photo: Thierry Tronnel/Corbis/Getty
Last year, Google paid $5.1 billion in fines to the EU. That's more than the $4.2 billion Google paid in worldwide corporate income taxes, notes the FT's John Thornhill.
Erica writes: As we've reported, the EU has taken a lead in the regulation of bigness across industries, going after railroad mergers and Big Tech.
The female scientists lost in footnotes (Ed Yong — The Atlantic)
The new rite of passage: Young, busy and still single (Stef Kight — Axios)
The at-home ancestry test boom (Antonio Regalado — MIT Tech Review)
The banking hub of the American South (Natasha Frost — Quartz)
A treatment testing ground in Congo (Aimee Cunningham — Science News)
When all we needed was love. Photo: Fox Photos/Getty
Climate change is wreaking havoc on coffee growers. Within 30 years, half the land used to grow coffee beans won’t be capable of producing them anymore, reports Fast Company.
In one response in Seattle, the birthplace of Starbucks, a startup called Atomo is trying to engineer a fake coffee product that looks and tastes just like the real thing, but doesn’t use any beans, Erica writes.