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The China 2025 Bugaboo

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Yes--but it's far from enough to satisfy China hawks like U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Markets clearly recognize this: The S&P 500 ended up only 0.5% Wednesday after the news broke. Moreover, the China 2025 plan itself--despite all the attention it has received--may be less menacing than it seems. What's really needed to take negotiations to the next level, and assuage market concerns, is for China to enact a few big-bang reforms to convince foreigners that Xi Jinping's administration is committed to level dealing. Doing away entirely with most joint-venture requirements--instead of endless foot-dragging and qualifications--is one possibility.


Apple Plans Billion-Dollar Texas Campus in Wave of New Sites

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Apple said it would add more than 1,000 employees apiece in San Diego, Seattle and Culver City, Calif., areas where it has been increasing staff to support its development of custom chips, machine-learning systems and Hollywood programming. It also plans hundreds of additional jobs in cities where it already has offices, including New York, Boston and Portland, Ore. The Austin campus would have the capacity to eventually accommodate 15,000 employees, Apple said, and was expected to make the company the city's largest private employer. The announcement came weeks after Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc. GOOGL -0.02% said they would expand in regions where they already have a presence.


Uber Lays Groundwork for IPO

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The S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission puts Uber neck-and-neck with Lyft. Both planned IPOs are shaping up to be among the biggest in a spate of offerings aimed for 2019. Lyft said Thursday it had filed its S-1, and people familiar with the matter have said it is aiming to debut in March or April. Uber's filing indicates it could go public as soon as the first quarter, as The Wall Street Journal reported in October. That would be sooner than many observers had expected.


Readers Respond to Robot Phone Interviews

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"This is pure corporate laziness," wrote Craig Picken, an executive recruiter based in Wilmington, N.C., who on LinkedIn called the process "D-U-M-B." "Did you hear that?" added Keith Campagna, an Allentown, Penn., regional sales manager for recruiting software company Jobvite. "That was the sound of a whole bunch of well-qualified, passive workers hanging up. Because recruitment is inherently a human process." Companies say they have reason to rethink how they hire now.


White House Convenes Tech Leaders for Summit

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President Trump briefly joined the meeting, which marked an easing of tensions between Washington and Silicon Valley. Tech-industry executives have been critical of Mr. Trump's policies on immigration and climate change since his election. Other notable attendees included U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The summit's theme was "Industries of the Future." It was intended to be a listening session for tech leaders to share policy ideas, a senior administration official said.


Microsoft Pushes Urgency of Regulating Facial-Recognition Technology

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Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, dialed up the urgency on Thursday, arguing that delays to enacting new rules could "exacerbate societal issues." Society is ill-served "by a commercial race to the bottom, with tech companies forced to choose between social responsibility and market success," he wrote in a blog post. Mr. Smith also was scheduled to speak about Microsoft's position Thursday at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., the same day a group of tech leaders from Microsoft and other companies visited the White House for a summit on issues including artificial intelligence. Microsoft's advocacy of regulation underlines the ambivalence over powerful new technologies enabled by advances in AI. Adoption of facial recognition is proceeding quickly--especially in China, where the government uses it extensively for surveillance--stirring concerns about potential misuse.


Robot Reality Check: They Create Wealth---and Jobs

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This might seem bonkers given the reasonable fear that computers, robots and AI could wipe out half of all jobs in the next 20 years. It also might seem foolhardy from the C-suite perspective, since not all robots are suited for all jobs, and underused robots are costlier than a seasonal or on-demand human workforce. The bulk of economists argue that automation ultimately creates more jobs. That might be of little comfort to a Detroit assembly-line worker. Automation does eliminate jobs in the short term, with often painful and even permanent consequences.


The Future of Lunch Delivery Looks Like a Giant Roomba

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It seemed like a gimmick. Beijing has hordes of scooter-riding delivery people to fetch your noodles and dumplings at the swipe of a smartphone app. I gave the robots a try anyway, placing my salad order on a delivery app as usual, but specifying that I wanted a robot in the building to bring it to me. The advantages soon became clear. They don't get impatient or angry, like human delivery people sometimes do, and they don't waste my time asking for directions.


Deepak Chopra's Path to Enlightenment Runs Through an App

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From across the room, his Amazon Alexa device says, "Deepak, as of now here's your daily reflection." It continues in Mr. Chopra's voice saying, "Topic: Creating a joyful energetic body." Mr. Chopra suddenly shouts, "OK stop!" Alexa doesn't listen, so Mr. Chopra stands up and walks toward it. "I never listen to my own voice, ever," he says. "It makes me too self-conscious."


Drone Rules Likely Delayed, Grounding Growth

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But despite extensive company-government cooperation--spurred by White House pledges to fast-track decisions--trade-association leaders now see final FAA regulatory action stretching past the end of the decade. Some experts say 2022 is more likely. That would be up to three years later than some of the agency's initial projections, and many months longer than a revised timetable the FAA and its parent agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, shared informally just months ago. "I'm not happy about it," said Brian Wynne, president and chief executive of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the industry's leading trade group. The process needs to move forward, he said in an interview, because so many commercial applications are in a holding pattern until new rules are approved.