This week’s headline quotes Sian Berry, leader of the Green party in the London Assembly, in a fascinating article from The Guardian documenting the rise of pseudo-public spaces, privately-owned public spaces governed by restrictions drawn up by the landowner and usually enforced by private security companies.
Apologies for a very late post this week – I ran into some problems getting everything on the web site (user error, my fault). Back to normal schedule next week.
You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures.
And as you scan through these articles, consider dropping me a line to let me know what you're reading this week to help prepare for the future.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
Motherboard “MIT created an AI that knows the ingredients in your food”
A new report from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory tells of a deep-learning AI algorithm called "Pic2Recipe" that is able to retrieve the likely ingredients of a meal based on just a picture – the algorithm was trained with 1,029,720 recipes and 887,706 meal images from popular cooking websites to create a database that identifies the correct ingredients 65% of the time. See also Gizmodo and The Verge.
Inc. “Lyft creates self-driving car unit”
Ride-hailing service Lyft announced plans to develop autonomous vehicle technology, but with an open network approach inviting automakers and tech companies to use it to haul passengers in their self-driving vehicles and gather data and even share computer software and sensor technology. See also Engadget.
Books and Publishing
TechCrunch “Amazon’s chat fiction app Rapids ties up with Amazon Studios with launch of ‘Signature Stories’”
Amazon’s instant messaging-like chat fiction app, Amazon Rapids, will be enhanced by a new “Signature Stories” program that integrates characters from TV shows and celebrity voice talent to further appeal to young readers.
Cities and Government
TechCrunch “Elon Musk says he has ‘verbal’ okay to build multi-state underground Hyperloop”
Elon Musk said on Twitter that he received “verbal government approval” to build an underground Hyperloop transit network connecting New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC, with stops connecting each city center, and a dozen more entry or exit elevators located within each city – the “verbal approval” is said to have come from the White House, though no comment can confirm what that verbal approval actually means. See also Engadget and again, Reuters, The Verge, and Wired.
The Guardian “Revealed: the insidious creep of pseudo-public space in London”
Pseudo-public spaces – large squares, parks, and thoroughfares that appear to be public but are actually owned and controlled by developers and their private backers – are on the rise in London and many other British cities, leaving citizens to navigate sometimes unpublished and changing restrictions enforced by private security companies.
Bloomberg “Student debt is a major reason millennials aren't buying homes”
New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds that college tuition hikes and the resulting increase in student debt burdens have caused a significant drop in homeownership among young Americans – as much as 35% of the decline in young American homeownership from 2007 to 2015 is due to higher student debt loads, the researchers estimate.
Pew Research Center “More U.S. households are renting than at any point in 50 years”
Pew Research Center’s analysis of Census Bureau housing data finds that more U.S. households are headed by renters than at any point since at least 1965 – the total number of households in the United States grew by 7.6 million between 2006 and 2016, but while the number of households headed by owners remained relatively flat, the number of households renting their home increased significantly from 31.2% of households in 2006 to 36.6% in 2016.
The Verge “Jodie Whittaker is Doctor Who’s thirteenth Doctor”
The BBC announced that Jodie Whittaker will be the latest actor to take on the role of The Doctor on Doctor Who, the first female actor to fill the role of the Doctor in the 50-plus year history of the show – the show’s narrative had already established that Time Lords like Doctor Who are able to regenerate as different races and genders. See also Ars Technica, The Daily Dot, Gizmodo and again, Mashable, Mic, Next Big Future, and TechCrunch.
District Administration “Creating summer meals so students aren't left hungry”
Across the country, school districts are building and publicizing summer meal programs to keep low-income children from suffering the health and cognitive effects of summer hunger – from cafeteria lunches served during summer school to food trucks stationed at trailer parks.
ReCode “More women and minorities than ever are taking college-level computer courses in high school”
The introduction of a new AP course, Computer Science Principles, which tackles larger computer science concepts, isn’t constrained to one programming language, and has students submit a portfolio of apps they’ve created rather than simply taking a multiple-choice test, has resulted in more students taking the course and test, including 15,000 young women and 13,000 underrepresented minorities (blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and Native Pacific Islanders). See also GeekWire and Wired.
BBC “Google to add 'news feed' to website and app”
Google will add a Facebook-style news feed to its homepage, suggesting content based on users’ prior searches and the option to "follow" topics of interest in their feed. See also Advertising Age and CNET.
The Street “Facebook exec Campbell Brown: We are launching a news subscription product”
The head of Facebook’s news partnerships said the company will launch a subscription-based news product built on top of Facebook's Instant Articles, steering readers to a publisher's home page to consider taking out a digital subscription and even creating paywalls which would require readers to become subscribers of the platform after they'd accessed 10 articles. See also Engadget, The New York Times, and The Verge.
Play and Toys
Slate “The FBI is warning parents about the risks of internet-connected toys spying on kids”
An FBI advisory warns that connected toys “typically contain sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage components, and other multimedia capabilities — including speech recognition and GPS options” that can be hacked to record video and audio of children unbeknownst to parents, raising the risk for child identity fraud and exploitation from criminals. See also Consumerist.
BuzzFeed “After 2016 hack, House Democratic Committee switches to encrypted messaging”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has transitioned to Wickr, an end-to-end encrypted software, for all internal communication and for communication between the DCCC and the 20 most vulnerable House incumbent campaigns.
Retail, Restaurants, and Spaces
The Times “Amazon ready to cash in on boom in meal kits”
Amazon registered a trademark in the US for a new service called “We do the prep. You be the chef,” covering “prepared food kits . . . ready for assembly as a meal” – the service is set to compete with Blue Apron and other meal delivery services and has already debuted in some markets. See also ArsTechnica, Bloomberg, BuzzFeed, CNET, Consumerist, Engadget and again, GeekWire and again, Gizmodo, Inc. and again, Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
The Chicago Tribune “Despite growth of streaming, Redbox CEO sees future in DVD rentals”
After removing nearly 1,000 kiosks in 2016, Redbox is now adding 1,500 kiosks back into circulation, projecting a long-running future as a provider of convenient DVD rental.
TechCrunch “Amazon launches Spark, a shoppable feed of stories and photos aimed at Prime members”
Amazon Spark, a new feature aimed at improving product discovery, uses shoppable photos and user-generated stories stories, ideas, and images that shoppers can comment on and like with “smiles” – Amazon hopes to shift some of the social activity around products taking place on sties like Instagram and Pinterest back to Amazon. See also CNET, Inc., and Mashable.
Neiman Lab “NBC News invents the script for a twice-daily Snapchat news show”
NBC News will launch morning and evening news programs exclusively on Snapchat Discover, NBC News’ first time doing mobile-only produced content on such a short timeline – all the stories created for the show are used exclusively on the Snapchat platform. See also The Drum, Engadget, New York Magazine, ReCode, and TechCrunch.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Wired “Google Glass 2.0 is a startling second act”
Google Glass, which has been shifted to parent company Alphabet's X division, has been reintroduced in a new Glass Enterprise Edition, quietly put into use in dozens of workplaces including GE, Boeing, DHL, and Volkswagen. See also CNET, The Daily Dot, The Drum, Mashable, Next Big Future, PSFK, ReCode, and The Verge.
PSFK “Estée Lauder is combining chatbots with augmented reality”
Beauty brand Estée Lauder has partnered with augmented reality group ModiFace to create a Facebook Messenger chatbot that customers can consult via live video feed to sample lipsticks and take a quiz to prompt the chat bot to locate lipstick products based on their answers.
The Verge “You’ll be able to talk to Alexa on Android phones starting this week”
Amazon’s Alexa will now be available on Android devices, so long as the phone has Amazon’s main shopping app installed.
Advertising Age “Sears to integrate Alexa into appliances and start selling on Amazon”
Sears will sell its Kenmore appliance line on Amazon.com and integrate Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa into the appliances, allowing air conditioners and other devices to respond to voice commands. See also Consumerist, Endgadget, TechCrunch, and The Verge.