Read for Later – “Only a diffusion of innovation, rather than its concentration into just a few companies, can mitigate dramatic disruptions.”

This week’s headline quotes Maja Pantic, Professor of Affective and Behavioural Computing at Imperial College London, expressing the reasons for her concern over technology firms’ aggressive recruitment of talented computer scientists away from academia and into the private sector (The Guardian “'We can't compete': Why universities are losing their best AI scientists”).

You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures. The Center's trend cards are also available to help you talk with colleagues and members of the community, map how trends fit together or how they fit into your community, or spark innovation activities.

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. 

Five Highlights

The Guardian “'We can't compete': Why universities are losing their best AI scientists”
Many of the best computer scientists are being recruited away from research universities by technology companies eager to harness the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning – the resulting brain drain could actually delay AI’s development by taking leading thinkers out of the public discourse of academic research and limiting the pool of educators available to train future generations of innovators. 

The Verge “Audible is using machine learning to let romance novel fans ‘skip to the good part’”
Audible’s new "Take Me To The Good Part" feature for their Audible Romance package uses machine learning to scan a book for keywords and groups of words that are indicative of scenes of interest to romance readers (First Meeting, Flirty Banter, Sexual Tension, First Kiss, I Want You, Trouble in Paradise, It Might Be Love, Declaration of Love, and Proposal) – users can use the feature to skip directly to the type of content they want to read. See also Mashable and Quartz.

Wired “Facebook and Google are actually 'net states.' And they rule the world”
A proposal to expand our world view further beyond nation-states to include non-states (terrorist organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda) and now “net-states,” the digital non-state actors that exist largely online, enjoy international devotees, and advance belief-driven agendas that they pursue separate from, and at times, above, the law - think Google, Facebook, Twitter, and even hacktivist collectives like Anonymous and Wikileaks.

Yale E360 “Federal agencies deliver blunt report on human-caused climate change”
The new Climate Science Special Report published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program as part of the National Climate Assessment concludes that the climate is changing and global temperatures are rising “primarily in response to human activities,” that it is “extremely likely” that human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation have been “the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” and that “there is no convincing alternative explanation” for the changes observed over the last century. See also Mic and NPR.

Mashable “The Wing continues its women-only co-working/social club takeover”
The female-focused co-working space and social club The Wing has proven a popular space for women to network across fields, take meetings, and participate in evening programs – with a waitlist of over 8,000 for the $2,350 annual membership, the club will open a second Manhattan location with plans to expand into Brooklyn and Washington, D.C. in 2018.  

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

Motherboard “The bots that are changing politics”
A look at how bots - software that imitates human behavior as chat bots for customer support and political bots that advocate political perspectives, target journalists, or artificially inflate political posts’ popularity - have altered public discourse in the United States and around the world.

Engadget “AI can write surprisingly scary and creative horror stories”
The AI Shelley, named after Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, creates new horror stories tweeted out from her account @shelley_ai and uses responses from other users to pick up and continue the story – the team that developed the AI used 140,000 horror stories from the subreddit r/nosleep to teach the AI how to tell a horror story that a human would find intelligible, compelling, and scary.

District Administration “Artificially intelligent math for school educators”
Teacher Advisor With Watson brings IBM’s Watson to K-5 educators to provide a database of open educational math resources that can be analyzed for relevant concepts based on a teacher’s search query, providing free lessons, teaching plans, activities, and videos.


Fast Company “Bjork’s new album goes all-in on the blockchain craze”
Bjork will partner with British startup Blockpool to include cryptocurrency with her new album’s release, allowing users to purchase the record using cryptocurrencies and giving 100 Audiocoins (a two-year-old cryptocurrency aimed at the music industry) to purchasers – fans can unlock new “crypto rewards” by interacting with Bjork and her music, including by attending live shows. See also Engadget and Gizmodo.

Demographics and Communities

Blavity “New report puts the spotlight on the black transgender experience”
The U.S. Transgender Survey’s Report on the Experiences of Black Respondents, from the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), Black Trans Advocacy, and the National Black Justice Coalition, finds that black trans Americans face "deeper and broader forms of discrimination" than their white peers across a range of areas from income to sexual assault.

Pew Research Center “Use of Spanish declines among Latinos in major U.S. metros”
New Pew Research Center analysis of Census data finds that even as the number of Latinos who speak Spanish at home continues to increase due to the overall growth of the Latino population, the share of Latinos who speak the language has declined over the past decade or so - 73% of Latinos spoke Spanish at home in 2015, down from 78% in 2006.


The New York Times “The disappearing American grad student”
As a booming tech job market lures Americans directly into careers and away from graduate education in STEM, colleges and universities are finding a growing proportion of their graduate programs filled by international students, especially in STEM areas – this trend can help universities and employers stay integrated in an international talent pool, but the current climate around immigration (xenophobia, hostile political rhetoric, and proposed travel bans) could jeopardize that flow of talent.

Journalism and News

Mashable “CNN is launching a subscription tier, the era of free stuff on the internet is officially over”
CNN joins a growing group of media outlets moving away from a free access, ad-based model to a tiered subscription model, launching value-added content from CNN Money and CNN Politics to subscribers.

WWD “Condé Nast to cease Teen Vogue in print, cut 80 jobs and lower mag frequencies”
Conde Nast will impose a hiring freeze, cut 80 jobs, reduce the frequencies of most of its titles, and shutter Teen Vogue in print, a publication that had emerged as a critical voice for Gen-Z and Millennials perspectives critical of the current U.S. presidential administration. See also Mashable.

Mic “‘DNAinfo,’ ‘Gothamist’ owner abruptly shutters sites 6 days after staff unionizes”
Joe Ricketts, billionaire owner of the local news websites DNAinfo and Gothamist, abruptly shut both news websites shortly after their staffs voted to unionize – in addition to the access issues resulting from the sites’ archives being deleted, the shutdown also raises concern for the future of city-centric and neighborhood-focused news coverage, something that DNAInfo and Gothamist had innovated. See also Advertising Age, Mashable, and ReCode.


Slate “Apple plans to share some data that the iPhone X collects about your face. That’s a huge worry.”
The iPhone X’s facial recognition feature has been touted as a major security feature to unlock the phone, but as Apple explores the feature’s use by third-party developers there is growing concern that some of the biometric data Face ID collects will be shared more widely and increase security and privacy concerns. See also Reuters.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

The Guardian “'Shoppertainment': How department stores are becoming 'theatres of dreams’”
As retail shifts toward the experiential, shopping malls like Westgate’s John Lewis in the United Kingdom are training staff in theater and acting lessons, voice coaching, and body language skills as they seek to develop an experience of “characters” to suit customers’ needs and wants.

ReCode “Amazon is shutting down its Fresh grocery delivery service in parts of at least nine states”
Amazon emailed customers to inform them that the Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service was closing in certain neighborhoods later in November – even as the service remains active in certain states and big cities, the closure indicates the difficulty of making fast, convenient delivery economical (even with subscribers paying $14.95 a month in addition to the $99 Prime membership). See also ArsTechnica, CNET, Engadget, GeekWire, and TechCrunch.

Virtual Reality

Wired “Opioids haven't solved chronic pain. Maybe virtual reality can”
An increasing number of hospitals are testing virtual reality as a means of improving patient outcomes, especially around the treatment of chronic pain, which afflicts more than 25 million Americans.