This week’s headline quotes James Surowiecki (whose The Wisdom of Crowds is among my favorite books) from his article “Chill: Robots won’t take all our jobs / Robopocalypse Not” in Wired.
I wanted to highlight two upcoming events that may be of interest:
- The Public Library Association and WebJunction will host an "Opioid Crisis Town Hall: Library Needs and Responses" online discussion on September 12 – given the growing concerns around the opioid epidemic in the U.S., this will likely be of interest to many.
- Colleagues from the state libraries of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia as well as COSLINE and LibraryLinkNJ will host a Futures Conference September 25 – 26 - an interesting schedule of speakers that gives a sense of the many directions from which our futures will emerge.
A reminder that we've opened the call for session proposals for our 2018 Symposium on the Future of Libraries, part of the 2018 ALA Midwinter Meeting, February 9 -13 in Denver. We had over 25 sessions at the 2017 Symposium and look forward to another rich discussion of the near- and long-term trends shaping the future of libraries.
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.
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
Wired "Chill: Robots won’t take all our jobs"
Even amid concerns over a jobless future, advances in robotics and artificial intelligence have not yet significantly altered productivity, the availability of jobs, or job churn as people move from company to company and industry to industry after their jobs have been destroyed.
Motherboard "Where are robots affecting American industry the most?"
Even if robots haven’t made significant inroad to overtake jobs, they are still playing roles in industry – researchers at the Brookings Institute's Metropolitan Policy Program mapped out exactly where the estimated 233,305 industrial robots are operating, finding that they are largely concentrated in manufacturing hubs in the Midwest and South, including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee. See also City Lab.
The New York Times “Microsoft teaches autonomous gliders to make decisions on the fly”
Microsoft researchers tested two gliders designed to navigate on their own using computer algorithms that learn from onboard sensors, predict air patterns, and plan a route - these aircraft may eventually be able to stay airborne for hours or even days to track weather patterns, monitor farm crops, or deliver the internet.
Cities and Government
Fast Company “Donald Trump’s Arts Council just resigned, and they want him to do the same”
Members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned in the wake of President Trump’s response to the events in Charlottesville – the commission was established by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and works to advise the president on cultural policy and funding initiatives. See also The Daily Dot and Mashable.
The Huffington Post "There's been a shocking surge in teen overdose deaths"
New data from the National Centers for Health Statistics shows that from 2014 to 2015, drug overdose deaths among teens ages 15 to 19 climbed 19%, the first increase in nearly a decade.
The Daily Dot “Trump abruptly disbands 2 advisory councils after business leaders quit en masse”
Corporate leaders disbanded U.S. President Trump‘s Strategic and Policy Forum in protest of the president’s remarks regarding the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville – in response, President Trump abruptly shut down both the Strategic and Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Council which had also seen members resign. See also Advertising Age and again, Associated Press, Bloomberg and again, CNET and again and again, Consumerist, Engadget, Fast Company and again, GeekWire, Gizmodo, The Huffington Post, Mashable, Mic and again, Racked, ReCode and again and again, and TechCrunch and again and again.
BuzzFeedNews “Apple Pay is cutting off white supremacists”
Apple disabled Apple Pay support for a handful of websites that sold sweaters with Nazi logos, T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “White Pride,” and a bumper sticker showing a car plowing into stick figure demonstrators – the guidelines for Apple Pay forbid the service’s incorporation into sites promoting hate, intolerance, and violence. See also CNET, Engadget, Fast Company, and The Verge.
Fast Company “The ‘March on Google’ has been quashed by the nonexistent ‘alt-left’”
A planned “March on Google” to protest the firing of Google engineer James Damore was postponed by organizers claiming “Alt Left terrorist threats.” See also CNET, The Daily Dot, Mashable, and The Verge.
The Hechinger Report “The newest advantage of being rich in America? Higher grades”
New research from the College Board, scheduled for publication later this year as a book chapter, finds that those enrolled in private and suburban public high schools are awarded higher grades than their urban public school counterparts even as scores on the SAT college-entrance exam went down during the period of grade inflation.
Engadget “ASU students live with Echo Dots while learning voice-control tech”
Students in Arizona State University’s Tooker House engineering residence hall can get a free Amazon Echo Dot and take courses aimed at developing the technology – Amazon has donated 1,600 Dots to the school as well as Alexa Skills Kits that can be used in or outside of the classroom and the university will offer three undergraduate courses focused on voice-user interface development. See also Fast Company and The Verge.
CNET "Girl Scouts reach for stars with NASA space merit badges”
The Girl Scouts of the USA will expand their focus on STEM with a new partnership with NASA and the SETI Institute to offer six new badges covering astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics. See also Fast Company.
The Washington Post “The Trump administration just disbanded a federal advisory committee on climate change”
The Trump administration has disbanded the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning. See also Mic.
Nature "California scientists push to create massive climate-research programme"
California’s flagship universities are in the early stages of developing a California Climate Science and Solutions Institute to coordinate investments in climate research to help the state grapple with the realities of global warming.
Reuters “Neo-Nazi site down after Google, GoDaddy cut registration”
Neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer went offline after its domain registration was revoked by GoDaddy, Google, and Cloudflare – the moves are part of a larger effort by the tech industry to more actively police online hate speech and incitements to violence. For general coverage see ArsTechnica and again and again, The Drum, Engadget, Fast Company, GeekWire, Mashable, ReCode, Reuters, and The Verge and again and again; for GoDaddy response see BBC, Engadget, Fast Company, Gizmodo, The Huffington Post, Mic, and The New York Times; and for Google response see Business Insider, Engadget, Fast Company, Mashable, Mic, ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
CNET “Reddit, Facebook ban Nazi groups after Charlottesville attack”
Reddit and Facebook have each banned groups in the wake of the Charlottesville attack – Reddit banned the r/Physical_Removal subreddit after being flagged for numerous inflammatory remarks and Facebook banned a number of group pages that violated hate speech policies. See also The Daily Dot and Engadget.
Mashable “The Electronic Frontier Foundation issues a warning to companies banning hate groups”
The EFF, a nonprofit that focuses on "defending civil liberties in the digital world," warned against the precedents set by major tech companies in removing sites like The Daily Stormer, stating "All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country. But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with.” See also CNET and Engadget.
Fast Company “The Tor Project won’t censor the Daily Stormer — here’s why”
The Tor Project, which maintains the Tor browser on which users can still access the Daily Stormer on the dark web, has resisted calls to remove the site, stating in a blog post “We are disgusted, angered, and appalled by everything these racists stand for and do. We feel this way any time the Tor network and software are used for vile purposes. But we can’t build free and open source tools that protect journalists, human rights activists, and ordinary people around the world if we also control who uses those tools. Tor is designed to defend human rights and privacy by preventing anyone from censoring things, even us.” See also ArsTechnica.
The Verge “Google adds autoplaying videos to search results on Android”
Google will add “video previews” to search results as a way to enhance video results and give viewers a better sense of what’s inside of each clip. See also TechCrunch.
The Verge “Google is testing a 'Search Lite' app for countries with slow connections”
Google is testing a light version of its Search app meant for areas with poor or slow internet connections – users can search by typing or speaking, there’s a translate function, a Google News section, and local information like weather and businesses.
News and Journalism
TechCrunch “Google and ProPublica team up to build a national hate crime database”
ProPublica and Google News Lab will use machine learning to track hate crimes across America – the Documenting Hate News Index will filter Google News results through Google’s natural language analysis to extract geographic and contextual information to create a data visualization of events. See also Engadget.
Poynter “Google is reportedly working on subscription tools for publishers”
Google will pilot a program with The New York Times and Financial Times to help publishers reach potential subscribers, relaunching a "first click free" function that allows readers to access paywalled content free of charge if they access it through search, developing online payment tools for publishers, and helping publishers target potential subscribers. See also Advertising Age, Bloomberg, Engadget, and The Verge.
The Verge “The Justice Department is demanding information on visitors to an anti-Trump website”
Online web hosting provider DreamHost disclosed that it has been involved in a months-long legal battle with the U.S. Justice Department over records on visitors to the website disruptj20.org, which was used to organize protestors in advance of the inauguration of U.S. President Trump – DreamHost is taking issue with a warrant issued by the department for "all files,” which could compel them to turn over electronic data for visitor logs, IP addresses, and other information that could be used to identify anyone who visited the site. See also ArsTechnica, CNET, Gizmodo, The Guardian, The Hill, The Huffington Post, Mashable, The New York Times, NPR, TechCrunch, and The Washington Post.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
Consumerist “Amazon’s new ‘Instant Pickup’ service should just be called ‘going to the store’”
Amazon’s new Instant Pickup allows Prime and Prime Students members to choose from a curated daily assortment of “essentials” including groceries and electronics that can be picked up from self-service lockers in as little as five minutes – the services is currently available in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Berkeley, CA, Columbus, and College Park, MD. See also CNBC, CNET, The Drum, Engadget, PSFK, Reuters, and TechCrunch.
Bloomberg “Netflix co-founder’s crazy plan: Pay $10 a month, go to the movies all you want”
MoviePass, which provides a subscription service allowing users to see movies at partner theaters as much as they want for a monthly fee, plans to drop the price of the company’s movie ticket subscriptions to $9.95 – the change is likely to be challenged by AMC Entertainment, one of the top movie theater operators. See also CNET and again, Consumerist and again, The Daily Dot, Engadget and again, Fast Company, Gizmodo, Mashable and again, Next Big Future, PSFK, and The Verge.
The New York Times "The messy, confusing future of TV? It’s here"
The hyper-fragmented state of television offers a collection of on-demand services that can collectively cost more than cable bundles, make content harder to find, and invite a growing collection of technology and media companies to pursue advertising dollars and consumer attention.
Billboard “Spotify removes hate music as streaming companies struggle to police their tunes”
Spotify says it has removed white-supremacist musical acts flagged as racist "hate bands" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, stating "illegal content or material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like is not tolerated by us." See also CNET, Engadget, Fast Company, Mashable, and The Verge
Variety “Has Netflix’s Ted Sarandos rescued (or ruined) Hollywood?”
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos revealed that he anticipates spending $7 billion on content next year — up from more than $6 billion over the past year and $5 billion in 2016.
TechCrunch “NBC’s Snapchat news show gains 29+ million viewers in its first month”
NBC News’ daily show for Snapchat has grown its audience to over 29 million unique viewers – Snapchat counts a view as soon as a video opens. See also The Drum.
Advertising Age “Hollywood, Apple said to mull rental plan, defying theaters”
Movie studios Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures are pressing on in talks with Apple and Comcast for a program to offer digital rentals of films weeks after they appear in theaters. See also Engadget.
The Daily Dot “Apple is reportedly investing $1 billion in original programming”
Apple has reportedly set aside $1 billion for original programming and to produce as many as 10 series. See also CNET, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Mashable, ReCode, and TechCrunch.
The Hollywood Reporter “Shonda Rhimes moves to Netflix from ABC with huge overall deal”
Under a new multiple-year deal, Shonda Rhimes and her Shondaland banner – responsible for television hits Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and more – will create and produce new projects for Netflix. See also ArsTechnica, CNET, The Drum, Engadget, Fast Company and again, Mashable, The New York Times, ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
The Drum “Facebook set to expand inventory with augmented reality glasses”
A patent application filed by Oculus could indicate intentions to expand its product catalog with augmented reality glasses, aligning with parent company Facebook’s augmented reality (AR) initiative announced earlier this year.
The Verge “UPS will use VR headsets to train student drivers to avoid road obstacles”
UPS will begin training student delivery drivers using virtual reality headsets to create a simulation of the road and hazards. See also Engadget.
The Verge “Google Home can now make phone calls in the US and Canada”
A new feature for the Google Home smart speaker will allow users in the US and Canada to call people in their contacts and local businesses using their voice and the signature “OK Google” command. See also ArsTechnica, CNET, The Drum, Engadget, Fast Company, Mashable, and TechCrunch.