This week’s headline quotes the Digital News Project 2017 report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism – the report analyzed thousands of open-ended responses from news consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Australia, France, and Greece about their reasons for low trust in the news media and social media (Nieman Lab “Why don’t people trust the news and social media? A new report lets them explain in their own words”).
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.
Mashable “Facebook's suicide prevention AI just got an important upgrade” and “Facebook's AI suicide prevention tool can save lives, but the company won't say how it works”
Facebook’s AI-based suicide prevention tool can now use its pattern recognition to determine when a user may be expressing thoughts of suicide or self-harm and proactively route those indicators to Facebook's specially-trained reviewers who, in turn, can contact first responders – while the technology represents an unparalleled opportunity to understand and predict suicide risk, the company won't share many details about how it works or whether it'll broadly share its findings with academics and researchers. See also CNET, The Daily Dot, The Drum, Engadget, Fast Company and again, Reuters, Slate, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
The New York Times “The great American single-family home problem”
As cities build up with condominium and apartment towers, low-density single-family neighborhoods could become a point of contention in the struggle between affordable housing and residents' desire for small neighborhoods.
The Hechinger Report “The vast majority of students with disabilities don’t get a college degree”
The vast majority of special education students can grasp rigorous academic content, but may still underperform in college – about a third who enroll in a four-year college or university graduate within eight years – becuase many have not been prepared in the soft skills (how to study, manage their time, and self-advocate) that will help them in higher education.
Nieman Lab “Why don’t people trust the news and social media? A new report lets them explain in their own words”
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s new report on trust in the media finds that two-thirds of respondent (67%) cited bias, spin, or hidden agendas as a reason they don’t trust what they read, with political biases a particularly significant concern among U.S. respondents; trust in news is significantly higher among people above the age of 35 (42%) than those younger than 35 (34%) and people of low income (35%); and video and television are seen as less open to manipulation compared to text and photos. See also Nieman Lab.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
ReCode “Artificial intelligence doesn't have to be evil. We just have to teach it to be good.”
Religion, philosophy, and the humanities could play an increasingly important role in the development of artificial intelligence as developers struggle to create a moral compass for the technology.
The New York Times “A.I. will transform the economy. But how much, and how soon?”
Three new pieces of research (an “AI Index” created by researchers at Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other organizations; a McKinsey Global Institute report; and a National Bureau of Economic Research article by economists from M.I.T. and the University of Chicago) suggest that A.I. can likely do less now than we think, but that it will eventually do more in more sectors than we could expect, and that it will probably evolve faster than past technologies. See also The Verge.
Demographics and Communities
The Wall Street Journal “Silicon Valley struggles to add conservatives to its ranks”
As technology companies seek to bolster diversity of all kinds among their hundreds of thousands of employees, some are exploring an ideological diversity that would balance the perception that platforms and their companies have a liberal bias.
CNBC “Brown University raising $120 million to eliminate all student loans”
Brown University has initiated a $120 million campaign to drop all loans from financial aid packages awarded to undergraduates, becoming the sixteenth U.S. institution, and the sixth in the Ivy League, to offer all of its undergraduates a loan-free education – the plan aims to replace financial aid packages with grants that do not have to be repaid.
The Atlantic “Poor girls are leaving their brothers behind”
Women are increasingly enrolling and completing postsecondary education as men’s rates of graduation remain relatively stagnant, and the divide is becoming evident even among low-income and minority populations (12.4% of men from low-income families who were high-school sophomores in 2002 had received a bachelor’s degree by 2013, compared to 17.6% of women from low-income families) – boys from low-income families appear to struggle more in school than girls do and may be more affected by the negative effects of low-quality schools.
The Boston Globe “For black students, a college degree means long-term debt”
Recent research and data from the US Department of Education indicate that African-American students are taking a greater financial risk than other groups in going to college – African-American students who started college in 2003-04 typically owed 113% of their student loan 12 years later, compared to 65% for white borrowers and 83% for Hispanic borrowers, according to the most recent data analyzed by the Center for American Progress.
The Hechinger Report “These students are finishing high school, but their degrees don't help them go to college”
Twenty-four states provide alternative diploma or certificate options that give students with special needs alternate options for coursework if they have trouble keeping up with the typical requirements, but states’ processes and confusion among parents may relegate capable students into diluted settings, stunting their ability to not only learn in school but also leverage those diplomas or certificates for college entrance or with employers.
Motherboard “Rural America is building high-speed internet the same way it built electricity in the 1930s”
Not-for-profit electric cooperatives that received federal subsidies to build out electricity infrastructure for rural America are taking on the digital divide by offering high speed fiber optic internet to the home for their members – as of 2017, 60 electric cooperative across the US have started broadband projects, according to a recent policy brief published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, but net neutrality revisions that no longer consider the internet a utility could set up roadblocks to co-ops looking to expand to internet.
Internet of Things
PSFK “Marriott unveiled a futuristic vision for an IoT hotel room”
Marriott Hotel’s IoT Guestroom Lab features intuitive lighting, voice-activated room controls, and a virtual assistant that can set up a wake-up alarm, start a yoga routine on a full-length mirror, request additional housekeeping services, or start the shower at a desired temperature, all by voice or app.
News and Journalism
ReCode “Facebook is giving some publishers a ‘breaking’ label for news posts”
Facebook will let some publishers pilot a “breaking” tag to news stories, making it easier for readers to identify news while scrolling through their feed – publishers can leave the tag on a story for as little as 15 minutes or as long as six hours and can use the tag once in a 24-hour period. See also Engadget.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
Fast Company “WeWork creeps further into time and space with Meetup purchase”
WeWork has acquired Meetup, the 15-year-old platform for community workshops and gatherings, bringing together Meetup’s 35 million members with the 170 We Work locations and allowing an easier platform for WeWork members to connect with one another across shared interests. See also Mashable, TechCrunch, and Wired.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Engadget “BBC launches VR division with ISS spacewalk experience”
The BBC released a VR spacewalk experience and formally announced a VR team that will work with directors, showrunners, and "digital experts" on new pieces.
TechCrunch “Virtual reality headset unit sales are slowly improving”
A new report from technology market analyst firm Canalys finds that high-end VR headset sales have moved past one million units in a single quarter for the first time ever – in Q3 of 2017, Sony shipped 490,000 PlayStation VR headsets, Oculus shipped 210,000 Rift headsets, and HTC shipped 160,000 Vive units.
The Verge “Amazon’s next job for Alexa is helping out in your office”
Amazon announced a new Alexa for Business service for companies interested in using Alexa in the workplace to launch conference calls, organize room bookings, and manage expenses. See also Advertising Age, CNBC, Engadget, Fast Company, GeekWire, Quartz, TechCrunch and again, and The Wall Street Journal.