This week’s headline quotes Adam Neumann, chief executive and co-founder of WeWork, in a profile of the company’s bold ambitions to reinvent workplaces, residences, athletic clubs, and even education (The New York Times “The WeWork manifesto: First, office space. Next, the world.”).
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.
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Wired “Why artificial intelligence researchers should be more paranoid”
A new report, authored by two dozen researchers from Oxford and Cambridge, the Elon Musk-funded institute OpenAI, digital-rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, computer-security company Endgame, and think tank Center for a New American Security, focuses on the downsides of AI, including malicious uses of the technology. See also Fast Company.
Politico “Facebook’s next project: American inequality”
Facebook is making user data available to a research team led by Stanford economist Raj Chetty, a favorite among tech elites for his focus on data-driven solutions to social and economic problems – the research could help map how geography and social connections play into economic inequality.
New York Magazine “It’s time to end ‘trending’”
Following the Parkland high-school shooting, one of the top trending videos on YouTube was one implying that David Hogg, one of the students pushing for legislative action on gun control, is an actor – YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter all utilize a trending feature, but none of them have a public or transparent definition, instead relying on proprietary algorithms to surface trending content without concern for accuracy or quality. See also The Daily Dot, Engadget, Mashable, The New York Times, Slate, TechSpot, and Wired.
The Verge “Uber Express Pool offers the cheapest fares yet in exchange for a little walking”
Uber’s new Express Pool has riders walk a few extra blocks to their pickup location, meet additional riders who’ve all been matched with the same driver, and be dropped off within walking distance to their final destination – algorithms match riders, routes, and drivers, and riders receive discounted fares compared to other Uber services. See also Engadget, Fast Company, Mashable, NextCity, and TechSpot.
The New York Times “Welcome to the post-text future”
A look at some of the most consequential changes happening to the internet, including the decline of text and the exploding reach and power of audio and video that will lead to changes in political discourse, empowerment, tech addiction, and advertising.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
The New York Times “To give A.I. the gift of gab, Silicon Valley needs to offend you”
Technology companies are pursuing more conversational artificial intelligence technologies, but after previous efforts fell victim to the worst parts of human nature, companies are reluctant to set the systems free to talk with the large numbers of people needed to train the systems.
TechCrunch “Google Assistant will support over 30 languages by year-end, become multilingual”
Google Assistant, the voice control assistant on Android smartphones, tablets, and Google Home speakers, will expand to more than 30 languages over the course of the year and become multilingual, meaning users who speak more than one language will be able to talk to Assistant in all the languages they speak.
The Verge “Google’s new AI algorithm predicts heart disease by looking at your eyes”
Scientists from Google and its health-tech subsidiary Verily have discovered a way to assess a person’s risk of heart disease using machine learning ($) – by analyzing scans of the back of a patient’s eye, the company’s software is able to accurately deduce data, including an individual’s age, blood pressure, and whether or not they smoke. See also ArsTechnica, Fast Company, Mashable, and TechSpot.
Cities and Government
Government Technology “What’s new in civic tech: Bloomberg Philanthropies selects finalists for Mayors Challenge”
Bloomberg Philanthropies announced its 35 Champion Cities for its 2018 Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition aimed at encouraging municipal government leaders to find innovative solutions for the common problems cities face – the winners represent both major cities and smaller communities and will work to address climate, health, the opioid crisis, and preventing arrested youth from re-entering the criminal justice system.
MIT Technology Review “A smarter smart city”
Another look at Sidewalk Labs’ investment in the Quayside neighborhood of Toronto – driverless cars will safely and efficiently navigate the city and make more space for sidewalks and parks, robots will transport packages and retrieve garbage via underground tunnels, and sensors and monitors will feed data into city decision-making.
Communities and Demographics
The Guardian “The town that’s found a potent cure for illness – community”
The town of Frome in Somerset, England, has seen a dramatic fall in emergency hospital admissions since it began a collective project to combat isolation – the Compassionate Frome project was launched in 2013 with a directory of agencies and community groups and “health connectors” and “community connectors” to both plan patient care and provide emotional support.
The Inquirer “Mattel finally launches a proper STEM coding course for Barbie”
Toymaker Mattel and educational tech company Tynker announced an expanded partnership to help kids learn to code, including a Barbie programming experience to introduce young learners to basic programming concepts, code-a-thons and teacher outreach, and global student engagement for the 2018 Computer Science Education Week Hour of Code in December. See also Fast Company.
The Outline “Alt-right leaders can no longer spread disinformation on Medium”
Medium has suspended the accounts of some alt-right leaders, leaving their “articles” and any links to their accounts to redirect to a suspension page, which reads “This page is unavailable”- Medium updated their rules to include a section called “Related Content,” which reads “We do not allow posts or accounts that engage in on-platform, off-platform, or cross-platform campaigns of targeting, harassment, hate speech, violence, or disinformation. We may consider off-platform actions in assessing a Medium account, and restrict access or availability to that account.”
The Verge “UK government will use church spires to improve internet connectivity in rural areas”
The UK government and the Church of England have formed a partnership to use the Church’s buildings and other properties to “improve broadband, mobile, and Wi-Fi connectivity for local communities,” placing wireless transmitters in church spires and towers as well as installing aerials, satellite dishes, and fiber cables in church buildings. See also Digital Trends and The Inquirer.
News and Journalism
Nieman Lab “After years of testing, The Wall Street Journal has built a paywall that bends to the individual reader”
The Wall Street Journal’s subscription prediction model allows it to show different visitors, who have different likelihoods of subscribing, different levels of access to its site – non-subscribed visitors to WSJ.com receive a propensity score based on more than 60 signals, such as whether the reader is visiting for the first time, the operating system they’re using, the device they’re reading on, or what they chose to click on, and a machine learning system informs a flexible paywall how many stories, or what kinds of stories, to let readers read for free, and whether readers will respond to hitting paywall by paying for access or simply leaving.
Nieman Lab “A 2018 survey of fact-checking projects around the world finds a booming field, with at least 149 dedicated initiatives”
A new report from Duke Reporters’ Lab finds that there are at least 149 dedicated fact-checking projects around the world currently active, up from 114 at the 2017 count, and just 44 in the spring of 2014, when the Reporters’ Lab did a global tally for the first time.
Nieman Lab “Can we keep media literacy from becoming a partisan concept like fact checking?”
Data & Society released two new reports on fake news and media literacy, exploring how fake news has become part of the broader schism between scholars/researchers and the right-wing media and the potential for media literacy to become an increasingly partisan issue.
The Guardian “Bad News: the game researchers hope will 'vaccinate' public against fake news”
Cambridge researchers have built an online game, Bad News, in which players compete to become “a disinformation and fake news tycoon – players must amass virtual Twitter followers by distorting the truth, planting falsehoods, dividing the united, and deflecting attention while still maintaining credibility with their audience. See also CNET, The Daily Dot, Fast Company, Gizmodo, and The Verge.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
The New York Times “The WeWork manifesto: First, office space. Next, the world.”
A profile of WeWork, the co-working start-up that has expanded into residential offerings with WeLive, fitness and wellness with Rise, its Flatiron School coding academy, and its soon to arrive for-profit elementary school WeGrow – the company is quickly pursuing its vision to transform the ways people work, live, and play.
ReCode “Amazon plans to open as many as six more cashier-less Amazon Go stores this year”
Amazon plans to open as many as six more Amazon Go stores, including in Seattle and Los Angeles. See also ArsTechnica, Digital Trends, Engadget, GeekWire, Mashable, and TechSpot.
Mashable “Fox News is getting its own streaming service called 'Fox Nation’”
Fox News announced plans for a standalone subscription-only, streaming service, called Fox Nation – the service will feature new shows and "access to exclusive events.” See also CNET, Engadget, Fast Company, and Mashable.