Read for Later - “Computing is no longer the domain of the experts alone. It’s everywhere, and it needs to be understood and mastered by almost everyone.”

This week’s headlines quotes MIT President L. Rafael Reif, on the announcement of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, an interdisciplinary hub for work in computer science, AI, data science, and related fields (The New York Times “M.I.T. plans college for artificial intelligence, backed by $1 billion”).

You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures.

What have you read lately to help you think about the future? Drop me a line to let me know what articles and reports you're reading that others might find of interest.

Five Highlights

The New York Times “M.I.T. plans college for artificial intelligence, backed by $1 billion”
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a $1 billion investment to establish the new MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, an interdisciplinary hub for work in computer science, AI, data science, and related fields – the college will create 50 new faculty positions with more than half jointly appointed by the college and by other departments across M.I.T.

MIT Technology Review "The smartphone app that can tell you’re depressed before you know it yourself"
Startups like Mindstrong Health, founded by three doctors including the former director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, are trying to use technology to address issues of depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse – Mindstrong’s approach uses a smartphone app that monitors the ways users type, tap, and scroll across other apps to collect measures of people’s cognition and emotional health. See also Harvard Business Review "AI’s potential to diagnose and treat mental illness".

The Guardian "Growing up in a house full of books is major boost to literacy and numeracy, study finds"
A new research paper, “Scholarly culture: How books in adolescence enhance adult literacy, numeracy and technology skills,” [$] analyzed data from more than 160,000 adults from 31 different countries about the number of books that were in their homes when they were 16, finding that “the total effects of home library size on literacy are large everywhere” and “foster long-term cognitive competencies spanning literacy, numeracy, and ICT skills.”

Poynter “Study: Fake news is making college students question all news”
A new media consumption study, commissioned by the Knight Foundation and published by the nonprofit research institute Project Information Literacy, finds that almost half of the nearly 6,000 American college students surveyed said they lacked confidence in discerning real from fake news on social media and 36% said the threat of misinformation made them trust all media less.

Government Technology "NYC libraries take the lead for Digital Privacy Week"
New York City is holding its first library privacy week this month, featuring more than 30 free public workshops aimed at teaching residents better data privacy practices and helping to raise awareness of cyberthreats, get residents to start thinking proactively, and “position libraries as a place in the 21st century where you can go for these types of digital resources.”

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

Gizmodo "How archivists could stop deepfakes from rewriting history"
Archivists, historians, and educators could provide much needed defense against deepfakes (images and videos manipulated by artificial intelligence to spread misinformation) by leveraging rigidly established principles like provenance, or the origin and chain of custody of information, to help describe and document the context of the content.

Communities and Demographics

The Atlantic "To prevent loneliness, start in the classroom"
As the United Kingdom focuses attention on loneliness through a “minister of loneliness” and plans to address loneliness in classroom curriculum, a look at how U.S. schools could better address loneliness and social isolation through “social education” that would be integrated into existing health-education curricula to teach students how to build and maintain friendships and relationships.

The New York Times “‘Transgender’ could be defined out of existence under Trump administration” and “Transgender people and allies protest Trump plan at rallies and on social media”
According to a memo obtained by The New York Times, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is leading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined at birth as either male or female, the most drastic move yet in a government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law. LGBT activists have mobilized with rallies in New York, a protest outside the White House, and the hashtag #WontBeErased on social media, to make clear that transgender people cannot be expunged from society. See also The New Yorker "The trauma of the Trump administration’s attacks on transgender people".

Economics and the Workforce

ReCode “Inequality in Silicon Valley is getting worse: Wages are down for everyone but the top 10 percent”
A new report from worker advocacy group Working Partnerships USA finds that nine in ten workers in California’s Silicon Valley region make less than they did in 1997 after adjusting for inflation, as an increasing concentration of technology company’s profits benefit high-skilled tech workers while middle-class workers experience stagnating wages.

Vice "The hot new Gen-Z trend is skipping college"
A look at some of the growing interest in technical and trade schools, where students can find career pathways without incurring significant student debt – that renewed interest in the trades could be challenged by automation, especially if forces turn against the labor unions that have served as a protective force in these industries.

Journalism and News

The Verge "Facebook may have knowingly inflated its video metrics for over a year"
Facebook knew about inaccuracies in the video viewership metrics that it provided to advertisers and brands for more than a year, according to documents filed as part of a potential class action lawsuit – the inflated data would have led advertisers to focus more resources on Facebook’s video platforms and led many media organizations to put an emphasis on Facebook video to the detriment of other editorial efforts. See also Nieman Lab.


ReCode “It turns out that Facebook could in fact use data collected from its Portal in-home video device to target you with ads”
Facebook has clarified some of the data collection information initially reported with the launch of its in-home, voice-activated Portal device – reaching out to ReCode, Facebook noted that while Portal doesn't have ads, data about who a user calls and which apps users use on Portal can be used to target ads on other Facebook-owned platforms or apps.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

The New York Times "Sears, the original everything store, files for bankruptcy"
Adding to a challenging year for brick and mortar retail stores, Sears filed for bankruptcy protection and laid out a plan for turning its business around, closing 142 unprofitable stores but still contending with limited inventory supply from skeptical vendors – Sears stores remain the centerpiece of hundreds of shopping centers across the United States and their decline has reduced traffic to many of those malls.

The Sharing Economy

Vox “The share economy is coming for your closet”
Rent the Runway, the big player in the fashion rental economy, made news this week (Business Insider “Rent the Runway now has drop-off locations at WeWork offices in 6 major cities” and The New Yorker “Rent the Runway wants to lend you your look”), but this look at startup Tulerie, a peer-to-peer, invitation-only fashion rental company might help provide some additional insight into sharing trends – Tulerie membership is free, but users must first be interviewed and accepted into the network; users can rent clothing, shoes, and accessories to one another, with the app acting as a medium for borrowers and lenders; and an algorithm helps determine how much items should be rented for.

TechCrunch “Lyft’s $299 subscription plan is launching to the masses”
Lyft will make its all-access monthly subscription plan available to everyone in the U.S., offering 30 rides (up to $15 each) per month for $299 – the subscription product is part of the company’s plan to lure more users to give up car ownership.