This week’s headline quotes David Hakanson, Saint Louis University’s Vice President and Chief Information Officer, as the university plans to deploy more than 2,300 Echo Dot smart devices in resident hall rooms and a custom SLU Alexa skill to provide instant answers to more than 100 questions specific to the university (Engadget “Saint Louis University will put 2,300 Echo Dots in student residences”). Okay...but I think most of us would agree that the ability to search for and evaluate information online is a key part of a student's education.
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Engadget “Saint Louis University will put 2,300 Echo Dots in student residences”
Saint Louis University has unveiled plans to provide all 2,300 student residences on campus (both dorms and apartments) with Echo Dots that can access to an SLU Alexa skill that provides answers to "more than 100" common questions, including the location of a building, event timing, or library hours – the university may be the first such institution to put smart speakers in every residence. See also Gizmodo.
The Los Angeles Times “Amazon partners with L.A. community colleges for cloud computing program”
A new partnership between Amazon and the California Cloud Workforce project, composed of Los Angeles-area community colleges and partner high schools, has established a 15-credit certificate program to help students learn to code in one of the biggest software growth areas: cloud computing, an increasingly popular online-based technology that is used for data analytics and file storage.
NPR “Hundreds of newspapers denounce Trump's attacks on media in coordinated editorials”
More than 300 news publications joined together to defend the role of a free press and denounce President Trump's ongoing attacks on the news media in coordinated editorials – the project was led by staff members of the editorial page at The Boston Globe. See also The Guardian.
MIT Technology Review “How social media took us from Tahrir Square to Donald Trump”
A fascinating look at how digital technologies have gone from being the tools of freedom and change that brought people together and built strength, to being blamed for upheavals in Western democracies by enabling increased polarization, rising authoritarianism, and meddling in national elections.
Associated Press “AP Exclusive: Google tracks your movements, like it or not”
An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store users’ location data even if they’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so – Google is upfront about asking permission to use location information and the company will let users "pause" a setting called Location History to prevent the company from remembering users’ locations, but the investigation found that even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking. See also CNET and Engadget.
STAT “NYU medical school students are getting free tuition. But everyone will reap benefits”
New York University School of Medicine announced it will cover tuition for all medical students, regardless of their financial situation – the initiative could help shape the landscape of health care in the United States in four key ways: alleviating a looming physician shortage; improving the diversity of the physician workforce; increasing the number of primary care physicians; and easing physician burnout.
The Verdict “China to dominate the world in facial recognition technology”
China is set to become the biggest player in facial recognition technology both as a consumer and a provider, according to research by Gen Market Insights – by 2023, the country will have 44.59% of the global facial recognition market share, fueled by rapid adoption of the technology in security and banking in China.
Mobility and Transportation
Wired “Elon Musk has a plan to save LA Dodger fans from traffic”
Elon Musk’s Boring Company announced plans to dig a tunnel to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ stadium, called the Dugout Loop, through which fans would ride in pod-like electric skates – the 3.6-mile tunnel would pick up near one of three LA Metro subway stations and run under Sunset Boulevard, ending in the stadium parking lot and making it far easier to take public transit to the game. See also Ars Technica and TechCrunch.
Reuters “Exclusive: U.S. government seeks Facebook help to wiretap Messenger - sources”
The U.S. government is reportedly trying to force Facebook to break the encryption in its popular Messenger app so law enforcement may listen to a suspect’s voice conversations in a criminal probe, resurrecting the issue of whether technology companies can be compelled to alter their products to enable surveillance.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
The Chicago Tribune “Google expanding space in Fulton Market, this time with a flagship store”
Google is planning a two-level, 14,000 square foot store in Chicago’s Fulton Market district, its first known location for a retail flagship – Google’s only prior retail spaces have been pop-up stores and small shops within other stores.
The Sharing Economy
The Atlantic “Low pay has teachers flocking to the sharing economy”
A “US Teachers Report” from Airbnb finds that 45,000 teachers hosted guests in 2017, earning $160 million dollars collectively, including $54 million during the summer months when class was not in session – while the company’s release framed this in a positive light, some note that the results point to the need for educators to supplement their regular income as teachers struggle with stagnant, if not declining, pay.
GeekWire “Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs reveals plans for Toronto innovation district featuring light-up streets and timber towers”
Google’s Sidewalk Labs and its smart city partner, Waterfront Toronto, released a detailed vision for Quayside, a large swath of undeveloped land on Lake Ontario, including roads constructed out of modular, precast slabs that could light up to signal changes in road use throughout the day and heat up in extreme cold to melt snow and shelters and windshields in outdoor spaces that could double the number of hours people spend outdoors throughout the year. See also Wired.
The Verge “Netflix cancels its talk shows starring Michelle Wolf and Joel McHale”
Netflix has canceled The Break with Michelle Wolf and The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale, the latest examples of Netflix’s struggle to deliver a current events show on a subscription streaming service that can draw eyes and maintain regular viewership.
GeekWire “Microsoft and Amazon begin public rollout of first Alexa-Cortana integrations, promise more to come”
Amazon and Microsoft will begin rolling out the first integrations between their digital assistants, Alexa and Cortana, allowing users to rouse Cortana on Echo devices and Alexa on Windows 10 PCs and Harman Kardon Invoke speakers – the integration will allow users to access competing digital assistants to accomplish specific tasks. See also CNET and TechCrunch.