This week’s headline quotes a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “The public internet option: How local governments can provide network neutrality, privacy, and access for all,” which argues for the creation of municipally-owned ISPs as the best way to preserve net neutrality (Motherboard “ACLU: To protect democracy, cities should build their own ISPs”).
A reminder - the call for proposals for the 2018 Future of Libraries Fellowship is now open. The fellowship offers a stipend of $10,000 to advance new ideas and perspectives for the future of libraries through the creation of a public product that will help library professionals envision the future. We look forward to many exciting project proposals - the deadline is May 15th.
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.
The Atlantic “The most important self-driving car announcement yet”
Waymo, the driverless-car company that was spun out of Google, announced the purchase of 20,000 self-driving vehicles from Jaguar for the company’s forthcoming ride-hailing service – Waymo estimates that the Jaguar fleet alone will be capable of doing a million trips each day in 2020. See also The New York Times.
Motherboard “ACLU: To protect democracy, cities should build their own ISPs”
In a new report, the American Civil Liberties Union argues that creating municipally-owned ISPs is the best way to preserve net neutrality – “Internet service has become as essential as utilities like water and electricity, and local governments should treat it that way…With the Trump administration and for-profit companies abandoning (net neutrality) values, what we’re seeing around the country is that local governments can protect them and provide access for all.” See also CNET and GeekWire.
TechCrunch “New York City is launching public cybersecurity tools to keep residents from getting hacked”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will introduce the first tools in its suite of cybersecurity offerings to protect residents against malicious online activity – the NYC Secure app will alert smartphone users to potential threats on their devices and offer tips for how to stay secure, “such as disconnecting from a malicious Wi-Fi network, navigating away from a compromised website, or uninstalling a malicious app.”
Bloomberg “Amazon wants to get to teenagers before the banks do”
Amazon is reportedly in discussions with banks including JPMorgan Chase and Capital One to create a product similar to checking accounts, tailored to appeal especially to younger people and those who do not own a credit card – the move could help align Amazon with a new and younger group of customers and begin to better understand their purchasing habits. See also TechCrunch and The Verge.
The Hollywood Reporter “Cannes artistic director explains Netflix competition ban”
Cannes announced that Netflix and other streaming services will be able to show their films out of competition, but won't be in the running for the festival’s Palme d'Or award – the announcement reverses a decision from last year that sparked outrage among French filmmakers and unions. See also The Daily Dot, Fast Company, and The Verge.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
TechCrunch “Uber will not re-apply for self-driving car permit in California”
Uber, after suspending its self-driving car operations in all markets following a fatal crash in Arizona, has decided not to re-apply for its self-driving car permit in California, which expired March 31. See also The New York Times, ReCode, and TechSpot.
Books and Publishing
Motherboard “Amazon is burying sexy books, sending erotic novel authors to the 'no-rank dungeon’”
Amazon has quietly changed its policies for erotic novels, essentially hiding them from casual browsing on the site and separating them from more mainstream, safe-for-work titles – a book’s best seller rank is an important part of the algorithm that influences how the book appears in search and whether it shows up in advertisements, including suggestions from one product to the next. See also TechSpot.
The Verge “Barnes and Noble’s new app makes finding your next read less overwhelming”
Barnes and Noble released a new app called Browsery that seeks to create a community of readers that offer recommendations to one another – the app lets users ask a question (“What is your all-time favorite fantasy novel?” or “I’ve been enjoying time-travel books recently. Any suggestions?”) and other users can reply with a recommendation and a short blurb about why they like that book.
Cities and Government
Pew Research Center “What to know about the citizenship question the Census Bureau is planning to ask in 2020”
For the first time since 1950, the U.S. Census Bureau is planning to ask a citizenship question when it conducts its next decennial census in 2020 – the new question’s inclusion has been challenged in court on the grounds that it could cause many immigrants to skip the 2020 census out of fear their information could be used against them, even though it is illegal to share a person’s census responses with law enforcement or immigration agencies. See also CityLab.
Engadget “The Boring Co. will sell giant ‘Lego-like’ building bricks”
Elon Musk's Boring Company will sell interlocking bricks made of rock extracted during the company’s drilling – the bricks could be used as affordable housing materials. See also The Daily Dot, Fast Company, and The Verge.
TechCrunch “University of Michigan opens up its M-Air UAV testing facility to students”
The University of Michigan’s M-Air facility provides a giant netted space for students and researchers to test new drone control systems, autonomous delivery mechanisms, new stabilization algorithms, and other aspects of drone technologies.
Chronicle of Higher Education “Auburn is hiring 500 tenure-track faculty members. Here’s what that means.”
Auburn University plans to hire 500 tenure-track faculty members by 2022, part of an effort to attract more Ph.D. candidates and research projects to the university – the actual number of faculty members employed at Auburn will grow by about 100 once attrition and retirements are factored in, with most of the new hires in the STEM fields.
Journalism and News
Poynter “Philadelphia Media Network is adding six fellows to engage diverse audiences that they are 'simply not reaching’”
Philadelphia Media Network, which includes The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and the Philly.com web site, announced a cohort of six journalists for the Lenfest Journalism Fellowship, designed to help “broaden PMN’s coverage of the region, provide added digital storytelling capability, and engage new and more diverse audiences. In addition to their full-time assignments as journalists, they will all have mentors, participate in regular seminars and work on a fellows-only product development project designed to bring more younger readers to PMN’s news platforms.”
The Verge “Facebook’s switch to prioritizing local news has expanded to all countries and languages”
Facebook announced plans to expand its prioritization of local news to users in all countries and languages, part of an effort to promote less content from global publishers and prioritize content from more relevant local publishers. See also TechCrunch.
Gizmodo “Facebook says it’s putting all your privacy settings in one place, which it was going to do anyway, so there”
Facebook announced new privacy and data controls that will collapse “nearly 20 different screens” into a single page including “clearer explanations” of how each control works. See also The New York Times.
ReCode “Facebook is cutting third-party data providers out of ad targeting to clean up its act”
Facebook will limit how much data it makes available to advertisers buying hyper-targeted ads on the social network, stopping the use of data from third-party data aggregators like Experian and Acxiom to help supplement its own data set for ad targeting. See also Advertising Age, ArsTechnica, The Drum, Engadget, The Guardian, and TechCrunch.
CNET “Millions of MyFitnessPal accounts hacked, Under Armour says”
Under Armour said an "unauthorized party" had grabbed information including usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords from about 150 million MyFitnessPal accounts, one of the more popular apps used to track diet and exercise for fitness and weight goals. See also The Daily Dot, The Drum, Engadget, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, The Verge, and Wired.
Bloomberg “U.S. to seek social media details from all visa applicants”
The US State Department wants to require all U.S. visa applicants to submit their social media usernames, previous email addresses, and phone numbers, expanding the Trump administration's enhanced vetting of potential immigrants and visitors. See also Engadget, Fast Company, and The Verge.
Engadget “The BBC says it's being squeezed out by Netflix and Amazon”
The BBC’s latest annual report highlights a changing media landscape as the industry is "more and more dominated by a small number of US-based media giants with extraordinary creative and financial firepower…British creativity and British content are now under real threat."
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Advertising Age “Magic Leap ships first devices to developers under tight security”
Magic Leap has quietly begun sending its augmented reality headsets to a select group of software developers, a prelude to the company's plans to begin shipping kits to a wider community of users later this year – the first devices look like bulky safety goggles dotted with small camera lenses that work in conjunction with a small computer that clips to a user's belt and a wireless controller that somewhat resembles a television remote.
Bloomberg “Facebook delays home-speaker unveil amid data crisis”
Facebook has decided not to unveil new home products at its major developer conference in May following the social network’s data-privacy fall out – the products, including connected speakers with digital-assistant and video-chat capabilities, are undergoing a deeper review to ensure that they make the right trade-offs regarding user data.