Read for Later - "I will work tirelessly to keep you informed as texts will be typed into my system uninterrupted"

This week’s headline quotes Xinhua News’ virtual newsreader, which can "work" 24 hours a day on its website and social media channels, "reducing news production costs" - an artificial intelligence (AI) system synthesized the presenters' voices, lip movements, and expressions (BBC “China's Xinhua agency unveils AI news presenter”).

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

BBC “China's Xinhua agency unveils AI news presenter”
China's state news agency has unveiled a virtual newsreader that "can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor” – the agency sees the virtual newscaster as particularly useful for disseminating breaking news reports in a timely manner.

The Verge “The foldable phones are coming”
Samsung’s new Infinity Flex Display will allow a tablet-sized screen to fold into a device that approximates the size and shape of a smartphone, using two separate displays (one on the inside, and a smaller display on the outside) to create its foldable phone – foldable or rollable displays are increasingly considered the future of smartphones and mobile devices.

Vox “The tragedy of Amazon’s HQ2 selections, explained”
Amazon will reportedly settle their much talked about “second headquarters” selection process by splitting the project across Long Island City in Queens, New York, and Crystal City, Virginia, near Washington, DC – the decision will likely exacerbate those cities’ crises of housing affordability and overburdened transportation infrastructure, while missing an opportunity to support economies in any one of a dozen other metro areas. See also The Washington Post “Amazon plans to split HQ2 evenly between two cities”.

The Verge “Half of YouTube viewers use it to learn how to do things they’ve never done”
A new Pew Research survey of 4,594 Americans finds that 51% of YouTube users rely on the video service to figure out how to do new things; 28% of users say they’re on YouTube to just pass the time (many of these users are younger adults); 19% are there for guidance on new purchases; and another 19% say they use YouTube to help them understand what’s going on in the world.

Digiday “7-Eleven is testing new ‘scan-and-go’ technology”
Convenience store 7-Eleven will pilot scan-and-go features in their mobile app so customers can scan and pay for items on their phones.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

The Atlantic “Why technology favors tyranny”
A look at how artificial intelligence, information technology, and biotechnology could erase many practical advantages of democracy and erode the ideals of liberty and equality, further concentrating power among a small elite.

CNET “Google AI helps NYT get a handle on 5 million photo archive”
The New York Times is digitizing more than 5 million photos from its archives and using Google's AI technology to recognize printed or handwritten text describing the photos – the archive may also utilize AI object recognition.

Cities and Government

NextCity “Chicago DOT develops parklet prototype to encourage hanging out”
Chicago’s Department of Transportation has installed a pop-up parklet designed as a “people spot,” with seating, potted plants, and a wooden fence – parklets have been difficult to launch in Chicago, with requirements for local bids to pay for the spots, which can run in the tens of thousands of dollars.

The Washington Post “West Virginians abroad in 29 countries have voted by mobile device, in the biggest blockchain-based voting test ever”
Nearly 140 West Virginians living abroad in 29 countries cast their election ballots in a pilot project that involved voting remotely by mobile device, with facial recognition and blockchain technologies incorporated for security.

Economics and the Workforce

Bloomberg “Senior citizens are replacing teenagers as fast-food workers”
Between 2014 and 2024, the number of working Americans aged 65 to 74 is expected to grow 4.5% – service industry recruiters see older workers as an opportunity to bring soft skills and significant experience to the workplace.

Mashable “Google announces changes to sexual misconduct procedures”
In an email sent to employees, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced changes to the way the company handled sexual misconduct complaints following employee walkouts protesting the company's past actions and policies – among the most significant changes were an end to forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment allegations. See also ReCode “Facebook followed Uber and Google and is ending forced arbitration for sexual harassment cases”.

The Internet

TechCrunch “Instagram prototypes bully-proof moderated School Stories”
Instagram is considering offering collaborative School Stories that only a certain school’s students can see or contribute to, offering a space for young people to share with their peers beyond the prying eyes of their parents or strangers.

Research and Publishing

Nature “Wellcome and Gates join bold European open-access plan”
Two of the world’s largest biomedical research funders – the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – have announced plans to endorse Plan S, helping to make all papers resulting from work they fund open access on publication by 2020.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

TechCrunch “Facebook opens its first small biz pop-up stores inside Macy’s”
Facebook will launch The Market @ Macy’s to create temporary, popup shopping spaces featuring products from small businesses that advertise on Facebook.

Streaming Media

Variety “Local product quotas for Netflix, Amazon to become law, EU official says (EXCLUSIVE)”
The European Commission is expected to impose new laws on streaming services requiring at least 30% of their on-demand catalogs be devoted to local content – Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services will be required to fund TV series and films produced in Europe by commissioning content, acquiring it, or paying into national film funds through a small surcharge added to their subscription fee.


Reuters “Ford buying San Francisco-area e-scooter startup Spin”
Ford Motor Company will join the micro-mobility movement with the acquisition of Spin, an electric scooter rental firm based in San Francisco – Ford said the acquisition “fills a gap in our mobility portfolio” providing “accessible and affordable transportation” in cities and on college campuses.