This week’s headline quotes David Watson, a 38-year-old managing director at Deutsche Bank, about the value of his conversations with his junior mentor Fernando Hernandez, a 29-year-old engineer in the bank’s global markets technology division (The New York Times “Executive mentors wanted. Only millennials need apply.”).
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.
MIT Technology Review “AlphaGo Zero shows machines can become superhuman without any help”
A new and more powerful version of DeepMind’s AI program AlphaGo has emerged – the new AlphaGo Zero learned without any human data, but simply by playing millions of games against itself, using what it learned in each game to improve. See also The Atlantic, Engadget, GeekWire, Mashable, Motherboard, New Scientist, Slate, The Verge, and Wired.
City Lab “Google announces plan to turn Toronto neighborhood into living laboratory”
Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs and the Canadian government announced a partnership to develop 750 acres along Toronto’s waterfront into what they envision as a high-tech living laboratory for solving urban problems. See also BBC, CNET, Fast Company, Mashable, MIT Technology Review, The New York Times, NextCity, TechCrunch, The Verge, and Wired.
The New York Times “Executive mentors wanted. Only millennials need apply.”
Millennial mentors have emerged as a hot accessory for executives interested in young people’s views on new markets and products, as well as traditional emerging tech support (Snapchat 101, Twitter tutorials, and emoji lessons).
Vox “3 years ago, Stockton, California, was bankrupt. Now it's trying out a basic income.”
A random sample of the 300,000 residents of Stockton, California, will receive $500 per month ($6,000 a year) in 2018 as part of a basic income pilot funded by the Economic Security Project, a pro-basic income advocacy and research group co-chaired by Facebook co-founder and former New Republic publisher Chris Hughes and activists Natalie Foster and Dorian Warren – basic income is seen as a way to redistribute the vast wealth that Silicon Valley creates to poorer people and localities left behind.
Pew Research Center “The future of truth and misinformation online”
The Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center conducted a large canvassing of technologists, scholars, practitioners, and strategic thinkers, asking them if trusted methods will emerge to block false narratives and allow the most accurate information to prevail in the overall information ecosystem - 51% foresaw that the information environment will not improve and 49% said the information environment will improve.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
Engadget “The BBC is turning to AI to improve its programming”
The BBC will embark on a five-year “Data Science Research Partnership” with eight universities to leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to "better understand what audiences want from the BBC" and build "a more personal BBC" with tools that could allow employees to make informed editorial and commissioning decisions.
Demographics and Communities
Mic “California will allow a nonbinary option on documents. Here’s what that means for these residents.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill allowing residents to choose a third, nonbinary gender option on official state documents, including driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and identity cards.
The Daily Dot “The future is fluid: Generation Z’s approach to gender and sexuality is indeed revolutionary”
Many members of the iGeneration or Generation Z, those born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, tend to view gender and sexuality as something on a spectrum, not just simply male or female, or gay or straight – a 2016 survey by consumer insight agency J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group found that only 48% of Generation Z identifies as “completely heterosexual” and over half reported knowing someone who goes by non-traditional gender pronouns like “they/them.”
Engadget “Alphabet brings burritos-by-drone delivery to Australia”
Alphabet X's Project Wing delivery drone program is now delivering food and medicine in rural parts of Australia as part of a series of tests to figure out how to run a drone delivery service efficiently. See also The Daily Dot, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
The Guardian “As tech companies get richer, is it 'game over' for startups?”
The number of startups and new businesses is at a 30-year low as big tech (Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple) limits investors' interest in new ventures and lessens the incentive for technologists and entrepreneurs to set up their own shops.
The New York Times “Senators demand online ad disclosures as tech lobby mobilizes”
A bipartisan group of senators have proposed stricter regulations to force Facebook, Google, and other internet companies to disclose who is purchasing online political advertising, after revelations that Russian-linked operatives bought deceptive ads in the run-up to the 2016 election with no disclosure required. See also CNET, The Daily Dot, ReCode, TechCrunch, and Wired.
Advertising Age “Facebook lets brands dive into people's posts”
Facebook is beta testing an extension of its Audience Insights API platform that lets brands study people's posts and comments to better inform their marketing – early ad partners are searching Facebook's vast history of public posts to see what topics, themes, brands, and products are being discussed.
Journalism and News
The Atlantic “The world's most powerful publishers refuse to admit what they really are”
Facebook's and Google's push to personalize the news has created a seismic shift in the information landscape, providing news in real time, on demand, tailored to user interests, across multiple platforms, without knowing just how much is actually personalized – while journalists and news organizations share information that is true and hopefully engaging, technologists enable the sharing of information that is engaging and hopefully true.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
Mashable “McDonald's introduces phone lockers to get people to put their mobiles away”
A McDonald’s in Singapore introduced 100 smartphone lockers at one of its locations, allowing customers to lock away their phones for the duration of a meal in order to spend more time conversing with friends and family – part of the company’s “Phone Off, Fun On” campaign, uptake has been rather limited. See also Consumerist and PSFK.
The Daily Dot “Netflix to release a whopping 80 original movies in 2018” and ArsTechnica “Two months after Disney split, Netflix pledges $8B for original content”
In its most recent quarterly earnings report, Netflix announced intentions to release roughly 80 films next year, a significant increase from 2017, as it plans to spend $7 billion to $8 billion on original content in 2018. See also Engadget, Mashable and again, The New York Times, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
The Hollywood Reporter “Chelsea Handler's Netflix show canceled after 2 seasons”
Netflix and Chelsea Handler will end the streaming services’ first talk show after a two-season run – originally airing three nights a week with a running time between 20-40 minutes, the show shifted to a weekly hourlong format that saw Handler venturing outside of the studio with travel to India, Europe, Montana, and Washington, D.C. As streaming conquers feature film, documentary, and drama and comedy series formats, it is interesting to see it finally struggle in the current events format. See also The Daily Dot, Engadget, Mashable, and Salon.
PSFK “Amazon’s Alexa will play the host of a trivia board game”
Alexa will keep track of everything that goes on in Sensible Object’s ‘When in Rome’ game, including the score and interactions between players, the first in a series of six voice-augmented games the company plans to unveil.