Read for Later - "It's like any other tool and can be used for good or bad; it depends on how you use it.”

This week’s headline quotes Rebecca Spang, a historian and professor at Indiana University Bloomington, on the uses and benefits of machine learning in the humanities (ArsTechnica “Machine learning can offer new tools, fresh insights for the humanities”).

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

ArsTechnica “Machine learning can offer new tools, fresh insights for the humanities”
A look at how machine learning might be used in the humanities, introducing “distant reading” methods that replicate historians’ traditional close reading techniques but can be used across large digitized archives and datasets to reveal hidden patterns or trends that otherwise might have escaped notice.

Politico “Finland’s grand AI experiment”
Finland plans to teach 1% of the country's population, or about 55,000 people, the basic concepts of artificial intelligence, and gradually build on the number over the next few years – the plan is supported by private companies and the government, seeking to keep the nation competitive amid technological change.

CityLab “Des Moines wants to be the affordable city for artists”
Des Moines is working to sustain its downtown city growth by marketing itself to creative entrepreneurs that are being priced out of other cities – part of the city’s strategy includes the Mainframe Studios development, which offers permanent, affordable workspaces for artists to work together and build community.

The Edge “Childhood's End: The digital revolution isn’t over but has turned into something else”
A provocative essay by science and technology historian George Dyson exploring how technology is evolving so that more and more users are following instructions delivered by computers rather than the other way around.

The Verge “Amazon says 100 million Alexa devices have been sold — what’s next?”
Dave Limp, Amazon’s Senior Vice President of Devices and Services, says that more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices have been sold.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

Engadget “PepsiCo is using robots to deliver snacks to college students”
PepsiCo is piloting "snackbots" at the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton, California, allowing users to order snacks on a smartphone app and have their order delivered to one of 50 locations around the 175 acre campus.

Books and Reading

The Washington Post “Women’s magazines are dying. Will we miss them when they’re gone?”
As the magazine industry transforms, women’s publications seem to have become much more endangered than the rest, with even online upstarts — The Hairpin, Rookie, and The Toast — shutting down.

Cities and Government

The New York Times “Spread the digital wealth”
In an opinion piece, congress member Ro Khanna from California’s 17th District considers how non-coastal towns and rural communities might more fully participate in technology’s economic benefits.

The New York Times “In high-tech cities, no more potholes, but what about privacy?”
As large and small cities embark on technology-driven “smart city” projects, many experts warn that the privacy, security, and financial implications of such arrangements are too often overlooked.


MIT Technology Review “Universal basic income had a rough 2018”
While universal basic income continues to be an inspired idea for many in Silicon Valley, its actual implementation has been stymied, with pilot projects in Ontario, Finland, and from tech incubator Y Combinator all canceled or delayed until 2019.


Education Dive “U of Rhode Island to add 3 'innovation' campuses”
The University of Rhode Island plans to add three new "innovation" campuses designed to support the commercialization of academic research and spur local industry – the effort is supported by $12 million in public spending and expected to draw $122 million in private investment.

Sharing Economy

Pew Research Center “More Americans are using ride-hailing apps”
The share of Americans who use ride-hailing services has increased dramatically, with 36% of U.S. adults reporting that they have used a ride-hailing service such as Uber or Lyft, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in fall 2018.

Streaming Media

The Associated Press “Netflix criticized for yanking comedian’s episode in Saudi”
Netflix faced criticism for pulling an episode of comedian Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act series from streaming in Saudi Arabia – the episode criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi, but Netflix said it was removed as a result of a legal request from authorities and not due to its content.


MIT Technology Review “These are the five hottest gadget trends for 2019”
A look at five consumer device trends for 2019, including foldable phones and screens, wireless charging, and smart assistant integration into headphones.

Business Insider “Google's 'Minority Report'-style hand control tech just took a major step forward”
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it would grant Google a waiver to operate sensors for Project Soli at higher power levels than currently allowed, a sign that the company will continue to push forward with developing technology that lets users control computers by making hand gestures in the air around them.

Voice Control

Engadget “Microsoft patent suggests you whisper to your voice assistants”
A new patent filing from Microsoft seeks to improve users’ comfort with issuing voice commands in public spaces by developing a "silent voice input," a way for people to use voice input technology quietly by issuing commands by inhaling while whispering.