This week’s headline quotes Ikea’s new Life at Home report, which finds that 1 in 3 people say there are places where they feel more at home than the space they live in, as individuals seek belonging, comfort, ownership, privacy, and security in a range of public and private spaces (Fast Company “A new Ikea report is an unsettling look at life in the 21st century”).
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.
Reuters “Amazon scraps secret AI recruiting tool that showed bias against women”
A look at Amazon’s attempts at a machine-learning program to review job applicants’ resumes, which ended shortly after it began when it became clear that the tool systematically discriminated against women – it was developed with and reflected a preference for resumes submitted over a 10-year period from a male dominated tech industry. See also ACLU.
The Verge “The MTA seeks high-tech solutions for its bus and subway crisis”
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced the creation of a Transit Tech Lab designed to vet new high-tech products to help improve the nation’s largest public transit system – the first two challenges will focus on design tools to help better predict subway delays and mitigate disruption for commuters and new products to move buses faster and more efficiently through the city’s congested streets.
Gallup “Confidence in higher education down since 2015”
Gallup finds 48% of U.S. adults express "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in higher education in 2018, down from 57% in 2015, with the most significant decline among individuals identifying as Republicans, whose confidence level has fallen by 17 percentage points – Gallup's annual Confidence in Institutions poll included higher education as a special item in the 2015 and 2018 surveys of Americans’ confidence in 15 core institutions.
The New York Times “Major climate report describes a strong risk of crisis as early as 2040”
A landmark report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change describes a more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change, including worsening food shortages, wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040. See also New York Magazine.
Fast Company “A new Ikea report is an unsettling look at life in the 21st century”
Ikea’s latest research report looks at loneliness, belonging, and the effects of living in cities, finding that 35% of people who live in cities don’t feel at home in their house or apartment, up from 20% just two years ago.
Cities and Government
The Daily Beast “Taylor Swift finally got political. Why now?”
Pop star Taylor Swift surprised many by publishing a lengthy social media post, publicly endorsing two Democrats, Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper, and stating her belief that “any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG” and going on to state “I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent” – Swift had been noticeably absent from many previous political contests, but her post spurred thousands of people between the ages of 18 and 29 to register to vote, according to Vote.org.
Communities and Demographics
Vox “Millennials prioritize owning a home over getting married or having kids”
Bank of America’s new homebuyer insights report finds that 72% of millennials (defined for the report as those born between 1978 and 1995) consider being able to own a home a “top priority” — more than traveling (61%), getting married (50%), or having children (40%) – but that priority is challenged by a host of structural factors, including high rent prices, student loan debt, and the toll of the 2008 financial crisis.
Economics and the Workplace
Bloomberg “Google drops out of Pentagon's $10 billion cloud competition”
Google has decided not to compete for the Pentagon’s cloud-computing contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud (JEDI), saying the project may conflict with its corporate values – the decision follows another announcement that Google would not renew its contract with a Pentagon artificial intelligence program after extensive protests from employees.
City Lab “America is losing its edge for startups”
A new report from the Center for American Entrepreneurship compiles the most detailed data yet on global startup cities, tracking venture-capital investment in nations and cities around the world and finding that America’s long-standing lead in VC-backed high tech may be challenged as investment is growing even faster in other parts of the world, expanding by nearly 375%.
The Hechinger Report “Experts call for an end to online preschool programs”
While online preschool programs boast “award-winning curriculum” and have won support from states interested in providing education to rural children, dozens of early childhood education experts warn that these programs may actually do more harm than good, leading to behavior problems, sleep deprivation, and delays in social-emotional development as a result of screen overuse.
Venture Beat “Google launches Be Internet Awesome kits and $1,000 grants to help parents teach kids about internet safety”
Google will partner with the National PTA to launch a new program designed to teach parents how to educate their kids on various facets of online safety and “digital citizenship,” part of the company’s broader Be Internet Awesome initiative.
The Atlantic “Teens are being bullied ‘constantly’ on Instagram”
After several recent studies (Pew Research Center and Ditch the Label) highlighted the continued experience of bullying for young users of Instagram and other social platforms, Instagram announced new features to combat bullying, including comment filters on live videos, machine-learning technology to detect bullying in photos, and a “kindness camera effect to spread positivity.”
The Verge “Facebook announces Portal, an Echo Show rival focused on video chat”
Facebook is introducing its first hardware products marketed under the Facebook brand, the Portal and Portal Plus, which utilize a smart display with camera and microphone for in-home video chatting – the wide-angle camera is capable of identifying a user’s body and tracking them as they move around the room to make for more comfortable chatting. See also Vox.
The Wall Street Journal “Google exposed user data, feared repercussions of disclosing to public”
Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of the Google+ social network and then opted not to disclose the issue this past spring, in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage, according to people briefed on the incident and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal – as part of its response to the incident, the company announced a sweeping set of data privacy measures that include permanently shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+.
Wired “You're about to drown in streaming subscriptions”
As streaming services continue to proliferate – Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, and forthcoming options from WarnerMedia, Disney, and Apple – and offer niche and exclusive content, the promise of streaming TV that liberates users from cable is turning into a pricey array of options that will prevent many users from having the full access they want.
ArsTechnica “Amazon patents Alexa tech to tell if you’re sick, depressed and sell you meds”
Amazon has patented a technology titled "Voice-based determination of physical and emotional characteristics of users” that could let Alexa analyze a user’s voice to determine whether they are sick or depressed and sell products based on perceived physical or emotional conditions – as always, the appearance of a patent does not mean the product or service will make it to market.