Read for Later - “The lobby is the new public square”

This week’s headline quotes Aytan Litwin, founder and chief executive officer of White Space, a company that manages the manufacturing of custom interiors for hospitality and commercial spaces, on the rise of hotel lobbies and common spaces designed as a destination for both guests and locals (The New York Times “Checking in? No thanks. I’m just here to use the wi-fi.”).

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

The New York Times “As Facebook raised a privacy wall, it carved an opening for tech giants”
Hundreds of pages of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times reveal that Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules – Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent; gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages; permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends; and let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts. See also Motherboard “Facebook and Silicon Valley are colluding to profit from your personal data”.

Wired “Twitter is indeed toxic for women, Amnesty report says”
After repeated requests for Twitter to release “meaningful information about reports of violence and abuse against women, as well as other groups, on the platform, and how they respond to it,” Amnesty International has taken matters into its own hands with the launch of an interactive website detailing the results of a crowdsourced study into harassment against women on Twitter – the study looked at 778 women journalists and politicians in the US and UK and found that 7.1% of tweets sent to them last year were abusive or problematic.

ArsTechnica “Central Londoners to be subjected to facial recognition test this week”
London’s Metropolitan Police Service will be testing facial recognition technology in a handful of locations across the central core of London – the seventh trial in London since 2016.

The New York Times “Checking in? No thanks. I’m just here to use the wi-fi.”
More and more hotels are designing their lobbies and common spaces as a destination for both guests and locals, responding to the rise of co-working spaces and remote work programs which encourage collaboration in shared work spaces around the world.

IndieWire “There are now more shows streaming than there are on broadcast or cable”
FX Networks’ annual research report reveals that, for the first time ever, streaming shows outnumber their traditional-TV counterparts – 495 scripted original programs premiered in 2018, 160 of which debuted on a streaming platform, 146 on broadcast television, 144 on basic cable, and 45 on pay cable.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

The New York Times “Uber’s driverless cars return to the road after fatal crash”
Uber announced the return of its autonomous vehicles to public roads, operating at drastically reduced speeds and in less challenging environments, nine months after one of its self-driving cars killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

Engadget “Kroger adds driverless vehicles to its grocery delivery fleet”
Kroger will add Nuro's R1 vehicle to its fleet of autonomous grocery delivery service vehicles currently in pilot in Arizona – the R1 can drive on public roads and operates without a driver or passengers on board.

Communities and Demographics

Bloomberg “Nearly 156 people leave Chicago daily: Demographic trends”
Dallas, Phoenix, Tampa, Atlanta, and Orlando lead U.S. cities as the largest net population gainers, according to a Bloomberg analysis of 2017 Census data on migration to the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas – in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, soaring home prices and high local taxes are pushing local residents out and scaring off potential movers from other parts of the country. See also City Lab “How low turnover fuels New York City’s affordable housing crisis”.


The Hechinger Report “The ‘dirty secret’ about educational innovation”
A 2018 report from the U.S. Department of Education finds that only 12 of the 67 innovations (18%) funded by the department as part of the federal recovery effort to boost the economy after the 2008 recession were found to have any positive impact on student achievement.

Internet of Things

The Atlantic “The coming commodification of life at home”
In a world of smart speakers, smart thermostats, smart thermometers, smart mattress covers, smart coffee makers, smart doorbells, and even smart toasters, homes will be able to capture an unprecedented amount of data about domestic life, creating a future where life at home converges with the experience of being online.

Mobility and Transportation

The Los Angeles Times “Elon Musk unveils his company’s first tunnel in Hawthorne, and it’s not a smooth ride”
Elon Musk’s vision for a world where commuting in Los Angeles is as easy as pointing a self-driving car toward an elevator platform embedded in a city street, sinking into a tunnel and zipping seamlessly beneath the traffic at speeds of up to 150 mph, inched closer with the opening of the Boring Company’s first tunnel — a 1.14-mile route that runs 20 to 40 feet beneath the streets of Hawthorne, through a neighborhood sandwiched between the 105 Freeway and Hawthorne Municipal Airport.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

CityLab “The dollar store backlash has begun”
A recent research brief by the Institute of Local Self Reliance (ILSR), a nonprofit supporting local economies, explores the massive growth of budget outlets like Dollar General and Dollar Tree (which bought Family Dollar in 2015), which have increasingly opened in economically depressed areas with scarce healthy and affordable food options.

Voice Control

MIT Technology Review “A man asked for his data from Amazon—and they sent him 1,700 recordings of someone else”
An Amazon user in Germany was accidentally sent a 100-megabyte file containing 1,700 audio recordings of someone he didn’t know after he requested his own data file, exercising his rights under the EU’s GDPR – Amazon said a staff member had made a one-time error.