Read for Later - “Now, it’s all about calming people down”

This week’s headline quotes Lisa Jacobson, founder and chief executive of Inspirica, a New York City tutoring company that specializes in one-on-one test preparation and has steadily expanded its "homework therapist" services to support students’ emotional health and increase their achievement (The New York Times "Homework Therapists’ job: Help solve math problems, and emotional ones").

We are one month away from the deadline for the 2018 Future of Libraries Fellowship. The fellowship offers a stipend of $10,000 to advance new ideas and perspectives for the future of libraries through the creation of a public product that will help library professionals envision the future. We look forward to many exciting project proposals - the deadline is May 15th.  

You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures - including our newest entry on Co-Working/Co-Living. 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.

What have you read lately to help you think about the future? Consider dropping me a line to let me know what articles and reports you're reading that others might find of interest. 

Five Highlights

Engadget "Google AI experiment has you talking to books"
Google Research announced two new projects that demonstrate the progress of natural language processing in artificial intelligence – one of the projects, "Talk to Books," lets users type in a statement or a question and the system retrieves whole sentences in books related to what was typed, with results based not on keyword matching, but on more complex training of AI to identify what a good response looks like.

TechCrunch “Austin is piloting blockchain to improve homeless services”
Among the pilot grants awarded by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayor’s Challenge is a proposal from Austin to use blockchain to improve services for those experiencing homelessness – the project could improve government and private homeless service providers' abiliy to offer integrated and comprehensive aid, including verifying the identity of a person seeking help, knowing what care that individual has previously received, and empowering the individual to “own” their own records. See also Digital Trends and Engadget.

The Atlantic "The states where people die young"
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association looks at the levels and trends of diseases, injuries, and risk factors in the U.S. by state – among the most concerning findings, since 1990, 21 states have seen an increase in the death rate among people aged 20 to 55, with opioids, alcoholism, suicide, and kidney disease among the main factors leading to the increases in early deaths.

The New York Times "Homework Therapists’ job: Help solve math problems, and emotional ones"
As students’ emotional health becomes a focus of education, a growing category of “homework therapists” administer academic help and emotional support via Skype, email, text, and during pricey one-on-one sessions, working to soothe students and steer them back to the path of achievement.

ArsTechnica "The Internet has serious health problems, Mozilla Foundation report finds"
The Mozilla Foundation’s 2018 Internet Health Report exlores "what's helping and what's hurting the Internet” – among this year’s issues for concern are the consolidation of power over the Internet, particularly by Facebook, Google, Tencent, and Amazon; the spread of "fake news," which the report attributes in part to the "broken online advertising economy" that provides financial incentive for fraud, misinformation, and abuse; and the threat to privacy posed by the poor security of the Internet of Things.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

Wired "Catching up with Pepper, the surprisingly helpful humanoid robot"
Another look at Pepper, the human-shaped robot from SoftBank Robotics, with an interesting focus on how the robot promises to not only make lives easier, but to also bring a strange new form of interaction to everyday activities.

Reuters “China lays out self-driving rules in global race: China Daily”
China has laid out national guidelines for testing self-driving cars as it looks to keep pace with the United States in the development of autonomous vehicles – the rules require vehicles first be tested in non-public zones, that road tests take place on designated streets, and that a qualified person sit in the driver’s position ready to take over control.

Cities and Government

Governing "How ‘service design’ is changing the way cities work"
Service design, a human-centered research approach that considers how a service is delivered and how people and services fit together, could become a more important part of city services as governments work to make municipal government better at responding to fundamental human needs.

Community and Demographics

Quartz "The share of American young adults living with their parents is the highest in 75 years"
A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 33% of 25-29 year olds lived with their parents or grandparents in 2016, almost three times as many as in 1970 and the highest percentage in 75 years.

The New York Times "Holocaust is fading from memory, survey finds"
Results of a survey of 1,350 American adults find that many adults lack basic knowledge of the Holocaust, including the number of Jews killed and the means by which Hitler came to power – this lack of knowledge is more pronounced among millennials, whom the survey defined as people ages 18 to 34.

Pew Research Center “2020 census will ask about same-sex marriages for the first time”
Among several changes the U.S. Census Bureau plans for the next national count are specific check boxes for same-sex couples to identify themselves and expanded options for respondents to say more about their national origins.


Arizona Daily Star "Arizona governor signs law requiring more school recesses"
Arizona will require two recess periods a day for students in kindergarten through fifth grades, seeking a less stressful school experience for students and improved academic performance through the integration of breaks when students can get up and move.

The Atlantic “The future of college looks like the future of retail”
Online-degree programs are seeking new partnerships to provide learning in a shared physical space, positioning themselves somewhere between the physical and digital – as an example, online-degree provider 2U has partnered with WeWork to let students use space at any WeWork location to take tests or meet with study groups.

The Hechinger Report “Report: Universities relying more on tuition than state and local money”
New data from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) looks at state and local appropriations amounts and tuition revenue to determine how much funding public systems of higher education receive from each source – nationwide, only six states have returned to pre-recession funding levels and 28 states rely more on tuition dollars than on state and local funding.

The Internet

The Verge “Facebook will give researchers new data to study election interference”
Facebook announced a new research initiative partnering with seven prominent nonprofit foundations to study the effect of social media on elections – the initiative will provide access to anonymized data from Facebook and funding from the foundations to social science researchers. See also CNET, The Daily Dot, Engadget, GeekWire, and TechCrunch

TechCrunch “Google is testing self-destructing emails in new Gmail”
As part of a new design for the web version of Gmail, Google is reportedly exploring a new feature allowing users to send expiring emails – emails sent in confidential mode will not allow recipients to forward, copy, or paste content and may become unreadable after a specified time period. See also ArsTechnica, CNET, Engadget, and Mashable

The New York Times “YouTube is improperly collecting children’s data, consumer groups say”
A coalition of more than 20 consumer advocacy groups is expected to file a complaint with federal officials claiming that YouTube has failed to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law that requires companies to obtain consent from parents before collecting data on children younger than 13 – YouTube defines its main site and app as destinations for viewers 13 and older and directs younger children to the stand-alone YouTube Kids app, but the advocacy groups say YouTube is able to collect data on children under 13 through its main site, where cartoons, nursery-rhyme videos, and toy-unboxing clips garner millions of views. See also The Daily Dot, Gizmodo, and The Verge

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

The Wall Street Journal "What the hospitals of the future look like"
Hospitals are shifting from traditional inpatient facilities toward smaller outpatient clinics, same-day surgery centers, free-standing emergency rooms, and microhospitals, which offer as few as eight beds for overnight stays – the shift reflects patient preferences for how they get care and a national focus on more prevention and wellness where there is less need for a single facility providing every facet of treatment.

Voice Control

BBC “Amazon patents 'voice-sniffing' algorithms”
A patent request from Amazon describes an algorithm that can listen to entire conversations, seeking "trigger words," such as like and love, to build a profile of customers’ likes and dislikes and then offer "targeted advertising and product recommendations" – Amazon said it does not listen to customers' conversations to target advertising and that they "file a number of forward-looking patent applications that explore the full possibilities of new technology.”