Read for Later - “People can have so much more impact if 50% of your day is freed up to do more with your creativity and all of the things that you love about your job”

This week’s headline quotes Andrea Thomaz, co-founder of Diligent Robotics, the creator of the Moxi robot piloted in Texas hospitals to help nurses with the approximately 30% of tasks that do not involve patient interaction, like running errands around the floor or dropping off specimens for analysis at a lab (Fast Company “A hospital introduced a robot to help nurses. They didn’t expect it to be so popular”).

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Five Highlights

Fast Company “A hospital introduced a robot to help nurses. They didn’t expect it to be so popular”
Contending with a shortage of nurses, some hospitals in Texas have piloted use of the Moxi robot designed by Austin-based company Diligent Robotics – equipped with a robotic arm and a set of wheels on its base and programed in with the hospital’s electronic health record system, the robot is designed to run the approximately 30% of tasks nurses do that don’t involve interacting with patients, like running errands around the floor or dropping off specimens for analysis at a lab.

Fast Company “America has fallen out of love with the suburbs”
A new report from George Washington University and Smart Growth America finds declining business and residential interest in the drivable suburbs as more Americans seek places where people can live in mixed-use, multifamily housing and walk, bike, or take transit to get around – while the report counts 761 such communities throughout the 30 biggest metro areas in the U.S., these spaces are not exclusively in urban cores, but include smaller communities that are well connected by transit and contain dense housing options near shops and amenities.

Mashable “Online preschool is winning more support, but is that a good thing?”
Utah-based nonprofit and its Waterford Upstart program have raised concerns among early childhood development advocates as it secures government funding and high-profile philanthropic support for an online pre-school program launched in Utah and now expanding to other states – while the program helps expand access to early childhood learning (Waterford even supplies computers and internet access to families without) in states that do not provide state-funded pre-school, critics say that the focus should be on ensuring that all kids have access to a quality, play-based education at brick-and-mortar preschools that also provide families with access to reliable childcare.

The Washington Post “They turn to Facebook and YouTube to find a cure for cancer — and get sucked into a world of bogus medicine”
Google and Facebook have promised to crack down on health misinformation in recent months, as links between anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and measles outbreaks in the United States become major news, but the proliferation of fake health information will be hard to remove as health conspiracy theories and false cures have polluted social media, preying on people who are reeling from bad news and supported by platforms more focused on building their reach than promoting verifiable information. See also Vox “Facebook says it will crack down on health misinformation”

Nieman Lab “Young adults read the news — but often don’t see themselves reflected in it”
A Knight Foundation survey of 1,660 18- to 34-year-olds, conducted by non-partisan and objective research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, finds that young adults are relatively active consumers of news with 88% of them accessing news at least once a week and 53% once a day.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

Gizmodo “This report makes it perfectly clear who automation is working for”
A new report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) (part of the Economist Group, which separately publishes The Economist magazine) asked over 500 senior executives about their impressions and attitudes about automation, finding that 70% of CEOs consider automation and artificial intelligence a very high priority to meet their strategic objectives and 83% of respondents note that automation efforts now fall under the responsibility of the CEO, CTO, or CIO.

Cities and Government

The Wall Street Journal “U.S. mayors unite against paying ransom to hackers”
The U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a new resolution opposing payments after ransomware attacks – while payments are sometimes seen as the only way to recover from disabling attacks, authorities worry paying ransoms fuels criminal enterprises.

Communities and Demographics

Pew Research Center “On average, older adults spend over half their waking hours alone”
Americans ages 60 and older are alone for more than half of their daily measured time (about seven hours a day to over 10 hours a day among those who live by themselves), according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data – in comparison, people in their 40s and 50s spend about 4 hours and 45 minutes alone and those younger than 40 spend about three and a half hours a day alone, on average.

Economics and the Workplace

GeekWire “Amazon commits $700M to retrain 100k employees, acknowledging impact of tech on jobs”
Amazon announced a $700 million, five-year effort to retrain 100,000 employees (about one-third of its U.S. workforce) in areas such as software engineering, machine learning, and data mapping – to put the investment in context, the $700 million represents less than one-tenth of 1% of Amazon’s cumulative net sales of more than $742 billion over the past five years.


The New Yorker “The messy reality of personalized learning”
As more states invest in “virtual learning” and tech-heavy education innovation, a consideration of personalized learning, which proponents view as a means of updating education for a new economy while skeptics lament as a tech-intensive model that undermines communal values, accelerates privatization, and turns public schools into big data siphons.

Facial Recognition

The Washington Post “FBI, ICE find state driver’s license photos are a gold mine for facial-recognition searches”
Thousands of facial-recognition requests, internal documents, and emails over the past five years, obtained through public-records requests by researchers with Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology and provided to The Washington Post, reveal that federal investigators have turned state departments of motor vehicles databases into the bedrock of an unprecedented surveillance infrastructure – since 2011, the FBI has logged more than 390,000 facial-recognition searches of federal and local databases, including state DMV databases. See also The New York Times “Facial recognition tech is growing stronger, thanks to your face”

The Internet

TechCrunch “Twitter updates hate speech rules to include dehumanizing speech around religion”
Against a backdrop of rising violence against religious minorities around the world, Twitter announced that it would update its hateful conduct rules to include dehumanizing speech against religious groups – tweets that target specific religious groups would be removed as violations of the company’s code of conduct.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

The Wall Street Journal “Spurred by Amazon, supermarkets try swapping cashiers for cameras”
Several European grocers are testing cashierless stores with cameras that track what shoppers pick up – as these stores navigate more stringent European privacy policies through more economical technology, they will likely be closely watched by their American counterparts seeking to compete with Amazon Go and other retail innovators.