This week’s headline quotes Dr. Sherry Turkle, the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, in a story about the design cues built into robots that trick us into thinking they are expressing emotion back toward us (The Associated Press “Be wary of robot emotions; ‘simulated love is never love’”).
A quick note as we prepare for the 2019 ALA Annual Conference. Our friends at Awesome Libraries and Awesome DC are hosting a collaborative, live pitch event on June 22nd at Open Gov Hub. They are looking for creative and inspiring library projects that will have an impact on communities in Washington, D.C., and across the globe. Six finalists will be chosen to pitch their idea to a panel of judges and members of the D.C. and library communities with two winners receiving $1,000 for their project. You can submit a Pitch Proposal by Saturday, June 1, 2019, to be considered for the contest. If you are interested in attending the pitch event and learning more about Awesome Libraries and Awesome DC, register by June 21, 2019.
You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures.
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The Associated Press “Be wary of robot emotions; ‘simulated love is never love’”
Research has shown that people tend to project human traits onto robots, especially when they move or act in even vaguely human-like ways, but as robots move into homes some researchers worry that designers are underestimating the dangers associated with attachment to increasingly life-like robots. See also IEEE Spectrum “Anki, Jibo, and Kuri: What we can learn from social robots that didn't make it”
The New York Times “Americans are among the most stressed people in the world, poll finds”
A new Gallup poll finds Americans reporting feeling stress, anger, and worry at the highest levels in a decade – 55% of US adults said they had experienced stress during “a lot of the day” prior (compared with just 35% globally) and 45% of the Americans surveyed said they had felt “a lot” of worry the day before (compared with a global average of 39%).
GeekWire “Will AirPods spark the next technology wave? How ‘personal audio computing’ could reshape the industry”
AirPods have become an essential element in the daily life of some users, reducing friction in simple tasks like setting reminders, making phone calls, and listening to podcasts – their potential could also open future scenarios that drastically change our experiences, such as ear pods that don’t completely obstruct outside sound but allow users to flow in and out of real-world conversations, that identify the context you encounter and give you audio cues, or that transcribe action items to send out. See also The Atlantic “Workers love AirPods because employers stole their walls”
Pew Research Center “Sizing up Twitter users”
A new Pew Research Center finds that American adults who use Twitter are younger, more likely to identify as Democrats, more highly educated, and have higher incomes than U.S. adults overall.
Motherboard “WHO says the problem with child screen time isn't the screens, it's being sedentary”
The World Health Organization released new health guidelines for children under five years old, recommending that caregivers limit “sedentary screen time” for children under five – while many reports focused on screen time, WHO’s intentional focus on sedentary screen time sought to address screen use while sitting, lying passively, not interacting, or not moving, all of which could limit children’s motor, cognitive, and psychosocial development. See also Slate “Why parents shouldn’t be too worried over WHO’s new guidelines for screen time for children”
Vox “Google’s Wing has landed the FAA’s first approval for drone delivery”
The Federal Aviation Administration authorized Alphabet’s Wing Aviation to start delivering goods via drones later this year – Wing will deliver commercial packages in Blacksburg, Virginia, as a partner with Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and Virginia Tech in the Transportation Department’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program.
GeekWire “Washington state greenlights delivery robots on sidewalks”
With a new bill signed by Governor Jay Inslee, Washington becomes the eighth state to permit personal delivery robots on sidewalks.
Economics and the Workplace
CityLab “The geography of brain drain in America”
With an increasing focus on the widening geographic divide in the knowledge economy, a new report (and interactive map) from the Social Capital Project of the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress focuses on highly educated people in their post-college and post-graduate-school years who are either “movers” or “leavers,” heading off to different states, or “stayers” who continue to live in their home state – the states that retained and gained highly educated populations include those on the East and West Coasts and states like Texas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, and Kansas; the states that lost highly educated populations span the Rust Belt, adjacent parts of the Great Plains, the South, and especially the Deep South, as well as Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire in New England.
The New Yorker “The terrifying potential of the 5G network”
A detailed look at the potential for 5G wireless networks, which some promise to have speeds up to a hundred times faster that can reduce, and possibly eliminate, the delay between instructing a computer to perform a command and its execution – while that potential raises new opportunities for the Internet of Things, it also raises concerns for cyberattacks and an international race to develop and control those networks and technologies. See also The Verge “Verizon and T-Mobile agree much of the US won’t see the fast version of 5G”
Mashable “Mark Zuckerberg says 'a private social platform' is the future at F8”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out what he considered to be "6 principles" driving a privacy-focused social platform for the future – private interactions, encryption, reducing permanence, safety, interoperability, and secure data storage. Zuckerberg was still vague on the timeline for the privacy-focused changes.
The New York Times “Facebook bars Alex Jones, Louis Farrakhan and others from its services”
After years of wavering about how to handle the extreme voices populating its platform, Facebook announced moves to bar seven of its most controversial users under its policies against “dangerous individuals and organizations” – the move immediately inflamed the debate about the power and accountability of large technology companies.
Mashable “Google will now let users auto-delete location history and activity data”
Google announced a new feature that lets people automatically delete their location history and web activity data attached to their Google account – once enabled, any data older than the selected amount of time will be automatically deleted from accounts on an ongoing basis.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
GeekWire “Amazon to make one-day delivery the new standard for Prime”
On an earnings call with Amazon chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky, Amazon alluded to plans to shift its core Prime subscription program benefit into free one-day shipping – the company plans to spend $800 million on the effort and has expanded both its one-day eligible selection of goods and the number of zip codes eligible for one-day shipping.
TechCrunch “Walmart unveils an AI-powered store of the future, now open to the public”
Walmart unveiled a new “store of the future” called the Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL) to test emerging technologies, including AI-enabled cameras and interactive displays – unlike Amazon Go, which is a grab-and-go store with smaller square footage, Walmart’s IRL spans 50,000 square feet of retail space and is staffed by more than 100 employees, leveraging AI-powered cameras to monitor inventory levels and help store associates know more precisely where and when to restock products. See also The Associated Press “Coming to store shelves: Cameras that guess your age and gender”
The Sharing Economy
The Wall Street Journal “Marriott to take on Airbnb in booming home-rental market”
Marriott is starting a new home-rental business, aiming to take on Airbnb and other home-sharing companies, offering accommodations in about 2,000 high-end homes throughout 100 markets across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. See also CNBC “Airbnb to collaborate on New York City hotel”
Nieman Lab “L’affaire Luminary continues with more podcasts dropping out and allegations of technical bad behavior”
A complicated roll-out for podcast startup Luminary was marked by the exclusion or removal of popular shows like The Daily and Reply All, which said they did not want to be included in the free tier of Luminary’s app, and The Joe Rogan Experience, which asked to be withdrawn after the launch – while the exclusion or removal of free podcasts from a podcast app seems to defy the normal distribution patterns, the decisions surrounding Luminary center on the app’s decision to save podcast files on their own servers and then serve their own copies to listeners instead of the originals, limiting the data and insights creators can leverage to sell advertising and sponsorships.
The Verge “Spotify tests placing podcast episodes alongside music recommendations”
Spotify continues its push for podcasting, including testing a new Your Daily Drive feature that brings together curated music with several short podcast episodes placed alongside – Spotify doesn’t have a widely available podcast recommendation tool, so this feature could provide a first step.
TechCrunch “Spotify launches voice-enabled ads on mobile devices in a limited US test”
Spotify is increasing its investment in voice technology, announcing the launch of voice-enabled advertisements, which will encourage the listener to say a verbal command in order to take action on the ad’s content – initially, Spotify is only focused on content promotion within its own service, using the audio ads to direct listeners to a branded Spotify playlist or podcast.
Transportation and Mobility
Mashable “E-scooters aren't going anywhere — in fact, their numbers are still growing”
The National Association of City Transportation Officials, which tracks shared micromobility usage in 100 U.S. cities, estimated 85,000 e-scooters available for rent and 38.5 million trips on e-scooters in 2018, surpassing bike-share trips (36.5 million trips) for the first time.
The Verge “Uber customers in Denver can now buy train and bus tickets in the app”
Uber announced that it will begin selling train and bus tickets through its app for its customers in Denver, Colorado – the move points to the company’s quest to become the de facto smartphone app for all modes of transportation, not just cars. See also The Verge “Uber adds public transportation directions and schedules to its app in London”