Read for Later - “This robot won’t do any of your work. In fact, it might just get in the way.”

This week’s headline quotes Kaname Hayashi, designer and developer of the Lovot, a robot designed to hack human emotions by functioning more like a pet or buddy, like R2-D2, roaming around the house, making noises that sound like meows and chirps mixed together, and begging for hugs (Bloomberg “This new Japanese robot is designed to hack your emotion”).

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

Bloomberg “This new Japanese robot is designed to hack your emotion”
The new Lovot robot developed in Japan is designed to hack human emotions, operating in a user’s home where its only job is to roam around the house, beg for hugs, and act as a pet that helps users unwind after a long day – it leverages sensors and computing hardware that allow it to act with a level of autonomy and cognition.

CityLab “What happens to kid culture when you close the streets to cars”
As several European cities begin to experiment with closing streets to cars, a look at the transformation in Pontevedra, Spain, where streets are now filled with baby strollers and children playing – in the last decade, Pontevedra has experienced the most growth compared to other major cities in the region of Galicia, with the population of kids age 0 to 14 increasing by 8%, compared to 3.2% in Galicia’s capital Santiago de Compostela and 2.4% in Vigo, the region’s economic hub.

The Huffington Post “Nearly half of U.S. adults have a family member who has been incarcerated: Report”
A new study from Cornell University and political advocacy group Fwd.us finds that 45% of adults in the U.S. (113 million people nationwide) have had an immediate family member spend at least one night in jail or prison and about 1 in 7 adults has had a close family member ― defined as parents, children, siblings, partners, or spouses — imprisoned for at least one year.

Bloomberg “NYPD deploying drone for first time to secure New Year's party”
New York City police will deploy a camera-equipped drone above Times Square, along with new “counter-drone technology” blocking other devices from the area, where they expect as many as 2 million New Year’s Eve revelers.

Nieman Lab “Few people are actually trapped in filter bubbles. Why do they like to say that they are?”
A new report for the Knight Foundation finds that “media choice has become more of a vehicle of political self-expression than it once was” and “partisans therefore tend to overestimate their use of partisan outlets, while most citizens tune out political news as best they can” – people over-report their consumption of news and under-report its variety relative to the media consumption habits revealed through direct measurement.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

Wired “Don't fear the robot overlords—embrace them as coworkers”
Industrial robots are improving to work alongside human workers, working more cooperatively with humans without threatening their livelihood – while robots become stronger, faster, and more precise than people, they still lack the flexibility and dexterousness of humans.

Communities and Demographics

The New York Times “The relentlessness of modern parenting”
Over just a couple of generations, parents have greatly increased the amount of time, attention, and money they put into raising children – while intensive parenting (first described in the 1990s and 2000s by social scientists including Sharon Hays and Annette Lareau as “child-centered, expert-guided, emotionally absorbing, labor intensive, and financially expensive”) has been the norm for upper-middle-class parents since the 1990s, new research shows that people across class divides now consider it the best way to raise children, even if they don’t have the resources to enact it.

Economics and the Workplace

The New York Times “New office hours aim for well rested, more productive workers”
A growing number of businesses are adjusting work schedules to align with people’s internal clocks, following a trend in American education research that encourages administrators to pay attention to their students’ sleep needs.

ProPublica “If you’re over 50, chances are the decision to leave a job won’t be yours”
New analysis of the Health and Retirement Study, the premier source of quantitative information about aging in America, by ProPublica and the Urban Institute finds that between the time older workers enter the study and when they leave paid employment, 56% are laid off at least once or leave jobs under such financially damaging circumstances that it’s likely they were pushed out rather than choosing to go voluntarily – and only one in 10 of these workers ever again earns as much as they did before their employment setbacks.

The Internet

CNET “Facebook's and social media's fight against fake news may get tougher”
A look at how a shift in the ways people share on social media – from status updates to “stories” and messaging – could fundamentally alter how we use these platforms and make it harder to combat misinformation, election interference, and hate speech.

Journalism and News

The Los Angeles Times “Malware attack disrupts delivery of L.A. Times and Tribune papers across the U.S.”
What first arose as a server outage but was later identified as a malware attack originating from outside the United States, hobbled computer systems and spread through Tribune Publishing’s network, delaying weekend deliveries of The Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union Tribune, and West Coast editions of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Streaming Media

Wired “The streaming wars began in 2018—and they'll only get worse”
With several high-profile new streaming services being launched next year, including Disney+ and unnamed entries from both Apple and AT&T, viewers will find themselves subjected to the programming and pricing whims of various studios, tech companies, and mega-conglomerates.