Read for Later - “We all learn together and teach each other. It’s not a competition.”

This week’s headline quotes Evelyn Harris, a student in an all-girls Intro to Auto class at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, North Carolina (The Hechinger Report “Girls-only trade classes are spreading — and upending stereotypes”).

A reminder that we've opened the call for concurrent session proposals for our 2019 Symposium on the Future of Libraries, part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, January 25 - 29 in Seattle. We had over 35 sessions at the 2018 Symposium – covering refugee services, blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, library fine policies, linked data, and more – and look forward to another rich discussion of the near- and long-term trends shaping the future of libraries.

You can always check out the Center's trend collection, including our newest entry on Facial Recognition technology, to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our futures. 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

GeekWire “Safety over privacy? RealNetworks to offer free facial recognition technology to K-12 schools”
Seattle-based RealNetworks will offer a new facial recognition technology, called SAFR, for free to K-12 schools to help upgrade their on-site security systems to recognize students, staff, and people visiting schools – AI-powered facial recognition technologies raise concern about ethical and privacy implications, but RealNetworks says the system includes privacy protections.

Motherboard “In some US cities, there are over ten times more parking spaces than households”
A new report from the Research Institute for Housing America, an arm of the Mortgage Bankers Association, finds that cities have an overabundance of parking space, contributing to skyrocketing housing values that price lower-income renters and homebuyers out of the market.

The Hechinger Report “Girls-only trade classes are spreading — and upending stereotypes”
Female-only trade classes are gaining traction as a shortage of skilled workers is driving up wages in the trades, especially in traditionally male-dominated professions such as auto repair, construction, and welding – such courses could run afoul of Title IX regulations which prohibit separation of genders in vocational training, but advocates argue that all-girl trade classes embolden young women to push against gender stereotypes.

The Daily Dot “Starbucks to open first U.S. location designed for the deaf and hard of hearing”
A Starbucks in Washington, D.C., will reopen this fall as the company’s first U.S. “Signing Store” location, completely redesigned for the deaf and hard of hearing – the company will be hiring between 20 and 25 deaf, hard of hearing, and ASL-fluent hearing employees for the location; surfaces will have reduced glare to make it easier for people to see each other and sign to each other; and there will be visual displays for ordering and checkout and a visual display to let customers know when their drinks are ready. See also Mashable and Mic.

MIT Technology Review “Forget about VR in the living room; this summer it’s on waterslides and in arcades”
While consumers may be slow to purchase VR devices for their personal use, the technology is gaining popularity in arcades, amusement parks, and other family-friendly entertainment centers where VR is integrated into waterslide experience or games – location-based entertainment VR centers provide users an opportunity to try the technology before investing in it and may fulfill the need for more social uses of the technology.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

MIT Technology Review “Big names in AI vow not to build autonomous weapons”
The Future of Life Institute’s “Lethal Autonomous Weapons Pledge” has been signed by Elon Musk; DeepMind’s Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg, and Mustafa Suleyman; and the well-known AI researchers Stuart Russell, Yoshua Bengio, and Jürgen Schmidhuber, all pledging that they won’t develop lethal autonomous weapons.

Asheville Citizen-Times “What's Waldo? New facial recognition software makes life easier for camp parents”
Waldo, a company that uses facial recognition software to help identify subjects in photographs, will work with youth summer camps to help parents receive pictures of their children at camp – parents upload a headshot or selfie of their child to Waldo's system and Waldo’s facial recognition software scans photos on camps’ websites for matches, sending parents matching pictures of their children.

Economics and the Workforce

The New York Times “A 4-day workweek? A test run shows a surprising result”
New Zealand firm Perpetual Guardian, which manages trusts, wills, and estates, let its 240 employees work four days a week while being paid for five as part of an experiment to boost productivity – Jarrod Haar, a human resources professor at Auckland University of Technology, said employees reported a 24% improvement in work-life balance and came back to work energized after their days off.


The Verge “Girl Scouts unveils 30 new STEM-related badges, including space exploration and cybersecurity”
Girl Scouts of the USA announced new badges that address “some of society’s most pressing needs,” focusing on STEM and technology-related issues and advocacy for girls – the 30 badges will be available for efforts in cybersecurity, robotics, computer science, space exploration, and the environment. See also Gizmodo.

The Internet

Reuters “Alphabet to deploy balloon Internet in Kenya with Telkom in 2019”
Alphabet’s Loon said it would partner with Telkom Kenya to deploy its system of balloons to beam high-speed Internet access to cover rural and suburban populations – the technology was used by U.S. telecom operators to provide connectivity to more than 250,000 people in Puerto Rico after the hurricane last year. See also CNET, Engadget, and Fast Company.  

TechCrunch “Facebook, Google and more unite to let you transfer data between apps”
Founded by Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft, the Data Transfer Project seeks to help users move content, contacts, and other data between apps via an open source data portability platform any online service can join – creating an industry standard for data portability could force companies to compete on utility instead of being protected by data lock-in that makes it difficult for users to switch services. See also Engadget.

The New York Times “How WhatsApp leads mobs to murder in India” and “WhatsApp to Limit Message Forwarding” (Reuters)
In India, false rumors about kidnappers have gone viral on WhatsApp, prompting fearful mobs to kill two dozen innocent people since April. In response, WhatsApp is launching a test to limit forwarding messages that will apply to all users and, for Indian users specifically, a test to lower the limit to five chats at once and remove the quick forward button next to media messages. See also Gizmodo, Poynter, and ReCode.  

Wired “Facebook confirms it's working on a new internet satellite”
According to emails obtained from the Federal Communications Commission in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Wired, and confirmation from the company itself, Facebook is exploring the launch of Athena, its very own internet satellite, designed to “efficiently provide broadband access to unserved and underserved areas throughout the world.” See also CNET, Engadget, Gizmodo, and Mashable.

Journalism and News

Wired “Facebook’s fight against fake news keeps raising questions”
As Facebook reaffirms its commitment to fighting fake news, several recent interactions have demonstrated the difficult position in which it finds itself – in a ReCode podcast interview CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that he wouldn’t necessarily remove Holocaust denial posts from Facebook (he later tried to clarify that “If a post crossed line into advocating for violence or hate against a particular group, it would be removed”); the company has tried to defend its decision not to ban sites like Alex Jones' InfoWars; and announced changes to private-messaging service WhatsApp to limit the number of chats that users can forward and a new policy targeting misinformation when it risks imminent violence, partnering with local civil society groups that might better understand the specific cultural context.  See also BBC, The New York Times and again and again, NiemanLab, and ReCode.  

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

CityLab “Don’t throw it away—take it to the repair cafe”
A look at repair cafes, a movement that has grown out of the Repair Cafe Foundation that launched the first of such cafes in Amsterdam in 2009 – the profiled cafe at the Elkridge Library in Howard County, Maryland, brought together volunteer “fixers” to help residents repair everything from tables and lamps to jewelry and clothing.