This week’s headline quotes Laura Norén, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Data Science at New York University, one of several professors and researchers developing ethics courses for data science, computer science, and engineering students at colleges and universities across the country (The New York Times “Tech’s ethical ‘dark side’: Harvard, Stanford and others want to address it”).
You can always check out the Center's trend collection 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.
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The New York Times “Tech’s ethical ‘dark side’: Harvard, Stanford and others want to address it”
While computer science programs have been required to provide students with an understanding of ethical issues related to computing in order to be accredited by ABET, a growing number of universities are launching new courses on the ethics of artificial intelligence, the ethical foundations of computer science, and other offerings that will help train the next generation of technologists and policymakers to consider the ramifications of innovations before those products are made available to the public.
BBC “£10,000 proposed for everyone under 55”
The new Pathways to Universal Basic Income report from the Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) proposes providing two payments of £5,000 paid over two years to every citizen under the age of 55 – the proposal would help compensate workers for the way jobs are changing and help citizens through the 2020s, "as automation replaces many jobs, climate change hits, and more people face balancing employment with social care."
Inside Higher Ed “A college in the library”
Bard College has opened a satellite micro-college in the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, offering students who have confronted hurdles to higher education, including poverty, homelessness, and incarceration, a free pathway to higher education – the micro-college’s associates degree in the arts is paid for using a $450,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as well as through Pell Grants.
BuzzFeedNews “He predicted the 2016 fake news crisis. Now he's worried about an information apocalypse.”
Aviv Ovadya, now the chief technologist for the University of Michigan’s Center for Social Media Responsibility and a Knight News innovation fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia, raised early warnings about the crisis of misinformation in 2016 and now raises concerns about slick, easy-to-use, and eventually seamless technological tools for manipulating perception and falsifying reality.
Wired “How augmented reality is shaping the future of play”
An increasing number of toymakers are exploring augmented reality as the future of play, taking advantage of phone-based AR improvements to create immersive and interactive experiences that utilize light-weight technology and place kids in the real world instead of tethered to computers.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
MIT Technology Review “Automation is going to hit workers in three waves, and the first one is already here”
A new report from PwC predicts three waves of automation – a flood of algorithms where machines handle data analysis and simple digital tasks; augmentation inundation, when repeatable tasks and the exchange of information will come to be done by humans and automated systems working together; and, finally, an autonomy tsunami, when machines and software will make decisions and take physical actions with little or no human input.
Engadget “MIT has a new chip to make AI faster and more efficient on smartphones”
MIT researchers developed a neural network chip that reduces power consumption by 95%, making them ideal for battery-powered devices like mobile phones and tablets to take advantage of more complex neural networking systems.
The Daily Dot “Why a custom AI chip is such a big deal for Amazon Alexa”
According to The Information ($), Amazon is developing its own proprietary artificial intelligence chip designed to make Alexa respond faster to commands, sound more natural, and work without sending data to a server – by relying less on the cloud, Alexa would respond by processing requests locally using built-in intelligence, an improvement that could make it seem like you’re having a normal conversation with the assistant. See also The Inquirer.
BBC “Chinese police spot suspects with surveillance sunglasses”
Police in China have begun using sunglasses equipped with facial recognition technology that connect to an internal database of suspects, allowing officers to quickly scan crowds while looking for fugitives – critics fear the technology will give even more power to the government. See also TechCrunch.
MIT Technology Review “The company that made smartphones smart now wants to give them built-in AI”
The British chip design firm ARM has created its first dedicated machine-learning chips meant for use in mobile and smart-home devices – currently most small or portable devices lack the power to run AI algorithms and so instead use cloud servers, but allowing mobile devices to run their own AI software will help speed services, cut the lag inherent in sending information back and forth, and possibly address privacy concerns by keeping more of the data on the device.
Scientific American “How universities are tackling society's grand challenges”
UCLA released a new report documenting university-led grand challenges focused on solving a major societal challenge – the report shows how universities use the grand challenge model to attract new investment and resources, demonstrate the value of university research, and engage students, partners, the broader community, and the public.
The Register “Vermont becomes fourth US state to boot up its own net neutrality rules”
With an executive order from governor Phil Scott, Vermont has become the fourth US state to adopt net neutrality regulations, joining Montana, New Jersey, and New York.
CNET “Google removes 'view image' button”
Following a complaint from Getty images to the European Commission in 2016, Google has entered into a new agreement with Getty that will make it harder to save pictures from the search engine by removing certain features, including the button that allows users to view an image in isolation as well as a "search by image" button. See also ArsTechnica, Engadget, and The Verge.
TechCrunch “Google takes AMP beyond basic posts with its new story format”
Google announced a new story format for its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) that allows publishers to build image-, video-, and animation-heavy stories for mobile that can easily be swiped through – Google partnered with CNN, Conde Nast, Hearst, Mashable, Meredith, Mic, Vox Media, and The Washington Post for the launch. See also Advertising Age, CNET, and The Verge.
The Verge “Gmail will let you browse websites in your email with new AMP support”
Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) capabilities will come to email through a developer tool for Gmail that will make emails “more interactive and engaging” through actionable functions like RSVPing to events, browsing and interacting with content, or filling out forms without leaving an email. See also CNET, Gizmodo, Mashable, and TechCrunch.
Internet of Things
Bloomberg “This is the smart home of the future”
A look at some of the most exciting tech-forward home products on the market, including smart speakers, roll-able TV screens, super high-resolution projectors, smart ovens and refrigerators, and mattresses that track sleeping patterns.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
Curbed “Malls and the future of American retail”
Even as some physical stores see a decline in sales, new malls are adopting a museum-like quality, with designs by celebrity architects, high end restaurants, landscaped courtyards and outdoor spaces, glass walls that let shoppers look in, and experiential anchor spaces like gyms and dine-in movie theaters.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
The Verge “Blippar’s newest AR feature recognizes famous landmarks”
London-based startup Blippar’s new augmented reality Landmark Recognition Feature will recognize more than 2,000 landmarks around the world, including well-known bridges, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and even famous sports arenas – the feature follows the company’s other tools including AR City, Public Faces, and Flower Recognition features, which are all part of a larger effort to map the physical world through AR and “change the way people interact with and experience their surroundings.”
Retail Wire “L.L.Bean wants to know what you’re doing in its duck boots”
L.L.Bean will test a new set of clothing embedded with sensors that capture information such as temperature and how often an item is worn and washed to see if customers are using the clothing as intended and if the products are meeting expected standards – the test will not include geo-location, will be done with the knowledge and participation of L.L.Bean customers purchasing the items, and will feed data to an Ethereum blockchain platform where L.L.Bean will be able to access it.