This week’s headline quotes Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, Chief Marketing Officer at Mozilla, about The Glass House, a new pop-up store in London that uses interactive art exhibits to demonstrate the implications of sharing personal data with big technology firms (Mashable “This cheeky 'store' can help you take control of your online life”).
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.
As you scan through these articles, consider dropping me a line to let me know what you're reading this week to help prepare for the future.
MIT Technology Review “What does work look like in 2026? New statistics shine light on automation’s impacts”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest biennial report anticipates declines in certain industries susceptible to automation and AI (electronics assemblers and word processers) and increases in industries (statisticians, mathematicians, and software developers) that will build the algorithms to control the machines that replace traditional manufacturing workers. See also The Atlantic.
Campus Technology “MIT pilots digital diplomas based on Bitcoin's blockchain”
MIT will pilot a Blockcerts Wallet app that allows students to receive tamper-proof digital diplomas that can be securely shared with employers, others schools, or friends.
NPR “Majority of white Americans say they believe whites face discrimination”
Results of a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, finds a majority of white Americans (55%) say discrimination against them exists in America today, even as a much smaller percentage say that they have actually experienced it. See also The Huffington Post.
Gizmodo “The future of online dating is unsexy and brutally effective”
More a story about privacy, data, and personalization than online dating – a look at how future matchmaking apps like Loveflutter might use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and our own trail of social media posts to compute the compatibility between future romantic partners.
The Guardian “Empathy – the latest gadget Silicon Valley wants to sell you”
Virtual reality engineers and designers are increasingly creating empathy experiences that expose users to alternative perspectives, a new strategy to build interest in this technology.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
Motherboard “Google’s Sentiment Analyzer thinks being gay is bad”
Google’s Cloud Natural Language API helps applications "easily reveal the structure and meaning of text in a variety of languages" through entity recognition (deciphering what's being talked about in a text) and syntax analysis (parsing the structure of that text) – but the system’s sentiment analyzer, which determines the degree to which sentences expressed a negative or positive sentiment, has been found to impose a negative bias against sentences referring to religious, ethnic, and other minorities. See also Mashable and Motherboard.
NextBigFuture “Small cities face greater impact from automation”
A new study from Northwestern University and MIT suggests that small cities of fewer than 100,000 inhabitants will experience more disruption from automation – those smaller cities have more jobs that are routine clerical work, such as cashier and food service jobs, which are more susceptible.
Business Insider “Walmart will soon have robots roaming the aisles in 50 stores”
Walmart will expand its test of robots that scan aisles for out-of-stock items, items put in the wrong place by customers, incorrect prices, and wrong or missing labels. See also CNET, Engadget, Fast Company, Mashable, and TechCrunch.
Demographics and Communities
Variety “Disney Channel’s ‘Andi Mack’ to introduce gay storyline in season 2”
The Disney Channel series Andi Mack will reveal that one of the main characters is gay – the story arc will mark the first time the Disney Channel has depicted a character’s journey to discovering they are gay.
Bloomberg “Rising rents are pushing more tenants past the breaking point”
A new survey from apartment listing service Apartment List finds that more renters may be struggling to make their monthly payments – 18% of respondents couldn’t pay the full rent due in at least one of the past three months, a number that rises for households earning up to $30,000 a year (27.5%) and is significant even among those earning $30,000 to $60,000 (14.8%) and those earning more than $60,000 a year (8.8%).
Mic “Emergency rooms are providing nearly half of all medical care in the US — and that may be a problem.”
A new University of Maryland School of Medicine study ($) has found that emergency rooms provided, on average, 47.7% of medical care in the U.S., with African-Americans, women, and Medicare and Medicaid recipients more likely to get their medical care at emergency rooms – a clear reminder that many Americans live without support from a regular primary care doctor.
Engadget “Trump announces program to test drones beyond FAA regulations”
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program, an initiative aimed at exploring expanded use of drones including "beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights, nighttime operations, and flights over people."
Mashable “This cheeky 'store' can help you take control of your online life”
London’s Glass Room is a minimalist pop-up tech store sponsored by Mozilla and Technical Tech and designed to help users experience the ways their data interacts with big tech companies, including location tracking, personalization, and facial recognition and emotion tracking.
Wired “Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens”
The Chinese government’s Social Credit System (SCS) seeks to rate the trustworthiness of its 1.3 billion citizens and build a culture of "sincerity" through a “public opinion environment…[that] strengthens sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity, and the construction of judicial credibility" – critics see the system as a move to scrutinize the individual behavior of citizens and allow the government to positively or negatively rate activities and provide a ranked citizen score.
Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants
Mashable “Retail is dead, long live the retail experience”
Yet another look at retail’s move toward the experiential, creating destinations for customers that go beyond the act of purchase to immerse customers in a 360-degree brand lifestyle.
Gizmodo “Amazon Key is bigger than package delivery”
Amazon’s new Amazon Key service for Prime members comes with a kit that includes the company’s Cloud Cam security camera and a compatible smart lock that allows couriers to unlock and enter a home to drop off a package – the service could also support a new set of over 1,200 service partnerships from Amazon Home Services including a cleaning service from Merry Maids and pet-sitting and dog walking from Rover.com. See also CNET, Consumerist, Engadget, Fast Company, GeekWire, Mashable, Motherboard, ReCode, Retail Dive, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
The Telegraph “BBC loses plot to offer busy viewers drama without the commitment”
The BBC is exploring options to change viewer habits, trialing “object-based media,” in which viewers can access bite-sized episodes focusing on insolated storylines or characters of their choice built from individual objects or components from the complete episode or season.
Consumerist “What can voice-activated device makers legally do with recordings of kids’ voices?”
The Federal Trade Commission has issued clarifying guidance for companies that collect children’s voice recordings through voice-activated devices, saying it “will not take an enforcement action against an operator for not obtaining parental consent” before collecting a child’s voice if it is “collected solely as a replacement of written words, such as to perform a search or fulfill a verbal instruction or request” – children have more privacy protections under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) which requires any entity knowingly collecting personal data from children under age 13 to adhere to a specific set of privacy, data storage, and disclosure guidelines.
Engadget “Amazon offers $250,000 prize fund for Alexa skills aimed at kids”
Amazon's Alexa Skills Challenge: Kids will provide cash prizes to developers who focus on Alexa Skills for kids under the age of 13, with special prizes for high school and university student developers. See also CNET.
Mashable “Your kid's next playdate is with Google Assistant”
Google released over 50 new games and activities for kids and families to Google Assistant available on Google Home devices, Google Pixel phones, and other smart devices with access to the Assistant. See also Engadget and The Verge.