This week’s headline quotes Berkeley sociology professor Claude Fischer on the popularization of AirPods and the resulting changes and potential awkwardness in human interactions as more and more people wear the devices all the time and in public – Fischer’s conclusion is that people will have to figure out how to deal with it (BuzzFeedNews “People wearing AirPods are making things awkward for everyone else”).
A quick scheduling note – there will not be a post next week as I am out of the office traveling. We’ll pick back up on May 6.
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 new information has sparked your interest? Drop me a line to let me know what you're reading or discovering that helps you consider the future of libraries.
Fast Company “There’s a new use for America’s dying malls: Co-working”
A growing number of co-working service providers, including Industrious, IWG’s No. 18, and the Riveter, are exploring locations in suburban malls as demand for co-working spaces grows beyond urban cores.
The New York Times “We built an ‘unbelievable’ (but legal) facial recognition machine”
A quick experiment with facial recognition technology shows how easy it is to collect public images of people online, track people without their knowledge, and then run footage through Amazon’s commercial facial recognition service – with just a few cameras and facial recognition technology, it is possible to track people’s daily habits, including when they arrive at the office each day, who they get coffee with, whether they left work early.
BuzzFeedNews “People wearing AirPods are making things awkward for everyone else”
An interesting look at how the popularity of AirPods and other wireless ear buds could introduce awkwardness to once-standard human interactions — as some users never seem to take them off, it could become more difficult for people interacting with those who are wearing them.
TechCrunch “Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine is considering book-themed subscription boxes”
Reese Witherspoon’s media company Hello Sunshine could be exploring an entry into the subscription box business for Reese’s Book Club — the company is exploring how to turn the book club’s online brand into a revenue-generating business of its own, with survey questions almost entirely focused on what members would want to see in a subscription box.
Government Technology “Utah embarks on a mission to familiarize residents with AVs”
The Utah Transit Authority, in partnership with Utah Department of Transportation, will launch the Autonomous Shuttle Pilot Project as a way to introduce autonomous vehicle (AV) technology to residents – a shuttle provided by the company EasyMile will tour various communities across the state for the next year.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
The Verge “We’ve been warned about AI and music for over 50 years, but no one’s prepared”
As AI reshapes how music is made, a look at how legal systems will be confronted with some messy questions regarding authorship – the law doesn’t account for AI’s unique abilities, like its potential to work endlessly and mimic the sound of a specific artist, meaning that AI could become a valuable tool to assist creativity, a nuisance ripping off hard-working human musicians, or both. See also Engadget “AI generates non-stop stream of death metal”
The Verge “The artificial intelligence field is too white and too male, researchers say”
The artificial intelligence industry is facing a “diversity crisis,” according to a new report from the AI Now Institute – women and people of color are deeply underrepresented, with 80% of AI professors identifying as men and just 15% of AI research staff at Facebook and 10% at Google identifying as women.
Books and Reading
The Bookseller “PRH US launches Reader Loyalty Program”
Penguin Random House has launched a Reader Rewards Loyalty Program, a free promotional initiative that lets readers earn one free book for every 12 PRH titles they purchase – the company’s research shows that consumers want to be rewarded by the brands they purchase from and the program seeks to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with readers.
The New York Times “Silicon Valley came to Kansas schools. That started a rebellion.”
A look at one community’s response to the Summit Learning Program, a Silicon Valley-based program that promotes an educational approach called “personalized learning,” which uses online tools to customize education – students and parents complained about spending too much of their days on their laptops, coming home with headaches and hand cramps, and feeling disconnected from other students.
Reuters “Microsoft turned down facial-recognition sales on human rights concerns”
Microsoft recently rejected a California law enforcement agency’s request to install facial recognition technology in officers’ cars and body cameras due to human rights concerns – the company concluded it could lead to innocent women and minorities being disproportionately held for questioning because the artificial intelligence has been trained on mostly white and male pictures.
Wired “15 months of fresh hell inside Facebook”
A look at the recent history of Facebook, based on interviews with 65 current and former employees, that reveals some of the biggest shifts in the social network, including breaches in data, the challenges of content moderation, changes in news and journalism, and the fallout from Cambridge Analytica.
Gizmodo “Netflix is testing a feature to serve up random episodes if you don't know what to watch”
Netflix’s Android app is testing a feature to cue up a random episode of a given series with an in-app shuffle icon – while the test may not result in a permanent feature, it could help address the permanent browse state many people find themselves in when confronted with streaming services’ extensive content libraries.
Fast Company “Walmart.com just dropped a $48 kids’ clothing subscription box”
Walmart announced a new partnership with kids’ clothing subscription service KIDBOX to launch a new Walmart KIDBOX stylebox – priced at $48, parents will get a box of four to five clothing items with options to keep or return the selected items.
Government Technology “The future of urban transportation will be holistic”
As cities revitalize downtown cores, deploy streetcars, widen sidewalks, and install bike lanes, they are beginning to think holistically about the urban landscape and the various ways to move through it, sparking partnerships and collaboration that lead to increased comfort and convenience for residents. See also The Verge “Electric scooters may not be around for long”
CNBC “Facebook is working on a voice assistant to rival Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri”
Facebook is reportedly working on a voice assistant to rival Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, and Google’s Google Assistant, according to several people familiar with the matter. See also The Drum “A rude awakening for voice technology”