Read for Later - "A cultural change about how we make sense of information, whom we trust, and how we understand our own role in grappling with information"

This week’s headline comes from danah boyd’s insightful essay, “Did media literacy backfire?”, one of several articles that really piqued my interest this week.  

Several kind people took time last week to let me know what they were reading to prepare them for the future. No surprise, a lot of us are turning to books to gain strength for what lies ahead. Cathi Alloway from the Schlow Center Region Library is reading Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late (you can catch a video of the author talking about this book on Charlie Rose). Andrea Avni from the Sound Transit Research Library is reading Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road - certainly a great model for activism now and in the future.

Two quick notes:

You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our future work.

And like Cathi and Andrea last week, drop me a line to let me know what you're reading this week to prepare for the future or if any of the articles we’ve featured in this newsletter have really grabbed your attention, made you think, or inspired a great conversation at work. 

CES 2017

Engadget “Presenting the Best of CES 2017 winners!”
No shortage of coverage for CES 2017, including several round-ups of the best products featured at the show – including accessibility tech, wearables, robots and drones, connected home products, gaming, and more. See also Advertising Age and ReCode.

Fast Company “At CES, new Alexa-powered products are everywhere: Here's the full list”  
The integration of Amazon’s natural-language artificial intelligence software Alexa was a big story from CES, as the technology appears in a number of appliances, toys, cars, phones, and robots.  See also Geekwire, Motherboard, ReCode, The Verge, Vocativ, and Wired.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

Engadget "UK health service to trial chatbot that gives medical advice"
The United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) will trial a chatbot app for dispensing medical advice, with the aim of reducing the burden on its 111 non-emergency helpline.

MIT Technology Review "5 big predictions for artificial intelligence in 2017"
Among the predictions, reinforcement learning will help computers figure out how to navigate a maze by trial and error and then associate the positive outcome with the actions that led up to it and generative adversarial networks (GANs) will help networks work together to produce very realistic synthetic data.

Quartz "Japanese white-collar workers are already being replaced by artificial intelligence"
Japanese insurance company Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance will replace 34 human insurance claim workers with IBM Watson Explorer, a $1.7 million (and $128,000 per year for maintenance) solution that will scan hospital records and other documents to determine insurance payouts, factoring injuries, patient medical histories, and procedures administered. See also The Daily Dot.

Gizmodo “Google’s AlphaGo is slaying unsuspecting nerds online”
Google’s AlphaGo AI has been secretly playing humans, winning 60 of 61 online matches against some of the best Go players in the world, as it tests an improved version of the software. See also Nature, New Scientist, NextBigFuture, and TechCrunch.

Books, Media, and Publishing

Columbia Journalism Review "Curtains fall on arts critics at newspapers"
The numbers of theatre critics, film reviewers, arts and entertainment editors, and arts writers have steadily declined from daily and weekly newspapers across the country.

Mashable “Norway is the first country to switch off FM radio”
Norway will begin transitioning from an FM radio network to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), which could bring savings of more than 200 million kroner ($23.5 million) and a clearer sound broadcast across a terrain of fjords and mountains, though critics of the plan note that the majority of cars lack the necessary technology for DAB. See also CBC News and Vocativ.

Cities and Government

City Lab “Can sharing rides cut NYC's fleet of 14,000 taxis to 3,000?”
In a new study from MIT, researchers suggest that just 3,000 ride-sharing vehicles (traditional taxis, Uber/Lyft cars, or autonomous robo-cabs) could replace vast transportation systems like New York City’s nearly 14,000 taxis, but the model depends on an algorithm developed to find the most efficient routes for carpooling vehicles to pick up and ferry multiple passengers to their destinations in a single trip. See also Gizmodo, Motherboard, The Verge, and Vocativ.  

Vocativ “Amazon will start accepting food stamps in USDA pilot program”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will launch a program with online retailers like Amazon, FreshDirect, Safeway, and ShopRite to allow those using food stamps to purchase groceries online, helping to promote better access to affordable food and encourage healthier eating choices.

NextCity “Downtown Miami pop-up turns parking into parks”
Miami is launching a 20-day instillation to transform two parking medians into public green space for free events and entertainment such as live music, art shows, workout classes, co-working hubs, and food truck events.

Vocativ “Republicans push plans to defund sanctuary cities, campuses”
House Republicans have drafted at least three bills aimed to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities and campuses which have vowed to help shield undocumented immigrants from deportation under the incoming Trump administration – twelve of the largest American cities that call themselves immigrant sanctuaries are home to nearly 20% of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S.


Brookings “It’s America’s minority youth that deserve both parties’ attention”
Between 2000 and 2015, the United States has experienced a decline of 6.8 million white men and women younger than age 20, a decline of 14% evident in 47 states and in nearly 90% of the nation’s 3,100 counties—new investments in the next multiracial generations will help create a future labor force for the nation’s economic well-being.

Vocativ “New apps set the stage for more diverse online dating”
Niche dating apps, including location-specific, female-centric, and less appearance-based apps, are accommodating the growing, diverse population of dating app users – and pushing the larger dating apps (Tinder, PlentyOfFish, OkCupid, Zoosk) to revamp their platforms.

Pew Research Center “Federal prison population fell during Obama’s term, reversing recent trend”
President Barack Obama will leave the White House with a smaller federal prison population than when he took office – the number of sentenced prisoners in federal custody fell 5% (or 7,981 inmates) between the end of 2009 and 2015, the most recent year for which final end-of-year statistics were available.

Pew Research Center “More than a million Millennials are becoming moms each year”
Millennial women (those born from 1981 to 1997) accounted for 82% of U.S. births in 2015, but are still further behind other generations in terms of age when they first became parents.


City Lab "Where inequality and poverty are growing together"
A new study from the Population Reference Bureau finds that 41% of U.S. counties suffer from high levels of combined poverty and income inequality (up from 29% in 1989) and just 28% of counties have low levels of poverty and low levels of inequality – yes, that means that more than 70% of counties have either high levels of inequality, high levels of poverty, or both.


The New York Times “Cuomo proposes free tuition at New York State colleges for eligible students”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a plan to cover tuition costs at state or city universities or colleges, including two-year community colleges, for students whose income or their families’ is less than $125,000 a year — the plan would have the state complete students’ tuition payments by supplementing existing state and federal grant programs. See also Education Dive, Hechinger Report, NPR, and Time.

The Hechinger Report “Students, feeling nickel-and-dimed, force new scrutiny of college fees”
Some universities and colleges are responding to growing concern over the number and amount of student activity, athletics, building maintenance, graduation, and library fees added on to already high tuition costs, bundling the fees into the stated tuition charge, allowing more of the cost to be covered by financial aid and paid up front and encouraging the university to hold the line on annual increases.

The New York Times "A peek inside the strange world of fake academia"
A fascinating look at the network of fake academic journals and conferences that exploit academics' need to publish for professional advancement and tenure.

The Atlantic "How design thinking became a buzzword at school"
The precise definition of design thinking is complicated – a mix of mindsets, philosophies, techniques, skills, and end-results – that has made it appealing to educators interested in helping students address real-world problems.

Data & Society "Did media literacy backfire?"
The always brilliant danah boyd considers the limits of media literacy programs and expert fact-checking and labeling in light of the cultural divide in information consumption where skepticism of media outlets, science, and higher education can influence what is considered a trusted source.

The Environment

TreeHugger "Michigan bans bans on plastic bags, takeout food containers, styrofoam cups and just about anything else"
Michigan has passed a law banning local governments’ bans on plastic bags and other containers – a challenge to environmental causes and a move to take away local control of selected causes and issues. See also Smithsonian and The Washington Post.

The Internet

The Seattle Review of Books "Sherman Alexie, Lindy West, and Ta-Nehisi Coates all quit Twitter this week"
Author Sherman Alexie, journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, and writer and activist Lindy West all announced their departures from Twitter – Coates to focus on a new book project and West out of frustration with the platform’s refusal to deal with trolls and abusive users. See also Geekwire and The Guardian.

CNET “​Apple pulls New York Times app in China”
Chinese authorities asked Apple to remove both the English-language and Chinese-language New York Times apps from its Chinese iTunes store – Apple complied with the request as the government’s blocking of the New York Times web sites was causing content display problems within the apps. See also ArsTechnica, Engadget, Mashable, The New York Times, and ReCode.

The New York Times “Russia requires Apple and Google to remove LinkedIn from local app stores”
Russian authorities have forced the removal of LinkedIn in Apple and Google app stores after the professional networking service refused local laws that require internet firms to store data on Russian citizens within the nation’s borders – with the LinkedIn website blocked, the apps stopped functioning properly. See also Engadget and ReCode.

Play and Toys

Engadget "Fisher-Price takes your kid to spin class"
Fisher-Price debuted the Smart Cycle at CES, a miniature exercise bike that lets kids pedal to play through games displayed on a tablet mounted to the front of the stationary bike.

Bloomberg "Baby’s first virtual assistant"
Mattel introduced what it’s calling the world’s first smart baby monitor, Aristotle, which is designed to help purchase diapers, read bedtime stories, soothe infants back to sleep, and teach toddlers animal noises, foreign words, and other skills. See also Engadget and again, Geekwire, and The Verge.

Engadget “Lego Boost teaches kids how to bring blocks to life with code”  
Lego’s Boost product line contains a combination of sensors, motors, and a companion app that teaches kids how to code so that they can program robot creations. See also Geekwire, Mashable, and TechCrunch.


Vocativ “Want to hide from face recognition? Try an anti-surveillance t-shirt”
HyperFace, a new project from Berlin-based artist Adam Harvey, produces fabric patterns that confuse face detection technology, “a new kind of camouflage” designed to sabotage computer vision algorithms by feeding them false faces and making it much harder for systems to detect which “face” is real. See also The Guardian.

Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants

Forbes “Hottest Las Vegas trend? Food, tech and lodging for millennials”
Several Las Vegas properties, including Caesar’s LINQ Hotel & Casino and MGM Resorts, are investing in open-air pedestrian malls and gathering spots outfitted with picnic tables, games, and other attractions aimed squarely at a millennial audience.

Consumerist "Starbucks ends boozy ‘Evenings’ menu at 439 locations"
After 18 months, Starbucks will end its “Evenings” menu of wine, beer, and small plates, finding that its day-time coffee drinkers would not translate into evening patrons. See also Advertising Age.

The New York Times “Amazon to open retail store in Manhattan at Time Warner Center”
Amazon will open its eighth retail bookstore location in the Time Warner Center in Manhattan. See also CNET, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Geekwire, Inc., ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge.

Streaming Media

Engadget "Hulu adds CBS to its upcoming live TV service"
Hulu's forthcoming live TV streaming service will include CBS, as well as CBS Sports and Pop, even as CBS continues to promote its own streaming platform, All Access, which includes original shows like The Good Wife’s spin-off The Good Fight and Star Trek: Discovery. See also CNET.

The Drum “US streaming subscription boom derails YouTube's music stream growth”
A music industry report from BuzzAngle reveals that digital video music streams (YouTube and Vevo) grew by just 7.5% in 2016 while audio on-demand services (Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play) saw 83% increases, rising from 137 billion streams in 2015 to 250 billion in 2016, with paid subscription models seeing the greatest growth. See also CNET and Engadget.

TechCrunch “Facebook adds automatic subtitling for Page videos”
Facebook has launched a free, automatic video captioning tool to all US English Facebook Pages, powered by voice recognition software with the option to edit and correct suggested subtitles – the feature could expand to user-uploaded videos.

Engadget "Twitter will livestream portions of PGA golf tournaments"
Twitter and the PGA have struck an exclusive deal to livestream pre-game presentations and the first two holes for each day's Marquee Groups for 31 PGA tournaments across the 2016-2017 season.

Advertising Age “Netflix will air an original Korean series, the logical next step in its global quest”
Netflix will continue its international expansion with an original 12-episode Korean drama series, Love Alarm, based on a popular South Korean web comic series. See also Engadget, Mashable, and TechCrunch.

ReCode “The NBA is streaming a game live to Facebook for the first time — but only in India”
For the first time ever, the NBA will livestream a regular season basketball game directly to Facebook, but only available to Facebook users in India where the livestream is tied to an in-stadium “Bollywood Night” promotion from the Sacramento Kings.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Engadget "Live NBA is coming to Google's VR platform"
NextVR will expand its NBA virtual reality coverage with broadcasts on Google's Daydream platform for the Daydream View or Cardboard headsets.