This week’s a little all over the board, but in a good way. Some interesting news to think about the future of cities, including the future of phone booths (LinkNYC) and parking spaces. A couple of announcements regarding gaming (Minecraft) and virtual reality (Cardboard) that will help you think about the role of tech in education. And some news about the future of work, including where we will work and who or what we will work alongside (it’s robots).
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 let us know what you're reading this week to help think about later.
Information and measurement provider Nielsen announced that it would be expanding its television viewing research to include Facebook conversations (Nielsen has been tracking Twitter for the past three years) as part of its “social content ratings” (Wired “Nielsen Will Now Use Your Facebook Chatter for TV Ratings”). Tracking from Facebook will also include what is described as aggregated, anonymous data from private conversations. See also Gizmodo, The New York Times, and ReCode.
Facebook is integrating Apple’s 3D Touch feature to its Timeline, allowing users to use the pressure-sensitive screen to lightly press on a Facebook story or profile to view a preview, then hard-press to “pop” to see the full story or profile (TechCrunch “Facebook Is Bringing 3D Touch To Your Timeline”).
Something I don’t think about much – the future of sleep – but this piece will really make you think about all of the implications for sleep technology in the future. As society finds ways for people to get by on less and less sleep, those technologies will likely be made available to the wealthy, who will use their extra waking hours to become richer and richer (Motherboard “Sleep Tech Will Widen the Gap Between the Rich and the Poor”).
LinkNYC continues to fascinate me and news of the opening of the first of these public, gigabit wifi hotspots is exciting (Gizmodo “NYC's New Public Wifi Is Obscenely Fast”). The 9.5-foot-tall rectangles, which replace former pay phones, feature fast wi-fi, USB outlets for charging devices, city maps, 911 emergency access, and video calls to anywhere in the country - and advertising to help pay for them. The city plans to install 7,500 units over the next 12 years, each with a service radius of up to 400 feet. Access requires inputting an email address, but the city says it will not give out private user information - and no sites are blocked on the network.
An interesting look at the history of parking in cities and a look at the future, especially with the promise of fleets of self-driving cars racing around picking people up and dropping them off (Mother Jones “An End to Parking?”). Eliminating the need for parking lots, could spaces open up for affordable housing, schools, playgrounds, or other public spaces?
And as we envision driverless cars, a new University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study shows that more people, across all age groups, are foregoing driver's licenses - the biggest shift among 16-year-olds and 20-to-24-year-olds, with each group falling 3 percent to 24.5 percent and 76.7 percent, respectively (CNET “Fewer and Fewer People Are Getting Driver's Licenses in the US”).
A longer read about how cities can help learn together in ways that countries perhaps cannot (BBC “Are Cities the New Countries?”). A new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report on trends shaping education shows how cities might be able to learn from each other at a scale that countries could not.
We’ve talked about Emerging Adulthood as a trend, and this longer, global perspective might help expand some of that, especially the growing challenges of getting a good education and finding a steady job (NEETs: not in education, employment or training) and completing the move from home and finding a mate with whom to start a family (The Economist “Generation Uphill”).
In an effort to “empower educators and students to teach and learn through building and exploring within a fun, familiar environment,” MinecraftEdu announced its acquisition by Microsoft a new and expanded version of Minecraft for the classroom called Minecraft: Education Edition (Minecraft “Annoncing MineCraft: Education Edition”). See also CNET, The Daily Dot, and Gawker.
In addition to gaming like Minecraft, virtual reality is also making a play for the classroom, in expected areas like experiential exercises in the hard sciences (biology, anatomy, geology and astronomy) and immersion in the humanities (literature, history and economics), and in unexpected ways to bridge cultures and fostering understanding across global communities (TechCrunch “When Virtual Reality Meets Education”).
Google’s announcement to expand its Cardboard Expeditions program with a beta app for Android provides more evidence for VR’s growth in education (Wired “Google Brings Its VR Field Trips to More Schools”).
Probably not something we didn’t already know, but 2016 is expected to exceed 2015 for global average surface temperature increase (New Scientist “2016 Will Be Even Hotter than 2015 – The Hottest Year Ever”). 2015 was 0.75°C higher than the 1960 to 1990 average and 2016 is expected to 0.84°C higher, leading to estimates that the world is on track to warm by 3 or 4°C by 2100.
From a focus on rising temperatures to a consideration of epic blizzards, as the planet warms because of excess heat, the atmosphere will be able to hold more moisture, resulting in heavy downpours (Scientific America “The Future of Epic Blizzards in a Warming World”). That leads most to think of rain, but new research proposes that the extremes, including snowstorms, don’t drop off rapidly and so extreme snowfalls become a bigger proportion of all snow events.
On-Demand, Gig, and the Future of Work
Google’s proposed new offices (from last February) inspire a vision for the future of work that embraces aspirations for well-rounded individuals, echoing some of the elements of educational campus design, comfortable and entrepreneurial, encouraging personal growth, and mixing some amount of work and play (Aeon “Work Imitates Life”).
Timed with this year’s Davos meeting, The World Economic Forum (WEF) published an analysis of technological and sociological drivers of employment that herald a Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, and genetics and biotechnology, which are all building on each other (TechCrunch “The World Economic Forum On The Future Of Jobs”).
“The Future of Jobs” report from the WEF also speculates that there will be a net loss of 5.1 million jobs as robots take over greater responsibilities especially in offices, manufacturing, construction, arts, sports, media, legal, and maintenance –business and financial operations, management, computer, mathematical, architecture, and engineering jobs may be safer places that could even see growth (Vocativ “The Robot Revolution Will Steal 5 Million Jobs In Five Years”).
While we’re talking about the future of robots, it might be helpful to consider the future of robots that are already in the workforce. A number of intelligent robot systems are already working in warehouses and manufacturing facilities, helping to manufacture and move products across the globe, transporting heavy loads and ensuring expedited deliveries (TechCrunch “Autonomous Robots Are Changing The Way We Build And Move Products Around The World”). I can’t help but think of interlibrary lending.
ShareWear, a collection co-created by Swedish fashion designers, allows people to share parts of the clothing collection via Instagram for up to a week after which the borrower puts the item forward by reposting on Instagram with #sharewear (TreeHugger “Sweden Launches Collection of Clothing That You Can Borrow for Free”).