This week's headline is a quote from Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s head of retail, describing her goals for the future of Apple stores. Pieces of Ahrendts's vision include more educational programs at stores and a more inlcusive "genius bar." Apple joins other retail and restaurant spaces (Starbuck's Reserve Roastery locations) quietly moving in on traditional third spaces.
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 as you scan through these articles, consider dropping me a line to let me know what you've read this week to help prepare for the future.
Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines
ArsTechnica "Amazon might use driverless vehicles to deliver packages in the future"
Amazon reportedly formed a team to focus on driverless-vehicle technology and develop the company's plans to use self-driving cars to better its business – to deliver packages more quickly to consumers and to improve the efficiency of their warehouses.
The Verge "Anybody can make a Google Assistant gadget with this new toolkit"
Google announced the availability of the Google Assistant SDK, allowing more developers to download and run the Google Assistant across new products including phones, watches, TVs, cars, and other consumer devices. See also Inc. and Mashable.
Books and Publishing
Engadget "UK ebook sales flounder as interest in print copies rebounds"
The United Kingdom’s Publishers Association released book sales figures for 2016 showing a 7% rise over 2015, the largest year-over-year growth in a decade, with physical book sales up 8% and ebook sales down 3%. See also The Guardian and Mic.
Cities and Government
Bloomberg "Trump’s sanctuary cities order blocked by federal judge"
A district judge has blocked U.S. President Donald Trump’s order to withhold funds from jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal agencies to deport undocumented immigrants – the White House said it expected to ultimately win its case against sanctuary cities in the U.S. Supreme Court. See also The Atlantic and CityLab.
The Week "Will the high-tech cities of the future be utterly lonely?"
By 2050, more than 66% of the world's population will be living in "smart cities" where technological efficiencies could create less of a need for us to interact with each other.
The Washington Post "EPA website removes climate science site from public view after two decades"
The Environmental Protection Agency announced changes to its website to better represent the new direction the agency is taking, leading to the removal of several agency websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information. See also The Daily Dot, Gizmodo, and The Independent.
Reuters “Turkey blocks access to Wikipedia”
A Turkish court blocked access to Wikipedia, enforcing an earlier restriction by Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) – a move likely to raise concerns among human rights groups. See also The Verge.
Consumerist "45% of Americans carry at least $25,000 in debt"
A new Harris survey commissioned by Northwest Mutual finds that 47% of consumers are carrying at least $25,000 in debt (excluding mortgages) and nearly one in 10 borrowers said they have outstanding balances of $100,000.
The Daily Dot "Canada to give 4,000 low-income citizens free money until 2020"
The Ontario Basic Income Pilot will provide 4,000 people with additional income based on their salaries to be used to cover basic living expenses including transportation and clothing, a trial of basic income to help reduce poverty in the province. See also Mashable.
Education Week "New York City plans to expand preschool to 3-year-olds"
New York City will expand its prekindergarten programs to 3-year-olds, beginning with programs in the South Bronx and in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville, two of the city's lowest-income areas, and continuing to expand based on neighborhood districts until universal access is achieved by 2021.
The Washington Post "The FCC just released a plan to undo its own net neutrality rules"
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed a plan for rolling back net neutrality rules mandating an open Internet – Pai’s push for less regulation focused on encouraging ISPs to spend more on their broadband networks, speeding the spread of high-speed Internet across the country, creating new jobs, and helping protect Internet users' privacy by returning some authority to the Federal Trade Commission to sue companies that violate their own privacy policies. See also Advertising Age, ArsTechnica and again, CNET, Consumerist and again, Engadget, Gizmodo, Government Technology, Motherboard, ReCode, TechCrunch and again and again, The Verge, and Vocativ.
Inc. "Hundreds of startups protest FCC's plan to roll back net neutrality rules"
More than 800 startups and investors, organized by Y Combinator and the policy advocacy group Engine, sent a letter to the FCC protesting the proposed changes to the net neutrality rules, arguing that the changes would divide the internet by allowing larger companies to pay for faster delivery of web content while forcing smaller companies into slower lanes. See also CNET, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Reuters "Facebook says it will act against 'information operations' using false accounts"
In a new report, Facebook describes well-funded and subtle efforts by nations and other organizations to spread misleading information and falsehoods for geopolitical goals and outlines new measures it is taking to combat “information operations” that go well beyond the phenomenon known as fake news – suspending or deleting false accounts after identifying them with a combination of machine learning and intelligence agency-level analysis. See also CNET, The Daily Dot, The Drum, Engadget, Gizmodo, Mashable, ReCode, and Vocativ.
Mashable "Facebook accused of targeting 'insecure' children and young people, report says"
A 23-page leaked document obtained by The Australian revealed ways that Australian Facebook executives used algorithms to collect data on the emotional state of 6.4 million "high schoolers," "tertiary students," and "young Australians and New Zealanders … in the workforce," indicating "moments when young people need a confidence boost" and might be well-positioned to receive an advertiser’s message.
ReCode "Google is updating its search to demote fake news"
Google will update its algorithms to better prioritize “authoritative” content based on signals such as affiliation of a site with a university or verified news source, how often other sites link to the site in question, and the quality of the sites that link – Google will also provide new options for users to flag autocomplete features and highlighted results that are offensive, false, or otherwise problematic. See also Bloomberg, CNET, The Drum, Engadget, Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Journalism and News
Nieman Lab "What’s holding back virtual reality news? Slow tech adoption, monetization, and yes, dull content"
A new report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism finds that despite some earnest early efforts among news organizations, widespread adoption of the technology among consumers is still years away, limiting the use of VR for news information. See also Poynter.
The Washington Post "The free press is in really bad shape around the world. A new report says populism is to blame."
Reporters Without Borders’ new report finds that the outlook for journalists and the media continues to worsen in nearly two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed, as media freedom constraints and violations have risen 14% worldwide.
Nieman Lab "Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales launches Wikitribune, a large-scale attempt to combat fake news"
In an attempt to combat the proliferation of online fake news, Wikitribune will bring journalists and a community of volunteers together – the journalists will be paid to write “global news stories” while volunteer contributors will “vet the facts, helps make sure the language is factual and neutral, and will to the maximum extent possible be transparent about the source of news posting full transcripts, video, and audio of interviews." See also The Drum, The Guardian, Mashable, Motherboard, The Verge, Vocativ, and Wired.
Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces
Quartz "Apple wants kids to hang out at Apple stores"
Apple is revamping the look and feel of its retail outlets across the world, rebranding the “Genius Bar” to the “Genius Grove,” making a push as a space to “hang out,” and expanding educational programs to all of its stores. See also CNET, Engadget, and Mashable and again.
Chicago Tribune "Starbucks Roastery coming to Chicago's Magnificent Mile in 2019"
Starbucks will build a 43,000-square-foot “fully sensorial coffee environment” Reserve Roastery location in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile in 2019, the third in the U.S. See also GeekWire.
NewStatesman "From Netflix to rented homes, why are we less interested in ownership?"
The Paygo (pay-as-you-go) economy combines the rise of renting and the decline of stuff, possibly diminishing the power of the consumer.
Engadget "AAA launches its own app-based car sharing service"
AAA's venture wing has launched Gig, an app-centric car sharing service that lets users rent a car without the need to find a special point to return the car – cars can be returned at any metered or public parking space. See also TechCrunch.
The Drum "DC Comics launch superhero streaming service"
DC Comics will launch an as yet unnamed dedicated digital service to launch a third season of Warner Bros.’ animated Young Justice series in addition to a live-action take of DC’s Titans comics. See also Engadget.
Wired "Uber really seriously promises flying cars by 2020"
At its “Uber Elevate” summit, Uber announced plans to roll out a network of flying cars in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai by 2020 – the key to their plan, a series of partnerships including real estate companies to identify locations for “vertiports”; electric fueling companies to design, develop, and deploy the infrastructure needed to keep the aircraft going; and multiple companies to develop electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. See also CNET, Consumerist, Engadget, GeekWire, Mashable, and TechCrunch.
Mashable "Teenagers are taking breaks from social media —but are you?"
An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey finds that nearly 60% of teens have taken a break from social media for at least a week – half of those at the direction of their parents or because their phone and computer were broken or stolen.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Wired "For senior citizens, the future of VR lies in the past"
BettVR With Age is a series of films designed to benefit seniors, exploring how VR can benefit aging adults in ways similar to music’s benefits for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
The Verge "Amazon’s Alexa can now whisper, bleep out swear words, and change its pitch"
Amazon announced new Speech Synthesis Markup Language that will allow voice assistant Alexa to whisper, vary its speaking speed, bleep out words, add pauses, change the pronunciation of a word, spell a word out, add audio snippets, and insert special words and phrases to provide a “more natural voice experience.” See also CNET, Consumerist, Engadget, Mashable, and TechCrunch.
Consumerist "Amazon’s ‘Echo Look’ is a camera that will let strangers judge your clothing"
Amazon’s Echo Look builds on its voice controlled products, but with an integrated camera that will use “advanced machine learning algorithms and advice from fashion specialists” to judge fashion choices objectively, record outfits every day, send photos to friends, or create a personal lookbook. See also ArsTechnica, CNET, The Drum, GQ, GeekWire, Gizmodo, Mashable and again, Motherboard, Quartz, ReCode, TechCrunch, The Verge, Vocativ and again, and Wired.
Wired "Amazon’s ‘Echo Look’ could snoop a lot more than just your clothes"
The Echo Look announcement raised privacy concerns with a potential for invasive data collection (audio and visual) and Amazon’s lack of a clear policy on how it might prevent that. See also The Daily Dot, Inc., Mashable, Mic, and TechCrunch.
Mashable "Google Home is upping your cooking game with 5 million new recipes"
Google Assistant will now provide access to step-by-step, voice-activated guides for more than 5 million dishes through the Home speaker, part of a partnership with Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Food Network, and others – users will need to use Google to pick a recipe and send it to the device before activating the voice commands. See also CNET, Engadget, Mashable, and The Verge.