Read for Later – “We would be wise to chip in — or let them take over the future for themselves.”

This week’s headline is Farhad Manjoo’s conclusion to his article, “Google, not the government, is building the future,” a look at how the five technology giants – Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft – are working on world-changing ideas while government investment in research, technology, and infrastructure wanes. 

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

ReCode “Google Lens is Google’s future”
Google’s new artificially intelligent, augmented reality feature Google Lens uses machine learning to examine photos through your phone’s camera or on saved photos on your phone to complete tasks including identifying types of flowers, read and log into Wi-Fi networks by scanning passwords, or offering reviews and other information about restaurants or stores by viewing them through the camera.

Engadget “Google Assistant is about to be everywhere”
Google's AI Assistant will expand to a number of new devices and applications, including the Apple iPhone, integration into third-party websites, and a growing number of connected appliances. See also Consumerist and Engadget.

Vocativ “Amazon’s Alexa is getting smarter, but potentially more intrusive”
Amazon’s new “Notifications for Alexa” feature will have the AI assistant proactively alert users with information from The Washington Post, AccuWeather, Just Eat, and Life360 – it will only work if customers opt-in and a do not disturb setting, which suspends all notifications for awhile, will be available. See also CNET and GeekWire.

Books and Publishing

Engadget “Amazon Charts ranks books by what people are actually reading”
Amazon Charts provides a weekly bestseller list showing which top selling physical, electronic, and audio books are actually being read and borrowed, the first to rank books by the average number of daily Kindle readers and Audible listeners each week. See also The Verge.

Cities and Government

The New York Times “Google, not the government, is building the future”
A look at how big technology companies – investing in artificial intelligence, space travel, internet-beaming technologies, drones, and augmented and virtual reality devices – are funding the biggest, most world-changing research, all while the American government’s investment in scientific research, technology, and infrastructure wanes.

Government Technology “Blockchain a 'next big transformational technology' in government”
A new report from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) lists blockchain among the “next big, transformational technologies” being eyed for use by government, citing a survey of 19 state CIOs and singling out the state of Illinois, which is analyzing and in various stages of implementing five blockchain pilots.

CityLab “San Francisco has already had enough of those sidewalk delivery robots”
San Francisco city supervisor Norman Yee introduced a bill banning delivery robots from sidewalks and streets, stating that “public spaces should not be commercialized” and should remain “walkable, accessible, and safe, especially for seniors, people with disabilities, and young children.” See also CNET, ReCode, and Wired.


Vocativ “Birth rate for women in their 30s surpasses younger women, in a first”
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that the birth rate for women in their early 30s has surpassed that of women in their 20s for the first time in the agency’s tracking – birth rates among teenage women have also decreased.


ArsTechnica “Court ruling nullifies US requirement that hobbyists register drones”
A federal appeals court struck down a regulation requiring the public to register drones, ruling that the Federal Aviation Administration did not have the authority to regulate so-called "model aircraft" – the court gave the FAA seven days to consider its legal options. See also Consumerist, Engadget, GeekWire, and ReCode.


Consumerist “Half of America is not prepared for a $100 emergency”
A report from Bloomberg and New America claims a growing number of Americans are not prepared for unexpected financial emergencies – four out of five respondents said they would not be able to afford an unanticipated bill of $1,000; 48% would not be prepared for a $100 emergency; and 28% said an unexpected $10 expense would cause worry.


Education Dive “Rural districts band together to promote innovation across schools”
Beyond Textbooks, a network of over 300 schools representing every county in Arizona as well as districts in five other states, provides educators with access to grade-by-grade curriculum resources and a growing collection of contributed lesson plans, distributing educational innovation among geographically isolated schools.

The Verge “Who is MasterClass for? Talking to the people who take online classes with big-name celebs”
A look at the students learning with MasterClass, the online education program taught by celebrity experts, which counts among its paying customers both accomplished professionals as well as amateurs and hobbyists.

The Environment

The Guardian “Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts”
The Global Seed Vault, designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel – no seeds were lost but the ability of the rock vault to provide failsafe protection against all disasters is now threatened by climate change. See also Engadget, The Verge, and Wired.

The Internet

The New York Times “Thailand warns Facebook after video seems to show king in crop top”
In yet another government challenge against online speech, Thailand’s government pressured Facebook to remove dozens of pages from its servers after a video that appears to show the country’s new king walking through a shopping mall in a crop top was widely shared on the site.

Motherboard “Net neutrality under assault: Trump’s FCC votes to roll back open internet rules”
The Federal Communications Commission formally voted to approve a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) designed to dismantle the landmark 2015 Open Internet order, initiating a process that public interest advocates say will hand the broadband industry a major victory at the expense of consumers – the public will have until July 17 to comment on the NPRM. See also ArsTechnica, Consumerist, The Drum, Engadget, Government Technology, TechCrunch, and The Verge.

News and Journalism

Poynter “Facebook is testing products to connect its users to local news”
The Facebook Journalism Project has begun testing three products to help connect users with local news – one points users in community-linked Facebook groups to additional local news, another offers users who make their cities of residence public a badge identifying them as a local when they comment on a local publisher's stories, and a third helps users find local groups.

The Verge “Medium subscribers now get audio recordings of top stories”
Medium will now offer audio recordings of every subscriber-exclusive story and “other top stories” picked by Medium editors. See also Engadget.


Gizmodo “US Senate can now officially use Signal for encrypted chats”
A congratulatory letter from Senator Ron Wyden’s office thanking the Senate’s Sergeant at Arms indicated the approval for the use of the encrypted phone app Signal. See also Engadget.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

Fast Company “Coliving isn’t just for startups: A giant developer is building upscale dorms for adults”
PMG, which has completed 85 residential buildings in New York and more than 150 real estate projects in the United States, will open a 120-unit Chicago building where tenants can choose to rent a bedroom and private bath in a larger three- or four-bedroom apartment with a fully furnished common space and kitchen or a micro-studio – additional coliving buildings in Miami, Brooklyn, Denver, and other major markets will follow.

The Verge “Amazon could be planning to bring its checkout-free grocery stores to Europe”
Several recently-filed trademark applications with the UK’s Intellectual Property Office and its European Union equivalent indicate Amazon’s intentions to expand its cashier-free grocery stores to the UK and Europe. See also Engadget.

Streaming Media

The Verge “Apple Music is moving away from album exclusives”
Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine said that the streaming service plans to be less aggressive about obtaining album exclusives in the future, responding to concerns from labels and artists over its effect on the music industry. See also Engadget.

The Daily Dot “Facebook will stream MLB games for free on Friday nights”
Twenty Major League Baseball games will stream for free on Facebook Live on Friday nights over the course of the season, available to “everyone on Facebook in the U.S.” through the league’s official Facebook page. See also The Drum, Engadget, ReCode, and The Verge.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

ArsTechnica “Google announces untethered, fully tracked, standalone VR headsets”
Google announced a next expansion in its Daydream VR program with a new standalone headset, complete with positional tracking – the standalone Daydream headsets have "everything built right in: no cables, no phone, certainly no big PC."

Digiday “The Washington Post is diving into augmented reality”
The Washington Post will launch an augmented-reality series focused on innovative buildings around the world – the series will continue with at least two more installments through the end of the summer.