This week's headline comes from Wired's description of the new Lego Life social network, a space built for kids to share and collaborate around their Lego creations. Such spaces, all of us know, have value in today's society and require careful design, maintenance, and care.
I'm a day late this week - apologies for a travel schedule and some technical issues that kept me from getting this out on time.
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, considering 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
Wired “Peer review has its shortcomings, but AI is a risky fix”
An interesting look at how artificial intelligence could be used to make scientific publishing more efficient, and possibly embark on a dangerous move to transform peer review from interaction between humans into interaction between humans and AI.
The New York Times “IBM gives Watson a new challenge: Your tax return”
IBM’s Watson will be assisting H&R Block in filing taxes for 11 million people, allowing the technology to interact with consumers, but through a careful partnership between IBM and a trusted service provider. See also Advertising Age and TechCrunch.
Engadget “Facebook's AI image search can 'see' what's in photos”
Facebook has built an AI image search system that can "see" things in photos even when identifiers have not been added, allowing users to search their friends and their own photos for basic content, even if text identifiers are not available for the photo. See also CNET, Fast Company, Inc., Mashable, and The Verge.
The Guardian “Oh the humanity! Poker computer trounces humans in big step for AI”
Liberatus, an artificial intelligence system developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, beat four of the world’s best poker players in a 20-day tournament - a significant step for AI, leveraging imperfect information, bluffing, and correctly interpreting misleading information in order to win. See also Mashable, New Scientist, TechCrunch, The Verge, and Wired.
Cities and Government
The Verge “States move to protect their immigration data from the Trump administration”
Several states, including Washington, California, New York, and Massachusetts, are maneuvering to protect or limit state-collected data from the federal government’s use, another area where state and federal authorities could be pitted against each other.
Continued news following the President’s immigration executive order.
Reuters “Tech companies to meet on legal challenge to Trump immigration order”
A meeting organized by GitHub brought together technology companies to discuss filing an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit challenging U.S. President Donald Trump's order restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries - the technology sector, which increasingly depends on talent from around the world, has become the clearest corporate opponent to the ban. See also CNET, The Drum, Gizmodo, Inc., and ReCode.
ArsTechnica “Tech sector begins legal assault on Trump immigration order”
Several major tech companies including Expedia and Amazon filed formal legal declarations in support of a Washington state federal lawsuit that seeks to overturn the immigration executive order - resulting in a federal judge blocking the government from enforcing the bulk of the order. See also ArsTechnica, BBC, BuzzFeed, The Drum, Geekwire and again, ReCode, Reuters, and TechCrunch.
The Verge “Google employees staged a protest over Trump’s immigration ban”
More than 2,000 Google employees staged a walkout in protest of President Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries - the protest came after employees donated more than $2 million with the company matching an additional $2 million to a crisis fund that will be distributed among nonprofit groups working to support refugees. See also CNET, Engadget, Forbes, Mashable, and ReCode.
Engadget “Google gives $4 million to pro-immigrant causes”
Google’s $4 million will be donated to four groups: the ACLU, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, International Rescue Committee, and the UN Refugee Agency - the issue has been of personal importance to co-founders Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai, who both emigrated to the US. See also CNET, Inc., Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
The Daily Dot “ACLU lands $24 million in donations after fighting Trump immigration ban”
The American Civil Liberties Union said it received over $24 million in donations in recent weeks—over six times more than the average amount it receives in online donations over an entire year – as social media, celebrities, and technology firms expressed their support for the non-profit's work against President Trump’s immigration executive order.
The Daily Dot “Women celebrate religious freedom on World Hijab Day”
The fifth annual World Hijab Day, celebrating a woman’s choice to wear what she wants, asks “global citizens of all faiths to observe hijab (head covering) for a day in solidarity with Muslim women worldwide.”
Reuters “Boy Scouts of America to begin accepting transgender boys”
The Boy Scouts of America will begin accepting transgender boys, changing a more than century-old practice of using the gender stated on a birth certificate to determine eligibility. See also The Daily Dot.
USA Today “Yes, those were drones at Lady Gaga's Super Bowl 51 halftime show”
Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show featured 300 Intel Shooting Star drones in a pre-recorded segment as she sang “God Bless America” and again in the closing featuring the Pepsi logo - more evidence that drones may play a more significant role in arts and entertainment. See also Engadget, Mashable, The Verge, and Wired.
The Atlantic “The Ivy League's gender pay-gap problem”
New research shows that female Ivy League graduates face a significantly wider pay-gap than other college graduates, making 30% less than their male peers as they pursue careers in finance, management consulting, and law where larger gender wage gaps exist – the trend also extends to for non-Ivy league graduates so that the more education you have and the more money you make, the wider the wage gap with male colleagues.
The Los Angeles Times “Trump hints at cutting federal funds to UC Berkeley after violent protests over Milo Yiannopoulos”
A speech by Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled at UC Berkeley amid violent protests, prompting President Trump to suggest cutting federal funding to the university which receives billions of dollars from the federal government to fund research, student aid and healthcare programs. See also The Daily Dot, The Verge, and Vocativ.
The Chronicle of Higher Education “Jerry Falwell Jr. says he will lead federal task force on Higher-Ed policy”
Jerry L. Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, has been asked by President Trump to head up a new task force that will identify changes that should be made to the U.S. Department of Education’s policies and procedures, likely including accreditation and policies that affect colleges’ student-recruiting behavior. See also Engadget and New York Daily News.
The New York Times “Colleges discover the rural student”
Rural students, many the first in their families to attend college, have become a new underrepresented minority for colleges, with “a different understanding of complicated political and social issues.”
Inside Higher Education “Boycotting the U.S.”
More than 3,000 academics from around the world have signed on to a call to boycott international academic conferences held in the United States in solidarity with those affected by President Trump’s executive order barring entry by nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries.
The Hill “FCC removes nine companies from Lifeline program”
The Federal Communications Commission announced that nine companies would no longer be able to participate in the Lifeline program intended to provide subsidized internet to the poor - the nine companies had been approved for the program just weeks ago, but new Chairman Ajit Pai noted that the actions did not have the support of the majority of Commissioners at the time they were taken. See also ArsTechnica, The Daily Dot, The Verge, and The Washington Post.
ArsTechnica “FCC rescinds claim that AT&T and Verizon violated net neutrality”
The Federal Communications Commission has rescinded a determination that AT&T and Verizon Wireless violated net neutrality rules with paid data cap exemptions, with new Chairman Ajit Pai formally closing proceedings initiated under previous Chairman Tom Wheeler. See also Engadget, Geekwire, Gizmodo, Mashable, Motherboard, TechCrunch, and Wired.
Motherboard “Canada's Supreme Court is preserving every website mentioned in its rulings”
Librarians for Canada's Supreme Court worked through the Wayback Machine and the Canadian Government Publications Portal, both hosted by the Internet Archive, to collect whichever archived version of a referred page was captured closest to the date when judges cited it in its judgments, a proactive move that bucks the trend of institutional information vanishing from the internet.
TechCrunch “Google wins ‘right to be forgotten’ battle in Japan”
The Japanese Supreme Court dismissed four cases against Google that drew parallels with Europe’s “right to be forgotten” ruling, seeking the removal of allegedly defamatory comments in its Google Maps service by both businesses and individuals. See also Mashable.
The Daily Dot “Reddit just banned its alt-right forum”
Reddit banned the official subreddit for members of the alt-right, a white supremacist group that unified over its support of President Trump, citing violation of the site's terms of service including content that harasses or invites harassment - the group has created a new home at Voat, a community platform similar to Reddit. See also The Daily Beast, The Drum, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Journalism and News
Nieman Lab “Sensing an opening in audio, The New York Times is launching a daily news podcast this week”
The New York Times will launch a weekday show called “The Daily”, the 15-minute show will run Monday to Fridays and will be released around 6 a.m. Eastern Time with a companion text messaging component meant to share context, analysis, and thoughts on some of the day’s pivotal moments with readers. See also Digiday.
Poynter “How The New York Times plans to tell stories on Snapchat Discover”
The New York Times will join Snapchat’s Discover channel to be a showcase for visuals from the Times' Morning Briefing. See also Advertising Age and Mashable.
The Drum “Medium to launch consumer subscription product within months”
As it works to find a sustainable business model, online publishing platform Medium will launch a new product that will ask readers to pay a recurring fee to gain access to premium features with the ultimate aim of creating tailored packages for individual publishers. See also Engadget and Mashable.
Play and Toys
Wired “How Lego built a social network for kids that’s not creepy”
Lego Life is a social network built specifically for kids to share their Lego designs, including a newsfeed, profiles, and the ability to like and comment - and with safety checks in place including a sign-up process that requires parental permission, anonymous randomly generated user names, no profile pictures, and a partnership with a content moderation company that combines algorithmic and human detection to screen every single image before it goes on the site. See also CNET, The Drum, Engadget, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Last week’s coverage of corporate reactions to President Trump's immigration executive order included some of the responses from companies like Uber and Lyft, but a reader pointed out that the coverage didn’t address how the responses from these “sharing services” demonstrate some of the changes in the sharing economy.
Inc. “How Uber is paying the price for being tone deaf in the age of Trump”
Uber angered many users when it appeared to capitalize on a strike of New York City taxi drivers meant to show solidarity with immigrants affected by the President’s immigration executive order by pushing its service as an alternative to the striking taxis - driving the hashtag #deleteUber across social media. See also Inc., ReCode, and The Verge and again and again.
The Atlantic “Is #DeleteUber good for workers' rights?”
The #DeleteUber moment has caused some to consider how sharing economy services allow users to avoid the personal, social, or organizational cost of directly busting actual strikes, like the one organized by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance - and how these services generally, in times of labor disputes or in day-to-day operations, opt out of labor- and regulation-controlled industries in exchange for marginal price savings, increased convenience, and better compliance with app-controlled lifestyles. See also Jezebel.
Inc. “Lyft sticks $1 million dagger in Uber's self-imposed wound”
Seizing on the moment, competing ride sharing service Lyft announced in an e-mail to users and on its blog that it would donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the next four years, framed as a statement of values while also working to broaden its appeal to millennial users. See also The Daily Dot, Engadget, Gizmodo, Slate, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
The New York Times “Uber C.E.O. to leave Trump advisory council after criticism”
The #DeleteUber moment likely influenced a change of course for CEO Travis Kalanick who stepped down from the President’s economic advisory council, underscoring the tricky relationship facing many Silicon Valley leaders who try to work with the new administration. See also The Drum, Next City, ReCode, Reuters, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Spaces, Retail, and Restaurants
The Daily Dot “Walmart to offer free two-day shipping without a membership”
Walmart will shift away from its Amazon Prime competitor, ShippingPass, replacing it with a subscription-free two-day shipping offer for all orders over $35. See also CNET, Engadget, Inc., ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
ReCode “Donald Trump is going to announce his Supreme Court pick on Facebook Live”
President Trump used his Facebook Live channel to announce his pick for the Supreme Court, continuing his strategy to own his media message even as broadcasters carried the announcement as well. See also Engadget, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
CNET “Facebook video could be coming to a television near you”
Facebook is working on an app for television set-top boxes like Apple TV, part of a continued push to video that has included testing the placement of ads in videos and features similar to Snapchat Stories where users can share videos and photos for 24 hours before those items disappear. See also The Drum, Engadget, MIT Technology Review, TechCrunch, and The Verge.
Vocativ “Virtual reality is heading to the courtroom”
Attorneys may explore virtual reality in several pending cases to help the jury see the moment a catastrophic incident took place, recreating vehicle accidents, crime scenes, and witness simulations to help jurors see the incident as accurately as possible.