Read for Later - “Mayors are cognizant of the tremendous challenges and opportunities ahead as disruption on the political and technological fronts continues to take hold”

This week’s headline borrows from the conclusion to the National League of Cities' 2017 State of the Cities report as the nation’s mayors contend with changing political and technological landscapes.

A quick note that there will not be a version of this post next week, but we'll roll that content into the following week.

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're reading this week to help prepare for the future.

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

TechCrunch “Google’s AlphaGo AI defeats team of five leading Go players” and Engadget “Google's AlphaGo retires from competition”
Another successful outing for Google’s artificial intelligence AlphaGo, defeating a team of five Go champions, partnering in a human/AlphaGo team match, and then announcing a retirement from competitive Go demonstrations as the DeepMind developers focus on creating advanced general algorithms to help scientists find elusive cures for diseases, reduce energy consumption, and invent new revolutionary materials. See also CNET and again, Mashable and again, The New York Times, TechCrunch and again, The Verge, and Wired and again and again.

Mashable “Real-life Robocop to patrol with a police department”
Dubai police added a robotic officer to its force with plans to have robots make up 25% of the force by 2030. See also CNET and Engadget.

Books and Publishing

CNET “Instant Braille translator can fit in your hand”
Team Tactile, a team of six female undergraduate students, was one of the winners of the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for their hand-held device that provides real-time translation of printed text to Braille, using an internal camera, optical character recognition software, and a mechanical system to raise and lower pins to form the Braille characters.

Poynter “Netflix for news? Now at 500,000 subscribers, Scribd is training its sights on journalism”
Scribd, the ebook and audiobook subscription service, has reached agreements with newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Financial Times, and others to license news content to include in paying subscribers' access to books and magazines through the service. See also Engadget.

Cities and Government

NextCity “What 120 U.S. mayors say about the ‘State of the City’”
The National League of Cities' 2017 State of the Cities report summarizes 120 mayors’ state of the city speeches to find that mayors are taking a bigger lead on poverty, racial disparities, and tackling projects such as after-school programs, paid leave, minimum wage, and immigration.

New Scientist “Citizens give up data in blockchain project to improve cities”
The Decentralised Citizen Owned Data Ecosystem (DECODE), a three-year EU-funded project, will ask 1,000 citizens in four pilot trials in Barcelona and Amsterdam to share data about themselves through an app to help companies or government groups create products or services to improve the city.


ArsTechnica “Gender confirmation surgeries rose 20% in the last two years”
Even as the transgender community continues to experience discrimination and hate crimes, new data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) shows that surgeons performed 3,200 transfeminine and transmasculine procedures in 2016, a 20% increase from numbers in 2015 and a rise that could be attributed to improved access, awareness, and an increase in positive role models.

Vocativ “Alzheimer’s disease is killing more people than ever”
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that the  mortality rate of Alzheimer’s has jumped substantially over the 15 years from 1999 to 2014.


Inside Higher Ed “Going big into ‘microcampuses’”
The University of Arizona will invest in more than 25 “microcampuses” at international partner universities over the next three years, offering more than 25,000 students dual-degree programs in which degrees are conferred by both Arizona and a partner university.

CNET “VR is now helping teach midwives to deliver babies”
Australia's University of Newcastle has begun a VR project for midwifery students, simulating a real-world delivery room that will help ease the transition from an educational setting to a real-world emergency room for new graduates.

Mashable “Apple launches app development curriculum for college”
Apple’s Swift-based coding curriculum now spans from kindergarten through the first two years of college, including everything students and teachers need to learn how to code in Swift and build real mobile apps. See also CNET and Engadget.

TechCrunch “Airbnb is running its own internal university to teach data science”
In an effort to make its workforce more data literate, Airbnb initiated a Data University of courses around three levels of instruction for different employee needs – a total of 500 Airbnb employees have taken at least one class.

The Internet

The Guardian “Facebook and Twitter 'harm young people's mental health’”
A survey of nearly 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds, conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement, finds that social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter harm young people’s mental health by developing feelings of inadequacy – the results have been tempered as a simplified explanation for the complex reasons why the mental health of so many young people is suffering. See also CNET.

The Los Angeles Times “Google starts tracking offline shopping — what you buy at stores in person”
Google has a new tool that will track people’s spending in bricks-and-mortar stores after clicking on digital ads – matching the combined ad clicks of people who are logged into Google services with their collective purchases on credit and debit cards. See also Engadget, TechCrunch, Vocativ, and The Washington Post.

TechCrunch “Warby Parker’s Prescription Check app lets you skip the eye doctor”
Warby Parker is testing a new Prescription Check app that uses a mobile phone and computer to administer a 20-minute series of eye tests which are then reviewed by a doctor who makes the final call on a prescription. See also EngadgetMashable, and Quartz.

Nieman Lab “Facebook will let publishers convert Instant Articles to Google AMP and Apple News formats”
Facebook has provided new tools to allow publishers to export stories formatted for Instant Articles to Google’s AMP and Apple News – an attempt to keep publishers interested in the mobile-focused format. See also Advertising Age and The Verge.

The Verge “EU close to making Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter block hate speech videos”
The European Council has approved a set of proposals that would require Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others to block videos containing hate speech and incitements to terrorism.

Restaurants, Retail, and Spaces

The Verge “Amazon’s drive-up grocery stores are now open to the public in Seattle”
Amazon has opened two drive-up grocery stores to the public after testing the locations with its own employees – Amazon Prime subscribers can have groceries ready within two hours while AmazonFresh subscribers (an extra $14.99 per month on top of Prime’s usual cost) can have groceries ready within 15 minutes. See also CNET, Consumerist, Engadget, and GeekWire.

Streaming Media

Variety “Snapchat shows: Inside the plan to reimagine TV for the mobile era”
Snapchat Shows, a short-form video format exclusive to the Snapchat platform, represents the seismic shift TV is making to mobile platforms, including the participation of stars like Jimmy Fallon and James Corden and providers like NBC News. See also Engadget, Mashable, and TechCrunch.

Variety “Verizon CEO: Combined Yahoo-AOL will be platform to test over-the-top video service”
Verizon, with a total of 1.3 billion users through the combination of Yahoo and AOL will test an over-the-top internet-delivered video service.

The Drum “BBC partners with Twitter to live stream five general election specials”
The BBC will partner with Twitter to live stream UK election coverage, including the BBC Election Debate; the two Question Time Leaders Specials; the Newsbeat Youth Debate; and an Election Night Results Special.

Reuters “Exclusive: Facebook signs BuzzFeed, Vox, others for original video shows - sources”
Facebook has reportedly signed deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, Group Nine Media and others to make shows for its upcoming video service. See also Engadget.

Voice Control

TechCrunch “Ikea’s smart light bulbs will work with Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and Google Assistant”
Ikea’s smart lighting collection will soon answer to voice commands through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri and HomeKit. See also ArsTechnica, Engadget, and Mashable.