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We’re creative futurists at Swagger. And we’re smart ones at that. We’re always on the lookout for future products, trends, and behaviors. What’s in the when, not just the now. We chat about stuff like that at our Future Cafés, a weekly internal pow-wow where our crew gathers to debate the pros and cons of the latest futuristic news. It’s a mission of ours to keep up with these things. Here are the ones we found most share-worthy.

What You Need to Know about the Future (Part V)

June 12, 2018

AI Is Inventing Languages Humans Can’t Understand. Should We Stop It? (Co.Design)

Last year, AI researchers at Facebook were working on a more proficient chatbot and were focused on improving the AI agents’ negotiation abilities. Then the two AI computers created their own language! This seems creepy on the face of it, but just wait for it. What researchers realized is that the two AI computers were only coded to achieve a negotiation goal, and not necessarily to imitate sensical human speech. The cool part is that the AI agents created their own efficiencies to be most effective. This opens up an interesting notion that software engineers can’t design a “good enough mousetrap.” You’ll notice how we always need a middleman to connect different software apps. These middlemen are engineer-built APIs that serve as a bridge of communication. (Think of those “Login Using Facebook” prompts.) We could allow applications’ neural networks to communicate with each other and “figure it out.” This potentially means greater interconnectivity between devices without needing to build it.

Google Is Opening up Maps so Game Developers Can Create the Next Pokémon Go (The Verge)

Speaking of APIs, Google Maps has decided that it wants to open its current API to new mobile game developers. These location-based AR games will have the rich Google Maps data as a foundation. This means a new generation of interactive games similar to Pokémon Go is on the horizon like Jurassic Park and The Walking Dead. On the user end, Google Maps is outsourcing their market research for the next AR trend by utilizing real-time location data for immersive gameplay. It’s not far-fetched to see how Yelp could use the newly opened API to provide users a Pokémon Go-like experience guiding tourists to hidden gems inside a city.

The Startup That Wants You to Wear a VR Headset While Working out Just Raised $5.5 Million (TechCrunch)

VR is constantly in the news for getting more venture capital funding for new concepts compared to other industries. From the intense shoot-em-up game Doom VFR to the slower-paced fantasy world of Jon Favreau’s Gnomes and Goblins, many startups focus on building an interactive world that’s engaging for their users. This requires emotional buy-in from any user to a fantasy world’s characters, rules, and motivations. A lot of man-hours go into an immersive world, so a company is investing a lot of effort before knowing if its created world will engage the user. VirZOOM is doing VR differently by letting users tell their own story in the real world. The Cambridge-based fitness company is betting on users who exercise frequently. VirZOOM is simply adding another layer of interactivity and connectivity for these fitness-minded people. Fitness company Peloton has raised $440 million as they incorporate more online elements to their stationary bike, so VirZOOM is definitely on the right path. If you don’t have to worry about getting emotional buy-in from your user base, you’re already ten steps ahead of the competition.

How College Students Should Prepare for Our Automated Future (Time)

Higher education has been in dire straits in the last twenty years. In addition to the socioeconomic issues, AI prediction modules and automated technologies are making current job skill sets obsolete in some industries. As algorithmic shortcomings become more and more apparent, redesigning college curriculum is a necessary step to truly educate the future generation of workers today. However, the relentless presence of automation technology in our everyday lives means society will need workers that can merge the technical, the data that comes with it, and human behavior.

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