AI's been schooled

February 15th, 2024

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The Apple Vision Pro. Love it or hate it, it might just be here to stay, even as people start returning it. Check out the latest episode of “Future Forecast” to get the download on all things Vision Pro and the implications of AR/VR and gaming on our time and attention. Vamos.

In other news… you can now major in AI, romance bookstores are in, and Hollywood writing is unstable.

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Machine learning // Illustration by Kait Cunniff with Midjourney

UPenn students can now major in AI

The Future. The University of Pennsylvania recently announced the Raj and Neera Singh Program in Artificial Intelligence — named after the owners of the private telecommunications investment firm Telcom Ventures — which will launch this fall and permit current students to transfer into it. As the AI industry evolves, it’s likely that other universities will follow in UPenn’s footsteps to train their students for jobs “that may be completely new or revolutionized by the time they graduate.”

Calc-u later, I’m off to class
On top of being the first Ivy Leaguer to offer an AI degree, UPenn is also the first school to offer a degree in AI engineering, reports Business Insider.

  • So far, the program has 59 courses specializing in AI (machine learning, computing algorithms, data analytics, advanced robotics), including 31 electives like autonomous racing cars, human-computer interaction, and brain-computer interfaces.

  • Once enrolled, students must pick a concentration in machine learning, vision and language, data and society, robotics, or AI and health systems.

Just hoping this degree pays off
While this major was developed within the last semester, UPenn’s engineering program has been moving more towards AI by onboarding AI courses over the last ten years, according to Robert Ghrist, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education at Penn Engineering.

If UPenn’s program helps more people go into a range of fields that use AI, it might also encourage more people to apply to college and get a return on their investment for that pricey tuition.

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Pages of mass seduction // Illustration by Kate Walker

People are falling for romance bookstores

The Future. As more people find comfort in romance novels, bookstores servicing readers’ passion for lusty literature are appearing all over the US. If this trend continues, we can expect new love stories that defy old-fashioned tropes and stereotypes to capture the zeitgeist.

Head over heels for escapism
People love to read about love, reports Axios.

  • Print sales of romance novels were up 52% year-over-year as of last summer, according to consumer research firm Circana.

  • TV adaptations and #BookTok helped magnetize new and younger readers to the genre.

Not your average bodice-ripper
Unlike tales of yore, modern love stories feature main characters of all different races, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Romance bookstores now carry everything from classic period pieces to series about queer werewolves to books about aliens dating.

“Wherever they find that joy, I’m not going to have anyone try to stifle it,” Katherine Morgan, a bookseller at Powell’s Books, told Axios.

These days, we guess the way to a person’s heart is through a bookstore.

So, now we want to hear from you…


We ask the hard-hitting questions.

Do you read romance novels?

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73.7% of you voted Yes in yesterday’s poll: Did you watch the Super Bowl?

“I grew up in New England, and my wife is from Kansas City, so I’ve pretty much always had a winning team to cheer for!”

“I saw it all, except for the National Anthem, and I was so disappointed!”

“I watched it because my boyfriend had it on. I still don’t understand the rules of the game, but Usher rollerskating was unexpected.”

“I wasn’t initially interested but went to check the scores later, and when I saw they were in a dead heat, my wife turned it on so we could watch the overtime. I love really competitive, balanced strength games.”

“Yes, I did. Usher killed it! One of my favorite halftime shows!”

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Writers create the stories we love, but at what cost? // Illustration by Kate Walker

Hollywood writers discuss the financial instability of the job

The Future. In the aftermath of last summer’s writers strike, a community survey from Humanitas reveals the food insecurity that writers in the film and TV industry face due to the unpredictability of work. If conditions don’t improve, more screenwriters may have to look elsewhere for livable wages.

Breaking bread 
The nature of the industry, which heavily relies on part-time and seasonal work, makes for inherently unstable financial conditions, per The Hollywood Reporter.

  • More than 500 film and TV writers shared insights on how their ability to access food shifted before and during the 2023 strike.

  • Nearly two-thirds of writers reported that they’re often or always worried about having enough food for themselves and their families; 61% reported skipping meals due to lack of funds.

  • Those who identify as disabled, neurodivergent, or people of color generally reported higher rates of food insecurity.

Half-baked systems 
High, marginal, low, and very low food security is proven to impact mental and physical health among those struggling to maintain consistent resources.

The unstable nature of Hollywood employment makes the ability to financially plan for expenses like meals difficult. As food insecurity programs aren’t built to last, they can’t fully support screenwriters in the gig economy.

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The best curated daily stories from around the web

Media, Music, & Entertainment

  • Eminem will co-produce the Stans documentary, which borrows its title from the term used to describe the super-fans that the rapper popularized in his song of the same name. Read More → variety

  • Usher has announced plans to develop a TV show based on his music for Universal. Read More → variety

  • The Wrap has released an infographic showing the most popular romantic comedy films by state. Read More → thewrap

Fashion & E-Commerce

  • New York Magazine’s The Cut has plans to expand its reach with new hires and a sports-focused vertical. Read More → digiday

  • The New Look, a new Apple TV+ drama, traces luxury French fashion designer Christian Dior’s ascent post-World War II. Read More → nbcnews

  • E-commerce startup Orca, which provides creators with tools that put an innovative spin on storefronts and affiliate links, is expanding its executive team for its live shopping model. Read more → tubefilter

Tech, Web3, & AI

  • Coke Zero Sugar used AI to create a custom font out of bubbles for “Best Coke Ever?,” their new digital, social-first initiative. Read More → adage

  • A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows millennials saw their wealth grow by 80% between 2019 and 2023. Read More → insider

  • Spotify has released a range of spicy audiobooks — including classic romance novels like Pride and Prejudice — as the platform’s audio erotica listening numbers climb into the millions. Read More → cosmopolitan

Creator Economy

  • Gen Z and Baby Boomers have more in common as marketing audiences than you might think, study finds. Read More → adage

  • Douglas Kendyson, former Flutterwave and Paystack engineer, has founded Selar, a digital marketplace for creators. Read More → restofworld

  • President Biden’s reelection campaign leans on meme culture for its TikTok presence. Read more → techcrunch

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Today’s email was written by Kait Cunniff and Evan Nicole Brown.
Edited by Boye Akolade and Kait Cunniff.
Published by Darline Salazar.

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