Impact Lab

Subscribe Now to Our Free Email Newsletter
May 7th, 2018 at 9:29 am

American highways are so expensive that cities are tearing them down — here’s what they’re turning into


Traffic moves on the elevated Central Artery in Boston (2003, top). Parks and open space are seen in the same area (2007, bottom). AP

Throughout the 20th century, highways were key generators of economic growth for American cities. They allowed commuters to quickly travel between urban centers and the suburbs, unclogged traffic-ridden streets, and created infrastructure jobs.

But these days, investing in highways is a bad business decision for many cities.

An increasing number of cities around the US are choosing to tear down or transform parts of their dilapidated interstates, rather than repair them. These redevelopments are largely happening because old highways are costly to rebuild, according to Rob Steuteville from a DC-based nonprofit called the Congress for New Urbanism.

For the past decade, Steuteville’s team has documented cities that have or are considering highway removals. He expects the trend to continue to grow.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 6th, 2018 at 9:59 am

The economics of artificial intelligence


Rotman School of Management professor Ajay Agrawal explains how AI changes the cost of prediction and what this means for business.

With so many perspectives on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) flooding the business press, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find one that’s truly original. So when strategy professor Ajay Agrawal shared his brilliantly simple view on AI, we stood up and took notice. Agrawal, who teaches at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and works with AI start-ups at the Creative Destruction Lab (which he founded), posits that AI serves a single, but potentially transformative, economic purpose: it significantly lowers the cost of prediction.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 6th, 2018 at 9:35 am

The most inclusive U.S. cities, mapped


Heads up, cities: Economic growth does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with economic and racial inclusion.

That’s the finding of a new, in-depth analysis by the Urban Institute (UI) of the 274 largest cities in America. The report and accompanying data tool show how economic shifts in these cities since the 1980s have corresponded with “inclusion”—the ability of low-income residents and people of color to benefit from and contribute to the city’s economic gains.

Continue Reading »


comments Comments Off
May 5th, 2018 at 9:48 am

This generation has a huge and growing student debt burden. It’s not who you think


A recent analysis of American debt revealed a startling shift: Borrowers between the ages of 45 and 74 now owe more money in education-related debt, on average, than do younger college graduates.

People under age 35 with student debt owe $32,900 on average, according to data from the Fed’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances. That debt number is higher for every other 10-year age bracket up to age 75: It peaks at $37,000 for 45- to 54-year-olds, but even 65- to 74-year-old borrowers owe an average $35,400.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 5th, 2018 at 9:21 am

The era of fake video begins


The digital manipulation of video may make the current era of “fake news” seem quaint.

In a dank corner of the internet, it is possible to find actresses from Game of Thrones or Harry Potter engaged in all manner of sex acts. Or at least to the world the carnal figures look like those actresses, and the faces in the videos are indeed their own. Everything south of the neck, however, belongs to different women. An artificial intelligence has almost seamlessly stitched the familiar visages into pornographic scenes, one face swapped for another. The genre is one of the cruelest, most invasive forms of identity theft invented in the internet era. At the core of the cruelty is the acuity of the technology: A casual observer can’t easily detect the hoax.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
33 Dramatic predictions for 2030