I authored this research and report for the City of San Francisco and the Department of Labor exploring how cities and local government can take an active role supporting the development of a vibrant and equitable labor market, focusing on policies, regulations, and impacts addressing automation and the platform economy. Research approaches include ethnographic interviews, expert interviews, expert workshops, signaling, scenario development, and more.
Developed for the Knight Foundation, I co-authored this report exploring the kinds of workers engaged in the platform economy across the country. After developing an interview guide, I conducted more than a dozen ethnographic interviews across San Francisco, Chicago, New York, small town America, and remotely, in order to understand how they interact with this new labor market, their approach toward career development, their fears and concerns, and how they craft their identities. The insights from this research have led into policy discussions with the Department of Labor and beyond.
As co-author of this report, I researched how emerging technologies, business practices, and the education landscape might impact the realities of how young people get, find, and keep work (and what that work is) over the coming decade. We developed 4 scenarios reflective of the 4 most probable courses for the future, and developed policy strategies and solutions for ameliorating hardships for young people and our economy in general.
For this research project, I coordinated an expert workshop in NYC, designed the agenda and analyzed and synthesized the output with a team into the following report on what IFTF calls ‘Ambient Communication’.
For this public report, I worked with our forecasting and research teams to distill the most compelling and important ideas from a series of expert workshops into a map and report on the new affordances and capacities for automation, and how they are likely to impact everyday life in the coming decade.
Simtainer is a VR experience I built about the importance of adaptable infrastructure, specifically underutilized shipping containers. When users put on the headset, they are taken on a journey through shipping containers repurposed as housing, medical clinics, and farms to meet our ever-changing infrastructure needs. Simtainer will be showcased at the United Nations General Assembly during October.
The Virturaunt (Virtual restaurant) project aimed to explore the incorporation of food into VR to better understand the cognitive process behind food consumption.
By building an immersive restaurant environment in Unity, and populating it with sample food items, players/participants were provided the opportunity to select virtual food items they would like to ‘eat’. Upon the press of a button, an animation played which showed the selected food item flying slowly toward, and then under, the player camera, mimicking what happens when we put food in our mouths. Simultaneously, the player was fed real food by a volunteer administrator.
This created the opportunity for managed cognitive dissonance. By allowing the player to select the virtual 3D model of an orange, watching that orange fly under the player camera, and then being fed a piece of lime or grapefruit, the player became confronted with the challenge of recognizing the dissonance.
RESULTS: Over 20 tests, 13 players failed to realize they were being fed grapefruit instead of orange, 11 players failed to realize they were being fed lime instead of lemon, and 10 players failed to realize they were being fed apple instead of pear. It was far easier to fool players around taste than texture.
The point of this exercise was to explore how reality and virtuality can be integrated around selective strengths- imagine a real restaurant environment where you wear an Oculus Rift during the experience to focus your attention on the food, allowing you to savor it more completely. Imagine if these virtual environments could be customized based on individual preferences. This same technology has the ability to aid in portion control, food perception, and could be applied to taste-testing and to better understand, statistically, the impact of ambience on the restaurant experience.
If you’re interested in a demo or to download my Unity build, contact me on Twitter (at)asaulgoldman.
In my 9-5 at IFTF (Institute for the Future), I design workshops, exercises, and games to help some of the world’s largest companies think productively about the future. I also research and lead projects on the Future of Work and skills training for foundations and governments. In addition to extensive proprietary research, I also publish public work and organize public events. Here is an (updated) short list on public posts and public research I’ve worked on.
During his final semester at CMU, Alex conducted extensive research into how children and adults successfully learn first and second languages. The result of months of research was the testable hypothesis that spacial memory could be successfully leveraged as a platform to expedite the process of learning vocabulary. In other words, if you label things in a virtual space, it helps people learn the names of those things quickly. The other major insight from research was that children learn languages by ‘guessing’. Young children are constantly hearing new words, guessing what they mean, and then playing around with those guesses to ‘test them out’. In other words, being told if you’re right or wrong when learning a language runs counter to how our brains learn one the first time around.
To test these hypotheses, Alex built a roll-playing game that integrates real videos into a Click-to-Explore virtual world. Players encountered multiple parallel quests that could be resolved in a variety of orders. In order to solve the quests, players had to guess the meanings of the words used by NPCs (Non-player characters), with the help of visual subtitles.