For your first Friday night of the new year, here are a few quick trends, updates, and oddities (and one outright piece of satirical fiction), about what’s in store for AI, the workplace, and other essential topics for 2021.

  1. What’s on the horizon for AI in 2021? A diverse panel of (human) experts offer a wide range of predictions.
  2. Will more conventional workplaces reconvene in 2021? As COVID-19 vaccines start rolling out, it seems likely. But some offices may hedge their bets with new designs for “touchless” workspaces that rely more heavily on systems for automating tools for facilities management.
  3. For most people, if the name “Schrödinger” triggers any thoughts, it’s likely to be something about a cat experiencing an existential crisis. But for a group of quantum chemistry researchers in Berlin, there’s an equation named for the pioneering physicist that’s at the heart of a computational challenge that the team is now tackling with some innovative AI.
  4. Now playing on a screen near you: a short film based on an OpenAI-generated film script. It’s an interesting exercise, but it may just seem like a series of randomly connected cliches. (We know what you’re thinking: How is that any different from 99% of what Hollywood’s produced for the past several decades?)
  5. As Cyndi Lauper never sang, AI’s just wanna have fun.

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