Fast Company Winter-Dec19/JanFeb20

Fast Company is the world’s leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, leadership, world changing ideas, and design. Written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders, Fast Company inspires readers to think beyond traditional boundaries, lead conversations, and create the future of business.

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6 Issues

in this issue

2 min
what a difference a year makes

At the start of 2019, Fast Company ran a 5,300-word examination of what we called “Masa World,” the empire built by SoftBank Vision Fund founder Masayoshi Son. Contributor Katrina Brooker laid out how Son had amassed $100 billion, which he used to back a group of ambitious entrepreneurs deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning to transform food delivery, commerce, transportation, and more. Of all the strivers he’d backed, however, a clear favorite emerged: Adam Neumann, the charismatic cofounder of WeWork. In this issue, our final of 2019, Brooker chronicles the crash of WeWork and the collapse of Neumann’s relationship with Son. Through interviews with dozens of investors, Son and Neumann associates, and current and former WeWork employees, Brooker details the cooling of a once fervid business relationship. In the process, she…

2 min
experience matters

AS WE LOOK BACK ON 2019 AT FAST COMPANY, we engaged in a year of living the experience economy—for our marketing partners and our brand alike. From live events and in-person connections to digital platforms and user experience, across the year, our editors and our partners have shown how vital quality personalized experience can be for customers, audiences, and the bottom line. Here are a few snapshots: IN DIGITAL With support from SAP, Fast Company’s website has been undergoing a refresh fueled by user insights and feedback; we hope you like the changes we’ve made to This initiative coincided with a major editorial series dedicated to the experience economy, including stories such as “Why Everyone Is Betting on Experience.” AT DAVOS Last January, Fast Company partnered with HCL Technologies to host multiple thought-leader…

7 min
ai is moving too fast, and that’s a good thing

2019 was a great year for seeing what AI could do. Waymo deployed self-driving taxis to actual paying customers in Arizona. Bots from OpenAI and DeepMind beat the top professionals in two major esports games. A deep-learning algorithm performed as well as doctors—and sometimes better—at spotting lung cancer tumors in medical imaging. But as for what AI should do, 2019 was terrible. Amazon’s facial recognition software? Racist, according to MIT researchers, who reported that the tech giant’s algorithms misidentify nearly a third of dark-skinned women’s faces (while demonstrating near-perfect accuracy for light-skinned men’s). Emotion detection, used by companies such as WeSee and HireVue to perform threat assessments and screen job applicants? Hogwash, says the Association for Psychological Science. Even the wonky field of natural language processing took a hit, when a…

6 min
walking the walk

IN HER TWO DECADES AS A PROFESSIONAL MODEL—appearing in campaigns for designers such as Stella McCartney and Tommy Hilfiger—Sara Ziff has seen the industry’s glamorous side and its underbelly, which is rife with child labor, low wages, and sexual harassment. Model Alliance, the nonprofit she founded in 2012, advocates for fair labor standards and safer workplaces for models. Under Ziff, the alliance has pushed lawmakers in New York and California to protect underage models, partnered with researchers to study human trafficking and other issues, and launched a high-profile campaign—signed by close to 140 models—to get Victoria’s Secret to commit to safeguarding its models from sexual misconduct. Here, she talks about how modeling agencies have enabled the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein, and why the exploitation of models should…

1 min
role models

Freelancers Union Executive director Caitlin Pearce and I collaborated on successful efforts to expand the NYC Human Rights Law to protect freelance workers from sexual harassment and discrimination.” Garment Worker Center GWC is leading the anti-sweatshop movement to improve conditions for tens of thousands of Los Angeles garment workers. This year, the Model Alliance joined the center on a campaign to get [discount retailer] Ross to take responsibility for wage theft in the factories that produce its clothing.” Coalition of Immokalee Workers “The way our Respect Program is structured is brilliant. No credit goes to me. It [reflects what] we learned from the CIW, which structured the Fair Food Program to use market incentives to reward good business with better business.” Time’s Up “Time’s Up has amplified the Model Alliance’s efforts and partnered with us on our…

2 min
not so rusty

In Pittsburgh, public trash cans aren’t just collecting litter—they’re also gathering data. This summer, the city completed installation of 1,200 smart garbage cans that use sensors to alert sanitation workers when they’re almost full. The city expects them to cut hours spent on litter collection by 66%, while reducing the carbon emissions from garbage trucks and freeing up workers to do other work, such as patching roads. The trash cans are part of a larger effort to transform the former Rust Belt manufacturing center into a tech and entrepreneurship hub that acts as “a model of what the new economy and environmental standards should look like,” says Santiago Garces, director of Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance. The city has undergone a number of smart transformations over the past decade,…