Contest: Help Us Imagine and Build a Better Future—No Politics Required

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 26 2012 5:30 PM

Contest: Help Us Imagine and Build a Better Future—No Politics Required

How can we get people talking about the future? Not some vague, distant utopia (or dystopia) but real visions we might achieve within our lifetimes? It seems like more and more people are beginning to ask that question, and that’s a very good thing.

I direct a new program at Arizona State University called the Center for Science and the Imagination. (Disclosure: Arizona State University is a partner with Slate and the New America Foundation in Future Tense.) Our goal is to get people everywhere thinking creatively and ambitiously about the future and we’ve got a number projects in the pipeline that bring together scientists, futurists, writers, artists, and many others to collaborate on bold new visions: better dreams for better futures. At our launch yesterday, we announced a new collaboration with Intel and Society for Science & the Public, Tomorrow Project USA.  As Intel’s resident futurist Brian David Johnson likes to put it, “the way that you change the future is you change the story people tell themselves about the future they will live in.”


There’s a zeitgeist, a certain breath of ambition, at work here—from  the X Prize competitions to the White House Grand Challenges and the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges for Engineering. While much popular science fiction portrays the future as a scary, dangerous, inhuman place, projects like ours are focused on making the future livable and exciting.  

The trailer below offers a glimpse of the kinds of conversations, and the range of questions, that we aim to provoke over the coming year. In addition to being a creative engine for better thinking about the future, Project USA is also a writing competition open to college students everywhere. We’re asking for submissions on the theme of green dreams and sustainable futures.

The contest runs from now to Dec. 1, 2012. So fire up your difference engines and tell us about the world you want to live in.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Ed Finn is the director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English at Arizona State University.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.