Future Tense newsletter: Comey leaves behind a damaged tech legacy at the FBI.

Future Tense Newsletter: Comey Leaves Behind a Damaged Tech Legacy at the FBI

Future Tense Newsletter: Comey Leaves Behind a Damaged Tech Legacy at the FBI

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
May 17 2017 12:06 PM

Future Tense Newsletter: Comey Leaves Behind a Damaged Tech Legacy at the FBI

Then–FBI Director James Comey testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing about encryption, March 1, 2016.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Greetings, Future Tensers,

Though it may seem like the sudden firing of James Comey from his post as FBI director happened a lifetime ago, it was only last week. In a piece on his legacy at the bureau, Josephine Wolff reflects on how the FBI’s use of technology and investigations of cybersecurity incidents during his tenure—from his first success taking down one of the world’s largest botnets to the Apple encryption controversy—have damaged the agency’s reputation and credibility.


Wolff also weighed in on the massive malware attack on the British National Health Service, explaining how it could have been prevented. She writes, “If you’ve ever dismissed a warning from your operating system urging you to download a critical update, you’re part of the problem.” (The good news is you weren’t making that decision on behalf of an entire nation’s health service.) Despite the scope of the attack, the hackers responsible have only profited about $55,000 as of Monday afternoon. A more lucrative venture would be to hack a $275 million superyacht, as an IT specialist demonstrated at the Superyacht Investor Conference held earlier this month.

Other things we read this week while trying to picture planes catapulting off aircraft carriers:

  • Map databases: Two bills introduced earlier this year have fair housing advocates and academic researches worried they’ll lose access to important government-held data. Faine Greenwood explains why this should worry all of us.
  • Trump tweet turned Twitter pitch: Will Oremus questions the intentions of Anthony Noto, chief operations and financial officer of Twitter, who responded to President Trump’s threat to cancel press briefings with a tweet suggesting the President use Twitter as a platform for Q&A.
  • Uber software engineers jump ship: The ongoing legal battle between Alphabet and Uber has software engineers in Uber’s self-driving technology division looking elsewhere for work. Ian Prasad Philbrick explains how their departures might affect the company.
  • Sign language translation: Researchers are employing the same computer animation techniques used in animated films like Ratatouille and Happy Feet to translate written and spoken words into sign language for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Brainstorming Wi-Fi passwords for my superyacht,

Emily Fritcke
for Future Tense

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

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

Emily Fritcke is a research associate for Future Tense.