Future Tense newsletter: how social media and flying robots are changing disaster relief.

Future Tense Newsletter: How Social Media and Flying Robots are Changing Disaster Relief

Future Tense Newsletter: How Social Media and Flying Robots are Changing Disaster Relief

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 30 2017 3:30 PM

Future Tense Newsletter: How Social Media and Flying Robots are Changing Disaster Relief

A aerial drone flies above Allen Parkway after massive flooding in Houston in 2015.

Eric Kayne/Getty Images

Greetings, Future Tensers,

Record rainfall from Hurricane Harvey deluged much of Houston this week, leaving countless residents in America’s fourth-largest city in need of help. As the official relief effort—including 911 services—became overwhelmed, Twitter became a powerful tool to relay rescue pleas and share other vital information about the storm. But there’s still a lot more the platform could do to make sure people aren’t being left behind, writes Christina Cauterucci.


Viral media isn’t the only technology being tested in the aftermath of the natural disaster. After the storm clears, insurance companies are expected to deploy hundreds of drones to survey the damage in what is expected to be the industry’s widest-scale use of the robots to date, explains April Glaser.

In more Twitter news, Russian bots are back in full force attempting to spread misinformation and sow discord after Charlottesville. The hotbed of hatred has led some tech companies to fight back. As April Glaser reports, one of the most prominent white supremacist and Nazi destinations on the web, Stormfront, has effectively been kicked offline—and that could have major consequences for the way the group organizes.

Other things we read between wondering about Waymo:

  • Make your voice heard: Today is the last day to join 21 million other Americans in voicing your opinion on net neutrality to the Federal Communications Commission.
  • Data fishing: The Justice Department may have limited the scope of its request for data on Trump protesters, but April Glaser explains that the narrower version still threatens democracy.
  • Blowhard energy: Leah McBride Mensching reports on the health and safety concerns that wind energy poses to the residents who live near turbines.
  • Poetry bots: Roses are red, violets are blue, as Leah Henrickson explains, machine poetry is nothing new.
  • De-LOL-reans: Jacob Brogan explains how disappointment and silliness combine to create “I Bet There Will Be Flying Cars in the Future,” the viral meme that perfectly encapsulates our dumb year.

Tonya Riley

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.