Future Tense newsletter: Predictions gone bad.

Future Tense Newsletter: Predictions Gone Bad

Future Tense Newsletter: Predictions Gone Bad

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 20 2017 3:02 PM

Future Tense Newsletter: Predictions Gone Bad


Delphine Poggianti/Thinkstock

Greetings, Future Tensers,

This week, Future Tense continues to celebrate the “Future of the Future,” a look at how we try to predict tomorrow. It seems like every major tech breakthrough is always “five to 10 years away.” Grace Ballenger and Aaron Mak took a look at dozens of predictions of the technologies coming in “five to 10 years” from the past three decades, such as consumer virtual reality. You’ll notice that many of them still haven’t come to fruition. When it comes to fashion, it might be a relief that some of our wildest visions didn’t come true, as demonstrated in this fun compilation of the best of future fashion from television and movies.


But futurism isn’t just all VR goggles and weird hairdos. ”Threatcasting” attempts to imagine the worst-case scenarios of our future to help prepare us for a safer one, explain Brian David Johnson and Natalie Vanatta. One inherent flaw to the field of futurism, says Joey Eschrich, is that it tends to assume capitalism will continue. Mark Joseph Stern points out that even Supreme Court justices try to make predictions about the ramifications of legal decisions, even if their guesses are normally pretty far off.

Other things we read this week while cringing at another story on discriminatory A.I.:

  • Better laws for big data: Rep. Ted Lieu advocates for laws that would require faster disclosures of data breaches after the Equifax hack.
  • International “technoneurosis”: Chen Qiufan argues that China needs to stop letting “fear and greed” drive its technological progress
  • Buckle up: The Trump administration thinks the best regulation for self-driving cars is almost no regulation. April Glaser explains why that’s a very bad idea.
  • Cringe-worthy keywords: After ProPublica reported on how Facebook’s automated advertising tools let people target “Jew haters” and other offensive categories, Slate uncovered the problem goes much, much deeper.
  • Move over, space race: Competition between China and the United States to build the world’s fastest supercomputer could help us make better predictions about future events like earthquakes, writes April Glaser.
  • Mario has nipples: Jacob Brogan asks what other secrets our favorite video game characters’ bodies may hold.

The Future of Mental Health Technology: From chatbots that provide therapeutic conversation to apps that can monitor phone use to diagnose psychosis or manic episodes, medical providers now have new technological tools to supplement their firsthand interactions with patients. Join Future Tense in Washington on Sept. 28 to consider how these and other innovations in technology are reimagining the way we treat mental illness. RSVP to attend in person or watch online here.

Is Big Tech an Existential Threat?: In World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, a powerful critique of the role companies like Amazon and Google play in our economy and in our lives, Franklin Foer argues that the success of these tech juggernauts, with their gate-keeping control over our access to the world's information, has created a new form of dangerous monopoly in America life. Join Future Tense in New York on Oct. 4 as Foer discusses his new book with Slate Group Editor-in-Chief Jacob Weisberg. RSVP to attend here.

No longer nostalgic for the ’90s,
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.