How a Volcano Helped Inspire Frankenstein

By Kent Linthicum

Two hundred years ago this June, during a dreadfully cold and wet summer, Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein. Since then Frankenstein has become iconic, spawning a legion of adaptations and reinterpretations. The Oxford English Dictionary even includes entries for the verb “to frankenstein,” which means to stitch something together in a grotesque fashion, and the prefix “franken-” to make anything monstrous. The novel is shorthand for the dangers of unfettered scientific progress.

Read on

The Self-Driving Car Generation Gap

By Brad Allenby

On Jan. 22, 1984, one of the most famous advertisements in American history debuted during Super Bowl XVIII, the one and only time it appeared on nationwide television. Advertising the Apple Macintosh personal computer, it showed a single brave heroine outrunning the thought police to destroy ideology, conformity, and totalitarianism, and ended with the tag line “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.” It did a lot of things. It gave the Apple brand an individualistic, somewhat countercultural, flavor, which the firm retains even today, when it is one of the behemoths of the global economy. More importantly, perhaps, it provides an insight into technology systems that tells us a lot about autonomous vehicles and their likely routes of acceptance into mainstream culture.

Read on

The Trouble With High-Tech Prosthetics

By Patrick McGurrin

You’ve probably seen the Frozen, Iron Man, and Star Wars prosthetics—intended to boost the confidence of kids with missing limbs. Now, you can even meet the first man with the Luke Skywalker arm. With today’s ever-increasing technology, some of these once fictional devices are making their way to real-life.

Read on

Can Self-Driving Cars Share the Road With Old-School Vehicles?

By Kevin C. Desouza

When it comes to the much-anticipated advent of autonomous vehicles (so-called driverless cars, though that term isn’t completely accurate), there is good news and bad news. The good news is that autonomous vehicles will soon be driving among us. The bad news—or we could call it the challenging news—is that we will likely be in for a generation-long transitional period, when autonomous cars share the road with traditionally driven ones.

Read on

Welcome to the Pyrocene

By Stephen J. Pyne

The images are gripping. Horizons glow with satanic reds squishing through black and bluish clouds, as though the sky itself were bruised and bleeding. Foregrounds bristle with scorched neighborhoods still drifting with smoke and streams of frightened refugees, a scene more commonly associated with war zones.

But we’ve seen this before. Big fires are big fires, and one pyrocumulus can look pretty much like another. Communities with homes burned to concrete slabs, molten hulks of what once were cars alongside roads, surrounding forests mottled with black and green— these are becoming commonplace.

Read on

Mika Model, A New Short Story from Paolo Bacigalupi

This short story was commissioned and edited jointly by Future Tense—a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate—and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination. It is the first in Future Tense Fiction, a series of short stories from Future Tense and CSI about how technology and science will change our lives.

The girl who walked into the police station was oddly familiar, but it took me a while to figure out why. A starlet, maybe. Or someone who’d had plastic surgery to look like someone famous. Pretty. Sleek. Dark hair and pale skin and wide dark eyes that came to rest on me, when Sergeant Cruz pointed her in my direction.

Read on

Don’t Laugh at E-Sports

By Timothy Millea

You know that a cultural phenomenon has hit critical mass once a billionaire gets involved. We’ve reached that moment with e-sports, or competitive video gaming. In November, Mark Cuban publicly threw down against Intel’s CEO in the popular e-sports game League of Legends at the Intel Extreme Masters tournament. Shortly after the matchup, which Team Cuban won, Cuban blasted Colin Cowherd, then an ESPN radio host, who had dismissed professional gamers as basement-dwelling nerds while protesting ESPN2’s coverage of a major e-sports tournament.

Read on

The Wrong Cognitive Measuring Stick

By Brad Allenby

In 1950, the brilliant mathematician and cryptographer Alan Turing began his seminal paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” with a simple query: “I propose to consider the question, ‘Can machines think?’ ” It is a question that still resonates today, because it is essentially incoherent and thus unanswerable.

Read on

Killer Robots on the Battlefield

By Heather M. Roff

On April 11, member states at the United Nations will meet at another informal meeting of experts under the auspices of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, a treaty that prohibits weapons deemed to have indiscriminate effects or to cause excessive injury. They are meeting for the third time in Geneva to consider whether to preemptively ban autonomous weapons—or, more colloquially, “killer robots.” As the member states gear up to hear another five days of testimony from experts—of which I am one—it would be a useful exercise to consider the thinking behind creating and deploying autonomous weapons.

Read on

What Wearable Manufacturers Think Women Want

By Jacqueline Wernimont

If you’re looking to get away from athletics-inspired wearables, there are more options than ever, especially for women. You can preorder a reusable menstrual cup that requires a Bluetooth antenna to extend outside of the vagina at all times. (Just don’t wear it through an airport security screening.) A nearly $500 MICA smart bracelet, plated in snakeskin and gold and set with semiprecious stones, will let you keep up on email and text messages (provided you pay the annual data fees). You can hang a jeweled security charm from Stiletto on your favorite necklace—the charm promises a safe lifestyle by sharing your location information, indoor or out, with others. Or you can insert a speaker into your vagina to play music for an embryo or fetus.

Read on

« Older posts

© 2016 Future Tense

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑