An illustration of two human figures sitting on the black keys of a giant piano, facing one another.


Read a new short story by Ysabelle Cheung about gender, companionship, and the inner lives of robots.

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy and society.

Future Tense is the citizen’s guide to the future.

The partnership provides insightful, timely, and unexpected analysis at the intersection of technology and society through written commentary and live events in Washington, D.C. and beyond.


An illustrated background in bright colors of blue, magenta, and gold, showing rockets, cranes, ladders, and other technologies reaching up to create a busy, futuristic scene.

[ONLINE] – Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club: Lock In by John Scalzi

Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the next gathering of our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club, we have selected Lock In by John Scalzi. Join Future Tense, Issues in Science and Technology, and the Center for Science and the Imagination for a conversation about avatars, telepresence, and the “real” world; accessibility and disability; public-health funding; and much more.

November 29, 2022
6:00 pm  – 7:00 pm
The book

“You Are Not Expected to Understand This” with Torie Bosch

Peek beneath the hood of just about anything in your life and you’ll find computer code. That code is written by brilliant, fallible humans whose decisions end up affecting us in unexpected ways. The new book “You Are Not Expected to Understand This”: How 26 Lines of Code Changed the World looks at how programming reflects its very human origins, for better or for worse, in fields from law enforcement to social media to space exploration. Written by historians, technologists, journalists, and others, “You Are Not Expected to Understand This” considers how technology and humanity intersect. Join us in Washington, DC to celebrate the book’s publication with editor Torie Bosch, over snacks and drinks!

November 15, 2022
6:00 pm  – 8:00 pm
New America, 740 15th St NW #900, Washington, DC 20005

Future Tense Fiction

A series of original science fiction stories crafted by leading authors, exploring how science and technology will change our lives in the future. Each story is paired with a response essay by an expert in a related field.

An illustration of two human figures sitting on the black keys of a giant piano, facing one another.

By Ysabelle Cheung

A story about gender, companionship, and the inner lives of robots.

Two people hugging, their faces not visible, lit from below by a yellow light from a smart phone.

By B. Pladek

A story about navigating ever-unquantifiable risk.

An illustration of the back of a person's head, with a hand holding scissors ready to cut their hair. The image is in blue and purple neon, and marred by digital imperfections.

By Julian K. Jarboe

A story about our digital pasts coming back to haunt us.

An illustration of a vehicle coming towards the viewer, headlights on, seen through cloudy, partially shattered glass.

By Premee Mohamed

A story about the future of fighting wildfires.

A cartoonish illustration of a man, with holographic versions of himself trailing, reaching to pull a person back from a crosswalk.

By David Iserson

A story about living in a looping, recurring computer simulation.

An illustration of a state house building in a cardboard box labeled New Olympia, floating in water.

By Brenda Cooper

A story about climate migration, politics, and persuasion.

Best of Future Tense

Future Tense publishes commentary on Slate by researchers and scholars at Arizona State University, alongside many other writers and thinkers from the fields of journalism, public policy, science and technology, and more.