Future Tense

Future Tense Newsletter: Your New Year’s Tech Resolutions

People take photos and videos with their mobile phones as fireworks explode above Ljubljana Castle during New Year’s celebrations in Ljubljana, Slovenia.


Happy New Year, Future Tensers!

If you’re tired of making (and struggling to uphold) the same old promises to eat well and exercise, we have some suggestions for six ways to detox and simplify your tech-fueled life. If getting in shape really is on your 2018 to-do list, Christina Bonnington has some good news for you: Technology has made at-home indoor cycling a lot more fun.

The new year also offered an opportunity to reflect on how technology changed in 2017. For instance, Google’s AlphaGo Zero reached superhuman play levels, earning a spot on the biggest A.I. advancements of this past year. Facebook started offering some transparency into how Russian agents influenced your feed during the election, Alexa lost its novelty, and Apple apologized for throttling our iPhone batteries.

Did you get a genetic testing kit for Christmas? Before you swab, read this article by Michael Schulson on how easy it is for the government to subpoena the data gene-testing companies are collecting. Meanwhile, Faine Greenwood chronicled all of the people on Twitter who got drones for Christmas—and promptly crashed them.

Here’s what else you missed while binging Black Mirror:

  • Dangerous games: “Swatting,” or the practice of calling a SWAT team on an innocent person as a form of trolling, led to a tragic death in Kansas. Now the FBI is investigating what led to the fatal shooting.
  • Late-night special: Inkoo Kang argues that in the age of Trump, 280 characters of political comedy is all you need.
  • Keep your eyes on the road: Distracted driving kills, and your smartphone is making the roads even more dangerous.
  • How did they know that? If you’ve ever wondered how an advertiser knew something about your demographic background that you didn’t share, Rena Coen has answers for you.
  • Golden ratioed: The Library of Congress is about to get more selective about which tweets it archives, but Jacob Brogan points out that there are other changes needed to make for a more useful collection.
  • Wasteland: Meg Charlton argues that instead of completely eliminating waste, sustainable design should be focusing on how to incorporate the mess we’ve already made.

Rebranding in 2018,
Tonya Blockchain Riley
For Future Tense