Future Tense Newsletter: They Want (DNA) That Way

Backstreet’s back.
Dennis Leupold

Greetings, Future Tensers,

Backstreet’s back, all right. And, as geneticist Karen James noticed, the promos for DNA, the boy band’s first No. 1 album in nearly two decades, feature some decidedly … old-school renderings of genetic sequencing. She explains why the dated depictions continue to endure in pop culture and catches a few other tropes and misconceptions about genetics that the boys had to offer.

While listening to the Backstreet Boys’ latest bops, we at Future Tense have also been covering the control of data and information. Tamara Evdokimova explains why Russia’s considering a bill that would ban fake news. Shannon Palus, who recently quit Facebook, writes about the people who let the platform pay them to get access to all (and we mean all) of their phone and web activity data. And Aaron Mak looks at San Francisco’s proposed bill to ban law enforcement from using facial recognition software.

Other things we read between taking our smartphones in from the cold:

Starship Troopers: What should we call members of the Space Force? Col. Dennis Wille weighs the options for naming the service members of the military’s newest proposed branch.

Outbreak: David Ropeik explains how a recent study examining the motivations behind vaccine-hesitant and anti-vaccine parents shows there’s more to the anti-vaxxer movement than just fear of inoculations.

Higgs hitches: Though the lack of big news in particle physics has led some to question whether continued investment in the field is worth the cost, physics professors Chanda Prescod-Weinstein and Tim M.P. Tait explain why lack of discovery can be just as instructive.

Flickr-ing away: Flickr’s announcement that it will begin mass-deleting photos from free users as it transitions to being a paid storage service serves as a reminder that we shouldn’t put too much trust in cloud-based storage, argues April Glaser.

To less-rubbery chicken nuggets,

Anthony Nguyen

For Future Tense

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University.

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