Future Tense Newsletter: A World Where Fiction Is Forbidden

A hand holding flowers in front of a burning book
Lisa Larson-Walker

Greetings, Future Tensers,

Last week, we published “The Arisen,” the latest installment of our Future Tense Fiction series. In it, author Louisa Hall imagines a world where facts have taken precedent over emotion to a point where many in society choose to receive a memory chip that removes feelings that “would inevitably lead to rash and unhelpful decisions.” But what happens to love, truth, and fiction? In his response essay to the story, Arizona State University librarian Jim O’Donnell writes about how “facts” get created—and how much they reflect the sometimes-flawed human purposes for which we rely on them.

Elsewhere on Future Tense, we’ve been exploring the latest conflicts heating up over social media. Aaron Mak covers the Justice Department’s dubious new defense of President Donald Trump’s Twitter blocks. Genelle Belmas examines the shaky legal standing of Rep. Devin Nunes’ lawsuit against Twitter and several anonymous parody accounts for defamation. And Bryan Jones argues that Attorney General William Barr’s letter summarizing the Mueller report does tell us one significant thing that everyone can agree on: that Russia won’t stop trying to interfere in U.S. elections.

Other things we read while blocking the secret trackers in our emails:

Pivot to privacy: April Glaser argues that Facebook’s latest data mishandling scandal is particularly gross because it shows the company was careless with info from some of its most disadvantaged users.

Gender gap: Stephen Harrison tells us about the Wikipedia rule making it difficult for users to create entries for lesser-known but still-important women from history.

Office space: Why not appoint an algorithm to a corporate board?

Tracking tags: How a little-noticed data-driven policing program caused punishment for graffiti to skyrocket in San Diego.

GDPR-versary: Josephine Wolff looks at the successes and failures of the EU’s data privacy law in the year since it went into effect.

One-stop shop: Will Oremus writes about how Apple’s latest foray into subscription-based services and transactions is raising a few eyebrows.

Going dark: Tamara Evdokimova covers the EU copyright law that’s provoked massive online protests, including the 24-hour shutdown of German Wikipedia.

To Bach’s true music style,

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.