Future Tense

Future Tense Newsletter: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Ad

Ads. In. Spaaaaaaaaace.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus.

Greetings, Future Tensers,

Advertising knows no bounds. And soon, in between being hounded by pop-ups and banners online, we may also start encountering ads when looking up at the night sky. As Jane C. Hu reports, companies across the world are investing in the final frontier as a new realm for ads. Instead of billboards, they’re aiming to take advantage of cheap, small satellites and the current lack of robust laws regulating their use to light up the night with marketing promos. Hu dives into the plans for these potential space-faring ads—and how likely we are to see a twinkling PepsiCo. banner as we look up at constellations in 2021.

Like nearly everyone else over the past week, we at Future Tense have also been scouring the Mueller Report for the most juicy, telling details. April Glaser looked at how the document revealed new evidence of Russians trolling Americans in real life in addition to their online disinformation campaigns. She also examined what the report detailed about Donald Trump Jr.’s extensive interactions with WikiLeaks leading up to the 2016 election. And there’s no school like the old school, right? Aaron Mak got to the bottom of why Congress received their copies of the Mueller report on CD-ROMs.

Other things we read between scrolling through tone-deaf police memes:

Face-off: Why is an 18-year-old college student suing Apple over its use of facial-recognition technology?

Tread on me: April Glaser reports on the armed, right-wing militias have been posting videos of their groups “detaining” asylum-seekers along the border and using Facebook, PayPal, and GoFundMe to crowdfund their efforts.

License and registration: Faine Greenwood argues that a new—and needed—system to identify drones in the air could have worrisome privacy consequences.

On thin ice: The worrisome reasons there won’t be any expeditions to the North Pole this year.

A.I. ethics: Daniel Susser argues that a code of ethics alone won’t push big tech to use A.I. in a transparent and honest manner.

Trolling: Rachelle Hampton tells the story of the black feminists who tried to raise the alarm about the threat of online trolls long before Gamergate and the 2016 election.


Join Future Tense and New America’s Open Technology Institute on May 7, in Washington, D.C., for a lively afternoon discussion on what sci-fi can (and can’t) teach us about A.I. policy. We’ll be joined by a host of policy and tech experts, futurists, and science fiction authors. RSVP here.

Will slaughter-free meat change the American way of eating? Join Future Tense and the New America Fellows Program on May 8 in New York City for a happy hour conversation on about the future foods that may dramatically transform the American way of eating. We’ll be joined by food journalists, culinary historians, experts on lab-grown meat, and even have some samples of some next-generation plant-based meat offerings. RSVP here.

To AOC’s speculative fiction,

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.