Natalie Matthews-Ramo/Slate

Future Tense Fiction: Learning Futures

Future Tense Fiction: Learning Futures is a series of three science fiction short stories, published as part of a collaboration between ASU, Slate and New America. The series explores how learning experiences of all kinds will be shaped by technology and other forces in the future—and the moral, ethical, and social challenges this will entail. Each story is paired with a response essay written by an academic expert in a related field, as well as a recording of an online discussion, moderated by Dr. Punya Mishra, between the story authors and the respondents.

Special thanks to ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination. Original artworks by Natalie Matthews-Ramo/Slate.

“Speaker” by Simon Brown

This short story by Simon Brown is the first in the Learning Futures series by Future Tense Fiction that explores how learning experiences of all kinds will be shaped by technology and other forces.

“If Nonhumans Can Speak, Will Humans Learn to Listen?” by Iveta Silova

This essay by Dr. Iveta Silova takes a closer look into “Speaker” by Simon Brown and questions human ethics in nonhuman interactions. This response is a part of the Learning Futures series by Future Tense Fiction.

Hyenas, human exceptionalism and hubris

Author Simon Brown shares some thoughts and ideas behind his science fiction piece “Speaker”, winner of the 2020 Sapiens Plurum short fiction contest and opening story in the Future Tense Fiction: Learning Futures series.

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Future Tense Fiction online discussion of “Speaker”

This is a discussion between author Simon Brown and essay respondent Dr. Iveta Silova, Director of CASGE at Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College. Moderated by Dr. Punya Mishra, MLFTC Associate Dean of Scholarship and Innovation.

“The Void” by Leigh Alexander

This short story by Leigh Alexander is the second in the Learning Futures series by Future Tense Fiction that shows a woman’s experience navigating digital learning and the limits of equity and information in a not so distant future.

“The Conundrum of Information Scarcity in a Time of Information Overload” by Andrea K. Thomer

This essay by Dr. Andrea K. Thomer takes a closer look into “The Void” by Leigh Alexander and investigates the limits of data science and who these systems truly serve. This response is a part of the Learning Futures series by Future Tense Fiction.

1 hour

Future Tense Fiction online discussion of “The Void”

This video is a recording of the discussion between short story author Leigh Alexander and essay respondent Andrea K. Thomer, information scientist and assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. Punya Mishra, professor and Associate Dean of Scholarship and Innovation at MLFTC, served as moderator.

“The Trolley Solution” by Shiv Ramdas

This short story by Shiv Ramdas is the third in the Learning Futures series by Future Tense Fiction in which a university professor competes with an educational Artificial Intelligence to see who is the better teacher and what larger social ramifications come about when higher education administration looks to cut costs.

“Just How Much of Higher Education Can Be Automated?” by Katina Michael

This essay by Dr. Katina Michael further examines the looming and ongoing automation of education around the world and the dangers of removing humans from the learning process. This response is a part of the Learning Futures series by Future Tense Fiction.

1 hour

Future Tense Fiction online discussion of “The Trolley Solution”

This video is a recording of the discussion between short story author Shiv Ramdas and essay respondent Katina Michael, professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University. Punya Mishra, professor and Associate Dean of Scholarship and Innovation at MLFTC, served as moderator.

1 hour

How will we learn in the future?

This video is a recording of the discussion between short story authors Simon Brown, Leigh Alexander, and Shiv Ramdas for the Future Tense Fiction: Learning Futures series with Punya Mishra, professor and Associate Dean of Scholarship and Innovation at MLFTC as moderator. Special thanks to New America for hosting the event on behalf of Future Tense.