The Spawn of Frankenstein


No work of literature has done more to shape the way people think about science and its moral consequences than Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein. Today, almost two centuries after the novel's publication, advances in artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, robotics, and many other fields demonstrate the enduring salience of Frankenstein's themes.

Why are we still talking about Frankenstein? And what do we still have to learn from Victor Frankenstein and his creature, at a time when our scientific and technological capabilities make the novel’s premise of creating life in the lab more plausible than ever? 

Join us on Thursday, February 2, in Washington, D.C., to discuss the legacy of Shelley’s Frankenstein and how the novel continues to influence the way that we confront emerging technologies, understand the complex relationships between creators and their creations, and weigh the benefits of innovation with its unforeseen pitfalls. 

Happy hour to follow. 

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


3:00 pm It's Alive: 

Ed Finn 
Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University 

3:10 Playing God: 

Nancy Kress 
Science Fiction Writer 

Josephine Johnston 
Director of Research and Research Scholar, The Hastings Center 

Patric M. Verrone 
Writer and producer, Futurama 


Ed Finn 
Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University 

4:00 pm Unintended Consequences: 

Samuel Arbesman 
Scientist in Residence, Lux Capital 
Author, Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension 

Susan Tyler Hitchcock 
Senior Editor of Books, National Geographic Society 
Author, Frankenstein: A Cultural History 

Cara LaPointe 
Engineer and Naval Officer


Joey Eschrich 
Editor and Program Manager, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University 

4:50 Fear of the Unknown: 

Jacob Brogan
Editorial Fellow, New America

Charlotte Gordon 
Author, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary
Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley 
Distinguished Professor of Humanities, Endicott College 

David Guston 
Founding Director and Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University 

Annalee Newitz 
Tech Culture Editor, Ars Technica 


Bina Venkataraman 
Carnegie Fellow, New America 
Director of Global Policy Initiatives, Broad Institute, MIT & Harvard 

5:40 Happy Hour