Writing concurrent programs that can run in multiple threads and on multiple cores is crucial but daunting. Futures provides a convenient abstraction for many problem domains. The online course "Intermediate Scala" includes an up-to-date discussion of futures and the parts of java.util.concurrent that underlie the Scala futures implementation. Unlike Java's futures, Scala futures supports composition, transformations and sophisticated callbacks.
The author is managing editor of http://scalacourses.com, which offers self-paced online courses that teach Introductory and Intermediate Scala and Play Framework.