WIRED October 2020

The Wired mission is to tell the world something they've never heard before in a way they've never seen before. It's about turning new ideas into everyday reality. It's about seeding our community of influencers with the ideas that will shape and transform our collective future. Wired readers want to know how technology is changing the world, and they're interested in big, relevant ideas, even if those ideas challenge their assumptions—or blow their minds.

United States
Conde Nast US
$10.65(Incl. tax)
$39.97(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

in this issue

3 min
totally wired

As it did for all of us, 2020 changed Bill Gates’ plans. Forgoing his usual agenda of global travel, meetings with world leaders, and speaking at prestigious venues, Gates has been at home. But he’s more in demand than ever. That’s because, for many years, his foundation has been making huge investments in vaccines, treatments, and testing. In 2015 he now-famously warned us of a coming pandemic. Since it arrived, he’s become one of our most credible voices on the matter. He also became a target of the plague of misinformation afoot in the land. He and I connected in mid-August—remotely, of course—to talk about the new coronavirus. Gates didn’t hide his disappointment in the US for failing both to prepare before a pandemic hit and to adequately test for the…

6 min
what the world needs now

When I go to the doctor, they ask what I do, and when I tell them, they start complaining to me about the software at the hospital. I love this, because I hate going to the doctor, and it gives us something to talk about besides my blood pressure. This is a pattern in my life: When I’m asking at the library reference desk, chatting with the construction contractor with her iPad, or applying for a loan at the bank, I just peer over their shoulder a bit while they’re answering a question—not so much to be intrusive—and give a low little whistle at the mess on their screens. And out pours a litany of wasted hours and bug reports. Now I’ve made a friend. Good software makes work easier,…

5 min
i’ve heard this before

Then as now, the days heave with smoke and apocalypse, the howl of sirens. I am a child of rebellion. Which is to say, I know something of history’s violent fires and how they spread. I came of age in the 1990s, the era of Black prosperity, raised on the belief that if I worked twice as hard, stuck to the rules, I’d survive. But what I saw on TV said otherwise: Rodney King drew breath and was beaten into blood and pulp; the police who did it walked free. So this summer, as our present spiraled into our past, I went searching on YouTube for recordings of LA radio programs taped in the spring of ’92. I needed a reminder: We were here before, we would make it through again. I…

4 min
qanon’s genius

When QAnon emerged in 2017, the game designer Adrian Hon felt a shock of recognition. QAnon, as you very likely know, is the right-wing conspiracy theory that revolves around a figure named Q. This supposedly high-ranking insider claims that the deep state—an alleged cabal led by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros and abetted by decadent celebrities—is running a global child-sex-trafficking ring and plotting a left-wing coup. Only Donald Trump heroically stands in the way. It’s nonsense, of course. But what intrigued Hon was the style of nonsense. It is addictively participatory. Whenever Q posts about the conspiracy, he (or she or they) leaves clues—“Q drops”—on image boards like 8kun that are cryptic and open-ended. One in 2019, for example, read: “[C] BEFORE [D]. [C]oats BEFORE [D]. The month…

1 min
ghost me, for heaven’s sake

Please don’t complain to me about literally anything if you’ve touched human flesh since March. Being very single, I have not, and my Grubhub guy doesn’t want a hug. So I am doomed, instead, to online dating in the context of a pandemic. Let me walk you through the torture. It starts typically enough, with endless scrolling through profiles of now-offensively-irrelevant travel photos. No one asks “How’s it going?” anymore; the new opener is “Picked up any new hobbies?” I can’t help but respond: “No, unless you count screaming into the void.” If they find me cute-funny, we arrange a FaceTime or Zoom, the latter being preferable for its “Touch up my appearance” feature. We talk and misread glitching, pixel-blurred facial cues and, if all goes tolerably, make it to…

7 min
beautiful and butterfree

In the second half of 2016, two roads diverged in an online wood. Each wound through a universe populated by fabulous creatures. One was delightful. The other was morbid. One knew it was fantasy. The other was deadly serious, and some who ventured there ended up spoiling for civil war, committing violent crimes, and brandishing knives, guns, and bullwhips against their phantoms. The wise and good chose Pokémon Go, while the foolish and furious chose what came to be called QAnon. Or maybe it was just an accident. Maybe it didn’t matter what kind of person you were before you entered. After you were in, you were in; your reality became significantly augmented, not to say distorted or even obliterated. And while QAnon is the subject now of much analysis—including…