ZINIO logo

WIRED UK July / August 2021

WIRED is the Magazine for smart, intellectually curious people who need and want to know what’s next. WIRED will always deliver stimulating and compelling content and stunning design and photography. If you want an inside track to the future, then WIRED is your magazine.

Read More
United Kingdom
Conde Nast Publications Ltd
6 Issues

in this issue

3 min
from catwalk to app: future fashionistas will rely on ai to help style that killer look

JULIE BORNSTEIN SPENT TWO YEARS QUIETLY building AI shopping app The Yes to launch it in March 2020. Then the pandemic struck and changed what people were wearing. “Right now we’re in a heavy comfort zone,” Bornstein says – tracksuit bottoms and work-from-home clothing. But as vaccines roll out, trends are expected to reverse. The Yes is like a clothing version of Tinder: it shows users garments from retailers’ sites – if you like what you see, tap “yes”. If not, tap “no”. But unlike Tinder, its selections improve – your likes and dislikes feed machine learning models to inform each personalised stream of items users can then buy. “AI is simply the ability to understand consumer behaviour and act on it,” says Bornstein, former chief operating officer of clothing subscription service…

2 min
joanna shields, benevolent ai: data & medicine

In January 2020, Joanna Shields, CEO of healthtech company Benevolent AI, asked her team to look into the Covid-19 epidemic emerging in Wuhan, China. “We pivoted our research towards understanding the body’s response to the virus,” Shields said at WIRED Health 2021. “The specialist team mobilised to identify existing drugs already proven safe that could treat the virus until we had a vaccine.” Benevolent’s natural language processing and relationship extraction algorithms were applied to the datasets of curated biomedical information about the virus that were being shared by researchers around the world. “The scientists focused first on identifying the mechanism by which the virus enters the cells,” Shields said. “Then they queried the platform for drugs that had properties that could inhibit viral entry, block viral replication and had an anti-inflammatory…

7 min
supermarkets must unwrap new solutions to packaging waste

SHRINK-WRAPPED CUCUMBERS, LARGE PLASTIC sacks filled with King Edward and Maris Piper potatoes, cakes and biscuits in shiny polypropylene film – a glance around a local supermarket reveals single-use-packaged goods lining every aisle. Unlike many retailers, the change in consumer shopping habits during the pandemic greatly benefitted the grocery sector. The demand for home delivery allowed UK supermarkets to return £2 billion in business rates relief and streamline their operations online. But it pushed the fight against single-use packaging to the sidelines. The government decided to suspend its 5p plastic bag charge for home deliveries in March 2020 to help reduce the risk of contamination and speed up deliveries. Supply chains weren’t able to cope with the demand for egg boxes made from cardboard pulp, so Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda temporarily…

6 min
digitizing deluxe

WeChat is often seen as China’s version of WhatsApp, but it’s used for more than group chats and sharing memes. The app, launched by Chinese tech behemoth Tencent in 2011 as Weixin – Mandarin for “micro message” – is now worth more than $500 billion. WeChat lets its users store their ID cards, hail taxis and even pay their mortgage via its ubiquitous app. Easy-to-play mini-games debuted on the platform in 2017; by 2020 there were 500 million active mini-gamers – half of WeChat’s user base – heralding the “mini-game era” of advertising, particularly when it comes to fashion. The industry saw transaction volumes through WeChat mini-programmes triple in 2020 compared to 2019, according to data released at the 2021 WeChat Open Class Pro conference. Now luxury brands are paying attention. Burberry,…

20 min
the mrna boom

NO ONE expected the first Covid-19 vaccine to be as good as it was. “We were hoping for 70 per cent,” says Ann Falsey, a professor of medicine at the University of Rochester, New York, who ran a 150-person trial site for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in 2020. Even Uğur Şahin, the co-founder and CEO of BioNTech, who had shepherded the drug from its earliest stages, had some doubts. All the preliminary laboratory tests looked good; since he saw them in June, he would routinely tell people that “immunologically, this is a near-perfect vaccine.” But that doesn’t always mean it will work against “the beast, the thing out there” in the real world. It wasn’t until November 9, 2020, three months into the final clinical trial, that he finally got the good…

4 min
we can’t allow big tech to rule our new virtual worlds

The global pandemic has pushed us all indoors and further online. We work, learn, live and play in virtual spaces and digital communities. Cryptocurrency-backed digital artworks – such as BEEPLE’s record-breaking Everydays: the First 5000 Days – witnessed a boom. We are marching toward what sci-fi author Neal Stephenson called “the Metaverse”: a global, interconnected galaxy of virtual worlds, avatars, online communities and mixed reality. But this new reality is already shaping up along the proprietary, monopolistic lines that have characterised the most recent phase of the internet’s evolution. The platforms where the Metaverse is being created have become walled gardens, centralised and controlled by corporate interests. Facebook owns WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus, giving them ownership of our friends, our behaviour, our gait, eye movement and emotional state. Google, Amazon and…