WIRED UK Sep/Oct 2019

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United Kingdom
Conde Nast Publications Ltd
6 期号


creating wired

INTELLIGENT SPACE Jason Madara donned a hard-hat, safety boots and hi-viz to get this shot of DeepMind staffers Praveen Srinivasan, Drew Purves and Raia Hadsell standing in what will, eventually, be the AI firm’s new King’s Cross HQ: “I love the ‘organised chaos’ of construction sites, so I wanted to make the photography dramatic and graphic, but also super simple, with a focus on the subjects. I used Helmut Newton as my muse–create drama with a single, hard key-light and no ambient lighting,” says Madara, who also shot the cover image of DeepMind co-founder, Demis Hassabis. “I had seen a lot of portraits of Demis, but nothing that felt iconic. I wanted him to look like a giant in his field.” BALANCING ACT Photographer Joe McGorty showed off some serious Jenga skills on…

upskilling is the future — but it must work for everyone

Automation and job displacement will be one of the most significant challenges for the global economy of the coming decades. A 2017 McKinsey report estimated that 375 million workers – 14 per cent of the global workforce – will need to switch occupational categories by 2030. This is comparable to the shift from agricultural economic models to industrial ones in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In one of the most cited papers on the subject, The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?, Carl Frey and Michael Osborne from the University of Oxford estimated 47 per cent of total US employment to be at risk. The impact of technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics is a hot research subject: a paper published in July this year…

the detectives of deforestation

THE DETECTIVES OF DEFORESTATION Destruction of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has reached the highest levels in a decade – but tracking such activity is challenging, not least because of the size of the forest itself. The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) uses Landsat satellite images to monitor forest cover and trigger alerts when changes are suspected – but at a resolution of just 30 metres, it’s hard to pinpoint the actual cause. “To send an anti-deforestation task force to areas falsely flagged as logged is costly,” says Pontus Olofsson, an associate research professor at Boston University who uses satellite images to study deforestation around the world. Now, MapBiomas, a network of universities, tech companies and NGOs, has found a way to track illegal deforestation in near real-time. Its platform…

rewriting the genetic rules

The lexicon of life is so limited. If only scientists could expand its repertoire of building blocks, they could revolutionise our ability to build huge, complex proteins that could lead to a new generation of drugs. All living things on Earth are built from proteins created from the same 20 amino acids. Now, scientists at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, are getting closer to developing polymers composed of new amino acids. Of the 400-plus scientists currently working in the laboratory, the largest space is reserved for a team run by Jason Chin, which has assembled tools to synthesise polymers far beyond the complexity of anything currently made by chemists. Chin’s team has done this by redesigning the ribosome – a molecular factory found in all living cells that…

80s nostalgia gets puppet-powered

In the cavernous warehouses of Langley Studios in Slough, Berkshire, a fantastical world is taking root. Luscious forests sprout from wooden stages, inhabited by mysterious creatures large and small. The planet Thra is back. Thirty-seven years after The Dark Crystal, Frank Oz and Muppets creator Jim Henson’s cult puppet film, the world they created returns in a Netflix Originals series launching on August 30. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a prequel to the 1982 film, pits peaceful Gelfling creatures against the evil, vulture-like Skeksis, with the fate of Thra at stake. As in the original, all the characters are played by puppets (and voiced by a cast including Taron Egerton and Anya Taylor-Joy). “We’re bringing back an old technique and an in-camera, physical effect that you haven’t seen in a long…

amal clooney’s app of justice

Courts are meant to rectify society’s imbalances, and offer redress against abuses of power. Yet many governments use the judiciary to silence critics and minorities. “Illegitimate judicial proceedings are increasingly used as a ‘rule of law’ shield to fend off legitimate criticism,” says David Pressman, executive director of the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ) and a former US special ambassador to the UN. Rogue states are using courts to have rivals prosecuted on spurious grounds and imprisoned arbitrarily. No system exists to monitor the fairness of trials around the world: some receive media attention, others are followed only by local activists. To bridge this gap, the CFJ (founded by George and Amal Clooney in June 2016) set up TrialWatch in April 2019, to train individuals in the basics of trial-monitoring, and to…