WIRED UK Mar / Apr 2018

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United Kingdom
Conde Nast Publications Ltd
6 期号


creating wired

WIRED in the seat of power Never let it be said that we don’t allow our editor to leave his desk: in November, Greg Williams was dispatched to Number 10 to quiz Prime Minister Theresa May on the government’s pre-budget announcement of a series of measures to support innovation and technology. “There was a reception afterwards for people in the UK tech scene, who were mingling with senior government ministers,” Williams reports. “It was reminiscent of the days of the coalition, when digital entrepreneurs were regularly welcomed to Downing Street. It was only three or four years ago, but it feels like a very different time.” Daniel Simon Daniel Simon, chief design officer for Roborace, adorned one of its self-driving racecars with a custom WIRED wrap: “We use cross sections during the car…

china’s tech revolution is only just starting

A few months ago, I stumbled across a line in a business title that stopped me in my tracks: at that point, 15 Chinese startups had reached unicorn status that year alone; effectively, 30 per cent of the world’s billion-dollar companies were created in China in 2017. The relentless nature of a news cycle dominated by the commotion of Trump and Brexit has served to mask the potent undertow of what is likely to prove the most significant shift of this century – namely, the transfer of global power from the west to China. As political turmoil transpires elsewhere, China is re-shaping the world around trade, economics and technology, placing itself firmly at the centre. The difference between China and other leading nation states is that it doesn’t seek to export its…


Central Utah’s farming hotspot This black expanse might look like freshly laid Tarmac, but it’s actually the youngest volcanic rock in Utah. Of course, where lava is concerned, youth is relative: the rock is 800 years old; centuries older than the nearby farms in Millard County, Utah. Called the Ice Springs Flow, the rock is composed of basalt lava up to 60 metres thick, stemming from the nearby Tabernacle Hill volcano. The Ice Springs Flow takes its name from the caves beneath it. “You can climb down and see ice in the middle of summer,” says Jim Davis, a geologist at the Utah Geological Survey. The lava flow has been inactive for 660 years, but it is expected to erupt again one day. The local farmers, meanwhile, plough on regardless: “They don’t give it…

the british couple who took on google – and won

Google was guilty. The European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, made that brutally clear. “Google abused its market dominance,” Vestager declared as she announced her judgement in Brussels on June 27, 2017. She handed Google a £2.1 billion fine – the largest antitrust penalty ever handed to a single company, and gave it 90 days to change its ways. Watching the livestream 500 metres away in the Thon Hotel EU, Adam and Shivaun Raff shared a smile of relief. It had been 11 gruelling years since they realised Google was deliberately demoting their price comparison website, Foundem, in search results. Eight years since they brought their complaint to the European Commission, becoming the first plaintiffs in the case against the search firm (others include Yelp, Expedia and Deutsche Telecom.) Now, at…

microbes with an expressionist streak

Artist Sarah Roberts works with millions of tiny helpers: microbes. In Painting with Bacteria, a collaboration with Simon Park, a molecular biologist at the University Of Surrey, she introduced the organisms to watercolours, resulting in swirling paintings blurred with colour. “We are constantly in contact and communication with microbes, but we aren’t really aware of them,” says Roberts. “I wanted to get to know bacteria in a more conscious, direct and visceral way; to approach them as if they were other people or bigger animals – as if we might be able to arrive at something resembling a common language.” Edinburgh-based Roberts has an interest in biology: her work and influences range from botanical illustration to slime mould. The bacteria project grew from listening to lectures and podcasts such as This…

how energy went off-grid

THE PROBLEM The United Nations estimates that by 2050, two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. As a result, the demand for energy in urban areas will increase dramatically. Can the old infrastructure grow fast enough to meet demand? How might we decentralise power generation, moving it closer to the residents who need it? THE SOLUTION Charlotte Slingsby and her startup Moya Power are researching piezoelectric textiles that gain energy from movement. It seems logical that Slingsby originally came from a city with a reputation for being windy: “In Cape Town, wind is an energy source that you cannot ignore,” says the 27-year-old, who now lives in London. Thanks to her home city, she also knows about power failures. That’s why she came up with the idea of not only…