WIRED UK October 2017

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United Kingdom
Conde Nast Publications Ltd
6 期号


creating wired

John Beck travelled to Mosul with photographer Cengiz Yar (left) to report on the city’s liberation from Daesh. In addition to boobytrapped roads and buildings, the pair also had to contend with the stifling heat. “Iraqi summers are tough,” Beck explains. “Temperatures were already higher than 40°C in Mosul when we began reporting this piece in early June. It was Ramadan and the soldiers we followed continued to battle Daesh without eating or drinking from dawn until sunset. We fasted too when we were with them, sharing a huge meal at night. The fighting was concentrated in the city’s western bank, which was only accessible via dirt roads, a pontoon bridge and numerous checkpoints. We wouldn’t have made it there at all if it weren’t for the charm, skill and…

the wired perspective on the world has become the norm

A few months ago, we noticed a notable trend in our web-traffic data: stories with a political aspect were extremely popular with readers. Perhaps this isn’t surprising; today’s news cycle – from the chaos of Brexit to the shambles in the White House, the tragedy of Grenfell to an iceberg twice the size of Luxembourg breaking away from the Antarctic ice shelf – is relentlessly political and possesses an existential urgency. At one point, it seemed that liberal democracy was cruising towards comfortable middle age. The world order had been established and we were edging in the direction of greater freedoms and equality, some of it driven by increased access to technology. Sometimes progress was dramatic but, more often, it was simply the direction of travel, pulled inexorably in one direction…

crossrail countdown

ENGINEERING Below Tottenham Court Road in central London, engineers are adding the final touches – escalators, ticketing booths and signalling – to a station that will accommodate 170,000 passengers a day. This is part of Europe’s largest infrastructure project: the £14.8 billion Elizabeth line, also known as Crossrail. “The existing infrastructure in London was built 150 years ago and it was never intended or envisioned that it would cater for about ten million people,” says Camilla Barrow, deputy project manager of rail systems at Crossrail ENGINEERING To get to this point, eight 150-metre-long tunnel boring machines (TBMs) carved a 21km rail network at a rate of 100 metres a week, manned 24 hours a day by 20 people. Six TBMs tunnel through city clay; another two are slurry machines, which mix excess earth…

language barriers

LINGUISTICS WHO Jennifer Eberhardt, social psychologist WHAT “We’re looking at police body-cam footage because we want to improve, not just tense encounters, but everyday interactions” NEXT Video analysis of police body language “Hey, man,” says the officer sauntering up to your car. The nonchalant greeting might seem insignificant – but it’s not. If you’re white, that police officer is statistically more likely to lead with “Hello, sir.” Jennifer Eberhardt, a social psychologist at Stanford University, heads a team of computational linguists, engineers and computer scientists, which is developing speech- recognition and transcript-analysis software for policing. Using machine intelligence, the system scans transcripts from body-camera footage to recognise patterns of racial disparity. Eberhardt refined her computational tools during a two-year study of the Oakland Police Department, scrutinising more than 36,000 statements from traffic stops. The resulting data…

garden cities

DATAVIZ Researchers are already using satellite imagery to estimate the number of trees in cities, but Newsha Ghaeli, a research associate at MIT’s Senseable City Lab, wanted to analyse residents’ perspectives. She called her analysis Treepedia. “It’s important to understand the amount of trees and canopy cover from the street, as that’s what we perceive to be in cities,” Ghaeli says. To create the greenery maps, her team feeds images from Google Street View into an algorithm that estimates what percentage of each image consists of trees. Plotting these scores on a map determines the leafiness of each street. The results can be combined to give each city a score. The data set for London consisted of two million images. Lower amounts of city greenery have been linked with higher stress levels,…

a clearer road ahead

Austin Russell helps cars see. As he drives past London’s Hyde Park, he flicks between two screens – one showing what a standard autonomous car can see and the other showing what his car can see. Everything is visible, from the leaves on the trees and the people inside double-decker buses, to a man stamping out his cigarette on the side of the road. “For the first time, you can see in really high resolution where objects are in the landscape,” Russell explains. Russell is the 22-year-old founder and CEO of Luminar Technologies. He has recently pulled the Florida-based company out of stealth mode after five years building a Light Detecting and Ranging (LiDAR) system for self-driving cars. Russell started building his company, which now employs 200 people,before he was old…