WIRED February 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.

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12 Números

en este número

2 min.
totally wired

In these hypertechnological days, so many thought cycles get expended on the quest for peacefulness, for silence. But silence isn’t always a salve. Lately I’ve been acutely indebted to a trio that keeps away the clamor of quiet: my earbuds, the podcast app, and the sleep timer. Everyone traverses dark times. And in those times, the darkest come at night. Yes, friend, even Ripley suffers in the night and feels dread in sonic absence. This particular period of unrest has me waking up intermittently, the silence granting entry to terrifying thoughts. Not the habits of a chronic optimist, but as mentioned: dark times. Blessings, then, to my tech trio. Thanks to them, I don’t need to contemplate the tough questions. When I wake up and the thoughts start to invade, I tuck…

1 min.
we asked contributors:

“DID YOU HAVE TO BROKER ANY PEACE WHILE WORKING ON THIS ISSUE?” “I tried to get a former intermediary for the CIA to talk to me for this story, but he wouldn’t budge, not even 50 years after the events described. Not even after asking really nicely!” —Contributor Shaun Raviv (page 56) “I wanted to think about softness—in particular, the premium put on the extreme, post-cashmere softness of new textiles like beechwood modal. Not only did that mean mentioning brand names with miracle fabrics (startups with too much capital and too many promises), it also meant confronting the consumerism that falls under ‘self-care.’ I can hate expensive softness and the soft, cheap part of me that craves it. And then I wanted to give myself a break and say we are all…

2 min.

In December, Brendan I. Koerner wrote about a rising star in the blockchain world whose unraveling culminated in his mysterious death. Angela Watercutter examined the magnetic attraction that the Jedi Rey and her “no-nonsense wardrobe” hold for women cosplayers. And in our January issue, Andy Green-berg followed a group of animal rights activists facing felony charges, who hope to present their jury with VR footage from inside a pig farm. Readers share their grief, costume struggles, and ire: RE: THE STRANGE LIFE AND MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF JEROLD HAAS Thank you for writing this. Jerold and I were online friends and fell out of touch over the years. Another friend sent me a link to your article today, which is how I first heard the news. A very sad story, but you did it…

6 min.
sinister softness

Heebie-jeebies is both the informal and the default technical term for a dysphoric response to an innocent-seeming stimulus. Styrofoam, celery, wicker: Something in these materials represents a sensorial crisis for certain human bodies. The primordial heebie-jeebies—revulsion perceived variously in the spine, the molars, the bristling of hairs on the back of the neck—are conjured best with images that beam the feeling straight to the flesh. “Fingernails on chalkboard” is the cliché (feel it now?), but there are other choices: “Fleece makes my skin crawl,” someone reported on a message board. “It makes my skin feel dirty and ticklish.” For me the words “hot, dry towels” reliably cause the very root of my tongue to … thicken and shudder. ▪ Softness, though equally subjective, at least gets that lovely old word,…

6 min.
the asmr cure

Last summer the candymaker Reese posted a feature-length video on YouTube called Reese the Movie. In a Reese-orange room, five popular YouTubers sit around a Reese-orange table and whisper into their headsets about the pleasures of peanut butter cups. They compare notes on the best way to open a Reese packet. (Cue amplified sounds of packets whooshing across the table and fingernails clicking on wrappers.) The candies topple free with the clunk of wooden blocks. The breathless council dismantles them, scooping into the cups with apple corers and smooshing them under spatulas, releasing soft, sliding squeaks like trampled snow. They slice them like bread, each chop cartoonishly loud. After 80 minutes, our protagonists come at last to the intended destiny of these fluted UFOs: They eat them. The end. ▪…

4 min.
life on the edge

Alexa, are you eavesdropping on me? ▪ I passive-aggressively ask my Amazon Echo this question every so often. Because as useful as AI has become, it’s also very creepy. It’s usually cloud-based, so it’s often sending snippets of audio—or pictures from devices like “smart” doorbells—out to the internet. And this, of course, produces privacy nightmares, as when Amazon or Google subcontractors sit around listening to our audio snippets or hackers remotely spy on our kids. ▪ The problem here is structural. It’s baked into the way today’s consumer AI is built and deployed. Big Tech firms all operate under the assumption that for AI to most effectively recognize faces and voices and the like, it requires deep-learning neural nets, which need hefty computational might. These neural nets are data-hungry, we’re…