WIRED February 2018

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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2 min.
truth teller

IS AN IBM PROGRAMMER in the 1990s, Zeynep Tufekci started communicating on the company’s intranet and thought, “This will change everything.” Sure enough, on page 50, Tufekci grapples with how today’s social internet has completely transformed the context and conditions of free speech. A professor of information science and sociology at UNC Chapel Hill, Tufekci has become one of the most prescient analysts of politics in the age of Facebook, which she credits in part to her lifelong love of science fiction. “Speculative fiction is incredibly useful,” she says. Her latest book is Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest. When New York– based journalist Alice Gregory first heard about Yondr, a startup that makes fabric pouches designed to keep people from using their smartphones, she was…

3 min.
plugged in

IN OUR DECEMBER cover story, Brooke Jarvis recounted the astonishing, harrowing details of one of the few online harassment cases that has made it to court. John H. Richardson examined entrepreneur Bryan Johnson’s dream of augmenting the human brain with a device called a neuroprosthesis. Anna Wiener traveled to Germany to tour Adidas’ new Speedfactory, where the tech industry is both inspiration and existential threat. And in our January issue, Chris Jones spent time with a moonlighting meteorologist in Houston who guided the city through Hurricane Harvey. Re: “Me Living Was How I Was Going to Beat Him” “THIS IS, BY FAR, THE MOST INSANE STORY I’VE READ ON CYBERHARASSMENT.”Subrahmanyam KVJ (@SuB8u) on Twitter Re: “Me Living Was How I Was Going to Beat Him,” about the saga of Allen v. Zonis, a…

5 min.
twilight of the hackers no more shortcuts. it’s time to win the real way.

VIRGIL GRIFFITH discovered the allure of hacking in 1993, while slumped at an Intel 80386 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He was 10, and he was on a losing streak at Star Wars: X-Wing. To hit the leader board, he’d need a fleet of ace wingmen, but he only had one X-Wing fighter that could hold its own in the game’s World War I– style dogfights. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Digging around in the game’s code, Griffith found that each pilot had its own file, so he cloned his good fighter. Copy and paste, copy and paste, copy and paste—fully 20 times. This gave him, he told me years later, “a plentiful supply of the best wingmen from then on.” Players without Griffith’s workaround were out of luck. Those brave pilots,…

1 min.
true blood surgery-free biopsies

SILICON VALLEY is out for blood—and not just the rejuvenating blood of the young. Biomedical engineers are enthralled by the promise of liquid biopsies, noninvasive tests that detect and classify cancers by identifying the tiny bits of DNA that tumors shed into the bloodstream. Studies at leading cancer centers have already shown the technology’s effffectiveness in personalizing treatments after diagnosis. Now startups are selling VCs a vision of cheap, surgery-free cancer screening even before symptoms appear. ¶ Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, Verily, and others have invested $77 million in Freenome, which uses machine learning to pinpoint immune system responses that may indicate the presence of cancer. Freenome’s most prominent rival, Grail—which plans to harness next-generation gene sequencing to directly measure cancerous genomic alterations in the blood—raised $1.2 billion last year…

2 min.
crying games david cage finds power in pathos

DAVID CAGE SCOFFS at the notion that videogames are fun. “They should trouble you, move you, make you react,” he says. As founder of the studio Quantic Dream, the French developer has been stunning and confounding players for two decades with cinematic games that tackle heady issues of love, death, domestic abuse, oppression, and the afterlife. “Some people are shocked when a game evokes real-world issues,” he says. “But this platform is about becoming the characters, not just seeing them from the outside like in a film.” ¶ Detroit: Become Human, slated for release this spring, is the auteur’s most ambitious work yet. Cage wrote the game’s 2,000-page script and employed more than 250 motion capture actors. Set in Detroit, the future capital of AI manufacturing, the plot revolves around…

2 min.
the physics of flip and spin

BEHOLD THE STOMACH-CLENCHING spectacle of the quad cork 1800. The dizzying snowboarding trick—first landed by British Olympian Billy Morgan, above—involves catapulting off a ramp into four off-axis flips (called corks) and five full spins. Only four people have ever completed the 1,800-degree stunt. But this month in Pyeongchang, South Korea, expect to see more attempts as elite winter athletes compete in the Olympic debut of Big Air, an event in which boarders barrel off a 110-foot-tall ramp to perform seemingly impossible flips and spins. We enlisted physicist John Eric Goff, author of Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports, to break down the forces at play behind the quad cork 1800. 1 Launch Olympic boarders will accelerate down 240 feet of slope, 39 degrees at its steepest, before hurtling off the ramp.…