WIRED May 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.
nuclear witness

What’s it like to be inside a nuclear reactor? LA-based photographer Spencer Lowell found out when he visited the site of the 2011 meltdown in Fukushima, Japan (page 68). In a full Tyvek suit, gloves, and mask, Lowell stood beneath a massive steel structure where fission reactions once took place. “It was surreal,” he says. “It’s generally something that you don’t even get to go near, never mind go inside.” The enormity of the reactor, and the eerie emptiness of the surrounding towns, left Lowell awed by the monumental catastrophe. “I’ve always been a proponent of nuclear energy,” he says. “But you see something like this, and you question whether it’s really worth it.” When Brooklyn-based writer Amanda Schaffer first learned that a startup was conducting rogue clinical trials for a…

5 min.
team of rivals we are all soldiers in the war against ourselves

OVER THE PAST three years, America’s information ecosystem has proven easy pickings for anyone with a fistful of VPN connections and a sweatshop of kids playing World of Troll-craft. Whatever precise effects Russian interference had on the 2016 election, it finished off both social media’s innocence and traditional media’s authority. But Americans, as of now, have nowhere else to turn. The habits of the library and the newsstand, to say nothing of pre-digital social life, are lost to us. Instead, we’re stalled in the data smog that hangs over social media and search engines. Sometimes we confront trolls, bots, phish, spam, and malware head-on; sometimes we meet trollspeak in memes parroted by real people. But the sanctity of our reason is routinely violated online. BOTS HAVE EQUANIMITY WHEN IT COMES TO CONTESTED…

1 min.
auto subscribe the car of the month

PEOPLE SEEKING a set of wheels traditionally had two options: buy or lease. But the advent of ride hailing turned the next generation of drivers into backseat riders. Now app-based subscriptions—think car sharing that’s paid by the month, not the hour—are vying for consumers who fall between Uber addicts and car owners. ¶ Car sharing is projected to grow globally from 5.8 million users in 2015 to 35 million by 2021, according to Boston Consulting Group. “If we’re right, nobody’s going to borrow money to buy a car again,” says Scott Painter, CEO of car-subscription startup Fair. He has reason to be bullish: His company has secured more than $1 billion in funding since 2016. The service connects drivers to used cars at dealerships nationwide, bundling warranty, maintenance, roadside assistance,…

2 min.
edible devices fusing food and tech

FOOD DOESN’T ALWAYS pair so well with tech. The former is comforting and cultural, the latter cold and commercial. Lab-grown meat, transgenic crops, desserts extruded from the nozzles of 3-D printers: not exactly fodder for nostalgic childhood memories. ¶ But why not? asks Swedish designer Erika Marthins. “People often see technology as something alien,” she says. “But if you’re eating it, maybe that can help you understand it better.” Working with engineers and scientists, Marthins uses tech to add motion, sound, and visuals to food. She’s not suggesting anyone ingest metal or wires—but how about a lick of an augmented lollipop? There’s a secret message encoded on its surface by an algorithm. Or consider her robot gummies that wiggle on the plate. Soft robots are often made with silicone; her…

2 min.
songs in the key of ai

MUSIC WRITTEN by teams, David Byrne once wrote, is arguably more accessible than that written by a sole composer. Collaborations, he mused, may result in more “universal” sentiments. But what if your partner isn’t human at all, but artificial intelligence? Now music producers are enlisting AI to crank out hits. Style Counsel Created by Sony’s Computer Science Laboratories, Flow Machines analyzes tracks from around the world, then suggests scores that artists—including electropop musician ALB and jazz vocalist Camille Bertault—interpret into songs. For its debut album, Hello World, the AI also surveyed syllables and words from existing music to create original (albeit gibberish) vocals. Recommended track: The Beatles inspired “Daddy’s Car” Mood Music Jukedeck was originally developed to compose background tracks for user generated videos; now it’s being adopted by K-pop stars like Kim Bo-hyung…

1 min.
hybrid gadgets, from pointless to (sort of) promising

Intel Vaunt Smart Glasses Conveniently projects notifications directly onto your retinas. For: Inveterate Glassholes CareOS Health & Beauty Hub Mirror Plays beauty tutorials and takes hands-free selfies. For: “Influencers” Colgate E1 Smart Electronic Toothbrush Maps your mouth and critiques your sluggish brushing technique. For: Mouth-breathers L’Oreal UV Tattoos and Nail Decals Detect deadly rays, look cute. For: Swedes, gingers, gamers Somnox Robot Cuddle Pillow Regulates your breathing to induce zzz’s. For: Anxious spooners Raven Dashboard Camera Monitors snogging/brawling/unconscious backseat passengers while navigating traffic. For: Chuck, silver Prius, 3.8 stars Petrics Smart Pet Bed Tracks your pup’s weight, temperature, and naps. For: Paunchy pooches LG InstaView ThinQ Fridge Makes grocery lists, reads recipes, and, uh, plays music. For: Bachelors…