WIRED November 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.

United States
Conde Nast US
12 Issues

in this issue

3 min
totally wired

“You earn public confidence in small drops,” warned former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb in August, when the agency overstated the effects of convalescent plasma as a treatment for Covid-19. “And you lose it in buckets.” Others share his sense that people’s faith in scientific leadership may be foundering. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, sees widespread suspicion of the process as “a looming problem” for the release of a vaccine. Bioethicist Zeke Emanuel worries that we’ve fallen into a “fever of distrust.” I’m not so sure they’re right. Most data point the other way, toward the opposite problem: Public trust in science has been so unwavering in recent decades, so impervious to scandal or discredit, that it seems more apt to worry about whether members…

3 min
rants and raves

For our September issue, Jason Parham wrote about how TikTok thrives upon—and exploits—its Black creators. Daniel Duane traced San Francisco’s successful pandemic response back to hard-won lessons from the HIV/AIDS crisis. Jack Hitt profiled an Ohio IT specialist—and his data-driven efforts to restore voting rights to citizens unduly purged from the rolls. And Yiren Lu gained more personal insight than she bargained for at a seminar for entrepreneurs in Beijing. Readers share their thoughts on race and health care, and their insights from overseas. RE: “SPREADSHEET PATRIOT” “Patriots come in all types and walks of life. None of us is as smart as all of us.”—Hanlon’s Razor (@danemadsen), via Twitter RE: STOLEN MOMENTS TikTok, like Vine before it, is a fertile ground for young Black creatives to cut their teeth. As Tr*mp interferes with the…

7 min
clean conscience

All through the fall my head was spinning, and I steered into the spin by watching Fast, Cheap & Out of Control. Errol Morris’ rhapsodic 1997 documentary about a bunch of monomaniacs features a xylophone-heavy score and the roboticist Rodney Brooks. I wanted to hear Brooks dilate on robots in his cosmic way again. As it happens, this fall had also seemed like the right time to clean the hell out of my apartment. To that end, I bought a Roomba, the blockbuster robovac Brooks coinvented in 2002, five years after he went public in the Morris movie with his theories of what robots ought and ought not to be. Among his most famous aphorisms: “Robots are good at very simple things like cleaning the floor.” So while Roomba purred…

4 min
your course catalog

Welcome back to the e-Portal, [STUDENT]! We hope you enjoyed the summer protests and return ready to continue your learning journey under the guidance of our nine tenured professors and their 70,000 adjunctbots. We’ve used your current facial expression to select classes to match your mood. As always, we believe that education is key to an enlightened life and affirm that an advanced degree is critical to winning one of the non-inherited spots in the annual job assignment lottery and avoiding the National Service kelp camp draft. Good luck! Millennial Gerontology. Caring for senescent members of the millennial generation carries special challenges. To gain empathy for this cohort, we will divide into “hives” and use Facebook simulators. We will also review critical texts such as Vox explainers and the poetry of…

4 min
surveillance u

When Haley, a sophomore at Indiana University, took a test for an accounting class in September, she—like many college students during this pandemic—was sitting not in a classroom but in her bedroom. And instead of a teacher watching for signs of cheating, there was something new: an AI, studying Haley’s every move through her laptop’s webcam. The university was conducting remote exams using Respondus, a type of “online proctoring” software. The software locks down a student’s desktop so they can’t switch tabs to Google an answer, and then it uses visual AI to examine—among other things—their head movements to judge whether they’re looking somewhere other than at the screen. Haley’s head was setting off alarms. “I guess I slouch when I’m sitting,” she tells me, so at one point the…

1 min
angry nerd

DO MORE EVIL The heroes of my youth—J. K. Rowling, Pizza Hut, and most of all Disney—are the villains of my adulthood. This is only natural for a curmudgeon of my caliber; to mature is to make enemies. To learn, in other words, to vilify. What’s unnatural is the reverse process: heroization. This I never do, and not just because I can barely pronounce it. The very act arrests development. So of course the Walt Disney Company excels at it. Once a minter of great heroes, it’s lately sunk to the business of heroizing great villains. You remember Maleficent, eidolon of evil, dragon lady writ literal? In not one but two pop-feminist productions, Disney has defanged and unwinged her. The only thing edgy about nu-Maleficent is Angelina Jolie’s cheekbones. Being an…