WIRED December 2018

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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 мин.
wired’s editorial fellows

Twice a year, wired welcomes a group of five editorial fellows to do everything from gear and photography research to fact-checking and video producing. The current crop, who depart at year’s end, have their fingerprints all over this issue. Reporting fellow Rebecca Heilweil writes about nonlethal weapons and 3D-printed body parts in the Alpha section, while products fellow Pia Ceres offers suggestions for holiday gifts in Wish List (page 35). Research fellow Kelsey Lannin fact-checked Tom Simonite’s story about the DIY AI movement (page 82), and photography fellow Halie Chavez shot three of the photos on this page. Finally, check out video fellow Briana Flin’s work on the debut of our video series, Tech Effects, available on WIRED.com and WIRED’S new streaming app. “You have to be OK with looking at…

2 мин.
the next 25

IN HONOR OF WIRED’S 25th birthday, our October issue engaged in a little reflective self-examination. But as ever, we also dared to predict what lies ahead, by assigning the task to 25 icons of the digital revolution and the people they believe will lead us into the future. Readers helped us sort the WIRED from the tired. Re: “The Future Was So Delicious, I Ate It All”: One obsessed academic sat down to read every issue of WIRED in chronological order. “SO YOU GUYS ARE PRETTY BIG FANS OF YOURSELVES, YEAH?”Shawn Putnam via WIRED.com “During the past year I really enjoyed WIRED. I found the introspective pessimism refreshing and the articles informative. But the latest issue, WIRED@25, reminded me of why I never liked the ‘militant optimism’ of WIRED and how it always…

4 мин.
follow the beaver

HAVING GNAWED THEIR way across the Bering Land Bridge with their iron-glazed teeth, beavers by the tens of millions straight-up built North America. They worked like rodent Romans, subjugating the deciduous forests with formidable infrastructure: canals, lodges, dams that can last centuries, and deep still-water pools used to float building materials. By clear-cutting trees and blocking streams, the nocturnal, semi-aquatic creatures also damaged the environment in some of the same ways humans do. Much later, beavers unexpectedly became the toast of a rarefied academic circle at the University of Toronto, where they inspired, of all things, media theory. In The Fur Trade in Canada, Harold Innis, a political economist known for originality and intellectual derring-do, chronicled a fierce four-way battle for domination of Canada from the 17th to the 20th centuries.…

2 мин.
it’s alive!

ELECTRONICS OFTEN DON’T mesh well with flesh and blood. Cochlear implants can irritate the scalp; pacemaker wires dislodge; VR headsets weigh heavily on the face. That’s why, for the past six years, Michael McAlpine has been Frankensteining alternatives. A mechanical engineer at the University of Minnesota, he creates prototypes of bionic body parts with nice, soft components—some of them alive. The key to his electro-organic organs is his custom-made 3D printer, which McAlpine loads with silicones, metals, and human cells sourced from the university’s med school. (They come in a gel-like culture so they stay happy and functional, he says, while they’re handled.) His 3D-printed “ear,” made by enveloping a coil antenna in living matter, requires electrically conductive silver nanoparticles and cartilage-forming cells, while his “spinal cord” calls for neuron-forming cells…

2 мин.
set to stun

WE MAY NEVER KNOW whether Cuba attacked American diplomats with microwave weapons—but we do know similar devices exist. The US Department of Defense’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, along with a host of private arms companies, has spent decades testing everything from long-range wireless Taser bullets to sonic guns that can disable a car engine from 150 feet away. The one requirement: These weapons must emit less than 10,000 joules, the amount of energy it takes to kill a person. Bombs incite wars, the thinking goes—but North Korea miiight forgive the “accidental discharge” of a directed-energy laser pulser (also, as it happens, in the works). 1. Laser-Induced Plasma Effect Still in the lab, this blaster employs two lasers. The first pulses on and off to dislodge atmospheric electrons and spin up plasma, while…

5 мин.
disinfo wars

WHEN ALEX JONES crashed the congressional hearings looking into big tech platforms back in September, Lord Voldemort kept coming to my mind. Even if you haven’t read the Harry Potter books, you probably know that almost no one in the wizarding world will speak this archvillain’s name aloud; he is referred to only as “he who must not be named” or “you know who.” In the final book, Voldemort puts a curse on the name, so that merely uttering it acts like a beacon for the wizard’s crew of Death Eaters. Eager to communicate something crucial about the evil lord’s latest plot to his friends, Harry at one point blurts out Voldemort’s name. What follows are many, many scary pages. Jones is a kind of real-world Voldemort. Speak his name to condemn…