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WIRED July/August 2019

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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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United States
Conde Nast US
R 115,92
R 435,09
12 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
totally wired

Sunday nights find me not in the bosom of frivolity but at home, splayed on the sectional, shushing proximate noisemakers. Humans, animals, Alexas—be still! Fresh episodes of HBO shows are arriving, weekly brushes with a kind of divine, and they deserve an absolute, a religious silence. My sanctuary is simple. Along the walls, a sextet of smart sconces, dimmed via app to a lutescent movie-theater glow. On the credenza, an expansive television, positioned at optimal distance and viewing angle relative to its size. Finally, perched down in front, that which completes the picture, mon précieux: the sound bar. Papa Light, dearest father, you knew. You knew, when you came back from one of your divagations through Best Buy and “surprised” me with this mesh-encased yardstick of sonic enlargement, that my ears had…

1 min.
“what was the biggest challenge you encountered while working on this issue?”

“A big question, especially from the perspective of the #MeToo era, was why victims in this story didn’t feel they could speak up more. Very few people were willing to discuss this case with an outsider. I tried every student I could find; I contacted teachers, guidance counselors, and former school staff. Eventually I got some responses. Their insights helped me understand a lot more about why these girls would’ve chosen to stay quiet.”—Stephanie Clifford, “I’ve Never Felt So Alone in My Life,” page 86 “When I came back from visiting the set of The Lion King and described it to coworkers, they reacted as if I were speaking Esperanto. The movie looks like live action, but it’s actually CGI, even though it was filmed in the style of a live-action…

2 min.
missed connections

“FACEBOOK, WHERE THINGS ARE GOING WRONG IN WAYS THAT HAVE NEVER BEFORE IN HUMAN HISTORY BEEN POSSIBLE.”—Parker Higgins (@xor), via Twitter RE: “15 MONTHS OF FRESH HELL INSIDE FACEBOOK” “I jumped onto FB in 2009. It was a great way to connect to friends I had lost touch with, and easy to send photos of my kids to family. Then it became overwhelming: too much information about other people’s kids, FarmVille, and random diatribes. And that was before fake news and Russian interference. I’ve also seen how the US government and corporations use publicly available information. It is morally ambiguous territory. But I kept my account for years. Why? Laziness: the convenience of logging in to sites without creating a new username and password. Then I read your article. I laughed at…

6 min.
being and instagram

The earnest vanity that serves as the engine of Instagram seems generally harmless, sweetly human. The app’s natural topics are babies and gardens, sexiness and ease, wistfulness and longing. At its best—if you follow no celebrities, just people you’re fond of—it’s a castle on a cloud, where nobody shouts or talks too loud. And I’ll be damned if Instagram’s soft focus, and even the odd lurch into blessedness, doesn’t lower my defenses to advertising. The atmospherics of the joint just get me in the mood to shop. Lately I find myself blowing past the images of friends and yielding to the seductions of multinationals and over-funded startups. Travel clothes that fold up into the size of a deck of cards. A posture pillow that increases one’s airflow, improves productivity, and fosters…

5 min.
false promise

Online fakery runs wide and deep, but you don’t need me to tell you that. New species of digital fraud and deception come to light almost every week, if not every day: Russian bots that pretend to be American humans. American bots that pretend to be human trolls. Even humans that pretend to be bots. Yep, some “intelligent assistants,” promoted as advanced conversational AIs, have turned out to be little more than digital puppets operated by poorly paid people. ▪ The internet was supposed to not only democratize information but also rationalize it—to create markets where impartial metrics would automatically surface the truest ideas and best products, at a vast and incorruptible scale. But deception and corruption, as we’ve all seen by now, scale pretty fantastically too. ▪ According to…

3 min.
are you for real?

Every stranger’s face hides a secret, but the smiles in this crowd conceal a big one: These people do not exist. They were generated by machine learning algorithms, for the purposes of probing whether AI-made faces can pass as real. (Call it a Turing beauty contest.) University of Washington professors Jevin West and Carl Bergstrom generated thousands of virtual visages to create Which Face Is Real?, an online game that pairs each counterfeit with a photo of a real person and challenges players to pick out the true human. Nearly 6 million rounds have been played by half a million people. These are some of the faces that players found most difficult to identify as the cheery replicants they are. The faces were made using a technique invented in 2018 by…