In the beginning there was phone phreaking and worms. Then came spam and pop ups. And none of it was good. But in the nascent decades of the internet, digital networks were detached and isolated enough that the average user could mostly avoid the nastiest stuff. By the early 2000s, though, those walls started coming down, and digital crime boomed.
For a species that would like to see self-driving cars stick to the letter of the law, we humans don't make things easy. We let lane lines fade and stop signs fall down. We fail to mark speed limits and flag pop-up construction sites. For the most part, humans can handle this lack of clarity. For robots, it can be baffling.
Like many parents in the United States, Rob Glaser has been thinking a lot lately about how to keep his kids from getting shot in school. Specifically, he's been thinking of what he can do that doesn't involve getting into a nasty and endless battle over what he calls "the g-word." It's not that Glaser opposes gun control. A steady Democratic donor, Glaser founded the online streaming giant RealNetworks back in the 1990s as a vehicle for broadcasting left-leaning political views. It's just that any conversation about curbing gun rights in America tends to lead more to gridlock and finger-pointing than it does to action.
Amazon Prime Day, our unofficial national summer shopping holiday, can be a little overwhelming. We've winnowed down our picks in a few niche categories to help you get the best prices on some of the most expensive gear around. For your shopping pleasure, we've selected some of the best home, outdoors, and lifestyle gear that you'll find on Amazon for Prime Day. Take a look at all of our best Prime Day deals here. Browse our full list of Prime Day Deals here, and check out the discounts you can find on Amazon Devices here.
The modern TV experience is an odd combination of technological advancements and drawbacks. Thanks to streaming video, we have more content options than ever; thanks to advances in displays, our TVs can be as thin as pencils. Sound quality, however, has suffered; the physics of flat-panel televisions are hardly conducive to booming audio. Roku knows this, and has a plan to improve the sound on the TVs that come with its Roku software built in: The company is going to start selling speakers. The Silicon Valley-based maker of streaming boxes, sticks, and software has just announced a two-speaker bundle, called the Roku TV Wireless Speakers.
Every so often, WIRED gets to take a good, long sojourn behind the scenes, to observe what the people we write about are doing all day. This was one of those nice weeks. Editor Alex Davies hopped a plane to Winnemucca, an isolated mining town in northern Nevada that's hosting Alphabet's latest moonshot: its effort to spread the gospel of internet via broadcasting balloons. Senior writer Jessi Hempl got under Uber's hood after the announcement that HR chief Liane Hornsey--the woman brought in to fix the unicorn's culture--resigned for improperly handling allegations of racial discrimination. Contributor Wendy Dent got the scoop on Elon Musk's attempt to build some kind of vehicle that would help the Thai youth soccer team escape a cave complex.
André Prager turns away from me for a moment, rummaging through a pile of stuff on the cart he has pulled into the small conference room. There are lots of cut-up pieces of cardboard, with a few bags of colorful plastic odds and ends mixed in. "I think the most valuable things in this building are cardboard and tape," he says. He shows me a rectangle of foam-core with a straw, a broken pen, and a few thumb tacks stuck to it. It looks like junk, but because we're at 100 Mayfield Avenue in Mountain View, California, the headquarters of X, Alphabet's secretive division dedicated to cranking out new Googles, it's actually anything but.
Slime molds are among the world's strangest organisms. Long mistaken for fungi, they are now classed as a type of amoeba. As single-celled organisms, they have neither neurons nor brains. Yet for about a decade, scientists have debated whether slime molds have the capacity to learn about their environments and adjust their behavior accordingly. Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences.
Many people like to run their robovacs at night or while they're at work. I choose to run ours while I'm awake, right after dinner and while we're putting the kids to bed. First off, I don't see any reason to walk around all evening with crumbs sticking to the bottoms of my feet if I don't have to. But I've also found that most robot vacuums will require rescue, which means you have to be awake or around. If you're sufficiently pressed for time and energy that you need a robot vacuum, you're probably not being as diligent as you could be about eliminating botvac booby traps, like tiny doll socks or stray shoelaces.
Congress is finally turning its attention to Silicon Valley. And it's not hard to understand why: Technology impinges upon every part of our civic sphere. We've got police using AI to determine which neighborhoods to patrol, Facebook filtering the news, and automation eroding the job market. Smart policy could help society adapt. But to tackle these issues, congressfolk will first have to understand them.