WIRED


We Know How 'Valerian' Got Made--But Not Why It Failed

WIRED

This is a not-so-secret secret of print magazine features: The lead time of monthly magazines like WIRED means that the journalism is often done before the film. So I wrote a story more about Besson and the weirdness of international film financing. Valerian's Biggest PR Problem: It Did Everything First Luc Besson's Valerian Is Exactly What Hollywood Needs Right Now And I think the answer is: kind of. As for the former, well, maybe the cable viewing audience of 2037 will be able to answer that with a click.


Antivirus for Android Has Terrible Track Record

WIRED

Taking on the mindset of an attacker, the researchers built a tool called AVPass that works to smuggle malware into a system without being detected by antivirus. So in creating AVPass, the researchers started by developing methods for defeating defensive algorithms they could access (like those created for academic research or other open-source projects) and then used these strategies as the basis for working out attacks against proprietary consumer antivirus--products where you can't see the code powering them. To test the 58 Android antivirus products and figure out what bypasses would work against each of them, the researchers used a service called VirusTotal, which attempts to identify links and malware samples by scanning them through a system that incorporates dozens of tools, and offering results about what each tool found. Before this reconnaissance, the team developed a feature for AVPass called Imitation Mode, which shields the test samples submitted for antivirus scanning so the snippets themselves wouldn't be identified and blacklisted.


'Rick and Morty' Is Actually Righteous Science Fiction

WIRED

"Even if you took all of the humor out of it, and told it just as a straight, serious science fiction story, it's a good enough story on its own to get published in a science fiction magazine," he says. Listen to the complete interview with John Joseph Adams, Matt London, and Carli Velocci in Episode 265 of Geek's Guide to the Galaxy (above). But I think that with Season 2 having so much character work involved with all this other crazy science fiction stuff, I think that'll definitely drive it going forward. So I think it's interesting watching Rick and Morty become a thing, and watching people who don't normally engage in cartoons because they're'for children' or'for stoners in college' or whatever, watch it and get a glimpse of it and realize that it's a very smart show."


More Women Are Learning Computer Science! Now, About Those Jobs…

WIRED

In 2017, largely thanks to a new test aimed at expanding the reach of engineering classes, female participation in these AP tests increased at a faster rate than young boys' participation on the exam in 2017. "I'm delighted to hear that more female, black, and Latino students are taking AP computer science," says Rachel Thomas, a deep learning researcher and advocate for diversity. 'It is a total smoke screen when major tech companies celebrate this news while continuing to fail to address their own toxic environments.' "I think it is a total smoke screen when major tech companies celebrate Code.org's Worse yet, seeing improvements in diversity doesn't mean the trend will hold.


lyft-self-driving-game

WIRED

Conventional wisdom on self-driving used to go like this: A smart tech company, like Google's Waymo, writes the self-driving software. Today, Lyft announced it's getting into the self-driving business, launching its own unit to build autonomous vehicle software and hardware. Until today, Lyft's strategy seemed to hinge on hopping between carmakers like General Motors and tech companies like Waymo, striking deals that would put autonomous vehicles on the Lyft platform. Now lots of hardware companies use Android as their operating systems, and Google phones are still around.


IBM's Watson Won Jeopardy! But Can It Win the New AI Biz?

WIRED

Last week, investment bank Jefferies released a report warning shareholders not to expect IBM's investments in AI to repay themselves; Watson, it said, risks being eclipsed by competing AI platforms from Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. In fact, like all the AI systems in use today, Watson needs to be carefully trained with example data to take on a new kind of problem. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made so-called "cognitive services" a central part of his effort to build up Microsoft's cloud business. The Mountain View juggernaut has even set up a unit of engineers that work with cloud customers to build up machine learning and AI projects, a model with echoes of IBM's own services business.


A Keen-Eyed Robot Goes to Work for a Paralyzed Veteran

WIRED

With the assistance of its human handlers, the Human Support Robot, as Toyota calls it, wheeled into Camargo's home on a mission: to support the quadriplegic veteran and in the process pave the way for truly useful care robots. Even if you're working with a cookie-cutter floor plan in a McMansion development, what's inside the home is changing day by day or hour by hour. And for the time being, it has to identify objects in Camargo's home using QR codes. After getting good grasp, the robot makes its way back to Camargo.


It's Time for Amazon to Make a Phone Again. Seriously

WIRED

Make a pretty good product at a compelling price, give it a marquee banner ad on the homepage, and watch the sales roll in. It doesn't take a Spielbergian imagination to picture it: A $99 AmazonBasics phone–the "Fire Phone" branding is still toxic at this point anyway–preferably running stock Android with a thick Alexa patina, but all Google services intact. Amazon has 80 million Prime subscribers, according to recent research from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. Confidence that Prime members will spend more in the long run allows Amazon to offer Prime benefits on the cheap: Emmy-winning streaming video, two-day shipping, unlimited photo storage, and much more as part of the base package; a streaming music service that undercuts Spotify; steeply discounted diapers.


elon-forget-killer-robots-focus-on-the-real-ai-problems

WIRED

And he called for the establishment of a new government regulator that would force companies building artificial intelligence technology to slow down. People who spend more time working on artificial intelligence than the car, space, and solar entrepreneur say his eschatological scenarios risk distracting from more pressing concerns as artificial intelligence technology percolates into every industry. His propensity for raising sci-fi scenarios comes despite being very directly exposed to some of the near-term questions raised by artificial intelligence. We might also fear the risk of apocalyptic talk preventing awareness that society has more immediate AI problems to work on too.


A Son's Race to Give His Dying Father Artificial Immortality

WIRED

The computer is set up to run a program called Eliza--an early chatbot created by MIT computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum in the mid-1960s. But where Eliza's script was written by a single dour German computer scientist, Barbie's script has been concocted by a whole team of people from Mattel and PullString, a computer conversation company founded by alums of Pixar. And where Eliza's natural- language processing abilities were crude at best, Barbie's powers rest on vast recent advances in machine learning, voice recognition, and processing power. At one point the company's CEO, Oren Jacob, a former chief technology officer at Pixar, tells me that PullString's ambitions are not limited to entertainment.