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Friday, January 15, 2021

Facebook Can’t Fix What It Won’t Admit To

Plus: Zuckerberg’s community manifesto, how to hold platforms accountable, and an accidental admission in Congress.

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Hackers Used Zero-Days to Infect Windows and Android Devices

Google researchers say the campaign, which booby-trapped sites to ensnare targets, was carried out by a “highly sophisticated actor.”

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Robot Toilets, Vibrating Headbands, and Other Oddities at CES

This week, we recap the news, trends, and stand-out gadgets from the first-ever virtual CES.

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2020 Was the One of the Hottest Years on Record

Officials from NASA and NOAA say the warming of both the planet’s air and water are driving weather disasters.

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AI-Powered Text From This Program Could Fool the Government

A Harvard medical student submitted auto-generated comments to Medicaid; volunteers couldn’t distinguish them from those penned by humans.

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Wikipedia Is Basically a Massive RPG

Sure, the metaphor is imperfect. But as the encyclopedia enters its 20th year, it's worth reflecting on the "rules of the game"—and how they might change.

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How to Preorder the Samsung Galaxy S21—and Which One to Get

Should you go Ultra or snag the S21+? We break down the differences between the company’s new phones and round up the best deals.

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Everything We Know Now About Schools, Kids, and Covid-19

Researchers are finally getting good data on how severely SARS-CoV-2 affects children and how they transmit it. What does it mean for reopening classrooms?

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I Am Not a Soldier, but I Have Been Trained to Kill

A sprawling tactical industry is teaching American civilians how to fight like Special Ops forces. By preparing for violence at home, are they calling it into being?

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Why TikTok (and Everyone Else) Is Singing Sea Chanteys

It has a lot to do with unity—and a little something to do with earworms.

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Can an AI Predict the Language of Viral Mutation?

Computational biologists used an algorithm meant to model human language to instead predict how viruses could evolve to evade the immune system.

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Samsung Has New Galaxy Phones (and New Earbuds Too)

A trio of new Android phones—the S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra—are joined by new Bluetooth earbuds and a Tile-like tracker.

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The DC Riot Is the Sandy Hook of the Disinformation Crisis

After the 2012 mass shooting, many asked: If this doesn’t lead to change, can we ever expect change? We should be asking the same of the insurrection.

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How Old-School Text Adventures Inspired Our Virtual Spaces

MMORPGs and even social media can trace their roots to games that used simple text commands to construct vivid, fantastical worlds.

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An Algorithm Is Helping a Community Detect Lead Pipes

The model had shown promise in Flint before officials rebelled. Now Toledo is using it, while incorporating more public input.

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Crime Rates Dropped in 2020—Just as They Did in 1918

An economist looks at public safety during the Covid lockdowns and also at the time of Spanish Flu.

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The Next Gen Console Games You Should Actually Care About

The Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 have some great games coming this year—assuming schedules hold. Here's a quick rundown of some great ones.

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The 15 Best Devices From CES That You Can Buy Now

Much of the trade show’s flashy tech will never hit store shelves, but here are a few gadgets that are already available.

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The Local Politics of Airbnb’s Ban on DC Rentals

Residents and city officials traumatized by last week’s unrest fear a repeat for Biden’s inauguration.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

These Adorable Fish Robots Form Schools Like the Real Thing

Meet Bluebot, a friendly swimming robot with big camera eyes. Put a few in a tank together and they’ll collaborate to complete surprisingly complex tasks.

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The Future of Phone Design: Flexible Screens That Roll Up

At CES 2021, two companies showed off concepts for a rollable phone. This year, expect this new category of devices to greatly expand.

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How Law Enforcement Gets Around Your Smartphone's Encryption

New research has dug into the openings iOS and Android security provide for anyone with the right tools.

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Scientists Have Sequenced Dire Wolf DNA. Thanks, Science!

The creatures made famous by Game of Thrones went extinct some 13,000 years ago. Now geneticists know a little more about where they come from.

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How a Decade-Old Game Helped Me Cope with Seasonal Depression

During a bleary fall and winter, the open world of Skyrim gave me the motivation and joy I couldn't find in the real world.

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How Amazon Sidewalk Works—and Why You May Want to Turn It Off

The premise is convenient. But the e-commerce giant's privacy track record isn't exactly inspiring.

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The Case for Cannibalism, or: How to Survive the Donner Party

Don’t be a young, healthy, single man. That’s our first piece of advice.

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Lucasfilm Games' New Partnerships Mean the Galaxy's the Limit

The Disney-owned company just announced a new Star Wars title coming from Ubisoft and an Indiana Jones game from Bethesda. And that's just the beginning.

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The Parler Bans Open a New Front in the 'Free Speech' Wars

Apple, Google, and Amazon booted the site from their own platforms. But who moderates the moderators?

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The Best of CES 2021

These are the products, prototypes, and ideas that did the best job of signaling the future at this year’s consumer tech showcase.

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Bugsnax Is Keeping Me Going (and It Might Just Help You Too)

The island quest-style game is perfect for this "casual gaming" moment.

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The Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Faces a Two-Shot Problem

Millions of follow-up doses have been languishing in freezers, causing a massive logjam—and not everyone likes the ideas for a fix.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

In Minecraft, All the Server's a Stage

A pixelated political drama has played out in the sandbox game since May—drawing millions of viewers in the process.

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The Unsettling Truth About the ‘Mostly Harmless’ Hiker

His emaciated body was discovered in a tent, just a few miles from a major Florida highway. His identity—and troubled past—were discovered by the internet.

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There’s No Excuse to Ignore Warnings of Domestic Terrorism

The insurrection at the Capitol was planned on social media—and more plans are still being made in broad daylight across the internet.

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My Quest to Survive Quarantine—in Heated Clothes

Cold weather sucks even more when a pandemic makes it nearly impossible to socialize inside. But I found a hack.

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An Absurdly Basic Bug Let Anyone Grab All of Parler's Data

The “free speech” social network also allowed unlimited access to every public post, image, and video.

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It's a Big Year for ‘Clean Tech’ at CES

Pandemic-inspired sanitizing technology is everywhere. Even if the science behind the gadgets is sound, it's smart to be skeptical.

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The Arctic Ocean Is Teeming With Microfibers From Clothes

Scientists find an average of 40 microplastic particles per cubic meter of the northern water. The likely source? The synthetic clothing in our washing machines.

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Postapocalyptic Video Games Saved Me From Pandemic Despair

Stories of people clawing their way back from despair, bonding together, and having fun in the process are exactly what we all need right now.

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Job Screening Service Halts Facial Analysis of Applicants

But it’s still using intonation and behavior to assist with hiring decisions.

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Omori Is the Horror RPG of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

As an elegant exploration of psychology and grief, it has the promise of Undertale—and it might have slipped under your radar.

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Google’s New Union Is Already Addressing Political Issues

The Alphabet Workers Union isn’t seeking better pay and benefits. It wants to influence the company’s policies on social and other issues.

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How Many Microcovids Would You Spend on a Burrito?

Six nerdy roommates used public health data to create an online Covid-risk points system for every activity—and protect their pandemic pod.

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A Startup Will Nix Algorithms Built on Ill-Gotten Facial Data

The FTC applies a novel remedy, going a step further than simply deleting the source photos.

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Monday, January 11, 2021

Mobileye Puts Lidar on a Chip—and Helps Map Intel's Future

It's been a rocky stretch for the chipmaker. But a bright spot was on display at this year's CES.

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Listening to Black Women: The Innovation Tech Can't Crack

Tech creators and journalists ignore the insights and experiences of Black women—and fail to see the harm of their "innovations."

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The SolarWinds Hackers Shared Tricks With a Russian Spy Group

Security researchers have found links between the attackers and Turla, a sophisticated team suspected of operating out of Moscow's FSB intelligence agency.

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The Plan to Build a Global Network of Floating Power Stations

A lot of thermal energy is trapped in the ocean. An ex-NASA researcher has figured out how it might generate unlimited clean power for aquatic robots.

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How to Get More Plant-Based Meat Onto Plates in 2021

The consequences of industrial livestock farming are severe. It's time for investors and policymakers to put resources toward the alternatives.

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2021 and the Conspiracies of Johnny Mnemonic

William Gibson was wrong about the wetware implants (not that he wanted to make predictions), but you’re still rooting for his dark, techno-druggy future anyway.

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If You Are Going to Survive, You Must Prepare to Fail

Whether you are ejecting from a fighter jet or psyching yourself up for a meeting, plan for the worst—over and over and over again. And don't forget to breathe.

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CES Liveblog: Smart Home, Workout Tech, and So Many TVs

The consumer tech show is virtual this year, and the WIRED Gear crew is watching all the Zooms to bring you up-to-the-minute coverage of news from CES.

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