Is It Time for a Google Fitness Watch?

Here comes a Pixel … sport watch?

Google and the Fossil Group announced earlier today that the tech giant is acquiring some of Fossil’s smartwatch intellectual property, suggesting Google may be making its own competitor to the Apple Watch, or, as wishful pundits refer to it, a Pixel watch. It’s not an outlandish idea: As first reported in Wareable, Fossil Group executive vice president and chief digital officer Greg McKelvey says the $40 million deal will result in the launch of “a new product innovation that’s not yet hit the market.” Google buying up talent as it ramps up hardware efforts is also not unprecedented: In early 2018, it spent $1.1 billion to buy a significant chunk of the HTC smartphone team that had helped develop Google’s Pixel phones.

But Google’s $40 million buy of some of Fossil’s smartwatch tech also says a lot about the broader smartwatch market. In short: Fitness has been driving this whole category of technology, more so than fashion. [...]  read more

A New ‘Ghostbusters’ Movie Is Coming in 2020

Another Thursday, another installment of The Monitor, WIRED’s roundup of the latest in the world of culture. But this Thursday is much busier than most. Why? Well, there’s a new Ghostbusters movie in the works from Jason Reitman (son of the original’s director), Apple is adding some big names to its initiative to make original content, and Steve Carell is working on a Netflix show about Space Force. Yes, Space Force!

A New Ghostbusters Movie Is Coming

First and foremost, here’s a thing we didn’t expect to be saying on the internet in 2019: There’s a new Ghostbusters movie on the horizon. Yes, it’s true. Ivan Reitman, who directed the 1984 original, is producing, and his son, Jason (Juno, Up in the Air), will co-write and direct. No plot details are available yet, but it [...]  read more

Antibiotics Are Failing Us. Crispr Is Our Glimmer of Hope

Humans and antibiotics have had a good run. These “miracle” molecules have saved millions of lives and and alleviated incalculable suffering around the globe. But in the last few decades, as millions of tons of antibiotics were indiscriminately pumped into humans (and farm animals), the pace of bacterial evolution began to outstrip pharmaceutical innovation. Today, nearly every disease-causing bacteria has acquired defenses against these drugs. As the world’s armory of effective medicines draws down, humans are running out of time to either change the behaviors that got us here, or come up with radically new treatments.

But breaking habits is hard, as a new study shows. According to an analysis of more than 19 million privately insured outpatients in the US, published today in The British Medical Journal, one in seven people were prescribed at least one course of pointless antibiotics in 2016. Extrapolated [...]  read more

Yandex’s Self-Driving CES Demo Comes Without a Human Backup

I buckle my seat belt, and then double-check it after I climb into the back of a white, black, and orange Toyota Prius V wagon. I’m tense, but the two engineers, one in back with me, the other riding shotgun, seem reassuringly relaxed.

We roll forward, turning right out of the parking lot at the Hard Rock Hotel, and head into the streets of Las Vegas—with nobody in the driver’s seat. Soon, the car is merging into traffic at 40 mph, the steering wheel spinning and the turn signals flicking on and off on their own. I’ve witnessed plenty of self-driving demonstrations, some of them here in Vegas, but never one without a human holding their hands over the controls, poised to brake or swerve if the computer struggles.

“The first time with nobody behind the wheel, it’s a different experience,” says Dmitry Polishchuk, head of autonomous driving for Yandex, who’s sitting next to me. “But at some point you stop paying attention.”

I pepper him with questions about [...]  read more

An Astonishing 773 Million Records Exposed in Monster Breach

There are breaches, and there are megabreaches, and there’s Equifax. But a newly revealed trove of leaked data tops them all for sheer volume: 772,904,991 million unique email addresses, over 21 million unique passwords, all recently posted to a hacking forum.

The data set was first reported by security researcher Troy Hunt, who maintains Have I Been Pwned, a way to search whether your own email or password has been compromised by a breach at any point. (Trick question: It has.) The so-called Collection #1 is the largest breach in Hunt’s menagerie, and it’s not particularly close.

The Hack

If anything, the above numbers belie the real volume of the breach, as they reflect Hunt’s effort to clean up the data set to account for duplicates and to strip out unusable bits. In raw form, it comprises 2.7 billion rows of email addresses and passwords, including over a billion unique combinations of email addresses and passwords.

The trove appeared briefly on MEGA, the cloud service, [...]  read more

Gillette’s Ad Proves the Definition of a Good Man Has Changed

Once again, the country seems divided. This time, it’s not a border wall or a health care proposal driving the animus, but an online ad for a men’s razor, because, of course. But underneath the controversy lies something much more important: signs of real change.

On January 13, Gillette released a new ad that takes the company’s 30-year-old slogan, “The Best a Man Can Get,” and turns it into an introspective reflection on toxic masculinity very much of this cultural moment. Titled “We Believe,” the nearly two-minute video features a diverse cast of boys getting bullied, of teens watching media representatives of macho guys objectifying women, and of men looking into the mirror while news reports of #MeToo and toxic masculinity play in the background. A voiceover asks, “Is this the best a man can get?” The answer is no, and the film shows how men can do better by actively pointing out toxic behavior, intervening when other men catcall or sexually harass, and helping protect [...]  read more

Anti-Trump Activists Defend Fake-*Washington Post* Stunt

On Wednesday, a group of hoaxsters affiliated with the progressive nonprofit group the Yes Men circulated fake versions of The Washington Post, dated May 1, 2019, imagining a world in which President Trump has suddenly left office. Throughout the morning, the activists distributed print copies of the edition in front of the White House and debuted a website called My-WashingtonPost.com, which, despite looking like the real Post website, was splashed with the faux headline “UNPRESIDENTED: ENDING CRISIS, TRUMP HASTILY DEPARTS WHITE HOUSE.”

The stunt, which was promoted on Twitter by the left-leaning group MoveOn, was intended as a work of satire to “support impeachment,” according to Andy Bichlbaum, a cofounder of the Yes Men, who initially identified himself as “Andrew from The Washington Post” when WIRED called him Wednesday. “We’ve been around for about 20 years doing, I’d say, clowny sort of actions with a very serious impact,” Bichlbaum says.

But [...]  read more

Most Users Still Don’t Know How Facebook Advertising Works

Facebook has become an incredibly successful advertising platform in part because it allows marketers to show people ads using fine-grained categories, which are generated based on an individual’s behavior. Facebook says this allows it to show users ads that are more relevant to their interests. But its data collection practices have also led to a series of privacy scandals over the past several years, and increased scrutiny from lawmakers around the globe.

In response to questions about its targeting practices, Facebook has said that anyone can use the platform’s ad preferences menu to see and control how Facebook has categorized them. But a new survey from Pew Research Center suggests that the vast majority of US users don’t know Facebook keeps a list of their interests and traits this way. When respondents found out, most said they were uncomfortable with the assumptions Facebook had made about them.

The Numbers

From September 4 – October [...]  read more

A Poker-Playing Robot Goes to Work for the Pentagon

In 2017, a poker bot called Libratus made headlines when it roundly defeated four top human players at no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em. Now, Libratus’s technology is being adapted to take on opponents of a different kind—in service of the US military.

Libratus—Latin for balanced—was created by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University to test ideas for automated decision-making based on game theory. Early last year, the professor who led the project, Tuomas Sandholm, founded a startup called Strategy Robot to adapt his lab’s game-playing technology for government use, such as in wargames and simulations used to explore military strategy and planning. Late in August, public records show, the company received a two-year contract of up to $10 million with the US Army. It is described as “in support of” a Pentagon agency called the Defense Innovation Unit, created in 2015 to woo Silicon Valley and speed US military adoption of new technology.

Libratus’s defeat [...]  read more

The Subversive, Delectable Fun of Troye Sivan’s “Lucky Strike”

Not to make this about politics or walls or borders or displacement, but Australian pop balladeer Troye Sivan’s “Lucky Strike” is all about politics and walls and borders and displacement. More specifically, it is about the negation of those thorny, unkind configurations. At first blush, the song is a cool, coy slowburner with pure intentions. “I wanna tiptoe through your bliss, get lost the more I find you,” Sivian coos over producer Alex Hope’s garden of ambrosial synths. Later on the chorus, he implores: “Tell me all the ways to love you.”

“Lucky Strike” is about queer desire, sure, about the feeling of summertime infatuation; in its just-released video, Sivan’s pursuit of another man unfolds during a day at the beach. But much of the song is about the unsaid, about the power and refuge we find in another person. The song, then, becomes something much more: a paean to a world that doesn’t just unite us across cultural and bodily borders, but [...]  read more