We have seen the future, and it's not just amazing, it's terrifying.
(Happy Fuckin' New Year!)
Wired is a future-friendly magazine. We think technology is rapidly opening up possibilities and revolutionizing the old order in a way that gives a chance to smaller players. We are unabashed optimists about our collective opportunities as we round the corner into the next century. We are skeptical of anyone's claims (including our own) to know what the future brings, but we look at the glass and see that it is no longer half-full but brimming over.
So, we are often asked, Is there anything you worry about?
There is. A bunch of things, in fact. We call them the Wired Scared Shitlist. Ten technological developments that truly give us the creeps: suitcase nukes, plutonium tap water, over-the-counter eugenics, currecy collapse, Microsoft victory, electro-cancer, EMP bomb, techno-feudalism, sandlot nuclear war, viral Chernobyl.
The way we figure it, if we, the future-is-friendly experts, are worried about these things, then you'd better get out of the pool now.
5 million dead, 10 million injured. Damage is estimated at $3 trillion. 'Our worst nightmare has been realized.'
Washington -- The President declared a national emergency Tuesday morning after a 10-kiloton nuclear bomb exploded in the heart of Manhattan, transforming Times Square into a yawning crater approximately 500 feet in diameter and 100 feet deep.
"At 1:04 this morning, our most terrifying nightmare was realized," Dole said at a press conference from the White House. "Let me assure all citizens of these United States, indeed, of the world over, that this was an isolated incident perpetrated by an identified terrorist organization."
Dole, who called the 3 a.m. press conference to appeal for calm and an end to spontaneous rioting set off in Los Angeles, Chicago and other U.S. cities, refused to name the responsible organization, but vowed its leaders will be brought to justice. "We have had information in our possession for some time that pointed to this," the President said when questioned after his statement. He added that the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Towers was "an attack by a similar group."
The bomb leveled 4 square miles on the island of Manhattan. Ground shock pressure destroyed water pipes and killed electricity sources from Hartford, Conn., to Baltimore. Several million people are estimated dead or dying from the blast, and hundreds of thousands are flocking south toward Maryland and north toward Canada.
"This is the gravest test of our national character since World War II," an ashen Dole said at the conference. "New York will rise again," he promised. "We will not buckle to the agents of terror."
Regardless of the President's promise, emergency officials say New York and most of the Eastern seaboard will be contaminated by radioactive fallout for decades. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, both of which endured 15-kiloton blasts.....
Washington, D.C., 4:58 p.m.; Aug. 12, 2022 (via Reuters) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that parents have the constituional right to alter their children's physical and pyschological makeup.
Over the past five years the court has addressed peripheral issues relating to inexpensive genetic eugenics techniques, commonly called "getties," made possible by bioengineering research completed before the turn of the century. The 6-to-3 ruling in Gereford v. Gereford follows five recent Supreme Court decisions that have favored the ability of individuals to shape and select their own genes and the genes of their descendants.
The case involves Virginia resident Jason Gereford and his 18-year-old daughter Virginia. Before his daughter's birth, Gereford exposed her to advanced gene therapy aimed at ensuring her resistance to various AIDS viruses, and determining her religious inclinations (monotheistic) and sexual preference (heterosexual). Such gene therapy is illegal in the state of Virginia but is easily purchased in California, Massachusetts and other states.
The case made national headlines when Virginia claimed she was a lesbian and subsequently filed a $25 million lawsuit against her father for attempting, in her words, "To play God with my future."
Virginia's father then sued the California-based biotech giant Genentech, whose gene therapeutic kits he purchased and used. His case was settled in an unusual agreement whereby Genentech will pay for Jason Robinson's legal fees against his daughter. Virginia Gereford's unsuccessful case was argued by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"When forced to balance the rights, responsibilities and freedoms of parents with those of the unborn, we had no choice but to follow past decisions, including Roe v. Wade," wrote Chief Justice Lance Ito, author of the majority opinion.
In the dissenting opinion of the bench, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, "These techniques grant a single person far too much power over far too many lives in the future. Genetic eugenics techniques are a force that any egomaniac, misguided zealot or sociopath can wield with great influence upon society, yet without the ability of society to regulate, evaluate, license or screen. It's like giving a criminal a stairway to the future."
* * *
Tokyo, June 20, 2002 -- Tokyo resident Yoshi Tamaguchi, 55, usually awakes at 6 a.m., meditates for a half hour, takes a glass of green tea and half an orange as breakfast, then heads for his stressful but financially rewarding career at Matsushita's corporate headquarters here.
But not today. One week after terrorists slipped a massive dose of high-grade plutonium into Tokyo's sole source of potable water (and Mr. Tamaguchi's green tea), the Matsushita executive decided that he would rather die honorably than slowly. With the help of his family members (who so far have not developed radiation sickness), Mr. Tamaguchi dressed in his family's traditional kimono, uttered his final words to his wife and children, then fell forward onto his own knife.
* * *
Businesspeople are stunned by the widespread losses to Japanese companies, but whispers this side of the Atlantic see opportunity in Japan's tragedy. (Article on Page A3)
The failed bid for RJR Nabisco by tobacco giant Glaxco/Viacom has, at its heart, a refusal by Chairman Frank Biondi to accept a $120 tender offer for Glaxco/Viacom's Class B voting shares. (Article on Page B1)
A last gasp effort by Microsoft CEO Bill Gates to fend off Id Software's decade-long hostile takeover attempt has failed. (Article on Page B1)
The $300 million adaptation of Neal Stephenson's sci-fi thriller "The Diamond Age" is set to debut this summer, but Wall Street is wary of its ability to earn back director Jim Cameron's most expensive effort to date.
As the crisis following the poisoning deepens, Japanese society has been left scrambling for reason in a world seemingly gone mad. Reports of ritual suicide, or hare kari, **fact check** like Mr. Tamaguchi's have risen steadily since more than half of Tokyo's population was poisoned last week.
Presdient Clinton declared "a new day has dawned in the Free World," after U.S. troops reinstated an unsteady peace in the streets of separatist Northern California. (Article on Page A4)
Muslim and Croat forces continued to bombard what remains of of the town of Kupres, in a repeat of a bloody standoff that dates from the early 1990s. (Article on Page A6)
Redmond, Wash., Noon; Jan. 20, 2001 (via Microsoft Network) -- During swearing-in ceremonies held today on the steps of Whitehouse 97 (formerly Building #9), Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates shocked the business world by announcing a hostile takeover of every company listed on the New York and Nasdaq stock exchanges minutes before taking the oath of office as 44th president of the United States.
"The petty cash drawer was getting kind of full," said President Gates during a virtual news conference held immediately following his combination acceptance speech/product launch ceremonies for Quicken97 as the new standard for the World Bank, the Federal Reserve, the IMF and all transactions at the nation's only retailer, Wal-Mart.
Even though his presidential campaign started as a marketing ploy to draw attention from the ongoing fiasco of Windows 95, Gates won an unprecedented 76 percent of the popular vote, humiliating incumbent Republican Robert Dole and Independent challenger Oliver North.
In an earlier interview, Vice President Trip Hawkins attributed the success of the Windows Everywhere ticket to the benefits of socialized capitalism, enlightened welfare programs such as free NT T-shirts for the homeless, and the fact that President Gates threatened to put compression back into the next release of MS-DNA, the DOS-based genetic code for all living matter.
Sunday, July 4 1999 - The London Stock Exchange officially closed yesterday after a week of unexplained and dramatic glitches were discovered in the international currency system.
The global turmoil has paralyzed all major exchanges save the Stock Exchange of Singapore, which claims to have foiled the virus with a complex archival system.
According to Scotland Yard financial investigators, a "computer worm" has been corrupting financial data for at least 10 days, if not longer. Banking institutions in North America report that 85 per cent of the banks in Canada, the US and Mexico claim rogue corrupted files. A Houston (Texas) Post headline quotes Kim Sacks, president of Dallas Bank, as saying, "This is a global disaster. You can kiss your money good-bye."
The problem is exacerbated by banks' inability to determine whether a file has been corrupted or merely influenced by the normal process of electronic exchange. Insiders who wish to remain anonymous say that the records and back-up tapes in some banks are so mangled it is unlikely the true data can be recovered at all.
Police have released the contents of an email message sent by a group calling itself "Free the Internet," which claims that the worm was deliberately introduced by hackers disgruntled with corporate ownership of the Net. He said that the worm has been burrowing into financial networks for about three months, and that it was engineered to activate on June 21. He added it was introduced by seeding approximately 2,000 stolen smart cards. Scotland Yard would neither confirm nor deny this information.
Since e-money standards were established in 1997, the world's business has increasingly been conducted in electronic data. There have been small disruptions in the past, but this is the first serious stoppage of all major transactions.
In a presentation to the US Congress, US Treasury Secretary Nathan Myrhvold stated "This is not an NP Hard problem,".....
Leaked survey finds "shocking" correlation between most major cancers and EMF exposure
Washington -- A suppressed government study has concluded that even moderate exposure to electro-magnetic radiation, the electrical field generated by computer monitors, portable communications devices, power lines and hair dryers, is a direct and indisputable cause of cancers and genetic mutations, the Inquirer has learned.
In a hastily scheduled press conference called yesterday after learning of the Inquirer's intent to publish the study's findings, Surgeon General Dean Edell conceded he sent the findings "back for review." He said it was "important that we be sure about these findings, since they force our entire way of life into question." He then offered his immediate resignation to the President.
Evidence that continual exposure to electromagnetic fields causes birth defects has been mounting as the first generation of children born "in front of PCs" has come of age.
But the report, a joint effort of the surgeon general's office and Stanford and Johns Hopkins universities, goes even further and links almost every form of cancer to EMF, which as recently as 1998 was thought to be proven safe in studies commissioned by industry giants Motorola, Matsushita and Nintendo.
The link between cancerous growths and EMF has been questioned since.....
New York, NY, 6:28 p.m.; June 12, 1997 (via NYT wire services) -- Looters and opportunists hold New York City hostage tonight after a massive electromagnetic pulse device was detonated above the island of Manhattan. Christians for the Future of the Past have claimed responsibility for the attack in a video statement condemning the "moral turpitude" of US corporations.
The bomb shocked New York City and outlying areas with an electromagnetic pulse that immediately paralyzed all computers, electronic money networks and telecommunications in the vicinity. Most world markets will close immediately.
While the CFP claimed the 24-hour New York Stock Exchange and other vital corporate networks were the intended target of the attack, electrical grids blanketing the area were also knocked out, causing an immediate blackout and subsequent looting.
"We have struck at the very heart of moral turpitude," said CFP spokesperson Jimmy Riggs, patched into the national Net via an unidentified satellite van. "We can no longer stand idly by as corporations and our government allow unmitigated, godless capitalism to rule our land."
Cars, subway trains and elevators in the five boroughs were also brought to a complete standstill. As a result, thousands are now trapped within the city, which is glowing with fires set ...
"I was fed up with rampant crime. We all know people who have been victimized by a society increasingly out of control. I bet you've been a victim, too. You know the government is incapable of stopping the violence. Every day, I saw more outrageous flaunting of the law by international corporations, organized crime, and marauding foreigners. I was desperate.
"So I recently decided to move from my retirement home to Guardian City, a peaceful community of 50,000 like-minded folks. For a monthly condominium fee, each resident of Guardian City receives free escort service to most major shopping and cultural locations. I have an ease of mind knowing an armed force is on duty 24 hours a day to protect our community.
"Add to that 50-foot walls, a top rating by the National Association of Gated Communities, and the most sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment around, and it's no wonder that levels of violent crime inside Guardian City have returned to those of the suburbs in the early 1990s. Isn't that where you'd rather be spending your time? The way I see it, you either live in Guardian City, or you live in terror."
For more information on Guardian Cities around the world, or to get on the waiting list for Guardian City, Los Angeles, call (213) 555-6265, ext. 223
"Welcome back. You're listening to Tuned Into America. Today's topic: the first use of offensive nuclear weapons since Nagasaki. Should we step in to stop the exchanges between India and Pakistan? Line 1, who are you? Where are you?"
"This is Terry from San Luis Obispo, California. I just wanted to say that I think we should send an aircraft carrier to the Indian Ocean and blow all those cow worshippers to Katmandu."
"No can do, Terry. Whose side are we on? India, Pakistan -- they're both supposed to be our friends. And what are we supposed to do to them that they haven't already done to themselves? Line 2, should we get involved?"
"This is Jim from Long Island. I say we send in the Marines and take down India. I just wanted to say I listen to your show every day, and I think you're the best."
"Well, thanks, Jim, but we're not talking love slurps here. We're talking about the first use of thermonuclear devices since the U.S. dropped two big ones on Japan. India fires first, Pakistan responds. Cities in flames. Who's at fault, line 2?"
"I heard India used a nuke on itself to blow up Calcutta."
"Never been proven, but I wouldn't be surprised if they made it look like the Pakistanis did it. Line 3, what's the real story behind this war? Is it land? Or do they just hate each other's guts?"
"Hey, this is Oscar from Duluth. Who knows with these people? They pray to rats and eat dirt for dessert. Let them nuke themselves into oblivion."
"Big problem, Oscar. These people don't make nice, neat nuclear bombs like the good old U.S. government. No, their nukes are what's called 'dirty weapons.' See, the uranium in a Third World nuke usually comes out of some decrepit old Soviet reactor through the Afghan black market. When the Pakistanis stick it in a missile and toss it into the back yard of the Taj Mahal, it spits up enough radioactive pollution to kill off California. This cloud of chemical crap then starts floating up into the jet stream, and then, who knows where the wind will blow it? Maybe onto your house, Oscar. Line 2, what's next for India and Pakistan?"
"This is Roger and I'm calling from the great state of North Dakota. Has either side used plague bombs yet?"
"Hello, Earth to Roger, welcome home, spaceboy. The plague's what got this whole mess started in the first place. India says Pakistan let loose a bionic variation on the bubonic plague that makes the Black Death from the Middle Ages look like a case of dandruff on prom night. Pakistan denies the allegations, so India car bombs the prime minister. Pakistan goes ballistic, India tosses a couple of nukes, and we have to watch them turn our planet into a radioactive toilet. The question remains, Do we send in our boys to clean up this mess? We'll take some more calls right after these words from your local station."
Geneva, 8:01 p.m.; Oct. 12, 2008 (via Microsoft Network) - The source of the deadly Ebola 4 epidemic has been traced to a freak accident two years ago in a biotechnology laboratory here, and leading health officials may have linked its spread to international jet travel.
Jean Beaux, head of the EU Health Committee, announced that his organization believes the plague stems from a benign virus that was inadvertently cloned with genes from a strain of Ebola 2 discovered in the 1990s. Perhaps the nastiest viral plague of the late 1990s, Ebola 2 caused its hosts to bleed to death within hours. A cure for this gruesome bacterial infection was developed and later stored in a laboratory run by SwissPharm here.
Two years ago, Beaux noted, a severe fire gutted the SwissPharm lab, where hundreds of viral agents besides Ebola 2 were stored. "The meltdown, the heat and the flooding from firefighting efforts released the Ebola 2," Beaux said, "and probably generated a new strain of the virus borne in both air and water."
Beaux also released a preliminary report on characteristics of the rapidly spreading Ebola 4 virus. According to the report, the virus resides in human bodies for as long as two years before breaking out in a dramatic sour-smelling rash that quickly transforms its host's living flesh to gelatin.
It is not known at this time how many are infected with the virus, and whether everyone infected will develop symptoms. Dr. Elaine Morris, a staff epidemiologist at Harvard University, has suggested that the virus, which requires minimal moisture to survive, lives in the air-conditioning ducts in airplanes. Dr. Kyle Durran, Noble prize-winning biologist, says, "that guess is as good as any other." If the virus does spread by airplane, he estimates that, given the unusually long latency period of the virus, as many as 75 million people could have been exposed to it. "I'm just counting how many people have flown in the last 18 months," he said.
Based on these theories, countries as far away as Chile and South Africa have sealed up their borders to all air traffic.....
Special thanks to our Wired Scared Shitlist writers and contributors: John Battelle, Chris Clark, Dave Dix, Kevin Kelly, Jessie Scanlon, Kristin Spence, Gary Wolf, Jon Carroll, Mary Eisenhart, Phil Patton, Louis Rossetto, Mark Stahlman, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Michael Schrage.