The protagonist of Max Gladstone’s new novel Empress of Forever is Vivian Liao, a tech mogul in the vein of Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. As the story opens, Liao is working to oppose the misuse of big data by a dystopian near-future government. “I think Viv really despises the people who have used many of those levers to gain control over the American political sphere,” Gladstone says in Episode 374 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, “and she’s been fighting back using basically every tool available to her.” Liao soon finds herself transported to the distant future, where things have only gotten worse. The galaxy is now ruled by an all-powerful Empress, who controls her subjects through her mastery of the Cloud, a ubiquitous hyperspace data network. “In the future that Viv’s waking up in, most people are composed of smart matter, and have a projection of their consciousness—what they would call their soul—into the … [Read more...] about When Tech Moguls Act Like Galactic Overlords
Disney and Charter Communications are teaming up to fight account sharing in an attempt to prevent multiple people from using a single account to access streaming video services. The battle against account sharing was announced as Disney and the nation's second-biggest cable company struck a new distribution agreement involving Disney's Hulu, ESPN+, and the forthcoming Disney+. Customers could still buy those online services directly from Disney, but the new deal would also let them make those purchases through Charter's Spectrum TV service. ARS TECHNICA This story originally appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted source for technology news, tech policy analysis, reviews, and more. Ars is owned by WIRED's parent company, Condé Nast. If you buy a Disney service through Charter, be aware that the companies will work together to prevent you from sharing a login with friends. Disney and Charter said in their announcement Wednesday that they have "agreed to work together on piracy … [Read more...] about Disney Is Finally Taking On Account Sharers
A camera pans lovingly over BMW rims, set to a crunchy, electric beat. The slick, silver car flashes its headlights before the video abruptly cuts to the vehicle’s driver, Jerry, a surprisingly chill duck who is shown wheeling off into the distance a split-second later. In another video, Jerry flaps his beak in bed before he’s suddenly spotted on a table strewn with food while his owner, Brendan Balaskovitz, chides him about his bedtime. Another shows Jerry riding shotgun, quacking in response to Balaskovitz crooning his name in a high-pitched squeal. On the TikTok page @brendanxa, dozens of videos are dedicated to the mallard. Jerry quacks, waddles, and occasionally poops on things while Balaskovitz shouts in the background. He yells at Jerry for boozing or paddling around in the pool. Jerry can’t be bothered to care. Pet-focused influencers aren’t new to the creator space. But on TikTok, where trends like the Yeehaw Challenge blow up songs like “Old … [Read more...] about TikTok’s best comedy duo is a loud man and his duck
Beijing’s Zhongguancun neighborhood is often called the “Silicon Valley of China,” but seen from street level, the two places are worlds apart. Silicon Valley’s endless office parks strive for the platonic ideal of workplace productivity: spacious green “campuses,” colorful slides to take you between floors, free in-house massages, and cafeterias serving up grass-fed steak and brain-boosting kale juice. The environment, the companies, and the culture all coddle you. Zhongguancun smacks you right in the face. Shove your way out of the Zhongguancun (pronounced “jong-gwan-soon”) subway stop at rush hour and you emerge onto a traffic intersection the size of a football field. Twelve lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic on Beijing’s Fourth Ring Road cross under or feed into Zhongguancun Road. At street level, a sea of bikes, tuk-tuks, and electric scooters muscle their way through traffic, and onto sidewalks when the spirit moves them. Car … [Read more...] about WFH: Chinese Engineers Abroad Come Back
Science fiction movies tend to be heavy on action and spectacle, but it’s becoming more and more common to see films like High Life and Starfish that have more of an art house sensibility. Science fiction author John Kessel thinks some of these films push things too far, especially in the case of a movie like Beyond the Black Rainbow. “It was almost impossible for me to watch,” Kessel says in Episode 373 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It was so slow and so cryptic and so unmotivated. There’d be a long take of the camera watching the ceiling of a hallway as we move down it and the color changes from blue to red. If there’s a significant intellectual content to that, it missed me.” Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley agrees, noting that many of these films aspire to originality but end up relying on a familiar catalog of stylistic gimmicks. “You’ve got your grainy film stock, weird electronic … [Read more...] about Are Sci-Fi Movies Getting Too Pretentious?