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Billionaires See VR as a Way to Avoid Radical Social Change

The future of virtual reality is far more than just video games. Silicon Valley sees the creation of virtual worlds as the ultimate free-market solution to a political problem. In a world of increasing wealth inequality, environmental disaster, and political instability, why not sell everyone a device that whisks them away to a virtual world free of pain and suffering? Tech billionaires aren’t shy about sharing this. “Some people read this the wrong way and react incorrectly to it. The promise of VR is to make the world you wanted. It is not possible, on Earth, to give everyone …

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Underwater Meditation and the Therapeutic Benefits of VR

There’s the aptly named Guided Meditation VR, a classic way to get in your daily practice. It helps having pleasing scenes to peruse with my eyes open, while still sitting quietly and focusing on my breath.If I’m feeling particularly fidgety while still craving mindfulness, I’ll turn to my Index SteamVR base settings. My default “home,” called Summit Pavilion, is the aforementioned modern house in the mountains. I can walk around, interact with butterflies, or just train my gaze out into the distance. For days I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll choose more recognizable places to meditate …

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The Rot of Riot Games Culture Starts at the Top

In 2014, Riot Games’ then-executive assistant Melanie McCracken began to notice that her supervisor, Jin Oh, didn’t seem to hire women into senior leadership vacancies. Women were generally brought on as assistants, she said in a 2018 civil complaint alleging widespread gender discrimination at the League of Legends publisher. Oh, an executive at the company, “claimed that he would ‘feel weird having a male’ in such a role,” according to the complaint. It was part of a pattern, she alleges, of Oh disadvantaging women based on their sex or gender.McCracken began looking for a new job at Riot in September 2014— …

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The Best Presidents’ Day Deals for the Home, Phones, and More

Like the steady beat of a drum, shopping holidays march on in the midst of a pandemic. This weekend, in particular, a few have clashed—there are deals for Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day, plus several winter clearance discounts as the season winds down. We parsed through dozens of stores and rounded up the best Presidents’ Day deals below. Be sure to check out our many other buying guides, such as the Best Electric Toothbrushes and Best Base Layers.Updated February 14: We removed expired deals and added a handful of new ones. Keep in mind that most of these discounts …

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How to Use Your PS5 or Xbox Controller Everywhere Else

When you buy a new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/Series S console, you get an excellent game controller with it. They’re designed to perfectly complement their respective consoles, but both the PS5 DualSense Controller and the Xbox Wireless Controller can have a life beyond them. If you want a controller to play games on your desktop or laptop, or you’re sick of touchscreen controls on your phone or tablet, then try using the best controller you already have. Before we dive into instructions on how to pair these controllers with your other devices, bear in mind that …

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How to Level Up Your At-Home Recording Studio

Getting all this equipment won’t magically make your audio sound better, but it will make it possible to get better audio. Think of it like the difference between a DSLR camera and the camera in your phone. Processors in your phone do a lot of the work to make your photos look decent, but a DSLR hands over control of the buttons and knobs so you can make outstanding photos.It should also be noted that most pro audio gear lasts a long time, and there haven’t been many major seismic shifts in the industry over the past …

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A Case Against the Peeping Tom Theory of Privacy

As compelling as that Apple ad is, the Peeping Tom narrative doesn’t capture the collective dimension of data privacy. The truth, as the tech analyst Ben Thompson points out, is that the companies that track our every move, or try to, generally don’t care about us as individuals. The data they gather is aggregated, fed to machine learning algorithms, and used to target advertisements to us based on our behavior. There is no human being snooping through your laundry, just a machine trying to sell you more stuff. “The entire reason their businesses are possible is precisely because …

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Authoritarian Regimes Could Exploit Cries of ‘Deepfake’

A viral video shows a young woman conducting an exercise class on a roundabout in the Burmese capital, Nyapyidaw. Behind her a military convoy approaches a checkpoint to go conduct arrests at the Parliament building. Has she inadvertently filmed a coup? She dances on.The video later became a viral meme, but for the first days, online amateur sleuths debated if it was green-screened or otherwise manipulated, often using the jargon of verification and image forensics.For many online viewers, the video captures the absurdity of 2021. Yet claims of audiovisual manipulation are increasingly being used to make people wonder if …

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New York City’s Surveillance Battle Offers National Lessons

In January, when New York’s Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act went into effect, the City of New York Police Department was suddenly forced to detail the tools it had long kept from public view. But instead of giving New Yorkers transparency, the NYPD gave error-filled, boilerplate statements that hide almost everything of value. Almost none of the policies list specific vendors, surveillance tool models, or information-sharing practices. The department’s facial recognition policy says it can share data “pursuant to on-going criminal investigations, civil litigation, and disciplinary proceedings,” a standard so broad it’s largely meaningless.This marks …

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The Bernie Sanders Meme Proves the Internet Is Resetting

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.The internet often speaks earnestly of cultural resets. Shakira performing at the Super Bowl? Cultural reset. Parasite winning Best Picture? Cultural reset. Beyoncé doing literally anything? Cultural reset. Loosely defined, cultural resets are the moments when things shift and the mood in the collective pop culture room recalibrates. This week’s cultural reset? A 79-year-old US senator from Vermont sitting in a chair.Wednesday’s inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris was full of fashion …

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