When WIRED’s editors asked me in February if I wanted to host and help launch a new flagship podcast for the magazine, I immediately said “Yes!” For nearly two years, I had been co-hosting the popular Gadget Lab podcast about consumer tech, which we’re still producing. But it became obvious that there was room for a flagship show, a program where WIRED’s incredibly smart writers could pull back the curtain on the ways technology is changing our lives–from culture to business, science to design. We needed a platform for our biggest interviews. And we wanted to offer readers some kind of roadmap, in audio form, for the increasingly complex, layered world of technology.
As it turned out, things were about to get a lot more complex. In early March, the world shut down. The World Health Organization declared the spreading coronavirus a global pandemic, and suddenly we were navigating one of the greatest challenges of our lifetimes. There is now the time Before coronavirus, and—well, we’re still in the thick of it, so it’s too soon to say “After.” We’ve landed in a place of even more uncertainty, and it feels like we’re trying to find our way with metaphorical blinders and literal masks on. For years, technologists and scholars have proclaimed that rapid digitization would lead to automation—humans replaced by machines. Yet in many ways, we are leaning on other human beings more than ever.
These are exactly the kinds of topics that WIRED has explored since the magazine’s inception. But now, change and innovation are happening faster than we ever could have imagined. Scientists are trying to speed up vaccine development, while many tech companies that make our gadgets have pivoted (to use the Silicon Valley parlance) to supply protective gear. Meanwhile, an app’s slick UI can disguise the network of vulnerable people who work behind the scenes, and social media likes have the ability to sway important elections. Entire populations have quickly adjusted to socializing behind screens to stop the spread of the virus—while millions of people have been inspired to take to the streets and protest decades of abuses against Black communities.
That’s where Get WIRED comes in. Each week, we’ll take our listeners behind the scenes of our most compelling, dystopian, and encouraging stories. We’ll explore the bizarre world of neighborhood watch apps and the people who rush to the scenes to live-stream crimes from their phones. We’ll dive into the history of surveillance technology and expose the deep-rooted racism at its core. We’ll cover stories about climate change, entertainment in a post-pandemic world, and the geopolitical issues at the heart of spats over TikTok. We’ll talk to the world’s leading experts in epidemiology, airborne particles, artificial intelligence, space exploration, and more.