Silk Road Boss’ First Murder Attempt Was His Mentor’s Idea

The allegation that the Silk Road’s Dread Pirate Roberts attempted to pay for six murders has loomed over the story of that massive online drug market. How could the pseudonymous figure preaching non-violent, libertarian ideals stoop to commissioning the paid killings of half a dozen people?

Now a newly revealed chat log from the case sheds light on how the first of those paid murder attempts appears to have arisen. The logs show it was not the creator of the Silk Road who first suggested enlisting the services of a hit man, but rather his top advisor and mentor.

Earlier this week, a trove of new records from the Silk Road pre-trial hearings was unsealed, including logs of January 2013 instant-message conversations that prosecutors say were pulled from the laptop of Ross Ulbricht at the time of his arrest. In February, Ulbricht was convicted of being the Dread Pirate Roberts, Silk Road’s creator and owner. But the recorded conversations, along with the other sealed documents, had been kept secret throughout Ulbricht’s trial earlier this year to avoid compromising an investigation that led to the arrest Monday of two federal agents on corruption charges.

In the 21-page IM chat log, which occurred over the anonymous IM service Torchat, the Silk Road’s Dread Pirate Roberts carries out conversations with his staffer Inigo, a supposed drug-dealing associate named Nob (who we now know was actually undercover DEA agent Carl Force), and a figure named Cimon, also known as Variety Jones, whom Ulbricht had described in his journal as his “mentor” and advisor. The conversations revolve around $350,000 worth of bitcoin that had been stolen from the Silk Road, which Dread Pirate Roberts and Inigo believed had been taken by Silk Road staffer Curtis Clark Green. (In fact, it seems the bitcoins had been allegedly stolen by rogue Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges, using Green’s account—one of the criminal charges for which Bridges was arrested Monday.)

As they’re presented by the prosecution, the chat logs seem to show for the first time how the Dread Pirate Roberts is persuaded to commission Green’s murder. And he’s convinced not by a federal agent seeking to entrap him in the act, but by Cimon, his own trusted mentor and advisor. That initial step into the use of violence to protect his interests and the Silk Road would eventually lead Roberts to pay for five more murders.

“Cimon: I know a guy, and he knows a guy who knows a guy, that gets things done.”

(A quick side note: In the chat logs below, I’ve identified the Silk Road’s boss as the Dread Pirate Roberts. Though Ulbricht was convicted in February of being the Silk Road’s creator and leader, he was never charged with murder, and these logs were never presented at trial. Ulbricht’s defense attorney Joshua Dratel has said he’s still seeking a new trial for his client, in part due to the new corruption charges brought against the two federal agents investigating the Silk Road. “Our position, as it has always been, is that Ross is not DPR who is participating in those chats,” Dratel tells WIRED.)

The chain of conversations that leads to the attempted murder of Green begins when Inigo alerts the Dread Pirate Roberts to the Silk Road’s massive bitcoin theft. Roberts responds that he’s “sick to his stomach.”

“This will be the first time I have had to call on my muscle,” he adds. “fucking sucks.”

Later the same day, Roberts chats with Nob, who he believes to be a high-volume drug dealer who can help provide that “muscle” to find Green and recover the bitcoins. Roberts, after all, kept a copy of all his employees’ actual IDs to prevent the sort of betrayal he believed Green had committed, so he knows Green’s Utah address.

But in that conversation with Nob, it’s clear Roberts has no intention of killing Green, or even beating him up if it can be avoided.

Nob: do you want him beat up. shot, just paid a visit?

Roberts: I’d like him beat up, then forced to send the bitcoins he stole back. like sit him down at his computer and make him do it

Roberts: beat up only if he doesn’t comply I guess

Roberts: not sure how these things usually go

Only later, when Roberts checks in with his advisor Cimon, does the question of murder arise. As Roberts explains how Green might have stolen the funds, Cimon interrupts. “Enough about the theft,” he says. “Tell me about the organ donor.”

A few minutes later, he brings up the idea of killing more explicitly. “As a side note, at what point in time do we decide we’ve had enough of someones shit, and terminate them?” Cimon writes. “Like, does impersonating a vendor to rip off a mid-level drug lord, using our rep and system; follows up by stealing from our vendors and clients and breeding fear and mistrust, does that come close in yer opinion?”

“Terminate?” Roberts asks tentatively. “Execute?”

As the conversation continues, Roberts seems to become more convinced that murder is a real option. Cimon seems to imply that simply beating up Green might lead him to talk to the police.

Roberts: if this was the wild west, and it kinda is, you’d get hung just for stealing a horse

Cimon: Yeah, pretty much. At what point in time is that the response. We’re playing with big money with serious people, and that’s the world they live in.

Cimon: I sure as fuck don’t want nob to try it, fuck up, and then have our laundry aired.

Roberts: unfortunately, there isn’t much inbetween

Cimon: I know a guy, and he knows a guy who knows a guy, that gets things done.

Roberts: in a perfect world, we’d get the money back, plus our expenses and maybe beat him up or something

Roberts: but that’s not realistic

Cimon: Nope. And it ain’t the money, fuck, it’s your fault, no one elses. Someday I’ll tell you a long story from a guy who explained to me why situations like this are always yer own fault.

Roberts: so yea, it’s a good quesiton I’ve been thinking about the last 24 hours

Cimon: But he came at us from inside, put many folks at risk, and facing a serious felony he’s def the kind of guy that would seel what little he knows for a break with the Feebs

About three minutes later, Cimon messages Roberts again:

Cimon: So, you’ve had your time to think. You’re sitting in the big chair, and you need to make a decision. Now, really, things could move fast in the future.

Roberts: I would have no problem wasting this guy

Cimon: Well ok then, I’ll take care of it.

Less than half an hour later, Cimon messages Roberts one more time, as if to make sure he isn’t about to change his mind. “You would have surprised me if you had balked at taking the step, of bluntly, killing Curtis for fucking up just a wee bit too badly. Also, if you had balked, I would have seriously re-considered our relationship,” Cimon writes. “We’re playing for keeps, this just drives it home. I’m perfectly comfortable with the decision, and I’ll sleep like a lamb tonight, and every night hereafter.”

“You're sitting in the big chair, and you need to make a decision.”

In the end, Cimon doesn’t “take care of it.” Instead, Roberts himself approaches Nob, who is actually an undercover DEA agent, to kill Green for an $80,000 payment. “It is, [what I want] after i had a chance to think on it,” Roberts writes to Nob. “Never killed a man or had one killed before, but it is the right move in this case.”

As a result of that decision, the Baltimore task force investigating Silk Road faked Green’s death, sending Roberts a spoofed photo of the body. Eventually Roberts would pay to have five more people murdered, including a potential blackmailer, a scammer and his three housemates. None of those murders, it’s important to note, seem to have ever taken place. Instead, the five attempted murders-for-hire following the DEA’s sting all appear to have been undertaken by a con artist who merely bilked Roberts out of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin.

Since his conviction last month, Ross Ulbricht awaits sentencing in May for seven felonies related to his creation and control of the Silk Road. Meanwhile, the mysterious figure known as Cimon or Variety Jones remains at large. The full extent of his participation or partnership in the Silk Road isn’t clear, although it’s known that he helped Ulbricht deal with the Silk Road’s finances, coding, security, administration, and even invented the “Dread Pirate Roberts” nickname. These latest chat logs add another, darker role for Roberts’ consigliere: the initial inspiration for the Silk Road’s acceptance of violence.

Read the full chat logs in the unsealed filings from Ulbricht’s case below. They begin on page 31.

Ulbricht post-trial unsealed filings

Top 15 Google Maps Pac-Man Spots

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Lombard St., San Francisco: Of course we had to include San Francisco’s second crookedest street, even if the rest of this map is fairly pedestrian. Pac-Man is the fastest object to have ever swerved down Lombard without crashing. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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Vermont St., San Francisco: Local secret: Lombard isn’t the crookedest street in SF. Tucked in Portrero Hill, between 20th and 22nd on Vermont, is an even crazier stretch of road. It's that mess over on the left. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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Diamond Heights, San Francisco: This is what Pac-Man levels would look like if they were based on spaghetti thrown at a wall. The lack of straight lines or any sort of grid make this location a must-play. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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Simonds Loop, The Presidio: The Presidio is heavenly. It smells great. Playing this location in Google Maps Pac-Man is hell on earth. It smells like sulfur. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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Washington Square Park, San Francisco: This location has it all: Traditional Pac-Man-like grid patterns, the diagonal double-dot interruption of Columbus Ave, and a kidney-shaped loop around the park. Don’t eat the hippies on the lawn. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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Gramercy Park, New York: On to New York City. In real life, you need a key to get into Gramercy Park. In Pac-Man, you can just waltz right in. Getting to the key level is still a good run, though. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED


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Central Park's Wagner Cove and Loeb Boathouse: As long as you don’t go there at night, a leisurely stroll through Central Park puts the mind at ease. Not so with this Google Maps Pac-Man level, thanks to loop-de-loops, hellish criss-cross patterns, and paths that get you side-swiped by ghosts. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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Central Park's Great Lawn and Softball Fields: If you play this one right, you’ll have Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde chasing you around in circles. Just beware of that dead-end side nub (which leads to Delacorte Theater in real life). Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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Rikers Island, New York: You never want to find yourself on Rikers Island in real life. In Google Maps Pac-Man, though, it makes for surprisingly easy escapes. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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SoHo/Tribeca, New York: You are Pac-Man. You just got off the A train at Canal St. Can you make it to Sushi Azabu without getting jacked by ghosts? Or filling up on dots before you can eat that omakase? Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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Boston Common: Welcome to Boston, a city that eschews grid patterns and provides the most mind-bending boards in the realm of Google Maps Pac-Man. Is that a Trivial Pursuit piece? Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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Harvard Square: How about these apples? Dude, you gotta be wicked smaht to get through this intricate yahd without giving up the ghost. Wicked smaht. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED


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Fenway Park, Boston: After winding through the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and the Back Bay Fens, take a left on Lansdowne and grab an Italian sausage with peppers from a street vendor. You’ll smell it a mile away. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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Consulate of Chile, Brighton, MA: How are you supposed to get to that street in the lower right corner? I’m seriously asking. I have no idea. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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Schick Park, Brookline, MA: You can’t play Google Maps Pac-Man in the Boston area without having at least one concentric-circle urban planning nightmare in the mix. This is it. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

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Bonus! San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge: Time to just ease back and rack up some points. The bridge connecting San Francisco to the East Bay is a festival of easy dots, ghost-eating, levelling up, and high scores. Screenshots: Tim Moynihan/WIRED

Post-Apocalypse Hacker Flick Jackrabbit Actually Looks Good

Post-Apocalypse Hacker Flick Jackrabbit Actually Looks Good

Yik Yak Is Testing a Photo Feature. What Could Go Wrong?

Here’s an idea that could never backfire: an anonymous app that already has a reputation for being abused by bullies and has led to more than one arrest over anonymous threats made by its users has decided to add a new feature to its offerings: photos.

What could possibly go wrong?

Yik Yak, the anonymous app in question, confirmed the news to Mashable Tuesday night, saying in a statement that its users, most of whom are college students, have been clamoring for a photo feature for some time. Now, the company is testing the photo tool on a few college campuses. “There have been some great photo yaks so far, depicting everything from questions to sports victories to random funny moments,” Yik Yak CEO Tyler Droll told Mashable. “We’re excited to see what these communities share.”

Yik Yak’s founders like to talk about how Yik Yak brings college campuses together. And it does. The app, which lets people post anonymous comments to anyone within a 1.5 mile radius, has plenty of positive applications, such as letting users freely engage in community debate. But it also has some well-publicized ugly ones—with many known instances of bad seeds using the app to slander each other and post vile threats. When you add photos to the mix, things could get even uglier.

For now, Yik Yak is merely testing this feature, and its moderators have to approve each photo before it gets posted on the site. As a blog post explaining the new tool notes, there will be no faces or nude shots allowed in the photos. Users also have to take the photo within the Yik Yak app, and can’t simply upload images from their phone.

For Yik Yak, these safeguards are critical. The internet is already overrun with illicit photos—photos taken, in many cases, without the subject’s consent and posted, in many cases, with the intent of ruining another person’s reputation. Larger companies than Yik Yak have struggled to solve this problem. Take Facebook, for example, which requires users to take accountability for what they post by using their real names. When photos are posted anonymously and targeted to a specific geographic location, however, the potential for misuse is even greater.

“We have increasingly seen issues involving compromising sexually explicit images that are taken without people’s permission,” says Danielle Citron, author of the book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace. “When the poster is anonymous it’s easy to see the mischief people can reap with this tool.”

To Yik Yak’s credit, the company has gone to great lengths to prevent certain types of abuse, particularly on high school campuses, where it uses geofencing technology to prevent high school students from accessing the app at school. It also gives users tools to police their own community, allowing them to down vote any inappropriate content. Once a post receives five down votes, it gets removed from the site. According to Rey Junco, an associate professor of education and human computer interaction at Iowa State University, this system is about as effective as it gets at warding off bad actors. “If you look at the development of other platforms, I think they went in with some pretty strong safeguards comparatively,” he says.

It’s promising to see that Yik Yak is taking a proactive approach to monitoring the photos in its new feature. And yet, it’s hard to see how this approach—approving every photo before it posts—could scale. After all, the reason Yik Yak wants to add a feature like this is to make its app more sticky, so users will keep coming back again and again. Adding an extra hurdle to photo sharing could inhibit that growth when other platforms make it so easy.

Which begs the question: how will a photo feature that’s ripe for mischief ultimately affect Yik Yak’s ability to make money long term? Certainly, it would make ads look more seamless on the app, but as Citron points out, Yik Yak will have to prove it has a proven method of curbing harassment before advertisers jump on board. “It’s not that putting up photos is a bad idea or going to chase advertisers away. It’s that they need strong community guidelines to prevent the posting of nude photos without permission,” she says. “Advertisers don’t want to be affiliated with destruction.”

New Obama Order Allows Sanctions Against Foreign Hackers

President Barack Obama speaks in Boston,March 30, 2015. President Barack Obama speaks in Boston,March 30, 2015. Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

In an effort to deter and punish hackers and cyberspies who have until now been outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement, President Barack Obama signed an executive order today allowing the government to levy economic sanctions against individuals overseas who engage in destructive cyberattacks or commercial espionage.

The order is aimed primarily at state-sponsored actors and other hackers who are beyond the reach of law enforcement or diplomatic efforts. It gives the government the power to go beyond nation-level actions to target individuals who may be sponsored or supported in some way by a nation.

The sanctions are intended for significant attacks that meet a certain threshold of harm. They must directly hurt the “national security, foreign policy, economic health or financial stability of the United States,” according to the president’s announcement.

The order also allows the government to apply sanctions against individuals and entities who knowingly use and receive data stolen in attacks.

This would include attacks that damage critical infrastructure, disrupt computer networks through widespread DDoS efforts, or the stealing of financial data, trade secrets or intellectual property in a way that harms the nation’s economic stability. The sanctions wouldn’t be applicable only to parties engaging in the cyberattacks and theft, however. The order also allows the government to apply sanctions against individuals and entities who knowingly use and receive data stolen in such attacks. This could apply, for example, to a company that hires hackers to steal data from a competitor to gain a market advantage or purchases stolen data after the fact.

“We don’t want to just deter those with their fingers on the keyboard but those who are funding and enabling those groups to carry out their activity,” said Michael Daniel, the president’s special advisor on cybersecurity and a member of the National Security Council who spoke on Wednesday morning at a news conference. “We want to deter those who are paying for it.”

The move is designed to fill a gap where individuals carrying out significant malicious cyber activity are generally unreachable through other diplomatic and law enforcement means or where a “country has weak cyber security laws, or … turns a blind eye to the activity or where we don’t have good law enforcement relationships,” said Daniel. It would also apply in cases where hackers are being directly supported in some way by their government.

Currently, when hackers undertake significant cyberattacks from countries like Russia or Ukraine that will not extradite suspects, law enforcement waits to nab them when they inevitably leave to go on vacation in places like Thailand or fly through Europe enroute to a vacation destination. U.S. law enforcement agencies often wait until a suspect passes through a country that is more cooperative and will work with the U.S. to arrest an individual. The new order would potentially give the government another tool to punish suspects who carefully avoid traveling to nations that are sympathetic to the U.S.

The order would allow the government to freeze any financial assets held by a targeted individual in U.S. banks and financial institutions and would also prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in business transactions with such an individual—thus preventing them from purchasing U.S. technologies and goods. The government could also place a visa ban on a targeted suspect.

The administration anticipates that other countries and foreign banks might join in the sanctions against such individuals.

Some of these sanctions seem unlikely to directly affect people overseas who do not intend to travel to the U.S. or who do not have money stored in U.S. financial institutions. But John Smith, acting director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said on the press call Wednesday that a target’s money doesn’t have to be stored in a U.S. financial institution to be affected. Transactions that merely pass through U.S. banks—for example when a foreign currency transaction is converted to U.S. dollars—can also be frozen and prevented from being processed.

Because of the prevalence of the U.S. dollar, “many transactions come through the U.S. that people do not intend,” said Smith. Although foreign contracts and transactions that specify U.S. dollars may be sent from banks that are far from U.S. borders, they “come through the U.S. financial system to be dollarized, so they can have moneys frozen even if they never knew that they had a U.S. footprint in their transaction before.”

Daniel said that the administration anticipates that other countries and foreign banks might join in the sanctions against such individuals, increasing their reach and effectiveness.

When such sanctions are applied, Daniel said the government would do so publicly, distributing a fact sheet outlining the unclassified aspects of the case “so the community knows the reasons we’re taking the action.”

Daniel and Smith were hard-pressed during the call to identify specific examples of attacks that would qualify for these sanctions or explain the criteria for determining when an attack meets the threshold. But they suggested that the recent hack against Sony Pictures Entertainment might have met the criteria, as might have a widespread distributed denial-of-service campaign directed against U.S. banks that the US has attributed to Iran. The ongoing, years-long economic espionage campaign against U.S. companies attributed to China might also fall under this category.

“It’s difficult to speculate whether we would have used this tool with respect to Sony,” Daniel said. “Obviously this will become one of the tools we will have going forward if we face similar incidents. It is something we will consider and whether we have the evidence in a form that we are willing to disclose publicly that we would be willing to consider using this tool.”

“It's difficult to speculate whether we would have used this tool with respect to Sony.”

Last year the government indicted five Chinese hackers alleged to be working for the Chinese military, accusing them of stealing information from six U.S. companies in the energy, metals, and manufacturing industries. The government also levied sanctions against several North Korean officials in response to the hack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. Both of those actions, however, were primarily political; the Chinese hackers are not likely to ever actually be arrested or prosecuted for their actions and in the case of the North Korean officials the individuals were not targeted for sanctions for any direct involvement in the Sony attack and the authority used to sanction them was not specific to cyberactivity. The new order is tailored to address cyberattacks and sanctions applied under them would allow the government to punish individuals who would never otherwise be punished through a court prosecution.

Daniel said the new order would be used judiciously and in extraordinary circumstances. “We will not use this to target free speech or interfere with the open internet or go after innocent victims or people whose computers were taken over and used by malicious” actors, he said.

Any individual or entity who feels they’ve been sanctioned wrongly would have to challenge the move with an administrative petition or file suit in a U.S. district court, though it’s unclear in practical terms how effective this kind of redress would be.

Food-poisoning pathogen: A multi-faceted poison?

The Bacillus cereus bacteria is one of the potential causes of food poisoning. Indeed, a recent study in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry shows that this versatile pathogen produces 19 different variants of a poison that causes nausea and vomiting in human beings. This variety could explain why some cases are relatively benign and others can result in death.

Across Europe, the number of food poisoning cases caused by the Bacillus species is on the rise. While unpleasant, infections resulting from B. cereus are usually not life-threatening. Depending on the toxin that is released by the bacteria, patients suffer either from diarrhea or from nausea and vomiting. The results can be more serious, however, with death occurring in some very rare cases.

The form of the illness that causes nausea and vomiting is known as emetic. The toxin responsible for this is cereulide. Researchers from Technische Universität München (TUM) and the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna have now developed a method for detecting this toxin. In the process, they identified 18 further variants to add to the cereulide already known to scientists.

Ready meals increase the risk of food-borne infections

Recently, around 100 children and staff contracted a B. cereus infection at a number of daycare centers near Paderborn in Germany*. It turned out that they had all eaten rice pudding supplied by the same caterer. It is known that consuming pre-prepared meals increases the risk of food poisoning. The types of foods most likely to harbor B. cereus are starchy staples like rice, pasta and potatoes.

"A poor temperature management often plays a role," explains Prof. Thomas Hofmann from the Chair of Food Chemistry and Molecular Sensory Science. "The bacteria multiply, for example, in food that has been pre-cooked and then not heated up enough, or else not adequately cooled down beforehand."

In addition, B. cereus can produce spores that can survive high heat -- and which are still capable of producing viable bacteria at lower temperatures. These then often form bacterial toxins, which are in turn heat-stable -- like cereulides.

Toxin attacks cell membrane

The toxin attacks the membrane of living cells. As for their structure, cereulides are like pincers grasping a potassium ion. The potassium ions alter the electric potential at the cell membrane, resulting in damage to the membrane and cell death.

"The toxicity of the individual types of cereulides depends on their chemical structure. The more lipophilic they are, the easier it is for them to attach to the membrane composed of fatty acids," says Prof. Siegfried Scherer, head of the Chair for Microbial Ecology.

New detection method is being evaluated

"Prior to this project, there was no satisfactory method of detecting the cereulide toxin in food," relates Hofmann. "With our mass spectrometry-based process, we have created an important starting point for the reliable detection of the toxic bacteria."

This will make it easier to assess the risk inherent in contaminated products -- and the role played by the individual cereulide variants. The new detection method is currently being jointly evaluated at European level together with the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and preparations are being made for its deployment.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Technische Universitaet Muenchen . Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

How We Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Bots

A sharp dichotomy has emerged in the big debate about where technology is taking us (or vice versa). In one high-profile camp are technologists and scientists sounding the alarm about the perils of artificial intelligence. Elon Musk likens AI’s emergence to “summoning the demon,” calling it the biggest single threat to our survival. Stephen Hawking has made a similar argument, fearing that AI will eventually “take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate,” ultimately “superseding” humans altogether.

At the other end are some equally smart thinkers who anticipate a more optimistic scenario—with technology helping solve some of our most intractable problems. Mobile computing pioneer Jeff Hawkins, now a neuroscientist working on AI software that can replicate the learning functions of the brain, argues that machine intelligence will “radically transform our world in the 21st century, similar to how computers transformed our world in the 20th century. I see these changes as almost completely beneficial, indeed thrilling.” Even Al Gore has come around. “We’re going to win this,” he said recently of technology’s higher calling. “The only question is how long it takes.”

History, of course, tells us that reality lies in the murky and very unpredictable middle. While dystopian futurists such as Marx, Toffler, Huxley, Bradbury, Orwell, and Ehrlich have a less than Sterling track record on predictions, there are clear threads of their narratives everywhere around us. Edward Snowden showed how far we’ve come with the emergence of a surveillance state. Philip K. Dick has inspired many current advances in robotics. The guy who blew millions of minds in Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson, is now working as chief futurist at virtual-reality pioneer Magic Leap. Oculus Rift isn’t virtual—it’s here. So is cyberwarfare, as imagined in so many sci-fi tomes; North Korea, Iran, and China are just the latest battlefields. And yes, the robots are starting to replace humans in many places beyond the assembly line.

“Technology can make us more human,

not less.”

But here’s the Toffler-esque future shock: Humanity’s big dance with technology is only getting started. The pace of innovation, dizzying as it may seem over the last generation alone, is accelerating. Technologies in the service of automation—the driving force of human innovation since spears and wheels—are giving way to breakthroughs that hold the potential of humanization. Quantum computing, and the staggering capabilities it has to solve immensely complex problems, is on the horizon. AI applications are arriving in a variety of platforms and capabilities. Computer interfaces are approaching embryonic states of consciousness. Businesses are tapping deeply into social and mobile technologies to connect workers together in unprecedented ways and changing the definition of work. Technology is reinventing education and has profound implications for the future of a diverse workforce and society at large. One inherent promise is that technology can make us more human, not less. More caring. More empathetic. More supportive of our environment and planet. More intelligent, happier, and fulfilled.

The promise of it all is beyond exciting—we’re living on the brink of incredible change. The flip side is that the stakes couldn’t be higher. Modern technology and connectivity offer both challenges and opportunities to peoples around the globe, with dramatic implications for climate change, wealth distribution, diversity, poverty, health care, security, and privacy. Which means we have some deeper thinking to do and critical choices to make in the years ahead if we want to live in a future rich with human possibility and opportunity.

We started this #maketechhuman conversation with World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee’s recent AMA chat on Reddit, and with dinner and video conversations with tech luminaries at TED in Vancouver. But the deeper discussion will continue here to bring more clarity to some big questions: What types of new technologies and applications can and should we be championing and why? What’s real, and when? Which ones raise the biggest red flags? Is the Terminator scenario possible? What are some potentially disastrous consequences we haven’t yet considered? What can’t—or shouldn’t—technology solve at all? How should we go about weighing the benefits against the risks?

Over the next few months, we’d like to tap the wisdom of you, our readers, to include your #maketechhuman intelligence in our reporting on AI and robotics, quantum computing, environmental science, privacy and security, biotechnology, and other issues—and help us sort out the promise from the peril. As Berners-Lee said, “the outcome is not a foregone conclusion, that tech will in fact end up working in humanity’s best interests. But we have a choice! So it is up to us, where ‘us’ is humanity. And in general, about us, I am optimistic—so long as we keep our eyes on the prize.”

WIRED Binge-Watching Guide: My So-Called Life

If you were a teenager in the 1990s, My So-Called Life was a revelation. Its storylines were real, its dialogue was unaffected in a way teen dramas never got to be, and its cast looked like average people—or at least as average as Claire Danes and Jared Leto can look. It was supposed to be about one suburban Pittsburgh kid’s crummy life, but yet somehow everyone wanted to be (or maybe date?) Angela Chase.

Why it only got one season, we’ll never know. MSCL was game-changing because it treated teenagers like people, not just stereotypes of people. Angela (Danes) fought with her parents, but was never overly condescending or shrill about it. Rayanne (A.J. Langer) had a substance abuse problem, but it wasn’t only during the “very special episode”—it was a real struggle. And Rickie (Wilson Cruz) was a gay kid who didn’t just swing in to help with make-up snafus—he experienced real dramas and did things besides just, y’know, be queer. (Every gay best friend on TV since him could’ve taken a cue.)

But even though the show didn’t get the long life it deserved—it barely got out of sophomore year, let alone graduation—My So-Called Life packed more into 19 episodes than The O.C. worked into four seasons. So if you haven’t already, it’s time to binge-watch your way through My So-Called Life. Go, now. Go!

My So-Called Life

Number of Seasons: 1 (19 episodes)

Time Requirements: There’s about 15 hours of TV here. Back in the ’90s, MTV used to run My So-Called Life weekend marathons, so we recommend you replicate that magic with streaming services and knock this out over a Saturday and Sunday.

Where to Get Your Fix: Amazon Prime, Hulu

Best Character to Follow:

Angela Chase. You kind of have to since in addition to being the main protagonist she’s also the show’s narrator. Rickie is a good one to keep an eye on, too. Also, if you are (or were) a tortured loner type, watching Brian Krakow (Devon Gummersall) is a good way to remember the more gruesome years of your life.

Seasons/Episodes You Can Skip:

With only 19 episodes, do yourself a favor and burn through each of them. Even if you skip ahead you’ll be dying for more and going back to the ones you moved past in no time anyway, so go ahead and watch them all in order. But if you really want to get straight to the blood and guts of this show…

Seasons/Episodes You Can’t Skip:

Season 1: Episode 1, “Pilot” Meet Angela Chase. She’s a sophomore, her breasts have come between her and her dad (not in a creepy way), she just quit yearbook and dyed her hair wine red, and she’s starting to hang out with alterna-teens Rickie and Rayanne. Oh, and she’s in love with Jordan Catalano (future Oscar winner—god, that’s weird—Leto). Fun fact: Leto is nearly eight years older than Danes, who was actually 15 when this show started airing. Let that sink in.

Season 1: Episode 3, “Guns and Gossip” Not everyone loves this episode. But while the “guns in school” storyline has its pitfalls—and clichés—it’s still remarkably poignant. But really the whole point of this episode is the moment that Rickie and Angela realize they’re truly friends and not just people who are, like, “around.” (See below.) It just feels like the genesis of every real high school friendship ever. (Also, you note that we skipped Episode 2, where Jordan gets Angela a fake ID. It’s not terrible, but the best part by far is when Angela utters the peak-romance-at-15 phrase, “You’re so beautiful, it hurts to look at you.”)

Season 1: Episode 6, “The Substitute” For those of us who spent many of our high school days in creative writing classes feeling our feelings, this episode is a cornerstone. For those who have seen Dead Poets Society, it’s also a little predictable. Whatever. “The Substitute” makes you want to email every great teacher you ever had. It’s also the one where you find out Jordan is illiterate.

Season 1: Episode 8, “Strangers in the House” Sharon (Devon Odessa) and Angela reconcile their on-the-rocks best friendship after Sharon’s dad has a heart attack and she moves in with the Chases. Sometimes just saying “you can have the first shower” is all it takes to start thawing a cold friendship.

Season 1: Episode 9, “Halloween” This episode is kind of a mess, and not just because Angela starts seeing clichéd 1950s greaser ghosts. But Rayanne’s vampire costume is seriously on-point.

Season 1: Episode 10, “Other People’s Mothers” A turning point in the show, wherein we realize that Rayanne’s “cool mom” is actually more of a “mess mom” who doesn’t realize her daughter is getting blackout drunk in her house. We also see in no uncertain terms how much Rickie saves Rayanne again and again. Also, Angela’s mom (Bess Armstrong) is probably actually the cooler mom.

Season 1: Episode 11, “Life of Brian” The Brian-centered episode you’ve been waiting for. Even though the story is wrapped around one of the hoariest tropes in high-school drama—The Big Dance—it somehow manages to dive into why those things actually seemed so important. They weren’t so much about being popular and having a date; rather, they forced all of us, at one of the most vulnerable times in our lives, to publicly show who we gave a shit about—and to find out who actually gave a shit about us.

Season 1: Episode 12, “Self-Esteem” Remember that thing we said about keeping an (impeccably lined) eye on Rickie? This is where that finally pays off after teacher Mr. Katimski (Jeff Perry, now of Scandal fame) shows up and finally shows Rickie just how valuable he is. Meanwhile, Angela and Jordan are having secret boiler-room trysts and people talk about the band Buffalo Tom a lot (oh, ’90s!).

Season 1: Episode 13, “Pressure” Jordan and Angela negotiate having sex, possibly in the grossest place imaginable. Angela’s dad Graham (Tom Irwin) contemplates opening a restaurant with a woman he met in cooking class, while also contemplating her as a person. (This show really did become a master class in processing.)

Season 1: Episode 14, “On the Wagon” Rayanne and Angela might be drifting apart, so Rayanne—now sober—does the most logical thing she can think of (with the help of her margarita-mixing mom): joins Jordan’s band.

Season 1: Episode 16, “Resolutions” The emotional crescendo of this episode, where now-homeless Rickie goes to stay with Mr. Katimski, is everything. A hug has never felt more cathartic.

Season 1: Episode 17, “Betrayal” Rayanne bones Jordan. And accidental-super-creep Brian videotapes it. (On actual tape! Not a phone!) None of this goes over well. But! Rayanne also gets a part in the school play. [Eds. note: This episode is still the only reason I remember any lines from Our Town .]

Season 1: Episode 18, “Weekend” Half of this one is a bottle episode where the gang ends up stuck at Angela’s house for two days after Rayanne handcuffs herself to Angela’s parents’ bed. (It’s a long story.) The other half is about a not-as-romantic-as-promised couples’ weekend Graham and Patty spend wishing Patty had brought those handcuffs. (Not such a long story.)

Season 1: Episode 19, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” Brian reaches a low/high point as a character and writes a love letter to Angela … to help Jordan. (Is anything more singularly crushing than watching a kid in the throes of high school love help another guy get the girl? This is also the end of the show. SOB!

Why You Should Binge:

Because sometimes reliving the trauma that is high school can be an enlightening experience—and if you’re going to go through it with anyone, it might as well be Angela Chase.

Best Scene—Angela and Rickie and the Gun:

There are better moments than this in My So-Called Life (the one above from the finale is fantastic), but this was the moment where the show really, truly clicked for the first time. MSCL is about finding yourself and finding your people and that moment when the air between you raises a few degrees and you realize you’re having an interaction you’ll be nostalgic for one day. It may have been spawned by Rickie’s unfortunate encounter with a gun, but this was that moment for him and Angela.

The Takeaway:

“People are always saying you should be yourself, like ‘yourself’ is this definite thing, like a toaster.”—Angela Chase

If You Liked My So-Called Life You’ll Love:

If you’re looking for girls as smart as Angela Chase but proactive: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you want more high schoolers who feel like actual teenagers you might have been or known: Freaks and Geeks. If you want to know what Claire Danes has been up to: Homeland.

How They Made Furious 7’s Tricked-Out Cars

When Furious 7 hits theaters this Thursday, moviegoers will be reunited with Vin Diesel, the late Paul Walker, and the cars that have starred in the street racing movie series for the past 14 years.

Because Furious 7′s tricked-out cars have as much of a starring role in the movie as its actors, these metal and carbon fiber co-stars are hand-picked by a picture car coordinator the same way a casting director selects human performers.

Dennis McCarthy has filled this role on four other Fast and Furious movies, starting in 2006 with Tokyo Drift. For the latest sequel, he was in charge of choosing almost 300 cars.

In some cases, McCarthy’s job is as simple as finding an appropriate ride and getting it to the set. Other times, it’s a far more complicated process that involves modifying cars so they’ll survive the incredible stunts called for in the script.

The 1968 Charger R/T driven by Vin Diesel’s character Dom is McCarthy’s favorite car in the movie, and it’s also the car that required some of the most serious modifications. This car doesn’t street race in Furious 7; it goes off-roading. And as anyone who’s driven or seen a Charger knows, they’re not built for hitting ramps and churning dirt.

“When I read the script, I knew what I wanted the car to look like,” McCarthy says. But it wouldn’t be easy. “It’s obviously hard to make a Charger into an off-road car without it looking horrible.”

Building From Zero

The process didn’t start with a real ’68 Charger. Working out of his Los Angeles shop, McCarthy and his team had to build the car from zero. Actually, they built seven of them, a standard number for a car that plays a big role, to allow for filming multiple scenes simultaneously, with spares in case something breaks down. Spoiler alert: There are nine versions of the new Charger Dom drives in the movie’s third act, and six of the Lykan Hypersport that plays another significant role. Because the Lykan supercar costs $3.4 million, those are far cheaper replicas that W Motors built just for the Furious 7.

Designing the chassis of the ’68 Charger took about a week, and the body (with extra room for wheel travel and fenders designed to make the car still seem low to the ground) took six more. McCarthy and his team did most of that work with CAD, and then computers cut the parts. To speed things up, McCarthy sent orders for parts to different shops around the area, which his team assembles into the cars.

Once the car’s built and tested, it gets painted and decorated accordingly, and loaded onto a trailer for shipment to whatever exotic locale it has for a destination. Once the car’s built and tested, it gets painted and decorated accordingly, and loaded onto a trailer for shipment to whatever exotic locale it has for a destination. Universal

The old-school Charger doesn’t look like the cars that surround it on screen, but it actually has the same powertrain as all the cars McCarthy builds: a 500-horsepower fuel injection unit, with a three-speed manual transmission, sans clutch. Each car is fitted with a 9-inch rear lock differential, to make sure both rear wheels spin (it wouldn’t be a Fast and Furious movie without buckets of spinning tires).

It’s all about simplicity: One powertrain means just one set of spare parts to carry around. But it also means every vehicle sounds the same, and that won’t fly. This is why McCarthy works with sound editor Peter Brown in post production. For the ’68 Charger, the picture car coordinator tracked down a car with a powertrain to match what the real car would have had. Then he and Brown cover it in microphones, take it to an empty airport tarmac in California City, and spend the whole day sliding, revving the engine, and smoking the tires. Then they repeat the process for every car in the movie. In the understatement of the year, McCarthy admits, “It is not a bad way to spend a day at work.”

Hitting the Track

Before the cars appear on camera, they have to be tested. Testing is a multi-step process, and it’s about simplifying and saving time. The more McCarthy and his team prepare the cars before the camera rolls, the smoother filming will go. Once a car is drivable but not camera-ready, McCarthy’s team takes it to a track. They run it through a road course to make sure the brakes, suspension, and everything else work properly.

If the car will be doing stunts, it’s then sent to the off-road course set up in a parking lot. The team takes it over ramps, starting at an easy two feet and gradually increasing to three and a half. They build its speed up to 65 or 70 mph, enough to send it 90 feet before touching down. Then they adjust the rebound compression to make sure the car lands the right way, without excessive bouncing. Doing this testing early means that once shooting starts, the driver can hit the ramp at full throttle the first time, without holding back and without breaking anything.

Then it’s on to the dirt, where the stunt driver who’s driving a particular car during filming gets behind the wheel. He or she makes sure it’s to tweaked to suit his or her preferences, adjusting things like the sway bar to allow or more under- or oversteer.

Occasionally all this prep is interrupted by a mechanical problem, but McCarthy’s been doing this for a while, and says they “have that part pretty much dialed in.” Once the car’s built and tested, it gets painted and decorated accordingly, then loaded onto a trailer for shipment to the exotic locale where it will be filmed.

Now that Furious 7 is done, McCarthy has time to relax and take on other projects. Of course, he’s ready to take the call if the movie franchise returns for an eighth installment. “I hope they just keep going and going,” he says.

Radio Is Soulless. Can These Radicals Make It Great Again?

East Village Radio general manager Peter Ferraro, left, and CEO Frank Prisinzano, right, in New York City, March 28, 2015. After closing last year, East Village Radio is going back on air. East Village Radio general manager Peter Ferraro, left, and CEO Frank Prisinzano, right, in New York City, March 28, 2015. After closing last year, East Village Radio is going back on air. Bryan Derballa

“Where’s that smoke coming from?”

Frank Prisinzano, burly, with a deep-shag beard and a white v-neck t-shirt, is standing in a 5-by-5-foot soundproofed booth on 1st Avenue in Manhattan. A floor-to-ceiling window affords a view of the few hapless pedestrians caught outside in the latest in a series of winter snowstorms. On the desk in front of him sits a brand-new mixing board, troublingly covered in moisture. White steam—it is not in fact smoke—billows into the room from behind a seam in the soundproofing. It turns out a valve in the radiator has sprung a leak. The building manager will have to repair it.

“Oh man,” says his colleague Peter Ferraro, worriedly eyeing the pricey equipment. “That’s not good.”

It may not be fancy, but for much of the last 11 years this ramshackle warren has served as an unlikely mecca for music fans. It is the home of East Village Radio, a pirate-turned-Internet radio station dedicated to preserving and extrapolating the neighborhood’s junkie-genius musical legacy. (You know the legendary litany: Talking Heads, Blondie, New York Dolls, Television, etc.) Prisinzano, who owns three Italian restaurants in the neighborhood, created EVR in 2003 as a bulwark against creeping gentrification. “People were forgetting about it,” says Prisinzano. “They were walking around with fucking CBGB t-shirts, but nobody was going there. So much was leaving to go to Brooklyn. Then one day I was eating white truffles with a friend of mine and he started telling me about Free Radio Austin, a pirate station that went undetected for years. It hit me: This neighborhood needs its own radio station.” (Ferraro came on as general manager in 2007.)

If the East Village risked losing its rebellious spark, radio seemed an unlikely medium through which to rekindle it. The broadcast booth might have once provided a home to forward-thinking renegades—think of Alan “Moondog” Freed, Wolfman Jack, or Kool DJ Red Alert, beaming their soul-fuelled samizdat across the wastelands of Square America—but after the mid-’90s deregulation of the airwaves, radio became an antiseptic stalking ground for warring conglomerates. Corporations like Clear Channel and Cumulus snapped up stations all over the country, then pumped them full of centrally programmed playlists designed to appeal to the broadest possible audience. The result was that all the biggest stations played the same pop pabulum, the DJs doing little more than providing bumpers between tracks. Satellite radio provided a free-range alternative, but there were only so many listeners willing to shell out at least $10 a month for what used to come free over the airwaves.

Microphones and a new soundboard are set up at East Village Radio station. Microphones and a new soundboard are set up at East Village Radio station. Bryan Derballa

EVR gave its DJs freedom to play whatever they wanted, a hands-off policy that attracted passionate music fans. Atlantic Tunnel, hosted by a pair of middle-aged UK expats, spun deep-cut British esoterica from the past and present. Ashok “Dapwell” Kondabolu, a member of underground rap phenomenon Das Racist, hosted a show called Chillin’ Island. Superproducer Mark Ronson DJ’d a weekly show; Amy Winehouse popped in one afternoon as a surprise in-studio guest. Ferraro also hired Bobbito and Stretch Armstrong, who hosted a legendary early-’90s hip-hop show on WKCR. EVR’s street-facing studios routinely drew celebrity guests—Drake, Richard Hell, Jimmy Cliff, Joy Division’s Peter Hook, rapper Danny Brown.

“Our job is to bring music that would otherwise go largely unheard,” says Gaz Thomas, one of the hosts of Atlantic Tunnel. “Prolific, fantastic artists that otherwise might not make it to America—if we’d never played it, nobody would have heard it.”

What began as an outlaw hobby—powered by a rooftop antenna that was quickly slapped down by the FCC—soon became a pioneer of a new medium: Internet radio. Early on, Prisinzano established an EVR channel on live365, an Internet radio network, then eventually built out a website and, after the advent of the iPhone, an app. When social media emerged in the early 2010s, EVR began reaching out to listeners via Twitter. With each new technological breakthrough, the station attracted a greater audience. By 2014 what began as a 100-watt signal that couldn’t be heard north of 14th street had grown into an international cult juggernaut, regularly reaching a million listeners from such far-flung locales as Berlin, Tokyo, and Sydney.

East Village Radio occupies a tiny storefront space on First Avenue next to CEO Frank Prisinzano's restaurant Lil' Frankie's . East Village Radio occupies a tiny storefront space on First Avenue next to CEO Frank Prisinzano’s restaurant Lil’ Frankie’s . Bryan Derballa

This sounds like a good thing, but it was actually a huge problem. Thanks to the vagaries of copyright law, EVR was financially punished for every new listener it gained. “You have to pay per song, per user, and we have to mine that data and report on that,” Prisinzano says. “You’ve got MBI, ASCAP, all that stuff—and those numbers can only go up.” Unwilling to barrage their listeners with massive blocks of advertising, and with a scrappy staff that wasn’t particularly motivated to seek out corporate sponsorships, Ferraro and Prisinzano decided last year that the time had come to shut down the station. EVR hosted its last broadcast on May 23, signing off with an appropriate musical selection, Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.”

Radio Sucks

On August 12, Scott Keeney posted a video online in which he declared that “radio sucks.” This was not exactly news, except for the fact that Keeney was the one saying it. Keeney was also known as DJ Skee, one of the top personalities on KIIS-FM in LA, by some measures the country’s most popular radio station. (He also hosted a show on Sirius.) “To be blunt, I’m just not that excited about radio any more, and I don’t think I’m alone,” he said. “Most listeners are dissatisfied with it due to repetitive playlists, a lack of variety and originality, and the massive amount of commercials.”

That conclusion was borne out by the statistics. Between 2009 and 2014, the top five terrestrial broadcasters’ audience remained mostly flat, at around 300,000 average active sessions (a term of art that radio analysts use to measure listenership). Meanwhile, Pandora—the most radio-like of the streaming-music services that includes Spotify and Beats—was taking off. Between 2009 and 2014, its AAS leaped from less than 200,000 to nearly 2 million. The radio conglomerates responded by launching streaming apps of their own; Clear Channel, now redubbed IHeartRadio, launched its app in 2008. But the results have been lackluster. According to a recent analysis by Edison Research’s Larry Rosin, “no read of the data can argue for anything other than flatness (at best)” since May of 2013. That was still better than the streaming offerings from radio powerhouses like CBS and Cumulus, which were down by 22 and 14 percent, respectively, over the same time period. “In general,” Rosin wrote, “it is more than fair to say the business of streaming the content of American radio stations is stagnant at best.”

(I should add that IHeartRadio took issue with this analysis. Their rebuttal, and Rosin’s response, can be found here.)

Maybe that’s because the radio-conglomerate model—play safe songs that people already know they want to hear—doesn’t make sense in the digital realm. In a world where you can instantly look up and listen to any song you like, what’s the point? Meanwhile, the proliferation of new bands, and new genres, has made the musical landscape ever more difficult to navigate. Radio’s more natural role in this world might be in introducing listeners to new music, stuff they don’t already know they like. It might look a little more like the radio stations of old, before deregulation. That is to say, it might look a little more like East Village Radio.

WIRED | East Village Radio Bryan Derballa

At least, that’s what Keeney thinks. He’s in the middle of launching a new startup called Dash Radio, an app that will host dozens of stations, programmed and hosted by passionate personalities and credible tastemakers, not corporate overlords or bloodless algorithms. To hear Keeney tell it, the same kind of long-tail fragmentation that has already decimated the recording industry is about to hit radio as well. Spotify and Pandora may provide listeners with music, but they’re not the same as radio—live programming hosted by expert guides. Keeney believes there’s still a market for that, and he’s rounded up some big-name funders—including Epic Records CEO L.A. Reid and former Buddy Media CEO Mike Lazerow—who share his vision. “Broadcast is about to undergo a revolution,” Keeney says. “More music comes out every week than used to come out every year, but radio hasn’t changed at all. We have a huge opportunity.”

The Return of EVR

Keeney has that trademark heeeey-I’m-pointing-my-fingers-at-you-while-I’m-talking DJ voice, so it’s a little weird hearing him spout this kind of startup rhetoric, like Casey Kasem auditioning for a spot in Y Combinator. It is also frankly difficult to imagine him sharing a room, much less a business, with the dyspeptic Prisinzano and Ferraro. Nevertheless, when Keeney heard that EVR was closing down, he immediately reached out to Ferraro and asked him to join the company as a partner. (Ferraro also invested in Dash.) “EVR was one of the key stations where we were like, ‘We need to do stuff like that,’ so when I saw the news that they were shutting down, it was a blessing in disguise,” Keeney says. “They were basically a foundation of what a perfect Dash station would be, run by people who care and get it.” Meanwhile, with its army of lawyers and bankroll, Dash is poised to help pay for music while it negotiates the finer points of license law.

And so, in early April, EVR will return as a Dash station, operating out of the same street-facing studio. (Ferraro and Prisinzano are also launching a sister station, Brooklyn Radio, in Williamsburg.) It’s going to be a bit odd to see the outlaw spirit of the East Village corralled into a flashy app. EVR began as a passion project; now it’s a component of an honest-to-god startup, with investors who presumably expect some financial return. Ferraro and Prisinzano also plan to introduce a bit more professionalism into the station’s operations.

The online sign is seen from the sidewalk on First Avenue. The online sign is seen from the sidewalk on First Avenue. Bryan Derballa/WIRED

“It’s interesting now, because we get to hit the reset button,” Ferraro says.

“And we get to look at the schedule in a different light,” Prisinzano adds. “This is the new format, this is what we’re gonna be doing, this is what’s required of you.”

“Take it a bit more seriously as a platform,” Ferraro concludes.

It’s hard to imagine anyone taking it more seriously than Edward Rogers and Gaz Thomas, the Atlantic Tunnel co-hosts. One chilly March afternoon I head to Rogers’ apartment, near Astor Place in Manhattan. The place is a shrine to British pop—rare Beatles photos line the walls, and entire rooms are filled with obscure CDs and LPs. The men themselves look like living testaments to the mod era, both wearing patterned shirts buttoned all the way to the top.

“It’s kind of like old ’60s radio in America used to be,” Rogers says. “There was a blending of all kinds of music, and that’s what we’re bringing. We’ll play a northern soul record right next to a jazz record.”

“We do feel a responsibility to our listeners,” says Thomas, “to unearth a lost classic or introduce them to a song that’s coming out next week.” He smiles. “They trust us. They trust our taste.”

The duo has been the first of the EVR DJs to take on Dash—they’ve been given their own channel, meaning they have to put together 24 hours of programming every day. For now, they’ve mostly filled the time by re-airing archived EVR shows. Once the new studio is up and running, they’ll be planning a round-the-clock schedule: new shows, guest DJs, live performances. It’s going to be a considerable amount of work. But they’re glad to be back on the air.

It’s Time to Shut Up About Marie Curie

You have never heard of Hertha Ayrton. She was a brilliant British engineer, physicist, and inventor at the turn of the 20th century, and if you knew who she was you would thank her for steadying the flicker then prevalent in movie projection systems (why they're still called flicks). But in her lifetime, Ayrton was also a prominent suffragist and an outspoken advocate for the acceptance of women in scientific fields. Ayrton wanted to make sure due recognition went to another brilliant physicist: her friend Marie Curie.

See? It worked. And now, 92 years after Ayrton's death and 81 years after Curie's, we can see the real problem with Ayrton's success. Because today if you ask someone to name a woman scientist, the first and only name they'll offer is Marie Curie. It's one of the biggest obstacles to better representation of women in science and technology, and it's time to cut it out. Stop talking about Marie Curie; she wouldn't have wanted things this way.

When Silvia Tomášková, director of the Women in Science program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, brings up famous female scientists with her students—and this has been happening since she started teaching 20 years ago—she gets the same reaction: “Marie Curie.” Tomášková always tries to move them on. “Let's not even start there. Who else?” What about Vera Rubin, who confirmed the existence of dark matter? The experimental physicist Chien-Shiung Wu? Hedy Lamarr, the Hollywood starlet who invented a communications technology that paved the way for Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth?

ew_curie_1_faces Felix Petruska

But no. Rarely are they included on the “famous scientist” educational posters. (It's men and Curie.) You haven't heard their names any more than you have heard Ayrton's. Curie has a monopoly.

Don't get me wrong. Curie was a remarkable scientist. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize—and the only one to win it twice. From her discovery of radioactive elements polonium and radium whole new areas of research on radioactivity bloomed. Her work changed the world. But you already know this, of course. Curie occupies a well-worn card in our mental file system. She's our default setting, relied upon whenever a woman in science is needed. Yes, her work was groundbreaking, and yes, her life was fascinating, but name-checking her—and only her—is more than lazy. It's standing in the way of women pursuing STEM fields.

Although girls take the same number of math and science credits in high school that boys do—even earning slightly higher grades—only 21.5 percent of US women entering university plan on majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. In computer science, women's share of the workforce has declined since the 1980s. Something happens in high school to convince girls that as young women they'd be out of place in science or math and should aim for less technical fields and lighter professions. To them Curie isn't a role model. She's a glaring, unattainable exception.

Our ability to make decisions extends only as far and wide as our knowledge base. When girls consider chemistry or archaeology, let's say, and find fields packed with men, it's hard for them to imagine that there's a stool for them at the lab bench too. According to both government reports and personal accounts, girls pursuing STEM careers benefit from role models. And they exist. They're just hidden behind everyone's favorite female scientist.

If we really want to get more women into STEM fields, we need to enact a moratorium on Marie Curie. It's all well and good to have that obligatory female nerd in the lab on every procedural mystery TV show, to include some lab-coated ladies in a Lego set, or to add a computer engineer Barbie to Mattel's latest line (though that one didn't go so well). But clearly it's not enough. Every single one of us needs to scrub that you-know-who reflex from our brain and replace it with a diverse set of important female innovators. When we do, girls will gain Grace Hopper, who was one of the most important—and colorful—computer scientists in history; Marie Tharp, who mapped the ocean floor and saw evidence of continental drift years before her partner or others in the scientific community accepted the idea; Virginia Apgar, whose scoring system for newborns has saved countless babies' lives; and Inge Lehmann, who discovered Earth's inner core.

Hopper loved to remind people that “we've always done it this way” is a lousy excuse that stands in the way of progress. By challenging ourselves to talk about a wider variety of accomplished women in STEM fields, we're guaranteeing a future with an even greater selection of brilliant thinkers to champion.

Rachel Swaby (@rachelswaby) is the author of Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science—and the World, out April 7.