A demonstration from Philips Electronics showing the possibilities of implanted LED “tattoos.” Pretty kinky, but there are already practical applications being considered.
The Illustrated Man. Tattoos have mostly been static graphics, limited in their usefulness in communication certain info. But researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have now come up with LED tattoos that can turn your skin into a living screen. And to help get this tech inside you, the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana have found a way to use silk to implant the circuits.
A silky entry. Why silk to implant electronics? From Technology Review:
By building thin, flexible silicon electronics on silk substrates, researchers have made electronics that almost completely dissolve inside the body. So far the research group has demonstrated arrays of transistors made on thin films of silk. While electronics must usually be encased to protect them from the body, these electronics don’t need protection, and the silk means the electronics conform to biological tissue. The silk melts away over time and the thin silicon circuits left behind don’t cause irritation because they are just nanometers thick.
Silk has been used before and is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for medical use. So far, all that’s left is to nano-size the electronics and make the connections better. Once that happens, then what?
Tramp stamp one second, instructions the next.
It’s written all over your face… and the back of your wrist. Currently the technology is limited to monochrome displays, but even so, they can be just as useful. Blood-sugar readings are just a start. From H+:
Professor Litt’s laboratory is a collaboration between Neurology, Neurosurgery, Neuroscience, and Engineering. While epilepsy is the lab’s core focus, other research includes implantable neurodevices, functional neurosurgery, network and computational neuroscience, movement disorders, intra-operative and ICU monitoring, major mental illness, and other brain network disorders.
Ultimately, they can be interfacing with the brain to allow the implantee to control the tattoos.
The future isn’t black and white. Making the millions-of-colors tattoos may still be ways off, but that isn’t stopping Wired from speculating about future uses:
GPS, with a map readout on the back of the wrist would certainly be useful, as would chips that cover your eyeballs and can darken down when the sun is shining too bright.
And a full-body display will eventually be used for advertising. Combine this with bioluminescent ink, for example, and you could turn yourself into a small, walking version of Times Square. At least, unlike a real tattoo, you can switch this one off.
I’m thinking about simply changing skin color to start, like going from Albino white to dark chocolate African, or maybe steel gray… or alien green.
Like most bloggers, Tim O’Riley (O’Riley Radar) uses Twitter which can post to his Facebook page. Last Friday (13-Nov-09), he noticed a problem with his Facebook links… and with what is happening on the net as a whole. (Click the pic to see his blog.)
A chain of broken links. Tim O’Riley tried to post a link from URL shortening service bit.ly that lead to a NASA article. Normally, Facebook would turn the plain-text link into a clickable URL, but on this occasion, it wasn’t happening (screencap). It turns out Tim wasn’t the only one with the problem. From Mashable:
if you’re posting web links (Bit.ly, TinyURL) to your Twitter feed and using the Twitter Facebook app to share those updates on Facebook too, none of those links are hyperlinked. Your friends will need to copy and paste the links into a browser to make them work.
If this is a design decision on Facebook’s part, it’s an extremely odd one: we’d like to think it’s an inconvenient bug, and we have a mail in to Facebook to check. Suffice to say, the issue is site-wide: it’s not just you.
That’s not a bug, that’s… OK, it’s a bug. Facebook quickly corrected the problem early Saturday. Apparently the snafu was Facebook’s latest effort to “protect” users from the wild west of the Internet. Facebook had the right idea, though…
I can tell you, from personal experience, that while the URL shortening makes tweeting links easier to fit into its limited text length, it is dangerous to end users since it effectively hides malicious sites that would normally be filtered or blocked. Here’s an article from Wired about the abuse of shortening services to deliver malware through Twitter. I clicked on a shortened link in Reddit expecting to read an article on robotic fish-eye-lens cameras… only to be greeted with a screen full off meatspin. That which once seen…
The Facebook link problem has been solved for now, but for Tim, it has given him some cause for alarm.
Beyond Facebook. Tim O’Riley is involved with the making of Web 2.0, and has expressed a desire to make it more open(-source). Already he sees problems arising from the likes of Apple’s iPhone:
The Apple iPhone is the hottest web access device around, and like Facebook, while it connects to the web, it plays by a different set of rules. Anyone can put up a website, or launch a new Windows or Mac OS X or Linux application, without anyone’s permission. But put an app onto the iPhone? That requires Apple’s blessing.
There is one glaring loophole: anyone can create a web application, which any user can save as clickable application on their phone. But these web applications have limits - there are key capabilities of the phone that are not accessible to web applications. HTML 5 can introduce all the new application-like features it wants, but they will work only for web applications, and can’t access key aspects of the phone with Apple’s permission. And as we saw earlier this year with Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application, Apple isn’t shy about blocking applications that it considers threatening to their core business, or that of their partners.
Tim is concerned about the net becoming monopolized and homogenized through attrition; Survival of the fittest corporation gets control of the Internet… and all the data on it. He gives the recent introduction of Google’s Android phones and their competition with Apple iPhones as an example of what’s to come, because it’s also a sign just how competitive the web is getting, and just how powerful Google is getting, because they understand that “data is the Intel Inside” of the next generation of computer applications.
A call to arms. Tim wants to stop the corporate wars for the Internet in its tracks before they can even start with a plea to developers:
It could be that everyone will figure out how to play nicely with each other, and we’ll see a continuation of the interoperable web model we’ve enjoyed for the past two decades. But I’m betting that things are going to get ugly. We’re heading into a war for control of the web. And in the end, it’s more than that, it’s a war against the web as an interoperable platform. Instead, we’re facing the prospect of Facebook as the platform, Apple as the platform, Google as the platform, Amazon as the platform, where big companies slug it out until one is king of the hill.
And it’s time for developers to take a stand. If you don’t want a repeat of the PC era, place your bets now on open systems. Don’t wait till it’s too late.
This past Sunday’s (8-Nov-2009) 60 Minutes broadcast included this piece about Brazil’s blackout and how hackers were involved. But were hackers really involved? Anyone up for a history lesson?
Stop me if you’ve heard this before… There has been a massive blackout in Brazil affecting Rio de Janeiro , Sao Paulo, and parts of Paraguay (BBC,Guardian.co.uk). The blackout is reportedly caused by problems at the Itaipu dam, some say by a storm in the area, others say corporate incompetence is to blame.
Don’t mention that to CBS News, though. They have already decided that “hackers” were the cause. The same “hackers” who caused Brazil to go dark in 2007:
“We know that cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid, and that in other countries cyber attacks have plunged entire cities into darkness,” the president said.
President Obama didn’t say which country had been plunged into darkness, but a half a dozen sources in the military, intelligence, and private security communities have told us the president was referring to Brazil.
Several prominent intelligence sources confirmed that there were a series of cyber attacks in Brazil: one north of Rio de Janeiro in January 2005 that affected three cities and tens of thousands of people, and another, much larger event beginning on Sept. 26, 2007.
That one in the state of Espirito Santo affected more than three million people in dozens of cities over a two-day period, causing major disruptions. In Vitoria, the world’s largest iron ore producer had seven plants knocked offline, costing the company $7 million. It is not clear who did it or what the motive was.
And to back up their claim, CBS News interviews some government-military-intelligence types who say “The US is not ready for a cyber-attack,” or some sound-alike crap, I really wasn’t paying too much attention.
Chicken Little. We’ve heard the stories about multi-million dollar thefts due to hacks, and we do tend to believe them. CBS tries to make the big leap to infrastructure attacks by adding how hackers have penetrated military and government systems by leaving USB thumbdrives lying around for sheeple to find and plug into their systems, infecting them and leaving backdoors open for further intrusions and attacks. It sounds like if such an attack is possible, it was made so by clueless soldiers and wage-slaves.
But are such attacks possible, even by “foreign” government agents? I wouldn’t put it pass them… but then again, I did read The Hacker Crackdown (I have to get a review up here!), and knowing that there’s a war for control of the Internet on, I would have to call shenanigans.
Someone beat me to the phone…
Wired Calls Shenanigans. (Wired) No sooner than CBS News puts the video and transcription up for public review, Wired’s Marcelo Soares knocks the foundation out from under:
Brazilian government officials disputed the report over the weekend, and Raphael Mandarino Jr., director of the Homeland Security Information and Communication Directorate, told the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that he’s investigated the claims and found no evidence of hacker attacks, adding that Brazil’s electric control systems are not directly connected to the internet.
Uh oh. It looks like Brazil did something right (not connecting directly to the Internet), so CBS’s hacker claim is just some gov-mil-corp scare tactic. But if hackers didn’t cause those blackouts, what did?
The earliest explanation for the blackout came from Furnas (Centrais Elétricas) two days after the Sept. 26, 2007, incident began. The company announced that the outage was caused by deposits of dust and soot from burning fields in the Campos region of Espirito Santo. “The concentration of these residues would have been exacerbated by the lack of rain in the region for eight months,” the company said.
Brazil’s independent systems operator group later confirmed that the failure of a 345-kilovolt line “was provoked by pollution in the chain of insulators due to deposits of soot” (.pdf). And the National Agency for Electric Energy, Brazil’s energy regulatory agency, concluded its own investigation in January 2009 and fined Furnas $3.27 million (.pdf) for failing to maintain the high-voltage insulators on its transmission towers.
(Note: See the original article from Wired for links to the pdf files mentioned above)
Yep, corporate incompetence caused the blackouts. Don’t mention that to CBS News, though. It’ll ruin their image as a corporate propaganda machine.
1. Omegadrones - 6:49 2. 21st Century Slave - 5:36 3. It’s Today - 3:27 4. When I See You Smile - 6:00 5. Digital Warriors - 5:25 6. Megacorps - 3:35 7. Criminal Intents - 3:32 8. Neuromantics - 4:43 9. Outlaw Thrones - 5:14 10. The World Machine - 4:34 11. It’s For You - 3:40
If you’ve never heard of Italy’s cyber-rockers Dope Stars Inc. (DSI for short), you’ve been sleeping in kool-aid for far too long. Victor Love, Fabrice La Nuit, and Darin Yevonde have been rocking and shocking the system since 2004-05 with a the look, sound, and lyrics that could have originated from any William Gibson / Bruce Sterling novel. Just look for and listen to songs like “Infection 13″ and “Vyperpunk” and you’ll see what I mean. For their 3rd full album, DSI has pulled out all the stops with 21st Century Slave, what can be considered a soundtrack for cyberpunk, complete with a manifesto (from DSI’s site):
21st Century Slave: A new manifesto for Digital Warriors, Outlaw Technologists and Console Riders of the 21st Century to survive in a World Machine where sheeple are being totally brainwashed and enslaved by Corporatocracy’s agenda and vicious propaganda.
Around half a century ago a primitive and promising silicon-form of intelligence, the artificial one, was born to be the guide of a new age. We called it Computer. And the world would never be the same again.
Electronic generated domains are the new frontiers. Cyberspace is the battlefield for the upcoming wars against the old and corrupted system that is naturally fading away. The System is collapsing. The System is obviously wrong. The only working System is the one we know as the computer generated one where we share our common interests and views: among the 0 and 1, among the stream of bit and bytes and an ocean of information that can’t be controlled and where all languages, subcultures and lifestyles are merging together. In Cyberspace we are free. In Cyberspace we are the kings. In Cyberspace we are a global Central Processing Unit. No other path to survive: Master Technology.
With technology we’ll be no more slaves of our Century. With Technology we’ll be no more sheeple ruled by questionable, hypocritical and oppressive authority and its obsolete principles. Technology is the cure: It’s the alternative. Technology is our terrific weapon and the network is our realm.
May the words of revolution spread unstoppable at light speed.
Free the energy. Free the information.
And then a day will come
For what you’ve done
For what it’s gone
For every death we’ll strike a bomb on Megacorps.
Of course, it takes more than a manifesto to make a CD cyberpunk, and DSI provides the sound and lyrics to make it so:
Omegadrones. The opening track has Victor declaring his readiness for the impending battle (I, the evolved machine / I, the adamant who thinks / I will battle), and features a sample of a famous movie line (from a movie reviewed here). By the sounds of it, he may be a machine who has seen through the corporate lies and has decided to join the humans.
21st Century Slave. Consider the title track a warning about what is being done to the sheeple… and to you. They just tell you: Eat this shit / And the big amount of flocks / Just don’t care about this.
It’s Today. We’re trapped in a world / That still refuses technology / It’s better to keep slow / And please corporatocracy. Wake up, sheeple, if you want to change the world.
When I See You Smile. Perhaps a reason for the war against the corporatocracy, other than just revenge? I know I’m not alone and I can fall / Straight down / Into your arms to find the force / And rise up. Certainly would make my cyber-war easier to manage.
Digital Warriors. This was the first track I heard from the CD… and I LOVE IT! This could be the hacker’s anthem: We are the children of the zero and one.
Megacorps. They own the crown, and Victor is looking to take it from them. It’s war in the streets with flamethrowers, pump rifles, and bombs.
Criminal Intents. The hackers get another crack (no pun intended) at the corporate system as My criminal intents / Will break the mainframe spear / That’s killing all you dear.
Neuromantics. All the fighting would drive a person insane if they didn’t have a break. For Victor, it seems to come from a bit of VR: A new reality connects through my brain / But all in all that’s the way I need to cut my pain.
Outlaw Thrones. A bit of concern shows regarding what “hope” can deliver. It’s just a dream / It can’t change the world at all.
The World Machine. Death will come for the corrupt leaders, even if it means waiting it out.
It’s For You. Another reminder of what he is fighting for: Someone to make the future for. It’s for you that is worth to die.
Conclusion. Dope Stars may be following the same path taken by the likes of The Cassandra Complex and Billy Idol, they just don’t tread lightly on that path. With several EPs and two albums of practice, DSI has struck a major blow for cyberpunk music. This is one CD you need to have in your collection, especially if you prefer harder music.