Machines Have No Conscience: Sadistical Fiction

March 28, 2009

Review By: Mr. Roboto

Author: Sadistical

Year: ????

Read it online.

A bit of online prose for you to peruse.

A familiar story. Every so often I do random web searches for some of my favorite songs/moves/etc. When I used Yahoo! to look for info on Queensryche’s classic track “NM 156,” I decided to use the opening line “machines have no conscience.” The very first result was this page; A bit of science fiction verse. Not exactly what I was looking for, but as I read it I had the feeling that I was reading some cyberpunk poetry… and what could very well be a story from the Terminator universe set in the future.

 

It Could Be An “Album.” The poem is divided into seven parts that tell a story of one person’s fight against the “Metal Gods,” the machines of the future:

1. Machines Have No Conscience
2. Metal Gods
3. Revolution
4. Terminate 156
5. My Mission
6. Next Action
7. Stand Proud

As you read, you might get the feeling of deja vu. Not because of the storyline itself, but some of the lines come straight from Queensryche (Sadistical lists them as one of his favorite bands).

I have to give him cred, Sadistical has put together a short but sweet verse that could very well become a concept album given the right music and musicians.

This post has been filed under Internet Find by Mr. Roboto.

No Privacy Without Piracy

February 19, 2009

Source: Julian Togelius’ Blog

Julian Togelius

Julian’s Blogger profile shows he’s into technology, but has he come across something with a slogan he just pulled out of the ether?

Julian Togelius normally blogs about his work in artificial intelligence. However, on Monday 16-February-2009, he posted something that came to him completely out of the blue… or it got knocked loose from watching/reading/hearing about the currently in-progress Sweden vs. The Pirate Bay trial. It came to him in the form of a “slogan:”

NO PRIVACY WITHOUT PIRACY

Julian’s explanation:

The idea is that any method I’ve ever heard of for eradicating piracy, and indeed any conceivable method for doing so, build on also eradicating (or at least severely curtailing) privacy.

If you follow technology in the past few years, any anti-pirating tech has always come with anti-privacy issues whether it is DRM spyware or ISP wiretaps. In one simple slogan, Julian hopes to take the piracy-privacy connection to a new level, make people think more about the two, and possibly spread the word around viral-meme style.

So, is it an “All Your Base…” worthy battle cry, or something to be forgotten like Goatse and Tubgirl?

This post has been filed under Internet Find by Mr. Roboto.

The Unwillingness to Think for Ourselves

January 14, 2009

Source: The Student Operated Press (SOP)

A little something to tweak your brain. One thing I like about cyberpunk is how it makes you think about how technology is taking over our lives, and what good or harm that does. Consider this little essay a subtle hint about the “harm” part.

Actually, it’s about the author’s preference of Faulkner over Hemingway; A rejection of media-for-the-masses in favor of more intellectual fare, and why this may have saved his brain from mutating into sheeple-think:

We didn`t know it then, but the age of instant gratification and horse-race criticism was aborning. From there on fiction would be adjudged by whether it was a page-turner or a beach read. The best-seller list would reflect not literary quality but marketing expertise.

So, how does this relate to cyberpunk? This op-ed piece seems to touch on two cyberpunk themes: Control over society, and access to information. You control the information, you control what the sheeple think, and therefore, you control the society. You REALLY think that all those national firewalls and “filters” going up is to combat porn and piracy?

What happens to a society that can’t think for itself?

Clarity and forward motion would become buzz words for an underlying unwillingness to embark on the adventure that Proust`s marvelous powers of observation posed, just as the Republican Southern Strategy of the 1960s was actually a buzz term for license to keep on hating and oppressing. It was assumed that Crane had tied a mass of knots that were not worth untying, whereas in fact he had pressed the language into service for a voyage, much like fitting a spaceship. The critics were licensing the public to dumb down. The marketers were supplanting the editors. Such a society was bound sooner or later to accept a George W. Bush or Dick Cheney as leaders, because it had given up its intellectual future without a whimper.

We have allowed taste-making apparatchiks to turn literature into a horse race in which someone has to win and someone has to lose, a fundamentally silly idea. The winners of course will be the worst books, the worst minds, and, it goes without saying, the most venal.

Still need a clue? Check this Guidespot.com post called “SHEEPLE” things we LOVE because we can’t think for ourselves.

This is mass-media on your brain. Any Questions?

Cyberpunk, the cure for non-functional brains. Fortunately for us, cyberpunk has managed to stay out of the mass-media spotlight enough to not be co-opted into a propaganda brain-cell killer, though not from the lack of trying. Despite Time Magazine’s best efforts in 1993, cyberpunk survived the limelight and remained mostly underground. This kept the genre vital and interesting to inspire newer generations of CP fans and artists.

So next time you feel your brain-cells being anesthetized by mass-media, reach for a cyberpunk book, movie, or CD, and reboot your brain.

This post has been filed under Internet Find, Essays by Mr. Roboto.

First recorded usage of “Hacker” from MIT paper in 1963

October 4, 2008

Source: Gustavo Duarte

For the record… My day-job has me working at a document-to-data conversion company. That means we take physical paper documents, run them through various types of scanners connected to computers, and crunch the images to make files that can be indexed for searches and/or burned to optical media. Such operations are important to save possibly historical documents that could be lost over time as paper rots away.

Because you never know when you might come across gems like this…

Scan of 1963 MIT Paper where 'hacker' was 1st used

An scanned image of the MIT “The Tech” newspaper where “hacker” is reportedly first used.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology newspaper, and Professor Calton Tucker specifically, has the claim of first using the term “hacker” in recorded media. This information was found via Yale University’s Dictionary of Quotations.

 

Colored Connotations. As you can see from the article, “hacker” has had black-hat connotations from the start, so the mainstream media really can’t be blamed for that, though white-hats have been working hard at correcting that.

What’s not mentioned is how Professor Tucker came up with the term, especially since what’s being described is considered “phreaking” (though the use of the PDP-11 is definitely war dialing).

 

Too soon? Or not soon enough? There’s nothing that says this is officialy the first use of “hacker;” This is the earliest recording of the term so far. There’s still old documents out there waiting to be scanned, maybe something with an earlier use of “hacker” not yet discovered. Though with a couple of the the comments suggesting that “hacker” need not be limited to computers and technology, such a discovery could complicate matters.

A few bytes for interested cyberpunk historians to “nybble” on.

This post has been filed under Internet Find by Mr. Roboto.

Manna

September 13, 2008

Book Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 2003-2004 (?)

Arthur: Marshall Brain

Category: Online Cyberpunk Books

READ IT ONLINE!


Marshall Brain

‘How Stuff Works,’ Cyberpunk edition. Perhaps better known for his “How Stuff Works” website, Mr. Marshall Brain has since started his own site with some essays and stories. Out of curiosity, I did a search for “cyberpunk” on HowStuffWorks.com and they returned an article on “How Hackers Work,” so he/they seem to have an idea about cyberpunk. Manna also reflects this.

 

Synopsis. The story is told first-person by Jacob Lewis105, a burger-flipper at Burger-G when, on May 17, 2010, the end began. A simple PC in a back corner of the Burger-G had software installed on it called “Manna” (as in manage) that could micro-manage the workers via voice synthesis through headsets. Before long, other businesses replaced managers with Manna and clones. Eventually, this lead to a two-tiered society of the uber-rich execs and the minimum-wage slaves… until robotic technology advanced to the point where the slavers are no longer required, and a good portion of the human population ended up in unemployment tenement “projects.”

 

Short, but sweet. Brain’s story is surprisingly good, but the ending did leave me wanting more. I wanted to see if the Manna-net would try to take over the paradise Jacob finds. But for eight “chapters” of 2-3 pages each, it is a good, easy read. If only it was in PDF or some e-text form…

This post has been filed under Internet Find, Cyberpunk Books by Mr. Roboto.