Source: The Hindu, and everywhere else by now.

WARNING! The following article contains graphic pictures of a dead robot. Viewer discretion is advised.

The tip of the iceberg? Depending on how you want to look at it, robots just took one step closer (or further away) from being human as one domestic robot has apparently killed itself. Because of the degree of the robot’s (self) destruction, determining exactly why it chose to kill itself remains a mystery, though we do have some “theories”.


The GORY details: On 12-Nov-2013, a Roomba robot in Hinterstoder (apartments) in Kirchdorf, Austria finished cleaning up spilled cereal in a kitchen and was shut down by the owner. But for reasons yet unknown, the robot restarted, pushed a pot out of its way, and wound up on the kitchen stove “hotplate” where it melted and started a fire.

Firefighters came in too late to save the Roomba:

Roomba post-suicide 12-nov-13

(Firefighter Helmut Kniewasser) ‘Somehow it seems to have reactivated itself and made its way along the work surface where it pushed a cooking pot out of the way and basically that was the end of it.

‘It pretty quickly started to melt underneath and then stuck to the kitchen hotplate. It then caught fire. By the time we arrived, it was just a pile of ash.

‘The entire building had to be evacuated and there was severe smoke damage particularly in the flat where the robot had been in use.

The human apt dwellers were allowed to return after cleanup, except the Roomba’s owner (who also owns the apts) whose flat is not livable. The owner plans to sue Roomba: “The company that makes the robots is selling dangerous devices, I intend to sue to get compensation. It has ruined my home as everything is smoke damaged.”


Another version of the truth: With the Roomba reduced to ashes and no witnesses to the event, it will be near impossible to determine exactly why the bot fried itself. We can only speculate for now, but the real reason may not be as sci-fi as some might believe.

  • Bad owner: The owner claims he shut the bot off when it finished, but it is possible the switch may not have been completely in the off position. A slight jostle, bump, or tremor could have cause the switch close in the “on” position. And the rest of the story… This would be the most likely reason (IMO).

    Then again, the owner may have been a total dick, repeatedly bullying the Roomba until its spirit was broken.

  • Defective robot: The owner’s claim the robot is dangerous may hold up in court, unless Roomba can prove it tested its units satisfactorily so that it should be improbable for the bot start up on its own, unless the owner… see above.
  • Asimov’s Directives: No word on if Roomba programs the robots with The Three Laws, but if so then the robot’s suicide may be the unit following those laws. But then, why would it endanger humans in the other apts, where its actions violate the First and Third laws? That would put us back at the “Defective robot” spot, unless…
  • The Ghost: (From CNET:) “In future times, when the distinction between robot and human becomes far more blurred, occurrences such as these will surely become more usual.” Indeed, this is what Dr. Alfred Lanning was talking about when discussing “The Ghost In The Machine”. Was this an example of the “Ghost?” Have we actually seen the much-promised singularity, only to lose it in a puff of smoke? Are we so close to the humanization of the machines that the seemingly simple Roomba is just the infant of greater things to come?
  • Dr. Alfred Lanning (I, Robot)

    “That, detective, is the RIGHT question.
    Program terminated.”

    This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    October 28, 2013

    The Incredible Bionic Man

    Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

    Year: 2013

    Directed by: Tom Coveney

    Source: Smithsonian Channel

    Rating: 9 out of 10

    Men of TIBM

    “Gentlemen, we can build him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man.”

    Overview: Ever wondered how close we are to making a real artificial, cybernetic life form? A robotic android (”Roboid” as I would prefer to call them) like Lt. Cmdr. Data?


    Well, a couple of guys thought it would make for an incredible thought experiment… and, they went through with it earlier this year. Richard Walker (the bearded dude) and Professor Alexander Seifalian got together, along with Bertolt Meyer (psychology professor with an artificial arm and hand) as the model, and the most advanced bionic/cybernetic prosthetics and implants available and built TIBM (my name for him). The result… not bad for a first attempt, but it does have a long way to go to be Data. It does show, however, that we’ve come a long way from peg-legs and hook-hands (deal with it, pirates!). You can watch the video online at the Smithsonian Channel’s site or on YouTube.


    Some assembly required.

    TIBM parts laid out.

    Batteries not included.

    So what is needed to build your own TIBM? Well, you need a body-frame to install everything on, otherwise things fall apart very rapidly. Next, some limbs would help. Prosthetic arms and legs have been around for some time, but today’s computer technology practically makes them indistinguishable from the real thing, provided you wear long-sleeve shirts and full-length pants. Next, a skull made from a synthetic, bone-like material to house your cyberbrain… once that’s been made. A microphone for ears, special glasses for eyes, a latex “skin” face… so far TIBM is shaping up real good.

    What about inside, where it counts? Another synthetic material has been developed that can be made into any shape, but for now it serves as artificial blood vessels. That should work with the artificial heart and nano-particle “blood” being used. They have an artificial kidney that uses real kidney cells, and a prototype pancreas. The Internet-based chatbot serves as the brain, albeit a primitive and imperfect brain.

    So TIBM is looking more human, but what about moving like a human? Piece of cake for the hands and arms, but as for walking, the legs themselves don’t do it alone. That’s where a motorized, exoskeleton comes in for walking. Baby steps at this point.

    TIBM (attempting) walking

    You… put… one… foot… in… front… of.. the… oth… ther… and… soon… ah, screw it.


    Better, Stronger, Faster… Cheaper. TIBM represents the advance of technology, inspired by The Six Million Dollar Man. If you want to compare price tags, TIBM costs only ONE million, so for one Steve Austin you can have a half-dozen TIBMs. One problem is that TIBM won’t have nuclear power sources of Austin.

    The lack of nuclear power is but a minor nuisance, compared to other problems of TIBM. For one thing, some of the implants use Bluetooth, an unsecure wireless protocol leaving them open to hacking. Its walking ability needs much work still. TIBM is also incomplete, missing vital organs like the brain, liver, and digestive tract.

    Ethical considerations were also brought up briefly; While the devices were made for people (like soldiers) who lost limbs or organs in accidents, some may try to “upgrade” themselves without a real medical need. Then there’s concern that TIBM may be the prototype of a new race that may supplant or destroy humanity.

    Bertolt Meyer encounters the completed TIBM

    Bertolt Meyer takes a trip to the Uncanny Valley as he meets the completed TIBM, complete with his face, for the first time.


    Conclusion. We’ve certainly come a long way from peg-legs and Jarvick artificial hearts, but there is still some development to go yet before we can make fully functional androids. Even now, or as shown near the end of the show as Dr. Meyer tries a new prosthetic, developments and breakthroughs keep us moving closer to that day. And when that day does arrive… will humanity be ready? If TIBM’s fumble with a pint at the end is any indication, humans still have plenty of time to be prepared.

    This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, Documentary, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: Singularity Hub. Quoted study from Oxford University here.

    Robots take over human jobs

    In case nobody noticed, the machines are taking over… starting with our jobs.

    The robots ARE taking over. Well, the brainless sheeple have succeeded where the terrorists tried. The US Government has self-destructed and the country is fucked. Brainless hordes of tea-party zombie-borgs are now roaming the streets, assimilating independents and eating their brains. And all because the sheeple did something so stupid like “voting”, not for a person, but for a corporate brand. Our only hope now is an underground anti-party resistance armed with smart-phones with Linux, the Original Constitution of The United States (THX Nick Cage!), and nuclear powered SUVs armed with…

    Wait, WHAT? Oh, no zombies yet… just the shutdown. Still, better be prepared… just… in… case… But before I get ahead of history, something from last week I’ve been meaning to blog: Machines taking over US labor.

    The Singularity Hub reports on an Oxford University research paper that shows America’s job market is susceptible to computerization. This is based on 702 job listings and advances in artificial intelligence, where computers can replace meat in transportation, labor, and even administrative support jobs:

    “While computerization has been historically confined to routine tasks involving explicit rule-based activities, algorithms for big data are now rapidly entering domains reliant upon pattern recognition and can readily substitute for labor in a wide range of non-routine cognitive tasks,” write study authors Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


    Detroit knows… Having your job being replaced by a machine is old news to Detroit, MI, US. Ever since the 1970s, robots have taken over factory jobs, leaving the hapless humans out in the cold… if not in the unemployment office. But those old clunkers are mere toys compared to what today’s mechs can do, especially when combined with still advancing artificial intelligence. Maybe one day, robots will be building… (wait for it)… ROBOTS!

    Robot Factory

    “Robots building robots. Now that’s just stupid!” - Det. Del Spooner

    Numbers game. The paper puts the actual number at 47%. Not actual jobs that will be lost, but what could be lost to automation; Jobs at risk of automation. Even then, there’s no accounting for economics (not that there ever is any accounting for economics(!)). Factors such as regulation, actual costs of automation, and post-automation benefits/cots aren’t figured in, so that 47% is more a “rough” estimate.


    So who can we replace? The paper’s appendix has a listing showing what jobs they studied for possible automation. The jobs are listed by increasing probability of automation, and some are marked with a 1 or 0 indicating if the position can automated or not. So who lucked out, and who’s out of luck?

    Recreational Therapists, chill out; Your jobs are safe with only a 0.0028 probability (or less than one third of one percent) of being replaced. You medical doctors (surgeons, physicians, and dentists) are in even better shape; Your probability is .0042 - .0044, but you have been marked as “not computerisable”.

    Ironically, Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators (metal and plastic) have .86 probability, Computer Operators have .78, Computer Support Specialists have .65, Programmers - .48, Computer Hardware Engineers and Other Computer Occupations - .22.

    At the bottom of the list: Telemarketers, as if those robocalls at dinnertime need to remind us.

    No mention of Politicians, though Political Scientists have .039 probability. But given the recent DC bullshit, I for one would openly welcome our new cyber-overlords.


    Additional Input. The New York Times has an “Op-Ed” post called “How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class.” Probably better, this spoken track from the 2011 deluxe re-release of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Liverpool” explains what humanity will have to look forward to:

    Stan (Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Liverpool (2011-CD2-Track 7))

    “In the coming age of automation, where people might eventually work ten or twenty hours a week, Man for the first time will be forced to confront himself with the true spiritual problems of living”
    This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: University of Washington (Research Site)

    University of Washington researcher Rajesh Rao (left) was able to get his fellow researcher Andrea Stocco to press a button using only his mind… from across campus.

    So he’s not Charles Xavier, but a researcher at the University of Washington was able to get a fellow researcher to push a keyboard button by sending the message through his mind, via computers, Internet, and a couple of wired caps.

    Rajesh Rao set up a way to send a “fire” command mentally to colleague Andrea Stocco that would make him press the spacebar on his keyboard who was on the opposite side of the U of W campus.

    The video, though short on length and sound, does show what appears to be a successful transmission of Rao’s “fire” command to Stocco’s head. Stocco compared the involuntary reaction to a “nervous twitch”. And Rao’s reaction:

    “It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain,” Rao said. “This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains.”

    The setup was quite simple enough, but the effect will reverberate through the tech world for some time to come.

    Getting into your head. The technology to connect a human brain to a machine has been around for a while; Machines that can read brainwave activity has been used by hospitals for years, recently there are machines that can “read” thoughts in your brain, they’re even developing thought controlled game controllers. But this is the first time one brain was actually “connected” to another. And the implications are, well…

    Stocco said years from now the technology could be used, for example, by someone on the ground to help a flight attendant or passenger land an airplane if the pilot becomes incapacitated. Or a person with disabilities could communicate his or her wish, say, for food or water. The brain signals from one person to another would work even if they didn’t speak the same language.

    Being able to “upload” and “download” such information into and from one’s brain would be just the tip of the iceberg. Got enough memory-space in your skull for the full Wikipedia site? How much porn can you cram into your cortex? Would you like to lean kung-fu like Neo? Instead of writing memoirs, you can just transfer your memories to tape/disk/net so others can experience what it’s like to be you. Maybe you would like to learn all the languages of the world without shelling out thousands for language courses or Rosetta Stone’s stuff. Hey, let’s try speaking to our PCs in native machine language!

    But why stop at just transferring our knowledge? Emotions also play a part in our experiences, so that should also be part of our virtual personality. Better yet, just transfer our whole mind into another person’s head; Just take ‘em over and use their shells to do our bidding. Become a “Turnabout Intruder” of sorts… or maybe act as a Manchurian Candidate. Or, if they ever clone human bodies, you can backup your brain then restore it to your new shell. Real Altered Carbon shit, only without the need for a “stack” to be implanted. Pull on the new flesh like borrowed gloves, and burn your fingers once again.”


    Don’t get that personal firewall just yet! The potential help and/or harm of this capability is great, but it’s not exactly advanced enough to make Altered Carbon or Brainstorm possible anytime soon.

    Rao cautioned this technology only reads certain kinds of simple brain signals, not a person’s thoughts. And it doesn’t give anyone the ability to control your actions against your will.

    Both researchers were in the lab wearing highly specialized equipment and under ideal conditions. They also had to obtain and follow a stringent set of international human-subject testing rules to conduct the demonstration.

    “I think some people will be unnerved by this because they will overestimate the technology,” (Chantel Prat, assistant professor in psychology at the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences) said. “There’s no possible way the technology that we have could be used on a person unknowingly or without their willing participation.”

    So we can’t experience another person’s life or hijack their bodies, or have a personal army of meatbots, or learn kung-fu like Neo. We can still enjoy some killer fiction with such possibilities while they keep working on this.

    This post has been filed under Brain-Computer Interface, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: Singularity Hub, CBS News (60 Minutes)

    Woman with robot arm

    Jan Scheuermann went from Wheel Of Fortune to a wheelchair, to being able to control a robot arm.

    ‘Breakthrough’ they say. 60 Minutes’s Scott Pelley used the term to describe the thought-controlled robot arm, though I suspect he may not have seen such machinery before. But given how this arm is controlled, “breakthrough” might be the appropriate term.

    Jan Scheuermann appeared on Wheel Of Fortune in 1995. A year after her appearance, she was diagnosed with a hereditary condition called spinocerebellar degeneration (ataxia), which causes parts of her brain and spinal column to degenerate, leaving her a quadriplegic. Researchers at University of Pittsburgh’s Pitt School of Medicine attached two electrode arrays to her brain near the areas used for arm movement, and in a year she was able to use the arm as well as a normal person.


    Four years in the making. The arm is the result of a Defense Department project called “Revolutionizing Prosthetics,” a project looking at making a new generation of prosthetic limbs that restore normal functions for soldiers who lost limbs in battle.

    This old Associated Press video shows an early stage of the project where a monkey uses his mind to control a robot arm.

    Sooner or later, this technology had to come to the average person, not just paraplegics but amputees as well.

    In Jan’s case, having to connect the arm directly to her brain was necessary since her ataxia has ruined the connection(s) between her brain and limbs. For amputees, the connections are still intact so the connection can be made at the nerve endings.


    Further refinements. Jan’s new arm is impressive, but still far from perfect. In the 60 Minutes video Jan has problems with grabbing objects she looks at. One possible solution is to use ‘touch’ sensors in the fingers to give feedback. Another possibility being considered is the use of Wi-Fi to eliminate the skull connectors.

    Earlier this year, NIH’s NINDS division announced their BCI system called BrainGate. Link for further details.

    Restoring arm and leg functions for amputees and paraplegics are only the beginning. They’re also looking at eyes (no pun intended), ears, and even artificial internal organs for for stroke and cerebral palsy victims, and even the elderly.

    Once such artificial limbs and organs are ready for the general public, the only thing left to worry about is…

    This post has been filed under Brain-Computer Interface, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: Reuters


    Companies are calling for more active responses to hack attacks, because tinfoil hats are very poor firewalls.

    More proof that our present is a cyberpunk future. Reuters reports that companies, frustrated with outdated laws against sophisticated hacking attacks, are now looking for more “active” forms of defense against hackers. Not content with react-and-repair plans, they are now looking for offensive responses:

    Known in the cybersecurity industry as “active defense” or “strike-back” technology, the reprisals range from modest steps to distract and delay a hacker to more controversial measures. Security experts say they even know of some cases where companies have taken action that could violate laws in the United States or other countries, such as hiring contractors to hack the assailant’s own systems.

    One such “contractor” is CrowdStrike, a “A Stealth-mode Security Start-up” that offer services such as “an on-demand retainer service that empowers your enterprise through experienced and professional tactical response teams” (what some may call “mercenaries”). They can also use more common tactics like honeypots (fake files to keep an intruder’s attention while he’s being traced).


    One group seems to already have “active defense” in operation.


    A slippery slope. With such security breaches becoming more commonplace, it would seem that an escalation in hacking countermeasures was inevitable. But such escalation is not without risks:

    Henry (Shawn Henry, the former head of cybercrime investigations at the FBI who in April joined CrowdStrike) and CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovich do not recommend that companies try to breach their opponent’s computers, but they say the private sector does need to fight back more boldly against cyber espionage.

    Of course, that fight-back mentality can lead to mercenary groups who can go world-wide to track and “neutralize” a hacker with a “fuck your laws” mentality.

    Other security experts say a more aggressive posture is unlikely to have a significant impact in the near term in the overall fight against cybercriminals and Internet espionage. Veteran government and private officials warn that much of the activity is too risky to make sense, citing the chances for escalation and collateral damage.


    Who’s really to blame? Hackers are getting more aggressive with their attacks and more silent with their invasions, but are they the bored teen in his/her bedroom looking for lulz, or other corporations and governments looking for an advantage? To underscore the real threat, an example of the recently discovered to be American/Israeli made Flame rootkit is cited as a major failure:

    Mikko Hypponen, the well-regarded chief research officer at Finland’s F-Secure Oyj, told the Reuters Summit his company had a sample of Flame in 2010 and classified it as clean and later missed another virus called Duqu that was suspected of being backed by Western governments.

    “These are examples how we are failing” as an industry, Hypponen said. “Consumer-grade antivirus you buy from the store does not work too well trying to detect stuff created by the nation-states with nation-state budgets.”

    Because some national governments are suspected in attacks on private Western companies, it is natural that some of the victims want to join their own governments to fight back.

    Armed responses from corporate militias are more of a colorful afterthought for now, but with the Pentagon wanting to use military force on hackers and recent reports of Obama wanting to use drones for domestic surveillance, corporate militias may not be that far off.

    This post has been filed under HackZ AttackZ!, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: Nature Communications and via Engadget.

    Swedish researchers have developed an integrated circuit that runs on chemicals as opposed to electronics. The countdown to human assimilation has begun.

    First the transistor, then the chip. When the first semiconductor transistor was developed in late 1947, there was no idea how important it would be in the creation of today’s technology. Someone from Sweden must have a clue since he has now developed an IC chip that uses chemicals instead of electronics. The IC is built upon logic gates based on ion transistors first developed in 2009. Now begins further development into more complex chips.


    Why chemicals? Why not? For starters, the human body is not electronic. There’s electricity at work (mostly in the nerves), but humans run mostly on chemicals, so the use of a chemical chip has obvious advantages:

    (from “We can, for example, send out signals to muscle synapses where the signalling system may not work for some reason. We know our chip works with common signalling substances, for example acetylcholine,” says Magnus Berggren, Professor of Organic Electronics and leader of the research group.

    This could be used to bypass damaged nerves to control muscles directly, but this is only one possibility. Such chem-chips can be used for any type of signaling and control. Example: An artificial pancreas can have such a chip that monitors blood-sugar levels, then signals another chip to make insulin as needed.


    The Next Step… With a basic circuit done, more complex circuitry can now be developed. That would include elements such as ion inverters and NAND gates… and memristors? Could happen. Then from there…

    Locutus of Borg

    This post has been filed under News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: Sandia Labs, via TechCrunch and Mashable.

    Smart Bullet (Runaway)

    “The back half is all solid propellant. There’s different valves for directional control. The nose is all electronic. You’ve heard of a bullet that has your name on it? Well, this one really does.” (Marvin James (played by Stan Shaw).

    Hollywood may sue over this! There’s more shit about to hit the fan if it hasn’t already, I’ll be blogging more on that by the weekend. But Hollywood might want to know that not only are whole movies being pirated, but companies are stealing the technology from within them.

    Specifically, Runaway’s “smart” missile-bullets. Sandia National Labs has developed a self-guided bullet (a “micro-missile” might be a better description) that can hit a target a mile away. Now they’re looking for a partner to further develop and bring the new ammo to market.

    Sandia’s self-guided bullet

    Not exactly the smartest bullet, but being able guide itself within 8 inches of a target 1000 yards away makes regular bullets look like dumbasses.


    A more sophisticated way to wake up dead. The bullet is essentially a laser-guided missile; You point your laser-pointer at your target and the bullet’s optronics does the rest… assuming you pull the trigger to send it on its way.

    At four inches long, the prototype won’t fit your Saturday-night special. Also, it requires a smooth-bore barrel to launch out of. Most bullets need a rifled barrel to give them a gyroscopic-stabilizing spin, but the bullet-missile has fins that stabilize and even control its flight path.

    Smart Bullet Trace

    An LED attached during a night test turns the smart bullet into a tracer round.

    Just in time for ACTA signings. Given recent events over SOPA/PIPA, announcement of this bullet can either be a dream come true or a security nightmare. Potential customers for the bullet include the military, law enforcement and recreational shooters, so Sandia says. Of course, they’ll eventually find their way into the wrong hands. But first they need to be developed and brought to market first.

    Will the missile-bullets be corner-turning heat-seekers like in the movie? Maybe future versions will have the ability to “pick” a target, or even be programmed for a specific target. Maybe a pheromone-guided, nuclear tipped version that can be fired from a 50-caliber gun can be made. Whenever Sandia announces the market version, they should get one man to “pull the trigger.”

    Gene Simmons, Runaway (1984)

    This post has been filed under News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    January 22, 2012

    Internet blackened by SOPA.

    Source: Here’s some from Yahoo!

    Wikipedia blackout

    Wikipedia was one site that went dark to protest SOPA and PIPA act now being debated in America’s Congress. If they pass, will the Internet look like this?

    In case you missed it, a good part of the Internet went “dark” on 18-Jan-2012 to protest two bills now being considered in US Congress. They are H.R.3261 (aka “Stop Online Piracy Act,” or SOPA) and S.968 (aka “Protect Intellectual Property Act,” or “Protect IP” or PIPA).

    These two bills, IF passed and signed into law, are supposed to end… or at least curtail… Internet “piracy.” But, there are major problems with both bills. Problems that can not only hurt legitimate sites and users, but can be exploited and abused to no end. The EFF has a one-page list of problems (PDF).


    Rep. Lamar Smith

    Meet Rep. Lamar Smith, the asswipe behind SOPA. If I had more time, I would have drawn a dick on his face.

    Cowboy politics. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) is the mastermind behind SOPA, introducing it back in October. It seems, however, that he has been grazing on some “greener” pastures:

    (CNET) - As CNET reported in December, Smith, a self-described former ranch manager whose congressional district encompasses the cropland and grazing land stretching between Austin and San Antonio, Texas, has become Hollywood’s favorite Republican. The TV, movie, and music industries are the top donors to his 2012 campaign committee, and he’s been feted by music and movie industry lobbyists at dinners and concerts.

    Back-pocket puppet of the MPAA/RIAA cartel, in other words, representing farmers, not tech industries. Little wonder why many believe that SOPA is just bad and wrong, and it would do more harm than good.


    What harm could it do? SOPA is worded to make “offending” sites vanish from the Net completely. At least that’s how CNET describes SOPA section 102:

    A service provider shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order…Such actions shall be taken as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within five days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order.

    There’s also a problem of scope: PIPA primarily targets the offender’s DNS providers and finances. SOPA is reportedly broader, going after their ISPs and even requiring them to monitor traffic including using deep packet inspection. Reddit goes into gory detail about what they would need to do if they receive a SOPA notice:

    (Reddit SOPA FAQ) - If the Attorney General served reddit with an order to remove links to a domain, we would be required to scrub every post and comment on the site containing the domain and censor the links out, even if the specific link contained no infringing content. We would also need to implement a system to automatically censor the domain from any future posts or comments. This places a measurable burden upon the site’s technical infrastructure. It also damages one of the most important tenets of reddit, and the internet as a whole – free and open discussion about whatever the fuck you want.

    This may be why the likes of Google, Wikipedia, WordPress, and others don’t like what SOPA represents. Even now, some companies that originally backed SOPA are now having second thoughts.

    CNET’s FAQ

    “Verizon continues to look at SOPA, and while it’s fair to say that we have concerns about the legislation, we are working with congressional staff to address those concerns,” a representative told us.

    Tim McKone, AT&T’s executive vice president of federal relations, said that “we have been supportive of the general framework” of the Senate bill. But when it comes to SOPA, all AT&T would say is that it is “working constructively with Chairman Smith and others toward a similar end in the House.”


    Collateral damage. Not all sites went dark to protect freedom of speech; File-sharing website Megaupload was taken offline (or is at least very slow to respond) as seven people associated with it, including the founder, were arrested for copyright infringement.

    (Technorati) Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, is the site’s founder and was arrested in New Zealand, according to the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Of the six others indicted, three have been arrested. Officially, the seven people were indicted with five counts of copyright infringement and conspiracy, according to authorities. The nearly two-year investigation was unsealed Thursday (19-Jan-2012) and it revealed that the grand jury in Virginia made its decision almost two weeks ago.

    The timing of the arrests, done the day after the blackout, is not only suspicious, but also has made life inconvenient for those who had legitimate use of Megaupload:

    (TorrentFreak)The feds shut down MegaUpload a few hours ago.

    Eight people we charged with criminal copyright infringement charges, and all files hosted on the site were pulled offline.

    However, do the feds realize that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people used the site to share research data, work documents, personal video collections and much more?

    What will happen to these personal non-infringing files?

    People are outraged on Twitter and are demanding access to their files immediately.

    The Twitter posts show the virtual FFFFFUUUUU…-fest of people who lost work due to the shutdown. Anonymous managed to exact a measure of revenge by giving the FBI a DDoS attack. They were joined by 9000 hackers in the attack.


    Knowing is half the battle. With all the protests and counter-attacks surrounding SOPA/PIPA and the Megaupload shutdown, Congress finally came to its senses and have “shelved” the two bills… for now.

    (AFP via Yahoo)Senate majority leader Harry Reid said he was delaying next week’s vote on the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith said he would “revisit” the House version, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

    “In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the Protect IP Act,” Reid announced in a statement two days after a wave of online protests against the bill swept the Internet.

    It appears that freedom of speech has won out, but the victory is only temporary. More likely, there may be some tweaking of the bills to make them more palatable (or at least, more confusing) then reintroduced when everyone has forgotten what the bills were about so there would be less opposition to them. This way, there would be less shit hitting the fans.

    Stay tuned… this is far from over.

    This post has been filed under War for the Nets, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    Source: IBM via Engadget and VentureBeat

    Today (18-Aug-2011), IBM researchers unveiled a new generation of experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition. The technology could yield many orders of magnitude less power consumption and space than used in today’s computers.

    This is your brain on a chip. Last Thursday IBM announced the development of a new computer chip that works like a human brain (press release here). Not content with pwning Jeopardy!, Big Blue is now looking to take artificial intelligence to the next level… or at least another step closer to human.

    The chips are part of the DARPA funded project SyNAPSE (Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics) and their production is completion of phase one.

    Dharmendra Modha (Venture Beat pic)

    Dharmendra Modha, principal investigator: “This is the seed for a new generation of computers, using a combination of supercomputing, neuroscience, and nanotechnology,” Modha said in an interview with VentureBeat. ”The computers we have today are more like calculators. We want to make something like the brain. It is a sharp departure from the past.”


    Think about this. The idea behind the SyNAPSE project is to create computers with human-like abilities; Computer chips that accurately mimics the operations of the brain. IBM’s chips can do things like navigate and identify objects and patterns, but the ultimate goal would be to analyze more complex systems and learn. Yes, learn. All while using less power than current technologies can.

    But this is a DARPA project. DARPA, as in the Mad Scientist division of America’s DoD. The same people who made the Internet possible. Most likely, this is being developed for some sort of military analysis and strategy generation system, like a high-stakes chess machine.

    But isn’t that how Skynet started?

    Watson on Jeopardy!

    Alex Trebek: “The answer: The human race… Watson”
    Watson: “What is screwed?”
    Alex: “Correct!”

    This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.
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