the coming war on general computation

The copyright war was just the beginning  The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race.     The problem is twofold: first, there is no known general-purpose computer that can execute all the programs we can think of except the naughty ones; second, general-purpose computers have replaced every other device in our world. There are no … Continue reading

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the patent problem

↑Steven ↑Levy, author of ‘↑Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution‘ (1984), among others, has written a comprehensive article, published at Wired, on the complex of problems comprising patents, the patent wars, and patent trolls. Along a suspenseful storyline, and by using some fine metaphors from the cold war and beyond, he makes the matter perfectly clear and understandable. That’s traditionally been the spirit in which large companies have built their patent stockpiles, as a purely defensive measure. They were dissuaded from suing one another because they knew their target likely had patents that covered similar territory and they could be … Continue reading

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nand to tetris

  Two years ago I belatedly ↵reported on Shimon Schocken’s and Noam Nisan’s book ‘The elements of computing systems: Building a modern computer from first principles’ (2005). Since then quite some things have happened, and at the website ↑From NAND to Tetris you’ll now find a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC ;)—the whole course, including all the materials, has been put online open-source fashion. The idea is to lead you from the uttermost basics, in this case the logical NAND gate [Negated AND or NOT AND] to build a system on which you finally can program and run a Tetris … Continue reading

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fun times ahead

According to Kaspersky ↵Stuxnet has ↑an heir. Here are two snippets from Wired’s report on it—mind the rhetorics: “It’s pretty fantastic and incredible in complexity,” said Alexander Gostev, chief security expert at Kaspersky Lab. […]     “It took us half-a-year to analyze Stuxnet,” he said. “This is 20-times more complicated. It will take us 10 years to fully understand everything.” To my cyberpunk-infested mind this sounds as if some mysterious AI has written the thing, maybe even ↵Colossus himself … And if ↑this is true as well, there for sure are fun times ahead. … Continue reading

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brains ain’t computers

When, ↵like recently, I am talking about the historical significance of cybernetics for contemporary culture and society I more often than not mention that in the process of marking itself off from mechanistic visions (Ashby 1957 [1956]: 1-6), cybernetics quite early emphasized a whole array of concepts: networks, complexity, self-organisation, reproduction, adaptation, cognition, aiming at and maintaining goal-states, purposeful behaviour (or action?), and autonomy. This line-up implicitly leads towards a vision of cybernetic systems as independent actors, maybe even gifted with ‘free will’. Therefore it is not astounding that a hypothetical analogy emerged early on: ‘mind to body’ is like … Continue reading

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marco tempest

… get to the poetry faster  This is way overdue. It must have been in the late 1980s or early ’90s that for the first time I saw ↑Marco Tempest perform live. It was at one of those bigger magicians’ conventions in Germany where you can see and meet—if you’re a bit lucky—real top acts. Marco Tempest’s act was top, plus it was completely not off the peg. Brilliant stage magic lacking every standard element. Centerstage there was a big television set, Mr Tempest acted left, right, and behind that set and made flashy colored rubber balls move and jump … Continue reading

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seventythree percent

Just a li’l rant in-between, because this is hilarious and I have to let off a bit of steam.     I played through ‘↑Far Cry 2‘ (FC2) till 73% of the story mode, and now I am stuck. I have done all missions available, and the game prompts me to reach a briefing point to get a new mission. The only spot marked on the map where I can get a new mission is the headquarters of the ‘Alliance for Popular Resistance’ (APR) in Mosate Selao.     So I head there, the guy at the door takes away … Continue reading

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flowchart shaders

Biohazard’s modding tool, the ↑Source Shader Editor, is a ↑WYSIWYG editor, which ‘allows the user to create, compile and implement new ↑shaders easily into a source ↑mod without any preliminary knowledge of HLSL. The shaders are based on nodes which are connected over bridges to finally compose a flowgraph for each, the vertex and pixel shader […].’ It is a fine example of, and argument for the fact that modders not merely tweak games a bit, but sometimes create state-of-the-art tools sliding along the cutting edge of technology. I, and a lot of others, hope that this sooner or later … Continue reading

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stuxnet

There is a brilliant article by Ed Barnes at FoxNews: ‘Mystery surrounds cyber missile that crippled Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.’ When I first read it, at the least when a third into the text, I would have thought it to be fiction, hadn’t I heard about ‘Stuxnet‘ before … and Wikipedia’s entry on it cites all in all 82 sources. It seems to me, that Barnes is a fan of William Gibson’s writing, that’s the one thing. The other thing is, that nobody can deny anymore that we are living in a cyberpunked world. Have two quotes, the first one … Continue reading

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