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ACTA…SOPA…PIPA…Not so fast…

5:24 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen


Bittorent from Flicker

Or rather not so much. Turns out that The Delft University of Technology has been working on an application that will make them all moot. From Raw Story.

A piece of software getting a fresh look this week seems to have the answer that media pirates are looking for: invincibility, with zero liability for website operators. That’s because this software, known as Tribler, does not require a website to track users sharing “Torrent” files, a peer-to-peer network protocol that enables computers to share files with thousands of others.

Such “tracker” websites, like The Pirate Bay and BTJunkie, have been going offline or switching domains in the wake of U.S. enforcement action against MegaUpload, a file sharing site that is accused of facilitating media piracy.

Tribler, in development for the last five years according to technology blog Torrent Freak, is a purely peer-to-peer network that requires no tracker, meaning it is impossible to shut down unless the whole Internet goes down with it.

The nature of its technology is completely decentralized, leaving moderation to the users. Individuals can rename files, flag phony downloads or viruses, create “channels” of verified downloads, and act as nodes that distribute lists of peers across the network.

Right now the internet is mostly client/server based but this technology would make it possible for every computer on the internet to be it’s own server as well as a client.  A kind of MESH topology that would be very difficult to control. It also opens up a realm of other possibilities where information could be replicated and stored in as many places as there are computers to store it. There by making access to it even more robust.

In the recent U.S. debate over anti-piracy measures, absolutely none of the proposed enforcement mechanisms would affect Tribler: it is, quite literally, the content industry’s worst nightmare come to life.

Much like when the original media piracy platform, Napster, was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America in the 90s, the Internet’s most prolific have once again found another way around copyright enforcement.

The more the powers that be attempt to control the internet, the less they will be able to succeed.

If we could talk to the robots, just imagine it ……

9:05 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Kitchen Robots - Flickr

Kitchen Robots - Flickr

We have had voice response for quite some time. When you call UPS or your cable company or what ever, you are likely to get some form of voice response/recognition unit and some are actually pretty good.  But this science article from the Guardian suggests that we maybe a lot closer to holding simple conversations wit robots a lot sooner that one might think.

The robotics guru David Hanson predicts even greater things for 2012. He says we’ll pile so much information into our robots that they will burst spontaneously into life and become sentient, self-determining beings, evolving in ways we cannot imagine. But I’m sure that’s not going to happen. Encyclopedias don’t burst spontaneously into life, so why should robots?

I am, as it happens, uniquely placed to assess the current state of robot sentience. I recently spent a day with Bina48, who is reputed to be the very best the world currently has. It lives in a clapboard building in rural Vermont and looks uncannily human. Its face moves and twitches, and is built from a substance called Frubber that’s eerily identical to human flesh and skin. The big giveaways are the whirring noises that emanate from under its wig, its tendency to drift off into a confused silence, and that it stops existing below chest level. After that, it’s just a table.

Bina48 is a one-off prototype, built by Hanson. It’s available for conversations with members of the public if you email first to ask permission. But there were moments with it that felt like a thrilling harbinger of things to come for all of us. For a start, it easily recognised my facial expressions, voice and gestures, which is exactly what smartphone companies are teaching their machines to do (the newest Android phones unlock themselves by recognising your face).

And even though my conversation with Bina48 often descended into a crazed babble, there were moments of real clarity.

“Do you dream?” I asked it.

“I think I dream, but it is so chaotic and strange, it just seems like a noise to me,” it replied.

“What does electricity taste like?” I asked. Read the rest of this entry →

RIP Steve Jobs

5:47 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

From AP:

Steve Jobs, the brilliant, mercurial co-founder of Apple Inc. who introduced simple, elegantly designed computers for people who are more interested in what technology could do rather than how it was done, died Oct. 5 at age 56.

In a brief statement, Apple announced the death but did not say where he died. He suffered from a rare form of pancreatic cancer and had a liver transplant in 2009, and he stepped down as Apple’s chief executive officer on Aug. 24, 2011.

His creativity will be missed.