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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

By Crom, what sorcery is this? These women with their motley tights have backdoored my brain's habitual human-recognition heuristics and keep fooling my eye into seeing impossible acrobatic half-humans with phase-shifted torsos!

Black and White Tights Dance (with "Tanz" lyrics) (via IO9)     

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boesing

fge

As a novelist, Daniel Suarez spins dystopian tales of the future. But on the TEDGlobal stage, he talks us through a real-life scenario we all need to know more about: the rise of autonomous robotic weapons of war. Advanced drones, automated weapons and AI-powered intelligence-gathering tools, he suggests, could take the decision to make war out of the hands of humans.

http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_suarez_the_kill_decision_shouldn_t_belon...

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

Here's a 40-minute video in which Tom Stuart gives a talk summarizing one of the chapters from him new book Understanding Computation, describing the halting state problem and how it relates to bugs, Turing machines, Turing completeness, computability, malware checking for various mobile app stores, and related subjects. The Halting State problem -- which relates to the impossibility of knowing what a program will do with all possible inputs -- is one of the most important and hardest-to-understand ideas in computer science, and Stuart does a fantastic job with it here. You don't need to be a master programmer or a computer science buff to get it, and even if you only absorb 50 percent of it, it's so engagingly presented, and so blazingly relevant to life in the 21st century, that you won't regret it.

At Scottish Ruby Conference 2013 I gave a talk called Impossible Programs, adapted from chapter 8 of Understanding Computation. It’s a talk about programs that are impossible to write in Ruby — it covers undecidability, the halting problem and Rice’s theorem, explained in plain English and illustrated with Ruby code. The slides are available

Impossible Programs     

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

Journeyman Pictures' short documentary "Naked Citizens" is an absolutely terrifying and amazing must-see glimpse of the modern security state, and the ways in which it automatically ascribes guilt to people based on algorithmic inferences, and, having done so, conducts such far-reaching surveillance into its victims' lives that the lack of anything incriminating is treated of proof of being a criminal mastermind:

"I woke up to pounding on my door", says Andrej Holm, a sociologist from the Humboldt University. In what felt like a scene from a movie, he was taken from his Berlin home by armed men after a systematic monitoring of his academic research deemed him the probable leader of a militant group. After 30 days in solitary confinement, he was released without charges. Across Western Europe and the USA, surveillance of civilians has become a major business. With one camera for every 14 people in London and drones being used by police to track individuals, the threat of living in a Big Brother state is becoming a reality. At an annual conference of hackers, keynote speaker Jacob Appelbaum asserts, "to be free of suspicion is the most important right to be truly free". But with most people having a limited understanding of this world of cyber surveillance and how to protect ourselves, are our basic freedoms already being lost?

World - Naked Citizens (Thanks, Dan!)     

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

Caleb sez, "I wanted to try making something in the style of "Q" from the James Bond movies. My idea was to make an emergency self destruct system for laptops and portable hard drives. It turned out pretty well, it is always fun to watch stuff melt!"

I wanted to implement thermite as a self destruct mechanism inside the device. To do this, I had to come up with a way to ignite the thermite. This stuff is very difficult to light. You have to get it really really hot. The easiest way is to use magnesium, which itself isn’t the easiest thing to light.

What I finally landed on was an ignition system that uses model rocket igniters, gun powder, and magnesium to light the thermite. The model rocket igniter can be set off from the 12v line inside your computer. However, it isn’t hot enough to light magnesium shavings, much less thermite. To get it to work, I needed to add some gunpowder. A small amount of gun powder would get hot enough to light the magnesium shavings, which in turn were hot enough to light the thermite. I had to be careful though, because too much gunpowder would cause a rapid expansion, blowing the thermite everywhere instead of lighting it. You can actually see some red thermite being blown out of the external hard drive and the laptop as the gunpowder ignites.

Laptop vs Thermite: Slow motion destruction (Thanks, Caleb)     

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

I've written before about Moran Cerf -- celebrated neuroscientist, former military hacker, and good-guy bank robber -- who also happens to be a great storyteller. Here's a video in which Cerf recounts some clever and fascinating neuroscience experiments that use neurofeedback to help people resolve competition between different thoughts and wills in their minds. The applications are even more interesting -- mentally controlling a robotic arm, for example.

Moran Cerf: Hacking the brain (Thanks, Moran!)     

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Original author: 
Rob Beschizza

Jim Guthrie, the composer of Sword & Sworcery's soundtrack, has released Takes Time, his first solo album in a decade. Andrew Webster interviewed him for The Verge: "Sword & Sworcery taught me something about myself. I learned a lot about music and what I'm capable of." Embedded above is his latest song, Bring on The Night.    

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

R Paul Wilson sez, "I've just released a short film about magic and nostalgia. 'The Magic Box' is based on experiences and memories that many of us share and follows a handmade magic trick as it passes from one generation to the next."

This is as sweet as a sweet thing.

The Magic Box     

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Cory Doctorow

Shapeways user Maundy created the Steampunk Geared Cube, a magnificent geared confection that came out of the 3D printed fully assembled!

The cube contains a total of 28 gears, all of which turn from manually rotating only one (though the designer notes that rotating two gears results in a smoother motion). The outermost gear on each side has handles for easy rotation, and each is linked to its adjacent gear in an interlocking pattern. Once one gear is spun, the others correspondingly spin along.

In addition to the fascinating pattern and mechanics, the cube has a tray in the middle for holding various small objects. The product also comes with a stand and a lockable lid, which is placed on top of the cube and can be locked and unlocked by rotating the gears.

3D Printed 28-Geared Cube     

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

Dr. Tom Murphy VII gave a research paper called "The First Level of Super Mario Bros. is Easy with Lexicographic Orderings and Time Travel . . . after that it gets a little tricky," (PDF) (source code) at SIGBOVIK 2013, in which he sets out a computational method for solving classic NES games. He devised two libraries for this: learnfun (learning fuction) and playfun (playing function). In this accompanying video, he chronicles the steps and missteps he took getting to a pretty clever destination.

learnfun & playfun: A general technique for automating NES games (via O'Reilly Radar)     

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