Saturday, July 30, 2011

Here's a thought, vibing off that previous idea of combining processing and heat generation, I'm answering a Quora question on BitCoin.

Why not a special heater who's heating element is a custom processor designed for bitmining? You create bitcoins as a side effect of heating your room, or boiling your kettle :-)

Update : It's happening.
Read Polly Toynbee against Tory NHS reforms.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I've wondered about this for a while :

in the United States heating uses even more energy (6 percent of the national total, according to the Department of Energy) than servers do (3 percent). If servers doubled as heaters, we’d be getting the same services for half the energy cost.
Here's something I've been up to recently. At an Erasmus get together of computer and game artists in Paris 8, I co-invented and programmed part of this live action, retro-styled video game. (I'm not in the video because I had to leave early, but kudos to the rest of the team who pulled the bits together to make it all work properly and made this awesome video.)

ALL YOUR PONT ARE BELONG TO US // installation 2011 from Tatiana "Iarn" on Vimeo.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Michelle Goldberg :

Rarely has the connection between sexual anxiety and right-wing nationalism been made quite so clear. Indeed, Breivik’s hatred of women rivals his hatred of Islam, and is intimately linked to it. Some reports have suggested that during his rampage on Utoya, he targeted the most beautiful girl first. This was about sex even more than religion.
Nice one Aaron Swartz!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Text of the moment : The Occult Technology of Power
Killian Fox :

"Africa is the Silicon Valley of banking. The future of banking is being defined here… It's going to change the world."
Back when discussing Eustonianism (whatever happened to that?) I took issue with their worry that

Terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology is widespread today. It threatens democratic values and the lives and freedoms of people in many countries ... like all terrorism, it is a menace that has to be fought, and not excused.

As it turns out, the threat of Islamist terrorism was much exaggerated .

As the link above explains :

So the danger is big and growing, and Islamists are the source. Right?

Wrong, actually.

The European Union's Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2010 states that in 2009 there were "294 failed, foiled, or successfully executed attacks" in six European countries. This was down almost one-third from the total in 2008 and down by almost one-half from the total in 2007.

So in most of Europe, there was no terrorism. And where there was terrorism, the trend line pointed down.

As for who's responsible, forget Islamists. The overwhelming majority of the attacks- 237 of 294 - were carried out by separatist groups, such as the Basque ETA. A further 40 terrorists schemes were pinned on leftist and/or anarchist terrorists. Rightists were responsible for four attacks. Single-issue groups were behind two attacks, while responsibility for a further 10 was not clear.

Islamists? They were behind a grand total of one attack. Yes, one. Out of 294 attacks. In a population of half a billion people. To put that in perspective, the same number of attacks was committed by the Comité d'Action Viticole, a French group that wants to stop the importation of foreign wine.

We've now just seen what, by anyone's standards, is a major terrorist attack in Europe : 93 killed, another 97 injured. Ie. that's more killed - though fewer injured survivors - than the 7/7 bombings in London. Does that make Anders Breivik's cause - a brand of right-wing paranoid euro-culturalism - a supreme evil? Of course not. Or especially to be worried about? I doubt it. Should it make those who've talked up the clash of civilisations and who bang on about the threat of Europe being overrun by Islamic (and other immigrant) cultures consider their words more carefully? Yes, a bit.

But I remind myself of what I wrote in response to the Eustonians :

But let's continue with the Eustonians beyond values : lives and freedoms are under attack too. It's true, and the bad news is that it's getting worse.

But not because Islamism is especially wicked or powerful. Our safety is diminishing because, as the fourth-generation war people put it, the nation-state has lost the monopoly on violence. All non-state actors, whatever their ideological motivations, are potentially empowered by new technologies and organizational structures, to cause more damage than ever before.

More people allegedly die in gang-warfare in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro than in the Palestinian Intifada. The US confronts a similar rising violence on its Mexican border. These are symptoms of the democratisation of violence, and the shift in loyalties from the nation-state to some other identity-system, whether religious or ethnic or economic.

I don't approve of that thing that the Eustonians label "Islamist terrorism". But I see it for what it is : one among dozens of fundamentalisms, acting as one among dozens of malign networks. You could scour "Islamism" from the earth, and tomorrow the same problems would be with us under another label : an uncertain world where the dispossessed search for identity and self-assertion through membership of gangs and tribes with excessively anti-liberal ideologies. Such gangs must have an anti-liberal ideology, because notions of them-and-us, sinners-and-saved, infidel-and-martyr are the basic principle holding them together in the first place. If your sense of self depends on your membership of a gang. And the main organizing principle of the gang is that members are good and non-members are bad, then inevitably liberal values of tolerance and egalitarianism are out of the window.

I'd sign a manifesto that recognised this; that recognised that violent terrorism is the hallmark of all repressive fundamentalisms. And that the proper response is to build benign networks of participation and discover new identities based on shared projects and activities : membership of alt.currencies or gifting circles, free-software projects and blogrolls; quilting circles and book-clubs; theatre, music, dance and a million other things humans do together to express who they are. This, and only this, do I consider to be a serious attempt to fight "terror". :-)

I stand by this. (Even the slightly silly rhetorical flourish at the end.) Even though there are some slight differences. Breivik may not have had much of a network (though that remains an open question at time of writing. He was certainly on the fringes of Euro-paranoid discussion circles.) He seems to have been economically well off (but then again so was Bin Laden) It's not clear whether he has been searching for identity and self-assertion though he clearly was worried that some kind of European identity was under threat.

Still, despite the differences, I think my model still stands. Terrorism is cultural insecurity + technological empowerment. We don't want to lose the technological empowerment, so we must lose the cultural insecurity.
Andrew Rawnsley :

This prime minister needs to take particular care in his relationships because the politics of "personal connection" have always been important to David Cameron, right from the beginning of his career. In his early 20s, he landed a job in the Conservative research department thanks in part to an intervention by a patron in the royal household. His inner circle is packed with people with whom he went to school or university or first met in his youth. Mutual histories and backgrounds are a much more important bonding agent at the Cameron court than ideology.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Festo just keep on being insanely brilliant!

Interesting Mechanical Turk questions and surveys.

From Russ Hammond

If you had an unlimited budget, what are some interesting crowdsourcing questions you would post on Mechanical Turk?

I like this one : I would pay the workers to ask their neighbor about a (small?) problem the worker can solve, and pay the worker to solve it. And then see what was the problem, and how it was fixed.

If one could observe all transactions on the Amazon Mechanical Turk marketplace, what would would be some of the most interesting things to know?