sunday mutants

Just making notes in the margin as the world changes beyond recognition….


At its core, RoboEarth is a World Wide Web for robots: a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other about their behavior and their environment. Bringing a new meaning to the phrase “experience is the best teacher”, the goal of RoboEarth is to allow robotic systems to benefit from the experience of other robots, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behaviour, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction.

Stewart Brand on “de-extinction”

Death is still forever, but extinction may not be. A dead body can’t be reanimated once it begins to rot, but the essence of a species — its genome — survives rot for centuries, even thousands of years. That DNA knows how to make living animals, once we figure out how to invite it to do so. At the leading edges of synthetic biology the invitation is now being crafted. For some extinct species, regenesis is becoming plausible.

The speed of censorship on China’s version of Twitter

Censorship on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, is near real-time and relies on a workforce of over 4,000 censors who stop work during the evening news, according the first detailed analysis of censorship patterns.

China’s obsession with the Soviet Union

Basically the CCP trying to avoid the mistakes that led to the fall.

The CIA and big data

On Wednesday, the CIA’s chief technology officer detailed the Agency’s vision for collecting and analysing all of the information people put on the Internet.

The wide-ranging presentation at GigaOM’s Structure:Data conference in New York City came two days after it was reported the spy agency is on the verge of signing a cloud computing contract with Amazon — worth up to $600 million over 10 years — that involves Amazon Web Services helping the CIA build a “private cloud” filled with technologies like big data.

After laying out what the CIA does — i.e. collect intelligence, conduct analysis, perform covert action — CIA CTO Ira “Gus” Hunt detailed just how the agency plans to acquire, store, and analyse digital data on a massive scale.

You’re already a walking sensor platform,” Hunt said, referring to all of the information captured by smartphones. ”You are aware of the fact that somebody can know where you are at all times, because you carry a mobile device, even if that mobile device is turned off. You know this, I hope? Yes? Well, you should.”

In fact Hunt noted that based on the sensors in a smartphone, someone can be identified (with 100 per cent accuracy) by the way they walk — implying that someone could be identified even when carrying someone else’s phone.

Why Americans are the Weirdest People in the World – or how cultural differences mean we really don’t know much about human psychology which is based primarily on Westerners/Americans. This article is really worth reading, and ties into Wade Davis etc stuff about culture and language.

some things that caught my eye lately


* Sobering but really sharp take on where 3D printing is actually at, and where it is heading, beyond the hype, in terms of what you will be able to build at home. Hint: your Star Trek replicator ain’t nowhere in sight.

* Meanwhile, scientists are using 3D printers to make stem cells, so who knows, really.

*Update on the Hedges, Chomsky et al case vs the Obama administration over the NDAA (which we first blogged back in October)

If we lose in Hedges v. Obama—and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court—electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast.

 Anonymous is also threatening to interrupt the State of the Union address over this.

* Blindspot: hidden biases of good people

* Great Big Ideas: twelve lectures covering most of everything, free online


belated mutants

Hmm. Some links have stacked up without really trying. (Lots of this via innovation patterns.)

map of europe from 1000AD to present. ch ch ch changes.

Bill Gates’s holiday reading. interesting and obvious trend evident.

pathology of power: really disturbing description of how no one is in control at the US Department of Defense

towards a psychological operations reading list. terrifying amounts of brainfood.

the world’s most powerful mercenary armies.

shift happens: excellent essay on Kuhn and his effect on thought

guess i missed this while traveling: human/animal hybrids being made in labs in the UK.

I figured this was going on in unregulated countries, interesting to see them cop to it.

also, on biology: sequencing the genome has achieved sod all so far.

general support against the notion of reductionism to our genetic code; also notes rise of epigenetics

a really worthwhile four minute video introducing the notion of social and planetary boundaries

mutants mutants everywhere


Billionaire Google Founders and James Cameron investing in space mining company.

This was news when I first read it. Oh well. Ho ho ho. Mostly keeping it in to note: Anyone else read Stephen Donaldson’s Gap series? 😉 Shades of the UMC. Can you see these dudes as the Dragon?

Is Russia building super weird weapons?. (And even if it is just propaganda, as Time hilariously makes it out to be without ever questioning what it reports from its own government sources, is this any weirder than the shit DARPA claims to be doing anyway?)

101 spectacular nonfiction stories. This is a pretty awesome curation. Really worth trawling through.

The rape of men as weapon of war. Startling and disturbing.

Dau sounds like the most insane way to make a movie ever. Shooting for several years now in an enclosed city-set recreating a Stalin era world. Just berserk. Assuming it is real.

Life is short. Cute, feel good.

EO Wilson on the origins of the arts. Interesting insight from sociobiological perspective.

Fun and interesting set of definitions of science from smart people.


And also, if you have not seen episode one of Black Mirror (it is a standalone thing) and don’t know about it, then seriously acquire a copy and watch it, without spoilers if at all possible.The single best piece of television I have seen in years. Extraordinary.


sunday mutants 14/4/12


* 48 psychological facts about yourself worth knowing

definitely worth the read. far from the usual sort of guff.

* Chris23 summarises the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2011.

well worth reading. short clear but excellent summary of where shit is at, current pressure points in the world system, etc.

* Reality as failed state

interesting analysis of the disconnect between different actors in the world

* old maps online

the largest collection of old maps online

* a downloadable archive of all of the amazing Grey Lodge online magazine

Grey Lodge was one of the first and greatest sources of underground, avant garde, occult culture. some absolute gems in their collection.

* future of publishing news: freemium, a fascinating funding model for writing from China

basically serialised online fiction. free at first. as it gets more popular, you have to pay. seems to be working for some people.

* BBC reports that implanted wireless devices are hackable by McAfee… ie if you have an insulin pump, it can be turned off, or made to release all its contents at once, by external signals…


And, as a follow-up to the last post on economics, here is a nugget from the awesome Nils Gilman:

Stat of the day: Sustaining a 2.3% growth rate to the year 3500 would require us by then to be capturing the entire energy output of the Sun

Capitalism cannot work.


(lots of todays stuff came from catching up on technoccult and URBEINGRECORDED for the first time in ages)

sunday mutants (no fooling edition)


This week, almost by theme…


An unexpected clump of data on prisons:

Analysis of incarceration and death rates (abstract) turns up some weird nuggets :

Black male prisoners, however consistently exhibited lower death rates than black male nonprisoners did.

Cue this tweet from Nils Gilman: “Stat of the day: More black men are disenfranchised today (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than when the 15th Amendment was ratified”

(Oh, and there are now more Americans in jail than there were in Stalin’s gulag archipelago.)



All about information:

* A universe of self-replicating code – Brain food from George Dyson.

* Fascinating short piece with graph revealing that lots of books written in the 20th Century have effectively vanished/no longer available due to being copyrighted: the missing 20th century

* Apparently there’s been an explosion in the number of retractions in scientific journals.


Randomness from around the world:

Chinese wedding with a 6 ferrari dowry and 70 million overall price-tag.

Micro-chip embedded intelligent t-shirts used to track student truancy in Brazil.

(Man school uniforms are going to be fun in the future.)


And a wee dose of utopian future, almost: Free ebook of Lester Brown’s World on the Edge – How to prevent economic and environmental collapse.

is it really sunday mutants

drafted this up a couple of days ago, but, ye gods, sunday mutants is geing published on a sunday, even.

anyway. here is some stuff.

* America under Obama still galloping towards fascism:

President Obama signs Executive Order allowing for control over all US resources.

On March 16th, President Obama signed a new Executive Order which expands upon a prior order issued in 1950 for Disaster Preparedness, and gives the office of the President complete control over all the resources in the United States in times of war or emergency.

The National Defense Resources Preparedness order gives the Executive Branch the power to control and allocate energy, production, transportation, food, and even water resources by decree under the auspices of national defense and national security.  The order is not limited to wartime implementation, as one of the order’s functions includes the command and control of resources in peacetime determination.

Between that and the NDAA stuff (By signing into law the NDAA, the president has awarded the military extraordinary powers to detain US citizens without trial.) there’s not much left. They can lock you up and take anything they want and tell you to do whatever they want, and it is all legal.

It is a sadly tired comparison, but seriously, that is a definition of totalitarian dictatorship.

(Seriously, the fact that these two have gone through under Obama – this most recent as an executive order – really overshadows anything positive he may have achieved.)

Bye, America.

(By the way, is this news to you?)


* Amazing article about the importance of libraries. Actually, it is a really long comment on a post. But it is exceptional.


* Fascinating guess at how China will develop: along Nordic socialist lines.


* The heart has consciousness. Mostly posting as a reminder to myself to read that.


* Cool post-apocalyptic short film: concept ruin



sunday mutants catchup edition

Hahahaha. Here is what stuck enough to pass on in the past two hour info-dump.

First, quite a bit of webby stuff:

An opensource decentralised darknet p2p is here, now: retroshare. This is probably important.

Who is tracking you online? Collusion for Mozilla shows you.

Found in this long but interesting article about advertising and privacy online.

the top 25 viral news sources on twitter and facebook.

Thinky stuff:

Six animations teaching logical thinking to kids. And adults.

free ebook: the future we deserve. 100 essays on the future.

Obama, explained. Epic article analysing Obama’s performance and psyche.

Other stuff:

New evidence suggests climate change wiped out the neanderthals, not conflict with humans.

Wade Davis continues to be jaw-droppingly awesome. (photo of his writing work-space)


Anonymous, for what it is worth, declared war on the US government.. One of those things that seems like I should have heard of it already, even if it is just rhetoric.

sunday mutants hobbit ate my life edition



The aftermath of moving, and The Hobbit, have eaten my life for the past few weeks. I haven’t really been info-trawling. Here are a handful of things that have popped up.


* Really fascinating interview about the creation of the computer by the same folks that created the nuclear bomb, and the biology of our machine future.


Besides obvious ones like computer viruses, we have large, slow-moving megafauna like operating systems and now millions of fast-moving apps, almost like microbes. Recently we’ve seen enormous conglomerations of code creeping up on us, these giant, multicellular, metazoan-level code-organisms like Facebook or Amazon. All these species form a digital universe.


* How your cat is making you crazy: Bizarre but brilliant read on a bacterial organism secreted by cats which has demonstrable (and surprisingly large) effects on humans; an interesting parallel to this old post about mind altering parasites.


* Meanwhile: 5 Kinds of Fungus Discovered to be Capable of Farming Animals!

* One of those things that should get more eyeballs on it. “The Corporate Psychopaths: Theory of the Global Financial Crisis” So many juicy quotes.

“At one major investment bank for which I worked, we used psychometric testing to recruit social psychopaths because their characteristics exactly suited them to senior corporate finance roles.”

* This summary of US/general contempt for NZ’s geopolitical importance from the Stratfor leaks is pretty funny. Sort of.

When it comes to geopolitical importance it doesn’t get much fucking lower than New Zealand

Yup. May find the time to read online a little more this week.



Sunday Mutants increasingly erratic edition






Hmm. Where has time gone? Here’s a handful of worthies:


Complete genius skewering of right-wing american thought:

Hammering on this contradiction is a core wedge issue: if you don’t think the government can be effective in a wealthy, stable country that we know intimately — like, say, the United States — how on earth can you believe that the US government has any hope of being effective in a benighted, godforsaken place like Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, or Somalia?

Seriously. So clear once pointed out.


* Learn almost anything, free: Khan Academy.


* Amazing short video – 500 years of Female Portraits in Western Art


* Possibly the most amazing piece of art I have seen on the internet.

Totally unique and fairly indescribable. For those who inhale, it will blow your mind as you grok it. For the rest, it will still blow your mind.



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