feeds | grep links > EFF on IP Enforcement Bill, Nerdcore Flow, Smartphones as Key Cards, and More

  • EFF weighs in on COICA IP enforcement bill
    Richard Esguerra provides analysis that echoes that of Wendy Seltzer, to which I linked yesterday. He augments her arguments about censorship, adding concerns about how interference with the DNS system could cause problems and the signal this bill would send with regards to the US’s stance on internet censorship. The latter point is interesting because the bill, if passed, would contradict, in actions, what the State Department put into words with Clinton’s speech several months back.
  • Scribd apologizes, clarifies archive option that optionally results in paywall
    Via Hacker News.
  • Google crowd sources efforts to fix invalid metadata in Books, The Register
  • BBC coverage of Nerdcore
    Via Hacker News. I have been listening to MC Frontalot quite a bit lately, especially his latest album, “Zero Day”. Not surprisingly, I was thrilled to see this BBC piece which I take as a good sign that Nerdcore is still alive and well. Even if the main stream media here is a couple of years late.
  • Smart phones as a replacement for hotel key cards
    Mike Melanson at ReadWriteWeb explains how one chain is experimenting with the idea, clearly driven by convenience over security. Do I need to count the number of ways this system will be that much more vulnerable than the existing key cards? To the credit of the hotel chain trying this idea, they are making it optional. Given the addition of the phones’ processing power, there is an opportunity to actually make the system much more secure. As much as past history is a valid predictor, the implementers are unlikely to be pushing the security envelope as far as the hardware would enable.
  • Federal guide to spying on your suspected terrorist neighbors, Wired
  • Brain coprocessors, Technology Review

Hack Your Own Mind Machine Interface

Yesterday’s post about cyborgs has not surprisingly brought all things cybernetic top of mind. This post by Cory at BoingBoing about an open source library for programming a proprietary but arguably affordable EEG headset neatly fits the filter. If I’m lucky, maybe I can find a story a day for the reminder of the month to honor September’s theme as noted on Slashdot yesterday.

From the developer’s github site:

I’ve been interested in the Emotiv EPOC headset for a while; a $300 14-sensor EEG. It’s intended for gaming, but it’s quite high quality. There’s a research SDK available for $750, but it’s Windows-only and totally proprietary. I decided to hack it, and open the consumer headset up to development. Thanks to donations I got some hardware in hand this weekend.

That announcement page also has a good overview of where development is at and where help is needed. The license is essentially a public domain dedication with an exception for some code borrowed from elsewhere. Emokit is written in Python which may turn off style snobs but does make the library accessible and portable. A C library is planned which will undoubtedly broaden the project’s appeal.

H+ also has an in-depth interview with the person responsible, Cody Brocious. It provides some good context, explaining that while there are other options for open source EEG hacking, Emokit plus the EPOC headset lowers the cost and makes it more accessible.

Free/open library to talk to brain-computer interface, BoingBoing

Cyborgs Among Us

Slashdot points out that September is cyborg month. I, myself, have been accused of being more man than machine. Seriously I strongly appreciate the work of the early cyberneticists, realizing that there is far more to the space of ideas than the popular conception of cyborgs. Slashdot’s post links to the writings by a group of artists and writers exploring the idea more deeply in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the coinage of the word cyborg.

I can’t help but relate this anniversary to a couple of other stories I saw in my feeds, today. First is a Technology Review article explaining new research combining thought control with artificial intelligence. This sort of combination almost seems obvious to me. It certainly would to some of those first cyberneticists, many of whom were interested in the idea of augmented cognition.

As the article explains, the artificial intelligence interprets simpler commands from the operator, alleviating the burden of thinking through many of the complex tasks most of us take for granted. I expect this strongly mirrors the sort of subsumption hierarchy that takes place in our own minds. We consciously think about moving and operating at a higher, simpler level and unconsciously unfold lower level, more complicated steps to accomplish those ends. It is astounding work for achieving such compelling, early results.

The other story is also from Technology Review and discusses two projects tackling one of the tougher challenges in the arena of replicating, or even improving on, human senses, namely our sense of touch.

The new electronic-skin devices “are a considerable advance in the state of the art in terms of power consumption and sensitivity,” says John Boland, professor of chemistry at Trinity College at the University of Dublin. “The real advance, though, is moving away from a flat geometry to a flexible device that could be used to make something in the shape of a human finger,” he says.

I could easily see both projects eventually leading to prosthetics that really are indistinguishable to the operator from the original.

Wheelchair Makes the Most of Brain Control, Technology Review
Electric Skin that Rivals the Real Thing, Technology Review