Poemage is a visualization system for exploring the sonic topology of a poem. We define sonic topology as the complex structures…

Poemage, visualization, poetry, digital humanities, sonic paterns, language, data

Poemage is a visualization system for exploring the sonic topology of a poem. We define sonic topology as the complex structures formed via the interaction of sonic patterns — words connected through some sonic or linguistic resemblance — across the space of the poem. Poemage was developed at the University of Utah as part of an ongoing, highly exploratory collaboration between data visualization experts and poets/poetry scholars. 

(via http://www.sci.utah.edu/~nmccurdy/Poemage/ )

There are upwards of 800,000 lakes in Russia’s Sakha Republic, many of which are found clustered in its northeastern corner….


There are upwards of 800,000 lakes in Russia’s Sakha Republic, many of which are found clustered in its northeastern corner. Sakha, also known as Yakutia, is the most expansive subnational entity in the world, covering nearly 1.2 million square miles (3.1 million square km) – an area almost equal in size to India. About 40% of the republic is north of the Arctic Circle and covered by permafrost, which keeps many of its lakes frozen for 9-10 months of the year.

See more here: https://bit.ly/2CYX8R1

69.052056°, 159.818972°

Source imagery: Maxar

Gallery of failed unicorn cakes


Gallery of failed unicorn cakes

This CLIP+diffusion method is great at some things but unicorn cakes are a challenge.

“Unicorn cake with golden horn and rainbow sprinkles”

An irregular lump of cake studded with holographic sprinkles and looking like someone has squeezed it in their fist

“Unicorn cake with golden horn and rainbow sprinkles” using template image.

Close-up of a field of wrinkly pink frosting studded with tiny gold balls. In the background is yellow-green hair.

“Unicorn cake, photorealistic”

A cross between a close-up of cake and an infinite beach. A crack in the landscape reveals lavendar cake and a single eye.

“Unicorn cake, cryengine”

A dirty ceramic bowl with two unicorn feet, filled with cake topped with chopped cherries.

“Unicorn cake, artstation HD”

Perched on the edge of a steep cake cliff is a twist of color and texture like a peacock shrimp crossed with a jellyfish.

Please, if you use diffusion-guided CLIP to generate a better unicorn cake, tell me how you did it.

Stephen Doyle’s Poetic Book Sculptures Stephen Doyle describes his interconnected book sculptures as “miniature monuments,…


Stephen Doyle’s Poetic Book Sculptures

Stephen Doyle describes his interconnected book sculptures as “miniature monuments, testaments to the power of language and metaphors of imagination.” Featuring angled scaffolding and interlocking constructions that appear to grow directly from the bound pages, the sprawling sculptural forms that comprise his Hypertexts series are unruly and enchanting reimaginings of how information is communicated.

Belarusian dictator pwned by “cyber-partisans”


Belarus is “Europe’s last Soviet dictatorship,” a country ruled by Alexander Lukashenko, an absurd authoritarian caricature who once had a one-armed man arrested for clapping:


Lukashenko’s brutality is absurd, but it’s no joke. Belarus has a terrible human rights record: it’s a corrupt land of secret disappearances and torture (it’s also my heritage: my grandfather was born in Nowy Swerzne, Belarus).

Lukashenko is a clown, but he possesses the administrative competence to avail himself of high-tech surveillance — a decade ago, he was already using mobile carriers’ records to obtain lists of every person who attended anti-government demonstrations.


But as the saying goes “any weapon you don’t know how to use is your enemy’s.” Lukashenko’s regime is highly digitized — and badly secured. Earlier this year, hacktivists called the Belarusian Cyber Partisans announced that they’d obtained a huge trove of government docs.

The trove includes the identities of police informants, government officials’ personal information (including spies), recordings from the state’s widespread wiretapping program, and footage from security cameras and drones.

Now, these documents are starting to trickle out. As Ryan Gallagher reports for Bloomberg, the authorities are starting to freak. The head of the Belarusian KGB made a special TV broadcast to blame the breach on foreign spies.


The leaks expose Lukashenko officials to liability in the International Criminal Court when and if the regime finally falls. The leaks are being promoted by BYPOL, a dissident group of former Belarusian cops who resigned en masse after last year’s rigged election.

They’re especially incensed to learn that Lukashenko’s spies were wiretapping cops (including senior cops), and planning violent suppression of peaceful protesters — actions that made the cops look particularly bad.

While there are parallels between the Cyber Partisans and other hacktivist groups like Anonymous, Gabriella Coleman (who literally wrote the book on political hacktivism) told Gallagher that this represents a new level of hacktivist activity.


Gallagher spoke to a Cyber Partisans spokesperson who claimed the group’s membership was 15 people: 304 intrusion specialists with the rest serving as data-analysts. The members are said to work in Belarus’s tech industry.

There’s lots more to come in this breach — they have 1–2 million minutes of wiretap audio alone.

Lukashenko’s hold on power has never been more fragile. Even by low global standards, his government seriously bungled covid respnse.

Last year’s protests over obviously rigged elections saw massive waves of protest that only swelled in the face of brutal repression and mass arrests. Senior military officers publicly burned their uniforms in protest.


Dozens of riot cops dropped their shields and switched sides, embracing protesters as brothers.


Coleman told Gallagher that she had never seen hacktivists operating as skilfully as the Cyber Partisans “except in the movies.” It’s true that Belarus’s indomitable and creative opposition seem to be ripped from fiction.

Last year, I wrote that the protests bore a resemblance to the climax of my 2017 novel Walkaway.


The current breach triggered lots of email from people who say it reminds them of the plot of my 2020 novel Attack Surface:


But I didn’t “predict” this — instead, I observed the same tactics being used by other opposition movements as the Cyber Patriots, and, like them, thought about how they might evolve.

Just as my 2008 novel Little Brother was inspired by the whistleblower Mark Klein, who revealed the NSA’s mass surveillance program — official lies about this also inspired Snowden’s decision to reveal more NSA secrets.

I didn’t “predict” Snowden — instead, we were both paying attention to the same underlying phenomena. And while it’s easy to get discouraged about the ways that tech is used as a force for oppression and control, examples like this remind us of its liberatory potential.

The mission of technological self-determination isn’t motivated by blind faith that more tech leads to more human rights — rather, it’s the dual understanding that unless we seize the means of computation tech will be a terrible force for oppression.

But that also, wrestling control over the technology that enables us to form groups and coordinate their actions has powerful potential for human thriving. This isn’t crude optimism, rather, its motto is, “This will all be so great…if we don’t screw it up.”

What kind of emergency is our emergency?


This past weekend in the Financial Times, Kim Stanley Robinson ponders the nature of the current climate emergency, trying to capture the “structure of the feeling” of our current moment.


In 2020, Robinson published an astonishingly good, optimistic and furious novel about the climate emergency, “The Ministry For the Future,” whose goal was imagining what that “structure” feel like if we actually averted the end of civilization.


What’s that mean? It’s going beyond, “It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” It’s easy to imagine the end of capitalism — I’ve written many postcapitalist worlds. The hard part is writing the ending of capitalism — the actual transition.

Robinson’s MINISTRY is conflicted on this score. On the one hand, he describes spectacular acts of violence — say, terrorists knocking every private jet out of the sky — but never shows us what it’s like to be in one of those jets, or what it’s like to pull the trigger.

Now in the FT, Robinson tries to imagine a less bloody transition. We can tell that something is going to give: the pandemic, the fires, the floods and extreme weather events. Something is going to rupture.

Robinson makes a virtue of this sense of impending crisis. WWI, he says, sandbagged the world — the seemingly stable world order shattered in a matter of moments. As bad as it was, it was worse for being a surprise, for catching us all flatfooted.

By contrast, WWII was visible on the horizon for years, this impending doom that everyone saw coming — that people might have done something about. They tried — the League of Nations — but in the end, the crisis couldn’t be averted.

For Robinson, the climate emergency is a WWII kind of emergency, and the Paris Accord is our League of Nations — thought whether it will enough to blunt the emergency is a great unknown.

Robinson lays out the problem. The world’s petrostates — America, Canada, Russia, Australia, Saudi, Norway, etc — need to be bribed or coerced or shamed or convinced not to murder us all in order to make a couple trillion before the music stops.

It’s a wicked problem, and in a fundamental sense, it’s a monetary problem. A market system can’t solve this. Re-engineering the world’s infrastructure to decarbonize it is all costs, no profit. Stranding fossil fuel assets is market poison.

The market inescapably misprices existential risk: “The market systemically misprices things by way of improper discounting of the future, false externalities and many other predatory miscalculations, which have led to gross inequality and biosphere destruction.”

Saving the planet is not high-yield. Building a “planetary sewage system” to “retrieve and disposing of the waste we’ve been dumping into the atmosphere” is a money-loser: “no one actually wants thousands of billions of tons of dry ice.”

Despite the looming disaster, Robinson is bullish on the 89 large central banks’ Network for Greening the Financial System and its “climate scenarios,” which seriously contemplates reorienting the planet’s productive capacity to climate mitigation.


He says that the pandemic taught us that, despite national borders, we’re a single species on a single planet with a single, shared destiny. And he says that the vaccines showed that “science is powerful.”

Given the power of science and the possibility of “carbon quantitative easing” (a possibility that owes itself to the collapse of deficit hawkism after the 2008 and 2020 stimuluses, which had many defects, but didn’t trigger runaway inflation), Robinson sees cause for hope.

“The time has come to admit we control our economy for the common good. Crucial at all times, this realisation is especially important in our current need to dodge a mass-extinction event. The invisible hand never picks up the cheque; therefore we must govern ourselves.”

Thomas Hawk


Margaret Watts-Hughes - Welsh scientist, inventor, and musician. She is possibly the first true noise artist, predating Luigi…


Margaret Watts-Hughes - Welsh scientist, inventor, and musician. She is possibly the first true noise artist, predating Luigi Russolo by a couple of decades. In the late 1800s, she created multiple musical instruments and manipulated her singing voice by using them. Margaret was truly ahead of her time and probably would have fit in better in today’s scene.

These two images of a hatchet and a nematode are different but share the same NeuralHash! NeuralHash is the perceptual hashing…

NeuralHash, machine learning, patter matching, perception, Automated Puritanism, Apple, 2021

These two images of a hatchet and a nematode are different but share the same NeuralHash!

NeuralHash is the perceptual hashing model that back’s Apple’s new CSAM (child sexual abuse material) reporting mechanism. It’s an algorithm that takes an image as input and returns a 96-bit unique identifier (a hash) that should match for two images that are “the same” (besides some minor perturbations like JPEG artifacts, resizing, or cropping).

Yesterday, news broke that researchers had extracted the neural network Apple uses to hash images from the latest operating system and made it available for testing the system. Quickly, artificially colliding adversarial images were created that had matching NeuralHashes. Apple clarified that they have an independent server-side network that verifies all matches with an independent network before flagging images for human review (and then escalation to law enforcement).

(via https://blog.roboflow.com/nerualhash-collision/ )

ASETNIOP is a keyboard replacement method that provides the full functionality of an entire keyboard using only ten keys.  In…

keyboard, layout, UI, input device, ASETNIOP

ASETNIOP is a keyboard replacement method that provides the full functionality of an entire keyboard using only ten keys.  In ASETNIOP, the most common letter pressed by each finger on a traditional QWERTY keyboard (A, S, E, T, N, I, O, and P) is assigned to each of the eight “home” keys.  The shift and space keys are assigned to the thumbs.  All other letters in the alphabet, as well as punctuation, numbers, symbols, and other function keys, are produced by pressing “chords” of two or more keys at once.

(via http://asetniop.com/ )

Bricking power tools



Home Depot Tech Will Brick Power Tools If They’re Stolen. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

(Mis)Uses of Technology

from the

what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept

Thu, Aug 5th 2021 9:25am —

Karl Bode

We’ve noted more times than I can count how in the modern era, you no longer really own the things you buy. Thanks to internet connectivity, hardware you own can be bricked or downgraded to the point where you lose essential features. Or, just as often, obnoxious DRM means you have to jump through all kinds of bizarre hoops to actually use the thing you thought you owned, whether that’s Keurig using DRM to prevent you from using competing coffee pods, to printer manufacturers using DRM to keep you from buying cheaper cartridges.

Now Home Depot is experimenting further with DRM at the point of sale. The company has started embedding chips in many of the major tool brands it sells (DeWalt, Milwaukee). And unless the tool is enabled by a Bluetooth-based system at the register, it simply won’t work when you take it home:

“Home Depot says their new anti-theft strategy is now being used in several stores nationwide to combat the thefts of their most popular power tools. A chip is inserted into power tools of major brands like DeWalt and Milwaukee brand tools, similar to how gift cards need to be scanned and paid for at a store to activate. Once the tools are paid for, the store will use Bluetooth technology to activate the tool.”

Yes, what could possibly go wrong. What if the system is buggy and doesn’t work? What if you then try to contact a manufacturer or retailer that no longer exists or supports the device and systems in question? Too bad….

Salt to Stars: The Environmental and Community Impacts of Lithium Mining.



Salt to Stars: The Environmental and Community Impacts of Lithium Mining.

A comic by the Center for Interdisciplinary Environmental Justice with art by Sophie Wang, text under the cut. This is part of a toolkit to challenge greenwashing in the climate movement. Please share to support Indigenous water protectors and non-extractive decolonial solutions to climate change!

Keep reading

Lithium and other metals needed for various low emissions/renewable energy technologies, and their associated environmental impacts, are sort of the hidden piece of the picture when we talk about sustainability. One of the reasons I’m so intrigued by geothermal energy is the potential for associated cascade applications, like lithium co-production with geothermal fluids:

More experiments with CLIP+VQGAN image generation. Turns out I can give it the names of completely fictional painters and it’ll…


More experiments with CLIP+VQGAN image generation. Turns out I can give it the names of completely fictional painters and it’ll generate distinct styles for each of them.

“Cathedral of Giants by Carmine Nottyors”

A painting of stone columns, redwood treetops, and humanoid stone pillars. The overall effect is of blue sky glowing from between deeply textured red arches.

“Cathedral of Giants by Picov Andropov”

Stone pillars topped with redwood trees, rising up into a partly cloudy sky.

“Cathedral of Giants by Janelle Shane”

It does kind of look like several Devil’s Tower mesas, interspersed with redwood trees. There are strange stony creases in the sky that do look kind of like butts.

Interesting to think about the factors it’s using in coming up with the painting styles. Similarity to the names of other artists? Similarity to other words? I wonder how (if at all) this space could be explored.

New post at aiweirdness.com!

Nequam Sonitus is a performance noise act currently active in Tampa, Florida. The identity of the members remains unknown….


Nequam Sonitus is a performance noise act currently active in Tampa, Florida. The identity of the members remains unknown. Originally a studio act which released albums sporadically to the internet, the band has recently developed a live visual/audio performance. The few documented performances of Nequam Sonitus describe an unknown humanoid creature made of flesh and steel which has an unexplained symbiotic bond with audio equipment, causing the sounds that it makes to be amplified by nearby speakers. It appears to sustain itself on sound waves, seeming to require or desire a great variety of harsh noises. Upon its release, it seeks out any objects or surfaces that make unique or loud noise when scratched, beaten, or otherwise acted upon aggressively. The creature does not appear to be deliberately dangerous, although it is recommended that viewers keep a distance to avoid the risk of collateral injury. The second member of the act remains in the back during the performance, and doesn’t reveal their identity when spoken to.



“Grown-ups” may try to drill something into you. They might have meant well, but what they teach you is not always the truth. I’m not telling you to disrespect nor distrust them. Because they are also lost, living their life in delusions. But we gotta avoid to get caught in such delusion or anything that disturbs you from your accomplishment. And the answer is always in your own self.

This is also like a conversation with the “inner child” in myself. This “inner child”, still breathing inside me, must be what enables me to enjoy skateboarding even at my age.

As a child, I was suddenly put under the narrow and distorted value enforced by the educational establishment and had been quantified, compared and forced to compete. From that time, I found a glimmer of light shining deep inside myself and felt that I have to protect it no matter how. Although I didn’t know what that light was, I could not explain about it to anyone and was kinda stuck, didn’t know what to do with my life.

And then I met skateboarding with its culture and its attitude, yes, that “skateboarding”. It came from a land far away over the sea, but it fitted me. I could feel how I got hooked on it. I had an acute feeling that there was the way to protect my tiny light. But at the same time, I started to part ways with everyone around.

At the period everyone begin to feel the urge to satisfy their self-conscious, classmates would always go to Karaoke, bowling or video arcades. And of course alcohol and smoking would follow. It seemed like their most rebellious, determined act against the grown-ups, but from my view, they were just taking the easiest way prepared by the grown-ups. Just another “fake comfort”. They weren’t even enjoying it fully nor spontaneously. Thinking of them like that, there was no way to get along with them. I even hated myself for that, but I just couldn’t get along.

Because the skaters were always trying to create something new, skateboarding was exciting, filled with surprise and joy. They wouldn’t just accept the status quo, but overcome the discomfort they got from society in their own way. I believe they had a strong will to never ever get swallowed down by this faulty system created by the grown-ups.

But as the time goes by, even the skaters grew up. A “society” was constructed in the world of skateboarding and it looked like the “grown-ups” moral was taking the wheel.

I didn’t want to get swallowed down by it. I could not lose that skateboarding, which protected my tiny light inside me. In a quiet manner, I decided to fight against it.

During the time I got a father of a daughter. Being exposed to her boundless innocence and freedom, I could recognize little by little what that “tiny light” was. It is the “inner child”. People who saw my tricks would ask me how or where I got the idea of them, but that’s what this “inner child” does.

The inner child is free-spirited and whimsy, never get caught by any kind of rule. And what he or she creates contains an explosive energy. But that energy is very hard to handle. Physical factors will block you up when you try to put the energy into any kind of “shape”. It’s way too free and requires me to do things beyond my physical ability. Without thinking if it could be possible or not, the inner child would tell me “Wouldn’t it be funny if you could do that? You can do that for sure!” And yeah, it would be funny if I could make it. So the grown-up persona in myself would show up and try to find the way leading from impossible to the possible and takes the inner child along the path. The mix of both characters enables me to accomplish a trick. Which also means that I need hella time to actually make the trick.

Why I’m telling you such a super personal story is, because I realize that if you would push a subjective matter to the ultimate, you can discover something universal.

And the world of skateboarding nowadays, which tends to the grown-ups‘ conception looks like suffering and struggling to find the right balance.

I’m also feeling this distress as a grown-up after I got a parent of a child. But that is why I could rediscover the importance of this “inner child”. Both sides are essential and you should never lean only to one side. I believe that finding and enforcing the right balance will be my gratitude and repayment to skateboarding.

Where has all that extra productivity gone?

productivity, technology, progress, change

Balaji Srinivasan asks in a Twitter thread why we’re not far more productive given the technology available and gives five possible explanations…

  1. The Great Distraction.
    All the productivity we gained has been frittered away on equal-and-opposite distractions like social media, games, etc.
  2. The Great Dissipation.
    The productivity has been dissipated on things like forms, compliance, process, etc.
  3. The Great Divergence.
    The productivity is here, it’s just only harnessed by the indistractable few.
  4. The Great Dilemma.
    The productivity has been burned in bizarre ways that require line-by-line “profiling” of everything.
  5. The Great Dumbness.
    The productivity is here, we’ve just made dumb decisions in the West while others have harnessed it.

(via Balaji Srinivasan)

Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and,…

The Lucky Country, Donald Horne, AU, australia, Oz, 1964

“Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and, although its ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise.”

The Lucky Country, Donald Horne, 1964

“The distinction between licit and illicit drugs hinges on binaries: healing versus harm, relief of suffering versus desire for…


“The distinction between licit and illicit drugs hinges on binaries: healing versus harm, relief of suffering versus desire for pleasure, medication versus recreation, obedience versus rebellion. These oppositions crumble under the slightest pressure. There are countless examples of harm caused by medical interventions. In the case of psychoactive medications, the most severe unwanted effects include addiction, psychosis, overdose, and suicide. Illicit psychoactive drugs, meanwhile, can heal. Ibogaine can help those addicted to heroin; psychedelics and MDMA can help relieve PTSD, depression, and anxiety in some people; opiates, stimulants, and sedatives can help people survive the aftermath of trauma or the suffering of unhappy everyday life. Relief is a kind of pleasure, engendering desire. Recreation relieves pain, and obedience can be a form of self-harm.”

— Sophie Pinkham at Portside, reviewing White Market Drugs by David Herzberg.

However, arts practices differ from Enlightenment conceptions of intelligence and knowledge in the following way: They do not…


However, arts practices differ from Enlightenment conceptions of intelligence and knowledge in the following way: They do not (usually, primarily) mine the world for symbols. The historical emergence of the academy itself is a product of these Enlightenment values in the sense that it valorizes the distillation of abstract symbolic representations from the world. Art operates directly upon embodied, sensorial materiality, making physical, material, and temporal permutations that are invested with intelligence unintelligible from a cognitivist perspective. These intelligences have been relegated to the realm of skill, the merely artisanal because they engage materiality directly and do not traffic primarily in the symbolic notations that have become the lingua franca of our age. Penny, Simon. Making Sense: Cognition, Computing, Art, and Embodiment.Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2017.

The infosec apocalypse is nigh


When the Pegasus Project dropped last week, it was both an ordinary and exceptional moment. The report — from Amnesty, Citizenlab, Forbidden Stories, and 80 journalists in 10 countries — documented 50,000 uses of the NSO Group’s Pegasus malware.


The 50,000 targets of NSO’s cyberweapon include politicians, activists and journalists. The Israeli arms-dealer — controlled by Novalpina Capital and Francisco Partners — has gone into full spin mode.

NSO insists that the report is wrong, but also that it’s fine to spy on people, and also that terrorists will murder us all if they aren’t allowed to reap vast fortunes by helping the world’s most brutal dictators figure out whom to kidnap, imprison and murder.

As I say, all of this is rather ordinary. The NSO Group’s bloody hands, immoral practices and vicious retaliation against critics are well established.

It’s been four years since NSO’s assurances that it only sold spying tools to democratic states to hunt terrorists were revealed as lies, when Citizenlab revealed that its weapons targeted Mexican anti-sugar activists (and their children).


Then Citizenlab found 45 more countries where NSO’s Pegasus weapon had been used, and demonstrated that notorious human-rights abusers got help from NSO to target everyday citizens to neutralize justice struggles.


Outside of human rights and cybersecurity circles, the story drew little attention, but it did prick NSO’s notoriously thin skin — the company dispatched (inept) private spooks, late of the Mossad, to entrap Citizenlab’s researchers.


As far as we know, the company never managed to infiltrate any of Citizenlab’s systems — but their weapons were found on the devices of an Israeli lawyer suing them for their role in human rights abuses.


That had some consequences. The attack exploited a vulnerability in Whatsapp, owned by Facebook. FB retaliated by suing — and terminating NSO Group employees’ Facebook accounts. Judging from NSO’s outraged squeals, getting kicked of FB hurt far worse.


Through it all, the NSO Group insisted that its tools were vital anti-terror weapons — not the playthings of rich sociopaths with long enemies lists.

They continued these claims even after Pegasus was linked to the blackmail attempt against Jeff Bezos, in a bid by Saudi royals to end the Washington Post’s investigative reporting on the murder and dismemberment of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.


Despite all this — attacks on the powerful and the powerless, grisly deaths and farce-comedy entrapment attempts — NSO Group plowed on, raking in millions while undermining the security of the devices that billions of us rely on for our own safety.

Until now.

Something about the Pegasus Project shifted the narrative. Maybe it’s the ransomware epidemic, shutting down hospitals, energy infrastructure, and governments — or maybe it’s the changing tide that has turned on elite profiteers. Whatever it is, people are pissed.


I mean, when Edward Snowden calls for the owners of a cybercrime company to be arrested, people sit up and pay attention. But Snowden’s condemnation of NSO and its industry are just for openers.


Snowden describes NSO as part of an “Insecurity Industry” that owes its existence to critical vulnerabilities in digital devices in widespread use. They spend huge sums discovering these vulns — and then, rather than reporting them so they can be fixed, they weaponize them.

As Snowden points out, this is not merely a private sector pathology. Governments — notably the US government, through the NSA’s Tailor Access Operations Group — engage in the same conduct.

Indeed, as with all digital surveillance, there’s no meaningful difference between private and public spying. Governments rely on tech and telecoms giants for data (which they buy, commandeer, or steal, depending on circumstances).

This, in turn, creates powerful security/public safety advocates for unlimited commercial surveillance, to ensure low-cost, high-reliability access to our private data. Those agencies stand ready to quietly scuttle comprehensive commercial privacy legislation.

This private-public partnership from hell extends into the malware industry: the NSA and CIA can’t, on their own, create enough cyber-weapons to satisfy all government agencies’ demand, so they rely on (and thus protect) the Insecurity Industry.

But as Snowden points out, none of this would be possible were it not for the vast, looming, grotesque tech-security debt that the IT industry has created for us. Everything we use is insecure, and it’s built atop more insecure foundations.

We live in an information society with catastrophic information security. If our society was a house, the walls would all be made of flaking asbestos and the attic would be stuffed with oily rags.

It’s hard to overstate just how much risk we face right now, and while the Insecurity Industry didn’t create that risk, they’re actively trying to increase it — finding every weak spot and widening it as far as possible, rather than shoring it up.

It’s a cliche: “Security is a team sport.” But I like how Snowden puts it: security is a public health matter. “To protect anyone, we must protect everyone.”

Step one is “to ban the commercial trade in intrusion software” for the same reason we “do not permit a market in biological infections-as-a-service.”

We should punish the cyber-arms dealers — but also use international courts to target the state actors who pay them.

But this fight will be a tough one. The huge sums that governments funnel to cyber arms-dealers allows them to silence their critics — I’ve been forced to remove some of my own coverage thanks to baseless threats I couldn’t afford to fight.

Writing in today’s Guardian (who also removed unfavorable coverage of NSO Group following legal threats), Arundhati Roy demolishes the company’s claims of clean hands.


After all, NSO charges a 17% “system maintenance fee” that gives them oversight and insight into how their tools are being used by the demagogues and dictators who shower them with money.


“There has to be something treasonous about a foreign corporation servicing and maintaining a spy network that is monitoring a country’s private citizens on behalf of that country’s government.” -Roy

The NSO Group claims that the human rights abuses it abets are exceptions that slip through the cracks, but the reality is, it has no business model without state terror — without powerful thugs who demand weapons to help jail, torture and kill their critics.

NSO, more than anyone, should know this. But as Upton Sinclair wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Everyday activities that challenge the capacities of robots. http://svl.stanford.edu/behavior/challenge.html A primary goal of…


Everyday activities that challenge the capacities of robots.


A primary goal of embodied AI research is to develop intelligent agents that can assist humans in their everyday lives in activities like washing dishes or cleaning floors. While recent years we have seen excellent new benchmarks that helped the field, they are usually restricted to a few tasks, short horizon or in simplified scenarios. Solving real-world challenges requires a new benchmark with realistic, diverse, and complex activities. We present BEHAVIOR, a benchmark with the 100 household activities that represent a new challenge for embodied AI solutions.

BEHAVIOR is a challenge in simulation where embodied agents make continuous full-body control decisions based on sensor information. Agents need to navigate and manipulate the simulated environment with the goal of acomplishing 100 household activities (see here all the activities in pairs of simulated and real-world images, or here for the complete list of activities). BEHAVIOR tests the ability to perceive the environment, plan, and execute complex long-horizon activities that involve multiple objects, rooms, and state transitions, all with the reproducibility, safety and observability offered by a realistic physics simulation.

The results for this first edition of BEHAVIOR will be presented at ICCV21 in October 17th. Together with the announcement of the ranking, we will hold an exciting workshop on embodied AI interactive problems for long horizon activities, with an exciting set of world-renowed speakers from the field….

“Carrion crows in the city of Sendai in Japan have discovered an ingenious way of cracking walnuts. They take the nuts and wait…


“Carrion crows in the city of Sendai in Japan have discovered an ingenious way of cracking walnuts. They take the nuts and wait beside the road until the light turns red. Then they descend, place the nuts in front of the wheel of the car, and fly off. When the light turns green, they return and eat the pieces of the nut that a vehicle has crushed. (Sax, 2003:20)”

As the debate on culture continues, some ground is often given to primates who it can be agreed possess culture. Other animals are often overlooked. Human-animal anthropology merges with Actor Network Theory and the Gaia hypothesis. There are questionable boundaries.

For more details check out this blog post and infographic from Rafael Koller.