Four short links: 12 Mar 2009

Programming language security, robot laws, open data platform, and telephony recharged:

  1. Languages and Security Reading (Ivan Krstić) — I love his tripartite division of language security work, as it completely gels with my experience. 1. The “My name is Correctness, king of kings” people say that security problems are merely one manifestation of incorrectness, which is dissonance between what the program is supposed to do and what its implementation actually does. This tends to be the group led by mathematicians, and you can recognize them because their solutions revolve around proofs and the writing and (automatic) verification thereof.
  2. High Time to Act on Armed Robots (New Scientist) — Philosopher A.C. Grayling (of whom I only know from his appearances on In Our Time) has written an interesting piece calling for us to start talking about the rules and regulations around robots. Not because of any fear they’ll enslave mankind, but because we deal with the possibility that people “malfunction” through procedures, expectations, rules, and the law. We don’t think much about the failure modes of robots in life, but even less about the legal status of such malfunctions–if an autonomous military robot kills its own soldiers, who is responsible? What are the odds of this happening? This is related to PW Singer’s Wired For War. (via Mind Hacks)
  3. Guardian’s Open Data PlatformEveryday we work with datasets from around the world. We have had to check this data and make sure it’s the best we can get, from the most credible sources. But then it lives for the moment of the paper’s publication and afterward disappears into a hard drive, rarely to emerge again before updating a year later. So, together with its companion site, the Data Store – a directory of all the stats we post – we are opening up that data for everyone. Whenever we come across something interesting or relevant or useful, we’ll post it up here and let you know what we’re planning to do with it. They’re publishing all this data via Google Spreadsheets, and have a content API to fetch stories. Sample content app built the first day it was public: Guardian + Lucene = Similar Articles + Categorisation I fetched the 13,000 articles categorised as ‘Science’, fed them to Solr, and used that to generate similar articles and their categories. so if you liked an article you can get another like it. Guardian just put data on universities into their data store. (Via Simon Willison, who worked on it).
  4. Grand Central to Finally Launch as Google Voice (TechCrunch) — the breathless fawning servile prose of this fellatial article aside, it’s wonderful to see telephony apps getting press again (even gush). New features include voicemail transcription, which has to be the new “must have” feature for people like me who live and die (most often die) by the inbox. Voicemail is so due for a reboot, just as much as email.
tags: , , , ,
  • http://tim.oreilly.com/ Tim O'Reilly

    I should add that apps like Google Latitude are already making GPS and other location-aware technologies “social.” See Right Here Now services for a good discussion.

    Also see Tom Scoville’s thoughtful comment over on Facebook:

    “Gad, this is what I’ve been saying for ages: The earth is full of intelligence of all kinds — geological, biochemical, radiological — but lately it’s been growing this mossy film of packet-switched neurons. Totally mirrors the evolution of the cerebral cortex. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. Sure, look at it really close, and you can tag it as a bunch of annoying tweets — I bet the first neocortex did something boring and quotidian, too — but stand back from it a little, and it’s pretty awesome. It’s all about perspective.”

  • http://radar.oreilly.com/jims Jim Stogdill

    Another good article about armed robots was in a recent new yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/02/23/090223fa_fact_ratliff