Banning Autonomous Killing Machines (Tech Republic) — While no autonomous weapons have been built yet, it’s not a theoretical concern, either. Late last year, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released its policy around how autonomous weapons should be used if they were to be deployed in the battlefield. The policy limits how they should operate, but definitely doesn’t ban them. (via Slashdot)
Security of Browser Extension Password Managers (PDF) — This research shows that the examined password managers made design decisions that greatly increase the chance of users unknowingly exposing their passwords through application-level flaws. Many of the flaws relate to the browser-integrated password managers that don’t follow the same-origin policy that is crucial to browser security. In the case of password managers, this means that passwords could be filled into unintended credential forms, making password theft easier.
Projects and Priorities Without Managers (Ryan Carson) — love what he’s doing with Treehouse. Very Googley. The more I read about these low-touch systems, the more obviously important self-reporting is. It is vital that everyone posts daily updates on what they’re working on or this whole idea will fall down.
Smokio Electronic Cigarette — the quantified cigarette (not yet announced) for measuring your (electronic) cigarette consumption and uploading the data (natch) to your smartphone. Soon your cigarette will have an IPv6 address, a bluetooth connection, and firmware to be pwned.
PirateBay Moves Domains — different ccTLDs have different policies and operate in different jurisdictions, because ICANN gives them broad discretion to operate the country code domains. However, post-Snowden, governments are turning on the US’s stewardship of critical Internet bodies, so look for governments (i.e., law enforcement) to be meddling a lot more in DNS, IP addresses, routing, and other things which thus far have been (to good effect) fairly neutrally managed.
Algorithms and Accountability — Thus, the appearance of an autocompletion suggestion during the search process might make people decide to search for this suggestion although they didn’t have the intention to. A recent paper by Baker and Potts (2013) consequently questions “the extent to which such algorithms inadvertently help to perpetuate negative stereotypes”. (via New Aesthetic Tumblr)
The Virtuous Pipeline of Code (Public Resource) — Chicago partnering with Public Resource to open its legal codes for good. “This is great! What can we do to help?” Bravo Chicago, and everyone else—take note!
Smithsonian’s 3D Data — models of 21 objects, from a gunboat to the Wright Brothers’ plane, to a wooly mammoth skeleton, to Lincoln’s life masks. I wasn’t able to find a rights statement on the site which explicitly governed the 3D models. (via Smithsonian Magazine)
Anki’s Robot Cars (Xconomy) — The common characteristics of these future products, in Sofman’s mind: “Relatively simple and elegant hardware; incredibly complicated software; and Web and wireless connectivity to be able to continually expand the experience over time.” (via Slashdot)
An Empirical Evaluation of TCP Performance in Online Games — We show that because TCP was originally designed for unidirectional and network-limited bulk data transfers, it cannot adapt well to MMORPG traffic. In particular, the window-based congestion control and the fast retransmit algorithm for loss recovery are ineffective. Furthermore, TCP is overkill, as not every game packet needs to be transmitted in a reliably and orderly manner. We also show that the degraded network performance did impact users’ willingness to continue a game.
Large Scale Rapid Prototyping Robots — an informal list of large rapid prototyping systems […] including: big 3-axis systems that print plastic, sand, or cement; large robot arms with extruders and milling bits; and large industrial arms for bending metal and assembling modular structures.
Dynamic Shape Display (MIT) — a Dynamic Shape Display that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way. inFORM can also interact with the physical world around it, for example moving objects on the table’s surface. (via Fast Company)
Apple Transparency Report (PDF) — contains a warrant canary, the statement Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge an order if served on us which will of course be removed if one of the secret orders is received. Bravo, Apple, for implementing a clever hack to route around excessive secrecy. (via Boing Boing)
CyPhy Funded (Quartz) — the second act of iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner, maker of the famed Roomba robot vacuum cleaner. She terrified ETech long ago—the audience were expecting Roomba cuteness and got a keynote about military deathbots. It would appear she’s still in the deathbot niche, not so much with the cute. Remember this when you build your OpenCV-powered recoil-resistant load-bearing-hoverbot and think it’ll only ever be used for the intended purpose of launching fertiliser pellets into third world hemp farms.
User-Agent String History — a light-hearted illustration of why the formal semantic value of free-text fields is driven to zero in the face of actual use.
An Interactive Machine Learning System for Recognizing Hand Gestures (Greg Borenstein) — a mixed-initiative interactive machine learning system for recognizing hand gestures. It attempts to give the user visibility into the classifier’s prediction confidence and control of the conditions under which the system actively requests labeled gestures when its predictions are uncertain. (an exercise for his MIT class)
First Drone Conference Takes Off (Makezine) — forgive them the puns, Lord, for they know not what they do … uble intendre. Write-up fascinating beyond the headline. Dr. Vijay Kumar of the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering spoke about socially positive uses for aerial robotics, such as emergency first responders. Dr. Kumar’s work focuses on micro aerial vehicles. He explains that, “size does matter.” As robots get smaller, mass and inertial is reduced. If you halve the mass, the acceleration doubles and the angular acceleration quadruples. This makes for a robot that is fast and responsive, ideal for operating indoors or out, and perfect for search and rescue missions in collapsed buildings or around other hazards.
Standing Up to Mississippi (Carl Malamud) — yesterday we received a Certified Letter from the Attorney General’s Special Assistant Attorney General demanding that we remove these materials from the Internet and all other electronic or non-electronic media. There was no email address, so I proceeded to prepare a 67-page return reply with Exhibits A-L. I thought folks might be interested in the 7 steps of the production process. Give to his Kickstarter project, folks!
The Internet of Things That Do What You Tell Them: Cory Doctorow passionately explains how computers are already entwined in our lives, which means laws that support lock-in are much more than inconveniences.