Tag Archives | Technology

How leading Tor developers and advocates tried to smear me after I reported their US Government ties

dollen (CC BY-ND 2.0)

dollen (CC BY-ND 2.0)

via Pando:

About three months ago, I published an article exploring the deeply conflicted ties between agencies of the U.S. National Security State, and the Tor Network—an online anonymity tool popular among anti-surveillance privacy groups and activists, including Edward Snowden.

My article traced the history of Tor and the US military-intelligence apparatus that spawned it—from Tor’s initial development by military researchers in the mid-1990s at the US Naval Laboratory in Washington DC, through its quasi-independent period after it was spun off as a nonprofit in 2004 but continued to receive most of its funding from a variety of government branches: Pentagon, State Department, USAID, Radio Free Asia. My article also revealed that Tor was created not to protect the public from government surveillance, but rather, to cloak the online identity of intelligence agents as they snooped on areas of interest. But in order to do that, Tor had to be released to the public and used by as diverse a group of people as possible: activists, dissidents, journalists, paranoiacs, kiddie porn scum, criminals and even would-be terrorists — the bigger and weirder the crowd, the easier it would be for agents to mix in and hide in plain sight.

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Young French Maker 3D Prints a Replica of His Fiancée

F93C0Q8I2KSICK5.LARGE_

via 3D print:

When French 3D design company Le FabShop set up its booth near the Shapify space at the Autodesk Pop-Up Gallery in Paris last October, one young designer with Le FabShop, Samuel N. Bernier, could not resist collaborating with the neighbors. Le FabShop is a major distributor of Makerbot 3D printers and scanners in France, organizes Maker Faires, and provides retailers such as the upscale gift shop at the Versailles Palace with high-quality 3D printed objects such as architectural models. Shapify, a branch of Artec, the 3D scanner manufacturer, has begun setting up 3D scanning photo booths in Europe, the UK, and the US. The booths allow users to create full-body 3D scans and then 3D prints of the scan subjects. In short, they are 3D photo booths.

Enter Le FabShop’s young maker, who saw an opportunity to combine the resources of Le FabShop and Shapify to pay homage to his unnamed fiancée.

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Feds Indict Another Person For Teaching People How To Beat Polygraph Tests

walknboston (CC BY 2.0)

walknboston (CC BY 2.0)

via Tech Dirt:

Polygraph technology is far from infallible and has been for so long that it’s practically common knowledge. And yet, the federal government still wants everyone to believe polygraphs tests separate the honest from the liars with incredibly high accuracy. So, it cracks down on those who claim to be able to help others beat the tests.

In 2012, federal agents began investigating Chad Dixon and Doug Williams, two men who sold books, videos and personal instruction sessions on beating polygraph tests. Late last year, Dixon was sentenced to eight months in prison for obstruction and wire fraud charges. The government claimed his actions jeopardized national security, pointing to a client list that included intelligence employees, law enforcement agents and sex offenders.

The government has just handed down an indictment [pdf link] of its second target — former Oklahoma City police polygraph administrator Doug Williams.

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Man Gets NFC Chip Implants in Hands to Store Bitcoin Wallet

Having just read the new William Gibson novel The Peripheral I’m inclined to think that this fellow is only a little bit ahead of his time. Android Authority reports on the man with the Bitcoin hands:

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Bitcoin, it’s currently the biggest cryptocurrency in the world. For safety reasons, users of the currency normally keep the majority of their bitcoins offline, like on an encrypted USB stick or even physically on a piece of paper. In this day and age, keeping as much information as possible offline can (in theory) lessen the chances of it being hacked.

So what’s safer than than encrypted hardware, or even a piece of paper? Why inside your own body of course, which is exactly where one Bitcoin user has injected and stored his currency.

Martijn Wismeijer, a Dutch entrepreneur (and apparently a very avid fan of Bitcoin) has walked around with an NFC chip injected in both of his hands for the past 10 days.

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A Wiki for President

J Aaron Farr (CC BY 2.0)

J Aaron Farr (CC BY 2.0)

[Editor’s Note: I recommend you read this first: A Wiki for President]

via Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies:

Digital technology is instead progressing very slowly when it comes to government: the link between the citizen and the politician is often just a “feedback form” on the politician’s website. Very little effort has been made to link the citizen and the decision making process in more effective and creative ways.

The difference is that commerce has a strong motivation to motivate consumers to look for and find goods, whereas government has little motivation to motivate citizens to get directly involved in the decision making process.

The reality is that government (any government) is reluctant to let citizens get involved beyond the elections. Once linked to a customer, business wants to keep selling to that customer. Once voted in power by the citizen, government wants to govern, not to be voted on a daily basis by that citizen.

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Humans, Baboons Share Cumulative Culture Ability

Gelada Baboon  A.Davey (CC BY 2.0)

Gelada Baboon
A.Davey (CC BY 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

The ability to build up knowledge over generations, called cumulative culture, has given mankind language and technology. While it was thought to be limited to humans until now, researchers from the Laboratoire de psychologie cognitive (CNRS/AMU), working in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Edinburgh (UK), have recently found that baboons are also capable of cumulative culture. Their findings are published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on 5 November 2014.

Humankind is capable of great accomplishments, such as sending probes into space and eradicating diseases; these achievements have been made possible because humans learn from their elders and enrich this knowledge over generations. It was previously thought that this cumulative aspect of culture — whereby small changes build up, are transmitted, used and enriched by others — was limited to humans, but it has now been observed in another primate, the baboon.

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Can mesh networks and offline wireless move from protest tools to news?

FutUndBeidl (CC BY 2.0)

FutUndBeidl (CC BY 2.0)

via Niemanlab:

From the protests in Hong Kong to Occupy and Sandy in New York, a new generation of tools is allowing communities to connect without using the Internet. Can they have a use in news too?

In the rush to get from here to there, not many travelers in Boston’s South Station are likely to notice the two blue wifi icons near the Martin’s News Shop informing them that they are now in range of the “Pulse of South Station.” And if they did, they might rightly assume that it was some kind of marketing campaign.

But at its inception in 2005, the Pulse of Boston (of which that sign was a part) was also much more than this: It was a cutting-edge experiment in hyperlocal, offline, wireless news and community. And while the original Boston Globe effort lasted less than a year, today both global events and advances in DIY wireless technologies are rebooting interest in this physically proscribed approach to hyperlocal communications — exploring how wireless connections that don’t rely on the Internet can serve as both community hubs and crucial information sources.

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Our Generation of Hackers

Nicolas Nova (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Nicolas Nova (CC BY-NC 2.0).

via Vice Media:

We are all hackers now, apparently—or are trying to be. Guilty as charged. I am writing these words, as I write most things, not with a pen and paper, or a commercial word processor, but on Emacs, a command-line text editor first developed in the 1970s for that early generation of free-software hackers. I had to hack it, so to speak, with a few crude lines of scripting code in order that it would properly serve my purposes as a writer. And it does so extremely well, with only simple text files, an integrated interpreter for the Markdown markup language, and as many split screens as I want. I get to feel clever and devious every time I sit down to use it.

Thus it seemed fitting that when I was asked to join a “philosophy incubator” with a few fellow restless young souls, I was told the group’s name—and that of the book we’d be publishing w​ith an internet startup—was Wisdom Hackers.

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The New Luddites

Lexus RX450h retrofitted by Google for its driverless car fleet. By Steve Jurvetson

Lexus RX450h retrofitted by Google for its driverless car fleet. By Steve Jurvetson

via Slate:

Innovation is supposed to be the cure for economic doldrums. But what if it’s the cause? More specifically: Is it possible that the ever-increasing automation of everything from factories to retail sales to journalism will destroy more jobs than it creates?

It’s a question that economists and workers have been asking since at least the Industrial Revolution. And in the past, the answer has generally been a straightforward “no.” Automation makes certain low-skill human jobs obsolete, sure, but it also ushers in new categories of high-skill employment, from engineering and equipment operation to banking and blogging. Its greatest effect is to increase productivity, which should raise incomes and stimulate demand for new products and services.

Yet the current jobless recovery, along with a longer-term trend toward income and wealth inequality, has some thinkers wondering whether the latest wave of automation is different from those that preceded it.

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Cypherpunk rising: WikiLeaks, encryption, and the coming surveillance dystopia

cypherpunk2

via Steal This Singularity:

The Verge, March 2013

This article, which predates the Edward Snowden affair (ongoing), seems to be getting renewed interest. One thing I would draw your attention to today is the segment that discusses the commercial availability of turnkey systems that can intercept all the communications of a medium sized country. In other words, the next revelation may be about private companies vacuuming up Big Data for their own uses, even without funding from the NSA. This, in fact, is entirely likely to be occurring. Read on…

In 1989, when the internet was predominantly ASCII-based and HyperCard had yet to give birth (or at least act as a midwife) to the world wide web, R.U. Sirius launched Mondo 2000. “I’d say it was arguably the representative underground magazine of its pre-web day,” William Gibson said in a recent interview. “Posterity, looking at this, should also consider Mondo 2000 as a focus of something that was happening.”

Twenty years ago, it was cypherpunk that was happening.

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