Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (April 2021)

Deep fake technology

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, seeing how Amazon won’t support public library systems and how good / prevalent deepfake technology is becoming.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with fashion taking on surveillance, Google finally being called out for the not so incognito mode in Chrome and introducing a progressive tax-like system following Apples store changes.


Meet the disruptors at publicspaces

Ian thinks: From the publicspaces conference where you can watch all the talks. I personally found Melanie Rieback and post growth entrepreneurship quite inspirational for all those new startups. We need more of this!

Evidence disappearing right under your nose

Ian thinks: This short documentary from VPRO, highlights the problem with archiving and moderation in critical cases like war crimes.

TransCopyright realised with Micropayments?

Ian thinks: Delivered at Mozfest 2021, Amber got me thinking when she mentions the dream of Ted Nelson’s TransCopyright (co-creator of hypertext) realised using web monetisation for attribution.

Why the excitement over non-fungible tokens?

Ian thinks: March become the month when most people heard the term non-fungible tokens for the first time, likely for a piece of art which sold for the equivalent of 69 million.

Some of the facts and myths surrounding China & America explained

Ian thinks: Useful overview from Wired magazine on the clear differences between the two but also the misconceptions which are portrayed by the media and each other.

We all knew Facebook is hooked on mis-information

Ian thinks: Interesting to see Facebook time their AI fairness paper on the same day. Who are they trying to kid?

A bank is the last place I think about when thinking purpose and human rights?

Ian thinks: I’m not so sure how much is honest in this video but Paypal, are not just saying the right thing but actually doing. Such a important difference from a lot of the D&I efforts being talked about now.

Forget GDP, Its time for a new metric and the UN is engaged

Ian thinks: Its great to hear the UN is considering a move away from GDP to natural capital. Its about time the alternatives are taken deadly seriously, for the benefit of us all. Of course BBC R&D are researching Human Values in a similar mind.

The walled garden is the new security through obscurity?

Ian thinks: Feeling comfortable behind a walled garden can make you reliant on them for security, but like the MIT piece makes clear this can be a bad mistake for your own security


Find the archive here

Control experimentation with dreams

It was Imran who sent me a signal message, although I did actually see it on twitter via flokk

“…we induce these creatively beneficial dreams on purpose, in a targeted manner.” https://link.medium.com/1nPMioFVk8

The blog talks about MIT’s research into dreams

In a new paper, researchers from the Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces group introduce a novel method called “Targeted Dream Incubation” (TDI). This protocol, implemented through an app in conjunction with a wearable sleep-tracking sensor device, not only helps record dream reports, but also guides dreams toward particular themes by repeating targeted information at sleep onset, thereby enabling incorporation of this information into dream content. The TDI method and accompanying technology serve as tools for controlled experimentation in dream study, widening avenues for research into how dreams impact emotion, creativity, memory, and beyond.

Of course I find it all fascinating and I’ve been thinking more about mydreamscape and being doing some experiments myself.

Absinthe with sugar melting

One which I always wondered about is Absinthe and dreams. Its most likely the most out there I personally would ever be prepared to experiment.

I marked down my dreams were so vivid and intense I couldn’t clearly remember them (yes there was multiple). I remember trying to control them and I couldn’t do it, as it was so intense. Looking at my sleep graph, you can clearly see a large block of REM sleep about 8am.

My lucid dreams with absinthe

A few weeks ago midweek, I experienced a dream inside a dream. As you can see there was a heck of a lot of time in REM. I remember having a dream sat at a desk somewhere, felt it was a dream and took control. Something happened (can’t remember now) then I woke up but not in my bed but in another dream, which I was able to check as I took control.

I certainly need a better way do control experimentation… Bring on TDI?

 

In layman’s terms, how does Dormio work?

The system is conceptually quite simple. The aim is to influence and extend a transitional state of sleep. To do so, we must track this transitional state (hypnagogia) and interrupt when it is ending. So,  a user wears a device which collects biosignals that track transitions in sleep stages. In our new device, those signals come from the hand, where we can gather data on loss of muscle tone, heart rate changes, and changes in skin conductance. When those biosignals appear to signal the end of a transitional state, audio from the social robot is triggered, and that person is knocked just a little bit back into wakefulness, but not into full wakefulness. We use this audio cue as an inception protocol, doing this slight wake up with words (like “fork” or “rabbit”), and have found that in the subjects we tested, those words reliably entered the hypnagogic dreams as dream content. Pretty happy about that! After this slight wake up, we initiate a conversation about dream content with users via the Jibo social robot and record anything that is said, as hypnagogic amnesia is reported and we don’t want people forgetting their useful ideas. After this conversation, the system lets users drift back towards sleep, only interrupting again when their biosignals appear to signal another transition into deeper sleep. This is done repetitively to incept dreams and extract dream reports.

 

Have you hacked a console?

Play

LifeHacker asks the question, Have You Ever Hacked a Game Console?

There are all kinds of good reasons to hack a game console that don’t involve cheating at games, such as adding functionality, creating a media center, or just breathing new life into a beloved old gadget.

For me yes, I certainly have.

  • Playstation 1 (I still have that console under my TV)
  • Xbox 1 (hacked this multiple times and I think its still in my wardrobe, and the reason I found Xbox Media Player (XBMC as came to be known)
  • Nintendo Wii (added the homebrew channel but no longer owned)

The Playstation was a nightmare to hack and in the end I made a few mistakes and had to pay someone to do a proper job. The Xbox was done all by myself once I ordered the Modchip, xecuter v3. Bunny’s book I own and enjoy. I didn’t know that it was made freely available in ebook form after the death of Aaron Schwartz.

No Starch Press and I have decided to release this free ebook version of Hacking the Xbox in honor of Aaron Swartz. As you read this book, I hope that you’ll be reminded of how important freedom is to the hacking community and that you’ll be inclined to support the causes that Aaron believed in.

I agreed to release this book for free in part because Aaron’s treatment by MIT is not unfamiliar to me. In this book, you will find the story of when I was an MIT graduate student, extracting security keys from the original Microsoft Xbox. You’ll also read about the crushing disappointment of receiving a letter from MIT legal repudiating any association with my work, effectively leaving me on my own to face Microsoft.

The difference was that the faculty of my lab, the AI laboratory, were outraged by this treatment. They openly defied MIT legal and vowed to publish my work as an official “AI Lab Memo,” thereby granting me greater negotiating leverage with Microsoft. Microsoft, mindful of the potential backlash from the court of public opinion over suing a legitimate academic researcher, came to a civil understanding with me over the issue.

If you haven’t hacked or modified a games console, you owe it to yourself and others to give it a try.