Well, this an interesting format experiment—the latest Black Mirror just dropped, and it’s a PDF.
From the proceedings of the Electronic Computer Symposium in 1952, the remarkable Ida Rhodes describes a vision of the future…
My crystal ball reveals Mrs. Mary Jones in the living room of her home, most of the walls doubling as screens for projected art or information. She has just dialed her visiophone. On the wall panel facing her, the full colored image of a rare orchid fades, to be replaced by the figure of Mr. Brown seated at his desk. Mrs. Jones states her business: she wishes her valuable collection of orchid plants insured. Mr. Brown consults a small code book and dials a string of figures. A green light appears on his wall. He asks Mrs. Jones a few pertinent questions and types out her replies. He then pushes the start button. Mr. Brown fades from view. Instead, Mrs. Jones has now in front of her a set of figures relating to the policy in which she is interested. The premium rate and benefits are acceptable and she agrees to take out the policy. Here is Brown again. From a pocket in his wall emerges a sealed, addressed, and postage-metered envelope which drops into the mailing chute. It contains, says Brown, an application form completely filled out by the automatic computer and ready for her signature.
Alan Kay’s initial description of a “Dynabook” written at Xerox PARC in 1972.
A 1983 article from 73 Magazine on the surprisingly plausible Rube Goldberg/Heath Robinson device created by E.T. to call home.
You can print out this PDF and then have the satisfaction of ticking off each item on the list as you build your website.
Well, look at these fresh-faced lads presenting their little hypertext system in 1992. A fascinating time capsule.
We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis.
Good news for net neutrality from India:
No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that has the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged to the consumer on the basis of content.
It’s a PDF and it’s an academic paper, but this rousing call to arms is a remarkably clear and engrossing read.
With few exceptions, the atomic scientists who worked on disarmament were not the same individuals as those who built the bomb. Their colleagues—fellow physicists—did that. Cryptographers didn’t turn the Internet into an instrument of total surveillance, but our colleagues—fellow computer scientists and engineers—did that.
It concludes with a series of design principles for the cryptographic community:
- Attend to problems’ social value. Do anti-surveillance research.
- Be introspective about why you are working on the problems you are.
- Apply practice-oriented provable security to anti-surveillance problems.
- Think twice, and then again, about accepting military funding.
- Regard ordinary people as those whose needs you ultimately aim to satisfy.
- Be open to diverse models. Regard all models as suspect and dialectical.
- Get a systems-level view. Attend to that which surrounds our field.
- Learn some privacy tools. Use them. Improve them.
- Stop with the cutesy pictures. Take adversaries seriously.
- Design and build a broadly useful cryptographic commons.
- Choose language well. Communication is integral to having an impact.
We need to erect a much expanded commons on the Internet. We need to realize popular services in a secure, distributed, and decentralized way, powered by free software and free/open hardware. We need to build systems beyond the reach of super-sized companies and spy agencies. Such services must be based on strong cryptography. Emphasizing that prerequisite, we need to expand our cryptographic commons.
We have made a radio reconnaissance of the star KIC 8462852 whose unusual light curves might possibly be due to planet-scale technology of an extraterrestrial civilization.
Nothing to report yet.
This is something that has been bugging me ever since reading the book:
While Andy Weir does a good job of representing the risks faced by Mark Watney, stranded on Mars and confronting one life-threatening challenge after another, he is silent on the threat of radiation, not just to Mark but particularly to the crew of the Hermes as they contemplate executing a daring rescue mission that more than doubles their time in deep space.
Well, this paper answers all my questions.
Kelli Anderson’s thesis on the Human Interference Task Force project set up to mark nuclear waste sites for future generations (a project I’ve referenced in some of my talks).
A PDF of Clarke’s classic essay on the follies of prediction. From the 1972 collection The Futurists, edited by Alvin Toffler.
The UK Space Agency has a magazine called “space:uk” and you can download PDFs of back issues.
Tech specs for a spacecraft that doesn’t exist (yet).
A free PDF download from NASA on all things SETI, specifically the challenges of interspecies interstellar communication.
You can download the PDF of Anton’s graphic novel Gather for free.
Science Fiction Film as Design Scenario Exercise for Psychological Habitability: Production Designs 1955-2009
A white paper that looks to sci-fi films as potential prototypes for habitats for humans in space, with an emphasis on dealing with the psychological issues involved.