Cyborg runs MacOS 10.11.5 (Build 15F34)

[beeping in upper case]

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Seems legit.

Nah, this board doesn't look sketchy AF. Not at all.

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jwz mixtape 204

Please enjoy jwz mixtape 204.

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Current Music: as noted

HEXACORP LTD

"It is aggressively, chillingly ahuman, a machine signaling to machines for some algorithmic purpose whose human-centered antecedents are long lost. It is not even fake; it simply exists outside any realm where reality might matter."

The first flash of old-fashioned outrage -- somebody is stealing our stuff! -- faded before it had even fully arrived, replaced by an ever-more-familiar sense of dread and loathing. Neither "somebody" nor "stealing" were the right concepts; the video was too incomprehensible for that, and until I'd clicked on it, it had zero views. It cut out after 3 minutes and 20 seconds, in the middle of the text.

There was no motive behind it; there wasn't even a mind. We were so far out beyond the realm of copyright infringement, the only logical thing to do was to rip back the whole video of our own copyrighted text and repost it ourselves. Here it is:

The user account that had posted it, "smokaj0000," has plenty more content or content-like objects where that came from. Its YouTube videos page is a solid wall of "No Views" videos, sprinkled here and there with videos that have gotten some tiny number of views. Since it posted the video based on our blog post a week ago, it has put up more than 600 new videos. [...]

(After we posted our copy of the smokaj0000 video to the Hmm Daily YouTube account, we received a copyright warning that it was being blocked because something called "HEXACORP LTD" had filed a copyright claim on the audio track "cool-mbia."

So we replaced the audio and tried to figure out what HexaCorp was, which led to a completely impenetrable HexaCorp website which says its mission is to "Deliver high end solutions & services, collaborate customer data & people by adapting latest technologies & tools establish customer friendly process and create effective solutions with focus towards 'Best Services Interest' and 'Maximum Value for Money'." More Googling found that HexaCorp appears as the owner of record in the end-user licensing agreement for a streaming service called Orfium. The initial video with the soundtrack remains unblocked. )

Whatever smokaj0000 is doing, it is not producing content for human consumption. It is aggressively, chillingly ahuman, a machine signaling to machines for some algorithmic purpose whose human-centered antecedents are long lost. It is not even fake; it simply exists outside any realm where reality might matter.

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Seasteading

So how's that been going lately? Let's check in:

Some of seasteading's biggest backers come from the cryptocurrency community, where Thepdet was a minor celebrity, posting as "Bitcoin Girl Thailand." The pair claimed to have generated their wealth from the untraceable digital currency, which is a favorite of libertarians. [...]

It was also very illegal, Thailand authorities allege. "If it is left untouched, it will hinder ship navigation since the route is used for the transport of oil to Phuket," a government source told the Bangkok Post. The government reportedly alleges the structure was in Thai maritime waters. [...]

"12nm [nautical miles] is not 'the high seas'. It is the Contiguous Zone, where a state has many rights, several of which seem likely to pertain here. Do not listen to anyone who tells you that the high seas starts at 12nm; it means they haven't even spent 5 minutes reading Wikipedia. [...] Even the actual 'high seas' (roughly 200+ nm from land) are not a magical realm of freedom where you can just plant a flag and be an independent polity."

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That time Zero Cool went to the dentist...

...and learned that Mr. The Plague had gone into witness relocation as Mr. The Plaque.

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Snailens

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Floating Point Precision

IBM 360/44:

One unusual feature of the Model 44's console was a rotary knob to select floating point precision; reducing the precision increased speed.

Funny story: this is actually how it's implemented in Javascript to this day.

kenshirriff:

Bizarrely, the units on the knob are bits in the significand, divided by 4. For comparison, modern floating point would be a setting of 6 for single precision and 13.25 for double precision.

The second console function was "operator intervention":

program debugging tasks such as examining and modifying memory or registers and setting breakpoints. The Model 30 console controls below were used for operator intervention. To display memory contents, the operator selected an address with the four hexadecimal dials on the left and pushed the Display button, displaying data on the lights above the dials. To modify memory, the operator entered a byte using the two hex dials on the far right and pushed the Store button. (Although the Model 30 had a 32-bit architecture, it operated on one byte at a time, trading off speed for lower cost.) The Address Compare knob in the upper right set a breakpoint.

If IDE developers were as obsessed with skeuomorphism as music software developers, this is what Xcode would look like:

Maybe that's not such a bad idea, actually. Xcode should have Winamp skins.

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SOMA Nature Walk: Cistern Edition

I thought this was cool: as a part of the interminable Central Subway construction, they have re-paved the intersection of 4th and Bryant, but that was more complicated than usual, because there's a cistern there. It's 75,000 gallons, built in 1908, and even though it's probably concrete rather than brick by now, it is still traditional for them to be marked with a ring of bricks. That meant framing it out with two different circular molds and two or more concrete pours over a couple of days.

You see a lot of sloppy road-work in this town, but not when it comes to pouring curbs and bulb-outs. That's when they do the work to get their cosines and Béziers right.

On the other hand, the pour for the new curb you can see across the street has been half-done for so long that grass has begun to grow in the exposed dirt.

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Facial recognition is the plutonium of AI

Luke Stark:

By analogizing facial recognition to plutonium, I want to add two broad points to an increasingly lively debate about the risks of facial recognition technologies. First, facial recognition technologies, by virtue of the way they work at a technical level, have insurmountable flaws connected to the way they schematize human faces. These flaws both create and reinforce discredited categorizations around gender and race, with socially toxic effects. The second is, in light of these core flaws, the risks of these technologies vastly outweigh the benefits, in a way that's reminiscent of hazardous nuclear technologies. That is why the metaphor of plutonium is apt. Facial recognition, simply by being designed and built, is intrinsically socially toxic, regardless of the intentions of its makers; it needs controls so strict that it should be banned for almost all practical purposes.

It's a good analogy, and one that I agree with, but if he made a stronger case for it than in that single paragraph, none of us will ever get to know, because he paywalled his paper. Sorry, buddy. The rest of your argument has been consigned to oblivion.

Update: Non-paywalled version here.

In the case of facial recognition, the schematization of human facial features is driven by a conceptual logic that these theorists and others [...] have identified as fundamentally racist because it is concerned with using statistical methods to arbitrarily divide human populations.

This process of biopolitical management is grounded in finding numerical reasons for construing some groups as subordinate, and then reifying that subordination by wielding the “charisma of numbers” to claim subordination is a “natural” fact. As such, racism’s function, as Foucault describes it, is “a way of introducing a break into the domain of life [...] of fragmenting the field of the biological that power controls”. Race and racism are “the preconditions that make killing acceptable” in societies focused on making discriminations based on technical norms and standards -- the justification in turning authority’s custodianship of life and living into that of death and dying.

Transuranic phrenology!

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