Notes from the Transhuman Superpowers and Longevity Conference - 12 July 2015

And now, hopefully sooner than the last set, my notes taken during the Transhuman Superpowers and Longevity Conference held on 12 July 2015 in Oakland, CA. Everything's behind the cut, with references as applicable. Personal observations (are on separate lines in parenthesis) to differentiate them from the speaker's material. Vertical Farm Civilization - Karl Doerrer

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Consequences of criminalizing whistleblowing.

In the wake of Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning's sentence of 35 years in military prison for leaking the massive volume of documents now known as Cablegate to the media organization Wikileaks, there is now a hard as diamond legal precedent that criminalizes whistleblowing, the act of making evidence of misconduct, fraud, unethical, or illegal activity known. It is widely believed (often correctly so) that disclosing such activities to what are considered the proper channels will result in serious repercussions. It is also widely believed that such disclosures will have little to no positive effect because those reported on are often …

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Potential side effects of SOPA.

Note: Updated January 4 2012 in response to a comment by Jamie Zawinski, proprietor of the DNA Lounge.

I haven't been writing about SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) or PIPA (the PROTECT IP Act) because, frankly, I've been too busy trying to fight them. To keep abreast of them following the #SOPA hashtag on Twitter is really the best way to go about it because things are changing so rapidly. Between the people watching the live stream of the markup hearings and people who are actually attending the hearings and livetweeting (I'm looking at you, @EFFlive) things are changing …

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Internet censorship, net.warfare, and the balkanization of the Net.

It seems like every time we turn around, somebody else is trying to enact another scheme to make the Internet a little less open, a little less useful, and more of a surveillance tool for people who can't quite make out what the writing on the wall seems to say.

The latest, and possibly most frightening salvo in the as-yet undeclared War On the Internet is something called the PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act). In a real sense, it's COICA v2.0 in that it still allows the US …

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"Open?"

The other day I'd gotten sufficiently comfortable with my cellphone (an HTC Hero) to take the next step and root it (which is to say, I used the z4root exploit to get admin privileges). I mentioned it in passing to Lyssa last night and she made an observation that caught me off guard: "If you had to jailbreak your phone," she said, "how can you call Android 'open'?"

How indeed.

Let's set up an example. The Android OS is based on the open source Linux kernel as well as a suite of applications and systemware different from those of your …

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Wikileaks, Cablegate, the media, and you.

I've been waiting to put together an article about Wikileaks and Cablegate (the gradual release of a quarter-million diplomatic cables written and archived by the United States diplomatic corps). Mostly, everyday life has prevented me from doing so: the holiday season is here once again and, all things being equal, work and cleaning up the apartment with Lyssa have taken priority. I also didn't want to vent my spleen on the Net without having a coherent idea of what I was going to say. Turing knows, enough of that is happening right now and I won't fall prey to it …

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The walls are closing in.

Every couple of days - usually on the weekends - I force myself to go on a media fast. If I can get away with it, I don't watch television, I don't look at my RSS feed reader, and I don't let myself get wrapped up in the newswires. These days it's about the only thing that lets me get a good night's sleep on the weekends and makes my blood pressure managable. I'm pretty much a desk jockey these days so that's about the only exercise I get, but that's beside the point.

Many years ago, during the early time of …

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US Legal System puts the kibosh on warrantless seizure of laptops at the border.

For a couple of years now the US Department of Homeland Security has reserved the right to confiscate the laptop computers of US citizens for forensic analysis upon re-entry to the country after traveling abroad. It didn't matter if you were on one of their watchlists (and who isn't these days?), it didn't matter if you'd mouthed off to a security guard, it didn't matter whether or not they had probable cause, they could do it and possibly never return it to you depending on when the got around to going through it and how they felt that morning. It's …

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Is this shaping up to be the summer of WTF?

Last last month and early this month, a disturbing amount of WTF appears to have been cropping up around the country. While that shouldn't really surprise anyone as it seems like a common state of mind anymore, I still find it fascinating in the "Wow, that's how they cut someone out of a wrecked car?" way.

First of all, the Supreme Court decided by a vote of 5 to 4 that one's Miranda Rights mean far less than they used to. Dating back to the court case Miranda v. Arizona in 1966, the Miranda rights of American citizens are the …

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Peter Watts: Aftermath

It seems that Squidgate has finally drawn to a close and now all that remains is to pack the pieces back into their respective slots, fold up the game board, and find out what sentence will be given to Dr. Watts. As has been repeated time and again around the Net (with varying signal/noise ratios), he was convicted of obstructing US border guards. Not attacking or making any threatening movements toward them, as the agents originally claimed. Obstructing them. The jury eventually decided in favor of the prosecution because, by the letter of the law (good luck finding it …

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