China limits use of ‘virtual’ currencies
By DAVID BARBOZA
SHANGHAI — China made public on Tuesday regulations aimed at cracking down on the use of virtual currencies amid worries that a huge underground economy was developing out of the country’s online gaming community.
The rules, issued jointly by the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Culture in Beijing, could deal a blow to the country’s fast-growing online gaming industry.
Beijing said the regulations would curtail trading in virtual currencies, prevent online gambling and restrict virtual currency from being exchanged for cash or used to buy real goods.
Among other things, Chinese officials have worried that online currencies could ultimately serve as an alternative to China’s official currency, the renminbi, and have an impact on the country’s financial system.
Games Become Jobs: Gold Farming in China
Chinese workers slaying monsters to earn gold for western consumers. It sounds surreal, but it is a far from virtual reality for the so-called ‘gold farmers’, who are working in 10-hour shifts to help players gain levels, and wealth, in online roleplaying games like World of Warcraft.
Controlling the Uncontrollable
It is a home to crawlers, virusses, search engines, gamers, spammers, chatters, twitters, bloggers, worms and spiders. If calling it alive goes too far, it’s still safe to say that the internet forms a nature of its own. Would the new American president have won the elections if he had ignored its tentacles? How many people would be out of a job if it seized to exist? Internet’s garden is blooming like never seen before, yet some people only enjoy gardens without the weeds.
Article by Michael Bristow, published at news.bbc.co.uk.
China is using an increasing number of paid “internet commentators” in a sophisticated attempt to control public opinion. These commentators are used by government departments to scour the internet for bad news – and then negate it. They post comments on websites and forums that spin bad news into good in an attempt to shape public opinion. Read more
Oil Price Threatens Biofuel Firms
Economy is ecology? Technology Review writes the price of oil has dipped to levels that could be far too low for many advanced-biofuel startups to succeed, especially those that attracted investment this summer, while oil was well above $100 a barrel. Tight credit markets will also make it difficult for advanced biofuel companies to move ahead with plans for scaling up technologies and building commercial-scale production plants.
Zombie Spam – botnet resurrects from death
Computerworld reports a big spam-spewing botnet, that was shut down a few weeks ago, has been resurrected and is again under the control of criminals.
The “Srizbi” botnet returned from the dead late Tuesday, said Fengmin Gong, chief security content officer at FireEye Inc., when the infected PCs were able to successfully reconnect with new command-and-control servers, which are now based in Estonia.
Srizbi was knocked out more than two weeks ago when McColo Corp., a hosting company that had been accused of harboring a wide range of criminal activities, was yanked off the Internet by its upstream service providers. With McColo down, PCs infected with Srizbi and other bot Trojan horses were unable to communicate with their command servers, which had been hosted by McColo. As a result, spam levels dropped precipitously.
But as other researchers noted last week, Srizbi had a fallback strategy. In the end, that strategy paid off for the criminals who control the botnet.
Humans Are the Sex Organs of Technology
I claim that technology has its own agenda. What is the evidence that technology as a whole, or the technium as I call it, is autonomous? Because without autonomy, one could argue, how can something have its own agenda? I have three parts to my answer.
First, I believe that a system can have an agenda even when it depends upon another system to remain viable. Let’s take the human mind and human culture. Obviously humans are animals, and just another creature of evolution. As a mammal, we must obey the rules of biology. We are part of the trajectory of living tissue: our flesh must breathe, metabolize, mate, excrete, and eventually die. The agenda of our bodies is exactly the agenda of any other animal body.
But we also claim that we are different than animals, and our effect on the earth seems to be proof of this. We build very large structures (cities) unlike any other in scale. The skyscrapers of termites and the reefs of coral are dwarfed by the skyscrapers and concrete reefs of New York, even relative to their size. We have transformed the surface and eliminated other species at a scale way beyond other species. We mess with the climate on a scale few individual species can. And of course we have made many new objects and “organisms” – which no other creature has. It is clear that humans have their own agenda, which the rest of biology does not have.