We like to think that we are in control of our offspring. But just like children grow up, so do our systems. Human technologies have become so complex that they now behave like independent ecologies. Algorithms run the stock market. Computer viruses keep going long after their creators have set them free. Genetically modified organisms thrive in the wild. In this new world of wild, technological beasts, will humans be at the mercy of our monsters?
Controlling hurricanes could save lots of lives and dollars. According to a study published in by climate physicist Daniel Rosenfeld, adding dust to Hurricane Katrina’s base could have weakened the storm and sent it spinning away from New Orleans. However, few scientists believe these new ideas will be tried outside…
Have you heard of Elephantiasis? It is a disease caused by microscopic parasitic worms that cause a thickening of the skin and underlying tissues. The disease typically occurs in tropical regions, however, as it seems it recently transferred to consumer products.…
On this day (Saturday May 29th 2010), the Dutch nation takes pride in celebrating their first real traffic jam. During the pentecost weekend in 1955, a mass exodus of a tribe of day visitors from the west of the country to the central dutch National Park, and a tribe of…
Right now, one of the reasons that robots and other artificially intelligent devices cannot qualify as living beings is their inability to self-repair. However, a recent breakthrough from the Caltech High-Speed Integrated Circuits laboratory have brought us one step closer to the reality of machines that can cure themselves after…
Satellite images of Earth at night evoke ambiguous feelings: While on a ground level our cities appear as purely cultural artifacts, a traveler from outer space might just as well marvel at them as beautifully glowing organic fungi-like structures that sprouted on our planet. Less than a millennium ago, the…
Traffic jams are a new force of nature.
The Technological Sublime
The sublime is an aesthetic concept of ‘the exalted,’ of beauty that is grand and dangerous. Through 17th and 18th century European intellectual tradition, the sublime became intimately associated with nature. Only in the 20th century, did the technological sublime replace the natural sublime. Have our sense of awe and terror been transferred to factories, war machines, and the unknowable, infinite possibilities suggested by computers and genetic engineering?…Read more
'Because of its Janus-faced powers, technology itself has become the sublime god of our (post)modern age'
Jos de Mul
Machines of Loving Grace
Adam Curtis explores the notion that Ayn Rand influenced the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs of the 1990s to create a world where digital systems are more powerful than human ones.
Crops Running Wild
Only for the title already I wanted to post this as soon as I read it on Nature.com. The newsarticle is entitled “GM crop escapes into the American wild.” Brilliant! Let’s walk into the world of escaped crop populations and from there cross our paths with patented broccoli, shall we?…Read more
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.…Read more
Meet the Worms, Viruses and Trojans
Now there is an interesting biomimicmarketing technique we had not seen before. For their new marketing campaign internet security company Messagelabs worked with digital artist Alex Dragulescu to graphically show what cyber threats actually look like. The images are generated from the actual code from each of the threats.…Read more