1. Emacs users are like Terry Pratchett's Igors (Hacker News discussion) →

    The article linked from this Hacker News thread is really great, but I found some of the comments in the thread even more interesting and perceptive, with developers waxing poetic about the lambda calculus and prolog knowledge representation.

  2. The Factoring Dead: Preparing for the Cryptopocalypse - RSA and Diffie-Hellman at risk →

  3. SIGGRAPH 2013 : Technical Papers Preview Trailer

  4. Moore’s Law and the Origin of Life →

    As life has evolved, its complexity has increased exponentially, just like Moore’s law. Now geneticists have extrapolated this trend backwards and found that by this measure, life is older than the Earth itself.

  5. Petri Net Programming →

    Petri nets are a simple model of computation with a range of modelling applications that include chemical reaction networks, manufacturing processes, and population biology dynamics. They are graphs through which entities flow and have their types transformed. They also have far-reaching mathematical properties which are the subject of an extensive literature. See the network theory series here on Azimuth for a panoramic and well-diagrammed introduction to the theory and applications of Petri nets.

    - David Tanzer for Azimuth Blog

  6. A new form of encryption allows you to compute with data you cannot read  →

  7. Roadmap for the revolution: the future of Bitcoin →

  8. Two important BitCoin projects announced: an ASIC chip for BitCoin mining and a BitCoin smartcard-wallet →

    In a clear example of how code and hardware exist in a relationship that can be understood as a feedback loop, two Bitcoin-specific hardware products have been announced in the past days.

    (read more…)

  9. Turing’s Strange Seas of Thought the Turing Centenary by Bruce Sterling →

    Our present-day world has emerged from some of Turing’s ideas about computation, and the instantiation of those ideas in real machinery, like for instance this handy laptop here. So we like to say, that, well, we would have treated him better.

    We love geeky computer geniuses. We’re really fond of cryptographers too, as long as they’re not Julian Assange. We tolerate gay people. That’s evidence that Alan Turing would have been fine as one of us. The extent of the guy’s grave personal tragedy is really a measure of how far we’ve come.

    But I worry about this Whig version of history, because I don’t think it conveys the proper moral lesson. Basically, it just asserts that we’re pretty great, while the people in the past were wrong-headed. This overlooks what happens to people among us who are really and truly severely strange thinkers.

    Alan Turing was really a genius and he thought in some severely orthogonal ways. He got some respect for his intellectual accomplishments, but he never found much in the way of warmth, public approval and sympathy.

    If you study his biography, the emotional vacuum in the guy’s life was quite frightening. His parents are absent on another continent, he’s in boarding schools, in academia, in the intelligence services, in the closet of the mid-20th-century gay life. Although Turing was a bright, physically strong guy capable of tremendous hard work, he never got much credit for his efforts during his lifetime.

    - Bruce Sterling, "Turing’s Strange Seas of Thought"

  10. Cracks in Reality: How our Systems Fool Themselves →

    It’s easier for a self-modifying system to directly fiddle with motivational signals than to satisfy them through direct action (intentionally or not). Standing in the way of this short circuit is a necessary motivation to prefer real solutions to illusory ones. As a consequence, the intelligent agent must audit what it believes to be true and maintain a connection to actual reality. This may or may not be possible to do with logical and empirical rigor.


    Humans are products of an evolutionary history, and not good examples of singular intelligent systems. In fact, we don’t have any examples of long-lived self-changing intelligent systems. We might, however, substitute modern bureaucratized states as approximations to intelligent systems. Some have lasted hundreds of years (compared to billions for our biological ecology). These bureaucracies have become so dependent on the catalogs of nominal realities they incorporate that it’s hard to imagine how they would function without them. 

    David Eubanks, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies