How to care for communities and carnivorous plants before they turn into a little shop of horrors


Learn how caring for a carnivorous plant is much like caring for an open source community.

I hadn’t considered how plants, like open source communities, are living organisms with different needs, and that thrive under specific kinds of care. For someone like me who lacks a green thumb, this was a huge and somewhat costly mistake.

You shouldn’t join an open source community before first doing a bit of research, either. Knowing about a community’s history, culture, organization, and etiquette will help you avoid inadvertently causing damage. Like species of carnivorous plants, each community is unique and thrives under different conditions.

Source: How to care for communities and carnivorous plants before they turn into a little shop of horrors |

Blockchain Community Solar: the Value of a Renewable Energy Reputation – Medium


Ethereum blockchain tech used to share solar power on a community microgrid – Internet and cloud computing can use same model:

Last Monday 6 community members on President St in the Brooklyn Park Slope neighborhood created the first local marketplace for renewable…

Source: Blockchain Community Solar: the Value of a Renewable Energy Reputation – Medium

WindTalker allows attacker to know sensitive keystrokes on mobile device through WiFi-based side-channel #MobileSecurity


Keystrokes on mobile devices will lead to different hand coverage and the finger motions, which will introduce a unique interference to the multi-path signals and can be reflected by the channel state information (CSI). The adversary can exploit the strong correlation between the CSI fluctuation and the keystrokes to infer the user’s number input. WindTalker presents a novel approach to collect the target’s CSI data by deploying a public WiFi hotspot.

Source: sig-alternate-sample.pdf – p1068-li.pdf

Steps towards Biological Computing


At the IEEE Spectrum Neil Savage reports on the use of biological materials for more eco-friendly electronics. Applications include 3D-printable gelatins for medical sensors that could be swallowed and DNA used as an electron-blocking layer in the organic LED’s (OLED’s) used in computer displays.

These promise to be both nontoxic and biodegradable – unlike the 50 million metric tons of electronics which are currently discarded every year.

But the real breakthrough point for biological materials will be when the ability of biological systems to self-replicate and self-assemble can be harnessed.

A major step towards this goal was realized when bioengineers at Stanford University created the first biological transistor made from genetic materials: DNA and RNA. Dubbed the “transcriptor,” this biological transistor is the final component required to build biological computers that operate inside living cells.


DIY implantable systems augment human capabilities; transcend limits of biology


Make Magazine reports on: “Biohackers [that] create DIY implantable systems to augment human capabilities and transcend the limits of biology.”

Neil Harbisson was born colorblind, but a snorkel-like device mounted to his head now translates the visible spectrum into sound and transmits it to him via bone conduction.

Rich Lee had two magnets implanted in his head. Signals from his MP3 player run through a coil, creating an electromagnetic field that causes the magnets to vibrate, playing music.

Lee’s coil works with almost anything you can plug a headphone jack into so a piezo contact mic lets him “hear” through walls, and hooking his coil up to a rangefinder grants a crude version of sonar.

David Morris: Will the autonomous economy set us all free, or just make the rich richer?


David Morris writes about “RoboCorps” –  Decentralized Autonomous Corporations that operate with minimal human intervention after being put in motion – in Aeon magazine:

In the allegedly imminent world of the Internet of Things … these autonomous cloud robots will be able to run free. They will execute contracts, manage supply chains, even open new markets. And though they will do all these things according to a logic designed by human creators, they need not be under direct human supervision. Buterin calls such constructs Decentralised Autonomous Organisations. More commonly, they are known as Distributed Autonomous Corporations, or DACs.

It’s an unassuming name, isn’t it? And yet, perhaps alarm bells are already ringing.

Who will own the DACs, who will profit from them – and whether ownership or profits are even the right terms – are still open questions. Larimer, from his tone to his pitch, seems relentlessly fixated on the idea that the funders of DACs will reap profits. The investment-like structure of DACs, funded by cryptocurrency, means that those who establish them, back them early and host them will benefit when their associated cryptocurrencies rise in value. Such enviable roles are reserved largely for the technically savvy, resource-rich, and well-educated: in other words, the already privileged.

On the other hand, the open nature of DACs might allow those who were excluded from traditional entrepreneurial channels to gather capital support for their ideas. Imagine startups in developing countries, frictionlessly funded by international backers in roles somewhere between investors and philanthropists. Whatever ominous developments the new technology portends for the managerial classes, it is still possible to imagine DACs contributing to the larger cause of global justice. After all, if they don’t care about borders, who is to say they won’t work to flatten the huge inequalities between nations?

The Black Box Society: New machine age of algorithms and bots behind the scenes of corporate America


Frank Pasquale’s new book, “The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information,” covers ways algorithms affect our lives in unseen ways. A few excerpts from a recent interview with the author:

… runaway algorithms … take on very important decisions …. autonomous weapon systems could accidentally trigger skirmishes or even wars, based on misinterpreted signals.

… it’s not only – and often not primarily – the algorithms, or even the programmers of algorithms, who are to blame …. “data-driven” algorithms that are supposedly objective and serving customers and users, are in fact biased and working only to boost the fortunes of an elite.

 Most critically, the results of these algorithms can appear to be natural, spontaneous events:

… people consider being on top of Twitter’s trending topics, or Google or Amazon search results, an important bragging right. But if these results are relatively easy to manipulate, or are really dictated by the corporate interests of the big Internet firms, they should be seen less as the “voice of the people” than as a new form of marketing. Or, to use Rob Walker’s term, “murketing.”