Did ancient Maya create virtual experiences?

Did ancient Maya create virtual experiences? If Facebook were around 1,400 years ago, the ancient Maya might have been big fans of the virtual self. The Maya believed that part of your identity could inhabit material objects, like a courtier’s mirror or sculptor’s carving tool. Maya might even name these objects, talk to them or take them to special events. They considered these items to be alive. The practice of sharing your identity with material possessions might seem unusual in a modern context. But is it that different from today’s selfie-snapping, candy-crushing online culture, where social media profiles can be … Continue reading Did ancient Maya create virtual experiences?

Do we need a new anonymous cyber market?

Inside the ‘DarkMarket’ Prototype, a Silk Road the FBI Can Never Seize The Silk Road, for all its clever uses of security protections like Tor and Bitcoin to protect the site’s lucrative drug trade, still offered its enemies a single point of failure. When the FBI seized the server that hosted the market in October and arrested its alleged owner Ross Ulbricht, the billion-dollar drug bazaar came crashing down. If one group of Bitcoin black market enthusiasts has their way, the next online free-trade zone could be a much more elusive target. At a Toronto Bitcoin hackathon earlier this month, … Continue reading Do we need a new anonymous cyber market?

How do you feel about what virtual reality can do?

The Virtual Reality Renaissance Is Here, But Are We Ready? I’m flapping my wings. Not hard, but slowly and smoothly. At 25 feet across, my wingspan is so great I don’t need to exert much energy to achieve lift. In the distance, I see an island under an azure sky. This is my home. Off to my west, the sun is setting and the sky glows with warm, orange light. Spotting movement in the ocean below, I bend my body slightly to the left and begin a gentle dive. As I approach the shore, I spot my prey splashing in … Continue reading How do you feel about what virtual reality can do?

Artificial Intelligence and Surveillance

Introducing AISight: The slightly scary CCTV network completely run by AI Imagine a major city completely covered by a video surveillance system designed to monitor the every move of its citizens. Now imagine that the system is run by a fast-learning machine intelligence, that’s designed to spot crimes before they even happen. No, this isn’t the dystopian dream of a cyber-punk science fiction author, or the writers of TV show “Person of Interest”. This is Boston, on the US East Coast, and it could soon be many more cities around the world. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings … Continue reading Artificial Intelligence and Surveillance

How to feel guilty while playing video games

‘Watch Dogs’ adds real guilt to fake killing The defining experience of every Grand Theft Auto-style game is running over pedestrians with cars. Typically, I think nothing of it — they’re not really people, after all. They might look a little bit like you and me, but they are devoid of personality, of consciousness, of soul. So when I’m fleeing five cop cars and a pedestrian-filled getaway route presents itself, I don’t hesitate to mow them down. Sometimes I even smile as they bounce off my bumper, their limbs flailing around. But at a San Francisco preview event for Watch … Continue reading How to feel guilty while playing video games

The software side of immersive computing

After GitHub harassment allegations, Tom Preston-Werner is launching a virtual-reality startup Immediately following his controversial departure, former GitHub president and chief executive Tom Preston-Werner today announced his next step: “immersive computing” (aka virtual reality). Here’s an excerpt from Preston-Werner’s blog explaining his plans. A recent visit to Oculus VR — the makers of the Oculus Rift VR headset and a company that Facebook bought for $2 billion in March — apparently inspired the now-former GitHub executive: “During my time away from GitHub I started experimenting with Go, OpenGL, and Unity with an eye towards the software side of immersive computing. … Continue reading The software side of immersive computing

New tools for moviemakers

A Sweet, Sad Stop-Motion Film Made With 3-D Printing Here’s an innovative use for your 3-D printer: moviemaking. London-based creative agency DBLG shows the way with “Bears on Stairs,” a short clip that combines a 3-D printed hero with traditional stop-motion animation to charming effect. The ursine epic has a 2-second run time and took four weeks to complete, making it about as efficient as your average Michael Bay production, by my rough calculations. The lumbering action took 50 printed models in all. It’s a cute little project, until you realize that we’ve doomed this poor beast to climb up … Continue reading New tools for moviemakers