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About the author: God of the Grove is a nihilistic, anarchistic parasite on society, hoping to bring down western civilisation through the dubious science of memetic engineering. Believing himself to be an independant “Mobile State” he strives to become a “post-human superman beyond co-dependant weaklings.” A life of overexposure to popular culture colored him a little strange, often speaking in movie quotes and comparing things to games.

IBM one step closer the “The Technological Singularity”

Armonk, N.Y. – IBM announced a new step in processing technology, as they revealed their Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) project which is about experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition.

In a sharp departure from traditional concepts in designing and building computers, IBM’s first neurosynaptic computing chips recreate the phenomena between spiking neurons and synapses in biological systems, such as the brain, through advanced algorithms and silicon circuitry. Its first two prototype chips have already been fabricated and are currently undergoing testing.

The goal of SyNAPSE  is to create a system that not only analyzes complex information from multiple sensory modalities at once, but also dynamically rewires itself as it interacts with its environment – all while rivaling the brain’s compact size and low power usage. The IBM team has already successfully completed Phases 0 and 1

They also announced that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is investing $21 million in phase 2 of this project. For science, ofcourse, not to build some ultra-smart weapon out of it, because that would be stupid.


IBM’s SyNAPSE project leader Dharmendra Modha  states: “This is a major initiative to move beyond the von Neumann paradigm that has been ruling computer architecture for more than half a century. Future applications of computing will increasingly demand functionality that is not efficiently delivered by the traditional architecture. These chips are another significant step in the evolution of computers from calculators to learning systems, signaling the beginning of a new generation of computers and their applications in business, science and government.”

Unlike OCP’s RoboCop project, these chips contain no biological elements. While this bodes well for using these chips in elevators, without making them too murderous, the technology does borrow a lot from the structure of organic brains and use digital silicon circuits inspired by neurobiology to make up what is referred to as a “neurosynaptic core” with integrated memory (replicated synapses), computation (replicated neurons) and communication (replicated axons.)

RoboCop is just so 1987…

The two prototypes where fabricated in 45 nm SOI-CMOS and contain 256 neurons. One core contains 262,144 programmable synapses and the other contains 65,536 learning synapses. The IBM team has successfully demonstrated simple applications like navigation, machine vision, pattern recognition, associative memory and classification.

For Phase 2 of SyNAPSE, IBM has assembled a world-class multi-dimensional team of researchers and collaborators to achieve these ambitious goals. The team includes Columbia University; Cornell University; University of California, Merced; and University of Wisconsin, Madison. While this is a large team, none of it’s members seem to have seen any movie about artificial intelligences destroying humanity, even while the list of these movies is nearly endless. Also, one of the more prominent killer AIs, HAL9000 got it’s name by taking each letter from IBM and replacing it with the one before it in the alphabet.

Read more about the project here.

Read about the Technological Signularity here.

Becoming an Astronaut

If critics would review my dreams, and they’d be the pretentious type, they probably would name them “surreal” and “kafkaesque.” I dreamed being in a sort of witness-protection kind of deal, where I had to live under another identity.

It was hard to do, not because of who I am, but because what I had to leave behind. I realized that identity doesn’t have to do much with who I am, but with the context I’ve been placed in. My friends. My belongings. My job. Letting all that go felt really difficult. Then I woke up. Sleep like that isn’t that restfull, so I woke up somewhat late. Time to rush. I’ve still got some ground to cover and I have to be in time for the train.

The Trainstation

Red light, waiting for green to cross. To get to the trainstation I have to cross a road, which is full of other commuters, each rushing to their jobs, like I did. Waiting. Hurry. Green. Go. I managed to get to the trainstation just in time. The train was already rolling in. The people didn’t even bother standing in line to rush into the train and join their other fellow commuters, pushing each other out of the way to get a seat.

Finding a seat for myself, I looked at the clock, waiting for the doors to close. I have a tight transfer later on, which I’ll miss if my train is late, so I all I was thinking was “go! go! go!” when the doors hissed into action, then made a satisfying click as they locked. I was on my way.


When I was little, I dreamed about becoming an astronaut. More than that, one night I dreamt that I actually was an astronaut. Sitting in the small capsule waiting for the countdown. Then, the engine exploded and I took off as Mother Earth rushed away below me, leaving me alone with the stars. I realized that space was empty, and I was not really in it, but in a tiny room strapped to and explosion and that was the reality of being an astronaut. Nothing to write home about, really.  I like science and technology and stars and planets, but in my dream it was already lonely, claustrophobic and violent.

That’s when I gave up and decided that being an astronaut wasn’t something  for me.

A Break

The weather is nice so I decided to go outside for a smoking break. Not on the roof of the building, as we where told to do -I don’t like that because of vertigo-  but below, outside, away from the building taking a walk. I like walking. I recently met someone who likes walking too, who says it feels so good and relaxing because it ties into the whole ‘fight or flight’ instinct. After a hundred meters, near the trainstation a van pulled up. It read ‘cleaning services’ and a man jumped out. Hooligan type, not to bright, bald, tattoos.

“Can I ask you something?” he says. I nodded. “Can you give me a smoke, I feel really stressed.” I nodded again and handed him my pouch of tobaco, grabbed the smoke out of my mouth and asked why he was so stressed. “It’s my boss.” He picked a rolling paper and some tobacco and started rolling while elaborating: “Lots of graffiti today. I’m already behind.” He’s the guy that cleans up graffiti. The anti-grav guy. And he’s stressed.

“My GPS broke down. I had to pick up a new one, then go by all the places I cleaned up this morning to de-report them into the system.” he complains, “now it looks like I’ll be working ’till seven.” Lighting the freshly rolled cigarette.  “My boss said, well, do it in your own time, then. Can you believe this? It’s friday. Today is my day. Fucking hell.”

Human Doing

He didn’t become an astronaut either. He’s hardly saving lives here. He’s cleaning up expressions and he’s just as stressed out as the rest of us, doing this unthankful job for an unthankful boss. Because after the job is done, it’s time for food. And somewhere, somehow he’s actually happy doing it on some level. Otherwise he would just tell his boss to stick the overtime somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine.

Time for me to go back. Ride the elevator back up. Press the button. Wait for the door of the cabin to open. Back to my place, back to my daily reality.

I see a black guy and I want to paint him pink

Kampala – Ugandan police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse opposition supporters who had gathered in a Kampala suburb on Wednesday to mourn people killed during demonstrations earlier this year. Not satisfied with normal water cannons, they decided to roll out the pink ones, for reasons unknown.

Uganda, somehow interested to become America’s next target by becoming a major oil producer had widespread anti-government protests in April and May that were sparked by rising food and fuel prices and a weakening currency.

At least nine people were killed in the government’s clampdown and opposition leader Kizza Besigye was arrested and badly beaten by security agents. That didn’t stop the protesters from doing another demonstration to mourn those have died in the last one.

The Ugandan government doesn’t want that shit, and unlike, say Britain they responden with full force – Giving every protester pink-eye or something.

Whether Protester Pinkification is a growing trend among Crowd Dispersal Enthousiasts is unknown at this moment. Capcom didn’t comment on the question if they have been contacted by the British government for their surplus of pink spraypaint.

See more pictures here.

Read more about these protests here.

Trail by battle!

Westeros – Markus “Notch” Persson, the creator of the popular indie game Minecraft has received a letter from a Swedish law firm representing Bethesda Softworks. Their beef? Perssons’ next game has ‘Scrolls’ in the title, and Bethesda claims to hold the word as a trademark, since they have the ‘Elder Scrolls’ series of roleplaying games.

Markus wants to settle this the honourable way: By doing a Trial By Battle! On his blog he invited Bethesda to a game of Quake 3, hoping to take Bethesda down a Notch. The winner gets to keep the Scroll.

Remember that scene in Game of Thrones where Tyrion chose a trial by battle in the Eyrie? Well, let’s do that instead!
I challenge Bethesda to a game of Quake 3. Three of our best warriors against three of your best warriors. We select one level, you select the other, we randomize the order. 20 minute matches, highest total frag count per team across both levels wins.

If we win, you drop the lawsuit.

If you win, we will change the name of Scrolls to something you’re fine with.

Regardless of the outcome, we could still have a small text somewhere saying our game is not related to your game series in any way, if you wish.

I am serious, by the way.

While it is the modern world and no actual blood will flow, settlements like this may very well be the future. Moving the legal system towards a game-based ludocracy might actually not be that ludicrous as it sounds.

North-Korea arrests man, charging him with the crime of philately

Pyongyang – Dutch Philatelist Willem van der Bijl has been imprisoned in North-Korea for two weeks for the horrendous crime of philately, an act that endangers Korea’s state security.

After Van der Bijl had disappeared during a visit to Korea, an article appeared in the English language state paper The Pyongyang times where he claims to be “greatly impressed by the free and democratic elections” and having “a better understanding of the DPRK’s reality.”

Van der Bijl is a philatelist, which is an activity completely counter to state security. Buying and selling large quantities of postal stamps owned by The People is a crime in Korea, due to speculation laws. While it is not officially confirmed that this was the reason for his arrest, well, it’s an as good explaination as any.

All is well for Willem, although he doesn’t go to deep into these circumstances as he fears for the fate of his Korean co-conspiritors. He has been to Korea before, as he is an avid collector of Korean propaganda art. This time he must have done something to piss off 위대한령도자김정일동지 (Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong Il.)

For more background see: NOS

The Goldsmith’s Tale

Wallstreet – Money as Debt is a short animated documentary film from 2002  about the monetary systems practiced through modern banking. The film presents filmmaker Grignon’s view of the process of money creation by banks and its historical background, and warns of his belief in its subsequent unsustainability

I’d thought to revisit this movie, following the previously posted Max Keiser commentary. From there I came across a piece where mr. Keiser claimed that the economy is now in a state of World War III with bankers as terrorists. If that is true, where did things go wrong? Did things actually go wrong?

Economics seems to be the science of circular reasoning. Paper translates to gold, and that seems to be important for the concept of money. Still, gold, while shiny and chemically inert, is also heavy and rather soft. At best, it conducts electricity rather well. Still, we need some kind of tool to trade products and services. Gold and paper it is. Or is it?

As with all looping, recursive and self-sustaining systems, things might be a little more complicated though. Seems like the Money as Dept movie is just a startingpoint in trying to unwind this mess.

“It is a form of modern serfdom in which the great mass of society works as indentured servants to a ruling class of financial nobility.”
-G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island

One of the comments on the theories displayed in the movie is that it doesn’t account for labour and services rendered, as you can read in one of the critiques here. Still, has society moved on from gold-plated barbarism? Is the money in your pocket no more than smoke and mirrors?

The general consensus seems to be that ‘Money as Dept’ isn’t false in it’s entirely. There is some truth in it, although the picture is not complete.

The Blame

Metropolis – Nietzsche tried to teach us the Superman and to surpass our human limitations. It took a refuge from Krypton to achieve that very goal, however. Normal humans like you are still stuck in blaming others for their misfortune. Weak. But, this is earth, not Krypton, so even Superman is allowed to cut corners, sometimes.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC) is a humorous webcomic by Zach Weiner. SMBC is “at heart a geek comic, but it nevertheless addresses a broad range of topics, such as love, relationships, economics, politics, religion, science, and philosophy.” It has been featured on a variety of websites and blogs, including The Economist, Boing Boing, Bad Astronomy and Joystiq. It is published daily, and has few recurring characters.

Continued at: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

China’s government excited over David Cameron’s censorship proposal

Beijing – China is in fact extatic over censorship deal for the Peoples Republic of Britain that David Cameron suggested in response to the London riots. David Cameron has told parliament that in the wake of this week’s riots the government is looking at banning people from using social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook if they are thought to be plotting criminal activity.

The prime minister said the government will review whether it is possible to stop suspected rioters spreading online messages, in his opening statement during a Commons debate on Thursday on the widespread civil disorder, which is music to China’s ears.

Before, Camoron was bitching about human rights in China during talks with the Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, on a trade mission to Beijing last year. Now he suggests taking away the voice of his own people by blocking social media.

The Xinhua State News Agency spoke of ”a u-turn ” in the policy of ”the former defender of absolute internet freedom.”

They further respond:

In a speech delivered in Kuwait in February, the British prime minister, however, argued that freedom of expression should be respected “in Tahrir Square as much as Trafalgar Square​.” Learning a hard lesson from bitter experience, the British government eventually recognized that a balance needs to be struck between freedom and the monitoring of social media tools.

We may wonder why western leaders, on the one hand, tend to indiscriminately accuse other nations of monitoring, but on the other take for granted their steps to monitor and control the Internet.

They are not interested in learning what content those nations are monitoring, let alone their varied national conditions or their different development stages.

Laying undue emphasis on Internet freedom, the western leaders become prejudiced against those “other than us,” stand ready to put them in the dock and attempt to stir up their internal conflicts.

Proponents of free speech names Cameron’s new plans “Hadrians Firewall,” comparing it to the “Great Firewall of China.”

And They Call Me Bulletproof

The Netherlands – Move along, spiderman! Having spider-based superpowers may be closer than you might think. You might not get spidersense, or the ability to climb on any surface – yet. Still, the Forensic Genomics Consortium Netherlands might give you the power to shrug off bullets using a spider-based transgenic human skin.

“2.6g 329m/s” is the name of this project, the performance standard for bulletproof vests. The Forensic Genomics Consortium Netherlands is working on a way to implant transgenic human skin with cast-iron spiders’ web. The project expressly asks the question if this technological innovation is socially desirable.

Spidersilk thread is relatively much stronger than steel and can even be made by a living being. Woven it would be capable to resist the impact of a bullet, much like a bee on the spider’s web. If human skin would be able to produce this thread, would we be protected from bullets?

Art meets science in this transhuman experiment. Is this a desirable step in the development of the human race or will it just encourage people to get better guns and up the ante in the arms race humanity has been involved in since the dawn of time? Will we see a future of unstoppable super soldiers? With this project Jalila Essaïdi wants to show that safety in its broadest sense is a relative concept. How far are people willing to go?

Read more about this project here and here. I didn’t find a form to sign up for virtual invulnerability, but now the cat is out of the bag, it’s only a matter of time.

The Last Astronaut?

The Solar System – With the end of the Space Shuttle program, things looked rather grimm for space exploration. With the cold war far behind us, the urge to fake do moonlandings has greatly diminished. The optimism of the 60′s and 70′s seem to have been replaced by complacency,while investments in manned space flight seemed to have dried up allmost completely.

The new of the death of the space age seems to have been greatly exaggerated, however. Last friday NASA revealed they still intend to sail the Final Frontier and seek out new life and new civilisations and hopefully court some green-skinned women that live beyond low-earth orbit, and generally promote imperial peace and order in the Great Beyond. There will be flag-planting involved, most likely.

“America is opening a bold new chapter in human space exploration,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “By combining the resources of Space Operations and Exploration Systems, and creating the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, we are recommitting ourselves to American leadership in space for years to come.”

The Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate, which combines the Space Operations and Exploration Systems mission directorates, will focus on International Space Station operations and human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.

Plans involve the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle as well as the development of a new rocket: the Space Launch System among other things. While these plans seem ambitious, NASA didn’t divulge any plans to probe Uranus and mine gasses from it in the immediate future.

Read the NASA HEO announcement here.