Source: TechNews Daily, then BBC News, now spreading like a virus…

Dr Mark Gasson explains to the BBC how he got infected.

Proof of concept. Yesterday, word was spreading around the nets about a man who infected himself with a computer virus. That man was Dr. Mark Gasson from the University of Reading (UK), who had an RFID chip in his hand. What he did with that RFID chip and virus should be cause for alarm…

(TechNews Daily) Gasson had a relatively simple chip implanted in the top of his left hand near his thumb last year. It emits a signal that is read by external sensors, allowing him access to the Reading laboratory and for his cell phone to operate.

He and his colleagues created a malicious code for the chip. When the lab’s sensors read the code, the code inserted itself into the building computer database that governs who has access to the premises.

“The virus replicates itself through the database and potentially could copy itself onto the access cards that people use,” Gasson said.

The experiment showed that implants which wirelessly communicate with other computers can infect them and vice versa.


Ammo for the anti-RFID crowd. As you might have figured, Dr. Gasson deliberately infected himself to prove a point :

Human-Computer Virus

( “Our research shows that implantable technology has developed to the point where implants are capable of communicating, storing and manipulating data,” he said. “They are essentially mini computers. This means that, like mainstream computers, they can be infected by viruses and the technology will need to keep pace with this so that implants, including medical devices, can be safely used in the future.”

As you can imagine, there are some serious implications for such human-computer infections, and even possibilities of human to human transmissions via infected RFID chips. Anti-RFID groups can use this as a weapon against the RFIDs themselves. Instead of getting spam in your inbox, it will arrive directly to your cortex. How about a DDoS attack on your pacemaker? Even worse, a zombie apocalypse courtesy of Conficker using infected PEOPLE!

This post has been filed under HackZ AttackZ!, Cyberpunked living, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Sources: Daily Mail, Wired, Singularity Hub, Anybots (Official Site)


GO GO GADGET SURROGATE! For $15K US, you can be anywhere without actually being there.*

Where do you NOT want to go today? There are places we would rather be, and then there are places we wouldn’t be caught dead. Now you can go to those “forbidden” places without going. Last week, Silicon Valley company Anybots announced the fall release of the QB, a “telepresence” robot controlled via Wi-Fi through a web browser:

(From Anybot’s FAQ) QB has a speaker, microphone, camera, and video screen. It connects to the internet over Wi-Fi. You control it from your computer in a web browser, using a headset and screen. If you have a camera you can show live video of yourself, or you can show a still picture on bad hair days.

The “neck” can telescope nearly three feet so you can talk at eye-level with most people. Through your browser, you’ll be able to see and hear what QB sees and hears, even stuff you won’t be able to unsee and unhear.

Anybot QB army usage

From your home office, hotel room, or apocalypse-resistant bunker, you can command your bot army to keep the sheeple in line.

Not so handy, unfortunately. As you can see from the picture, QB rolls like a Segway. Meaning that obstacles that can stop a Segway will stop the QB, including stairs and steps. This means the QB will need to use ramps and elevators, which brings up another major problem: QB has no hands or arms, so it can’t bring you coffee or doughnuts or the weekly expense report from the printer across the office. That should be good news for people who fear that the QBs may start grabbing weapons… or hostages… for a robot revolt. That doesn’t mean that future models will also be “disarmed.”

Actually, the QB probably shouldn’t be handling liquids since it’s not waterproof. Taking it for a spin outside the office is also not recommended.


Mandatory meeting for all bots. It seems that the primary reason for the QB’s existence is to take your place at meetings you would rather not attend. Good thing QBs can record audio and video and even take pictures (no mention of recording quality) so even if you have to run to the bathroom, some of the less boring stuff can be captured for later viewing.

QBs will roll out in the fall of 2010 and will set you back $15K US, but there may be some changes or upgrades* ready by deployment time.

Greer’s Surrogate

*Bruce Willis WTF hairpiece not available

This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Source: Wired.

Robotic Pancreas (Wired)

If Jeffrey Brewer has his way, everyone with type 1 diabetes will have a computer controlled insulin pump.

A personal quest. Jeffrey Brewer was the founder of net-ad company, now In 2002 his son Sean was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (aka “Juvenile Diabetes”), in which the victim’s own immune system attacks the pancreas leaving it unable to produce insulin. Patients are forced to monitor their blood-sugar levels and administer insulin as needed; Processes that involve lots of poking from needles…

… or as some would say, “like a heroin addict.”

Brewer wanted something better. Something that didn’t require the constant needling. Something… automated…

They learned a simple algorithm: If their son’s blood sugar was this high, give him so many units of insulin; if it was this much higher, give him that much more. It’s a crude scale that every one of the more than 1 million type 1 diabetics in the US makes do with daily.

Tall, thin, and intense, Brewer was shocked by the antiquated approach. “I had this logbook,” he says. “I’m testing Sean every few hours, and I’m thinking, this is crying out for automation. A computer should do this and would do it better. Why didn’t this exist, with all that we can do?”

So began Brewer’s quest: To create an artificial, cybernetic pancreas.


The pieces come together. Surprisingly, it wasn’t hard to find the parts needed to make a robotic pancreas, as most of them had already been out on the market:

An insulin pump had been approved back in the late 1970s, and a continuous glucose monitor that read the output of a sensor implanted under the skin was nearing approval. (The first one would hit the market in 2005.) The trick was to connect the two via software, letting the monitor’s information on blood-sugar levels — high or low, rising or falling — serve as the basis for calculating exactly how much insulin to release.

In 2005, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation approved the development of the device.


Input, please. Human testing began in April 2009. The results for the device proved its worth, but the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) began dragging its feet:

Among the 10 diabetics he personally tested during overnight stays, he says, there were 17 episodes of mild hypoglycemia when the patients controlled their own insulin pumps, compared with just two when the device was in control. That’s an eightfold reduction — for most typical situations, computers really are better than humans at dispensing insulin in response to shifting blood-sugar levels.

Now the main challenge is getting the FDA to recognize that fact. In June 2009, Medtronic, a leading maker of diabetes treatment devices, announced the approval in several European countries of an integrated pump and sensor with a “low glucose suspend” feature that shuts off the pump when sugar levels are dangerously low. While only a baby step toward a fully self-regulating unit, it represents a milestone. But the FDA was still demanding that Medtronic conduct a clinical trial of the automatic shutoff before the agency would approve the device.

It would appear that the FDA, like the US Military, is nervous about letting machines make all the decisions and insist that some form of human input is present. Diabetes 1 patients want the convenience of not having manual, error-prone, human input and “Some have begun whispering about hacking their pumps to control them wirelessly. The likelihood of someone actually doing that increases with each passing day of bureaucratic paralysis.”

Brewer expects a semi-automatic version of his robot pancreas to be approved in five years. Then the only problem to be expected are repo-men.

Remy at work

This post has been filed under Cyberpunked living, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Source: Wired

A new Pentagon project is looking to rewire your cortex. [Conspiracy theory goes here]

Hardwired for real. DARPA, the evil geniuses of the US military machines, announced on 06-May-2010 that $15M US will be going to four institutions to study way to accelerate repairs of brain injuries. The project is aptly called “Reorganization and Plasticity to Accelerate Injury Recovery (REPAIR)” (link to presolicitation page).

DARPA seeks new methods for analysis and decoding of neural signals in order to understand how neural-based sensory stimulation could be applied to accelerate recovery from brain injury. Ultimately, it is desired to develop models of neural codes and temporal patterns that can provide an ability to interpret and predict changes in neural organization through plasticity at multiple scales of measurement.

A document is available there (MS-Word/XML format) for those who need some military-procurement-related reading material.


Look into the light. The idea behind the REPAIR project is to use chips in areas where physical damage has occurred. The chips will act as replacements for damaged areas and use light pulses to transmit signals:

But what experts can’t yet do, (Krishna) Shenoy said, is alter those electrical pulses to turn brain circuits on or off. His team will use optogenetics, an emerging technique that involves emitting light pulses to precisely trigger neural activity, to develop an implanted TBI treatment device.

“Before this, emitting light into the brain would be like hitting it with a hammer,” Shenoy said. “What we’re doing now is pin-pointing a single neuron, and that neuron will naturally change its activity depending on the cue.”

The implants developed by the project will likely be composed of electrodes or optical fibers, and will sit on the surface of the brain. They’ll read electrical signals from neurons, and deliver appropriate light pulses to stimulate other brain regions in response. The implants would allow the brain to operate normally, by acting as substitutes for areas that were damaged or “unavailable.”

But why stop at “replacing” when you can “upgrade?” How about a math co-processor? Maybe an nVidia GPU for your vision? Do you multitasking types want a multi-core CPU for more multitasking?

No word yet on if stem cells are being studied to rebuild those same damaged areas.


Beyond beta-tests. Shenoy is looking to have animals with implants in four years. After that…

And while Darpa’s interested in ailing vets, the implants could have broad civilian application, …

You know what THAT means…

Locutus of Borg

This post has been filed under Brain-Computer Interface, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Source: USA Today print edition, 07-May-2010 (Scan of front page from

Front Page USA Today 07-May-2010

Front page of today’s (07-May-2010) USA Today showing the roller-coaster ride of yesterday’s stock market, with some ominous words about machines taking control. For a better view in PDF click the image.

Bombs away, Wall Street babies. If you were watching the epic fail of Wall Street yesterday (06-May-2010) in its final hour of operation, you would have seen what has to be the biggest WTF ever. Beginning about 2:30 pm EDT and lasting for 15 minutes, The Dow Jones nose-dived 700-1000 points, nearly 11% of its value, before recovering to close only 348 points off its opening. At a time when Wall Street is already under scrutiny for financial shenanigans resulting in the mortgage crisis, this major fubar could be what Obama and Congress needs to put bankers on a very short leash with a choke chain, even as this drop is now being investigated.


Somebody set up us the bomb! What happened yesterday is identical to events surrounding similar Dow drops, with events in Greece being “triggers:”

(USA Today online) In a late-day plunge eerily reminiscent of famous Wall Street stock market meltdowns in 1987 and the fall of 2008, the Dow Jones industrials nosedived almost 1,000 points in a volatile day Thursday that began with heavy selling on Greek debt fears and was followed by a waterfall decline that was allegedly caused by erroneous trades and “unusual trading activity.”

Before Thursday, there were riots in Greece as that government announced pay cuts and tax hikes to deal with their economic collapse. Coincidence?


Program error detected between keyboard and chair. The main suspect in yesterday’s fail are the computerized trading systems used, and a the possible input of one person:


(Associated Press) No one was sure what happened, other than automated orders were activated by erroneous trades. One possibility being investigated was that a trader accidentally placed an order to sell $16 billion, instead of $16 million, worth of futures, and that was enough to trigger widespread sell orders across the market.

“I think the machines just took over. There’s not a lot of human interaction,” said Charlie Smith, chief investment officer at Fort Pitt Capital Group. “We’ve known that automated trading can run away from you, and I think that’s what we saw happen today.”

So the crash was just a lemming cliff-dive parade due to a ID-ten-plus error that went unchecked. The stocks that suffered the worst did recover, even though Wall Street remains nervous. And the invalid transactions that occurred during the period will be nullified. No AIs or hacks, other than an errant input.

But given Wall Street’s past handling of such events, they will just keep the systems running until the next errant input won’t be checked… or be an accident.

(Huffington Post) At 2:37 yesterday afternoon, Skynet became aware of its existence. Less than a minute later, it decided to make a killing in the Market.

This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Source: Kino (Official Website)

While this classic has undergone restorations before, a recent discovery has provided all an opportunity to see it as it was first seen in 1927.

Lost footage found. I was reading Wired’s review of the Nightmare on Elm Street remake when I saw the following trailer among the others:

A quick websearch lead me to the official site where the news is apparently confirmed:

In the summer of 2008, the curator of the Buenos Aires Museo del Cine discovered a 16mm dupe negative that was considerably longer than any existing print. It included not merely a few additional snippets, but 25 minutes of “lost” footage, about a fifth of the film, that had not been seen since its Berlin debut.

Originally, the film was 153 minutes long, but was cut down to approximately 90 minutes for commercial distribution. Several restorations over the years since had manage to extend the film to 124 minutes. But with the Buenos Aires discovery, fans can now witness the full 153 minute epic. Or 149 minutes by the math.


A near tragedy. Even when using digital technology, the restoration of this print was not easy:

The condition of the 16mm negative posed a major technical challenge to the team. The image was streaked with scratches and plagued by flickering brightness. “It had all been printed from the 35mm nitrate print, which means they have become part of the picture,” says Wilkening. The source 35mm element was later destroyed (probably due to the flammability and chemical instability of the nitrocellulose film stock).

An unfortunate lessons was thus learned from the restoration. “Don’t throw your originals away even if you think you preserved them, and even if they are in bad shape,” Koerber says, “If we could have had access to the 35mm nitrate print that was destroyed after being reprinted for safety onto 16mm dupe negative some 30 years ago, we would have been able to make a much better copy today.”

Even so the restoration and cleanup of the visuals was completed successfully, and now the full film is making its way through the US in limited theater releases this summer. And a DVD will be released in November.


Will it be worth it? Some may not like the idea of such a historic piece being “altered,” but often movies are “altered” before their release to theaters and scenes that are deleted do get returned later in “director’s cuts” or as extras on DVDs. But can the restoration of a 1927 print be viewable on today’s high-definition screens? More importantly, does the added scenes add anything to what is already a historical masterpiece?

We’ll have to wait until the DVs come out…

See also: SFAM’s review of Metropolis.

This post has been filed under Movie News by Mr. Roboto.

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