I loved Nexus, Ramez Naam's 2012 debut novel about biohackers who produce a nano-based party drug that installs a networked computer inside your brain, and quickly turns into a war-on-drugs bioethics thriller about the free/open transhumanists and mirthless, ruthless drug enforcement agents.
, the sequel that comes out today, Naam rips through 550+ pages in about ten minutes flat, with a blisteringly paced technothriller that dives deeper and even better into the chunky questions raised by Nexus. Crux tells the story of Nexus's inventors in exile around the world, or jailed by drug-enforcement spooks, or, in one case, uploaded into a physically isolated underground quantum supercomputer controlled by the Chinese politburo.
In Crux, we see a world where the first stirrings of a global revolution in computer/human cognition are taking place. It's a weird political matrix with the pro-Nexus side composed of extremist posthuman Nietzschean terrorists; desperate parents of kids with austism; liberated clonal warriors; children of networked sex workers who were born with nanocytes already in their brains; slavers; drug lords; billionaire would-be saviors; Buddhist monks, and bioenhanced ninjas.
On the other side: scheming politicos; concerned bioethicists; horrified technologists; brutal cops; patriotic spooks; Chinese power-brokers; and a thousand kinds of reactionaries, from Buddhist abbots to bigoted American blowhard politicians.
Naam's special talent is raising important and thorny bioethical questions that have no pat answer, making them part of an action-adventure plot, and infecting your brain with his ideas. This is a fabulous book, and it ends in a way that promises at least one more. Count me in.
Libretaxi is an open source project that lets anyone become a rideshare driver in less than a minute; it has more than 20,000 users worldwide, and is maintained by Roman Pushkin, who started the project in December 2016 and is now planning to quit his job and work on it full time.
Mister Alphabet is an action-figure designed to cleverly bend and contort into every letter of the Latin alphabet; the website is long on trademark warnings and arty Instagram photos, but short on details, like, “Is this an object of commerce?” and “If so, where does one buy it?” (via Kottke)
John Deere is notorious for arguing that farmers who buy its tractors actually “license” them because Deere still owns the copyright to the tractors’ software; in 2015, the US Copyright Office affirmed that farmers were allowed to jailbreak their tractors to effect repairs and modifications.
The Lightning port has thus far resisted the cruel fate that befell the headphone jack, and despite rumors that it may be disappearing come iPhone 8, for the present and foreseeable future, Lightning cables are a hot commodity for iPhone users. As such, we must make do in this strange time in which long, glorified […]
All the filters in the world won’t save your smartphone pics from a shaky hand. To really step up your mobile photography game, you’ll need some kind of mount to hold it steady. You could buy a smartphone attachment for a conventional camera tripod, but who wants to carry that kind of gear everywhere they […]
The forced transition from analog to digital TV signals was probably met with relative indifference from people with Netflix subscriptions and the “I don’t even own a TV” snoots. But anyone living in the vast swaths of the country that don’t have guaranteed high-speed internet, broadcast TV is a perfectly valid (and 100% free) way […]