Award-winning short sf film written by an AI is pretty good

Director Oscar Sharp and AI researcher Ross Goodwin trained a machine-learning system with a huge pile of classic science fiction screenplays and turned it loose to write a short film. What emerged was an enigmatic 9-minute movie called Sunspring, which has just won Sci-Fi London's 48-hour challenge. Read the rest

Password hashing demystified

The password breaches are getting stronger and worser, and hardly a week goes by without a dump that's a couple zeroes bigger than the biggest to date -- but not all password breaches are created equal, and a lot depends on whether and how the passwords were hashed. Read the rest

Deep learning AI "autoencodes" Blade Runner, recreates it so faithfully it gets a takedown notice

Artist and researcher Terence Broad is working on his master's at Goldsmith's computing department; his dissertation involved training neural networks to "autoencode" movies they've been fed. Read the rest

EFF: FBI & NIST's tattoo recognition program exploited prisoners, profiled based on religion, gave sensitive info to private contractors

Dave Maass from EFF says, "Right now, NIST researchers are working with the FBI to develop tattoo recognition technology that police can use to learn as much as possible about people through their tattoos. But an EFF investigation has found that these experiments exploit inmates, with little regard for the research's implications for privacy, free expression, religious freedom, and the right to associate. And so far, researchers have avoided ethical oversight while doing it." Read the rest

Generative, collaging architecture system designs impossible, Inception-like cities

London's Daniel Brown created a generative design system that designs beautiful, brutalist cityscapes that are part Blade Runner Hong Kong, part Inception; he then manually sorts through the results, picks the best, and publishes them in a series called "Travelling by Numbers." Read the rest

Jury hands Oracle its ass, says Google doesn't owe it a penny for Java

When Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, they acquired Java, Sun's popular programming language, pitched from its inception as an open standard for the networked computer. Read the rest

Tor Project is working on a web-wide random number generator

Random number generators are the foundation of cryptography -- that's why the NSA secretly sabotaged the RNG standard that the National Institute for Standards and Technology developed. Read the rest

Pastejacking: using malicious javascript to insert sneaky text into pasted terminal commands

When a computer stops behaving, the solution often involves looking up an obscure command and pasting it into the terminal -- even experienced administrators and programmers aren't immune to this, because remembering the exact syntax for commands you use once every couple years is a choresome task. Read the rest

Programmers' stress levels can accurately predict the quality of their code

In Using (bio)metrics to predict code quality online, presented at the ACM's 38th International Conference on Software Engineering, two Swiss researchers presented their work on monitoring programmers' biometrics to predict the quality of the code they were writing.

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A software developer's version of the CIA's bureaucratic sabotage manual

The Simple Sabotage Field Manual was published in 1944 by the Office of Strategic Services, the agency that came to be the CIA: it outlined simple tactics for putting bureaucratic grit in the wheels of occupied countries, for example, by referring key decisions to committees and then obstructing the work of those committees. Read the rest

Algorithmic cruelty: when Gmail adds your harasser to your speed-dial

Inbox by Gmail combs through your email looking for frequent correspondents and puts the people who email you the most in a "speed dial" sidebar (that you can't edit) that puts their names and pictures front-and-center for you every time you go to your email. Read the rest

Baby names generated by a neural network

In 2015, Stanford computer science PhD candidate Andrej Karpathy decided to test out some neural network tools he'd been experimenting with, and set them to generating plausible baby names. Read the rest

Astounding, visionary video about hypertext from 1976

Brett Bobley writes, "'Hypertext: an Educational Experiment in English and Computer Science at Brown University' is an amazing documentary film from 1976 made by Brown University computer scientist Andries 'Andy' van Dam." Read the rest

Why Internet voting is a terrible idea, explained in small words anyone can understand

In this 20 minute video, Princeton computer science prof Andrew Appel lays out the problems with Internet-based voting in crisp, nontechnical language that anyone can understand. Read the rest

Bitcoin transactions could consume as much energy as Denmark by the year 2020

The numbers in this study are very back-of-the-envelope and assume a worst case: widespread adoption of Bitcoin and not much improvement in Bitcoin mining activity, along with long replacement cycles for older, less efficient mining rigs. Even the best case scenario has Bitcoin consuming a shocking amount of electricity.

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Jerks were able to turn Microsoft's chatbot into a Nazi because it was a really crappy bot

Microsoft Research deployed a tween-simulating chatbot this week, only to recall it a few hours later because it had turned into a neo-Nazi, and the next day, they published a bewildered apology that expressed shock that it had been so easy for trolls to corrupt their creation. Read the rest

The Third Electronic Literature Anthology: Unity, Javascript & Twitterbots

Mark Marino writes, "Kick your Norton Anthology to the curb, and check out the latest collection of digitally born literature. Published by the Electronic Literature Organization, the collection contains 114 works from 26 countries in 12 languages. The Electronic Literature Collection, vol. 3 offers a glimpse at just how wide the world of digital literature has become, including a diverse array of works, from Twitter bots to poem generators to Twine tales to poetic apps. Read the rest

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