Cyberpocalypse: the cyberpunk Lego city


In 2013, a group of Lego masters unveiled Cyberpocalypse, a spectacularly detailed, moody, neon-lit cyberpunk city. It's a triumph of EL wire and science fiction aesthetics, a kind of bricky Burning Man theme-camp in miniature.

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RU Sirius on the history of cypherpunk

Over at The Verge, our pal RU Sirius writes about the history of "cypherpunk," a term coined in 1992 by legendary hacker St. Jude Milhon (RIP), and now used by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in the title of his new book, Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet. From RU's piece at The Verge:
NewImage(EFF co-founder) John Gilmore summed up the accomplishments of the cypherpunks in a recent email: "We did reshape the world," he wrote. "We broke encryption loose from government control in the commercial and free software world, in a big way. We built solid encryption and both circumvented and changed the corrupt US legal regime so that strong encryption could be developed by anyone worldwide and deployed by anyone worldwide," including WikiLeaks.

As the 1990s rolled forward, many cypherpunks went to work for the man, bringing strong crypto to financial services and banks (on the whole, probably better than the alternative). Still, crypto-activism continued and the cypherpunk mailing list blossomed as an exchange for both practical encryption data and spirited, sometimes-gleeful argumentation, before finally peaking in 1997. This was when cypherpunk’s mindshare seemed to recede, possibly in proportion to the utopian effervescence of the early cyberculture. But the cypherpunk meme may now be finding a sort of rebirth in one of the biggest and most important stories in the fledgeling 21st century.

"Cypherpunk rising: WikiLeaks, encryption, and the coming surveillance dystopia"

Soccer match-rigging, straight out of a Gibson novel


Here's a brutal, must-read article from Brian Phillips detailing the bizarre, globalized game of soccer-match-rigging, which launders its influence, money and bets through countries all over the world, in what sounds like an intense, sport-themed LARP of a William Gibson Sprawl novel:

Right now, Dan Tan's programmers are busy reverse-engineering the safeguards of online betting houses. About $3 billion is wagered on sports every day, most of it on soccer, most of it in Asia. That's a lot of noise on the big exchanges. We can exploit the fluctuations, rig the bets in a way that won't trip the houses' alarms. And there are so many moments in a soccer game that could swing either way. All you have to do is see an Ilves tackle in the box where maybe the Viikingit forward took a dive. It happens all the time. It would happen anyway. So while you're running around the pitch in Finland, the syndicate will have computers placing high-volume max bets on whatever outcome the bosses decided on, using markets in Manila that take bets during games, timing the surges so the security bots don't spot anything suspicious. The exchanges don't care, not really. They get a cut of all the action anyway. The system is stacked so it's gamblers further down the chain who bear all the risks.

What's that — you're worried about getting caught? It won't happen. Think about the complexity of our operation. We are organized in Singapore, I flew from Budapest, the match is in Finland, we're wagering in the Philippines using masked computer clusters from Bangkok to Jakarta. Our communications are refracted across so many cell networks and satellites that they're almost impossible to unravel. The money will move electronically, incomprehensibly, through a hundred different nowheres. No legal system was set up to handle this kind of global intricacy. The number of intersecting jurisdictions alone is dizzying. Who's going to spot the crime? Small-town police in Finland? A regulator in Beijing? Each of them will only see one tiny part of it. How would they ever know to talk to each other? Dan Tan has friends in high places; extradition requests can find themselves bogged down in paperwork. Witnesses can disappear. I promise; you'll be safe. Who can prove you didn't see a penalty? We're fine.

Best part? Pro soccer is so corrupt that they don't give a damn, despite the fact that there is no game there, just a network of frauds that may exceed $1B:

Let me answer that question by referring you to the phrase that I hope will be your primary takeaway from this piece. Soccer. Is. Fucked. Europol announced the investigation Monday, leaving everyone with the impression that this was an ongoing operation designed to, you know, stop a criminal, maybe catch a bad guy or something. On Tuesday, multiple journalists reported that Europol is no longer pursuing the investigation. They've turned the information over to the dozens of prosecution services in the dozens of countries involved, which should keep things nice and streamlined. The man at the center of the whole story, the Singaporean mobster Tan Seet Eng, known as Dan Tan, has a warrant out for his arrest, but the Singaporeans won't extradite him and Interpol won't pressure them to do so.3 UEFA and FIFA talk about stamping out corruption, but, and I'll try to be precise here, FIFA rhetoric is to action what a remaindered paperback copy of Pippi in the South Seas is to the Horsehead Nebula. FIFA is eyeballs-deep in its own corruption problems, being run, as it is, by a cabal of 150-year-olds, most of them literally made out of dust, who have every incentive to worry about short-term profit over long-term change. They all have streets named after them, so how could they have a bad conscience? FIFA sees the game as a kind of Rube Goldberg device, or, better, as a crazed Jenga tower, and their job is to keep it standing as long as the money's coming in. Doesn't matter how wobbly it gets. Nobody look at the foundations.

Match-Fixing in Soccer [Brian Phillips/Grantland]

(via Schneier)

(Image: FIFA visita as obras da Arena Fonte Nova, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from agecombahia's photostream)

Luminous retro Cyberpunk costume

Photo by Mike Vickers

In the Boing Boing Flickr pool, Melissa Li shares some wonderful photo documentation of a cool costume she developed in multiple editions, over a period of years. Above, "Cyberpunk 2.0," the 2012 build:

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Hatsune Miku, posthuman pop star

Wired's James Verini, on just how real Japan's real-life Rei Toei is:

Miku was “born,” as Itoh puts it, on August 31, 2007, with the launch of her software. The program would soon become popular, but from the start Miku attracted her own fans, and they began riffing. Crypton set up a site where they could post their creations, and by that first afternoon, according to Itoh, illustrations of her had appeared. Thousands followed. Fan sites proliferated. Creation myths were assembled.

Cyberpunk juice, 1984

I remember this stuff! Imagine carbonated denatured pruno and you about have it.

Weird cyberpunk game has pounding electronic soundtrack

Electronic musician Tettix's latest is Cool Pizza, the soundtrack to a bizarre and brutally difficult iOS game by the same name, which renders Space Harrier-style gameplay in pink spot color and halftone patterns. "This is different from most of my stuff," writes T. "It's fast and furious cyperpunk and all the titles are demonic pizza toppings."

The Incal: classic, weird-ass French space-opera comic drawn by Moebius, reprinted in English

In 1981, comics writer Alejandro Jodorowsky teamed up with French comic artist legend Moebius and created a new French comic serial called The Incal, (allegedly salvaging a bunch of material Jodorowsky created for an aborted film adaptation of Dune).

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T-shirts inspired by Gibson's Sprawl novels


Memetic Tees has a bunch of cute t-shirt designs based on William Gibson's classic Sprawl cyberpunk trilogy.

The Sprawl (via Super Punch)