Bruce Sterling's short story "The Beachcomber of Novi Kotor" is a monologue by a rogue Montenegran artist-roboticist, delivered at the 85th Venice Biennale, in a world where climate change has made venices out of all the world's low-lying cities, where Montenegro has been plunged into economic collapse by the precipitous departure of the neo-Czarist Russian oligarchs whose tourist trade it depended on. Read the rest
Every time I imagine that Richard Kadrey has run out of ends-of-all-creation to torture his long-running, hard-boiled supernatural antihero Sandman Slim with, he surprises me with a bigger, badder, meaner, scarier end-of-days than the last, and with the eighth volume in the series, The Kill Society, Kadrey pulls out all the stops. Read the rest
Every year, Bruce Sterling closes the SXSW Interactive Festival with a wide-ranging, hour-long speech about the state of the nation: the format is 20 minutes' worth of riffing on current affairs, and then 40 minutes of main thesis, scorchingly delivered, with insights, rage, inspiration and calls to action. Read the rest
Stanford history and classics professor Walter Scheidel writes in the Atlantic that the only reliable ways for unequal societies to become more equal is to suffer catastrophes that upend the order of things; Scheidel concludes that our modern, unequal state may not be able to avail itself of a convenient catastrophe for this purpose because "Technology has made mass warfare obsolete; violent, redistributive revolution has lost its appeal; most states are more resilient than they used to be; and advances in genetics will help humanity ward off novel germs." Read the rest
Last Tuesday, all wing personnel on the US Spangdahlem Air Base received a warning: "MISSILE INBOUND. SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!" The warning was recalled eight minutes later. Read the rest
Address space layout randomization is an important first line of defense against malicious software: by randomizing where in memory instructions are stored, ASLR makes it much harder to overwrite memory with new code that will be jumped to as a program executes, offering significant protection against buffer overflow attacks. Read the rest
Cathy "Weapons of Math Destruction" O'Neil nailed Trump's tactics when she compared him to a busted machine-learning algorithm, throwing a ton of random ideas out, listening for his base to cheer the ones that excited their worst instincts, and then doubling down on them. Read the rest
Thomas "Capital in the 21st Century" Piketty endorses the World Wealth and Income Database, where you will find "open and convenient access to the most extensive available database on the historical evolution of the global distribution of income and wealth, both within countries and between countries" in English, with upcoming translations in Chinese, Spanish, Arabic and French. Read the rest
It's January, which means that Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky have returned to the WELL for their annual State of the World wrangle, in which, as Sterling puts it, we see who's "gonna collapse first: us pundits, or the World?" Read the rest
Charlie Stross has concluded his three-part, wrist-slittingly hilarious projection of the likely (?) outcomes of 2017, which starts with the death of Queen Elizabeth and a massive economic collapse in the UK, and ends when President Pence gets stomach flu and is replaced, once again, by the disgraced President Trump, whose fingers are itching to press the nuclear button. Read the rest
Mirai, the clumsily written Internet of Things virus that harnessed so many devices in an attack on journalist Brian Krebs that it overloaded Akamai, has now spread to devices in either 164 or 177 countries -- that is, pretty much everywhere with reliable electricity and internet access.
Imperva, a company that provides protection to websites against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, is among the ones who have been busy investigating Mirai. According to their tally, the botnet made of Mirai-infected devices has reached a total of 164 countries. A pseudonymous researcher that goes by the name MalwareTech has also been mapping Mirai, and according to his tally, the total is even higher, at 177 countries.
Internet of Things Malware Has Apparently Reached Almost All Countries on Earth [Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai/Motherboard] Read the rest
Now there are three: Neil Gaiman's best-loved novels are being re-released with gorgeous pulp covers; back in August, it was American Gods, in a month you'll be able to marry it up with the stupendous Anansi Boys, to be followed in November by Neverwhere (painted by Robert E McGinnis, lettering by Todd Klein). (via Neil Gaiman)
Someone -- possibly the government of China -- has launched a series of probing attacks on the internet's most critical infrastructure, using carefully titrated doses of denial-of-service to precisely calibrate a tool for shutting down the whole net. Read the rest
In my latest Locus column, The Privacy Wars Are About to Get A Whole Lot Worse, I describe the history of the privacy wars to date, and the way that the fiction of "notice and consent" has provided cover for a reckless, deadly form of viral surveillance capitalism. Read the rest