Alex Churchill has posted a way to implement a Turing complete computer within a game of Magic: The Gathering ("Turing complete" is a way of classifying a calculating engine that is capable of general-purpose computation). The profound and interesting thing about the recurrence of Turing completeness in many unexpected places -- such as page-layout descriptive engines -- is that it suggests that there's something foundational about the ability to do general computation. It also suggests that attempts to limit general computation will be complicated by the continued discovery of new potential computing engines. That is, even if you lock down all the PCs so that they only play restricted music formats and not Ogg, if you allow a sufficiently speedy and scriptable Magic: The Gathering program to exist, someone may implement the Ogg player using collectible card games.
A series of Ally tokens controlled by Alex represent the tape to the right of the current head: the creature one step to the right of the head is 1 toughness away from dying, the next one over is 2 toughness from dying, etc. A similar chain of Zombie tokens, also controlled by Alex, represent the tape to the left. The colour of each token represents the contents of that space on the tape.
The operation "move one step to the left" is represented in this machine by creating a new Ally token, growing all Allies by 1, and shrinking all Zombies by one. The details are as follows:
When the machine creates a new 2/2 Ally token under Alex's control, four things trigger: Bob's Noxious Ghoul, Cathy's Aether Flash, Denzil's Carnival of Souls, and Alex's Kazuul Warlord. They go on the stack in that order, because it's Bob's turn; so they resolve in reverse order. The Kazuul Warlord adds +1/+1 counters to all Alex's Allies, leaving them one step further away from dying, including making the new one 3/3. Then Carnival of Souls gives Denzil a white mana thanks to False Dawn (he doesn't lose life because of his Platinum Emperion). Then Aether Flash deals 2 damage to the new token, leaving it 1 toughness from dying as desired. And then the Noxious Ghoul, which has been hacked with Artificial Evolution, gives all non-Allies -1/-1, which kills the smallest Zombie. Depending on whether the smallest Zombie was red, green or blue, a different event will trigger. The machine has moved one step to the left.
If the new token had been a Zombie rather than an Ally, a different Kazuul Warlord and a different Noxious Ghoul would have triggered, as well as the same Aether Flash. So the same would have happened except it would be all the Zombies that got +1/+1 and all the Allies that got -1/-1. This would effectively take us one step to the right.
Magic Turing Machine v4: Teysa / Chancellor of the Spires
(Image: Magic the Gathering, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from 23601773@N02's photostream)
John Perry Barlow lived many lives: small-time Wyoming Republican operative (and regional campaign director for Dick Cheney!), junior lyricist for the Grateful Dead, father-figure to John Kennedy Jr, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, inspirational culture hero for the likes of Aaron Swartz and Ed Snowden (and, not incidentally, me), semi-successful biofuels entrepreneur... He died this year, shortly after completing his memoir Mother American Night, and many commenters have noted that Barlow comes across as a kind of counterculture cyberculture Zelig, present at so many pivotal moments in our culture, and that's true, but that's not what I got from my read of the book -- instead, I came to know someone I counted as a friend much better, and realized that every flaw and very virtue he exhibited in his interpersonal dealings stemmed from the flaws and virtues of his relationship with himself.
David Graeber defined a "bullshit job" in his viral 2013 essay as jobs that no one -- not even the people doing them -- valued, and he clearly struck a chord: in the years since, Graeber, an anthropologist, has collected stories from people whose bullshit jobs inspired them to get in touch with him, and now he has synthesized all that data into a beautifully written, outrageous and thought-provoking book called, simply, Bullshit Jobs.
Described as “an experimental festival for independent artists and creators who work on the internet,” Andy Baio and Andy McMillan’s internet-fest baby XOXO will be back in early September. And according to this tweet, they’re making it bigger and more inclusive (be sure to check out their “living” inclusion policy): We’re moving to a new […]
The Adobe Creative Cloud is home to a suite of editing tools today’s creatives count on to produce their content. Whether you’re an aspiring photographer, animator, or graphic designer, Adobe’s programs can help you in your creative pursuits, and with the Complete Adobe CC Training Bundle, you can come to grips with six of them for […]
Your pet might be photogenic, but getting them to stare long enough at your camera to snap that Instagram-worthy photo isn’t as simple as telling them to sit. Bribing your pets with their favorite treat, however, might just do the trick, and with the Adjustable Pet Selfie Smartphone Attachment, you can do just that while getting […]
The cybersecurity landscape is changing, and now one of the most effective ways to counter hacking threats is to employ another hacker against them. Commonly referred to as ethical hackers, these professionals use a cybercriminal’s tools against them, checking networks for vulnerabilities and patching them up before they can be exploited. The Certified Ethical Hacker Bootcamp […]