Guestblogger Paul Spinrad is a freelance writer/editor, and is Projects Editor for MAKE magazine. He is the author of The VJ Book and The Re/Search Guide to Bodily Fluids, and was an early contributor to bOING bOING when it was an online zine. He lives in San Francisco.
It's fantastic that so much written knowledge is becoming generally accessible and cross-linked these days, but this is just an intermediate stage-- a universal library on the way to becoming a universal brain. The missing piece is encoding the underlying meaning of the stored text, the deep-structure logic behind it. It's one of the oldest challenges in Computer Science, and there has been lots of progress and companies dedicated to doing this. Powerset, for example, has software that has parsed and can answer questions from all of Wikipedia.
The thing is, you really still need a person to get it most reliably right, because people understand the way the world works. Luckily, we already have people whose job is very close to doing this already-- they're called fact-checkers or researchers, and they work for every reputable publication. Read the rest
Adam Ciralsky's Vanity Fair profile of Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater ("a company dogged by a grand-jury investigation, bribery accusations, and the voluntary-manslaughter trial of five ex-employees") reveals that Prince was a spy for the CIA while he was at the same time raking in over a billion dollars as a government contractor in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The truth about Prince may be orders of magnitude stranger than fiction.
For the past six years, he appears to have led an astonishing double life. Publicly, he has served as Blackwater’s C.E.O. and chairman. Privately, and secretly, he has been helping [the C.I.A.] to craft, fund, and execute operations ranging from inserting personnel into “denied areas”–places U.S. intelligence has trouble penetrating–to assembling hit teams targeting al-Qaeda members.
While his company was busy gleaning more than $1.5 billion in government contracts…Prince, according to sources with knowledge of his activities, has been working as a C.I.A. asset: in a word, as a spy.
Erik Prince: Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy (Via Disinformation)
Blackwater owner requests Shari'a law to avoid paying lawsuit ...
Blackwater wishes you a very mercenary Christmas - Boing Boing
Blackwater beefs up air power, using name of obscure company ...
Iraq bans Blackwater mercenaries - Boing Boing
Blackwater: superbly researched indictment of America's hired ...
Get Your War On on Blackwater - Boing Boing Read the rest