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Hacking the city of the future

What happens when hackers get hacked? The headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) is located between the cities of Washington and Baltimore. Amongst its many operations the NSA develops hacking tools for spying on other countries. But some of these tools leaked out, and earlier this year were turned on the city of … Continue reading

No interpreter required

If only people speaking different languages could communicate without the need of an interpreter. I’m thinking of the Trump-Putin encounters with translators present. Only unscrupulous leaders would bar their translators from disclosing to other trusted officials what was said. But I’m also thinking of Leon Battista Alberti’s justification of his cipher technique, which was to … Continue reading

AI revisited

John Lee and I sat down to talk about AI (artificial intelligence). Both of us were involved in the field in so far as it related to computer-aided design. That experience dates back to the 1980s. In our conversation we touched on how the AI focus has changed since the 1980s. We started by identifying … Continue reading

Bad players

If a political party wins enough of the vote then they might just gain sufficient influence to adjust electoral boundaries and increase their chances of winning again. Gerrymandering is one example of stacking the odds in your favour. It’s a big deal in the USA at the moment (e.g. see Washington Post article). Any competitor would … Continue reading

Weaponise!

I remember when the Internet was innocent — it put strangers with common interests in touch, supported grass roots activism, encouraged self-help groups to form, and enabled free expression and innovation. Now it’s a weapon. Think of how good and bad human agents and their hirelings, surrogates, mercenaries and robots deploy tweets and other social … Continue reading

Rogue fan fiction: the peculiar case of QAnon

QAnon is the alias of an entity (i.e an individual or a group) that claims to be an operative within the US Intelligence Service. The entity works undercover and discloses tantalising facts about how the US military brought Trump into power to overcome the Deep State. The Deep State is that clandestine and pernicious organisation … Continue reading

Undisciplinarity

What is the value of interdisciplinary research? According to a review of research published by the UK funding councils, “Crucially, many major discoveries and breakthroughs have occurred at the boundaries between disciplines resulting in new fields of study, such as biochemistry, health economics, social psychology, development studies and informatics” (Davé, et al., 2016, p.8). If … Continue reading

Elect a clown; expect a circus

… says the meme. I’ve been reading Julia Kristeva (1941-) lately, not least as she championed a revised understanding of semiotics in the turbulent 1960s, and is a major figure in the history of semiotics. She mentions C.S. Peirce favourably in a few places, though her philosophy emerges from the structuralism of de Saussure. Roland Barthes … Continue reading

Marx on nonsense

“Either this man is dead, or my watch has stopped” (Marx). I’ve been wrestling with C.S. Peirce’s idea that any moment of communication is potentially made up of three aspects that he labels firstness, secondness and thirdness. Here, the philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) comes to my aid. Deleuze invokes Marx  — not Karl Marx, but … Continue reading

Nonsensical signs

“A tweeting egg! This struck Alice as very odd; she had only ever heard of birds being able to tweet. But then again, birds did come from eggs, so it made sense they should have this ability from the outset” (52). That’s Alice’s first impression of Trumpty Dumpty sitting on a wall in the satirical … Continue reading

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