It is the final week of 2016. The world is more cyberpunk than ever, and we can be sure that 2017 will bring more of the same. In these final days of the year, cyberpunk is visible in both the news and our media.
The Case of a Snapchatted Murder
A brutal murder was committed in Milwaukee, and the most compelling evidence in this case was a series of Snapchat videos documenting the events. The victim, 20-year-old Delvin Mendoza-Chaparro, was first videoed as the murdered taunted him about stealing a bong. Then a second video showed the same murderer shaking a tattooed fist and continuing to taunt the victim, and if this wasn’t identifying enough, the murderer – who called himself Superman – then showed his face to the camera and told his Snapchat followers, this is what happens when you steal from me. Lesson: Don’t Snapchat your murders.
NYPD Snapchats Raid on Wrong House
In New York, leading up to the holiday season, the NYPD raided the wrong house, and then proceeded to take a Snapchats documenting their exploits. The first read, “Merry Christmas Its NYPD,” and the second said, “Warrent Sweeps.” Besides the obvious problem of police raiding the wrong homes, we should question whether it is appropriate for on duty officers to be using Snapchat, especially in a sort of taunt of the civilian populace.
Amazon Patents Airship Delivery System
Amazon has patented something called the “airborne fulfillment center utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles for item delivery.” Essentially, this is a large airship that houses Amazon goods and contains a fleet of autonomous drones. The airship flies over a city, people can browse the inventory, and then a drone delivers it to your house. Imagine the cyberpunk cityscapes containing Amazon airships.
Amazon Echo Data Sought in Murder Case
Amazon is also in the news this week because of a murder case. An Amazon Echo, owned by James Andrew Bates, has had it’s audio records requested by Bentonville authorities because they believe the data may contain evidence of Bates murdering Victor Collins. This case raises questions about how always-on Internet of Things devices should be legally treated. Amazon did not turn over the files, although they did provide meta-data. Despite this, authorities were able to access some information directly from the device. Another interesting detail in this case is that another IoT device in the home, a water meter, is also being used as evidence in the case. Police allege that the elevated water use the night of the murder was used to clean up the site of the murder. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out.
Repercussions for DNC Hack
On Thursday, the Obama Administration has “sanctioned nine entities and individuals over the Russian government’s alleged cyber-espionage against the Democratic Party in general and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in particular. He has also given 35 unnamed Russian intelligence operatives 72 hours to leave the United States, and has ordered restricted access to two Russian-government-run compounds, one in Long Island, the other in Maryland,” according to the Daily Beast. The Long Island property is suspected of being a Russian listening post.
Real Tachikomas from Ghost in the Shell?
The Ghost in the Shell Realize Project is charged with recreating elements of the Ghost in the Shell franchise in reality. One of their first projects is bringing a half-size version of the Tachikoma (from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) into stores as a customer service drone. It will be paired with an app that allows customers to “raise” a Tachikoma personality and then sync that personality to the drone when they go to the store. Lines for the drone will be read by the original voice actors for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Tachikomas.
Cyberpunk Short Films
Again is a short film from the mind of Mitch Glass. The film, about a man who uses a new memory technology to relive his life with his former girlfriend, was produced for $2,000, which is surprising because of the great production value.
The trailer for Alien: Covenant has much of the same feel as the original Alien from ’79. In addition to dropping a full trailer, there is a new website called MUTHER, which allows you to input codes into the MUTHER AI from the same ’79 movie. Apparently, if you input the codes that Ripley enters in Alien, you get the same responses. I wonder what else is hidden in there?
Blade Runner 2049
Empire has released a new photo of Ryan Gosling, with director Denis Villeneuve, in what we assume is K’s (Gosling’s character) apartment. In other fun news for Blade Runner, apparently Ford and Scott still don’t agree on whether Deckard is a Replicant.
Ghost in the Shell
Empire also released a new photo from Scarlett Johannson’s Ghost in the Shell. Dual-wielding a gun and knife, not much else we can speculate about there.
Ghost in the Shell: The Official Movie Novelization
The Ghost in the Shell: The Official Movie Novelization was written by the New York Times best-selling author Tom Swallow, who has written tie-in novels for many science fiction properties including Deus Ex. The 320-page novel will be released by Titan Publishing on April, 4th 2017, but is available for pre-order. The official synopsis of the book is:
Based on the internationally-acclaimed sci-fi property, “GHOST IN THE SHELL” follows the Major, a special ops one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid, who leads the elite task force Section 9. Devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, Section 9 is faced with an enemy whose singular goal is to wipe out Hanka Robotic’s advancements in cyber technology.
Walk Away is the newest novel from Cory Doctorow. The novel is praised by William Gibson as, “A wonderful novel.” You can pre-order a signed copy from Barnes and Noble. The official synopsis is:
Cory Doctorow’s first adult novel in eight years: an epic tale of revolution, love, post-scarcity, and the end of death.
Hubert Vernon Rudolph Clayton Irving Wilson Alva Anton Jeff Harley Timothy Curtis Cleveland Cecil Ollie Edmund Eli Wiley Marvin Ellis Espinoza—known to his friends as Hubert, Etc—was too old to be at that Communist party.
But after watching the breakdown of modern society, he really has no where left to be—except amongst the dregs of disaffected youth who party all night and heap scorn on the sheep they see on the morning commute. After falling in with Natalie, an ultra-rich heiress trying to escape the clutches of her repressive father, the two decide to give up fully on formal society—and walk away.
After all, now that anyone can design and print the basic necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter—from a computer, there seems to be little reason to toil within the system.
It’s still a dangerous world out there, the empty lands wrecked by climate change, dead cities hollowed out by industrial flight, shadows hiding predators animal and human alike. Still, when the initial pioneer walkaways flourish, more people join them. Then the walkaways discover the one thing the ultra-rich have never been able to buy: how to beat death. Now it’s war – a war that will turn the world upside down.
Fascinating, moving, and darkly humorous, Walkaway is a multi-generation SF thriller about the wrenching changes of the next hundred years…and the very human people who will live their consequences.
The Hardware Hacker
The Hardware Hacker: Adventures in Making and Breaking Hardware is a new book by Andrew “bunnie” Huang. Huang is best known for going to prison over jail-breaking an Xbox. The book, published by No Starch Press, is available for pre-order and is officially released on January, 30th 2017. Cory Doctorow has written a great review of the book.The official synopsis is:
For over a decade, Andrew “bunnie” Huang, one of the world’s most esteemed hackers, has shaped the fields of hacking and hardware, from his cult-classic book Hacking the Xbox to the open-source laptop Novena and his mentorship of various hardware startups and developers. In The Hardware Hacker, Huang shares his experiences in manufacturing and open hardware, creating an illuminating and compelling career retrospective.
Huang’s journey starts with his first visit to the staggering electronics markets in Shenzhen, with booths overflowing with capacitors, memory chips, voltmeters, and possibility. He shares how he navigated the overwhelming world of Chinese factories to bring chumby, Novena, and Chibitronics to life, covering everything from creating a Bill of Materials to choosing the factory to best fit his needs.
Through this collection of personal essays and interviews on topics ranging from the legality of reverse engineering to a comparison of intellectual property practices between China and the United States, bunnie weaves engineering, law, and society into the tapestry of open hardware.
With highly detailed passages on the ins and outs of manufacturing and a comprehensive take on the issues associated with open source hardware, The Hardware Hacker is an invaluable resource for aspiring hackers and makers.
Nihei Humble Book Bundle
Tsutomu Nihei is possibly the best known cyberpunk mangaka besides Masamune Shirow. The current Humble Book Bundle, is a collection of Nihei’s works. There are eleven days left to pick up your copy if you want to read some of Nihei’s work, such as Blame! and Knights of Sidonia, and support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Worldreaders, and the Mental Health Foundation.
Did we miss anything? What are you most excited about in the coming year? Let us know in the comments or on social media!