Cyberpunk news over the past few days has brought us eSports, impressive hacks and 400lb people in bed. So don’t lock yourself way and hide. Come check out what happened this last week in cyberpunk
WANTED: Donald Trump’s Tax Returns
With 40 days left in the 2016 US presidential race, things are taking a turn for the stranger still. In the first of four debates this past Monday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said in response to a question over repeated hacks of DNC servers that the perpetrator could be “Russia, Russia, Russia. Maybe it was. It could also be China, it could be someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.” This was followed by other insights on the US’ failure to handle the elusive “cyber” problem. “I have a son. He’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it’s hardly doable.”
Irrespective of his command of cybersecurity challenges any government faces in this age, Trump’s comments flies in the face of most reporting and investigation which, in fact, points to signs of Russian intrusion of DNC servers. While it was probably Trump’s attempt to take the attention off his excessive sniffing, deciding to paint the hacking community in such an unflattering light may not have been the way to go on the debate stage.
2600, a magazine popular with hackers regardless what color hat they wear, decided to place a bounty on Trump’s mysteriously absent tax returns on Twitter, offering anyone that can produce the authentic records $10,000 as a reward. – We’ll keep an eye out for developments on this story.
Hikikomori on the Rise, Worldwide
In a recent study released by the Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry upwards of 540,000 Japanese citizens have joined the ranks of “hikikomori”, the Japanese term for people living in near-complete isolation from the general public. The study found that hundreds of thousands of Japanese, 15-39, typically well educated, have decided to remove social interaction from their daily lives. More than 60% of these hikikomori have not left their homes in the last three years or longer. This phenomenon of social withdrawal, which is not exclusive to Japan and is prevalent in other Asian countries like China and South Korea, as well in the United States, Australia and Spain, has been linked to diagnoses of depression, general anxiety disorders, and internet addiction.
Uber Takes off with new Venture
Hate driving? Hate even been driven around? Even by an autonomous car? Uber’s looking to solve those transportation blues once again, this time by flying you to your destination. Uber has turned its R&D budget loose on VTOLs (vertical take off and landing aircraft). While a time frame isn’t firm, sources within the company say that flight options may be made available some time within the next ten years. – This comes just days before word that Otto, another Uber-owned company, will start moving freight via autonomous trucks by next year.
First “3 Parent” Baby Born in the UK
Five months after the little boy’s birth, the parents of this scientific marvel announced that their child is the world’s first offspring made from the DNA of three parents. Mitochondrial replacement, which has only been approved in the UK, allows for the parentage of a child to incorporate the DNA of more than one mother. In this case, the mother’s mitochondria was compromised by Leigh syndrome, which would’ve negatively impacted the development her son’s nervous system, raising the chances for a miscarriage. To circumvent this, 37 genes were replaced by a “second mother” and resulted in healthy baby boy.
MIT’s New Camera Never Judges a book by its cover
In a recent paper published in Nature Communications, MIT unveiled a camera so powerful it reads through the cover of books. Powered by terahertz radiation, falling between infrared and microwave spectrums, researchers were able to identify distinct frequencies of ink and paper, allowing them to identify words down to the very letter. While so far it has only been able to penetrate nine pages at a time, researchers expect their new imaging system to develop rapidly. Other future plans places the camera as a staple in libraries and museums, being used to restore historical documents and assist in delicate restoration of artifacts that may be too delicate to handle by hand.
Putin to Restore the KGB?
After years of angering the west, the US in particular, it seems that Russia is in no hurry to make friends of international allies now that rumors are suggesting that the domestic and international bodies of intelligence gathering in the country are going to be under the same authority once again. According to a recent report by the Kommersant, President Vladimir Putin, himself a veteran of the KGB, is making moves to consolidate the FSB and the SVR into a new agency that echoes surveillance and spying policies of the Soviet Union. This is a reversal of Putin’s policy regarding the matter of domestic intelligence gathering as this would now put more than a quarter million government employees in the nation’s new agency. Some argue that such a move is in response to fears of a potential coup as Russians grow frustrated with the government’s in international policy, but what is certain is that such an intelligence apparatus would increase the level of power held by the office of the Russian President.
Neither President Putin or any member of his cabinet have denied the reports.
iMessage, Police, and You!
According to a report obtained by The Intercept, secure messaging doesn’t seem to be on Apple’s list of priorities. The report titled “iMessage FAQ for Law Enforcement” came from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Electronic Surveillance Support Team, showing officers how to navigate portals to Apple’s records of messages. Officers seem to have access to every number and IP address of messenger and recipient. This goes against Apple’s official statement back in 2013 regarding the issue of location privacy. Then, Apple stated, “we do not store data related to customers’ location.” Unless they’re police.
DDoS Attack Record Broken (Again)
Seems the insecurity of the Internet of Things is warranted following the DDoS on KrebsOnSecurity this past week. Journalist Brian Krebs was the apparent target of 660 Gbps of traffic that shut down his site, the largest DDoS attack on record to date. While the hackers behind this attack haven’t been identified, it’s pretty clear how they pulled it off. – According to Martin McKeay, senior security advocate for Akamai, which provides Kreb’s security, 1.5 million botnets increased traffic on the site by exploiting IoT devices with the use of the mirai trojan. It’s another example of the fragility of these devices that are marketed with the promise of connectivity between platforms. In reality, they seem to be zombies in waiting, and people with an axe to grind clearly know how to control them. It’s one reason why such attacks are on the rise.
Earth to Humans: We Had a Good Run
History was made this month as the human race pushed Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to more 400 parts per million, marking a new milestone in irreversible climate change. According to scientists, this feat ensures that carbon level will never drop for the duration of our lifetimes. Even if all carbon emissions were ceased by the moment you finish reading this sentence it wouldn’t have an effect on global temperatures nor related weather patterns. Even though global leaders have made efforts (slowly) to address this issue, imperiled natural sites like coral reefs are jeopardized as we’ve crossed the threshold into an impossibly warmer future.
AIs and the Future of Human Societies
If the idea of the world being consumed by unbearable heat hasn’t destroyed your will to live you’ll have time to consider what our future will be like once AIs become an influential force in society and our connected economies. Wonky geniuses over at the National Economic Council have finally put their heads together to decipher these looming questions, and their thoughts have been helpfully cataloged in this report following their symposium at NYU’s Information Law Institute this past summer.
ISPs to the FCC: “That is Not the Way Our Economy Works.”
Assuring us all that they’re taking access to information seriously, cable company Mediacom expressed the need for datacaps to the Federal Communicaitons Commission through an odd comparison involving cookies. Oreos, to be exact. Continuing their food play, General Counsel Joseph Young, representing Mediacom, said in a filing with the FCC that “Even though virtually every other industry prices its products and services in the same way, some people think that ISPs should be the exception and run their businesses like an all-you-can-eat buffet.” There are comparisons to mobile data packages and a targeting of “heavy internet users” being at the forefront of the push against mandatory data caps. To close out his argument, Young claimed that consumers and streaming services like Netflix which oppose caps on home internet are simply “looking for some free cookies.”
The QWERTY is Dead, Long Live the Swype
Managing its glacial decline from cultural relevance, CEO John Chen has announced that BlackBerry will cease all production of hardware moving forward, turning company resources towards software development.
BlackBerry was the last major manufacturer to develop smartphones with physical QWERTY keyboards.
Zen is an Auto Shop in Poland
Though every business looks to cut costs here and there, no one would think the way to save some money by never upgrading your hardware. In Gdańsk, Poland, there’s an autoshop that’s still operating with a humble Commodore 64. Released in 1982, and discontinued in 1994, the Commodore 64 has a 1 MHz processor and 64 kilobytes of RAM. Nice to know that simplicity can still get the job done.
Cyberpunk Video Games
Cyberpunk 2077 in the Sprawl?
As reported by GamePressure, developer CD Projekt Red has applied for several grants with the Polish government for the development of their next game. Since everyone now knows that they’ve thrown all their resources at Cyberpunk 2077 it makes their applications quite interesting. One of the key technologies they’ve applied for is City Creation hardware which is “complex technology for creating a huge living city, playable in real time, which (the technology) is based on rules, AI, and automation, as well as supports innovative processes and tools for making top-notch open-world games.” Given the massive, living, breathing world of The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt it’s entirely plausible to imagine their cyberpunk RPG would have a Sprawl of its own.
Capcom Infects Gamers’ PCs
In a recent update for Street Fighter V, gamers on PC unwittingly accepted the install of a rootkit pushed by Capcom. The company has stated that their rootkit was installed to help them crack down on cheating from players using their Versus CPU mode, their multiplayer portion of the game. However, this backdoor was left wide open, allowing malware of all sources to infect the host PC. Though Capcom has said to have resolved the issue since the update, many gamers are not happy with Capcom overstepping its bounds in the consumer-publisher relationship.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – System Rift
Adam Jensen’s stay in Prague can’t separate him entirely from Detroit. Frank Pritchard reunites (sort of) with our gravely-voiced hero in System Rift, the first story DLC for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Working with Shadow Child, an elusive hacker, Adam sets his sights on the Palisade Blade. Together they hack into this corporate data facility, drawing unwanted attention along the way.
The Uncertain: The Last Quiet Day
Admittedly this one slip by us last week, but we’re so intrigued we couldn’t let you get away without hearing about it. The Uncertain has released it’s first episode. In a world where man seems to have been eradicated by robots, and they have stepped into the vacuum people once filled, The Last Quiet Day takes you on the first steps in a journey to uncover why humanity destroyed itself.
Horror and Sci-Fi Blend in Utopian Facade
John Carpenter’s directing music videos, which I honestly didn’t know he did. But how he’s unable to avoid to leak a little horror where it shouldn’t work but does is so his style. You can check out all of John’s music videos with Sacred Bones Records here.
Jessica Alba Returns to Sci-Fi Roots in Girl 10
Jessica Alba has announced that she’s returning to TV as a producer for a fox show entitled Girl 10. From the looks of the synopsis it seems to be in line with Alba’s first starring role in the biopunk series Dark Angel. Thanks to all the buzz surrounding movies and shows like Ex Machina, Morgan, Humans and the anticipation around Westworld it’s probably no surprise that shows featuring AI will start popping up left and right. Not much to go on yet, but there is the show’s general premise.
Girl 10 is set in the very near future and revolves around Elle, one of only 10 synthetic humans in existence who is being investigated for murder while trying to stop an evil cabal from weaponizing the technology behind artificial intelligence.
Organized Sports Make Room for Gaming
The Philadelphia 76ers drew some unexpected attention on Monday after being the first official sports team to invest in an eSports teams Dignitas and Apex for $5 million and $12 million respectively. Investments have come from entertainment corporations like Walt Disney and Time Warner, boosting the worth of the sport by an estimated $1.13 billion by 2013. It’s not news that traditional athletes have been enticed by eSports. Sports superstars like Jeremy Lin, Alex Rodriguez and Shaquille O’Neal have all invested in eSports teams. Even Brazilian soccer player Wendell Lira stepped away from the field to compete in eSports. Seems that games are on their way to being an even bigger business than it already is.
That seems to cover just about everything. Disagree? Share your cyberpunk news in the comments below.